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I patronize the local atheist boutique to buy bumper stickers, pens, pencils, lapel pins, and badges. This one sat on my desk for a couple of weeks. Then, I had a reply. "Watches only prove that beaches were not designed to be watches." The fallacy goes to the root of arguments for atheism. You cannot prove a negative assertion. When you try, you run into non-sequiturs. Complete essay here: http://necessaryfacts.blogspot.com/2017/03/of-watches-and-beaches-and-atheists.html
I have just finished reading an article entitled Killing the Buddha done by Sam Harris (link below). As you all may know Harris is best known for his books The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation. In his opinion piece Harris expresses an appreciation for Buddhism but states that it is because it is viewed and practiced as a religion that that is why it may not spread or become more popular than the Abrahamic faiths. Harris uses an ancient Buddhist saying to make his point in which one 9th century Buddhist monk named Li Chi is quoted as saying If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him. The monk used this analogy or statement to make the point that if you make Buddhism into a religion, you will rob it of the essence of what the Buddha taught. Harris's main point of his op-ed is that despite practitioners of Buddhism claiming it is a philosophy most followers treat it as if it is a religion. Then there is Objectivism. Unfortunately, there are many subscribers to Objectivism who have decided to make it a religion and follow through as such. Yet it is because of religious Objectivists that may have robbed the philosophy of its essence since they want to be mini-Rands (like Leonard Peikoff) going around their social circles or the world itself preaching from soapboxes in order to lecture people in an attempt to convince them to follow the philosophy. But if a person openly questions or disagrees with their points about certain subjects they risk (and often times are) kicked out or declared persona-non-grata. I must admit that since becoming more familiar with the philosophy it has filled a void in my life and have followed up with starting an Objectivist club that has met for a little over 5 years. However, I have always been of the mindset that the philosophy is my road map and tried to keep myself from making it my entire life. Yet there are people who will always deride Objectivism as being a cult because it is a coherent, integrated, and unified system of thought that is very clear and consistent. However, I think Li Chi's advice is relevant not in a literal sense and just in terms of Buddhism but in terms of Objectivism as well. Thanks to people, like Leonard Peikoff, who have made Objectivism into a religion, they are the philosophy's worst enemy. http://www.samharris...ing-the-buddha/
I realize this news article is a year old but thought it might be of interest. I know many Objectivists have found similarities with and even go so far as to practice Buddhism but this is an event that surprised me. I have been reading up mainly on Theravada Buddhism recently to try to understand the interest among Objectivists with Buddha's philosophy. This is one stark example of how in addition to Buddhism's overall embracing self-sacrifice, Theravada (which is as close to the original teachings of Buddha himself) embraces mysticism despite it's tacit rejection of it (i.e. atheism) and Buddhism's rejection of a God as well as its many followers touting it being a philosophy and not a religion. “Those who become bored by conventional “Bible” religions, and seek “enlightenment” by way of the dissolution of their own critical faculties into nirvana in any form, had better take a warning. They may think they are leaving the realm of despised materialism, but they are still being asked to put their reason to sleep, and to discard their minds along with their sandals.” - Christopher Hitchens, "God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/25/abortion-reform-buddhism-thailand The discovery of more than 2,000 foetuses stored at a Bangkok temple has made front-page news across Thailand. As most abortion is illegal in Thailand, the case has shone a spotlight on a massive backstreet industry and sparked national debate about the country's current abortion laws, which date from the 1950s. With abortion routinely recognised as a "sin" in Theravada Buddhism, religion has played a significant social and political role in this debate. The undertaker at Wat Phai Ngern is accused of accepting regular deliveries of foetuses in plastic bags from an intermediary, who was paid by clinics to dispose of them discreetly. Buddhist temples are often used to store bodies prior to cremation but, with the local crematorium out of order, complaints about the smell led to the discovery of the operation. The bags are thought to have come from up to 20 different locations, sparking a crackdown on 3,900 suspected illegal clinics nationwide. In 1993 the Thai health ministry estimated there were 80,000 illegal abortions a year. An earlier study suggested the total was closer to 300,000. In urban areas doctors are responsible for many of the illegal abortions by providing them for congenital disorders and HIV infections. This is despite the fact the law only permits abortions in cases of rape or physical risk to the woman's health. Illegality means that medical standards remain low – a study in 1993 found that over 1% of women attending regional hospital for illegal abortions subsequently died due to complications. Theravada Buddhism in Thailand is a socially conservative force. About 95% of the population are Buddhist and Buddhism remains closely tied to the state. Sociologist James Hughes explains that most eastern Buddhist commentators, through an acceptance of karmic rebirth, believe consciousness begins at conception. Therefore, "all abortion incurs the karmic burden of killing". While some monks such as Phra Thepwethi believe in a "middle way" (which regards abortion as a sin, but sometimes as the best option) the framing of abortion in terms of sin still has a significant cultural influence. A survey of women who had had abortions found that more than half were fearful of community exposure and a third worried that they would suffer bad karma. Andrea Whittaker, in her book, Abortion, Sin and the State in Thailand also explains that "fear of bap (sin) is the most common reason given by women with unplanned pregnancies for why they didn't abort". Thai Buddhism has also had a key political role in maintaining current abortion laws, which have remained unchanged since 1956. Public discussions on reform began in the 1970s and culminated in 1981 by passing of amendment in the House of Representatives. This proposed widening the legality of abortion to include considerations of mental wellbeing, congenital abnormalities and some cases of contraceptive failure. However, Major General Chamlong Srimuang mobilised a powerful religious coalition to successfully lobby against the amendment. Chamlong's intervention marked a more overt role for Buddhism in politics. He is a member of the Buddhist movement Santi Asoke, whose founder, Phra Phothirak, challenged the idea that Thai monks should not comment on contemporary social issues. Phothirak believed that monks had a duty to speak out to oppose abortion as the killing of human life, arguing that "those who say they are religious but who don't say anything don't know about religion or morality". The Santi Asoke sect, which broke away from the Buddhist sangha in 1989, has been described as "radical Buddhism" for its anti-modernist conservatism and strict monastic codes. Chamlong, now a leading political figure, is responsible for the political wing of the Santi Asoke movement. For these followers, abortion is linked to the influence of western promiscuity and is "un-Buddhist, anti-religious and therefore un-Thai". Members from the mainstream Buddhist sanga also continue to oppose the liberalisation of abortion laws. After a conference in 2006 where NGOs called for the wider legalisation of abortion, a monk named Phra Mahamanoj responded: "We Buddhists … firmly disagree with legal abortion and the destruction of life. If you don't want something to happen, don't do it." Following the recent temple discovery, leading monks have again been speaking out. Phramaha Vudhijaya Vajiramedhi was unequivocal: "In [the] Buddhist view, both having an abortion and performing an abortion amount to murder. Those involved in abortions will face distress in both this life and the next because their sins will follow them." The scandal has given momentum to calls for political reform. A Democrat MP has proposed a bill on "consensual and necessary abortions", which would liberalise current laws. This has been supported by Maytinee Bhongsvej, of the Association for the Promotion of the Status of Women (APSW), but she believes that change will be difficult to implement. "People's attitudes are the major obstacle. For Thai society, abortion is a sin," she says. The prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, has ruled out any legal changes, saying that the current laws are "good enough". Thai advocacy groups like Women's Health Advocacy Foundation point out that liberalising abortion laws would be in line with public opinion, would align the law more closely with the realities of current abortion provision and would also significantly reduce preventable medical complications. However, any reform must contend with Theravada Buddhism – which, with its integral part in political and social structures, retains a significant influence over the debate on abortion in Thailand.