Tiger Woods, Brit Hume and Religious Discourse

Brit Hume made headlines and ignited a firestorm on the blogosphere when he urged Tiger Woods to embrace the Christian faith. About a week ago, at a panel on the Fox network, Hume was asked what advice he’d give the scandal-struck golfer. He responded:

“Tiger Woods will recover as a golfer. Whether he can recover as a person, I think, is a very open question. And it’s a tragic situation. . . . But the Tiger Woods that emerges once the news value dies out of this scandal, the extent to which he can recover, seems to me to depend on his faith.

“He’s said to be a Buddhist. I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be, ‘Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.’ “

Outrage quickly followed. Many declared Hume’s remarks to be intolerant, arrogant and worse. At the Huffington Post, Eve Tahmincioglu in her column, “Beware the Brit Humes in Your Office,” wrote:

“The fact that a journalist — and I use that term loosely as it pertains to Hume — would go on a national news show and put down another high-profile individual’s faith should tell all of us that religious bigotry, and bigotry as a whole, is a growing problem in this country.”

MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, suggesting that Hume had attempted to “threaten Tiger Woods into becoming a Christian”, also said:

“This crosses that principle [of keeping] religious advocacy out of public life, since, you know, the worst examples of that are jihadists, not to mention, you know, guys who don’t know their own religions or somebody else’s religion, like Brit Hume.”

The anger over Hume’s comments says a lot about religious discourse, pluralism, and the new tolerance. Ross Douthat, writing for the New York Times, has written a good op-ed piece about why it is important that we’re able to talk about religion:

When liberal democracy was forged, in the wake of Western Europe’s religious wars, this sort of peaceful theological debate is exactly what it promised to deliver. And the differences between religions are worth debating. Theology has consequences: It shapes lives, families, nations, cultures, wars; it can change people, save them from themselves, and sometimes warp or even destroy them.

Douthat is right: “If you treat your faith like a hothouse flower, too vulnerable to survive in the crass world of public disputation, then you ensure that nobody will take it seriously. The idea that religion is too mysterious, too complicated or too personal to be debated on cable television just ensures that it never gets debated at all.” He continues:

This doesn’t mean that we need to welcome real bigotry into our public discourse. But what Hume said wasn’t bigoted: Indeed, his claim about the difference between Buddhism and Christianity was perfectly defensible. Christians believe in a personal God who forgives sins. Buddhists, as a rule, do not. And it’s at least plausible that Tiger Woods might welcome the possibility that there’s Someone out there capable of forgiving him, even if Elin Nordegren and his corporate sponsors never do.

In fact, Hume’s comments about Buddhism are well supported. Boston University professor on Buddhism, Stephen Prothero, told Tamara Lush of the Associated Press: “You have the law of karma, so no matter what Woods says or does, he is going to have to pay for whatever wrongs he’s done. There’s no accountant in the sky wiping sins off your balance sheet, like there is in Christianity.” Professor of Buddhist studies at Cal Polytechnic State University, James William Coleman,  also agreed. “If you do what [Tiger Woods] has done, it comes back and hurts you.”

Of course, the problem is proselytization and how this offends the new tolerance.  Michael Gerson, writing for the Washington Post, rightly puts his finger on the root of this anger over proselytization: Brit Hume’s belief in religious exclusivity. But Gerson, responding to Tom Shales‘ call for Hume to apologize, argues that the idea of religious liberty does not forbid proselytization; but presupposes it:

” Free, autonomous individuals not only have the right to hold whatever beliefs they wish, they also have the right to change those beliefs and to persuade others to change as well. Just as there is no political liberty without the right to change one’s convictions and publicly argue for them, there is no religious liberty without the possibility of conversion and persuasion.”

The new referrees of discourse no longer see tolerance as exhibited by the person who argues that position A is correct and position B is incorrect, but who still defends anyone’s right to defend position B. Instead, advocates now think that tolerance is only exhibited by those who say that there is no one right position (except for the position of new tolerance). Gerson’s comments hit the mark:

Hume’s critics hold a strange view of pluralism. For religion to be tolerated, it must be privatized — not, apparently, just in governmental settings but also on television networks. We must have not only a secular state but also a secular public discourse. And so tolerance, conveniently, is defined as shutting up people with whom secularists disagree. Many commentators have been offering Woods advice in his travails. But religious advice, apparently and uniquely, should be forbidden. In a discussion of sex, morality and betrayed vows, wouldn’t religious issues naturally arise? How is our public discourse improved by narrowing it — removing references to the most essential element in countless lives?

True tolerance consists in engaging deep disagreements respectfully — through persuasion — not in banning certain categories of argument and belief from public debate.

In this controversy, we are presented with two models of discourse. Hume, in an angry sea of loss and tragedy — his son’s death in 1998 — found a life preserver in faith. He offered that life preserver to another drowning man. Whatever your view of Hume’s beliefs, he could have no motive other than concern for Woods himself.

The other model has come from critics such as Shales, in a spittle-flinging rage at the mention of religion in public, comparing Hume to “Mary Poppins on the joys of a tidy room, or Ron Popeil on the glories of some amazing potato peeler.” Shales, of course, is engaged in proselytism of his own — for a secular fundamentalism that trivializes and banishes all other faiths. He distributes the sacrament of the sneer.

Who in this picture is more intolerant?

29 replies
  1. Other Simon says:

    Mmnnn, this was interesting Jason.

    I do think that hume’s comment were a cheap shot, though I’m sure he didn’t mean it that way. The equivalent would be a buddhist saying publicly that christianity involves a vengeful god so avoid christianity.

    I think comments such as these are frowned upon exactly because they can come across as derogatory so easily and also because where do we stop when it comes to what is ‘defensible’?

    Actually, perhaps this episode is a good reason not to watch Fox!

  2. Dominic Bnonn Tennant says:

    The equivalent would be a buddhist saying publicly that christianity involves a vengeful god so avoid christianity.

    But that doesn’t make sense. The whole point of Christianity is God’s grace and mercy. It’s the people who avoid Christianity who are the ones who should be worrying about the vengeful God. Not the ones who are converting to it.

  3. Jonathan says:

    Well laid out blog Jason. And indeed Bnonn, I agree.

    I would add that you have to be a pretty ardent anti-Christian to take Hume’s comments as ‘derogatory’. The comments were not belittling anyone or any faith. Having just spent two weeks in a Buddhist country, I am intently aware of the pervading mindset there, which holds a total acceptance of – ‘paying for your wrongs’, ‘the situation I am in now is due to my previous wrongs or rights’, ‘maybe I can get a better lot next time’. I would say Hume’s comments are spot-on. Forgiveness is a foreign concept to Buddhists. It is not on their radar. (I am speaking from immediate personal experience) It is possible to take offence at someone calling a spade a spade, but the issues is entirely with the person who decides to take that offence. What Hume said about Buddhism and Christianity (as quoted above) is entirely true and accurate.

    Another point is that truth can be offensive, but it should not therefore be avoided. Wilberforce opposing the mistreatment of humans in the slave industry, was taken to be very offensive. He certainly was not vying for the goal of offensiveness, but in speaking the truth, the offence was taken. And Jesus was crucified by the crowd, which was offended by his position. The possibility of causing offence or being labelled as derogatory is not a good reason to hide the truth. Speak the truth in love.

  4. Other Simon says:

    My guess is that if comments on religion like this became commonplace in the U.S. media, then with the exception of the notorious Fox network Christianity would take an absolute hammering and almost all would be very offended.
    I think there are things that a great many people would call “true and accurate”, Jonathan, to which you would take great offence.

  5. Jonathan says:

    Hi Other Simon. It is nice to see you still commenting and contributing. (I have been away) Thanks for your response. You raise some interesting points.

    There is no escaping that Christianity is offensive. It proclaims everyone to be sinners and living in opposition to God. Christ called living for yourself, or living for the things of this world, wrong. I know many people who take offence at that. They think they are “good”. This is but the initial glimpse of the picture. Christianity holds that right and wrong are objective and justice is real. We will pay for our sins, and the price is very high – full separation from God. I also know people who take offence at right and wrong being absolute. Thirdly, the love of God made a way for our account to be paid and surprisingly, I even know people who take offence at the concept that God would suffer and pay for our wrongs. No matter how kindly you present Christianity, people will take offence.

    I think there are things that a great many people would call “true and accurate”, Jonathan, to which you would take great offence.

    Can you elaborate? I am not ignorant of science and the claims of science, or of many religions (/cults) and their claims. I understand that there are people who hold such beliefs to be “true and accurate”. And I understand that you would place the phrase in quotations precisely because you hold a different concept from me of what is true and accurate (, and consider what I hold to be imaginary, illusionary). Yet I take no offence at any of this (let alone great offence). The only thing I take great offence at is my own preoccupation with self and my selfishness. That is a battle I am going to keep fighting. Thus I am interested to hear about anything you think is true and accurate and to which I would take great offence. Or is this just another hand waving exercise? (No offence intended)

  6. Stuart says:

    The equivalent would be a buddhist saying publicly that christianity involves a vengeful god so avoid christianity.

    That wouldn’t at all be equivalent, as Hume’s comments were true (even verified by experts) and your comment quoted above, is a half-truth/half lie.

  7. Other Simon says:

    Stuart,

    According to YOU that is only a half truth.

    Islam offers 77 virgins in the afterlife.

    There. There is a full truth.

  8. Stuart says:

    Other Simon,

    According to YOU that is only a half truth.

    Yes, according to me. And according to the Christian religion as well. A Buddhist saying this would not have his facts fully straight.

    Islam offers 77 virgins in the afterlife.

    There. There is a full truth.

    This proposition you offer up as a ‘full-truth’ is amphibolus (the meaning is unclear).

    But in any case, ‘truth’ is that which is, and not that which is not: it is that which corresponds to reality. We may not know specific truths in particular instances, but we certainly know there is such a thing as truth. And the truth in this instance is, as testified by studied experts and witnessed first-hand, that Buddhism does not have the conceptual resources for forgiveness that Christianity does. The half-truth in your example is that the God of Christianity is vengeful (and if true I don’t see why the belief should be avoided). The fuller picture is that the God of Christianity is perfect in his justice, yet abounding in mercy. And it is this fuller picture which, I believe, corresponds more accurately to reality.

  9. Other Simon says:

    Again Stuart, the problem is that you believe that it is not possible to have one’s facts straight and not be a christian. From this belief you derive a lack of a world of empathy, which is sad. Your belief that your opinion is so much more correct than, say a buddhist, is arrogant. And your belief that opinions can be sorted out via your god (logic) is naive (not to mention factually wrong).

    Ahah. Now we get to address relative truth. Christianity can produce the desired effect of feelings of forgiveness irrespective of the Absolute Truth of whether any god is actually doing any forgiving in exactly the same way that the Islamic belief of virgins can produce desired effects. I doubt even you would deny this, Stuart.

    At the end of the day, it is the effects that cause people to adhere to religion; the emotional and ‘spiritual’ effects. No-one is a christian without these. And these effects are achieveable without correspondence to reality.

    p.s.
    Christianity also offers disinsentive to do good. If it will all be forgiven anyway, why bother? Contrapositively, Woods’ wrongdoings here are in contrast to buddhism, for if Karma is real he would have avoided wrongdoing at all cost. Ergo a correct adherence to buddhism in the first place would have avoided this whole thing.

  10. Glenn says:

    “the problem is that you believe that it is not possible to have one’s facts straight and not be a christian.”

    This is ony a problem if Christianity is definitely false. Why the lack of empathy, Simon? ;)

  11. Stuart says:

    Other Simon,

    “the problem is that you believe that it is not possible to have one’s facts straight and not be a christian.”

    The way I read this sentence I disagree with your analysis of me. I do think its possible to have ones facts straight and at the same time not be a Christian. Your petty psycho-analysing of me is thus rubbish. And if you really mean that differing opinions cannot be sorted out via logic, there we irreparably part company. Such an idea is not rational, and further comment from you trying to sort out my supposedly erroneous ideas with reasons of your own would be a self-defeating enterprise.

  12. Other Simon says:

    Stuart,

    You contradict yourself in your last post.

    Firstly (i) you claim [you believe] that it is possible to have one’s facts straight and not be a christian. Then you claim that (ii) all opinions can be sorted out via logic. Which is it?
    If a person can have their facts straight and not be a christian, then your opinion that christianity is true is inaccessible to logic. Or, if you really believe that everything is accessible to logic – even religious opinion – then you cannot hold to claim (i).

  13. Other Simon says:

    Stuart,

    In your post 14 Jan 6:15 you either claimed that, in reality, there is no such thing as 77 virgins or you avoided the problem of the 77 virgins altogether. I’m not sure which – you seem to drift topic.

    However, the force of my point was further explicated in my next post. It was, not surprisingly, unanswered. So I again invite the addressing of these problems:

    Christianity can produce the desired effect of feelings of forgiveness irrespective of the Absolute Truth of whether any god is actually doing any forgiving in exactly the same way that the Islamic belief of virgins can produce desired effects. I doubt even you would deny this, Stuart.

    At the end of the day, it is the effects that cause people to adhere to religion; the emotional and ’spiritual’ effects. No-one is a christian without these. And these effects are achieveable without correspondence to reality.

    p.s.
    Christianity also offers disinsentive to do good. If it will all be forgiven anyway, why bother? Contrapositively, Woods’ wrongdoings here are in contrast to buddhism, for if Karma is real he would have avoided wrongdoing at all cost. Ergo a correct adherence to buddhism in the first place would have avoided this whole thing.

  14. Stuart says:

    Other Simon,

    Firstly (i) you claim [you believe] that it is possible to have one’s facts straight and not be a christian. Then you claim that (ii) all opinions can be sorted out via logic. Which is it?
    If a person can have their facts straight and not be a christian, then your opinion that christianity is true is inaccessible to logic. Or, if you really believe that everything is accessible to logic – even religious opinion – then you cannot hold to claim (i).

    Firstly, how come it is ok for you to hold contradictions, but not for me? There is a double-standard in the room.

    Second, the dilemma you present here is a false one, because it has a third horn. Being a Christian entails not only believing certain propositions, but also a commitment to follow these and their implications. There needs to be some sort of allegiance before one can legitimately be a Christian. Thus there can be such a person who thinks the Christian religion is true in all it asserts and denies, yet remains not a Christian.

    Christianity can produce the desired effect of feelings of forgiveness irrespective of the Absolute Truth of whether any god is actually doing any forgiving in exactly the same way that the Islamic belief of virgins can produce desired effects. I doubt even you would deny this, Stuart.

    At the end of the day, it is the effects that cause people to adhere to religion; the emotional and ’spiritual’ effects. No-one is a christian without these. And these effects are achieveable without correspondence to reality.

    If I grant all this what does it mean? It seems to me all it means is that “emotional and ‘spiritual’ effects” are not sufficient authenticating grounds for the truth of some proposition. Something I freely grant.

    p.s. Christianity also offers disinsentive to do good. If it will all be forgiven anyway, why bother? Contrapositively, Woods’ wrongdoings here are in contrast to buddhism, for if Karma is real he would have avoided wrongdoing at all cost. Ergo a correct adherence to buddhism in the first place would have avoided this whole thing.

    It’s been clear in previous conversations that you do not understand Christianity. It is now also clear that you do not understand Hinduism and Buddhism either, or else have not sufficiently thought through the implications of the concept of Karma when it is applied to morality. As this is the certainly the case, I do not wish to further discuss this particular point with you until this correction can be made. Perhaps someone else has more patience than me.

  15. Other Simon says:

    Stuart,

    I don’t think I hold contradictons. Please show me them.

    Okay, so your opinion is that logic can sort out everything.

    So you seem to agree that Christianity’s ability to give feelings of forgiveness is just like te ability of Islam to produce effects from the 77 virgins. Completey apart from reality.

    I have no misunderstanding of christianity. My logic of christianity giving disinsentive is just as sound as the claims of buddhism’s inability to give forgiveness. But, alas, you lack the empathy to see that there is any other truth than your own opinion on what christianity is and what buddhism is. You lack patience to explain to me why your opinions are oh-so right? Please! What happened to logic Stuart? My statement stands and is perfectly logical:

    Christianity also offers disinsentive to do good. If it will all be forgiven anyway, why bother? Contrapositively, Woods’ wrongdoings here are in contrast to buddhism, for if Karma is real he would have avoided wrongdoing at all cost. Ergo a correct adherence to buddhism in the first place would have avoided this whole thing.

  16. Stuart says:

    Exhibit B:

    Other Simon: http://talk.thinkingmatters.org.nz/2009/an-atheistic-argument-from-the-big-bang/, # 10 December 2009 at 4:55 pm: I think that the contemplation of the universe as a whole is an impossible exercise. After all, how could one make statements about the universe as a whole? . . . I think there is necessary self-contradiction and mystery here, and I think we should embrace that.

    Other Simon: # 16 December 2009 at 7:10 pm; I agree that an eternal universe is a problem, as is the statement “time had a beginning”. I hold that statements about the universe as a whole are not possible. This is why we always end up with contradiction and circularity. . . I think there is necessary contradiction and circularity when we try to explain Everything.

    Stuart: # 20 December 2009 at 1:51 pm; [re: the above] A self-contradictory statement.

    Other Simon # 20 December 2009 at 2:57 pm; Yes! Statements about the universe as a whole are necessarily self-contradictory and circular! They are all nonsense. They have to be.

  17. Stuart says:

    Exhibit C:

    Jonathan: http://talk.thinkingmatters.org.nz/2009/conflict-for-the-darwinian-dispute/, # 8 December 2009 at 12:12 am; Yes Other Simon, you certainly do embrace contradictions and as such have proven that you cannot even be reasoned with. The first point you made contradicts the second because you used logic to reason that there must be something eternal (which is an “uncaused cause”). Then you immediately refute your own logic by claiming that what “you observe” (is everything and this) refutes the possibility of “uncaused causes”.

  18. Stuart says:

    Exhibit D:

    Jonathan: http://talk.thinkingmatters.org.nz/2009/the-meaning-of-objective-and-subjective/, # 21 September 2009 at 12:25 am; Contradiction: No – objective morality, Yes – objective morality?In (45), you [Other Simon] say

    “But the answer using you-two’s definition of ‘objective’ is ‘cross’ – there is no completely objective morality!”

    Then in (49) and (54), you directly contradict this by saying there is and further to that, an unchanging objective morality.

    “Do I believe in a mind-independant morality? Yes”

    Some of your previous statements that contradict your ‘new’ position;?
    “morality is derived from genes and environment” (19)?Certainly, naturalism demands that genes and environment lead to morality (19)?morality is completely dependant on the physical. (25)?It is a trivial stretch that we are made entirely from genes/the universe (29)

  19. Stuart says:

    Exhibit E:

    Stuart: http://talk.thinkingmatters.org.nz/2009/atheistic-moral-platonism/; There is an objection to the moral argument for God’s existence, specifically the premise which states the best explanation for the foundation for objective moral values and duties is God. It is the idea that moral values and duties can be plausibly anchored in some transcendent, non-theistic ground. That moral values and duties exist objectively, but as brute facts, not needing an explanation for their existence. They are sort of eternal unchanging ideas that are necessary features of the universe. This position we shall call Atheistic Moral Platonism . . .

    Stuart: # 26 October 2009 at 10:51 pm: I’m unclear if you [Other Simon] are actually advocating the objection of Atheistic Moral Platonism. Perhaps you should clarify before you say anything else.

    Other Simon # 26 October 2009 at 10:51 pm Yes, I am.

    Other Simon # 29 October 2009 at 8:21 pm I think I can formulate an anchor for such moral values. . . .

    Stuart: # 29 October 2009 at 9:16 pm; I applaud your efforts to find an anchor – an explanation, if you will – for the existence of moral values. However, if you’re giving an explanation for objective moral values that’s not Atheistic Moral Platonism, as this position affirms their existence as brute facts that don’t require explanations for their existence – they necessarily exist from eternity.

    Stuart: Added here; Also, the explanation you provide is not a transcendent ground. Now brace yourselves for the contradiction…

    Other Simon http://talk.thinkingmatters.org.nz/2010/tiger-woods-brit-hume-and-religious-discourse/#comment-4645; # 6 December 2009 at 6:03 pm This is exactly like the “god-is-a-self-extant being” argument. Arguing that god it the one thing that didn’t need to be created. It is completely ad-hoc. Just declaring something as not subject to the same rules as everything else is….silly. . .

  20. Other Simon says:

    Stuart,

    I don’t accept (or even understand why you included) C,D or E. I don’t think that my views you have posted here are contradictory. They are merely the result of understanding what logic is: a tool. An equivalent argument pertaining to science would be to claim that evolutionists cannot believe in objective morality because they think it arose via evolution. But this is not true; morality is real and it arose via evolution. Similarly, logic is real – and true – and it arises within the universe (it has to have, for what is outside the universe?). But it is not true in a beyond-the-universe sense. All it means to say is that logic is a tool. But to you it is a god.

  21. Other Simon says:

    Back on topic:

    Christianity can produce the desired effect of feelings of forgiveness irrespective of the Absolute Truth of whether any god is actually doing any forgiving in exactly the same way that the Islamic belief of virgins can produce desired effects. I doubt even you would deny this, Stuart.

    At the end of the day, it is the effects that cause people to adhere to religion; the emotional and ’spiritual’ effects. No-one is a christian without these. And these effects are achieveable without correspondence to reality.

    If I grant all this what does it mean? It seems to me all it means is that “emotional and ’spiritual’ effects” are not sufficient authenticating grounds for the truth of some proposition. Something I freely grant.

    It means that the christian’s reasons (emotions) for being a christian are no more grounded in reality than an islamic martyr’s reasons.

    Christianity also offers disinsentive to do good. If it will all be forgiven anyway, why bother? Contrapositively, Woods’ wrongdoings here are in contrast to buddhism, for if Karma is real he would have avoided wrongdoing at all cost. Ergo a correct adherence to buddhism in the first place would have avoided this whole thing.
    It is not christianity that Wood should turn to, for if he does me would have far more insentive to do wrong again. It is back to Buddhism that he should turn, for a proper understanding of Karma will prevent him re-offending. This is perfectly logical.

  22. Stuart says:

    Other Simon

    Okay, so your opinion is that logic can sort out everything.

    I would say that the truth must be logically coherent. If something fails to be logically coherent it is not true. And I would affirm that reality is inherently rational.

    So you seem to agree that Christianity’s ability to give feelings of forgiveness is just like te ability of Islam to produce effects from the 77 virgins. Completey apart from reality.

    Not at all! I can’t believe you got that interpretation from what I actually said; “. . . that “emotional and ’spiritual’ effects” are not sufficient authenticating grounds for the truth of some proposition.”

    I have no misunderstanding of christianity.

    So you say… we shall see…

    Other Simon:My logic of christianity giving disinsentive is just as sound as the claims of buddhism’s inability to give forgiveness.

    Other Simon: # 15 January 2010 at 2:02 pm: Christianity also offers disinsentive to do good.

    Taken as you have put it is evidently wrong, as anyone with even a mild acquaintance with Christianity should know. There are rewards for doing good, for instance; the crown of life goes to him who perseveres (James 1:12). Paul extols his readers put their religion into practice and care for others (1 Timothy 5:4) and James says that the religion that God accepts as pure and faultless will look after widows and orphans (James 1:27). Paul says that the Thessalonians who accepted his message were his hope, joy, and crown in which he will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes. (1 Thessalonians 1:6). The parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30 indicates that the faithful servants, who have diligently put to use what they have been given will receive the divine accolade “Well done, good and faithful servant! . . . Come and share your master’s happiness!” as well as authority in the coming kingdom.

    The critique I’m pretty sure you want to bring is Christianity provides disincentive not to wrong. But Romans 6 is very clear on this. Here is Paul who addresses the point directly.

    Romans 6:15-23

    What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

     I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Other Simon:…is just as sound as the claims of buddhism’s inability to give forgiveness.

    Other SImon: # 15 January 2010 at 2:02 pmfor if Karma is real he would have avoided wrongdoing at all cost.

    If the principle of Karma is real then you if you really want to do something wrong, then you can do it, thinking you’ll just pay off your karmic debt in the next life. Also, if the principle of Karma is real, then there is no way to pay off the karmic debt, for two reasons. (1) Doing good is actually doing something cruel. By alleviating someone’s suffering you actually make it worse for them, because he who suffers is paying off their karmic debt, and he who does not pay off their karmic debt in this life has to suffer more in the next life to pay off the sufferings they didn’t pay off in this life. (2) Morality is relative in pantheism – there is no ultimate difference between good and evil, right and wrong. Any values or duties are voluntarily assumed as rules of expedience. It turns out that karma does not enforce certain moral standards – Karma is not a moral prescription, it is a system of retribution only, it has no content to tell us what to do and what not do do. As N. Geisler and R. Brooks put it “Its a penal system without a legislature.”

    But, alas, you lack the empathy to see that there is any other truth than your own opinion on what christianity is and what buddhism is.

    Empathy towards a different perspective is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter what I feel about something – that bears no weight when its logical consistency is being evaluated. The truth is no respecter of feelings. What is needed, and what you lack, is accurate knowledge of a different perspective.

    You lack patience to explain to me why your opinions are oh-so right? Please! What happened to logic Stuart?

    I have now demonstrated why I lack the patience. I’m tired of ridiculous, pretentious arguments that set themselves up against the truth (as I believe Christianity to be), and that cannot (i) accurately portray an argument or point of view without caricature, (ii) lack sufficient knowledge of the subject, and (ii) cannot employ basic logic, or else either reject it outright or impugn its use and applicability.

    Ergo a correct adherence to buddhism in the first place would have avoided this whole thing.

    Indeed.

  23. Other Simon says:

    Stuart,

    If the principle of Karma is real then you if you really want to do something wrong, then you can do it, thinking you’ll just pay off your karmic debt in the next life……

    Even just taking your first point here. If you can do the above, then I can do the following:

    Christianity leads to sinning since it is all paid for anyway.

    It is just a massive blind spot of yours that you cannot see that your ‘logic’ is selected upon the basis of what it concludes.

  24. Stuart says:

    Other Simon

    I’ve already addressed that very point. Actually… Paul did in the Romans passage, quoted above. If you knew true Christian doctrine, this would not be a criticism you would make. It appears rather, that it is a blind-spot of yours. But even if it were the case that correct Christian doctrine leads to “disincentive not to do wrong,” that is not a logical inconsistency like your Hinduism or Bhuddism example, but actually an ethical inconsistency that belongs to the persons who profess Christianity and act immorally, not Christianity itself.

  25. Other Simon says:

    Stuart,

    I DO understand that no christian would actually sin because it is all paid for anyway. Of course I know that.

    My point is that, likewise,

    If the principle of Karma is real then you if you really want to do something wrong, then you can do it

    no Buddhist does this either.

    But even if it were the case that correct Christian doctrine leads to “disincentive not to do wrong,” that is not a logical inconsistency…but actually an ethical inconsistency

    And if you can claim this, then I can claim that this

    If the principle of Karma is real then you if you really want to do something wrong, then you can do it,

    is an ethical inconsistency also.

  26. Stuart says:

    Other Simon,

    Buddhism and Hinduism, which both espouse karma, voluntarily assume certain rules for the sake of expediency. There ultimately is no right and wrong, good and evil on their view. There therefore can be no ethical inconsistency. If they thought there was one, it would be a logical inconsistency.

  27. Jonathan says:

    Hi guys. I just found the time to catch up on these contributions. Just a couple of minor comments.

    Christianity also offers disinsentive to do good. If it will all be forgiven anyway, why bother?
    and
    Christianity leads to sinning since it is all paid for anyway.

    Yes, well unfortunately, those statements do underline the lack of understanding of Christianity. God’s forgiveness comes through repentance. Repentance in an acknowledgment of one’s wrong and involves an about-turn, as Jesus said “You are forgiven, go and sin no more.” A person carries their condemnation with them if they intentionally sin. The one who keeps sinning is not a follower of Christ, nor forgiven. I expect that a person wilfully sinning will reach a point where they can no longer genuinely repent. God is not a fool.

    I am reminded of a true incident that happened in a small (predominantly Buddhist) Thai village. A car travelling through the village was involved in an accident and the occupants were seriously injured. The travellers were bleeding and dying on the side of the road and none of the village folk would help them because ‘it was obviously their “karma” that caused this and they deserved what they were getting’.

    And from a wee way back:
    An equivalent argument pertaining to science would be to claim that evolutionists cannot believe in objective morality because they think it arose via evolution. But this is not true; morality is real and it arose via evolution

    Since this was brought up, let me add a couple of words. There are plenty of atheists who themselves say morality is an illusion. My understanding agrees that they, at least, are consistent and in-line with their worldview. The above claim is not, predominantly because one has to redefine the term “morality” to fit it into an atheistic-evolutionary worldview. It no longer looks like morality at all.

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