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Oh, the inanity! The Dalai Lama and Francisco Ayala vie to be most vacuous : Pharyngula

May 28

It’s been a great week for vapid defenses of religion…at least for atheists, that is. It’s been a sad week for the godly, given that their paladins are all such flabby purveyors of tepid tea.

First up, let us consider the Dalai Lama, revered all around the world because he’s such a nice guy and is always smiling — and I agree that he is an awfully nice fellow, considering that he’s the representative of a medieval theocracy. He has an op-ed in the NY Times, sadly, which reveals that behind his happy face is a bubble of confused cortex. Anthony Grayling has already dealt with the core of his argument, that the many faiths are all facets of one truth, which is ragingly dishonest. The only equality between them is their entirely comparable falsehood — while there are relatively few ways to answer a question correctly, there is endless diversity in error, and that’s all we’re seeing…swarms of priests vigorously asserting that their weird and substanceless take on the universe is the one truth. And no, you aren’t going to arrive at the truth by splitting the difference between the inmates of an asylum.

I want to focus on one other assertion the Dalai Lama made. What is the central core of all religions? Compassion. I disagree, of course, since the religions I get hammered with day after day here in the US are all militant, evangelical, aggressively hegemonical faiths, and compassion isn’t what you see if you are confronted by them. Even their putative compassionate outreach in such things as missionary work are often attempts at cultural conquest. That compassion business is just a tool to win over minds for the Lord/Prophet/Messiah/Cult.

But also…what is uniquely religious about compassion? I don’t have to be a Muslim to give to the poor, I don’t have to be a Christian to abstain from excess. You don’t have to believe in ghosts to be kind, and what Tenzin Gyatso is doing is more of that hegemonical impulse — he’s seen something he likes, so he rushes to land on it and plant the sacred flag of religion on it, declaring this the property of all the holy people of the world…without noticing all us pagans and infidels already occupying it. Lama go home! We don’t need you, or your pious ilk!

Full Article:  Oh, the inanity! The Dalai Lama and Francisco Ayala vie to be most vacuous : Pharyngula.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. gyatso permalink
    June 2 11:23 am

    This is not Gyatso of Tenzin Gyatso…….just another Tibetan. I think the Dalai Lama is talking about the fact that core tenets of most religions contain the notion of compassion as a central them. He was not referring to how religion has been or is practiced by all groups and institutions. Also at the Radio City Music Hall a couple of weeks ago, he made a point of noting that values such as compassion, love and caring seem to have existed long before organized religion and that many of these attributes seem to be exhibited even by animals. He was making the case that many of the world’s problems are man made and that the best way to deal with them and to bridge the differences between religions and cultures may be to approach things in a secular manner through shared ideas of love and compassion. I think you’re being a bit hard on someone trying hard to find common ground and common sense in the world. And your comment ‘Lama go home’, said to a man who is without a country is hurtful to all refugees, and not a statement from someone occupying anything close to a compassionate ground.

    • June 2 1:15 pm

      First I would like to thank you for actually making a very clear point and I will do what I can in a minute to add my two cents. But I first need to point out this isn’t my writing, this is a quoted text from the science blog Pharyngula written by P.Z. Meyers, but I do agree with him.

      “I think the Dalai Lama is talking about the fact that core tenets of most religions contain the notion of compassion as a central them. He was not referring to how religion has been or is practiced by all groups and institutions.”

      The problem with this thought is that at the core of most religions, such as Christianity’s first commandment, “I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me…” gives you the idea that this religion doesn’t aim to share a core value with any other religion.

      Arguably the only shared aspect of all religions are that they are created and practiced by humans, so of course you are going to find human compassion in the mix. Unfortunately humans are also jealous, capricious, angry and selfish, as it turns out those aspects are very very common to religions. To accredit the body of all religions for this compassion is to sell one of the few good human traits short.

      As for the Dalai Lama, I am sure he is a nice guy, but maybe a little misguided as to the source of compassion in religions. I do not think he represents all refuges, he lives a very privileged life.

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