Wednesday, October 27, 2004

I am engaging in an interesting debate

with an Evangelical on "theism," versus "atheism," and the nontheistic position of Buddhism.

Not for any attempt really to expect conversion one way or the other, but to illustrate the different modes of thinking and the common modes of thinking.

These folks live with us, it's important that we understand each other, and hopefully have a more rational debate than has existed say, in the smash-mouth political realm.

Having said that, though, it's important to understand where and how such folks are "getting off the track" in their thinking...

The post referenced above seemed to divide the world into straw-men "atheists" and "theists" (withapersonalized"biblical"Christianperceptionofthedeity...).

There are as many ways to deal with existence as their are people, and as many ways to think about existence as well. Even within Christendom (or Buddhadom?) there are many ways of thinking about existence.

The real issue, for me, is not how you think about existence, what worldview you construct, but how you concretely live your existence. In this regard, delving too deeply into contructing an abstraction of reality becomes a substitute for reality itself- where and how you ARE right now! (As well as who you were, who you will become and so forth).

I have no illusions that I will jar anyone into examining the interstices of their most intimate aspects of their conciousness, but the questions need to be asked, because there is someone over there who is behaving a certain way, and it's alien to everything I know; can they be helped?

Perhaps a better post to jump off from is this one, in which Mr. Jeff Clinton describes John Kerry as a "moral relativist," as a result of Mr. Kerry's position on abortion. (It is stated that George W. Bush's position is more "absolutist.")

Now I support abortion rights for a number of reasons, and these reasons do happen to be based on moral reasons. Among those reasons, in my opinion are that moral decisions made into law that do not consider all effects of such decisions (think of Prohibition or Communism) have disastrous effects generally- precisely because those effects were not considered.

Mr. Clinton's post though is logically very, uh, gooey to me. To say "absolute" without the "relative" is to not be grounded in the concreteness of the day-to-day. To say "relative" without "absolute" is not to think abstractly, either. As Shih T'ou said (or maybe you like this translation better- it's a matter of taste, actually),

Transient phenomena and the permanent fit together like a box and its lid; the Absolute and the Relative operate like two arrows meeting point-to-point in mid-air

Anyone but a strawman imaginary "Moral Relativist" has a meta-morality, and anyone who rigorously advocates "moral absolutism" would have a hard time, as moral absolutes often conflict. It's how the absolute and the relative meet like two arrows in mid-air that is the cause of the conflict.

How do they meet?

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