Buddhism’s 3 Marks of Reality and 4 Noble Truths!

A Buddhist channel on Youtube, LamaKungaChoedak, commented on this video and said,”Not bad.”  I take that as a compliment.  Here is an overview video I made to teach the core teachings of the Buddha.  When you see Buddhism practiced in temples, you likely won’t recognize many signs of these teachings.  This is why many people say that Buddhism, as it was initially taught, is not a religion, but a philosophy.  As Buddhism spread, its philosophy mingled with the folk religions of the regions it encountered, and thus what we see now is largely not a faithful adherence to the Buddha’s teachings.  I’ll make a video in the near future that will illustrates the different branches of Buddhism.

Throughout this video I suggest some talking points with Buddhist for beginning to interject the teachings of the Bible in relationship to Buddhism.    It’d be great to read your thoughts on those discussion questions in the comment sections of this post.

If you want to be sure to see future videos, subscribe to my Youtube channel, this blog, and the Contradict – They Can’t All Be True Facebook page.

What do all religions have in common?

Building off the last post, after hearing the difficulty of defining the word religion, how do you define what is a religion so that everything that we generally call a religion is included, yet everything we generally consider to be secular is excluded?

Reading Michael Molloy’s Experiencing the World’s Religions I learned that the etymology of the word religion is two words, “re” and “lig”.  “Re” means again; makes sense, reply, rebound, repeat, etc.  “Lig” means “to connect” or “to join,” as in ligament.  Together, religion means “to connect again.”

This concept is easily found in most religions.  They offer ways or processes of returning to some sort of original state of mankind that has been lost or severed from some problem.  For Christianity, the problem is sin that separated Adam and Eve from God and thrust them out of the Garden of Eden.  Their sin then was passed on to all men and the ultimate effect of our sin is eternal death and separation from God.  The way to “reconnect” with God and that original state of humanity before the “Fall” is through faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.  Other religions offer a different problem, a different separation, and a different way or path of reconnecting with that original state of being.

Moving beyond the etymology of religion, Molloy says that instead of making a set definition that can encompass all religions it is best to simply list common characteristics of religions.  He lists 8 common characteristics and I address them in the following video:

After watching the video, post a comment giving examples of how the 8 elements are found within Christianity.  Also, ask yourself, does Atheism have these 8 elements?  If it does, then should it be considered a religion?  If it doesn’t, should it not be considered a religion?

What is religion?

Have you ever tried to define what religion is?  This video gives a hint at the immense difficulty of defining what should considered religion?

BTW, this video was extremely easy to make.  I already had the PowerPoint created from a class I teach. The PowerPoint is simply used as a conversation starter on the first day of class to get students thinking about what is religion.  Played out in class, this can make a very interactive lecture.  Students often times debate intensely if some of the “secular” examples I gave are religious or non-religious.  I asked once if they could think of any other celebrities whose fans followed them, “worshiped” them, in a religious way, and someone pointed to a female student in the class and shouted, “Justin Bieber!”  And I saw that her laptop had several Bieber stickers on it and I made that comment, and the person sitting next to her said, “You think that’s religious, look at her wallpaper.”  The student shrugged and said, “Yea, I admit it; I’m a Bielieber.”

I hope you liked the video and I’d love to read how you would define the word, “religion”.

Habakkuk Bible Study – Problem of Evil

This is a Bible Study that I wrote designed for group discussion reading the book Habakkuk.  I think we all ask questions about why God allows suffering, pain, and evil.  Our questions are nothing new, as you’ll see from this study of Habakkuk.

habakkuk

Read Habakkuk 1:1-4. 

Can you relate to Habakkuk’s complaint to God?  How do you see his complaint as a modern day problem or a question that you have concerning God’s action, or apparent lack of action?

Read Habakkuk 1:5.

What type of work would you expect God to be doing in response to such a complaint?

Read Habakkuk 1:6-11 to see the type of work God is claiming he will do.

Read Habakkuk’s response to God in Habakkuk 1:12-2:1. 

Is that how you would respond to God?

Vs. 13 – It’s good to see that we are not the first people to have questioned the existence of an all-powerful, loving God and the existence of evil.

Vs. 2:1 – When you pray to God, especially about troubles, do you stand at the watchtower?

Read or skim through Daniel 10:1-14.  How long did Daniel pray to God before he heard the answer to his prayers?  What can we learn about Daniel and Habakkuk when it comes to prayer and waiting for God’s reply?

Read Habakkuk 2:2-4.

God will end the suffering but it will seem slow to us.

What does 2 Peter 3:1-13 say about God’s slowness?  Why is he being “slow” in ending our suffering and fulfilling all of his promises?  What promise awaits us?

Vs. 4 – The righteous shall live by faith!  What is the object of our faith?  How does the object of our faith relate to our righteousness and how does the object of our faith provide an answer to the problem of evil in the world?

Read Habakkuk 2:18-20.

Do we turn to our inventions for safety, help, and prosperity?

Habakkuk 3:1-16 – Habakkuk reflects on a terrifying manifestation of God’s glory and power, he prays for mercy, and is confident in God’s ultimate deliverance.  Much in our lives brings anguish, fear, and feelings of helplessness to our hearts.  God humbles us under his mighty hand, but he does so in order to exalt us in him.

Read Habakkuk 3:17-19 to see Habakkuk’s final response in his dialog and struggle with the Lord. 

What do you think about Science and Darwinian Evolution?

I periodically get asked the question, “What do you think about Science and Evolution?”

I am being asked this because the person thinks that “Evolution” beliefs and “Christianity” beliefs based on God’s divinely revealed Word contradict one another.  I like to clarify that I believe the question is not asking simply about “evolution,” change over a period time, which I believe is evident in nature, but the question is asking what I think about the “Darwinian Model of Evolution,” which is quite different.

English: "A Venerable Orang-outang",...

English: “A Venerable Orang-outang”, a caricature of Charles Darwin as an ape published in The Hornet, a satirical magazine

 

What about Science and Darwinian Evolution?

Validation: 

I know that the scientific enterprise has greatly blessed us with knowledge that has improved our lives in so many aspects that to enumerate all the ways science has benefited mankind to date would be a life-long endeavor.  I know that the Darwinian model of Evolution is often presented as possessing a plethora of irrefutable proof, and since the existence of God doesn’t gel with the naturalistic worldview that accompanies Darwin’s theory it appears as if Christians are living on blind faith, ignoring the evidence, and derailing the advancement of scientific discovery!

Answer:

Option 1 – Science and Christianity are not at Odds AnswerIn the Jack Black movie, Nacho Libre, there is a scene where his wrestling monk character wants to pray with his partner before a tag-team match and his partner refuses, on the grounds that he “believes in science.”  I think this is a common sentiment that if a person believes in God, he or she must then discard Science, and vice versa, that if a person embraces Science, subsequently he or she must reject God.  This simply is not the case!  The process of experimentation that is the hallmark of Science sprang to life, took root, and flourished within the Christian cradle of Europe in the Seventeenth century.  Early founding fathers of Science such as Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei, Blaise Pascal, and Isaac Newton were Christians and their study of the Bible and their faith in its teachings of the world and God propelled their research and ideas, and since Darwin, there have still been many Christian scientists who have offered much in scientific theory, philosophy, and discovery, such as Charles Townes, who invented lasers and won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1964.  A simple search on-line will reveal large lists of reputable, accomplished scientists who hold position in academia.  Science and Christianity are only at odds, if certain scientists claim that God has no place in Science whatsoever.

Option 2 – Science Depends on God Answer – It might appear as though God and Science clash, and that Christianity and Science are irreconcilable due to theories of Evolution, but in fact, Science depends on God to even function.  Science emerged out of a society dominated by the Christian worldview and it arose there instead of elsewhere because of specific beliefs that accompany the Christian worldview, namely that God created the world to be good and orderly and that he preserves his creation in such a way that there is uniformity and consistency across all the universe.  These beliefs are essential to the Scientific Enterprise that depends on the ability to repeat tests in the exact same manner again and again.  This can only happen if we can trust that the laws of nature are the same today as they were yesterday and that they’ll be the same tomorrow and forever, not just where we are at where we are conducting the test, but anywhere in the universe.  Other worldviews didn’t provide the basis for believing there are consistent, unchanging laws of nature.

Option 3 – Naturalism Provides no Basis for Science Answer – If there is no God and nothing supernatural resides in the universe; all that exists would have to be natural, purely physical material.  This naturalistic model of the world reduces all things to constantly progressing, shifting, evolving matter.  There is no purpose or design behind the universe or our lives, and any indication towards this is solely coincidental. Such a worldview cannot provide any basis for the uniform laws of nature that are necessary for the Scientific Method of repeatable testability.  If our sensory organs are the product of chance, can their relayed observations and data be trusted?  Such a worldview provides no reason to explore and pursue a deeper understanding of the world; we already know that the cosmos is purposeless and in constant flux; we’re here today and gone tomorrow; what is now will no longer be; we might as well eat, drink, and be merry; enjoy our material possessions and freedom, drinking deep of the well of hedonism for as long as we have the means to do so.  Naturalism must borrow from Christian theology to obtain the required presuppositions necessary to practice Science.

Option 4 – Show Me Answer –Darwin’s theory, although labeled, “The Origin of Species,” is used to provide a model for the “Origin of Life,” and even the “Origin of the Universe.”  Such hypothetical models can never be proven via Science, since none of them can be submitted to the necessary modes of testing required under the Scientific Method to verify a hypothesis.  We have to admit that we can observe evolution today, people are gradually getting taller and stronger, just look at the rise of concussions in American Football!  I can see that people who have ancestry closer to the equator are darker skinned, and that people with ancestry from Asia have dark hair and dark eyes.  Such visible signs today support evolution within the human race, but there is no evidence that we are evolving into something more than human, such as the mutants of Marvel’s X-Men or mutants with telekinetic abilities as displayed in the Bruce Willis movie, Looper.  As of yet, such degrees of evolution, one species changing into a new, different species, isn’t observable except in the realm of Science-Fiction.

Other problems also emerge with the model of Darwinian Evolution and Science.  Has it ever once been observed that organic material can come from non-organic material?  In other words, can life come from non-life? Has it ever been observed that a random pile of scrap material can explode and form a city of skyscrapers with an infrastructure of roads and utilities complete with humans, pets, birds, and insects to populate it, and function?  In other words, can the Big Bang produce the world we see now?  Has it ever been observed that material can come from the immaterial?  In other words, can the primordial soup that exploded in the Big Bang have popped into existence from nothing?  If you can show me any observable evidence to fit any of these questions, then there might be some credibility to your worldview.  Since there is none, I want you to consider the Christian worldview to such answers instead as they fit with what we have observed as being possible: the universe was created by a Creator, not nothing, life came from the highest form of Life, God, not non-life, universal order, design, and laws of nature came from a divine Orderer, not mindless chaos!

Option 5 – Game On Answer – If you are correct, and there is no God, that everything is the product of purposeless, mindless, random chance, that there is no objective basis for morality, that when I die I’m good and gone, and that survival of the fittest is truly what makes the world go round, then Game On – Viking Status!  I’d take whatever I want and do whatever I want and the only way to stop me would be to kill me, at which point, I would no longer exist to know my past or to have a cognitive future.  I’d be worm-food, nothing else, nothing more.  However, I’ve believed in God and I’ve worshipped him since my earliest memories, and I like to think that he saved me at such a young age, because he knew what I would do if I had a worldview like yours.  You ought to be very thankful that I have a relationship with Jesus, because if I truly believed what you confess to believe concerning Darwinian Evolution, I’d be the world’s worst nightmare.

Back to the Gospel:

The Darwinian worldview provides no purpose for life besides survival and it offers no hope after death, besides escape from pain and suffering, at the cost of annihilation.  The Bible shows that God created humanity in his image, which sets us apart from the animal kingdom.  It’s the reason Scripture provides for why we are not to harm, curse, or murder our fellow humanity.  Being made in his image, we had eternal life, perfection, intellectual abilities for decision moral decision making, discovery, and creativity that the rest of creation lacked.  We also had relational capabilities for intimate relationship with God that the animal kingdom was missing.  When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, the image of God was tarnished; we became sinful, subject to death, and cut-off from God.  We retained aspects of the image of God however, which is evident through our creation and use of the Scientific Enterprise. It is through Jesus, that a way back to God has been established and in him that the Image of God is being restored within us.  Repent comes from a Greek word that actually means to change one’s mind. Repent – turn from your evil ways and turn to Jesus for the cleansing of your sins and the renewal of your mind.