I generally admire militant atheists such as P.Z. Meyers and often find much that is absurd in the religion world thanks to him, such as today's post on one religious apologist Terry Eagleton (and Stanley Fish) which points to this ribbing by Mat Taibbi.
Taibbi's right about Eagleton: the word he was looking for is phlegmatic. (Just try watching Eagleton not get to the point in these lectures at Yale!)
But both Myers and Taibbi as well as Eagleton could learn something from Buddhists, I think.
First of all, too many words are used by these folk.
Secondly, my religious experience sure as hell ain't Eagleton's and it sure as hell ain't the caricature of Myers' monotheists (but then again we Buddhists always get off lightly by the rational New Atheists, with the exception of Hitchens, who, in some ways, is justified in his critiques of the Dalai Lama).
But thirdly...both sides in this religion debate are largely irrelevant to me.
They're irrelevant because there are vows taken.
What if you could save all sentient beings?
Why do you think you can't? The laws of physics? Does the finitude of your lifetime get in the way of this vow?
You can't leap off tall buildings without horrible consequences and sooner or later you'll be dead, but does that mean all sentient beings are just shit out of luck?
I believe not.
I can directly observe consequences of my efforts, albeit on a minute scale. Who knows where these efforts will lead?
What if you had a moment of clarity? What if those moments of clarity piled up in frequency to become a continuum of seeing without delusion, despite delusions being unending?
Why do you think you can't? Because that starts to sound like New Age nonsense?
I dunno about that one; seems to me that anyone who's spent enough time doing the right practices would get some insight into their true nature "even if their feet fail to touch the ground in the morning," to paraphrase Hakuin.
Ditto for learning the Dharma and attaining it.
Oftentimes vows are made as promises but these 4 Great Vows contain within them not only statements of the vastness of the vow, but also of the dedication to their attainment.
A protest sign by workers in Poland in the latter days of Communism read, "Demand the impossible."
There's a place for from the gut faith, especially as reinforced by practice.
Just don't friggin' check your brain at the door. Don't forget about from the gut doubt, and dedication through the tears.