Sunday, October 31, 2010

You have the freedom not to believe others.

Question: (Unedited)
I am 19 years old and have been born into a family of Theravada Buddhists. I believe very deeply in the power of logic and rational thinking. Uptil the age of 15, I had been a buddhist simply by birth right but my quest for answers led me to investigate into my religion and a few others. After some debating, I concluded that the Buddhist philosophy indeed made sense to me and appealed to my desire for a scientific and realistic explanation of life as it is. It corresponded with my appreciation of Darwinian evolution theory and fit very well into my view of life. For a few years, I was quite content with its explanations.

Presently, I am faced by a great dilemma that is rocking the very foundations of my beliefs and also confusing me a great deal. Recently I came across a video made by an Islamic scholar through a friend. Here is its link:

The gist of this video is as follows - the latter part of it deals with atheists and states how the 1400 year old Holy Qur'an has various passages (suraahs) describing natural phenomena that science has only just explained a few hundred years back. The speaker's argument is: "How can the Qur'an possibly explain all this phenomena when it was revealed at a time when scientific knowledge was in its infancy? Could it be because the Qur'an is the product of the Creator?"

This disturbed me because I could not figure out a reasonable answer to the questions it posed. I have read that the Aganna Sutta mentions how the Buddha describes the "universe being destroyed and re-evolving into its present form over years". So, does Buddhism have such explanations regarding natural phenomena as well? If not, how can one possibly explain away the matter that the Qur'an covers and all its assertions regarding the world we live in?

Thank you very much for your time.
My comment:
Hi P....,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

From your first paragraph, it seems you've already got a good grasp of Buddhism.  As you said you believe in logic and rational thinking.  Use them to resolve your apparent "confusion".  Before dwelling into your "problem", let's work on a different scenario.  If someone were to show you a video about the benefits of drug-taking with first hand testimonies and scientific explanations, do you crack your head trying to reconcile what you already know (taking drugs is bad) with the "new" idea that taking drugs is good?  Likewise, others can present to you their versions of belief.  It is up to you to accept or reject.  You need not have to try to find answers to reconcile fit into your own belief.  So, you are actually creating a problem for yourself which in the first place does not call for any answer.  Just ignore them and you will not have any problem.  If you are committed to Buddhism, then take refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha.  Then you will be free from delusion and confusion.  

You have actually referred to the Buddha's explanation in the Aganna Sutta.  The Buddha's explanation regarding natural phenomena is in the three characteristics of existence...Impermanence, Unsatisfactoriness, Insubstantiality....Anicca Dukkha Anatta.

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