Today I’ll expand on some of my ideas on Buddhism in the essay I wrote called “The Search for Truth.” In other upcoming posts I’ll be expanding and exploring topics such as:
- New Atheism
- Stress Management
- The Psychedelic Frontier
- The Limits of Science
- Language and Reality
- The Meaning of Life
I start off by saying that the pursuit of truth is amongst the main purpose of our lives and I describe why it’s important. We are all interested in truth because it is what describes the human enterprise.
Buddhism is popular for its non-theistic and empirical basis, and globally has over five hundred million practitioners.
So with the criticism of Buddhism I go through popular figures, writers, and philosophers on the subject. There are a handful of critics of Buddhism but it is fairly rare. The ones I selected were I thought of finest quality and had the most kick.
I included polemicist and militant atheist Christopher Hitchens, atheist Vexen Crabtree, successful science historian and journalist John Horgan, author Sam Vaknin, and illustrious poet, psychonaut, and speaker Terence McKenna (for a total of five critics).
Hitchens wrote God is Not Great, Mortality, Letters to a Young Contrarian, and quite a few other books and essays. He was popular for his impressive wit and verbal capacity.
Vexen Crabtree is a philosopher of religion and his article criticizing Buddhism is well structured. In his article he considers things like the origins of Buddhism, its potential for over-idealism, and evidence of negative social effects (he gives examples of sex scandals or social vampirism in monasteries). In his conclusion he acknowledges the world wide social benefits of Buddhism.
Science historian John Horgan has written about his thoughts on Buddhism. I included him because he has written for many publications including Scientific American and has a lot of successful books. Besides the quote I used from an article, he has also criticized Buddhism in his book Rational Mysticism, which was a scientific investigation into mysticism and included profiles of prominent thinkers like religious scholar Huston Smith, psychologist Ken Wilber, chemist Alexander Shulgin, Zen Buddhist and neurologist James Austin, and many more.
Sam Vaknin has a PhD in philosophy and is an author. He is a leader in the area of malignant narcissism and I stumbled upon the quote I used. He is a global leader in the topic of malignant narcissism and is popular on YouTube.
Terence McKenna is an extremely popular and well-known figure known for his eloquent discussions on psychedelics and consciousness exploration. He was a brilliant speaker and free thinker.
Next I jumped right into critical thinking to enhance my arguments objective take. Who is authority? Most people would naturally think the university is a safe bet. Thus I included a paper from The Foundation for Critical Thinking investigating study results about the state of critical thinking in higher education (including a study that investigated the state of critical thinking in sixty-six universities and involved prestigious universities such as Stanford, Cal Tech, UCLA, UC Berkeley, and more).
To make sure I am not just skimming over the argument and not doing both sides of the argument justice, I then looked at New Atheism. Thankfully I am knowledgeable about the political left and right and in this section I could provide a more objective picture of New Atheism (I mentioned I am a classical liberal – a belief in individual liberty, free speech, free market capitalism, and limited government).
I then looked at Mythology and Religion, attempting to establish its validity as an intellectual pursuit. Finally I looked at the role of transcendence and Mircea Eliade’s idea of the eternal return. The idea of transcendence is controversial, so I provided four examples in the notes for this point including religious scholar Karen Armstrong, religious scholar Huston Smith, author and philosopher Bernardo Kastrup, and psychologist Jordan Peterson.
In the summary I discussed New Atheism and said religions are activities that foster Eliade’s eternal return. I said that besides those things, the moral posturing aspect of Eastern religion is ultimately just playful peacocking. It’s true. I think that the moral posturing aspect of Eastern religion is playful and exploratory as social beings. There are also obviously beneficial aspects of Eastern religion as well such as meditation or mindfulness to name a few.
Overall I think love is the meaning of life. I think humanity has wandered too far from that and our basic humanness. We are simple creatures from humble beginnings. Why can’t we make our dreams come to fruition, have the best of conversations, and explore the universe in all its magnitude?
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Until next time.
My essay (link): http://glenwillson.com/the-search-for-truth/