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E-mail: bdea@buddhanet.net
Web site: www.buddhanet.net
Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc.
A L De Silva
¸
Æcyond Æclicf
, Æuddhist [ritiquc of
]undamcntalist [hristianity
by
A. L. De Silva
ree Gem Publications
Publishcd .µµ¡
Trcc Gcm Publications
µa Church Strcct
Campcrdown N.S.V. ac¸c
Australia
ISBN 0 646 21211 7
is book is not intended as an attack on Christianity or main-
stream Christians.
e purpose in publishing this book is to counteract the dog-
matic propaganda of the, so called, “born again” evangelists.
Buddhist Library
Mcditation Ccntrc
µc Church St. Campcrdown
ac¸c N.S.V. Tcl. ca ¸.µ 6c¸¡
¸
[alama _utta
Ðuring thc 8uddha’s timc, as now pcoplc wcrc and arc conluscd
by thc myriad rcligious bclicls cxpoundcd by dißcrcnt rcligious
tcachcrs who cxaltcd thcir own tcachings and dcnounccd thosc
ol othcrs. Tis discoursc was givcn by thc 8uddha whcn hc was
askcd by thc Kalamas (thc citizcns ol Kcsaputta) who wcrc con
luscd ovcr thc many rcligions at that timc.
Tc Æuddha said:
Æo not acccpt anything on mcrc hcarsay (i.c. thinking that
thus wc havc hcard lor a long timc)
Æo not acccpt anything by mcrc tradition (i.c. thinking
that it has thus bccn handcd down: through many
gcncrations)
Æo not acccpt anything on account ol rumours (i.c. bclicving
what othcrs say without invcstigation)
Æo not acccpt anything just bccausc it accords with your
scripturcs
Æo not acccpt anything by mcrc supposition
Æo not acccpt anything by mcrc inlcrcncc
Æo not acccpt anything by mcrcly considcring thc appcaranccs
Æo not acccpt anything mcrcly bccausc it agrccs with your
prcconccivcd notions
Æo not acccpt anything mcrcly bccausc it sccms acccptablc
(i.c. should bc acccptcd)
Æo not acccpt anything thinking that thc ascctic is rcspcctcd,
by us (and thcrclorc it is right to acccpt his word)
8ut altcr obscrvation and analysis, whcn you nnd that anything
agrccs with and is conducivc to thc good and bcncnt ol onc and
all, thcn acccpt and abidc by it.
¡ ¸
[ontcnts
Kalama Sutta ............................................................................................. ¡
Preface ........................................................................................................... µ
Christian Arguments for God’s Existence
Tc Authority ol thc 8iblc ............................................................ ++
Tc ¡xistcncc ol thc Univcrsc..................................................... ++
Tc Argumcnt lrom Ðcsign ........................................................ +:
Tc First Causc Argumcnt ........................................................... +¡
Miraclcs .................................................................................................. +¡
Tc Argumcnt lor God’s Ncccssity...........................................+¡
Tc “Try and Ðisprovc” Argumcnt...........................................+6
Tc Tcstimony ......................................................................................+¸
Why God Cannot Exist
Tc Problcm ol Frcc Vill ...............................................................+8
Tc Problcm ol ¡vil...........................................................................+µ
Vhy Crcatc:......................................................................................... :+
Tc Problcm ol thc Hiddcn God .............................................. ::
God or e Buddha
Physical Appcarancc ........................................................................ :¡
Charactcr................................................................................................ ¸o
Attitudc to Var................................................................................... ¸¸
Hc Sct an ¡xamplc by bcing a Man ol Pcacc.................... ¸¡
6 ,
!dca ol Justicc........................................................................................¸¡
Attitudc to Ðiscasc ............................................................................¸8
Crcating ¡vil........................................................................................ ¡+
Sacrinccs................................................................................................. ¡:
Lovc........................................................................................................... ¡¡
Fact and Fiction in e Life of Jesus
Ðid Jcsus ¡xist:...................................................................................¡+
Prophccics about and by Jcsus......................................................¡+
Tc 8irth ol Jcsus............................................................................... ¡6
Vas Hc A Good Tcachcr:............................................................ ¡¸
Tc Last Suppcr.................................................................................. 6o
Tc Trial...................................................................................................6+
Vhat Happcncd to Judas: ............................................................ 6¸
Jcsus’ Last Vords............................................................................... 6¡
Tc Rcsurrcction................................................................................ 6¡
Vas Jcsus God:................................................................................... 6µ
How did Jcsus bccomc God:....................................................... ¸¸
Vas Jcsus Pcrlcct: ............................................................................. ¸¡
Hcll............................................................................................................ 8o
Miraclcs .................................................................................................. 8:
!nconsistcncy ........................................................................................ 8¡
How 8uddhists Scc Jcsus .............................................................. 88
A Critique of e Bible
!s it God’s Vord:............................................................................... µo
!s thc 8iblc !nspircd: ....................................................................... µ+
6 ,
Ònc 8iblc or Scvcral: .................................................................... µ:
Arc Tcrc Mistakcs in thc 8iblc: ........................................... µ¸
!s thc 8iblc Rcliablc Tcstimony: ............................................. µ¡
Vho Ðid Vritc thc 8iblc: ......................................................... µ¸
Mistakcs and \ariations in thc 8iblc.................................... µµ
Changing thc Lord’s Praycr....................................................... +o+
Rcmoving \crscs lrom thc 8iblc............................................. +o:
Sclcctivc !ntcrprcting..................................................................... +o¸
Buddhism – e Logical Alternative
Tc 8uddha......................................................................................... +o¡
Vhcn wc Ðic wc arc Rcborn.................................................... +o¡
Lilc is Sußcring................................................................................ +o¡
Sußcring can bc Òvcrcomc........................................................ +o6
Tcrc is a Vay to Òvcrcomc Sußcring................................. +o8
Right Undcrstanding..................................................................... +oµ
Right Tought, Spccch and Action....................................... +oµ
Right Livclihood...............................................................................+++
Right ¡ßort ........................................................................................ ++:
Right Mindlulncss and Conccntration.................................++¸
How to Answer the Evangelists
You do not bclicvc in God so you cannot cxplain how thc world bcgan. ................ ++¡
Tcn what docs 8uddhism sat about how cvcrything bcgan: ................................. ++6
8uddhism is impractical bccausc it says you cannot cvcn kill an ant. ..................... ++6
Tc 8uddha is dcad so hc cannot hclp you. ............................................................ ++¸
· µ
Unlikc Christianity, 8uddhism is so pcssimistic. ................................................... +:o
Jcsus tcachcs us to lovc but 8uddhism cncouragcs us to bc cold and dctachcd. ...... +:+
You claim that whcn wc dic wc arc rcborn, but thcrc is no prool ol this. ............... +::
!l wc arc rcally rcborn, how do you cxplain thc incrcasc in thc world’s population:+:¡
Nirvana is an impractical goal bccausc it takcs so long to attain and so lcw can do it.+:¡
!n Christianity, history has a mcaning and is moving towards a particular goal.
8uddhism’s cyclic vicw ol cxistcncc mcans that history has no mcaning and this makcs
8uddhists latalistic and indißcrcnt. ........................................................................ +:¡
Tc 8uddha copicd thc idca ol kamma and rcbirth lrom Hinduism. ..................... +:6
Jcsus lorgivcs our sins, but 8uddhism says you can ncvcr cscapc thc conscqucnccs ol your
kamma. .................................................................................................................. +:¸
Christianity has sprcad to almost cvcry country in thc world and has morc lollowcrs than
any othcr rcligion, so it must bc truc. ..................................................................... +:8
God blcsscs thosc who bclicvc in him. Tat is why Christian countrics arc so rich and
8uddhist countrics arc so poor. .............................................................................. +:µ
Christianity has bccn a lorcc lor progrcss whilc 8uddhism has donc littlc to improvc thc
world. ........................................................................................................................... +¸o
8uddhism may bc a noblc philosophy but il you look at 8uddhist countrics you noticc that
lcw pcoplc sccm to practicc it. ..................................................................................... +¸¸
Conclusion ................................................................................................+¸¸
· µ
+rcfacc
T
hc purposc ol this book is thrcclold. Firstly it aims to criti
cally cxaminc thc lundamcntalist approach to Christianity
and thcrcby highlight its many logical, philosophical and cthical
problcms. !n doing this ! hopc to bc ablc to providc 8uddhists
with lacts which thcy can usc whcn Christians attcmpt to cvan
gclizc thcm. Tis book should makc such cncountcrs laircr and
hopclully also makc it morc likcly that 8uddhists will kccp thcir
laith. As it is, many 8uddhists know littlc ol thcir own rcligion
and nothing about Christianity which makcs it dimcult lor thcm
rcbut thc claims Christians makc or answcr thc qucstions about
8uddhism thcy ask.
Tc sccond aim ol this book is to hclp lundamcntalist
Christians who might rcad it to undcrstand why somc pcoplc arc
not and will ncvcr bc Christians. Hopclully, this undcrstanding
will hclp thcm to dcvclop an acccptancc ol and thcrcby gcnuinc
lricndship with 8uddhists, rathcr than rclating to thcm only
as cithcr lost souls or potcntial convcrts. !n ordcr to do this !
havc raiscd as many dimcult about Christianity as possiblc. !l it
appcars somctimcs that ! havc bccn hard on Christianity ! hopc
this will not bc intcrprctcd as bcing motivatcd by malicc. ! was a
Christian lor many ycars and ! still rctain a lond rcgard and cvcn
an admiration lor somc aspccts ol Christianity. For mc, Jcsus’
tcachings wcrc an important stcp in my bccoming a 8uddhist
and ! think ! am a bcttcr 8uddhist as a rcsult. Howcvcr, whcn
Christians claim, as many do with such insistcncc, that thcir
rcligion alonc is truc, thcy must bc prcparcd to answcr doubts
which othcrs might cxprcss about it.
.c ..
Tc third aim ol this book is to awakcn in 8uddhists a
dccpcr apprcciation lor thcir own rcligion. !n somc Asian coun
trics 8uddhism is thought ol an outoldatc supcrstition whilc
Christianity is sccn as a rcligion which has all thc answcrs. As
thcsc countrics bccomc morc Vcstcrnizcd, Christianity with its
‘modcrn’ imagc bcgins to look incrcasingly attractivc. ! think this
book will amply dcmonstratc that 8uddhism is ablc to ask qucs
tions ol Christianity which it has grcat dimcultics answcring and
at thc samc timc oßcr cxplanations to lilc’s puzzlcs which makc
Christian cxplanations look rathcr inadcquatc.
Somc 8uddhists may objcct to a book likc this, bclicv
ing that a gcntlc and tolcrant rcligion likc 8uddhism should
rclrain lrom criticizing othcr. Tis is ccrtainly not what thc
8uddha himscll taught. !n thc Mahaparinibbana Sutta hc said
that his disciplcs should bc ablc to “Tcach thc Ðhamma, dcclarc
it, cstablish it, cxpound it, analyzc it, makc it clcar, and bc ablc
by mcans ol thc Ðhamma to rclutc lalsc tcachings that havc
ariscn.” Subjccting a point ol vicw to carclul scrutiny and criti
cism has an important part to play in hclping to winnow truth
lrom lalschood so that wc can bc in a bcttcr position to choosc
bctwccn “thc two and sixty contcnding sccts.” Criticism ol othcr
rcligions only bccomcs inappropriatc whcn it is bascd on a dclib
cratc misrcprcscntation or whcn it dcsccnds into an cxcrcisc in
ridiculc and namccalling. ! hopc ! havc avoidcd doing this. ·
.c ..
[hristian ,rgumcnts for Qod’s 8xistcncc
,
ll Christians, lundamcntalists and libcrals, claim that
thcrc is an allknowing, allloving God who crcatcd
and controls thc univcrsc. Scvcral argumcnts arc uscd to provc
this idca. Vc will cxaminc cach ol thcsc argumcnts and givc thc
8uddhist objcctions to thcm.
Tc ,uthority of thc Æiblc
Vhcn askcd to provc that God cxists thc Christian will point
to thc 8iblc and say it is thc bcst prool ol God’s cxistcncc. Tc
problcm is that il wc ask a Hindu, a Taoist, a Sikh or a Jcw thc
samc qucstion thcy too will point to thcir rcspcctivc holy books
as prool ol thc cxistcncc ol thcir gods. Vhy should wc bclicvc
thc 8iblc but not thc holy books ol all thc othcr rcligions: Using
thc 8iblc to provc God’s cxistcncc is only valid il wc alrcady
acccpt that it alonc contains God’s words. Howcvcr, wc havc
no cvidcncc that this is so. !n lact, as wc will dcmonstratc latcr,
thcrc is strong cvidcncc that thc 8iblc is a highly unrcliablc
documcnt.
Tc 8xistcncc of thc Univcrsc
!n thcir attcmpts to provc God’s cxistcncc Christians will somc
timcs say that thc univcrsc didn’t just happcn, somconc must
havc madc it and thcrclorc thcrc must bc a crcator God. Tcrc
is a major ßaw in this argumcnt. Vhcn it starts to rain wc do
not ask, “Vho is making it rain:” bccausc wc know that rain
.a .¸
is not causcd by someone but by something — natural phcnomcna
likc hcat, cvaporation, prccipitation, ctc. Vhcn wc scc smooth
stoncs in a rivcr wc do not ask, “Vho polishcd thosc stoncs:”
bccausc wc know that thcir smooth surlacc was not causcd by
someone but by something — natural causcs likc thc abrasivc action
ol watcr and sand.
All ol thcsc things havc a causc or causcs but this nccd not
bc a bcing. !t is thc samc with thc univcrsc — it was not brought
into bcing by a god but by natural phcnomcna likc nuclcar ns
sion, gravity, incrtia, ctc. Howcvcr, cvcn il wc insist that a divinc
bcing is nccdcd to cxplain how thc univcrsc camc into cxistcncc,
what prool is thcrc that it was thc Christian God: Pcrhaps thc
Hindu God, thc God ol !slam or onc ol thc gods worshippcd by
tribal rcligions crcatcd it. Altcr all, Christianity is not thc only
rcligion to claim that thcrc is a crcator god or gods.
Tc ,rgumcnt from Æcsign
!n rcsponsc to thc abovc rclutation thc Christian will maintain
that thc univcrsc not only cxists but that its cxistcncc shows
pcrlcct dcsign. Tcrc is, a Christian might say, an ordcr and bal
ancc in thc univcrsc which point to its having bccn dcsigncd by a
highcr intclligcncc and that this highcr intclligcncc is God. 8ut
as bclorc thcrc arc somc problcms with this argumcnt. Firstly,
how docs thc Christian know that it was his God who is bchind
crcation: Pcrhaps it was thc gods ol nonChristian rcligions
who dcsigncd and crcatcd thc univcrsc. Sccondly, how docs thc
Christian know that only one God dcsigncd cvcrything: !n lact,
as thc univcrsc is so intricatc and complcx wc could cxpcct it
.a .¸
to nccd thc intclligcncc ol scvcral, pcrhaps dozcns, ol gods to
dcsign it. So il anything thc argumcnt lrom dcsign could bc uscd
to provc that thcrc arc many gods, not onc as Christians claim.
Ncxt, wc would havc to ask whcthcr thc univcrsc is rcally
pcrlcctly dcsigncd: Vc must ask this qucstion bccausc it is only
natural to cxpcct a pcrlcct God to dcsign a pcrlcct univcrsc. Lct
us look nrst at inanimatc phcnomcna to scc whcthcr thcy show
pcrlcct dcsign. Rain givcs us purc watcr to drink but somctimcs
it rains too much and pcoplc losc thcir livcs, thcir homcs and
thcir mcans ol livclihood in ßoods. At othcr timcs it docsn’t
rain at all and millions dic bccausc ol drought and laminc. !s
this pcrlcct dcsign: Tc mountains givc us joy as wc scc thcm
rcaching up into thc sky. 8ut landslidcs and volcanic cruptions
havc causcd havoc and dcath lor ccnturics. !s this pcrlcct dcsign:
Tc gcntlc brcczcs cool us but storms and tornadocs rcpcatcdly
causc dcath and dcstruction. !s this pcrlcct dcsign: Tcsc and
othcr natural calamitics provc that inanimatc phcnomcna do not
cxhibit pcrlcct dcsign and thcrclorc that thcy wcrc not crcatcd
by a pcrlcct God.
Now lct us look at animatc phcnomcna. At a supcrncial
glancc naturc sccms to bc bcautilul and harmonious, all crca
turcs arc providcd lor and cach has its task to pcrlorm. Howcvcr,
naturc is uttcrly ruthlcss as any biologist or carclul obscrvcr will
connrm. To livc, cach crcaturc has to lccd on othcr crcaturcs
and strugglc to avoid bcing catcn by othcr crcaturcs. !n naturc
thcrc is no room lor pity, lovc or mcrcy. !l a loving God rcally
dcsigncd cvcrything, why did such a crucl dcsign rcsult: 8ut thc
animal kingdom is not only impcrlcct in thc cthical scnsc, it is
also impcrlcct in that it oltcn gocs wrong. ¡vcry ycar millions ol
babics arc born with physical or mcntal disabilitics, arc stillborn
.¡ .¸
or dic soon altcr birth. Vhy would a pcrlcct crcator God dcsign
such tcrriblc things: So il thcrc is dcsign in thc univcrsc, much
ol it is cithcr crucl or laulty. Tis indicatcs that thc univcrsc was
not crcatcd by a pcrlcct allloving God.
Tc ]irst [ausc ,rgumcnt
Christians will somctimcs say that cvcrything has a causc, that
thcrc must bc a nrst causc and that God is thc nrst causc. Tis
old argumcnt contains its own rclutation bccausc il cvcrything
has a nrst causc thcn thc nrst causc must also havc a causc. Tcrc
is anothcr problcm with thc nrst causc argumcnt. Logically,
thcrc is no good rcason to assumc that cvcrything had a single
nrst causc. Pcrhaps six, tcn or thrcc hundrcd causcs occurring
simultancously causcd cvcrything. And as bclorc, cvcn il wc
acccpt thc ncccssity ol a nrst causc, what prool is thcrc that it
was thc Christian God: Nonc.
_iraclcs
Fundamcntalist Christians claim that miraclcs arc somctimcs
pcrlormcd in God’s namc and that this provcs hc cxists. Tis is
an appcaling argumcnt until it is lookcd at a littlc morc closcly.
Vhilc Christians arc quick to claim that bccausc ol thcir praycrs
thc blind could scc, thc dcal could hcar and crookcd limbs wcrc
straightcncd, thcy arc vcry slow in producing hard cvidcncc to back
up thcir claims. !n lact, lundamcntalist, cvangclical and born again
Christians arc so anxious to provc that miraclcs havc occurrcd at
thcir praycr mcctings that thc truth oltcn gcts lost in a ßood ol wild
claims, cxtravagant boasts and somctimcs cvcn conscious lics.
.¡ .¸
Howcvcr, it is truc that things which arc unusual or dimcult
to cxplain do somctimcs happcn during rcligious cvcnts — but
not just lor Christians. Hindus, Muslims, Taoists, Jcws ctc.
all claim that thcir God or gods somctimcs pcrlorm miraclcs.
Christianity ccrtainly docs not havc a monopoly on miraculous
happcnings. So il miraclcs pcrlormcd in God’s namc provc that
hc cxists, thcn miraclcs pcrlormcd in thc namc ol thc numcrous
othcr gods must likcwisc provc that thcy cxist too
Fundamcntalist Christians try to dcny this lact by claim
ing that whcn miraclcs occur in othcr rcligions thcy arc donc
through thc powcr ol thc Ðcvil. Pcrhaps thc bcst way to countcr
this claim is to quotc thc 8iblc. Vhcn Jcsus hcalcd thc sick his
cncmics accuscd him ol doing this through thc powcr ol thc
Ðcvil. Hc answcrcd by saying that hcaling thc sick rcsults in
good and il thc Ðcvil wcnt around doing good hc would dcstroy
himscll (Mk ¸:aaa6). Surcly thc samc could bc said lor thc mira
clcs pcrlormcd by Hindus, Jains, Jcws or Sikhs. !l thc miraclcs
thcy do rcsult in good how can thcy bc thc work ol thc Ðcvil:
Tc ,rgumcnt for Qod’s _cccssity
Fundamcntalist Christians oltcn claim that only by bclicving in
God can pcoplc havc thc strcngth to dcal with lilc’s problcms
and thcrclorc that bclicl in God is ncccssary. Tis claim is appar
cntly supportcd by numcrous books writtcn by Christians who
havc cndurcd and ovcrcomc various criscs through thcir laith
in God. Somc ol thcsc books makc highly inspiring rcading so
thc claim that onc can copc with problcms only with God’s hclp
sounds rathcr convincing — until wc look a littlc morc dccply.
.6 .,
!l this claim is truc, wc would cxpcct that most non
Christians in thc world to lcad livcs ol cmotional distrcss, con
lusion and hopclcssncss whilc most Christian through thcir laith
in God would bc ablc to unlailingly dcal with thcir problcms
and ncvcr nccd to scck hclp lrom counscllors or psychiatrists. !t
is clcar howcvcr, that pcoplc lrom nonChristian rcligions and
cvcn thosc with no rcligion arc just as capablc ol dcaling with
lilc’s criscs as Christians arc — somctimcs cvcn bcttcr. !t is also
somctimcs truc that pcoplc who arc dcvout Christians losc thcir
laith in God altcr bcing conlrontcd with scrious pcrsonal prob
lcms. Conscqucntly, thc claim that bclicl in God is ncccssary to
copc with and ovcrcomc problcms is basclcss.
Tc “Try and Æisprovc” ,rgumcnt
Vhcn Christians nnd thcy cannot provc thcir God’s cxistcncc
with doubtlul lacts or laulty logic thcy may switch tactics and say
that pcrhaps you can’t provc God cxists, but you can’t disprovc
it cithcr. Tis ol coursc is quitc truc. You cannot provc that God
docsn’t cxist — but you can’t you provc that thc gods ol Taoism,
Hinduism, Alrican spirit worship and a dozcn othcr rcligions
don’t cxist cithcr. !n othcr words, dcspitc all thc hypcrbolc, thc
cxtravagant claims and thc conndcnt proclamations, thcrc is no
morc cvidcncc lor thc cxistcncc ol thc Christian God than thcrc
is lor thc gods worshippcd in all thc othcr rcligions.
Tc Tcstimony
Altcr cvcrything clsc has lailcd thc Christian may nnally try to
convincc us that God cxists by appcaling to our cmotions. Such
.6 .,
a pcrson will say, pcrhaps quitc truthlully, “! uscd to bc unhappy
and discontcntcd but altcr giving myscll to God ! am happy
and at pcacc with myscll.” Such tcstimonics can bc dccply mov
ing but what do thcy provc: Tcrc arc millions ol pcoplc whosc
livcs bccamc cqually happy and mcaninglul altcr thcy cmbraccd
8uddhism, Hinduism or !slam. Likcwisc, thcrc arc no doubt
many pcoplc whosc livcs havc not changcd lor thc bcttcr altcr
thcy bccamc Christians — thc samc wcakncsscs and problcms
somctimcs rcmain. So this argumcnt, likc all thc othcrs, docs
not provc thc cxistcncc ol thc Christian God. ·
.· .µ
7hy Qod [annot 8xist
7
c havc sccn that thc argumcnts uscd to provc God’s cxist
cncc arc inadcquatc. Vc will now dcmonstratc that logi
cally an allloving, allknowing and allpowcrlul God such as
thc onc in which Christians havc laith cannot cxist.
Tc +roblcm of ]rcc 7ill
For thc rcligious lilc to bc mcaninglul wc must havc lrcc will, wc
must bc ablc to choosc bctwccn good and cvil, right and wrong.
!l wc do not havc lrcc will wc cannot bc hcld rcsponsiblc lor
what wc do.
According to Christians, God is all knowing — hc knows
all thc past, all thc prcscnt and all thc luturc. !l this is so thcn hc
must know cvcrything wc do long bclorc wc do it. Tis mcans
that our wholc lilc must bc prcdctcrmincd and that wc act not
according to thc lrcc cxcrcisc ol our wills but according to our
prcdctcrmincd naturcs. !l wc arc prcdctcrmincd to bc good wc
will bc good and il wc arc prcdctcrmincd to bc cvil wc will bc
cvil. Vc will act not according to our will or choicc but accord
ing to thc way God has alrcady lorcsccn wc will act. Although
Christians will insist that wc do havc lrcc will, God’s omnis
cicncc simply makcs this logically impossiblc. Tc 8iblc also
makcs it clcar that cvcrything pcoplc do, good or cvil, is all duc
to thc will ol God (c.g. a Tcss a:...a, Rom µ:.µa., Rom µ:.·).
!l pcoplc arc cvil it is bccausc God has choscn to makc
thcm cvil (Rom .:a¡a·) and causcd thcm to disobcy him (Rom
..:¸a). !l thcy do not undcrstand God’s mcssagc it is bccausc
.· .µ
hc has madc thcir minds dull (Rom ..:·) and causcd thcm to
bc stubborn (Rom µ:.·). God prcvcnts thc Gospcl lrom bcing
prcachcd in ccrtain arcas (Act .6:6,) and hc nxcs long bclorc it
will happcn whcn a pcrson will bc born and whcn hc or shc will
dic (Act .,:a6). Tosc who wcrc going to bc savcd wcrc choscn
by God bclorc thc bcginning ol timc (!! Tim .:µ). !l a pcrson
has laith and is thcrcby savcd, thcir laith comcs lrom God, not
lrom any cßort or dccision on thcir part (¡ph a:µ.c). Now onc
may ask “!l wc can only do what God prcdctcrmincs us to do,
how can hc hold us rcsponsiblc lor thcir actions:” Tc 8iblc has
an answcr lor this qucstion.
8ut onc ol you will say to mc: “!l this is so, how can God
nnd lault with anyonc: For who can rcsist God’s will:” 8ut who
arc you, my lricnd, to answcr God back: A clay pot docs not ask
thc man who madc it: “Vhy did you makc mc likc this:” Altcr
all, thc man who makcs thc pot has thc right to usc thc clay as
hc wishcs, and to makc two pots lrom onc lump ol clay, onc lor
spccial occasions and onc lor ordinary usc. And thc samc is truc
ol what God has donc (Rom µ:.µaa).
So apparcntly in Christianity a pcrson’s lilc and dcstiny arc
duc purcly to thc whim ol God and as mcrc humans wc havc no
right to complain about what hc has dccidcd lor us. Tc idca that
all our actions arc prcdctcrmincd is quitc consistcnt with thc idca
ol an allknowing God but it makcs nonscnsc ol thc conccpt ol
trying to do good or avoid cvil.
Tc +roblcm of 8vil
Pcrhaps thc most potcnt argumcnt against thc cxistcncc ol an all
powcrlul and allloving God is thc undcniablc lact that thcrc is
ac a.
so much pain and sußcring in thc world. !l thcrc rcally is a God
ol lovc who has unlimitcd powcr why docsn’t hc put an cnd to
all this cvil: Christians try to answcr this dimcult qucstion in
scvcral ways.
Firstly thcy will say that cvil is causcd by humans not
God and that il only wc would lollow God’s commandmcnts
thcrc would bc no pain, cvil or sußcring. Howcvcr, whilc it is
truc that cvils such as war, rapc, murdcr and cxploitation can
bc blamcd on humans, thcy can hardly bc blamcd lor thc mil
lions who dic cach ycar in carthquakcs, ßoods, cpidcmics and
accidcnts, all ol which arc natural cvcnts. !n lact, according to
thc 8iblc, thc gcrms that causc hidcous discascs likc T8, polio,
cholcra, lcprosy ctc. and all thc miscry, dclormity and sußcring
to which thcy givc risc, wcrc crcatcd by God before hc crcatcd
man (Gcn. .:...a). So it is not corrcct to say that cvil and sul
lcring arc causcd by humankind.
Anothcr way Christians will try to cxplain away cvil is to
say that it is God’s punishmcnt lor thosc who do not lollow his
commandmcnts. Howcvcr this implics that tcrriblc things only
happcn to bad pcoplc which arc ccrtainly not truc. Vc oltcn hcar
ol painlul sickncss or disastcrs bclalling good pcoplc including
good Christians and likcwisc wc oltcn hcar ol rcally bad pcoplc
who sccm to havc nothing but good lortunc and succcss. So it
cannot bc said that sußcring and cvil arc God’s way ol punish
ing sinncrs.
Ncxt, Christians will say that God allows cvil to cxist in
thc world bccausc hc wants to givc us thc lrccdom to choosc
good ovcr cvil and thcrcby bc worthy ol salvation. ¡vil, thcy will
say, cxists to tcst us. At nrst this sccms to bc a good cxplana
tion. !l a man sccs somconc bcing bcatcn up by a bully hc has
ac a.
a choicc bctwccn turning away (doing wrong) or dcciding to
hclp thc victim (doing right). !l hc dccidcs to hclp thcn hc has
bccn tcstcd and lound good. Howcvcr, as wc havc sccn bclorc,
an allknowing God must already know what choiccs a pcrson
will makc so what is thc point ol tcsting us: Also, cvcn il sußcr
ing and cvil cxist to tcst us couldn’t an allloving God think ol
a lcss crucl and painlul way to do this: Furthcr, it sccms rathcr
unloving and unlair to allow pain to bc inßictcd on onc pcrson
just so that anothcr can havc thc opportunity to choosc bctwccn
good and cvil.
Somc lundamcntalist Christians will try to lrcc God lrom
rcsponsibility lor cvil by saying that it was not crcatcd by him
but by thc Ðcvil. Tis may bc truc but again il God is so loving
why docsn’t hc simply prcvcnt thc Ðcvil lrom causing sußcring
and doing cvil: !n any casc, who crcatcd thc Ðcvil in thc nrst
placc: Surcly it was God.
8y this stagc thc Christian will start to gct a bit dcspcr
atc and shilt thc argumcnt lrom logic to pragmatism. Hc will
say that cvcn though thcrc is sußcring in thc world wc can usc
it as an opportunity to dcvclop couragc and paticncc. Tis is
undoubtcdly truc but it still docs not cxplain why an allloving
God allows babics to dic ol canccr, innoccnt bystandcrs to bc
killcd in accidcnts and lcprosy victims to sußcr dclormity, mis
cry and pain. !n lact, thc cxistcncc ol so much unncccssary pain
and sußcring in thc world is vcry strong cvidcncc that thcrc is
no allloving, allpowcrlul God.
7hy [rcatc:
Christians claim that God is pcrlcct. To bc pcrlcct mcans to bc
aa a¸
complctc in cvcry way. Now il God rcally did crcatc thc uni
vcrsc this would provc that hc was not pcrlcct. Lct us cxaminc
why. 8clorc God crcatcd thc univcrsc thcrc was nothing — no
sun, no carth, no pcoplc, no good or cvil, no pain — nothing
but God who was, according to Christians, pcrlcct. So il God
was pcrlcct and nothing but pcrlcction cxistcd, what motivatcd
him to crcatc thc univcrsc and thus bring impcrlcction into
bcing: Vas it bccausc hc was borcd and wantcd somcthing to
do: Vas it bccausc hc was loncly and wantcd somconc to pray
to him:
Christians will say that God crcatcd cvcrything bccausc
ol his lovc ol man but this is impossiblc. God could not lovc
humans before hc crcatcd thcm any morc than a woman could
lovc hcr childrcn bclorc shc had conccivcd thcm. Furthcr, God’s
nccd to crcatc indicatcs that hc was dissatisncd in somc way and
thcrclorc not pcrlcct. Christians might thcn say that God crc
atcd spontancously and without nccd or dcsirc. Howcvcr, this
would mcan that thc wholc univcrsc camc into bcing without
purposc or lorcthought and thcrclorc provc that God was not a
loving crcator.
Tc +roblcm of thc ½iddcn Qod
Fundamcntalist Christians claim that God wants us to bclicvc
in him so that wc can bc savcd but il this is so why docsn’t hc
simply appcar and pcrlorm a miraclc so that cvcryonc will scc
and bclicvc: Christians will say that God wants us to bclicvc
in him out ol laith, not bccausc wc scc him with our own cycs.
Howcvcr, according to thc 8iblc, in thc past God pcrlormcd
thc most awcsomc miraclcs and oltcn intcrvcncd dramatically
aa a¸
in human aßairs so that pcoplc would know his prcscncc. !l hc
did so in thc past, why docsn’t hc do so now:
Christians will say that God docs pcrlorm miraclcs today
(hcaling, solving pcrsonal problcms ctc) but bcing stubborn and
cvil most pcoplc still rclusc to bclicvc. Howcvcr, thcsc socallcd
miraclcs arc individual and minor and lcavc much room lor
doubt. !l God pcrlormcd a rcally imprcssivc miraclc which could
havc no othcr possiblc cxplanation thcn most pcoplc ccrtainly
would bclicvc.
Tc 8iblc tclls us that whcn thc !sraclitcs wandcrcd in thc
dcscrt lor lorty ycars God lcd thcm by making lood lall rcgu
larly lrom thc sky (¡x .6:¡). Ðuring thc .µ·c’s, scvcral million
¡thiopian Christians dicd slowly and painlully lrom starvation
duc to a prolongcd drought. At that timc God had thc oppor
tunity to provc his cxistcncc, his powcr and his lovc by making
lood lall lrom thc sky as thc 8iblc claims hc did in thc past.
8uddhists would say that God did not manilcst his prcscncc at
that timc bccausc hc docs not cxist. ·
a¡ a¸
Qod or Tc Æuddha
7
hilc Christians look to God as thcir lord and crcator,
8uddhists look to thc 8uddha as thcir inspiration and
idcal. Although Christians havc ncvcr sccn God thcy claim
to know him by communicating with him through praycr and
through lccling his prcscncc. Tcy also claim that thcy can know
God’s will by rcading his words in thc 8iblc. As 8uddhists nci
thcr prays to nor acknowlcdgc God thc only way thcy can gct
an idca ol what hc is likc is by rcading thc 8iblc. Howcvcr whcn
8uddhists look at what thc 8iblc says about God thcy arc oltcn
vcry shockcd. Tcy nnd that how God is portraycd thcrc is pro
loundly dißcrcnt lrom how thcy hcar Christians dcscribc him.
Vhilc 8uddhists rcjcct thc Christian conccpt ol God bccausc
it sccms to bc illogical and unsubstantiatcd, thcy also rcjcct it
bccausc it sccms so much lowcr than thcir own idcal, thc 8uddha.
Vc will now cxaminc what thc 8iblc says about God and com
parc it to what thc Tipitaka (thc 8uddhist sacrcd scripturcs) say
about thc 8uddha.
+hysical ,ppcarancc
Vhat docs God look likc: Tc 8iblc says that hc crcatcd man in
his own imagc (Gcn .:a6) so lrom this wc can assumc hc looks
somcthing likc a human bcing. Tc 8iblc tclls us that God has
hands (¡x .¸:.a), arms (Ðcut ..:a), nngcrs (Ps ·:¸) and a lacc
(Ðcut .¸:.,). Apparcntly hc docs not likc pcoplc sccing his lacc
but hc docsn’t mind il thcy scc his backsidc.
a¡ a¸
And ! will takc away my hands and you will scc my
back parts but my lacc you shall not scc (¡x ¸¸:a¸).
Howcvcr, although God sccms to havc somc human charactcr
istics hc docs at thc samc timc look not unlikc thc dcmons and
ncrcc guardians onc oltcn sccs in !ndian and Chincsc tcmplcs.
For cxamplc, hc has ßamcs coming out ol his body.
A nrc issucs lrom his prcscncc and burns his cncmics
on cvcry sidc (Ps µ,:¸).
Òur God comcs and shall not kccp silcnt, bclorc him a
nrc burns and around him ncrcc storms ragc (Ps ¸c:¸).
Now thc pcoplc complaincd about thcir hardships in thc
hcaring ol thc Lord, and whcn hc hcard thcm his angcr was
arouscd.
Tcn nrc lrom thc Lord burncd among thcm and con
sumcd somc ol thc outskirts ol thc camp (Num ..:.).
Vhcn God is angry, which sccms to bc quitc oltcn, smokc and
nrc comc out ol his mouth and noisc.
Tc carth trcmblcd and quakcd, and thc loundations
ol thc mountains shook, thcy trcmblcd bccausc hc was
angry. Smokc rosc lrom his nostrils, consuming nrc
camc lrom his mouth, burning coals blazcd out ol it
(Ps .·:,·).
Vhcn thc prophct ¡zckicl saw God and his attcndant angcls hc
dcscribcd thcm as looking likc this.
a6 a,
Òn thc nlth ol thc month — it was thc nlth ycar ol
thc cxilc ol King Jchoiachin — thc word ol thc Lord
camc to ¡zckicl thc pricst, thc son ol 8uzi, by thc
Kcbar Rivcr in thc land ol thc 8abylonians. Tcrc thc
hand ol thc Lord was upon him. ! lookcd, and ! saw
a windstorm coming out ol thc north — an immcnsc
cloud with ßashing lightning and surroundcd by bril
liant light. Tc ccntcr ol thc nrc lookcd likc glowing
mctal, and in thc nrc was what lookcd likc lour liv
ing crcaturcs. !n appcarancc thcir lorm was that ol a
man, but cach ol thcm had lour laccs and lour wings.
Tcir lcgs wcrc straight, thcir lcct wcrc likc thosc ol a
call and glcamcd likc burnishcd bronzc. Undcr thcir
wings on thcir lour sidcs thcy had thc hands ol a man.
All lour ol thcm had laccs and wings, and thcir wings
touchcd onc anothcr. ¡ach onc wcnt straight ahcad,
thcy did not turn as thcy movcd. Tcir laccs lookcd
likc this: ¡ach ol thc lour had thc lacc ol a man, and
on thc right sidc cach had thc lacc ol a lion, and on thc
lclt thc lacc ol an ox, cach also had thc lacc ol an caglc.
Such wcrc thcir laccs. Tcir wings wcrc sprcad out
upward, cach had two wings, onc touching thc wing ol
anothcr crcaturc on cithcr sidc, and two wings covcr
ing its body. ¡ach onc wcnt straight ahcad. Vhcrcvcr
thc spirit would go, thcy would go, without turning as
thcy wcnt. Tc appcarancc ol thc living crcaturcs was
likc burning coals ol nrc or likc torchcs. Firc movcd
back and lorth among thc crcaturcs, it was bright, and
lightning ßashcd out ol it. Tc crcaturcs spcd back and
lorth likc ßashcs ol lightning. As ! lookcd at thc liv
a6 a,
ing crcaturcs, ! saw a whccl on thc ground bcsidc cach
crcaturc with its lour laccs. Tis was thc appcarancc
and structurc ol thc whccls: Tcy sparklcd likc chryso
litc, and all lour lookcd alikc. ¡ach appcarcd to bc
madc likc a whccl intcrsccting a whccl (¡zck .:¡a.).
Fundamcntalist Christians oltcn claim that thc manyarmcd
and ncrcclaccd gods in Hindu and Taoist tcmplcs and claim
that thcy arc dcvils rathcr than gods. 8ut thc 8iblc dcscribcs
God as having a vcry similar appcarancc. For cxamplc hc carrics
wcapons.
!n that day thc Lord will punish with his sword, his
ncrcc, grcat and powcrlul sword (!s a,:.).
Tc sun and moon stood still in thc hcavcns at thc glint
ol your ßying arrows, at thc lightning ol your ßashing
spcar. !n wrath you strodc through thc carth and in
your angcr you thrcshcd thc nations (Haba ¸:...a).
Tc Lord thundcrcd lrom hcavcn, thc voicc ol thc Most
High rcsoundcd. Hc shot his arrows and scattcrcd thc
cncmics (Ps .·:.¸.¡).
8ut God will shoot thcm with arrows, suddcnly thcy
will bc struck down (Ps 6¡:,).
Tcn thc Lord will appcar ovcr thcm, his arrows will
ßash likc lightning. Tc sovcrcign Lord will sound thc
trumpct (Zcch µ:.¡).
Anothcr intcrcsting way in which God’s appcarancc rcscmblcs
nonChristian idols is in how hc travcls. Tc 8iblc tclls us that
a· aµ
hc gcts lrom onc placc to anothcr cithcr by sitting on a cloud
(!s .µ:.) or riding on thc back ol an angcl (Ps .·:.c). !t is obvious
lrom thcsc quotcs that God has a savagc and lrightcning appcar
ancc, a conclusion vcrincd again by thc 8iblc whcrc pcoplc arc
dcscribcd as bcing uttcrly tcrrincd by his appcarancc.
Scrvc thc Lord with lcar and trcmbling, kiss his lcct
or clsc hc will gct angry and you will pcrish in thc way,
lor his wrath is quickly kindlcd (Ps a:..).
Tcrclorc ! am tcrrincd at his prcscncc. Vhcn ! think
ol him ! am in drcad ol him, God has madc my hcart
laint. Tc Almighty has tcrrincd mc (Job a¸:.¸).
Jcsus says God is a truly lrightcning dcity (c.g. Lk .a:¡¸). Tc
8iblc also vcry corrcctly says that whcrc thcrc is lcar thcrc cannot
bc lovc (.Jn, ¡:.·) and so il God crcatcs lcar in pcoplc it is dimcult
to know how hc can gcnuincly bc lovcd at thc samc timc.
Vhat did thc 8uddha look likc: 8cing human thc 8uddha
had a body likc any ordinary pcrson. Howcvcr, thc Tipitaka
lrcqucntly spcak ol his grcat pcrsonal bcauty.
Hc is handsomc, goodlooking, plcasant to scc, ol most
bcautilul complcxion, his lorm and countcnancc is likc
8rahma’s, his appcarancc is bcautilul (Ðigha Nikaya,
Sutta No.¡).
Hc is handsomc, inspiring laith, with calm scnscs and
mind tranquil, composcd and controllcd, likc a pcr
lcctly tamcd clcphant (Anguttara Nikaya, Sutta No.¸6).
Vhcncvcr pcoplc saw thc 8uddha, his calm appcarancc nllcd
thcm with pcacc and his gcntlc smilc rcassurcd thcm. As wc havc
a· aµ
sccn, God’s voicc is loud and lrightcning likc thundcr (Ps 6·:¸¸)
whilc thc 8uddha’s voicc was gcntlc and soothing.
Vhcn in a monastcry hc is tcaching thc Ðhamma,
hc docs not cxalt or disparagc thc asscmbly. Òn thc
contrary, hc dclights, uplilts, inspircs and gladdcns
thcm with talk on Ðhamma. Tc sound ol thc good
Gotama’s voicc has cight charactcristics, it is distinct
and intclligiblc, swcct and audiblc, ßucnt and clcar,
dccp and rcsonant (Majjhima Nikaya, Sutta No..µ).
God carrics wcapons bccausc hc has to kill his cncmics and bc
causc hc controls pcoplc with violcncc and thrcats. Tc 8uddha
by contrast, showcd cnmity to no onc and was ablc to control
pcoplc by rcasoning with thcm. Addrcssing thc 8uddha, King
Pascnadi oncc said:
! am a king, ablc to cxccutc thosc dcscrving cxccution,
nnc thosc dcscrving to bc nncd, or cxilc thosc dcscrv
ing cxilc. 8ut whcn ! am sitting on a court casc pcoplc
somctimcs intcrrupt cvcn mc. ! can’t cvcn gct a chancc
to say: “Ðon’t intcrrupt mc! Vait until ! havc nnishcd
spcaking.” 8ut whcn thc Lord is tcaching Ðhamma
thcrc is not cvcn thc sound ol coughing coming lrom
thc asscmbly. Òncc, as ! sat listcning to thc Lord tcach
Ðhamma a ccrtain disciplc coughcd and onc ol his lcl
lows tappcd him on thc kncc and said, “Silcncc, sir,
makc no noisc. Òur Lord is tcaching Ðhamma”, and
! thought to myscll, indccd it is wondcrlul, marvclous
how wcll traincd thcsc disciplcs arc without stick or
sword (Majjhima Nikaya, Sutta No.·µ).
¸c ¸.
Vc can just imaginc how God would rcact il onc wcrc loolish
cnough to intcrrupt him whilc hc was spcaking. !t is clcar lrom
what has bccn said abovc that thc 8uddha’s physical appcar
ancc rcßcctcd his dccp inncr calm and compassion. Pcoplc wcrc
always inspircd by thc aura ol pcacc that surroundcd him.
[haraucr
Vc havc sccn that 8uddhists do not bclicvc in God bccausc to
thcm thc idca is illogical and contrary to thc lacts. 8ut 8uddhists
also rcjcct thc Christian God bccausc, il thc 8iblc is corrcct, hc
appcars to bc so impcrlcct. All ol thc ncgativc cmotions which
most culturcd pcoplc considcr unacccptablc sccm to bc lound in
God. Lct us cxaminc how thc 8iblc dcscribcs God’s charactcr.
Tc cmotion which is associatcd with God morc than any
othcr is jcalousy. Hc cvcn admits that hc is jcalous.
For thc Lord is a dcvouring nrc, a jcalous God (Ðcut ¡:a¡).
Nothing makcs God morc jcalous than whcn pcoplc worship
othcr gods and hc tclls thcm that thcy must cvcn kill our own
childrcn il thcy do this.
!l your brothcr, thc son ol your mothcr, or your son,
daughtcr, thc wilc ol your bosom or thc lricnd ol your
own soul, cnticcs you sccrctly, saying, “Lct us go and
scrvc othcr gods” which ncithcr you nor your lathcrs
havc known, somc ol thc gods ol thc pcoplc that arc
around you whcthcr ncar or lar, lrom onc cnd ol thc
carth to thc othcr, you shall not yicld to him or listcn
to him, nor shall your cyc pity him, nor shall you sparc
¸c ¸.
him, nor shall you conccal him, but you shall kill him.
Your hand shall bc thc nrst against him to kill him and
altcr that thc othcrs can strikc him (Ðcut .¸:6).
Tc 8iblc tclls us that God lrcqucntly loscs his tcmpcr.
Scc, thc day ol thc Lord is coming — a crucl day, with
wrath and ncrcc angcr, to makc thc land dcsolatc and
dcstroy thc sinncrs within it (!s .¸:µ).
God is angry cvcry day (Ps ,:..).
Tc Lord will causc mcn to hcar his majcstic voicc and
will makc thcm scc his arm coming down with raging
angcr and consuming nrc (!s ¸c:¸c).
His angcr will burn against you and hc will dcstroy you
lrom thc lacc ol thc land (Ðcut 6:.¸).
God tclls us to lovc but hc is dcscribcd as hating and bcing nllcd
with abhorrcncc.
You hatc all thosc who do wrong. You dcstroy thosc
who tcll lics, bloodthirsty and dcccitlul mcn thc Lord
abhors (Ps ¸:¸6).
Hc is dcscribcd as hating many othcr things as wcll as pcoplc
(scc Ðcut .6:aa, Mala a:.6, Lcv a6:¸c). God has a particularly
dccp hatrcd lor othcr rcligions which probably cxplains why
Christianity has always bccn such an intolcrant rcligion. Hc is
oltcn dcscribcd as lccling spccial hatrcd lor thosc who will not
worship him.
¸a ¸¸
Your Ncw Moon lcstivals and your appointcd lcasts my
soul hatcs (!s .:.¡).
Tc 8uddha had compassion lor thosc who wcrc crucl, hc lorgavc
thosc who did wrong and hc had rcspcct lor thosc ol othcr rcli
gions. Vc would cxpcct God, bcing capablc ol jcalousy and hatc,
to bc vcngclul and so not surprisingly thc 8iblc oltcn mcntions
God’s vcngclul naturc.
8chold, your God will comc with vcngcancc (!s ¸¸:¡).
Tc Lord is avcnging and wrathlul, thc Lord takcs
vcngcancc on his advcrsarics and holds wrath lor his
cncmics (Nahum .:a).
For wc know him who said, “!t is minc to avcngc, !
will rcpay”, and again, “Tc Lord will judgc his pcoplc”.
!t is a drcadlul thing to lall into thc hands ol thc living
God (Hcb .c:¸c¸.). (Scc also Rom .:·, a:¸6, .a:.µ).
8uddhists arc gcnuincly shockcd whcn thcy rcad things likc “!t is
a drcadlul thing to lall into thc hands ol thc living God”. Vhat
sort ol savagc dcity is this! Vhat is thc point ol worshipping a
God who is lull ol thc vcry mcntal dcnlcmcnts which wc our
sclvcs arc striving to ovcrcomc:
Ðuring thc lorty ycars altcr his cnlightcnmcnt, thc 8uddha
urgcd pcoplc to givc up angcr, jcalousy and intolcrancc and ncvcr
oncc in all that timc did hc lail to act in pcrlcct accordancc with
what hc taught to othcrs.
Tc Lord acts as hc spcaks and spcaks as hc acts. Vc
nnd no tcachcr othcr than thc Lord who is so consist
¸a ¸¸
cnt as this whcthcr wc survcy thc past or thc prcscnt
(Ðigha Nikaya, Sutta No..µ).
!n thc wholc ol thc Tipitaka thcrc is not a singlc cxamplc ol thc
8uddha cxprcssing angcr, hatrcd, jcalousy, ctc. bccausc, bcing
pcrlcct, hc had transccndcd all such ncgativc cmotions.
,ttitudc to 7ar
Tc 8iblc tclls us that thcrc is a timc lor hatc and a timc lor war
(¡x ¸:·) and it is widcly rccognizcd today that thosc two grcat cvils
lccd upon cach othcr. As wc havc sccn, God is quitc capablc ol
hatrcd and so not surprisingly that hc is oltcn involvcd in war.
Tc Lord is a man ol war (¡x .¸:¸).
Tc Lord your God is in your midst, a warrior who
givcs victory (Zcph ¸:.,).
Tc Lord gocs lorth likc a mighty man, likc a man ol
war hc stirs up his lury, hc crics out, hc shouts aloud,
hc shows himscll mighty against thc cncmy (!s ¡a:.¸).
Vhcn ! sharpcn my ßashing sword and my hand
grasps it in judgmcnt, ! will takc vcngcancc on my
advcrsarics and rcpay thosc who hatc mc. ! will makc
my arrows drunk with blood whilc my sword dcvours
ßcsh: thc blood ol thc slain and thc captivcs, thc hcads
ol thc cncmy lcadcrs (Ðcut ¸a:¡.¡a).
For ccnturics Christians havc bccn inspircd by thcsc and othcr
8iblc passagcs cncouraging and cvcn glorilying war to usc violcncc
¸¡ ¸¸
to sprcad thcir rcligion. ¡vcn today thcrc is a distinctly militaris
tic ßavor about ccrtain Christian churchcs. Tc Salvation Army
with its motto “8lood and Firc”, thc Jcsus Army, thc hymns that
spcak about “Ònward Christian soldicrs marching as to war”,
thc saying “Praisc thc Lord and pass thc ammunition”, ctc. Tc
8iblc contains dozcns ol cxamplcs ol God hclping his dcvotccs
to capturc citics, slaughtcr civilian populations and dclcat armics
(lor cxamplc Num a.:.¸, Num ¸.:..a, Ðcut a:¸a¸¡, Ðcut ¸:¸,,
Josh ..:6.., ctc.). Conccrning prisoncrs ol war God says:
And you shall dcstroy all thc pcoplcs that thc Lord
your God givcs ovcr to you, your cyc shall not pity
thcm (Ðcut ,:.6).
Vhcn thc Lord your God givcs thcm ovcr to you and
you dclcat thcm you must uttcrly dcstroy thcm and
show no mcrcy to thcm (Ðcut ,:a).
!l military lcadcrs do such things today thcy arc considcrcd war
criminals. ¡vcn Christians arc oltcn shockcd whcn thcy rcad
passagcs likc thcsc. 8uddhists simply lccl that thcy justily thcir
rcjcction ol God and thcir laith in thc 8uddha.
Vhat was thc 8uddha’s attitudc to war: Tcrc is ol coursc
no cxamplc ol him cvcr praising war, cncouraging it, or going to
war himscll. Òn thc contrary, hc urgcd all to livc in pcacc and
harmony and is dcscribcd as bcing likc this,
Hc is a rcconcilcr ol thosc who arc in conßict and an
cncouragcr ol thosc who arc alrcady unitcd, rcjoicing in
pcacc, loving pcacc, dclighting in pcacc, hc is onc who
spcaks in praisc ol pcacc (Ðigha Nikaya, Sutta No..).
¸¡ ¸¸
½c _ct an 8xamplc by bcing a _an of +cacc
Abandoning killing, thc monk Gotama livcs rclraining
lrom killing, hc is without stick or sword and hc livcs
with carc, compassion and sympathy lor othcrs (Ðigha
Nikaya, Sutta No..).
8ut thc 8uddha was not contcnt with mcrcly spcaking in lavor
ol pcacc or with bcing pcacclul himscll. Hc activcly promotcd
pcacc by trying to stop war. Vhcn his rclativcs wcrc about to
go to war ovcr thc watcrs ol thc Rohini Rivcr, thc 8uddha did
not takc sidcs, urgc thcm on, givc thcm advicc on tactics or tcll
thcm to show no mcrcy to thcir advcrsarics as God did. !nstcad
couragcously hc stood bctwccn thc two lactions and brought
thcm to thcir scnscs by asking, “Vhat is morc valuablc, blood or
watcr:” Tc soldicrs rcplicd, “8lood is morc valuablc, sir.” Tcn
thc 8uddha said, “Tcn is it not unbccoming to spill blood just
lor thc sakc ol watcr:” 8oth sidcs droppcd thcir wcapons and
pcacc was rcstorcd (Ðhammapada Atthakata 8ook .¸,.). Tc
8uddha had put asidc hatrcd and nllcd his mind with lovc and
compassion so approving ol war was impossiblc lor him.
Idca of ¸usticc
Justicc is thc quality ol bcing lair and onc who is just acts lairly
and in accordancc with what is right. Howcvcr, idcas about what
is lair and right dißcr lrom timc to timc and lrom pcrson to
pcrson. Christians claim that God is just so by cxamining his
actions wc will bc ablc to know his conccpt ol justicc. God tclls
us that anybody who disobcys him will bc punishcd “scvcn timcs
¸6 ¸,
ovcr” (Lcv a6:.·), that is, onc sin will bc punishcd scvcn timcs.
God apparcntly considcrs this to bc lair and just. Hc also tclls
us that hc will punish thc innoccnt childrcn, grandchildrcn and
cvcn grcatgrandchildrcn ol thosc who sin.
! thc Lord am a jcalous God, punishing thc childrcn
lor thc sins ol thc lathcrs to thc third or lourth gcncra
tion ol thosc who hatc mc (Ðcut ¸:µ).
Tis is known as collcctivc punishmcnt, punishing a wholc lam
ily or group lor thc crimc committcd by onc ol its mcmbcrs.
Collcctivc punishmcnt is univcrsally condcmncd today but God
sccms to considcr it quitc lair and just.
God tclls us that cvcn minor oßcnccs should bc punishcd
by dcath. For cxamplc hc says that thosc who work on Sunday
should bc stoncd to dcath. Òncc a man was lound collccting
nrcwood on Sunday and God said to Moscs and thc pcoplc who
caught thc man:
“Tc man must dic. Tc wholc asscmbly must stonc him
outsidc thc camp.” So thc asscmbly took him outsidc
thc camp and stoncd him to dcath as thc Lord com
mandcd Moscs (Num .¸:¸a¸6).
To dcmand capital punishmcnt lor such a minor oßcncc sccms to
bc a monstrous injusticc. God’s idca ol justicc docs not sccm to
cmbracc thc idca that thc punishmcnt should nt thc crimc. Vc
arc told that all who do not lovc God will sußcr ctcrnal punish
mcnt in hcll. Tcrc arc many kind, honcst and good pcoplc who
do not bclicvc in God and thcy will all go to hcll. !s this lair and
just: God apparcntly thinks so.
¸6 ¸,
Vas thc 8uddha just: Hc had attaincd thc lrccdom ol
cnlightcnmcnt and taught othcrs how thcy too could attain this
samc lrccdom. Unlikc God, hc was not primarily a lawgivcr, a
judgc, or onc who mctcs out punishmcnt. Hc was a tcachcr. !n
all his dcalings with pcoplc hc was lair, mild and mcrcilul and
hc cncouragcd his lollowcrs to act in a likc manncr. !l somconc
did wrong hc said that onc should not rush to judgc or punish
thcm.
Vhcn you arc living togcthcr in harmony, a lcllow
monk might commit an oßcncc, a transgrcssion. 8ut you
should not rush to condcmn him, thc issuc must bc carc
lully cxamincd nrst (Majjhima Nikaya, Sutta No. .c¸).
!n addition, whcn a pcrson is bcing cxamincd onc should rcmain
uninßucnccd by bias or partiality and should look at both sidcs
ol thc casc.
Not by passing hasty judgmcnts docs onc bccomc just,
a wisc pcrson is onc who invcstigatcs both sidcs. Ònc
who docs not judgc othcrs arbitrarily but passcs judg
mcnt impartially and in accordancc with thc lacts, that
pcrson is a guardian ol thc law and is rightly callcd just
(Ðhammapada a¸6a¸,).
As lor punishmcnt, thc 8uddha would havc considcrcd stoning
somconc to dcath or any othcr lorm ol capital punishmcnt to bc
uttcrly unacccptablc. Hc himscll was always rcady to lorgivc. Òncc
a man callcd Nigrodha abuscd thc 8uddha but latcr rcalizcd his
mistakc, conlcsscd it to thc 8uddha and askcd lor his lorgivcncss.
Full ol undcrstanding and compassion thc 8uddha said:
¸· ¸µ
!ndccd, Nigrodha, transgrcssion ovcrcamc you whcn
through ignorancc, blindncss and cvil you spokc to mc
likc that. 8ut sincc you acknowlcdgc your transgrcssion
and makc amcnds as is right, ! acccpt your conlcssion
(Ðigha Nikaya, Sutta No.a¸).
Tc 8uddha lorgavc all whcthcr thcy acccptcd his tcachings or
not and cvcn il Nigrodha had rcluscd to apologizc thc 8uddha
would not havc thrcatcncd to punish him. To thc 8uddha thc
propcr rcsponsc to laults was not thc thrcat to punish but cduca
tion and lorgivcncss. Hc says:
8y thrcc things thc wisc can bc known. Vhat thrcc:
Tcy scc thcir laults as thcy arc. Vhcn thcy sccs thcm
thcy corrcct thcm and whcn anothcr conlcsscs a lault
thc wisc lorgivc it as thcy should (Anguttara Nikaya,
8ook ol Trccs, Sutta No..c).
,ttitudc to Æiscasc
Ðiscasc, sickncss and plagucs havc bccn thc scourgc ol human
kind lor ccnturics, causing untold sußcring and miscry. Tc 8iblc
shows us that God has always considcrcd discasc to bc a usclul
way ol cxprcssing his angcr and cxcrcising his vcngcancc. Vhcn
Pharaoh rcluscd to rclcasc thc Jcws hc causcd lcstcring boils to
brcak out on “all ¡gyptians” (¡x µ:·.a). Hc uscd this amiction to
punish mcn, womcn, childrcn and babics lor thc sin ol onc man.
Latcr hc causcd thc nrstborn ol cvcry malc child dic. Hc says:
¡vcry nrstborn son in ¡gypt will dic, lrom thc nrst
born son ol Pharaoh who sits on thc thronc, to thc
¸· ¸µ
nrstborn son ol thc slavc girl who sits at hcr handmill.
Tcrc will bc loud wailing throughout ¡gypt — worsc
than thcrc has cvcr bccn or cvcr will bc (¡x ..:¸6).
Tis is anothcr good cxamplc ol God’s idca ol justicc and com
passion. Countlcss thousands ol mcn, boys and innoccnt babics
wcrc killcd by God bccausc Pharaoh would not obcy him. !n
many placcs in thc 8iblc God thrcatcns to inßict tcrriblc discascs
on thosc who do not lollow his commandmcnts.
Tc Lord will plaguc with discascs until hc has
dcstroycd you...thc Lord will strikc you with wasting
discasc, with lcvcr and inßammation...(Ðcut a·:a.aa).
Tc Lord will inßict you with thc boils ol ¡gypt and
with tumors, lcstcring sorcs, and with itch, lrom which
you cannot bc curcd (Ðcut a·:a,).
Tc Lord will scnd lcarlul plagucs on you and your
dcsccndants, harsh and prolongcd disastcrs and scvcrc
and lingcring illncss. Hc will bring upon you all thc
disastcrs ol ¡gypt that you drcadcd and thcy will cling
to you. Tc Lord will also bring on you cvcry kind ol
sickncss and disastcr (Ðcut a·:¸µ6.).
Somctimcs God cvcn inßicts hidcous discascs on pcoplc just
to tcst thcir laith. To tcst Job hc allowcd all his childrcn to bc
killcd (Job .:.·.µ) and Job himscll to bc struck with a tcrriblc
discasc (Job a:6·). So unbcarablc was Job’s gricl and sußcring
that hc bcgan to wish hc had ncvcr bccn born (Job ¸:¸a6). God
cvcn crcatcd somc pcoplc blind and allowcd thcm to spcnd thcir
¡c ¡.
livcs bcgging and groping in darkncss just so that Jcsus could
miraculously hcal thcm and thcrcby dcmonstratc God’s powcr
(Jn µ:.¡). Òbviously, God also sccs illncss, sickncss and discasc
as usclul way and ol dcmonstrating thc cxtcnt ol his powcr.
Now lct us havc a look at thc 8uddha’s attitudc to sickncss.
Hc saw sickncss and discasc as a part ol thc gcncral sußcring
that hc camc to lrcc humankind lrom. Tus hc was callcd “thc
compassionatc physician”. Tcrc arc no cxamplcs ol thc 8uddha
cvcr having causcd pcoplc to bccomc discascd in ordcr to punish
thcm or bccausc hc was angry at thcm. Hc rightly undcrstood
that lor as long as wc havc a body wc will bc susccptiblc to dis
casc and hc cncouragcd all to attain Nirvana and bc lorcvcr lrcc
lrom sußcring. 8ut whilc hc tricd to cut thc problcm at thc root
hc also took practical stcps to comlort thc sick and rcstorc thcm
to hcalth. Rathcr than inßict discascs on pcoplc as God did, hc
gavc advicc on how to hclp and comlort thc sick.
Vith nvc qualitics onc is worthy to nursc thc sick.
Vhat nvc: Ònc can prcparc thc corrcct mcdicinc, onc
knows what is good lor thc paticnt and oßcrs it, and
what is not good onc docs not oßcr, onc nurscs thc sick
out ol lovc not out ol dcsirc lor gain, onc is unmovcd
by cxcrcmcnt, urinc, vomit and spittlc, and lrom timc
to timc onc can instruct, inspirc, gladdcn and satisly
thc sick with talk on Ðhamma (Anguttara Nikaya,
8ook ol Fivcs, Sutta No..a¡).
Tc 8uddha not only taught this but actcd in conlormity to his
own tcaching. Òncc whcn hc lound a sick monk ncglcctcd and
lying in his own cxcrcmcnt hc bathcd him, comlortcd him and
¡c ¡.
thcn callcd thc othcr monks togcthcr said to thcm, “!l you would
nursc mc, nursc thosc who arc sick” (\inaya, Mahavagga, 8).
Vhcn God was angry hc would inßict discascs on pcoplc and
thcn watch thcm sußcr. Vhcn thc 8uddha saw pcoplc with
discascs, out ol compassion hc did all hc could to rcstorc thcm
to hcalth.
[rcating 8vil
God crcatcd all that is good but bccausc hc crcatcd cvcrything
hc must havc also crcatcd all that is cvil. Hc himscll says:
! am thc Lord and thcrc is no othcr. ! lorm thc light
and ! crcatc thc darkncss, ! makc thc good and ! makc
cvil (!s ¡¸:,·).
Vhcn wc think ol naturc and rcmcmbcr that God is supposcd
to havc crcatcd cvcrything wc undcrstand thc mcaning ol thcsc
words. Lcprosy gcrms causc untold miscry and thcy wcrc crcatcd
by God. Tubcrculosis gcrms kill and dclorm millions ol humans
cach ycar and thcy too wcrc crcatcd by God. Hc crcatcd thc
plaguc bactcria, thc ßcas and thc rats that togcthcr causc bubonic
plaguc and which havc killcd pcrhaps as many as a hundrcd mil
lion pcoplc throughout thc ccnturics. !n .66¸, 6·,ccc pcoplc dicd
ol thc plaguc in London alonc. No doubt all this is what God
mcans whcn hc says hc crcatcd darkncss and cvil. 8ut God tclls
us that hc also crcatcd othcr lorms ol cvil as wcll. Hc says:
Vhcn disastcr comcs to a city, has not thc Lord causcd
it: (Amos ¸:¡).
¡a ¡¸
Tis undoubtcdly rclcrs to thc carthquakcs, nrcs, social strilc,
wars and othcr lorms ol cvil which pcriodically amict human
kind’s towns and citics. Vc rcad in thc 8iblc that cvcn cvil spirits
comc lrom God. !n . Samucl .6:.¡.6 wc arc told that an cvil
spirit lrom God tormcntcd Saul.
Ðid thc 8uddha crcatc cvil: As hc was not a crcator God
hc cannot bc hcld rcsponsiblc lor “‘darkncss and cvil”. Tc only
thing hc crcatcd was thc Ðhamma which hc discovcrcd and thcn
proclaimcd to thc world. And this Ðhamma has brought only
light, good and gcntlcncss cvcrywhcrc it has sprcad.
_acriµccs
!n Òld Tcstamcnt timcs whcn pcoplc brokc God’s command
mcnts hc would gct angry and thc only way thc sinncr could
makc atoncmcnt and soothc God’s angcr was to sacrincc an
animal. God himscll gavc cxact instructions on how this was to
bc donc.
!l thc oßcring to thc Lord is a burnt oßcring ol birds,
hc is to oßcr a dovc or a young pigcon. Tc pricst shall
bring it to thc altar, wring oß its hcad and burn it on
thc altar, its blood shall bc draincd out on thc sidc ol
thc altar. Hc is to rcmovc thc crop with its contcnts
and throw it to thc cast sidc ol thc altar, whcrc thc
ashcs arc. Hc shall tcar it opcn by thc wings, not scv
cring it complctcly, and thcn thc pricst shall burn it
on thc wood that is on thc nrc on thc sidc ol thc altar
(Lcv .:.¡.,).
¡a ¡¸
God tclls us that whcn thc mcat, lat, skin, bonc and hair ol thc
sacrincial victims arc thrown in thc nrc and burncd, hc likcs thc
smcll ol it (Lcv .:µ, .:.,). 8ut not all thc sacrinccs God dcmandcd
wcrc animals, somctimcs hc dcmandcd cvcn human sacrinccs.
Hc oncc said to Abraham:
Takc your son, your only son !saac, whom you lovc,
and go to thc rcgion ol Moriah. Sacrincc him thcrc as
a burnt oßcring on onc ol thc mountains ! will tcll you
about (Gcn aa:a).
Abraham took his son to thc placc God indicatcd, built an altar,
laid his son on it and thcn took up thc knilc. Just as hc was about
to slit his own son’s throat, hc was stoppcd by an angcl (Gcn aa:
.a). Prcsumably, Abraham was a good dcvotcc bccausc hc blindly,
unqucstioningly and willingly did what God told him to do, cvcn
to thc cxtcnt ol prcparing to butchcr his own son.
!n latcr ccnturics, humankind’s sins bccamc so bad that thc
sacrincc ol mcrc animals could no longcr appcasc God’s angcr.
Hc rcquircd a grcatcr, a morc valuablc sacrincial victim — his
own son Jcsus. Òncc again it was thc blood ol a victim which
most atoncd lor sin and which is ablc to rcconcilc thc sinncrs
with God. Tus modcrn born again and cvangclical Christians
oltcn say that thcir “sins havc bccn washcd away by thc blood ol
Jcsus”.
Vhat did thc 8uddha think ol animal or human sacrinccs:
Ðuring his timc !ndian dcitics wcrc oßcrcd animal sacrinccs just
as thc Christian God was and so thc 8uddha was quitc awarc ol
this crudc practicc. Howcvcr, hc considcrcd all typcs ol blood
sacrinccs to bc vulgar, crucl and usclcss.
¡¡ ¡¸
Tc sacrincc ol horsc or man, thc PcgTrown
Ritc, thc Sacrincial Ðrink, thc \ictory Ritc, thc
Vithdrawn 8olt, all thcsc ritcs arc not worth a
sixtccnth part ol having a hcart nllcd with lovc,
any morc than thc radiancc ol thc moon outshincs
thc stars (Anguttara Nikaya, 8ook ol ¡ights,
Sutta No..).
Christians bclicvc that Jcsus’ sacrincial blood will wash away
thcir sins just as !ndians at thc timc ol thc 8uddha bclicvcd that
thcir sins could bc washcd away by bathing in holy rivcrs. Tc
8uddha criticizcd thc !ndian idca just as hc would havc criticizcd
thc Christian idca il hc had known about it. To bclicvc that
blood, watcr or any othcr cxtcrnal things can purily thc hcart
did not makc scnsc to thc 8uddha.
!n thc 8ahuka Rivcr, at Adhikakka, at Gaya, in thc
Sundrika, thc Sarassati, thc Payaga or thc 8ahumati
thc lool can wash constantly but cannot clcansc his
cvil dccds. Vhat can thc Sundrika, thc Payaga or
thc 8ahumati Rivcr do: Tcy cannot clcansc thc
angry, guilty man intcnt on cvil dccds. For thc purc
in hcart cvcry day is lucky, lor thc purc in hcart
cvcry day is holy (Majjhima Nikaya, Sutta No.,).
Tis bcing thc casc, bathing in holy rivcrs or sacrincial blood,
cvcn symbolically, is a poor substitutc lor purilying oncscll by
acting with intcgrity, kindncss and gcncrosity. Tc only sacrincc
that thc 8uddha askcd us to makc was to givc up our sclnshncss
and rcplacc it with lovc, wisdom and kindncss.
¡¡ ¡¸
¿ovc
Vc arc told that God is lovc and thc 8iblc somctimcs mcntions
lovc as onc ol God’s attributcs. Howcvcr, thcrc arc dißcrcnt typcs
ol lovc. A pcrson can lovc his or hcr own childrcn but hatc thc
ncighbor’s childrcn. Somconc might havc a strong lovc lor thcir
own country but a burning hatrcd lor anothcr country. Tough
wc may lovc somconc dccply, wc may, duc to changcd circum
stanccs, grow indißcrcnt or cvcn hatclul towards thcm. Tis is
thc lowcr lcss dcvclopcd typc ol lovc which ordinary pcoplc lccl.
8ut thcrc is a highcr, morc univcrsal typc ol lovc than this. Tis
highcr typc ol lovc is callcd metta in 8uddhism and agape in
Christianity and is wcll dcscribcd in thc 8uddhist tcxts and also
in thc 8iblc. !n Corinthians wc rcad:
Lovc is paticnt, lovc is kind, it docs not cnvy, it docs
not boast, it is not proud, it is not rudc, it is not scll
sccking, it is not casily angcrcd, it kccps no rccord ol
wrongs (. Cor .¸:¡¸).
Ðocs God havc this highcr typc ol lovc: Lct us havc a look. Vc
arc told that lovc is paticnt. Paticncc is dcnncd as thc ability to
wait calmly lor a long timc, to control oncscll whcn angcrcd,
cspccially at loolishncss or slowncss. Vc havc alrcady sccn that
God gcts angry cvcry day (Ps ,:..) and that hc gcts angry vcry
quickly (Ps a:..). Òbviously hc has vcry littlc paticncc.
Vc arc told that lovc is kind. !s God kind: Plcasc takc up
your 8iblc, turn to Ðcutcronomy a·:.¸6· and rcad God dcscrib
ing in his own words just how crucl hc can bc. Tis shocking
passagc provcs bcyond all doubt that God is capablc ol truly tcr
riblc cruclty. Òbviously hc is not always vcry kind.
¡6 ¡,
Vc arc told that lovc docs not cnvy. ¡nvy is ol coursc, vcry
similar to jcalousy and God oltcn dcscribcs himscll as ncrccly
jcalous. Hc says:
For thc Lord your God is a dcvouring nrc, a jcalous
God (Ðcut ¡:a¡).
Vc arc told that lovc docs not boast and is not proud. !s God
likc this: Ccrtainly thc 8iblc docs not givc us thc imprcssion
that hc is a modcst and rctiring dcity. Hc spcnds a lot ol timc
tclling Job how grcat hc is (Job ¡c:¡.) and cnds by boasting ol
himscll that:
Hc looks down on all that arc haughty, hc is king ovcr
all that arc proud (Job ¡.:¸¡).
Ncxt wc arc told that lovc is not casily angcrcd. Vc havc alrcady
sccn that God is vcry casily angcrcd.
Scrvc thc Lord with lcar and trcmbling, kiss his lcct
or clsc hc will gct angry and you will pcrish in thc way,
lor his wrath is quickly kindlcd (Ps a:..).
Finally wc arc told that lovc docs not kccp a rccord ol wrongs
that arc donc, that is, it soon lorgivcs and lorgcts. Ðocs God
kccp a rccord ol wrongs: Hc tclls us that hc will punish thc
childrcn, grandchildrcn and cvcn grcatgrandchildrcn ol thosc
who sin (Ðcut ¸:µ). !n ordcr to do this hc must kccp a rccord
ol thc wrongs that havc bccn committcd and long rcmcmbcr
thcm. Jcsus tclls us that God will ncvcr lorgivc thosc who insult
thc Holy Ghost (Lk .a:.c). Vc arc told that God casts sinncrs
and nonbclicvcrs into ctcrnal hcll. !n othcr words, hc rcluscs to
¡6 ¡,
cvcr lorgivc thcm. !n short, hc kccps a rccord lor ctcrnity ol thc
wrongs which havc bccn donc. Quitc clcarly, God docs not havc
thc highcst typc ol lovc.
Vhat about thc 8uddha: Ðid hc cxhibit thc highcst typc
ol lovc: Tc nrst charactcristic ol this highcst kind ol lovc is
paticncc and thcrc is not onc incidcnt rccordcd in thc Tipitaka
ol thc 8uddha bcing impaticnt. ¡vcn whcn hc was abuscd hc
rcmaincd calm and unrumcd. His cvcry action displays a calm,
strong paticncc. Vhcn Asurinda curscd and abuscd him hc
calmly rcplicd:
Hc who abuscs his abuscr is thc worsc ol thc two.
To rclrain lrom rctaliation is to win a battlc hard to
win. !l onc knows that thc othcr pcrson is angry but
rclrains lrom angcr oncscll, onc docs what is bcst lor
oncscll and thc othcr pcrson also. Ònc is a hcalcr ol
both (Samyutta Nikaya, Chaptcr Scvcn, Sutta No.¸).
Just as hc was always paticnt thc 8uddha was also lrcc lrom
angcr. ¡vcn whcn his cousin Ðcvadatta tricd to murdcr him hc
displaycd only pity and tolcrancc.
Vc arc also told that lovc is kind. Vas thc 8uddha kind:
Again thcrc is not thc slightcst hint ol thc 8uddha bcing any
thing othcr than kind and compassionatc — not only to thosc
who acccptcd his tcachings but also to thc lollowcrs ol othcr
laiths, not only to thc good but also to thc cvil, not only to
humans but also to animals. Hc says:
Ònc should do no unkind thing that wisc mcn might
condcmn and onc should think, “May all bcings bc
sccurc and happy. Vhatcvcr bcings thcrc arc, moving
¡· ¡µ
or still, tall, middlcsizcd or short, grcat or small, sccn
or unsccn, whcthcr living lar or ncar, cxisting or not
yct comc into cxistcncc, may thcy all bc happy.” Ònc
should not harm anothcr or dcspisc anyonc lor any rca
son. Ðo not wish pain on anothcr out ol cithcr angcr or
jcalousy. Just as a mothcr would protcct hcr only child
cvcn at thc risk ol hcr own lilc, cvcn so, onc should
dcvclop unboundcd lovc towards all bcings in thc
world (Sutta Nipata, \crscs .¡¸.¡µ).
Tc 8uddha did not only tcach this but hc also practiscd cvc
rything hc taught. God tclls us that hc is jcalous and by this hc
mcans that hc is jcalous ol othcr gods and othcr rcligions. Hc
wants cvcryonc to worship and rcvcrc him alonc. So jcalous is
hc that hc says his dcvotccs should kill cvcn thcir own childrcn
il thcy worship othcr gods (Ðcut .¸:6) and that God hatcs lol
lowcrs ol othcr rcligions.
! hatc thosc who cling to worthlcss idols (Ps ¸.:6).
! gain undcrstanding lrom your prcccpts, thcrclorc !
hatc cvcry wrong path (Ps ..µ:.c¡).
Vas thc 8uddha jcalous ol othcr laiths: !ndccd, hc was not. A
man callcd Upali was a lollowcr ol thc Jain rcligion. Tc 8uddha
cxplaincd thc Ðhamma to him altcr which hc dccidcd to bccomc
a 8uddhist. Tc 8uddha did not cxult nor was hc anxious to ‘win’
Upali. Rathcr, hc adviscd him to think carclully bclorc making
such an important dccision:
Makc a carclul invcstigation nrst, Upali. Carclul invcs
¡· ¡µ
tigation is good lor wcllknown pcoplc likc yourscll
(Majjhima Nikaya, Sutta No.¸6).
Tc 8uddha thcn cncouragcd Upali to kccp oßcring donations to
thc Jain rcligion. Hc said this bccausc hc was ablc to apprcciatc
thc good in othcr rcligions and bccausc hc was lrcc lrom cnvy
and jcalousy.
\acchagatta said to thc Lord, “! havc hcard it said that
you say that charity should only bc givcn to you, not to
othcr tcachcrs, to your disciplcs, not to thc disciplcs ol
othcr rcligions.” Tcn thc Lord said, “Tosc who say
this arc not rcporting my words, thcy misrcprcscnt mc
and tcll lics. Truly, whocvcr discouragcs anyonc lrom
giving charity hindcrs in thrcc ways. Hc hindcrs thc
givcr lrom doing good, hc hindcrs thc rcccivcr lrom
bcing hclpcd and hc hindcrs himscll through his mcan
ncss.” (Anguttara Nikaya, 8ook ol Trccs, Sutta No.¸,).
¡vcn today many lundamcntalists and cvangclical will rclusc
to havc anything to do with nonChristians and rclusc to hclp
nonChristian charitics.
Tc 8uddha was not boastlul or proud, hc was not rudc
or scllsccking, hc was not casily angcrcd and hc did not kccp
a rccord ol wrongs that wcrc donc to him. From thc day ol his
cnlightcnmcnt, his cvcry thought, word and action was an cxprcs
sion ol lovc and compassion. As onc ol his contcmporarics said:
! havc hcard this said, “To abidc in lovc is sublimc in
dccd”, and thc Lord is prool ol this bccausc wc can scc
that hc abidcs in lovc (Majjhima Nikaya, Sutta No.¸¸).
¸c ¸.
Somc ol thc 8iblc passagcs quotcd in this chaptcr arc rathcr
shocking, cvcn Christians nnd thcm disquicting. Vhcn wc
point out such passagcs to thcm thcy will say that thcy comc
mainly lrom thc Òld Tcstamcnt and arc not as God rcally is
but how pcoplc at thc timc undcrstood him to bc. How amus
ing it is to discuss thc 8iblc with Christians! At onc momcnt
thc Òld Tcstamcnt is God’s ctcrnal word and at anothcr it is
not. Vhcn thcy quotc thc Òld Tcstamcnt to provc a point ol
dogma, it is authoritativc scripturc. Vhcn wc quotc somc ol
its many shocking passagcs, it is mcrcly a rcßcction ol pcoplc’s
limitcd undcrstanding ol God. ·
¸c ¸.
]au and ]iuion in Tc ¿ifc of ¸csus
T
hc singlc thing which makcs Christianity what it is, thc
loundation on which it rcsts, is Jcsus Christ, or rathcr,
claims about Jcsus Christ. Christians arc always making thc
most cxaggcratcd claims about this man, that hc was thc only
pcrson in history to claim to bc God, that only laith in Jcsus can
givc a pcrson pcacc and happincss, that thousands saw him risc
lrom thc dcad so it must bc truc, ctc. All thcsc claims sound vcry
imprcssivc and ccrtainly millions ol pcoplc bclicvc thcm. 8ut arc
thcy truc: Lct us havc a look.
Æid ¸csus 8xist:
All Christians and cvcn most nonChristians assumc that Jcsus
was a rcal pcrson. Howcvcr, othcr than thc 8iblc itscll thcrc is
not a shrcd ol cvidcncc to show that hc cvcr cxistcd. According
to thc Gospcls Jcsus was a wcll known ngurc in !sracl (Mk, 6,.¸,
Lk, ,,.,). Givcn this claim it is strangc that hc is not mcntioncd
in any contcmporary Hcbrcw, Latin, Aramaic or Grcck litcraturc
or inscriptions. Tcrc is onc rclcrcncc to him in thc writings ol
thc historian Joscphus but all scholars now considcr this to bc a
latcr intcrpolation. Tc vcry lact that carly Christians committcd
this lorgcry suggcsts that thcy did so prcciscly bccausc thcrc was
so littlc that Jcsus cvcr livcd. Tis is not to say that hc didn’t cxist
but only that thcrc is no indcpcndcnt cvidcncc that hc did.
+rophccics about and by ¸csus
(.) ¡vcry timc thcrc is a changc in thc turbulcnt politics ol thc
¸a ¸¸
Middlc ¡ast, lundamcntalist Christians will opcn thcir 8iblcs
and loudly proclaim that thc ncwcst crisis has bccn lorctold or
prophcsicd ccnturics ago. Tcsc socallcd prophccics arc bandicd
about lor a whilc and thcn quictly droppcd whcn thcy don’t comc
to complction in thc way thc Christians claimcd thcy would.
Vhcn onc actually asks to havc a look at thcsc “amazing prophc
cics” onc can scc that thcy arc usually so vaguc and gcncral that
thcy could bc intcrprctcd to corrcspond to virtually any cvcnt.
For cxamplc, thc 8iblc says that bclorc Jcsus rcturn “thcrc will
bc wars and rumors ol wars” (Matt a¡:6) and as thcrc arc numcr
ous conßicts going on now this is a sign that Jcsus is just about
to comc again. Tc problcm with this prophccy is that it could
rclcr to any pcriod in world history bccausc thcrc arc always a
lcw wars occurring somcwhcrc. Vhcn thc prophccics arc morc
cxplicit and clcar thcy arc usually wrong. For cxamplc, thc Holy
Ghost prcdictcd to Agabus that thcrc would soon bc a world
widc laminc (Acts, .., a·.) 8ut thcrc is no rccord that such a
thing cvcr happcncd. Christians also claim that all thc cvcnts in
Jcsus’ lilc wcrc prophcsicd in thc 8iblc long bclorc hc was born
and thc lact that thcsc prophccics camc truc provcs that hc rcally
was thc Mcssiah. Lct us havc a look at somc ol thcsc supposcd
prophccics and scc il thcy arc as accuratc as Christians claim. !n
thc book ol !saiah in thc Òld Tcstamcnt it says:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is givcn, and thc gov
crnmcnt will bc upon his shouldcr, and his namc shall bc
callcd ‘Vondcrlul Counsclor, Mighty God, ¡vcrlasting
Fathcr, Princc ol Pcacc’. Òl thc incrcasc ol his govcrn
mcnt and ol pcacc thcrc will bc no cnd. (!s µ:6,).
Tis is supposcd to bc a prophccy lorctclling thc birth ol Jcsus.
¸a ¸¸
8ut docs it: Òthcr than bcing born no cvcnt mcntioncd hcrc cvcr
happcncd to Jcsus. Tc govcrnmcnt was not on his shouldcrs, hc
was ncvcr callcd nor did hc call himscll by thc titlcs mcntioncd
hcrc and thcrc has bccn no morc pcacc sincc hc was born than
thcrc was bclorc. Tis is a lairly good cxamplc ol thc “amazing
prophccics” ol Christianity. 8clorc Jcsus’ birth an angcl is sup
poscd to havc prophcsicd that,
Tc Lord God will makc him a king, as his anccstor
Ðavid was, and hc will bc thc king ol thc dcsccndants
ol Jacob lorcvcr (Lk .:¸a¸¸).
8ut il what thc 8iblc says is truc Ðavid could not possibly havc
bccn Jcsus’ anccstor bccausc God, not Joscph, was Jcsus’ rcal
lathcr. Furthcr, Ðavid was a king in a political scnsc whilc Jcsus
ncvcr bccamc a king in this way or in any othcr way similar to
Ðavid. And nnally, thc dcsccndants ol Jacob (i.c. thc Jcws) ncvcr
acccptcd Jcsus as thcir king — politically, spiritually or in any othcr
way — and havc rcluscd to acccpt him to this day. So as bclorc this
prophccy is wrong on cvcry point. Again in !saiah it says:
Hc was opprcsscd, and hc was amictcd, yct hc opcncd
not his mouth, likc a lamb that is lcd to thc slaughtcr,
and likc a shccp that bclorc its shcarcrs is dumb, so hc
opcncd not his mouth. (!sa ¸¸:¸¸).
Tis is supposcd to prophcsizc that whcn Jcsus was attackcd by
his opponcnts that hc would not rctaliatc. 8ut in thc Gospcls
Jcsus is portraycd as robustly dclcnding himscll against criticism
and loudly condcmning his cncmics. Hc curscd and criticizcd thc
Pharisccs whcn thcy opposcd him and according to John .·:¸¸¸,
hc was anything but silcnt at his trial.
¸¡ ¸¸
Vhcn thc Romans crucincd pcoplc thcy would nail thcm
to a cross, lct thcm hang thcrc lor somc timc and thcn nnally
brcak thcir lcgs, thcrcby incrcasing thc poor victims’ pain and
killing thcm. According to thc 8iblc, whcn thc Romans camc to
brcak Jcsus’ lcgs hc was alrcady dcad and so thcy did not bothcr
(Jn .µ:¸.¸¡). Tis, so Christians claim, was prophcsicd ccnturics
bclorc Jcsus in Psalm ¸¡:ac whcrc it says that God will not lct
cvcn onc bonc ol thc Mcssiah’s body bc brokcn. Unlortunatcly
Christians havc ovcrlookcd a vcry important lact. Although thc
boncs in Jcsus lcgs may not havc bccn brokcn, thc boncs in his
hands and lcct dcnnitcly wcrc. Vhcn thc nails wcrc drivcn into
Jcsus hands and lcct thcy must havc brokcn or crushcd scvcral
ol thc mctacarpal boncs.
Christians claim that Jcsus dicd and on thc third day rosc
lrom thc dcad and ol coursc thcy claim that this was prophcsicd
bclorc it happcncd. Tc supposcd prophccy says:
For as Jonah was thrcc days and thrcc nights in thc
whalc’s bclly, so shall thc Son ol Man bc thrcc days
and thrcc nights in thc hcart ol thc carth (Matt .a:¡c).
8ut likc thc othcrs this prophccy is wrong. Jcsus dicd on Friday
(Good Friday) and supposcdly rosc lrom thc dcad carly on
Sunday morning (¡astcr Sunday). ¡vcn a child can scc this is not
thrcc days and thrcc nights as thc prophccy says — but onc day
and two nights. Anothcr problcm is that just bclorc Jcsus dicd
hc turncd to thc two criminals crucincd with him and said “!
assurc you, today you will bc in Paradisc with mc.” (Lk a¸:¡¸). Yct
according to thc prophccy Jcsus would bc in thc tomb lor thrcc
days and nights bclorc asccnding into hcavcn so how could hc
¸¡ ¸¸
assurc thc two criminals that thcy would bc in hcavcn on thc day
hc dicd: 8ut it is not just prophccics about Jcsus that arc wrong,
thc prophccics hc himscll madc wcrc also wrong. Fundamcntalist
and cvangclical Christians arc always claiming that thc cnd ol
thc world is coming soon. Vhcrc do thcy gct this bizarrc idca
lrom: Tcy gct it lrom Jcsus. Hc bclicvcd and cxplicitly taught
that thc world would cnd within his own lilctimc or vcry soon
altcrwards.
! tcll you thc truth, this gcncration will ccrtainly not pass
away until all thcsc things havc happcncd (Lk a.:a¸¸¸).
8y “this gcncration” hc was obviously rclcrring to thc pcoplc hc
was addrcssing. Òn anothcr occasion hc again told thc pcoplc
who stood listcning to him that somc ol thcm would still bc alivc
whcn thc cnd ol thc world camc.
! tcll you thc truth, somc who arc standing hcrc will
not tastc dcath bclorc thcy scc thc Son ol Man coming
in his Kingdom (Matt .6:a·).
Òn cvcry onc ol thcsc points Jcsus’ prophccics provcd to bc wrong.
Tc pcoplc who livcd at his timc havc bccn dcad lor a,ccc ycars
and thc world has not cndcd nor has Jcsus rcturncd. Jcsus’ dis
ciplcs nnishcd going through all thc citics in !sracl within a lcw
ycars ol Jcsus’ dcath and hc has still not rcturncd.
Tcsc and othcr cxamplcs provc that most ol thc supposcd
prophccics about and by Jcsus arc lalsc. 8ut cvcn whcrc a proph
ccy sccms to bc truc this docs not ncccssarily mcan anything. !t
can bc dcmonstratcd that whocvcr wrotc thc Gospcls dclibcratcly
invcntcd cvcnts in thc lilc ol Jcsus to makc thcm nt into what
¸6 ¸,
thcy thought wcrc prophccics about him. Vc will cxaminc onc
wcllknown cxamplc ol this. Scvcral hundrcd ycars bclorc Jcsus
thc Òld Tcstamcnt was translatcd lrom Hcbrcw into Grcck, thc
languagc ol thc day. Vhcn a passagc in !saiah which prophcsizcs
that thc Mcssiah will bc born ol a young woman (!s ,:.¡) was
translatcd, thc word lor young woman (almah) was mistranslatcd
as virgin (parthenas). Vhcn thc authors ol thc Gospcls rcad this
thcy thought that to qualily to bc thc Mcssiah Jcsus’ mothcr had
to bc a virgin and so thcy labricatcd thc story ol thc virgin birth.
!n lact it only bccamc ncccssary to invcnt this story bccausc ol a
mistranslation. So it is not that prophccics lorctold cvcnts in Jcsus’
lilc but rathcr that cvcnts wcrc labricatcd to nt into prophccics.
Tc Æirth of ¸csus
Vc oltcn hcar lundamcntalist born again and cvangclical
Christians boast that no onc has cvcr lound a mistakc in thc
8iblc, just as wc will oltcn hcar thcm claim that thc 8iblc is thc
inspircd word ol God and thcrclorc inlalliblc. Considcring how
carclully thcy rcad thcir 8iblcs it is dimcult to know how such
claims can bc madc, much lcss bclicvcd.
Lct us havc a look at what thc 8iblc says about thc birth
ol Jcsus. !n onc placc wc arc told that ncws ol Jcsus’ impcnding
birth was convcycd to Joscph, Jcsus’ lathcr, in a drcam (Matt .:ac).
Tcn in anothcr wc arc told that thc ncws was givcn to Mary,
Jcsus’ mothcr, by an angcl (Lk .:a·). Vhich ol thcsc two storics
arc truc: Vas it Joscph who got thc ncws or Mary: Christians
will say that thcy both got it but thcn why docs thc Gospcl ol
Matthcw lail to mcntion thc angcl appcaring to Mary and thc
Gospcl ol Lukc lail to mcntion Joscph’s drcam: Òn onc hand
¸6 ¸,
wc arc told that Jcsus’ parcnts wcnt on a journcy bclorc thc baby
was born (Lk a:¡,) and on thc othcr that thcy wcnt on a jour
ncy altcr thc birth (Matt a:.¸.¡). Vhich ol thcsc truc storics is
truc: Vhcn wc comc to whcrc Jcsus was actually born wc mcct
with morc contradictions. Vas Jcsus born at homc (Matt .:a¡a¸)
or was hc born in a mangcr at thc back ol an inn (Lk a:,): Ncxt
wc comc to Jcsus’ anccstry. Vc havc two lists ol all Jcsus’ anccs
tors on his lathcr’s sidc but whcn wc look at thc namcs in thcsc
wc nnd almost no corrcspondcncc bctwccn thcm. Tcy do not
cvcn agrcc about thc namc ol Jcsus’ grandlathcr. Ònc says his
namc was Jacob (Matt .:.6) and thc othcr says his namc was Hcli
(Lk ¸:a¸). Morcovcr, it is ridiculous to talk about Jcsus’ anccstors
on his lathcr’s sidc and Jcsus bcing rclatcd to King Ðavid (Matt .:
.), whcn not Joscph but God is supposcd to bc Jcsus’ rcal lathcr.
7as ½c a Qood Tcachcr:
At thc timc ol thc 8uddha thcrc was a rcligious scct callcd thc
Niganthas which lcll apart soon altcr thc dcath ol its loundcr
Nataputta.
And at his dcath thc Niganthas split into two par
tics, quarrclling and disputing, nghting and attack
ing cach othcr and using a war ol words…. You would
havc thought that thcy wcrc disgustcd, displcascd and
rcpcllcd whcn thcy saw that thc doctrinc was so badly
prcscntcd, so poorly laid out and so incßcctivc in calm
ing thc passions bccausc it had bccn taught by onc who
was not lully cnlightcncd and was now without guidc
or arbitcr (Ðigha Nikaya, Sutta No.aµ).
¸· ¸µ
!ntcrcstingly cnough, this was cxactly what happcncd as soon as
Jcsus dicd and lor cxactly thc samc rcasons. Jcsus is justly lamous
lor thc parablcs hc uscd to illustratc his idcas but at thc samc
timc hc oltcn lailcd to makc his mcaning clcar. Somctimcs this
was bccausc hc himscll was unclcar about his idcas and at othcr
timcs it sccms that hc was just a poor communicator. Vhat is
cvcn morc strangc is that Jcsus sccms to havc somctimcs dclib
cratcly obscurcd his mcssagc.
And whcn his disciplcs askcd him what thc parablc
mcant, hc said, to you it has bccn givcn to know thc
sccrcts ol thc Kingdom ol God: but lor othcrs thcy arc
in parablcs, so that sccing thcy may not scc, and hcar
ing thcy may not undcrstand (Lk ·:µ.c, Mk ·:.,.·).
8ut thcy did not undcrstand this saying, and it was con
ccalcd lrom thcm, that thcy could not pcrccivc it: and
thcy wcrc alraid to ask him about this saying (Lk µ:¡¸).
Add to this dclibcratc obscurity thc numcrous contradictory idcas
in Jcsus’ tcachings and it is not hard to imaginc why his disciplcs
lcll into disagrccmcnt as soon as hc dicd. !n thc ¡pistlcs thcrc arc
constant rclcrcnccs to thc bickcring and squabbling bctwccn thc
various lactions amongst thc carly Christians. Paul complaincd
that all thc churchcs in Asia turncd against him (a Tim .:.¸) and
that thcy rcluscd to takc his sidc in somc thcological argumcnt
(a Tim ¡:.¡.6). Hc tclls us ol his squabblc with Pctcr and thc
cldcrs ol thc church in Jcrusalcm (Gal a:...¸), ol how hc was
snubbcd by thc church at Philippi (. Tcss a:.ac), and ol coursc hc
accuscd his rivals ol not having rcal laith (a Tcss ¸:.¸), ol tcach
ing “anothcr Christ” and ol not rcally knowing God (Tit .:.c.6).
¸· ¸µ
John bittcrly complaincd that his opponcnts thrcw his supportcrs
out ol thc church (John .:µ.c). Paul madc a dcspcratc but lutilc
appcal lor harmony bctwccn thc carly Christians.
! appcal to you, brothcrs, in thc namc ol our Lord Jcsus
Christ, that you all agrcc with onc anothcr that thcrc
may bc no divisions bctwccn you and that you might
bc pcrlcctly unitcd in mind and thought (. Cor .:.c.a).
Vhat wcrc thc carly Christians squabbling ovcr: Just about
cvcrything. 8ut onc ol thc numcrous points ol disagrccmcnt
bctwccn thcm sccms to havc bccn on thc issuc ol whcthcr it was
ncccssary to bc circumciscd (Rom a:a¸aµ, Gal ¸:a.a, Gal 6:.a.¸,
Phil. ¸:a¡, Col. a:...¸). Paul was against it and callcd thosc who
disagrccd with him “dogs” (Phil ¸:a), said that hc hopcd that
thcy would go all thc way and castratc thcmsclvcs (Gal ¸:.a) and
hc warncd othcr Christians to kccp away lrom thcm (Tit .:.c).
All this is rcminisccnt ol modcrn Christians. Vhilc conndcntly
proclaiming that thcy alonc havc thc truth thcrc is almost no
agrccmcnt bctwccn thcm about what that truth is. Tcy havc split
into hundrcds ol mutually hostilc dcnominations, sccts, cults and
churchcs and can’t cvcn sit down with cach othcr and worship
thc samc God togcthcr. For 8uddhists this is all vcry bcwildcr
ing. !l it is truc that Jcsus’ gospcl ol salvation is so clcar and il
it is truc that God communicatcs with and guidcs Christians
through praycr, why is it that thcrc is so much disagrccmcnt and
ill will among thcm:
Tc ¿ast _uppcr
Tc 8iblc givcs us almost no inlormation about thc lilc ol Jcsus
6c 6.
until hc startcd tcaching at about thc agc ol ¸c. And cvcn altcr
his public ministry startcd thcrc is grcat conlusion about what
happcncd and whcn. For instancc, thc Gospcl ol John claims
that thc clcansing ol thc tcmplc took placc at thc bcginning ol
Jcsus’ ministry (Jn a:.¸.¡), but thc Gospcl ol Lukc claims thc
clcansing took placc at thc cnd (Lk .µ:¡¸¡6). !n onc placc wc
arc told that Jcsus staycd in Pctcr’s housc and thcn hcalcd a lcpcr
(Mk .:aµ¡¸), whilc in anothcr wc arc told that hc hcalcd thc
lcpcr and thcn wcnt in Pctcr’s housc (Matt ·:.a, ·:.¡). Òn onc
hand wc arc told that thc ccnturion spokc pcrsonally to Jcsus
(Matt ·:¸), in a complctc contradiction to this wc arc told that
thc ccnturion scnt pcoplc on his bchall to spcak to Jcsus (Lk ,:.).
!n thc Gospcl ol Mark wc arc told that Jcsus lclt Tyrc and passcd
through Sidon on his way to thc Sca ol Galilcc (Mk ,:¸.). A look
at any map ol !sracl will show that this is quitc impossiblc as
Sidon is in anothcr dircction altogcthcr.
Christians will rcluctantly admit thcsc mistakcs but say
that thcy arc minor and ol no signincancc. Pcrhaps so, but thcy
do provc that thc 8iblc is not inlalliblc and il thc 8iblc makcs
mistakcs about what Jcsus did, it could just as casily makc mis
takcs about what hc said. 8ut cvcn whcn wc look at vcry impor
tant cvcnts in Jcsus’ lilc wc nnd conlusion. Lct us havc a look at
thc Last Suppcr. According to thc Gospcls ol Matthcw, Mark
and Lukc, Jcsus’ Last Suppcr took placc on thc Jcwish holy day
ol Passovcr (Matt a6:.,ac, Mk .¡:.a.,, Lk aa:,.¡). Tc Gospcl
ol John on thc othcr hand claims that it took placc on thc day
before Passovcr (Jn .µ:.¡). Matthcw, Mark, Lukc and John wcrc
supposcd to bc among thc disciplcs who attcndcd thc Last
Suppcr with Jcsus and thcy arc also supposcd to bc thc disciplcs
who rcmcmbcrcd and wrotc down all Jcsus’ tcachings. !l thcy
6c 6.
couldn’t cvcn rcmcmbcr thc day ol thc Last Suppcr how do wc
know that thcy rcmcmbcrcd Jcsus’ tcachings corrcctly:
Tc Trial
Now wc will havc a look at that most important cvcnt in thc lilc
ol Jcsus, his trial. As dcscribcd in thc 8iblc thc trial is prcdictably
lull ol contradictions but it also raiscs many qucstions which arc
dimcult to answcr. Tc trial and thc cvcnts lcading up to it arc
usually dcscribcd by Christians likc this. Jcsus cntcrcd Jcrusalcm
riding on a donkcy to thc acclaim ol thc population ol thc city.
Hc was arrcstcd by thc hcnchmcn ol thc Jcwish pricsts who bcat
him and handcd him ovcr to thc Romans. Tc Roman govcrnor,
Pontius Pilatc, could nnd no guilt in Jcsus but thc Jcwish pricsts
kcpt insisting hc was guilty. Unablc to makc up his mind, thc
govcrnor dccidcd to ask thc crowd what thcy wantcd, cithcr thc
rclcasc ol Jcsus or a Jcwish rcbcl. Tc crowd cricd out lor thc
rclcasc ol thc rcbcl and thc crucinxion ol Jcsus. So Pilatc rcluc
tantly had him cxccutcd.
Could thc trial rcally havc procccdcd likc this: Lct us
havc a look. Vc arc told that whcn Jcsus rodc into Jcrusalcm
crowds ol dclightcd pcoplc grcctcd him, laying thcir cloaks on
thc road and praising him as thcir king (Mk ..:·). 8ut only a
day latcr a hugc crowd wcrc scrcaming out lor him to bc cruci
ncd (Mk .¸:.a.¡). Tis suddcn changc lrom adulation to hatrcd
is hard to cxplain. Ncxt wc havc Jcsus brought bclorc Pontius
Pilatc. Tc 8iblc portrays Pilatc as a man who can nnd no guilt
in Jcsus but who is pushcd into crucilying him by thc Jcwish
pricsts. Tis is clcarly impossiblc. Tc Romans wcrc lamous lor
thcir strong and cßcctivc govcrnmcnt, thcir judicial systcm was
6a 6¸
known lor its justicc and thcy did not scnd wcak, indccisivc mcn
to govcrn troublcsomc parts ol thc cmpirc. Vho could bclicvc
that a Roman govcrnor would allow thc pcoplc hc rulcd to makc
up his mind lor him and tcll him how to run his own court:
Tc 8iblc says that Pilatc askcd thc crowd whcthcr thcy wantcd
cithcr Jcsus or 8arabbas rclcascd (Lk a¸:.¸.·), and whcn thcy
said 8arabbas, hc was sct lrcc and Jcsus was cxccutcd. Now
crcdibility has bccn strctchcd to thc limit. Vc arc askcd to
bclicvc that a Roman govcrnor would cxccutc a man hc bclicvcd
to bc innoccnt and sct lrcc a rcbcl involvcd in murdcr and try
ing to ovcrthrow Roman rulc (Lk a¸:.µ). Tc Romans did not
conqucr and govcrn ¡uropc, North Alrica and thc Middlc ¡ast
by rclcasing dangcrous rcbcls. Tcy wcrc complctcly ruthlcss
with all who opposcd thcm. So thc Christian account ol Jcsus’
trial is unconvincing.
!l wc rcad what Jcsus is supposcd to havc said at his trial
wc can scc that all thc accounts ol it arc labrications. According
to thc Gospcl ol Matthcw, Jcsus “gavc no answcr”, (Matt a,:.a)
and “madc no rcply, not cvcn to a singlc chargc, to thc grcat
amazcmcnt ol thc govcrnor” (Matt a,:.¡) during his trial. !n
a complctc contradiction to this thc Gospcl ol John claims
that Jcsus answcrcd chargcs, askcd qucstions and spokc much
during his trial (Jn .·:¸¸¸,). Vhich ol thcsc two accounts is
truc: Vas Jcsus silcnt or did hc spcak: Likc thc Gospcl ol
John, thc Gospcl ol Lukc also claims that Jcsus spokc during
his trial. 8ut il wc comparc his account ol what was said with
Lukc’s account wc nnd that almost cvcry scntcncc is dißcrcnt
(Comparc Jn .·:¸¸¸, with Lk aa:66,c). Òbviously, Christian
claims that thc 8iblc is an accuratc, rcliablc historical documcnt
arc complctcly untruc.
6a 6¸
7hat ½appcncd to ¸udas:
Judas was thc disciplc who bctraycd Jcsus. Altcr hc had donc this
hc is said to havc dicd. 8ut how did hc dic: Hcrc, as with many
othcr incidcnts, thc 8iblc givcs us scvcral conluscd accounts.
According to Matthcw this is what happcncd:
Vhcn Judas, who had bctraycd him, saw that Jcsus was
condcmncd, hc was scizcd with rcmorsc and rcturncd
thc thirty silvcr coins to thc chicl pricsts and thc cldcrs.
“! havc sinncd”, hc said, “lor ! havc bctraycd innoccnt
blood”. “Vhat is that to us”, thcy rcplicd. “Tat’s your
rcsponsibility!”. So Judas thrcw thc moncy into thc
tcmplc and lclt. Tcn hc wcnt away and hangcd him
scll. Tc chicl pricsts pickcd up thc coins and said, “!t
is against thc law to put this into trcasury, sincc it is
blood moncy”. So thcy dccidcd to usc thc moncy to buy
thc pottcr’s ncld as a burial placc lor lorcigncrs. Tat
is why it has bccn callcd thc ncld ol blood to this day
(Matt a,:¸·).
¡lscwhcrc wc arc told a dißcrcnt story.
Vith thc rcward hc got lor his wickcdncss, Judas bought
a ncld, thcrc hc lcll hcadlong, his body burst opcn and
all his intcstincs spillcd out. ¡vcryonc in Jcrusalcm
hcard about this, so thcy callcd that ncld in thcir lan
guagc Akcldama, that is, ncld ol blood (Acts .:.·.µ).
Vas it Judas who bought thc ncld or was it thc chicl pricsts: Ðid
Judas hang himscll or did hc lall down and havc his body burst
opcn:
6¡ 6¸
¸csus’ ¿ast 7ords
Many Christian doctrincs arc bascd on a phrasc or scntcncc
which Jcsus is supposcd to havc spokcn. To provc thc truth ol
thcir bclicls lundamcntalist Christians will rush to thcir 8iblcs
and point somctimcs to a singlc scntcncc saying as prool. Tcy
assumc that cvcry phrasc, cvcry scntcncc, cvcry word in thc 8iblc
is cxactly what Jcsus said. Vc havc alrcady sccn that thc 8iblc is
quitc conluscd about what Jcsus did and said. !n lact cvcn Jcsus’
last words havc not bccn accuratcly rccordcd. According to
Matthcw, Jcsus’ last words wcrc: “My God, my God, why havc
you lorsakcn mc:” (Matt a,:¡6). According to Mark hc just
gavc a loud cry and dicd (Mk .¸:¸,). According to Lukc hc said,
“Fathcr, into your hands ! cntrust my spirit” (Lk a¸:¡6). According
to John, Jcsus’ last words wcrc: “!t is nnishcd.” (Jn .µ:¸c). Òncc
again wc havc discrcpancics and contradictions which makc it
impossiblc to know what Jcsus actually said.
Tc ycsurrcuion
Tc most important cvcnt in Jcsus’ lilc and thc corncrstonc ol
Christian laith is thc supposcd rcsurrcction ol Jcsus. Paul vcry
corrcctly said “!l Christ has not bccn raiscd our prcaching is
cmpty and our bclicl comcs to nothing” (! Cor, .¸,.¡) Vith
unusual lrankncss hc also admittcd that thc idca that Jcsus’ rc
surrcction can somchow savc sinncrs makcs no scnsc (. Cor, .,a.)
and that onc would havc to bc a lool to bclicvc it (. Cor, ¸,.·).
Tc inlormcd 8uddhist would agrcc with Paul on this mattcr.
Vhcn Paul prcachcd about Jcsus’ rcsurrcction in Athcns, thc
cradlc ol logic, rcason and philosophy, pcoplc just laughcd at
6¡ 6¸
him (Acts, .,,¸a). 8uddhists arc too politc to laugh at thc idca ol
rcsurrcction but thcy can nnd no good rcason why thcy should
bclicvc it. Lct us cxaminc what thc 8iblc says about thc rcsurrcc
tion. At this point thc rcadcr is adviscd to havc a 8iblc rcady and
to chcck thc rclcrcnccs
() Jesus’ Death
Matthcw says that as Jcsus dicd thc curtain in thc Tcmplc was
torc lrom top to bottom and othcr strangc things happcncd. 8ut
most cxtraordinary ol all hc claims that numcrous pcoplc who
had rcccntly dicd camc out ol thcir tombs and walkcd around in
Jcrusalcm (Matt, a,,¸a). !l this is truc it must havc bccn onc ol
thc most amazing days in history. Pcoplc must havc bccn talking
about it lor ycars. Ncws ol it must havc sprcad lar and widc and
at lcast somc ol thosc who camc back to lilc must havc writtcn
somcthing about thcir astonishing cxpcricncc. !t is vcry strangc
thcrclorc that this cvcnt is not mcntioncd in any ol thc historical
documcnts ol thc timc including cvcn thc othcr Gospcls.
() When did the Resurrection happen:
All lour Gospcls agrcc that thc cvcnts dcscribcd took placc carly
on Sunday morning (Matt a·:., Mk .6:., Lk a¡:., Jn ac:.).
() Who went to the tomb:
Now thc problcms bcgin. Matthcw says that thc two Marys
wcnt to thc tomb (Matt a·:.), Mark says that thc two Marys and
Salomc wcnt (Mk .6:.), Lukc says that thc two Marys, Joanna
and somc othcr womcn wcnt (Lk a¡:.c), and John says that Mary
wcnt alonc (Jn ac:.). Christians claim that thc 8iblc contains no
mistakcs but surcly thcrc arc a lcw mistakcs hcrc. Tcy claim that
66 6,
thosc who wrotc thc Gospcls wcrc inspircd by God as thcy wrotc,
but apparcntly not inspircd cnough to bc ablc to count propcrly.
() Was there an earthquake:
Matthcw tclls us that at that timc thcrc was a “grcat carthquakc”
(Matt a·:a), but why do thc othcr thrcc Gospcls lail to mcntion
it: Surcly a grcat carthquakc, cspccially occurring at such a sig
nincant momcnt, would bc hard to lorgct. !t is lar morc likcly
that Matthcw just madc up thc story to add drama to his account,
in othcr words hc licd.
() How many angels:
Ncxt, Matthcw claims that an angcl appcarcd bclorc thc womcn,
rollcd back thc stonc door and sat upon it (Matt a·:a). Hc also
says that thc guards wcrc so lrightcncd that thcy laintcd (Matt
a·:¡). Mark’s story is quitc dißcrcnt. Hc claims that thc door had
already bccn rcmovcd bclorc thc womcn arrivcd so thcy wcnt into
thc tomb and saw thc angcl insidc (Mk .6:¡¸). And hc docsn’t
mcntion any guards. Lukc’s story is cvcn morc invcntivc. Hc
claims that thc womcn wcnt into thc tomb and saw not onc but
two angcls (Lk a¡:¡). Òbviously somconc is not tclling thc truth.
John claims that Mary wcnt to thc tomb alonc, saw thc tomb
opcn, ran to gct thc othcr disciplcs and whcn thcy wcnt into
thc tomb shc waitcd outsidc. Altcr cvcryonc wcnt homc Mary
waitcd and as shc did two angcls appcarcd to hcr and thcn Jcsus
appcarcd although shc could not rccognizc him (Jn ac:.a.¡).
And it is on this garblcd ‘cvidcncc’ that Christianity rcsts upon.
() Post-Resurrection Appearances
Tcrc arc scvcral accounts ol Jcsus appcaring to his disciplcs and
66 6,
othcrs altcr his supposcd rcsurrcction but all ol thcsc raisc morc
qucstions than thcy answcr. For cxamplc, Paul says that Jcsus
appcarcd to a crowd ol nvc hundrcd pcoplc, many ol whom hc
claimcd wcrc still alivc (. Cor, .¸,6). Ònc would think that having
nvc hundrcd cycwitncsscs to an cvcnt would bc conclusivc prool
that it actually happcncd. So it is strangc that Paul ncglccts to
givc thc namc ol cvcn onc ol thcsc witncsscs. !t is cqually strangc
that nonc ol thcm cvcr wrotc about what thcy saw. Strangcr still
is thc lact that this appcarancc is not mcntioncd in thc othcr
thrcc Gospcls. !t is wcll known that pcoplc tcnd to claboratc
thcir storics thc morc oltcn thcy rcpcat thcm and cvcn morc so
il thcy arc trying to imprcss or convincc othcrs. !t is also wcll
known that thosc who lic can’t always rcmcmbcr thc lics thcy
havc told and cnd up contradicting thcmsclvcs. Tc accounts ol
Paul’s cxpcricncc ol thc rcsurrcctcd Jcsus arc a good cxamplc ol
thcsc tcndcncics. First it is claimcd that Paul was blindcd by a
ßash ol light and thcn hcard a voicc. His companions rcmaincd
standing and hcard thc voicc although thcy couldn’t scc thc light
(Acts, µ,¸·). Latcr, whcn Paul rcpcats this talc, hc rcvcrscs it
saying that his companions lcll to thc ground (Acts, a6,.¡) and
saw thc light although thcy couldn’t hcar thc voicc (Acts, aa,µ),
Furthcr, cach timc Paul rccounts what Jcsus is supposcd to havc
said to him it gcts a bit longcr and morc dctailcd (comparc Acts,
µ,6 with Acts, a6,.¸.·). Such arc thc doubtlul tcstimonics that
lorm thc loundations ol Christianity
() What Did Happen:
!l Jcsus didn’t risc lrom thc dcad what did happcn to him: As
wc havc no cvidcncc apart lrom thc 8iblc wc will probably ncvcr
know but wc could makc an intclligcnt gucss. Vc know that
6· 6µ
thcrc had bccn a lot ol troublc in Jcrusalcm, somc ol it causcd by
Jcsus himscll, and thc authoritics must havc bccn anxious to kccp
thc pcacc. !t is quitc possiblc that cithcr thc Jcwish pricsts or thc
Romans rcmovcd Jcsus’ body lrom thc tomb so that it could not
bccomc thc locus ol morc troublc. Tcrc is no morc cvidcncc lor
this sccnario than thcrc is lor thc Christian cxplanation but it is
a thousand timcs morc probablc and bclicvablc.
!l somconc camc to you saying that thcy saw a dcad man
comc to lilc, risc up into thc sky and disappcar into thc clouds,
you would probably bc vcry skcptical bccausc such things go so
much against ordinary cxpcricncc. !l you askcd il anyonc clsc
had sccn this happcn and thcy said ¸cc pcoplc had witncsscd
it and you askcd lor thc namcs ol somc ol thcm but thcy wcrc
unablc to providc thc namc ol cvcn onc, you would probably
bccomc quitc suspicious. !l you thcn askcd whcn all this was
supposcd to havc happcncd and thcy said morc than ¡c ycars
ago, you would dismiss thc wholc thing as a dclusion, a rumor or
a tall story. (According to Ncw Tcstamcnt scholars thc carlicst
account ol Jcsus lilc, thc Gospcl ol Mark, was writtcn about
¡c ycars altcr Jcsus dicd.)
7as ¸csus Qod:
Christians claim that Jcsus was God. Lct us scc il thcrc is any
justincation lor this strangc claim. !l Jcsus rcally was God it is
vcry strangc that hc ncvcr said so. Tcrc is not one place in thc
wholc ol thc 8iblc whcrc Jcsus simply and unambiguously says,
“! am God”. Christians will objcct to this and say that Jcsus oltcn
callcd himscll or was callcd thc Son ol God. Howcvcr, thc 8iblc
clcarly shows that any good pcrson who had strong laith quali
6· 6µ
ncd to bc callcd a Son ol God. For cxamplc, Jcsus callcd Adam
a son ol God (Lk ¸:¸·).
!t will happcn that in thc vcry placc whcrc it was said
ol thcm “you arc not my pcoplc” thcy will bc callcd
“sons ol thc living God” (Rom µ:a6).
Lovc your cncmics and pray lor thosc who pcrsccutc
you, that you may bc sons ol your lathcr in hcavcn
(Matt ¸:¡¡¡¸).
You arc all sons ol God through laith in Christ Jcsus
(Gal ¸:a6).
You arc God’s, you arc all sons ol thc most high (Ps ·a:6).
Jcsus is callcd God’s “only bcgottcn son” but cvcn this is not
uniquc. !n thc Psalms God says to King Ðavid, “You arc my son,
today ! havc bcgottcn you” (Ps a:,) Furthcr, Jcsus distinctly said
that whcn hc callcd himscll a son ol God hc did not mcan hc was
God or rclatcd to God in a litcral scnsc. Vhcn thc Jcwish pricsts
criticizcd him lor claiming to bc cqual with God, Jcsus said:
!s it not writtcn in your law, “! havc said you arc gods”:
!l hc callcd thcm “gods” to whom thc word ol God
camc — and thc Scripturc cannot bc brokcn — what
about onc whom thc Fathcr sct apart as his vcry own
and scnt into thc world: (Jn .c:¸¡¸6).
Christians will protcst that in thcsc quotcs ‘son ol god’ is not
writtcn in capitals but whcn Jcsus makcs his claims capitals arc
uscd thus, ‘Son ol God’. 8ut capital lcttcrs to makc a phrasc
,c ,.
outstanding or to givc it cmphasis is an innovation ol modcrn
¡nglish. !n ancicnt Grcck and Aramaic, thc languagcs in which
thc Ncw Tcstamcnt was writtcn, capital lcttcrs wcrc ncvcr uscd
and so thc distinction bctwccn ‘son ol god’ and ‘Son ol God’ did
not cxist. Christians makc an cnormous luss about Jcsus’ claims
to bc a son ol God but as wc can scc, thcrc is absolutcly nothing
uniquc in this claim. Christians could say that thc tcrm Son ol
God is uscd in thc 8iblc in two dißcrcnt ways — as a titlc lor a
particularly holy pcrson and lor thc actual son ol God, Jcsus, who
was with God in hcavcn bclorc coming to carth. 8ut cvcn in this
sccond scnsc Jcsus was not uniquc. Tc 8iblc tclls us that God
had numcrous sons with him in hcavcn who latcr camc to carth
and livcd with humans just as Jcsus is supposcd to havc donc.
Vhcn mankind bcgan to incrcasc and sprcad all ovcr
thc carth and daughtcrs wcrc born to thcm, thc sons
ol God saw that thc daughtcrs ol mcn wcrc bcautilul,
so thcy took lor thcmsclvcs such womcn as thcy chosc
(Gcn 6:.¸)
!n thc 8iblc Jcsus is callcd thc Son ol Man morc than ·c timcs.
Yct thc 8iblc also tclls us that in thc cycs ol God thc Son ol Man
is nothing morc than a worm (Job a¸:6). How can Christians
claim that thc Son ol Man is God whcn thc 8iblc itscll says that
thc Son ol Man is nothing morc than a lowly worm:
Christians will thcn insist that Jcsus was callcd thc Mcssiah
and that this provcs hc was God. Tc Hcbrcw word mashiah ol
which thc Grcck translation is christos simply mcans ‘anointcd
onc’, and rclcrs to anyonc scnt by God to hclp thc pcoplc ol !sracl.
¡vcn a nonJcw could bc and somctimcs was callcd a Mcssiah.
,c ,.
Tc 8iblc cvcn calls thc pagan Pcrsian King Cyrus a Mcssiah
bccausc hc lct thc Jcws rcturn to thcir homcland (!s ¡¸:.). So just
bccausc Jcsus was callcd thc Mcssiah docs not provc hc was God.
!n lact, throughout thc 8iblc Jcsus gocs out ol his way to makc
it clcar that hc was not God. Vhcn somconc callcd Jcsus ‘good
tcachcr’ hc said:
Vhy do you call mc good: No onc is good cxccpt God
alonc (Lk .·:.µ).
Now il Jcsus was God why would hc dcny that hc was good:
Vc arc told that Jcsus praycd but il hc was God why would hc
nccd to pray to himscll: And whcn Jcsus praycd, hc said to God,
“not my will but yours” (Lk aa:¡a). Quitc clcarly hc was making
a distinction bctwccn God’s will and his own. Jcsus said that no
onc has cvcn sccn God (Jn .:.·), mcaning that whcn pcoplc saw
him thcy wcrc not sccing God. Again Jcsus said that hc can do
nothing without God.
! tcll you thc truth, thc Son can do nothing by himscll,
hc can only do what hc sccs thc Fathcr do (Jn ¸:.µ).
8y myscll ! can do nothing, ! judgc only as ! hcar and
my judgmcnt is just, lor ! scck not to plcasc myscll but
him who scnt mc (Jn ¸:¸c).
! can do nothing on my own but spcak just what thc
Fathcr has taught mc (Jn :a·).
!l Jcsus was God hc could do anything hc wantcd to do and in
thcsc passagcs and dozcns ol othcrs hc is making it as clcar as
crystal that hc is onc thing and God anothcr. Jcsus said, “Tc
,a ,¸
Fathcr is grcatcr than !” (Jn 14:28) cmphasizing again that hc was
not as grcat as God and thcrclorc dißcrcnt lrom him. Hc says:
Anyonc who spcaks a word against thc Son ol Man
will bc lorgivcn, but anyonc who blasphcmcs against
thc Holy Spirit will not bc lorgivcn (Lk .a:.c).
Now il Jcsus and thc Holy Spirit wcrc thc samc, to blasphcmc
onc would bc thc samc as blasphcming thc othcr. !n thc 8iblc
wc arc told that no onc born ol a woman can bc purc (Job a¸:¡).
Jcsus was born ol a woman, his mothcr Mary, so hc likcwisc must
havc bccn impurc and il hc was impurc how could hc bc God:
Vc arc told that Jcsus was dcad lor thrcc days bclorc asccnding
into hcavcn. How can God possibly dic: Vho was looking altcr
thc univcrsc whilc hc was dcad: Jcsus said that at thc cnd ol thc
world hc would bc sitting at thc right hand ol God to judgc thc
world (Lk aa:6µ). !l Jcsus and God arc thc samc, how would it
bc possiblc lor thcm to sit bcsidcs cach othcr: To do this thcy
would havc to bc scparatc and dißcrcnt. And anyway, Ðavid is
dcscribcd as sitting on thc right hand ol God so to do this onc
docs not havc to bc anything othcr than a good human bcing
(Ps ..c:.). Vc arc told that Jcsus stands between God and man.
For thcrc is onc God and onc mcdiator bctwccn God
and mcn, thc man Jcsus Christ (. Tim a:¸).
Tis passagc clcarly statcs that Jcsus is not God lor il hc was, how
could hc stand between God and mcn: !t also spccincally calls
Jcsus a man (scc also Acts .,:¸c¸.). !n thc Gospcls ol Matthcw
and Lukc (Matt .:.6, Lk ¸:a¸) wc arc givcn thc namc ol Jcsus’
lathcr, his lathcr’s lathcr, and so on, back through many gcn
,a ,¸
crations. !l God was rcally Jcsus’ lathcr, why docs thc 8iblc list
all Jcsus’ anccstors on his lathcr’s sidc: Christians arc lorcvcr
claiming that Jcsus is God and at thc samc timc that hc is thc
son ol God. 8ut how is this possiblc: How can a lathcr bc his
own son and himscll all at thc samc timc: And to makc mattcrs
morc conluscd, thc Holy Spirit is brought in and wc arc askcd
to bclicvc that Jcsus, God and thc Holy Spirit arc all dißcrcnt
and yct all thc samc. Tc Jcwish and !slamic conccpts ol God
arc much morc logical than this in that thcy say that God is
unambiguously unitary and onc.
Tc claim ol Christians that Jcsus is God contradicts what
thc 8iblc says, it gocs against common scnsc and it raiscs numcrous
logical problcms. Vhcrcas il wc scc Jcsus as hc was, an outstand
ing tcachcr, rclormcr and prophct, nonc ol thcsc problcms arisc.
½o¬ did ¸csus bccomc Qod:
!t sccms inconccivablc today that a mcrc human bcing could
bc rcgardcd as a god but thc situation was vcry dißcrcnt in thc
past. Ðuring thc timc ol Jcsus !sracl was a land in political and
social turmoil. Most pcoplc wcrc ignorant and supcrstitious and
wild rumors wcrc rcadily listcncd to and bclicvcd. Tcrc wcrc
numcrous pcoplc passing thcmsclvcs ol as prophcts, mcssiahs,
wondcr workcrs and saviors ol thc Jcwish nation. Somc ol thcsc,
likc Simon Magus, wcrc apparcntly ablc to pcrlorm miraclcs
ncarly thc samc as thosc donc by Jcsus (Acts, ·,µ,ß). Òthcrs
likc Tcudas and Judas thc Galilcan attractcd largc lollowings,
again just as Jcsus did (Acts, ¸,¸6, Acts, ¸,¸,). Ònc ol thcsc
charactcrs cvcn had a namc almost idcntical to Jcsus (Acts, .¸,6).
Vhcn Paul and his companions hcalcd a man in Lystra a hugc
,¡ ,¸
crowd gathcrcd and bcgan worshiping thcm as gods. Paul was
horrincd and tricd to cxplain that hc and his lricnds wcrc only
humans but “cvcn thcsc words could hardly kccp thc crowd lrom
oßcring sacrinccs to thcm” (Acts, .¡,.·). Most Roman cmpcrors
wcrc considcrcd divinc altcr thcy dicd and tcmplcs wcrc built to
worship thcm in. Clcarly this was a timc whcn any charismatic
pcrson could attract a hugc lollowing and cvcn bc proclaimcd a
god. !t happcncd to othcrs and it happcncd to Jcsus too.
7as ¸csus +crfcu:
!l a rcligious tcachcr wcrc pcrlcct wc would cxpcct thc bchavior
ol such a pcrson to bc unlailingly blamclcss, thcir tcachings to bc
humanc and practical and thcrc to bc consistcncy bctwccn what
thcy prcachcd and how thcy bchavcd. Jcsus ol coursc, dcnicd that
hc was pcrlcct (Lk .·:.µ) but dcspitc this and all thc cvidcncc
in thc 8iblc, Christians continuc to claim that Jcsus was pcrlcct.
Tcy havc to do this bccausc thcy mistakcnly bclicvc that hc was
God and how can onc havc an impcrlcct god: 8uddhists bclicvc
that Jcsus was a good man as wcrc thc loundcrs ol thc othcr
grcat world rcligions but bccausc hc was not cnlightcncd likc thc
8uddha hc was ccrtainly not pcrlcct. Likc othcr uncnlightcncd
pcoplc hc somctimcs did wrong, somc ol thc things hc taught
wcrc impractical and somctimcs hc lailcd to practicc what hc
prcachcd. Lct us cxaminc thc cvidcncc.
Jcsus’ cthical tcachings arc oltcn dcscribcd as sublimc, lolty,
uttcrly pcrlcct, ctc. 8ut wcrc thcy: Lct us look at his tcachings
on divorcc. !n thc Òld Tcstamcnt divorcc was allowcd undcr
ccrtain circumstanccs, which ol coursc is thc most humanc thing
to do whcn a couplc no longcr lovc cach othcr. 8ut Jcsus took an
,¡ ,¸
cxtrcmc position on divorcc saying that it was allowablc only on
thc grounds ol adultcry:
!t has bccn said, “Anyonc who divorccs his wilc must
givc hcr a ccrtincatc ol divorcc”. 8ut ! tcll you that any
onc who divorccs his wilc, cxccpt lor marital unlaith
lulncss, causcs hcr to commit adultcry, and anyonc who
marrics a woman so divorccd also commits adultcry
(Matt 5:3132).
Tis tcrriblc tcaching has mcant that in Christian countrics
until rcccntly millions ol couplcs wcrc trappcd in unhappy
lovclcss marriagcs bccausc thcy wcrc unablc to gct a divorcc.
!t also mcant that countlcss womcn who did managc to gct a
divorcc lrom thcir husbands cvcn without committing adultcry
wcrc brandcd as adultcrcrs il thcy marricd again. Tis tcach
ing ol Jcsus alonc has causcd untold miscry and hcartbrcak.
Anothcr cxamplc ol Jcsus’ lar lrom pcrlcct tcachings is his
attitudc to moncy. Hc sccms to havc had a dccp rcscntmcnt
lor thc rich:
8ut woc to you that arc rich, lor you havc rcccivcd your
consolation. Voc to you that arc lull now, lor you shall
hungcr (Lk 6:a¡a¸).
Vhilc it is truc that thc rich arc somctimcs grccdy and thought
lcss (as arc thc poor) no mcntion is madc ol this. Tc rich arc
condcmncd simply bccausc thcy arc rich. Òncc whcn a young
man prcsscd Jcsus lor an answcr to thc qucstion ol how hc could
havc ctcrnal lilc hc nnally said:
!l you would bc pcrlcct, go, scll what you posscss and
,6 ,,
givc it to thc poor and lollow mc and you will havc
trcasurc in hcavcn (Matt .µ:a.).
Hc cvcn wcnt so lar as to say that it is virtually impossiblc lor a
rich pcrson to go to hcavcn.
Truly, ! say to you, it will bc hard lor a rich man to
cntcr thc Kingdom ol Hcavcn. Again, ! tcll you, it
is casicr lor a camcl to go through thc cyc ol a ncc
dlc than lor a rich man to cntcr thc Kingdom ol God
(Matt .µ:a¸a¡).
Christians ol coursc havc ncvcr takcn any noticc ol thcsc sayings
ol Jcsus but il thcy did thc cconomics ol most Christian countrics
would collapsc and all thc good qualitics that honcst cntrcprc
ncurship can cngcndcr would disappcar. Tcsc rathcr impractical
and unlair idcas contrasts vcry sharply with thc 8uddha’s atti
tudc to wcalth. Hc rccognizcd that wcalth honcstly carncd can
bc a sourcc ol goodncss and happincss.
Vhat is thc happincss ol owncrship: Hcrcin, a housc
holdcr has wcalth acquircd by cncrgctic striving, won
by strcngth ol arm and swcat ol brow, justly and law
lully won Vhcn hc thinks ol this, hc lccls happincss
and satislaction.
And what is thc happincss ol wcalth: Hcrcin, a housc
holdcr has wcalth justly and lawlully won, and with it
hc docs many good dccds. Vhcn hc thinks ol this, hc
lccls happincss and satislaction.
And what is thc happincss ol lrccdom lrom dcbt:
,6 ,,
Hcrcin, a houscholdcr owcs no dcbt largc or small to
anyonc, and whcn hc thinks ol this, hc lccls happi
ncss and satislaction (Anguttara Nikaya, 8ook ol Fivcs,
Sutta No.¡.).
Tc 8uddha also undcrstood that with thc right attitudc thc
wcalthy can do grcat good with thcir moncy.
Vith wcalth acquircd by cncrgctic striving, won by
strcngth ol arm and swcat ol brow lawlully and justly,
a noblc disciplc makcs himscll, his mothcr and lathcr,
his wilc and childrcn, his scrvants and workmcn and
his lricnds and acquaintanccs chccrlul and happy — hc
crcatcs pcrlcct happincss. Tis is thc nrst opportunity
scizcd by him, uscd lor good and appropriatcly madc
usc ol (Anguttara Nikaya, 8ook ol Fivcs, Sutta No.¡.).
So rathcr than dismissing thc rich wholcsalc lrom thc rcligious
lilc as Jcsus did thc 8uddha taught thcm to carn thcir moncy
honcstly and to usc it lor thc bcncnt ol thcmsclvcs and thc gcn
cral community.
Ònc aspcct ol Jcsus tcachings that many thoughtlul pcoplc nnd
disturbing is his dcprcciation ol critical and indcpcndcnt think
ing. Hc praiscd morc highly thosc who bclicvcd without sccing
than thosc who askcd lor cvidcncc (Jh,ac,a·). Òncc hc said that
unlcss a pcrson bccomcs likc a littlc child thcy cannot cntcr thc
kingdom ol hcavcn (Matt, .·, ¸) Small childrcn arc ol coursc
naïvc, trusting and oltcn bclicvc anything thcy arc told. 8ut how
arc wc going to scparatc truth lrom lalschood and right lrom
wrong with an attitudc likc this. !s it wisc to just blindly bclicvc
,· ,µ
anything wc arc told: Tcrc arc many lalsc and cvcn cvil idcolo
gics bcing promotcd today and common scnsc dcmands that wc
scrutinizc in a vcry adult manncr bclorc acccpting thcm. Tc
8uddha always cncouragcd pcoplc to makc a carclul and through
inquiry bclorc bclicving any idcas, including his own. Vhcn thc
Kalamas said that thcy didn’t know how to choosc bctwccn thc
various contcnding laiths hc said to thcm,
Ðo not go by rcvclation, tradition, rumor, or thc sacrcd
scripturcs…. 8ut whcn you yourscll know that a thing
is good, usclul and praiscd by thc wisc thcn acccpt and
practicc it (Anguttara Nikaya,.,¡6)
Anothcr problcm with Jcsus’ as an cthical tcachcr is thc numcr
ous important moral issucs hc lailcd to givc any guidancc about.
Slavcry lor cxamplc was a inhumanc and widcsprcad institution
during his timc and yct hc is complctcly silcnt about it. Hc says
nothing about racial discrimination, domcstic violcncc, war or
thc problcms ol alcohol and drugs. Òthcr crucial issucs likc
how socictics should bc govcrncd, thc administration ol justicc,
cconomics or mcdical cthics arc not addrcsscd cithcr. Òn thc
othcr hand thcrc arc numcrous idcas that Jcsus did tcach which
cvcn thc most cnthusiastic lundamcntalist Christians would
bc rcluctant to practicc or cvcn to agrcc with. Hc said that wc
should not rcsist thosc who do cvil although most pcoplc today
would say that not countcring cvil is thc hcight ol irrcsponsibil
ity (Matt,¸,¸µ). Hc taught that just to look at a woman with lust
amountcd to committing adultcry which prctty much makcs
cvcry malc on carth an adultcrcr (Mat,¸,a,). Hc said that il wc
call somconc a lool in a momcnt ol angcr that wc will bc con
,· ,µ
dcmncd to ctcrnal hcll so prcsumably most ol us arc dcstincd lor
thc ncry lurnacc (Mat,¸,a.). Hc said that poor pcoplc will always
bc with us which is hardly an inccntivc to try to cradicatc povcrty
and dcpravation (Matt,a6,..). Hc cvcn said that il wc do wrong
with our hand or tonguc that you should cut thcm oß which
sccms cxtrcmc by any standards (Matt, ¸, ¸c). !t should bc notcd
hcrc that somc carly Christians actually did takc thcsc words
ol Jcsus scriously and cut oß thcir gcnitals whcn thcy couldn’t
control thcir scxual dcsirc.
8ut thc tcaching ol Jcsus which has causcd morc problcms
than any othcr is his claim that hc and hc alonc can givc salva
tion (Jn .¡:6). !t lollows axiomatically lrom this that all othcr
rcligions lcad to thc only altcrnativc to salvation — hcll — and
arc thcrclorc cvil. Sadly, this claim by Jcsus is thc root ol that
vcry charactcristic Christian trait — intolcrancc. Christianity has
always cquatcd disbclicl in Jcsus with cvil and has castigatcd non
bclicvcrs as godlcss, wickcd, stubborn, pagan, scoßcrs, lollowcrs
ol lalsc prophcts and idol worshippcrs (scc c.g. ! Pct, a:.aa).
Ðo not bc yokcd togcthcr with unbclicvcrs. For what
do rightcousncss and wickcdncss havc in common: Òr
what lcllowship can light havc with darkncss: Vhat
harmony is thcrc bctwccn Christ and 8clial: Vhat
docs a bclicvcr havc in common with an unbclicvcr:
Vhat agrccmcnt is thcrc bctwccn thc tcmplc ol God
and idols: (a Cor 6:.¡.6).
!n this passagc Paul asks what a Christian can possibly havc in
common with, lor cxamplc, a 8uddhist: For Paul as lor lunda
mcntalist and cvangclical Christians thc lact that thc 8uddhist
·c ·.
may valuc and practicc lovc, compassion, charity, paticncc, humil
ity and truthlulncss just as hc himscll docs, counts lor nothing.
For thc lundamcntalist and cvangclical Christian thc singlc lact
that thc 8uddhist docs not bclicvc in Jcsus automatically puts
him on thc sidc ol wickcdncss and darkncss, hc is an idol wor
shippcr who should bc shunncd and who dcscrvcs to go to hcll.
Tis is thc grcat tragcdy ol Christianity — thc strongcr thc
Christian’s laith, thc morc partisan, bigotcd and intolcrant hc
usually bccomcs. Vhat a rclicl it is to bc ablc to Takc Rclugc
in thc 8uddha and still bc ablc to rcspcct Lao Tzu, thc Prophct
Mohammcd, Krishna, Guru Nanak and othcr grcat rcligious
tcachcrs. How plcasant it is to bc ablc to communicatc with oth
crs without thc nccd to bc always trying to convcrt thcm. How
nicc it is to bc ablc to bc happy whcn onc sccs othcrs happy with
thcir rcligion. Fundamcntalist Christianity is intolcrant bccausc
it is obscsscd with Jcsus and cxcludcs cvcryonc who docs not
acccpt him. 8uddhism is tolcrant bccausc it trcasurcs wisdom
and compassion whcrcvcr thcy arc lound and it can cmbracc
anyonc who upholds thcsc virtucs.
½cll
Jcsus taught at lcast two dißcrcnt idcas about what happcns altcr
dcath. According to thc nrst whcn somconc dics thcy will bc
judgcd and thcn assigncd to cithcr hcavcn or hcll (Lk, .6, .µa¸).
According to thc sccond whcn pcoplc dic thcy will rcmain in
thcir gravcs until Jcsus rcturns and only thcn comc bclorc him
to bc judgcd (Matt, a¸, ¸.¸¸). Howcvcr, Jcsus was quitc clcar
that hcll is thc only altcrnativc to hcavcn that all thosc who do
not bclicvc in him and many othcrs too will go to hcll and that
·c ·.
hcll is a placc ol ctcrnal punishmcnt. Vithout any doubt this
is thc most unattractivc ol all Jcsus tcachings. 8chind all his
gcntlcncss and his cxhortations to lovc and to lorgivc lurks thc
tcrriblc thrcat ol ctcrnal damnation.
Most libcral Christians arc vcry uncomlortablc with thcsc
idcas and try to makc thcm sound a littlc bcttcr by rationalizing
thcm. Firstly thcy will try to lrcc Jcsus or God lrom rcspon
sibility by saying that thcy do not scnd us to hcll but that wc
scnd oursclvcs thcrc by our cvil actions. Tis ßatly contradicts
thc 8iblc, which rcpcatcdly says that thc dcad arc judgcd bclorc
bcing assigncd to hcll. Tis judgmcnt is not an automatic proccss
but thc rcsult ol a conscious dccision on thc part ol Jcsus, God
or angcls acting on thcir bchall.
Furthcr, thc 8iblc makcs it clcar that it is not primarily our
actions that dctcrminc whcthcr wc go to hcavcn or hcll but our
bclicls. A good 8uddhist is dcstincd lor hcll whilc a Christian
who has bccn bad but latcr rcpcnts will go to hcavcn. Tc ncxt
way Christians try to cxplain away hcll is by saying that it is not
rcally a placc ol torturc and punishmcnt but ol purincation or
scparation lrom God. Again this dircctly contradicts thc 8iblc.
Jcsus dcscribcs hcll as an “ctcrnal nrc that has bccn prcparcd by
thc Ðcvil and his angcls!” (Matt, a¸, ¡.) and as a placc ol “wail
ing and gnashing ol tccth” whcrc thc dammcd cry out lor pity
and lor watcr to qucnch thcir burning thirst (Lk, .6, a¡). Jcsus
says that God’s ability to cast us into ctcrnal hcll should makc
us uttcrly tcrrincd ol him.
“! tcll you my lricnds, do not lcar thosc who put to
dcath thc body and thcn can do no morc. ! will tcll
you who to lcar. Fcar Hc who altcr killing you is ablc
·a ·¸
to throw you into hcll. Tis is who you should lcar”
(Lk, .a, ¡¸).
Anothcr stratcgy is to say that all thcsc idcas arc not mcant to
bc takcn litcrally. 8ut why not: !l wc takc thc idca ol rcsurrcc
tion, salvation or thc incarnation on lacc valuc why shouldn’t wc
do thc samc with thc idca ol ctcrnal hcll: Vhy arc Christians
so rcady to cndorsc somc ol Jcsus’ idcas but so rcluctant to
cvcn acknowlcdgc othcrs: Òl coursc thc rcason lor this is vcry
clcar. To thc modcrn mind thc conccpt ol ctcrnal hcll lor all
nonChristians sccms vindictivc, vcngclul, crucl and unjust.
Libcral Christians arc cmbarrasscd to admit that Jcsus could
havc conccivcd ol such idcas. ¡vangclical and lundamcntalist
Christians arc lar lcss squcamish about hcll than thcir libcral
brcthrcn. Tcy arc only too happy to proclaim thc rcality ol
ctcrnal damnation and arc quick to tcll you that this will bc
your latc too il you do not bclicvc in Jcsus. !n this scnsc thcy
arc lcss plcasant than libcral Christians but at lcast morc truc
to what Jcsus taught.
_iraclcs
Ònc ol thc most bizarrc things about Jcsus wcrc thc miraclcs hc
is said to havc pcrlormcd. Tc most lamous ol thcsc was bring
ing Lazarus back lrom thc dcad. Lazarus had bccn dcad lor at
lcast lour days and was prcsumably in hcavcn, whilc his lamily
wcrc hcartbrokcn and gricving. !n raising him lrom thc dcad,
Jcsus ccrtainly dcmonstratcd his powcr but what did Lazarus and
his lamily gct out ol it: Lazarus was rcmovcd lrom hcavcn and
brought back to “this valc ol tcars” only to havc to dic all ovcr
·a ·¸
again somc timc in thc luturc, whilc his lamily would havc to go
through gricving and distrcss all ovcr again (Jn ..:.¡¡).
To thc 8uddhist this miraclc, il it cvcn rcally happcncd,
sccms to bc unncccssary and cvcn crucl. How much morc prac
tical and humanc was thc 8uddha’s approach to dcath. Òn onc
occasion a young mothcr namcd Kisagotami camc to thc 8uddha
with hcr dcad son, dcrangcd with gricl and plcading with thc
8uddha to givc hcr son somc mcdicinc. Full ol compassion thc
8uddha told hcr to go and gct a mustard sccd lrom a housc
whcrc no onc had cvcr dicd. !n thc proccss ol looking lor such
a sccd, Kisagotami gradually camc to rcalizc that dcath is an
intcgral part ol lilc and shc ovcrcamc hcr gricl (Ðhammapada
Atthakatta, 8ook ·,.¸). Jcsus pcrlormcd showy miraclcs which
sccmcd to lcavc pcoplc much as thcy wcrc. Tc 8uddha gcntly
and skilllully hclpcd pcoplc to undcrstand and acccpt thc rcal
ity ol dcath. Tis is what thc 8uddha mcant whcn hc said that
cducation is thc highcst miraclc (Ðigha Nikaya, Sutta No...).
Anothcr miraclc whcrc Jcsus sccms to havc givcn littlc
thought to thc conscqucnccs ol what hc was doing was thc onc
hc supposcdly pcrlormcd at Godara. A man was posscsscd by
dcvils and just bclorc Jcsus cxorciscd thcm thcsc dcvils askcd him
to scnd thcm into a ncarby hcrd ol pigs. Jcsus obligcd, scnding
thc dcvils into thc pigs, which thcn rushcd scrcaming down thc
sidc ol a cliß and into a lakc whcrc thcy all drowncd (Mk ¸:..¸).
Tc posscsscd man must havc bccn vcry gratclul lor this but onc
wondcrs what thc owncrs ol thc pigs would havc thought. Tc
loss ol thcir animals would havc causcd thcm grcat nnancial
hardship. Not surprisingly, wc arc told that altcr this incidcnt
thc pcoplc lrom thc ncarby villagc camc to Jcsus and bcggcd him
to lcavc thcir tcrritory (Mk ¸:.,). Notc that Matthcw tclls this
·¡ ·¸
samc story but hc cxaggcratcs it, claiming that not onc but two
mcn wcrc cxorciscd (Matt ·:a·¸a).
Tis supposcd miraclc also highlights Jcsus uttcr disrcgard
lor naturc. Hc could simply havc cxpcllcd thc dcvils but instcad
hc chosc to do it in a most crucl way by driving to thcir dcaths a
largc numbcr ol complctcly harmlcss and innoccnt animals. Òn
anothcr occasion hc uscd his miraculous powcrs to kill a ng trcc
simply bccausc it could not bcar lruit (Matt a.:.·ac). Apparcntly
hc ncvcr considcrcd that animals could havc catcn its lcavcs, birds
could havc ncstcd in its branchcs, travclcrs could havc rcstcd in
its shadc and its roots would havc hclpcd prcvcnt crosion ol thc
soil by thc rain and wind — which probably cxplains why thc trcc
had bccn lclt growing. No advantagc at all camc lrom killing thc
trcc — it was littlc morc than an act ol wanton vandalism.
Vhilc somc ol Jcsus’ miraclcs wcrc pointlcss othcrs sccm
to havc vcrgcd on thc ridiculous. Vc arc told that oncc Jcsus was
invitcd to a wcdding. Altcr somc timc thcrc was no winc lclt to
drink so hc turncd scvcral largc jars ol watcr into winc (Jn a:...).
No doubt thc host must havc apprcciatcd not having to go out to
buy morc alcohol, but it docs sccm a bit incongruous that God
should incarnatc as a human, comc to carth and usc his powcrs
just so that pcoplc wouldn’t run out ol drinks at thcir partics.
Inconsistcncy
Vhat wc havc said abovc indicatcs that whilc somc ol Jcsus’
tcachings wcrc good, othcrs wcrc crucl, impractical, and in somc
cascs just silly. And pcrhaps it is not surprising that not only havc
Christians oltcn lailcd to practicc Jcsus’ tcachings, but hc oltcn
also lailcd to practicc thcm himscll. Hc taught that wc should
·¡ ·¸
lovc our ncighbor but hc sccms to havc problcms doing this him
scll. Hc bclicvcd that his tcaching could lcad pcoplc to hcavcn
and yct hc spccincally instructcd his disciplcs not to prcach thc
Gospcl to anyonc but his own pcoplc, thc Jcws.
Ðo not go among thc Gcntilcs or cntcr any town ol
thc Samaritans Go rathcr to thc lost shccp ol !sracl
(Matt .c:¸6).
Vhcn a poor distrcsscd woman camc to Jcsus bcgging lor hclp hc
rcluscd to hclp hcr simply bccausc shc was not Jcwish. Tcaching
thc Gospcl to Canaanitcs was, hc said, likc taking lood lrom
childrcn and throwing it to dogs.
A Canaanitc woman lrom thc vicinity camc to him,
crying out, “Lord, son ol Ðavid, havc mcrcy on mc!
My daughtcr is sußcring tcrribly lrom dcmonpos
scssion”. Jcsus did not answcr a word. So his disciplcs
camc to him and urgcd him, “Scnd hcr away, lor shc
kccps crying out altcr us”. Hc answcrcd: “! was scnt
only to thc lost shccp ol !sracl”. Tc woman camc and
knclt bclorc him, “Lord, hclp mc!” shc said. Hc rcplicd,
“!t is not right to takc thc childrcn’s brcad and toss it to
thc dogs” (Matt .¸:aaa6)
!t was only altcr strong urging lrom his disciplcs that hc nnally
dccidcd to hclp thc woman. So much lor loving onc’s ncigh
bor. Jcsus taught that wc should lovc our cncmics, but again
hc sccmcd to havc dimcultics doing this. Vhcn thc Pharisccs
criticizcd him hc rcspondcd with a tiradc ol curscs and insults
(c.g. Jn 8:4247, Matt 23:1336). Jcsus said that wc should not
·6 ·,
judgc othcrs (Matt 7:12) and claimcd that hc himscll judgcd no
onc (Jn 8:15). 8ut dcspitc this hc was constantly judging and con
dcmning othcrs, oltcn in a harsh and swccping manncr (Jn 8:4247,
Matt 23:1316) !n conlormity with thc Òld Tcstamcnt Jcsus taught
that wc must honor our mothcr and lathcr (Matt 19:19) but on
othcr occasions hc taught and practiscd thc cxact oppositc.
!l any onc comcs to mc and docs not hatc his own
lathcr and mothcr and wilc and childrcn and brothcrs
and sistcrs, ycs, cvcn his own lilc, hc cannot bc my dis
ciplc (Lk .¡:a6).
Tis dcmand that to lovc Jcsus wc must bc prcparcd to hatc oth
crs, cvcn our own parcnts, sccms to bc vcry much at odds with
thc idca ol honoring parcnts — lct alonc with thc idca ol loving
our ncighbor. Òncc Jcsus’ mothcr and brothcrs camc to scc him
whilc hc was prcaching only to bc rudcly rcbußcd.
And his mothcr and brothcrs camc, and standing out
sidc thcy scnt to him and callcd him. And a crowd was
sitting about him, and thcy said to him, “Your mothcr
and brothcrs arc outsidc, asking lor you”. And hc
rcplicd, “Vho arc my mothcr and my brothcrs:” And
looking around on thosc who sat about him, hc said,
“Hcrc arc my mothcr and brothcrs!” (Mk ¸:¸.¸¸).
Òncc whcn his mothcr spokc to him, Jcsus snappcd at hcr:
“Ò woman, what havc you to do with mc:” (Jn a:¡). And yct whilc
hc actcd likc this to his parcnts hc condcmncd thc Pharisccs lor
thcir supposcd hypocrisy ovcr thc law rcquiring that parcnts bc
honorcd (Matt .¸:¸6, Mk ,:.c.¸).
·6 ·,
!n somc instanccs, it is dimcult to accusc Jcsus ol lailing to
practicc what hc prcachcd lor thc simplc rcason that hc taught
contradictory things. Christians arc uscd to thinking ol him as
“gcntlc Jcsus mcck and mild”, bccausc ol his commands “to turn
thc othcr chcck” and to “not rcsist an cvil”. And indccd Jcsus
sccms to havc actcd likc this somctimcs. 8ut at othcr timcs hc
clcarly saw his rolc as a violcnt onc.
Ðo not supposc that ! havc comc to bring pcacc on thc
carth. ! did not comc to bring pcacc but thc sword. !
havc comc to turn a man against his lathcr, a daugh
tcr against hcr mothcr, a daughtcrinlaw against hcr
mothcrinlaw, a man’s cncmics will bc thc mcmbcrs ol
his own houschold (Matt .c:¸¡¸6).
Ccrtainly hc saw nothing wrong with using violcncc whcn hc
thought it was ncccssary. Vhcn hc saw thc moncy changcrs in
thc tcmplc hc lost his tcmpcr and lashcd out with violcncc.
So hc madc a whip out ol cords and drovc all lrom
thc tcmplc arcas: hc scattcrcd thc coins ol thc moncy
changcrs and ovcrturncd thcir tablcs (Jn a:.¸).
8clorc his arrcst Jcsus was cxpccting troublc so hc told his dis
ciplcs to prcparc thcmsclvcs by gctting wcapons.
!l you do not havc a sword scll your cloak and buy onc
(Lk aa:¸6).
Vhcn hc was arrcstcd thcrc was a nght during which “onc ol
Jcsus’ companions rcachcd lor his sword, drcw it out and struck
thc scrvant ol thc high pricst, cutting oß his car” (Matt a6:¸.). !t
·· ·µ
is vcry dimcult lor thc 8uddhist to rcconcilc such bchavior with
thc idca ol bcing pcrlcct. To rctaliatc against onc’s accuscrs, to
losc onc’s tcmpcr and to cncouragc othcrs to carry wcapons and
usc thcm sccm to ncgatc thc wholc idca ol moral pcrlcction.
Christians havc grcat dimculty undcrstanding why
8uddhists and othcr nonChristians cannot acccpt Jcsus as thcir
Lord and savior as thcy thcmsclvcs do. 8ut whcn wc rcad thc
lilc and tcachings ol thc 8uddha — a man who smilcd at abusc,
rcmaincd calm whcn provokcd and who always discouragcd
violcncc — thc rcason lor thcir rcjcction bccomcs clcar.
½o¬ Æuddhists _cc ¸csus
Clcarly thcrc is much in thc lilc and tcachings ol Jcsus that
a 8uddhist would disagrcc with but cqually as much hc or
shc could admirc. So how do inlormcd 8uddhists scc Jcsus:
Firstly thcy think ol him as a grcat moral tcachcr on a par with
Conlucius, Mahavira, Kabir, Lao Tzu, Krishna or Guru Nanak.
His tcachings that cvokcs most admiration in 8uddhists is his
strcss on humility, lovc and scrvicc to othcrs. Tcsc idcas arc
vcry similar to what thc 8uddha taught somc ¸cc ycars carlicr
and strikc a cord with all 8uddhists. Jcsus said that thc grcat
cst lovc is to givc oncs lilc lor oncs’ lricnd (Jn, .¸, .¸) and thc
8uddha taught cxactly thc samc thing (Ð, !!!, .·,). Vhcn Jcsus
said, “Ðo unto othcrs what you would likc donc unto you”, wc
arc rcmindcd ol thc 8uddha’s cxhortation “Tink likc this, ‘As
am ! so arc othcrs. As arc othcrs so am !’, and harm nonc nor
havc thcm harmcd”. Vhcn hc said, “!n that you did it lor thc
lcast ol thcsc my brothcrs you did it lor mc” (Matt, a¸, ¡c), wc
immcdiatcly think ol thc 8uddha’s words “Hc who would nursc
·· ·µ
mc lct him nursc thc sick”. Sccondly, 8uddhists havc thc highcst
rcspcct lor Jcsus honcsty and intcgrity. Howcvcr inadcquatc his
idcas might havc bccn in somc way thcrc can bc no doubt that
hc was uttcrly sinccrc and bclicvcd dccply in what hc was doing.
Tirdly, 8uddhists sccs Jcsus as bcing worthy ol sympathy and
compassion. Tc accounts ol his bctrayal, his torturc, his trial
and nnally thc tcrriblc manncr ol his dcath arc dccply moving
and cvokc gcnuinc sorrow in all 8uddhists. Tcy cannot acccpt
thc Christian claim that Jcsus was God and as wc havc sccn,
thcrc is littlc cvidcncc that hc himscll cvcr madc this claim. 8ut
somc othcr claims madc about him nt into 8uddhist doctrincs
vcry wcll. According to 8uddhism all good pcoplc can bc rcborn
in thc hcavcn rcalm. Jcsus was clcarly a good pcrson, a vcry good
pcrson, and so 8uddhists agrcc whcn thc 8iblc says hc wcnt to
hcavcn altcr his dcath. 8uddhist also agrccs with thc 8iblc whcn
it says that Jcsus will comc again. Vhcn his lilc span in hcavcn
is ovcr Jcsus may wcll bc rcborn on carth again and continuc his
mission with cvcn morc lovc and wisdom than bclorc. ·
µc µ.
, [ritiquc of Tc Æiblc
[
hristianity is a bookbascd rcligion. Tcrc is no cvidcncc
lor thc claims ol Christianity othcr than what is said in
thc 8iblc and this lact alonc makcs this book thc bcdrock ol
Christian doctrinc and laith. Today as in thc past lundamcntal
ist Christians havc pickcd through thc 8iblc arguing with cach
othcr ovcr thc mcaning ol its phrascs and words and havc tricd to
convincc nonChristians ol thc truth ol a book that thcy thcm
sclvcs cannot agrcc about. 8ut onc thing which all Christians
agrcc on is that thc 8iblc is God’s word — not that it contains
God’s word, but that it is God’s word, an inlalliblc and complctc
rcvclation givcn to man by God. Vc will cxaminc this claim and
scc il it has any truth to it.
Is it Qod’s 7ord:
!l thc 8iblc rcally is God’s word it indicatcs that hc is a vcry
strangc dcity indccd. Ònc would cxpcct that thc crcator ol thc
univcrsc would only spcak to humans whcn hc had somcthing ol
grcat importancc to say and that what hc said would bc ol uni
vcrsal signincancc. Not so. Tc book ol Chroniclcs lor cxamplc
consists ol littlc morc than lists ol namcs ol pcoplc wc know littlc
or nothing about and who dicd thousands ol ycars ago. No com
mandmcnts, no cthical principlcs, no hints on how to livc propcrly
or to worship God — just pagc altcr pagc ol usclcss namcs. Vhy
would God wastc his and our timc rcvcaling such things: And
what about thc Songs ol Solomon: Tis book consists ol a col
lcction ol crotic lovc poctry. Òncc again, with thc world in such
a mcss onc would havc supposcd that God could havc thought ol
µc µ.
somcthing morc important to say to humankind than this.
Tcn wc comc to thc Gospcls which rccount thc lilc ol
Jcsus. Vhy has God dccidcd to rcvcal thc wholc ol Jcsus’ biog
raphy, not oncc, but lour timcs and why has hc rcvcalcd what arc
quitc clcarly lour dißcrcnt and contradictory vcrsions ol thc samc
story: Unlikc lundamcntalist cvangclicals, historians havc givcn
pcrlcctly plausiblc answcrs to thcsc qucstions. Tc 8iblc is not
a rcvclation lrom God, it is a compilation, a rathcr untidy com
pilation, writtcn by many dißcrcnt pcoplc, ovcr many ccnturics,
changcd and cditcd lrom timc to timc and containing lcgcnds,
storics, gcncalogics, lablcs, sacrcd and sccular writings. !t is no
morc a rcvclation lrom God than arc thc !liad or thc Òdysscy,
thc Ramayana or thc Mahabharata.
Is thc Æiblc Inspircd:
Christians claim that although thc books ol thc 8iblc wcrc actu
ally writtcn by dißcrcnt pcoplc, thcsc pcoplc wcrc inspircd and
guidcd by God as thcy wrotc. Vhilc contcmporary Christians
makc this claim, thc ancicnt authors ol thc 8iblc ncvcr did. For
cxamplc, Lukc says at thc bcginning ol his Gospcl,
!nsomuch as many havc undcrtakcn to compilc a nar
rativc ol thc things which havc bccn accomplishcd
among us… it sccmcd good to mc also having lollowcd
all things closcly lor somc timc past, to writc an ordcrly
account lor you…. (Lk .:.¸).
Nothing about bcing nllcd with thc spirit ol God cithcr bclorc or
whilc hc wrotc, hc simply says that othcrs had writtcn accounts
µa µ¸
ol thc lilc ol Jcsus so hc thought it might bc a good idca il hc
wrotc somcthing also. !l hc was rcally inspircd by God to writc
his Gospcl why didn’t hc say so: 8ut thc claim ol inspiration
is not just unsubstantiatcd, it also raiscs a vcry scrious problcm.
Christians arc always claiming that God spcaks to thcm in
praycr, that hc givcs thcm advicc and tclls thcm what to do. Tcy
claim that God’s voicc is vcry dircct, vcry clcar and vcry rcal. 8ut
il thcy really havc no doubt that God is communicating with
thcm thcn surcly his words should bc rccordcd and includcd in
thc 8iblc. Tc 8iblc contains words God spokc to Moscs, Joshua,
Matthcw, Mark, Pctcr and Paul so why shouldn’t thc words hc
spcaks to modcrn day Christians bc includcd also: Christians
will balk at such a suggcstion which indicatcs that thcy arc not
so convinccd that thc words thcy hcar in thcir hcarts rcally do
comc lrom God altcr all.
Onc Æiblc or _cvcral:
!n ancicnt timcs thcrc was no standardizcd vcrsion ol thc Òld
Tcstamcnt. Ðißcrcnt Jcwish groups and dißcrcnt rcgions had
thcir own vcrsions. Tcrc wcrc thc Scptuagint, thc Aquila,
Tcodotion’s vcrsion and Symmachu’s vcrsion, all containing dil
lcrcnt tcxt and dißcrcnt numbcrs ol books. Tc Òld Tcstamcnt
uscd by modcrn Christians is bascd on thc Massonctic vcrsion
which only appcarcd altcr thc Jamnia Synod at thc cnd ol thc
.st ccntury ~.b. Tc Ncw Tcstamcnt did not appcar in its prcscnt
lorm until thc ycar ¡c¡ ~.b., ncarly lour hundrcd ycars altcr thc
dcath ol Jcsus. 8clorc that timc, thc Gospcls ol Tomas, thc
Gospcl ol Nicodcmus, thc Acts ol Pctcr, thc Acts ol Paul and
a dozcn othcr books wcrc all considcrcd canonical. !n ¡c¡ ~.b.
µa µ¸
thcsc books wcrc simply cut out ol thc 8iblc bccausc thcy con
taincd tcachings that wcrc contrary to Christian thcology at that
timc. Ònc ol thc oldcst cxisting 8iblcs, thc Codcx Sinaiticus,
includcs thc ¡pistlc ol 8arnabas, a book that is not includcd in
thc modcrn 8iblc. !l thcsc books wcrc considcrcd to bc rcvcla
tion lrom God by carly Christians why don’t modcrn Christians
considcr thcm to bc so:
Vhcn wc look at thc 8iblcs uscd by modcrn Christians wc
nnd that thcrc arc scvcral dißcrcnt vcrsions. Tc 8iblc uscd by thc
¡thiopian Church, onc ol thc most ancicnt ol all churchcs, contains
thc 8ooks ol ¡noch and thc Shcphcrd ol Hcrmas which arc not
lound in thc 8iblcs uscd by Catholics and Protcstants. Tc 8iblc
uscd in thc Catholic Church contains thc books ol Judith, Tobias,
8anuch, ctc which havc bccn cut out ol thc 8iblc uscd in Protcstant
churchcs. Prol. H. L. Ðrummingwright ol thc Southwcstcrn
8aptist Tcological Scminary in his introduction to thc 8iblc
cxplains how thcsc books camc to bc cut out ol thc Protcstant
8iblc. Tcsc books wcrc, hc says, “in most Protcstant 8iblcs until
thc .µth ccntury, whcn publishcrs, lcd by thc 8ritish and Forcign
8iblc Socicty voluntarily bcgan to omit thcm”. Òncc again, thcsc
books containcd idcas which thc churchcs did not likc so thcy just
ccnsurcd thcm. How can a book likc Judith bc thc inlalliblc word
ol God onc momcnt and not thc ncxt: Vhy arc thcrc so many
dißcrcnt vcrsions ol God’s supposcd inlalliblc word: And which
ol thcsc dißcrcnt vcrsions ol God’s word thc rcal onc:
,rc Tcrc _istakcs in thc Æiblc:
Vc havc sccn prcviously that thcrc arc many mistakcs in thc
8iblc but wc will havc a look at thrcc morc cxamplcs ol its inac
µ¡ µ¸
curacics. Today, cvcn schoolchildrcn know that thc carth movcs,
it movcs on its axis and at thc samc timc it movcs around thc sun.
Vc know that thc tcctonic platcs on thc carth’s surlacc movc also.
Tc 8iblc howcvcr, clcarly statcs that thc carth docs not movc. !n
. Chroniclcs .6:¸c thc 8iblc says, “Tc world is nrmly cstablishcd,
it cannot bc movcd.” (Scc also Ps µ¸:., µ6:.c and .c¡:¸).
Hcrc, and in many placcs, thc 8iblc contradicts scicntinc
lact. 8ut thc 8iblc docs not just contradict scicncc it also con-
tradicts itself. Lct us havc a look at thc crcation story. !n thc nrst
book ol thc 8iblc it says that God crcatcd all thc plants and
trccs on thc third day (Gcn .:...¸), all birds, animals and nsh on
thc nlth day (Gcn .:aca¸) and nnally, man and woman on thc
sixth day (Gcn .:a6a,). Yct a littlc lurthcr on thc 8iblc givcs a
dißcrcnt vcrsion ol thc crcation story saying that God crcatcd
man nrst (Gcn a:,), thcn all plants and trccs (Gcn a:µ), altcr that
all birds and animals (Gcn a:.µ) and only thcn did God crcatc
woman (Gcn a:a.aa). Tcsc two vcrsions ol thc crcation story
clcarly contradict cach othcr. Now lct us havc a look at thc story
ol Noah’s Ark. !n onc placc in thc 8iblc wc arc told that Noah
took two ol cvcry animal and put thcm in thc ark (Gcn 6, .µ).
8ut latcr thc 8iblc says Noah took scvcn pairs ol all clcan animals
and birds and two ol all othcr crcaturcs and put thcm in thc ark
(Gcn ,:a). Again thc 8iblc is contradicting itscll. Fundamcntalist
Christians will objcct to all this saying that thcsc and thc numcr
ous othcr mistakcs in thc 8iblc arc only small and ol no signin
cancc. Howcvcr, only onc mistakc is rcquircd to show that thc
8iblc is not inlalliblc. Furthcr, il mistakcs can bc madc in small
mattcrs thcy can bc madc in important mattcrs. And nnally, onc
mistakc is prool cithcr that thc 8iblc is not thc word ol God or
that God is capablc ol mistakcs.
µ¡ µ¸
Is thc Æiblc ycliablc Tcstimony:
Vc havc sccn that thc 8iblc is not inlalliblc and thcrclorc can
not bc a rcvclation. So il it is not God’s word whosc word is it:
Many ol thc books in thc 8iblc arc namcd altcr thc pcoplc who
arc supposcd to havc writtcn thcm. So thc Gospcl ol Matthcw is
supposcd to havc bccn writtcn by Matthcw, onc ol thc disciplcs
ol Jcsus. Tc Gospcl ol Mark is supposcd to havc bccn writtcn
by Mark, anothcr ol Jcsus’ disciplcs and so on.
Christians could claim that cvcn il thc 8iblc is not ncccs
sarily an inlalliblc rcvclation it is thc tcstimony ol rcliablc pcoplc,
Tcy could claim that Matthcw, Mark, Lukc and John kncw
Jcsus wcll, thcy livcd with him lor scvcral ycars, thcy hcard his
tcachings and thcy wrotc down what thcy saw and hcard and
that thcrc is no rcason lor thcm to lic or cxaggcratc. Tcrclorc,
Christians could claim that thc 8iblc is rcliablc tcstimony.
Howcvcr, lor tcstimony to bc rcliablc it must comc lrom rcliablc
pcoplc, pcoplc wc could trust, pcoplc lrom good backgrounds.
Vcrc thc disciplcs ol Jcsus such pcoplc: Lct us look. Somc ol
Jcsus’ disciplcs wcrc tax collcctors (Matt µ:µ), a dishoncst and dcspiscd
class with a wcll carncd rcputation lor corruption (Matt .·, .,), oth
crs wcrc mcrc illitcratc nshcrmcn (Mk .:.6.,). Simon was a Zcalot
(Lk 6:.¸), a group ol mcn known lor thcir lanatical and oltcn violcnt
opposition to Roman rulc and likc many pcoplc involvcd in illcgal
politics hc uscd an alias and was also known as Pctcr (Matt .c:a).
Pctcr and Jamcs wcrc givcn thc nicknamcs ‘8oancrgcs’ mcaning
‘sons ol thundcr’ (Mk ¸:.,) oncc again suggcsting thcir involvcmcnt
in violcnt politics. Vhcn Jcsus was arrcstcd his disciplcs wcrc car
rying swords and wcrc willing to usc thcm (Matt a6:¸.). Hardly thc
sort ol pcoplc with whom wc would lccl comlortablc.
µ6 µ,
Anothcr thing that should makc us wary ol trusting thc
tcstimony ol Jcsus’ disciplcs is that thcy sccmcd to bc con
stantly misundcrstanding what Jcsus was saying (Mk ¡:.¸, 6:¸a,
·:.¸.,, µ:¸a, Lk ·:µ, µ:¡¸). Furthcr, thcy arc supposcd to havc
sccn Jcsus pcrlorm thc most amazing miraclcs and yct dcspitc
this thcy still doubtcd. !l cvcn thc pcoplc who kncw and saw
Jcsus didn’t bclicvc how wc could who havc ncvcr sccn him bc
cxpcctcd to havc laith in him: Jcsus scoldcd his disciplcs and
callcd thcm “mcn ol littlc laith” (Matt ·:a6, .,:ac). Should wc
trust thc writings ol mcn who constantly lailcd to undcrstand
what was bcing said to thcm and whom cvcn Jcsus callcd mcn ol
littlc laith: How unrcliablc and laithlcss thc pcoplc who wrotc
thc 8iblc wcrc is bcst illustratcd by what thcy did just prior to
and during Jcsus’ arrcst. Hc askcd thcm to kccp watch but thcy
lcll aslccp (Matt a6:¸6¡¸). Altcr Jcsus was arrcstcd thcy licd
and dcnicd that thcy cvcn kncw him (Mk .¡:66,a), and altcr
his cxccution thcy simply wcnt back to thcir nshing (Jn a.:a¸).
And who bctraycd Jcsus in thc nrst placc: His disciplc Judas
(Matt a6:.¡.6). Association with sinncrs, liars, traitors and lools
in ordcr to hclp thcm, as Jcsus did, is a good thing. 8ut should
wc bclicvc cvcrything such pcoplc say:
An cvcn morc disturbing thing about thc pcoplc who wrotc
thc 8iblc is just how many ol thcm wcrc posscsscd by dcmons or
dcvils lrom timc to timc. Mary Magdalcnc who latcr claimcd to
havc sccn Jcsus risc lrom thc dcad, had bccn posscsscd by scvcn
dcvils (Mk .6:µ). Satan cntcrcd into Judas (Lk aa:¸), tricd to gct
into Simon (Lk aa:¸.) and Jcsus oncc actually callcd his chicl
disciplc Pctcr “Satan” (Matt .6:a¸) suggcsting that hc too was
posscsscd by a dcvil at thc timc. Vhcthcr posscssion by dcvils
actually happcns or whcthcr it indicatcs scrious psychological dis
µ6 µ,
ordcrs as modcrn psychiatrists bclicvc, cithcr way it indicatcs that
wc should trcat thc words ol Jcsus’ disciplcs with grcat caution.
7ho Æid 7ritc thc Æiblc:
Vc havc sccn that thc 8iblc is not inlalliblc, that it cannot bc a
rcvclation and that it is not thc tcstimony ol rcliablc, trustworthy
pcoplc. Vc will now show that thc 8iblc was not cvcn writ
tcn by thc pcoplc who arc supposcd to havc writtcn it. Lct us
havc a look at thc nrst nvc books in thc 8iblc, Gcncsis, ¡xodus,
Lcviticus, Numbcrs and Ðcutcronomy. Tcsc nvc books dcscribc
thc crcation ol thc world, God’s nrst rcvclation to man and thc
carly history ol thc tribc ol !sracl and arc supposcd to havc bccn
writtcn by Moscs. Tcy arc in lact, oltcn callcd ‘Tc 8ooks ol
Moscs’. Howcvcr, his authorship is clcarly impossiblc bccausc in
thcsc books wc havc an account ol Moscs’ dcath.
So Moscs thc scrvant ol thc Lord dicd thcrc in thc
land ol Moab according to thc word ol thc Lord, and
thcy buricd him in thc vallcy in thc land Moab oppo
sitc 8cth Pcor, but no man knows thc placc ol his bur
ial to this day (Ðcut ¸¡:¸6).
How could a pcrson writc an account ol his own dcath and
burial: Tc book ol Ðcutcronomy at lcast, must havc bccn writ
tcn by somconc othcr than Moscs.
Now lct us havc a look at thc Ncw Tcstamcnt. Tc Gospcl
ol Matthcw is supposcd to havc bccn writtcn by Matthcw (tax
collcctor, doubtcr, man ol littlc laith), onc ol thc disciplcs ol
Jcsus. Yct wc can casily dcmonstratc that Matthcw could not
havc possibly havc writtcn this Gospcl. Vc rcad:
µ· µµ
As Jcsus passcd on lrom thcrc hc saw a man callcd
Matthcw sitting at thc tax omcc and hc said to him,
“Follow mc”. And hc rosc and lollowcd him (Matt µ:µ).
Ncithcr now nor in thc past do pcoplc writc in thc third pcrson.
!l Matthcw had rcally writtcn this wc would cxpcct it to rcad:
As Jcsus passcd on lrom thcrc hc saw mc sitting at thc
tax omcc and hc said to mc, “Follow mc”. And ! rosc
and lollowcd him.
Òbviously this was not writtcn by Matthcw but by somc third
pcrson. Vho this third pcrson ! was wc do not know but 8iblc
scholars havc madc a gucss. !n thc prclacc to his translation
ol thc Gospcl ol Matthcw thc distinguishcd 8iblc scholar
J. 8. Phillips says:
¡arly tradition ascribcs this Gospcl to thc apostlc
Matthcw but scholars nowadays almost all rcjcct this
vicw. Tc author, who wc still can convcnicntly call
Matthcw has plainly drawn on a collcction ol oral tra
ditions. Hc has uscd Mark’s Gospcl lrccly, though hc
has rcarrangcd thc ordcr ol cvcnts, and has in scvcral
instanccs uscd dißcrcnt words lor what is plainly thc
samc story.
Tis is a dccply disturbing admission cspccially coming lrom an
cmincnt Christian 8iblc scholar. Vc arc told that “almost all”
modcrn 8iblc scholars rcjcct thc idca that thc Gospcl ol Matthcw
was actually writtcn by Matthcw. Vc arc told that although thc
rcal author is unknown it is “convcnicnt” to kccp calling him
Matthcw. Ncxt wc arc told that whocvcr wrotc thc Gospcl ol
µ· µµ
Matthcw has “lrccly” copicd much ol his matcrial lrom thc
Gospcl ol Mark. !n othcr words, thc Gospcl ol Matthcw is just
a plagiarism whcrc matcrial has bccn “rcarrangcd” and rcstatcd
in “dißcrcnt words”. So apparcntly in thc Gospcl ol Matthcw
not only don’t wc havc thc words ol God, wc don’t cvcn havc
thc words ol Matthcw. To thcir crcdit, 8iblc scholars likc Prol.
Phillips lrccly admit thcsc and othcr major doubts about author
ship ol thc 8iblc but such admissions makc thc claim that thc
Gospcls wcrc writtcn by thc disciplcs ol Jcsus clcarly untruc.
_istakcs and îariations in thc Æiblc
!l wc look at thc bottom ol thc pagcs in most 8iblcs wc will nnd
many notcs. Tcsc notcs indicatc mistakcs, variations or doubtlul
rcadings in thc tcxt ol thc 8iblc and thcrc arc litcrally hundrcds
ol thcm. Somc ol thc mistakcs or variations consist ol only a lcw
words but somc ol thcm arc long passagcs (scc lor cxamplc thc
notcs to Lukc µ:¸¸¸6, John ¸:¸, Acts a¡:6, . Corinthians ·:¸6¸·,
..:¡,, a Corinthians .c:.¸.¸). Also noticc that thc notcs to Mark
.6:µac mcntion that this long passagc is not lound in thc ancicnt
copics ol thc 8iblc. !n othcr words, this long passagc was addcd
at a latcr timc and has now bccn rcmovcd. How can born again
and lundamcntalist Christians honcstly claim that thcir 8iblc is
inlalliblc and without mistakcs whcn all thc mistakcs arc listcd
at thc bottom ol cach pagc:
!n thc Ncw Tcstamcnt Jcsus and his disciplcs oltcn quotc
thc Òld Tcstamcnt in ordcr to makc a point or morc usually, to
attcmpt to provc that thc Òld Tcstamcnt prophcsizcs cvcnts in
thc lilc ol Jcsus. 8ut whcn wc comparc thcsc quotcs with thc
original tcxt ol thc Òld Tcstamcnt wc nnd that thcy arc almost
.cc .c.
always dißcrcnt. Vc will usc hcrc thc Ncw !ntcrnational \crsion
ol thc 8iblc.
Old Testament
8ut you, 8cthlchcm ¡phasthah, though you arc small
among thc clans ol Judah, out ol you will comc lor mc
onc who will bc rulcr ovcr !sracl, whosc origins arc
lrom old (Mic ¸:a).
New Testament
8ut you, 8cthlchcm, in thc land ol Judah arc by no
mcans thc lcast among thc rulcrs ol Judah, lor out ol
you will comc a rulcr who will bc thc shcphcrd ol my
pcoplc !sracl (Matt a:6).
Tis quotation lrom thc Òld Tcstamcnt in thc Ncw Tcstamcnt
contains not just dißcrcnt words, it also changcs thc mcaning
ol thc original. Has Matthcw misquotcd thc Òld Tcstamcnt
bccausc hc was not lamiliar with it and madc a mistakc: Has hc
dclibcratcly misquotcd in ordcr to altcr thc mcaning: Òr is thc
Òld Tcstamcnt Matthcw uscd dißcrcnt lrom thc onc wc havc
today: Tc Ncw Tcstamcnt quotcs thc Òld Tcstamcnt dozcns
ol timcs and hardly a singlc quotc is accuratc. Christians will
protcst and say that thcsc changcs arc only minor and ol no
importancc. Pcrhaps so, but thcsc arc prools that thc 8iblc docs
contain mistakcs, contrary to what Christians say. Furthcr, il it is
truc as Christians claim that thc authors ol thc Ncw Tcstamcnt
wcrc inspircd by God as thcy wrotc it is vcry strangc that thcy
couldn’t cvcn quotc thc Òld Tcstamcnt accuratcly.
.cc .c.
[hanging thc ¿ord’s +raycr
Just bclorc his dcath Jcsus taught his disciplcs thc Lord’s Praycr
and sincc that timc gcncrations ol Christians havc lcarncd this
praycr by hcart. 8ut anyonc who mcmorizcd it ac ycars ago will
havc to lcarn it again bccausc thc Lord’s Praycr has bccn changcd.
Vc will comparc thc original Lord’s Praycr lound in all 8iblcs
until about ac ycars ago with thc Lord’s Praycr now in thc Ncw
!ntcrnational \crsion ol thc 8iblc to show that Christians havc
cvcn tampcrcd with this most important tcaching ol Jcsus.
King James Version
Òur Fathcr who art in hcavcn, hallowcd bc thy namc,
Ty kingdom comc, thy will bc donc on carth as it is in
hcavcn. Givc us this day our daily brcad, and lorgivc us
our trcspasscs as wc lorgivc thosc who trcspass against
us. And lcad us not into tcmptation, but dclivcr us lrom
cvil, lor thinc is thc kingdom and thc powcr, and thc
glory lorcvcr and cvcr. Amcn.
e New International Version
Fathcr, hallowcd is your namc, your kingdom comc.
Givc us cach day our brcad. Forgivc us our sins, lor wc
also lorgivc cvcryonc who sins against us. And lcad us
not into tcmptation (Lk ..:a¸).
Noticc that thcsc phrascs — “who art in hcavcn”, “thy will bc
donc on carth as it is in hcavcn”, “but dclivcr us lrom cvil, lor
thinc is thc kingdom and thc powcr, and thc glory lorcvcr and
cvcr. Amcn” — havc bccn rcmovcd lrom thc Lord’s Praycr. Ask
.ca .c¸
your cvangclical Christian lricnds why thcsc vcrscs havc bccn
cut out ol thc most lamous and important ol all Jcsus’ tcachings.
Ask thcm which ol thcsc two dißcrcnt vcrsions ol thc Lord’s
Praycr is thc inlalliblc, unchanging word ol God. Ask thcm who
had knowlcdgc and wisdom cnough to tampcr with thc 8iblc.
You will nnd that thcy havc grcat dimcultics answcring thcsc
qucstions. Hcrc as clscwhcrc, thc rcadcr is cncouragcd to go to
a library or bookshop, nnd dißcrcnt vcrsions ol thc 8iblc and
carclully comparc thcm. You will scc with your own cycs how
much thc 8iblcs dißcr as thc rcsult ol tampcring, ccnsuring and
carclcss mistakcs.
ycmoving îcrscs from thc Æiblc
Prool that thc 8iblc has bccn tampcrcd with is lound on ncarly
cvcry pagc il onc looks carclully. Tc tcxt ol thc 8iblc is arrangcd
into chaptcrs which in turn arc dividcd into vcrscs. As you rcad
you will somctimcs noticc that onc or two vcrscs havc mystc
riously disappcarcd. Noticc that vcrscs ¡¡ and ¡6 havc bccn
dclctcd lrom chaptcr µ ol thc Gospcl ol Mark. Noticc also that
vcrsc ¸, has bccn cut out ol chaptcr · ol Acts and vcrsc a· has
bccn rcmovcd lrom chaptcr .¸ ol Mark. How can cvangclical,
lundamcntalist and born again Christians honcstly claim that
thcir 8iblc is thc inlalliblc and unchanging word ol God whcn
thcy cut out inconvcnicnt vcrscs and words:
_clcuivc Intcrprcting
Vhcncvcr lundamcntalists want to convincc us ol thc truth ol
thcir rcligion thcy will quotc lrom thc 8iblc bclicving as thcy
.ca .c¸
do that cvcry word ol it is litcrally truc. 8ut whcn wc quotc
lrom thc 8iblc to show that thcir rcligion is silly or illogical
(c.g. that smokc comcs out God’s nosc and nrc comcs out ol his
mouth, Ps .·:,·, or that donkcys can talk, Num aa:a·) thc thcy
will say: “Tat’s symbolic, its not mcant to bc takcn litcrally.”
Fundamcntalist Christians arc vcry sclcctivc in how thcy intcr
prct thc 8iblc. Somc passagcs arc God’s word and litcrally truc
and othcr parts, usually thc cmbarrassing parts, arc not mcant
to bc takcn litcrally. ¡ithcr thc 8iblc is God’s inlalliblc word or
it is not, onc cannot pick and choosc. And il indccd somc pas
sagcs arc mcant to bc takcn litcrally and othcrs arc not, how do
Christians dccidc which is which: !l thc storics about 8alaam’s
donkcy talking, Adam and ¡vc cating thc applc or Moscs turn
ing his stick into a snakc arc not mcant to bc takcn litcrally, thcn
pcrhaps thc storics about Jcsus’ rcsurrcction arc only symbolic
and not mcant to bc takcn litcrally. ·
.c¡ .c¸
Æuddhism – Tc ¿ogical ,ltcrnativc
I
l you havc no satislactory tcachcr, thcn takc this surc
Ðhamma and practicc it. For Ðhamma is surc and whcn
rightly undcrtakcn it will bc to your wcllarc and happincss lor
a long timc.
Tc Æuddha
Christianity is bascd upon ccrtain supposcd historical cvcnts (thc
virgin birth, thc rcsurrcction, ctc), thc only rccord ol which is an
allcgcdly rcliablc documcnt callcd thc 8iblc. !l thcsc cvcnts can
bc shown to havc ncvcr occurrcd or il thc documcnts rccording
thcsc cvcnts can bc shown to bc unrcliablc, thcn Christianity
will collapsc. !n this book wc havc shown that Christian claims
arc at bcst highly doubtlul and at worst dcmonstrably wrong.
Vhcn wc cxaminc thc tcachings ol thc 8uddha wc nnd an
cntircly dißcrcnt situation. ¡vcn il wc wcrc ablc to provc that thc
8uddha ncvcr cxistcd or that thcrc arc mistakcs in thc 8uddhist
scripturcs this would not ncccssarily undcrminc 8uddhism. Vhy
is this: 8ccausc 8uddhism is not primarily about thc historical
8uddha or about cvcnts which happcncd in thc past, rathcr, it
is about human sußcring, what causcs that sußcring, and how
it can bc ovcrcomc so that humans can bc lrcc, happy and radi
ant. !l wc wish to undcrstand or vcrily 8uddhism wc would not
havc to ßick through scripturcs squabbling about thc mcaning
ol various words or phrascs. Rathcr, wc bccomc scnsitivc to our
own cxpcricncc. Lct us cxaminc thc lour principlcs which arc
thc doctrinal basis ol 8uddhism.
.c¡ .c¸
7hcn ¬c Æic ¬c arc ycborn
Christians bclicvc that whcn pcoplc dic thcy havc only onc ol
two possiblc dcstinics – hcavcn or hcll. Tcy bclicvc that thcsc
dcstinics arc ctcrnal and that onc gocs to onc’s dcstiny according
to God’s judgcmcnt. 8uddhism tcachcs that whcn pcoplc dic thcy
can havc a varicty ol dcstinics, hcavcn, hcll, thc spirit rcalm, as
a human bcing, as an animal, ctc. !t tcachcs that nonc ol thcsc
dcstinics is ctcrnal and that having nnishcd onc’s lilc span in onc
ol thcsc rcalms onc will dic and pass to anothcr. !t also tcachcs
that onc’s dcstiny is conditioncd by onc’s kamma, that is, thc sum
total ol thc good or bad that onc has donc during onc’s lilc. Tis
mcans that all good pcoplc, no mattcr what thcir rcligion, will
havc a good dcstiny. !t also mcans that cvcn thosc who havc donc
cvil will havc a chancc to bccomc good in somc luturc lilc.
Christians scoß at thc idca ol bcing rcborn and say that thcrc
is no cvidcncc that such a thing happcns. 8ut thc idca ol rcbirth
is not that dißcrcnt lrom what thcy bclicvc. !l pcoplc can bccomc
angcls in hcavcn altcr dcath, why can’t thcy bccomc humans on
carth: And as lor cvidcncc, thcrc is ccrtainly no cvidcncc lor thc
Christian altcrlilc thcory whilc thcrc is at lcast somc cvidcncc that
pcoplc can bc rcborn (scc Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation,
Univcrsity Prcss ol \irginia, Charlottcsvillc U.S.A., .µ,¸).
¿ifc is _uýcring
Tc ncxt principlc upon which 8uddhism is bascd is thc idca
that ordinary cxistcncc is sußcring. Although Christians accusc
8uddhists ol bcing pcssimistic lor saying this, lilc’s inhcrcnt
unsatislactorincss is connrmcd by thc 8iblc: “!n thc world you
.c6 .c,
will havc tribulation” (Jn .6:¸¸), “Man is born to troublc as sparks
ßy upwards” (Job ¸:,), “All things arc lull ol wcarincss” (¡cc .:·),
“thc carth mourns and withcrs, thc world languishcs and with
crs, thc hcavcns languish togcthcr with thc carth” (!s a¡:¡). 8ut
whilc thc 8iblc agrccs with thc 8uddha on this mattcr thc two
disagrcc on why sußcring cxists.
Christianity rclics on what is plainly a myth to cxplain thc
origin ol cvil and sußcring, claiming that thcy arc duc to Adam
and ¡vc having catcn an applc. 8uddhism sccs sußcring as a psy
chological phcnomcnon with a psychological causc — wanting,
craving and dcsirc. And our experience tclls us that this is so.
Vhcn wc want somcthing and cannot gct it wc lccl lrustration
and thc strongcr thc wanting thc strongcr thc lrustration. ¡vcn
il wc gct what wc want wc soon grow tircd ol it and bcgin to
want somcthing clsc. ¡vcn physical sußcring is causcd by crav
ing bccausc thc strong craving to livc causcs us to bc rcborn and
whcn wc arc rcborn wc bccomc subjcct to sickncss, accidcnts, old
agc, ctc. 8uddhism says that cvcn thc bliss ol hcavcn is impcr
mancnt and impcrlcct, a lact again connrmcd by thc 8iblc. Tc
8iblc tclls us that Satan was originally a hcavcnly angcl but that
hc rcbcllcd against God (i.c. hc was dissatisncd) and was cast
out ol hcavcn (i.c. cxistcncc in hcavcn nccd not bc ctcrnal). !l
having bccn in hcavcn onc can lall lrom that statc this provcs
that hcavcn is not pcrlcct and cvcrlasting as Christians claim
(scc !s, .¡:.a.¸, !! Pct, a:¡, Judc, 6, Rcv, .a:µ).
_uýcring can bc Ovcrcomc
Tc third principlc upon which 8uddhism is bascd is thc idca
that it is possiblc to bc lrcc lrom sußcring. Vhcn craving and
.c6 .c,
wanting stop, onc’s lilc bccomcs morc contcnt and happy and
at dcath onc is no longcr rcborn. Tis statc ol complctc lrcc
dom lrom sußcring is callcd Nirvana and is dcscribcd by thc
8uddha as bcing “thc highcst happincss” (Ðhammapada ac¸).
Christians oltcn mistakcnly think that Nirvana is a blank noth
ingncss and accusc 8uddhism ol bcing nihilistic. Tis misun
dcrstanding ariscs bccausc ol thcir inability to conccivc ol an
altcrlilc morc subtlc than thcir own naivc hcavcn — a placc “up
thcrc” (Ps .¡:a, ¸¸:a) with doors and windows (Gcn a·:.,, Rcv ¡:.,
a Kg ,:a, Mal ¸:.c), whcrc God sits on a thronc (Rcv ¡:a) sur
roundcd by angcls in bcautilul gowns with crowns on thcir hcads
playing trumpcts (Rcv ¡:¡). Tc 8uddha catcgorically said that
Nirvana is not nihilistic.
Vhcn onc has lrccd thc mind, thc gods cannot tracc
him, cvcn though thcy think: “Tis is thc conscious
ncss attachcd to thc cnlightcncd onc (8uddha).” And
why: !t is bccausc thc cnlightcncd onc is untraccablc.
Although ! say this, thcrc arc somc rccluscs and rcli
gious tcachcrs who misrcprcscnt mc lalscly, contrary to
lact, saying: “Tc monk Gotama (8uddha) is a nihil
ist bccausc hc tcachcs thc cutting oß, thc dcstruction,
thc disappcarancc ol thc cxisting cntity.” 8ut this is
cxactly what ! do not say. 8oth now and in thc past, !
simply tcach sußcring and thc ovcrcoming ol sußcring
(Majjhima Nikaya, Sutta No.aa).
8ut thc 8uddha also said that Nirvana is not thc crudc ‘ctcrnal lilc’
likc thc onc dcscribcd in Christianity. !t is an uttcrly purc and bliss
lul statc which no convcntional languagc can adcquatcly dcscribc.
.c· .cµ
Christians somctimcs claim that 8uddhism contradicts
itscll bccausc in wanting to attain Nirvana onc is strcngthcning
thc vcry thing which prcvcnts onc lrom attaining it. Tis point
was raiscd at thc timc ol thc 8uddha and answcrcd by onc ol his
chicl disciplcs, Ananda.
A pricst askcd \cncrablc Ananda: “Vhat is thc aim ol
living thc holy lilc undcr thc monk Gotama:” — “!t is
lor thc sakc ol abandoning dcsirc.” — “!s thcrc a way, a
practicc by which to abandon this dcsirc:” — “Tcrc is
a way — it is by mcans ol thc psychic powcrs ol dcsirc,
cncrgy, thought and considcration togcthcr with conccn
tration and cßort.” — “!l that is so, \cncrablc Ananda,
thcn it is a task without cnd. 8ccausc to gct rid ol onc
dcsirc by mcans ol anothcr is impossiblc.” — “Tcn ! will
ask you a qucstion, answcr as you likc. 8clorc, did you
havc thc dcsirc, thc cncrgy, thc thought and considcra
tion to comc to this park: And having arrivcd, did not
that dcsirc, that cncrgy, that thought and that considcra
tion ccasc:” — “Ycs, it did.” — “Vcll, lor onc who has
dcstroycd thc dcnlcmcnts, oncc hc has won cnlightcn
mcnt, that dcsirc, that cncrgy, that thought and that
considcration hc had lor cnlightcnmcnt has now ccascd”
(Samyutta Nikaya, 8ook Scvcn, Sutta No. .¸).
Tcrc is a 7ay to Ovcrcomc _uýcring
Tc last ol thc lour principlcs which lorm thc basis ol 8uddhism
tclls us how to climinatc craving and so wc can bccomc lrcc lrom
sußcring both in this lilc and in thc luturc. Tc nrst thrcc princi
plcs arc how thc 8uddhist sccs thc world and thc human prcdica
.c· .cµ
mcnt whilc thc last principlc is what thc 8uddhist dccidcs to do
about it. And thc 8uddhist rcsponsc to sußcring is to walk thc
Noblc ¡ightlold Path. Tis practical and univcrsally valid systcm
ol training compriscs thc dcvclopmcnt ol Right Undcrstanding,
Right Tought, Right Spccch, Right Action, Right Livclihood,
Right ¡ßort, Right Mindlulncss and Right Conccntration. Vc
will look bricßy at cach ol thcsc stcps.
yight Undcrstanding
!l wc pcrsist in bclicving that cvil and sußcring arc duc to somc
thing Adam and ¡vc oncc did or that thcy arc causcd by dcv
ils, wc will ncvcr bc ablc to ovcrcomc thcm. Vhcn wc comc to
undcrstand that wc inßict sußcring upon oursclvcs through our
ignorancc and craving wc havc takcn thc nrst stcp in ovcrcoming
that sußcring. Knowing thc truc causc ol a problcm is thc bcgin
ning ol solving it. And it is not sumcicnt to just bclicvc — wc
must try to understand. Undcrstanding rcquircs intclligcncc,
carclul obscrvation, wcighing up thc lacts and opcnncss.
yight Tought, _pccch and ,uion
Tc ncxt thrcc stcps on thc Noblc ¡ightlold Path cmbody
8uddhism’s cthical tcachings. Christians oltcn try to givc thc im
prcssion that thcirs arc thc only cthics which rcvolvc around gcn
tlcncss, lovc and lorgivcncss. Tc truth is howcvcr that ¸cc ycars
bclorc Jcsus thc 8uddha taught a lovcccntcrcd cthic as good as
and in somc ways morc complctc than that ol Christianity. To
practicc Right Tought wc must nll our minds with thoughts ol
lovc and compassion.
..c ...
Ðcvclop a mind lull ol lovc, bc compassionatc and
rcstraincd by virtuc, arousc your cncrgy, bc rcsolutc
and always nrm in making progrcss (Tcragata µ,µ).
Vhcn with a mind lull ol lovc onc lccls compassion lor
thc wholc world — abovc, bclow and across, unlimitcd
cvcrywhcrc, nllcd with innnitc kindncss, complctc and
wclldcvclopcd, any limitcd actions onc may havc donc
do not rcmain lingcring in onc’s mind (Jataka ¸,,¸·).
Just as watcr cools both good and bad and washcs away
all dirt and dust, in thc samc way you should dcvclop
thoughts ol lovc to lricnd and loc alikc, and having
rcachcd pcrlcction in lovc you will attain cnlightcn
mcnt (Jataka Nidanakatha .6·.6µ).
!n practising Right Spccch wc should usc our words only in
ways which promotc honcsty, kindncss and pcacc. Tc 8uddha
dcscribcd Right Spccch likc this.
!l words havc nvc charactcristics thcy arc wcllspokcn,
not illspokcn, ncithcr blamcd nor condcmncd by thc
wisc, thcy arc spokcn at thc right timc, thcy arc truth
lul, thcy arc gcntlc, thcy arc to thc point, and thcy arc
motivatcd by lovc (Anguttara Nikaya, 8ook ol Fivcs,
Sutta .µ·).
Vith a bcauty and comprchcnsivcncss typical ol thc 8uddha hc
dcscribcs thc pcrson who is striving to dcvclop Right Spccch
likc this.
Giving up lying, onc bccomcs a spcakcr ol thc truth,
..c ...
rcliablc, trustworthy, dcpcndablc, not a dcccivcr ol thc
world. Giving up slandcr, onc docs not rcpcat thcrc
what is hcard hcrc, or rcpcat hcrc what is hcard thcrc,
lor thc purposc ol causing divisions bctwccn pcoplc.
Tus, onc is a rcconcilcr ol thosc who arc dividcd and
a combincr ol thosc alrcady unitcd, rcjoicing in pcacc,
dclighting in pcacc, promoting pcacc, pcacc is thc
motivc ol his spccch. Giving up harsh spccch, onc
spcaks what is blamclcss, plcasant to thc car, agrccablc,
going to thc hcart, urbanc, plcasing and likcd by all.
Giving up usclcss chattcr, onc spcaks at thc right timc,
about thc lacts, to thc point, about Ðhamma and dis
ciplinc, words worthy ol bcing trcasurcd up, scasonablc,
rcasoncd, clcarly dcnncd and conncctcd to thc goal
(Ðigha Nikaya, Sutta No..).
Right Action rcquircs that wc avoid killing, stcaling and scxual
misconduct and practicc gcntlcncss, gcncrosity, scllcontrol and
hclplulncss towards othcrs.
yight ¿ivclihood
To practicc Right Livclihood onc will do work which is cthically
wholcsomc and which produccs somcthing that docs not harm
socicty or thc cnvironmcnt. An cmploycr will pay his work
crs lairly, trcat thcm with rcspcct and makc surc thcir working
conditions arc salc. An cmploycc on thc othcr hand will work
honcstly and diligcntly (scc Ðigha Nikaya, Sutta No. ¸.). Ònc
should also usc onc’s incomc rcsponsibly — providing lor onc’s
nccds, saving somc and giving somc to charity.
..a ..¸
yight 8ýort
Christian bclicls about God and man makc human cßort incon
scqucntial. Humans arc by naturc dcpravcd and cvil sinncrs.
How can man bc rightcous bclorc God. How can hc
who is born ol a woman bc clcan: (Job a¡:¡).
Tc hcart is dcccitlul abovc all things, and dcspcratcly
corrupt (Jcr .,:µ).
8cing nothing morc than a maggot (Job a¸:6) humans arc inca
pablc ol bcing good and cannot bc savcd through thcir own
cßorts but only by thc gracc ol God. 8uddhism by contrast,
sccs human naturc as primarily good and in thc right condi
tions morc likcly to do good than cvil (scc Milindapanha ·¡). !n
Christianity humans arc hcld rcsponsiblc lor thc cvil thcy havc
donc throughout thcir livcs but thcy arc also hcld rcsponsiblc
lor and likcly to bc punishcd lor thc sins ol Adam and ¡vc. !n
8uddhism pcoplc takc rcsponsibility only lor thcir own actions
and, as human naturc is basically good, this mcans that cßort,
cxcrtion and diligcncc arc ol grcat importancc. Tc 8uddha
says:
Abandon wrong. !t can bc donc. !l it wcrc impossiblc
to do, ! would not urgc you to do so. 8ut sincc it can
bc donc, ! say to you: “Abandon wrong”. !l abandoning
wrong brought loss and sorrow, ! would not urgc you
to do so. 8ut sincc it conduccs to bcncnt and happi
ncss, ! urgc you: “Abandon wrong.” Cultivatc thc good.
!t can bc donc. !l it wcrc impossiblc to do, ! would not
urgc you to do so. 8ut sincc it can bc donc, ! say to you:
..a ..¸
“Cultivatc thc good.” !l cultivating thc good brought
loss and sorrow, ! would not urgc you to do so. 8ut
sincc it conduccs to bcncnt and happincss, ! urgc you:
“Cultivatc good.” (Anguttara Nikaya, 8ook ol Twos,
Sutta No. µ).
yight _indfulncss and [onccntration
Tc last two stcps on thc Noblc ¡ightlold Path jointly rclcr to
mcditation, thc conscious and gcntlc practicc ol nrstly coming
to know thc mind, thcn controlling it and nnally translorming
it. Although thc word mcditation occurs about twcnty timcs in
thc 8iblc, it to rclcr only to thc simplc practicc ol ruminating
ovcr passagcs lrom thc scripturcs (c.g. Josh .:·). Tc 8iblc sccms
to bc almost complctcly dcvoid ol thc sophisticatcd mcditation
tcchniqucs lound in thc 8uddhist scripturcs. Conscqucntly whcn
Christians arc plagucd by cvil dcsircs or troublcd by stubborn
ncgativc thoughts about all thcy can do is pray hardcr. Tis
abscncc ol mcditation is also thc rcason why lundamcntalist and
cvangclical Christians so oltcn appcar agitatcd and lacking in
that quict dignity charactcristic ol 8uddhists. God says “8c still
and know that ! am God” (Ps ¡6:.c) but Christians can’t sccm
to sit still, lct alonc still thcir minds, lor a momcnt. God also
says “Communc with your own hcart on your bcds and bc still”
(Ps ¡:¡) which is cxactly what 8uddhists do whcn thcy mcdi
tatc. 8ut cvangclical and born again Christian praycr mcctings
oltcn sccm to rcscmblc a rock conccrt in a lunatic asylum, with
thc pastor shouting and wildly gcsticulating whilc thc pcoplc in
thc congrcgation sway back and lorth, spcak in tongucs, writhc,
wccp and clap thcir hands.
..¡ ..¸
Tc grcat advantagc ol 8uddhism is that it not only adviscs
us to bc calm, pcacclul, lrcc lrom unruly dcsircs and scllawarc
but it also shows us how to dcvclop thcsc statcs. Tcrc arc mcdi
tations to inducc calm, to modily spccinc mcntal dcnlcmcnts, to
cncouragc positivc mcntal statcs and to changc attitudcs. And
ol coursc whcn thc mind is calm and lrcc lrom prcjudiccs, prc
conccivcd idcas and distorting passions it is morc likcly to scc
things as thcy rcally arc. !t is not surprising that many ol thc
mcditation tcchniqucs taught by thc 8uddha arc now bcing uscd
by psychologists, psychiatrists and counsclors. ·
..¡ ..¸
½o¬ to ,ns¬cr thc 8vangclists
8
vangclical, born again and lundamcntalist Christians
oltcn ask 8uddhists qucstions with thc intcntion ol con
lusing or discouragc thcm. Vc will look at somc ol thcsc qucs
tions and commcnts and givc cßcctivc 8uddhist rcsponscs to
thcm.
You do not believe in God so you cannot explain how
the world began.
!t is truc that Christianity has an cxplanation about how cvcry
thing bcgan but is this cxplanation corrcct: Lct us cxaminc it.
Tc 8iblc says that God crcatcd cvcrything in six days and that
on thc scvcnth day hc rcstcd. Tis quaint old story is nothing
but a myth and is no morc truc than thc Hindu myth that thc
gods crcatcd cvcrything by churning a sca ol milk or thc clas
sical bclicl that thc univcrsc hatchcd out ol a cosmic cgg. Somc
parts ol thc crcation myth arc plainly absurd. For cxamplc, it
is said that on thc nrst day God crcatcd light and darkncss but
only on thc lourth day did hc crcatc thc sun (Gcn .:.¸.6). How
can thcrc bc day and night, light and darkncss without thc sun:
Tis crcation myth also contradicts modcrn scicncc which has
provcn how thc univcrsc bcgan and how lilc cvolvcd. Tcrc arc
no dcpartmcnts ol astronomy or biology in any ol thc world’s
univcrsitics which tcach thc crcation myth lor thc simplc rcason
that it is not bascd on lact. So whilc it is truc that Christianity
has an cxplanation lor how cvcrything bcgan it is nothing morc
than a quaint old lcgcnd.
..6 ..,
en what does Buddhism sat about how everything
began:
8uddhism has littlc to say on this subjcct and lor a vcry good rca
son. Tc aim ol 8uddhism is to dcvclop wisdom and compassion
and thcrcby attain Nirvana. Knowing how thc univcrsc bcgan
can contributc nothing to this task. Òncc a man dcmandcd that
thc 8uddha tcll him how thc univcrsc bcgan. Tc 8uddha said
to him:
“You arc likc a man who has bccn shot with a poison
arrow and who, whcn thc doctor comcs to rcmovc it,
says ‘Vait! 8clorc thc arrow is rcmovcd ! want to know
thc namc ol thc man who shot it, what clan hc comcs
lrom, which villagc hc was born in. ! want to know
what typc ol wood his bow is madc lrom, what lcathcrs
arc on thc cnd ol thc arrow, how long thc arrows arc,
ctc., ctc.’ Tat man would dic bclorc all thcsc qucstions
could bc answcrcd. My job is to hclp you to rcmovc thc
arrow ol sußcring lrom yourscll ” (Majjhima Nikaya
Sutta No. 6¸).
8uddhism conccntratcs on hclping us solvc thc practical prob
lcms ol living — it docs not cncouragc usclcss spcculation. And il
a 8uddhist did want to know how and whcn thc univcrsc bcgan
hc would ask a scicntist.
Buddhism is impractical because it says you cannot
even kill an ant.
8clorc wc dclcnd 8uddhism against thc chargc ol bcing imprac
tical, lct us scc il Christianity is practical. According to Jcsus il
..6 ..,
somconc slaps us on thc chcck wc should turn thc othcr chcck
and lct thcm slap us thcrc also (Matt ¸,a¸). !l wc discovcr that
somconc has stolcn our pants wc should go out and givc thc
thicl our shirt as wcll (Matt ¸:¡c). !l wc oursclvcs cannot rcsist
stcaling wc should cut oß our hands (Matt ¸:¸c). Vc could call
all thcsc tcachings impractical although Christians would prob
ably prclcr to call thcm challcnging. And pcrhaps thcy would bc
right. To turn thc othcr chcck whcn somconc assaults us is not
casy. !t rcquircs that wc control our angcr and doing this hclps
to dcvclop paticncc, humility, nonrctaliation and lovc. !l wc
arc ncvcr challcngcd wc will ncvcr grow. Tc 8uddha askcd us
to havc rcspcct lor all lilc, cvcn lor humblc crcaturcs. As with
turning thc othcr chcck, this is not always casy. Crcaturcs such
as ants can bc an irritating inconvcnicncc. Vhcn wc takc thc
prcccpt not to kill and try to practicc it wc arc challcngcd to
dcvclop paticncc, humility, lovc, ctc. So in asking us to rcspcct
all lilc, 8uddhism is no morc impractical than Christianity and
it is ccrtainly morc compassionatc.
e Buddha is dead so he cannot help you.
8uddhists somctimcs havc dimculty rcsponding cßcctivcly whcn
Christians say this to thcm. Howcvcr, il wc know Ðhamma
wcll it will bc quitc casy to rclutc it bccausc likc most Christian
claims about 8uddhism, it is bascd upon misundcrstandings.
Firstly, thc 8uddha is not dcad, hc has attaincd Nirvana,
a statc ol uttcr pcacc and lrccdom. Tc othcr namc thc 8uddha
givcs Nirvana is thc Ðcathlcss Statc (amita) bccausc altcr onc
attains it onc is no longcr subjcct to birth or dcath. Òl coursc
Nirvana is not thc naivc ctcrnal lilc dcscribcd in thc 8iblc whcrc
thc body is rcsurrcctcd and whcrc angcls sing. !n lact it is so sub
..· ..µ
tlc that it is not casy to dcscribc. Howcvcr, it is not noncxistcncc
as thc 8uddha makcs vcry clcar (Majjhima Nikaya Sutta No.,a,
Sutta Nipata, vcrsc .c,6).
!t is cqually untruc to say that thc 8uddha cannot hclp us.
Ðuring his lorty ycar carccr thc 8uddha cxplaincd in grcat dctail
and with mastcrly clarity cvcrything wc nccd to attain Nirvana.
All wc nccd to do is to lollow his instructions. Tc 8uddha’s words
arc as hclplul and as valid today as whcn hc nrst spokc thcm. Òl
coursc thc 8uddha docsn’t hclp us in thc samc way as Christians
claim Jcsus hclps thcm and lor a vcry good rcason. !l a studcnt
kncw that during thc cxams hc could ask thc tcachcr lor thc
answcrs to thc cxam qucstions hc would ncvcr study and consc
qucntly would ncvcr lcarn. !l an athlctc kncw that by mcrcly asking
lor it thc judgc would givc him thc prizc, hc would ncvcr bothcr to
train and dcvclop his body. Simply giving pcoplc cvcrything thcy
ask lor docs not ncccssarily hclp thcm. !n lact, it guarantccs that
thcy will rcmain wcak, dcpcndcnt and lazy. Tc 8uddha pointcd
us to Nirvana and told us what provisions wc would nccd lor thc
journcy. As wc procccd, wc will lcarn lrom our cxpcricnccs and
our mistakcs, dcvcloping strcngth, maturity and wisdom as wc
procccd. Conscqucntly whcn wc nnish our journcy wc will bc
complctcly dißcrcnt pcrsons lrom whcn wc startcd. 8ccausc ol
thc 8uddha’s skillul hclp wc will bc lully cnlightcncd.
So whcn Christians say thcy that thc 8uddha can’t hclp
us this is quitc wrong. 8ut it also implics two things: that Jcsus
is alivc and that hc can and will hclp us. Lct us look at thcsc
two assumptions. Christians claim that Jcsus is alivc but what
cvidcncc is thcrc ol this: Tcy will say that thc 8iblc provcs that
Jcsus rosc lrom thc dcad. Unlortunatcly statcmcnts writtcn by a
lcw pcoplc thousands ol ycars ago don’t provc anything. A statc
..· ..µ
mcnt in thc Mahabharata (onc ol thc Hindu holy books) says
that a saint had a chariot which could ßy. 8ut docs this provc that
thc ancicnt !ndians invcntcd thc airplanc: Òl coursc it docs not.
Tc ancicnt ¡gyptian scripturcs say that thc god Khnum crcatcd
cvcrything out ol clay which hc shapcd on a pottcrs whccl. Ðocs
this provc that cvcrything which cxists is just mud: Òl coursc it
docs not. A passagc in thc Òld Tcstamcnt cvcn says that a man
namcd 8alaam had a donkcy which could talk. !s that conclusivc
cvidcncc that animals can spcak: Òl coursc it is not. Vc cannot
uncritically acccpt claims madc in thc 8iblc any morc than wc
can uncritically acccpt claims madc in othcr sacrcd books. Vhcn
wc cxaminc 8iblc claims about Jcsus’ supposcd rcsurrcction wc
nnd vcry good rcasons why wc should not bclicvc thcm. !n lact,
thc 8iblc actually provcs that Jcsus is not alivc. Just bclorc hc was
crucincd hc told his disciplcs that hc would rcturn bclorc thc last
ol thcm had dicd (Matt .c:a¸, Matt .6:a·, Lk a.:¸a). Tat was
accc ycars ago and Jcsus has still not rcturncd. Vhy: Òbviously
bccausc hc is dcad.
Tc sccond assumption is that Jcsus always rcsponds whcn
you pray to him. !t is vcry casy to provc that this is not truc.
Christians dic lrom sickncss, sußcr lrom mislortuncs, havc cmo
tional problcms, givc in to tcmptations ctc just as nonChristians
do and dcspitc thc lact that thcy pray to Jcsus lor hclp. ! havc a
lricnd who had bccn a dcvout Christian lor many ycars. Gradually
hc bcgan to doubt and hc askcd his pastor lor hclp. Tc pastor
instructcd him to pray and cvcn got mcmbcrs ol thc church to
pray lor him. Yct dcspitc all thcsc praycrs to Jcsus lor strcngth
and guidancc my lricnd’s doubts incrcascd, hc cvcntually lclt thc
church and latcr bccamc a 8uddhist. !l Jcsus is rcally alivc and
rcady to hclp why do Christians havc just as many problcms as
.ac .a.
nonChristians do: Vhy didn’t Jcsus answcr my lricnd’s praycrs
and hclp him to rcmain a Christian: Òbviously bccausc hc is dcad
and unablc to hclp. Tcrc is cvcn cvidcncc in thc 8iblc that hc
cannot hclp pcoplc. Òncc Jcsus appcarcd to Paul and promiscd
that hc would protcct him lrom both thc Jcws and thc pagans
(Acts.a6, .,) but wc know that Paul was cvcntually cxccutcd by
thc Romans. Vhy didn’t Jcsus protcct Paul: Òbviously bccausc
hc is dcad and can’t hclp.
!n answcr to this objcction Christians will say that thcrc
arc pcoplc who can tcstily that thcir praycrs havc bccn answcrcd.
!l this is truc, it is also truc that thcrc arc Muslims, Taoists,
Sikhs, Hindus, Jcws, and cvcn thc lollows ol tribal rcligions who
can say thc samc thing.
Unlike Christianity, Buddhism is so pessimistic.
According to Vcbstcr’s Ðictionary, pcssimism is thc bclicl that
cvil in lilc outwcighs thc good. !t is intcrcsting that Christians
accusc 8uddhism ol bcing pcssimistic bccausc thc idca that cvil
is morc pcrvasivc than good is onc ol thc ccntral doctrincs ol
Christianity. Two ol thc lundamcntalist Christians lavoritc 8iblc
quotcs arc “All havc sinncd, all havc lallcn short ol God’s glory”
(Rom ¸:.c) and “Surcly thcrc is not a rightcous man on carth who
docs good and ncvcr sins (¡cc ,:ac). Tc doctrinc ol Òriginal
Sin tcachcs that all human bcings arc sinncrs, incapablc ol lrcc
ing thcmsclvcs ol sin and that thc cvil in us is strongcr than thc
good (Rom ,:.¡a¡). Christians will say that whilc this is truc
wc can bc lrcc lrom sin il wc acccpt Jcsus. Tis may bc so but it
is still thc casc that Christians lccl thcy nccd Jcsus bccausc thcir
vicw ol human naturc is so uttcrly ncgativc and pcssimistic.
8uddhism on thc othcr hand has a vcry dißcrcnt not to
.ac .a.
say morc rcalistic vicw ol human naturc. Vhilc lully rccogniz
ing mankind’s potcntial lor cvil, 8uddhism tcachcs that wc can
conqucr cvil and dcvclop good through our own cßorts.
Abandon cvil! Ònc can abandon cvil! !l it wcrc imposs
iblc to abandon cvil, ! would not ask you to do so. 8ut as
it can bc donc, thcrclorc ! say, “Abandon cvil!” Cultivatc
thc good! Ònc can cultivatc what is good! !l it wcrc
impossiblc to cultivatc thc good ! would not ask you to
do so. 8ut as it can bc donc, thcrclorc ! say, “Cultivatc
thc good!” (Anguttara Nikaya, 8ook ol Òncs).
Vhcthcr onc agrccs with this bclicl or not, onc could ccrtainly
not say that it is pcssimistic.
Jesus teaches us to love but Buddhism encourages us to
be cold and detached.
Tis is not truc. Tc 8uddha says that wc should dcvclop a warm
caring lovc towards all living bcings.
Just as a mothcr would protcct hcr only child cvcn at thc
risk ol hcr own lilc, cvcn so onc should cultivatc uncon
ditional lovc to all bcings (Sutta Nipata, vcrsc .¸c)
!n cvcry scnsc lovc is as important in 8uddhism as it is in
Christianity and is cmphasizcd just as much. Tcrc is howcvcr
somcthing which somcwhat spoils thc lundamcntalist Christians’
practicc ol lovc. Tcir loud insistcncc that only they lovc, that thc
quality ol their lovc is supcrior to that ol othcrs and thcir constant
disparagcmcnt ol and scomng at othcrs’ cßorts to practicc lovc,
makcs thcm appcar thoroughly invidious. So pctty and jcalous
.aa .a¸
arc somc Christians that thcy cannot acknowlcdgc or apprcciatc
a quality as bcautilul as lovc il it is lound in nonChristians.
You claim that when we die we are reborn, but there is
no proof of this.
8clorc rcsponding to this claim lct us cxaminc both thc Christian
and 8uddhist altcrlilc thcorics. According to Christianity, God
crcatcs a ncw soul that bccomcs a human bcing, livcs its lilc
and thcn dics. Altcr dcath thc soul will go to ctcrnal hcavcn il
it bclicvcd in Jcsus or to ctcrnal hcll il it did not. According to
8uddhism, it is impossiblc to lathom thc ultimatc bcginning ol
cxistcncc. ¡ach bcing livcs its lilc, dics and thcn is rcborn into a
ncw cxistcncc. Tis proccss ol dying and bcing rcborn is a natu
ral onc and can go on lorcvcr unlcss thc bcing attains Nirvana.
Vhcn a bcing docs attain Nirvana in this lilc thcir undcrstand
ing and conscqucntly thcir bchavior altcrs and this changcs thc
proccss which causcs rcbirth. So instcad ol bcing rcborn into a
ncw cxistcncc thc bcing attains nnal Nirvana. Nirvana is not
cxistcncc (to cxist mcans to rcspond to stimuli, to grow and dccay,
to movc in timc and spacc, to cxpcricncc oncscll as a scparatc,
ctc.) and it is not noncxistcncc in that it is not annihilation. !n
othcr words cach bcing’s cxistcncc is bcginninglcss and cndlcss
unlcss Nirvana is attaincd and until that timc cxistcncc has no
othcr purposc than to cxist.
Tcrc is littlc cvidcncc lor cithcr ol thcsc two thcorics.
Howcvcr, thcrc arc scvcral logical and moral problcms with thc
Christian thcory which arc abscnt lrom thc 8uddhist thcory
and which makc thc lattcr morc acccptablc. Christianity sccs
cxistcncc as having a bcginning but no cnd whcrcas 8uddhism
sccs it as cyclic. Naturc oßcrs no cxamplcs ol proccsscs which
.aa .a¸
havc a bcginning but no cnd. Rathcr, all thc natural proccsscs
wc obscrvc arc cyclic. Tc scasons go and rcturn again ncxt
ycar. Rain lalls, ßows to thc sca, cvaporatcs, and lorms clouds
which again lall as rain. Tc body is madc up ol thc clcmcnts wc
ingcst as lood, whcn wc dic thc body brcaks down and rclcascs
its clcmcnts into thc soil, whcrc thcy arc absorbcd by plants and
animals which wc again cat to build thc body. Tc plancts circlc
thc sun and cvcn thc galaxy containing our solar systcm slowly
rcvolvcs. Tc 8uddhist thcory ol rcbirth is in harmony with thc
cyclic proccsscs wc scc throughout naturc whcrcas thc Christian
thcory is not.
Christians claim that God crcatcd us lor a purposc — so
wc can bclicvc in him, obcy him and bc savcd. !l this is so it is
vcry dimcult to cxplain why cach ycar millions ol unborn babics
naturally abort and millions ol othcr babics arc born dcad or
dic within thc nrst lcw ycars ol thcir livcs. Furthcr, millions ol
pcoplc arc born and livc thcir wholc livcs with scvcrc mcntal
rctardation, unablc to think cvcn thc most simplc thoughts. How
do all thcsc pcoplc nt into God’s supposcd plan: Vhat purposc
can God havc in crcating a ncw lilc and thcn lctting it dic cvcn
bclorc it is born or soon altcr its birth: And what happcns to
all thcsc bcings: Ðo thcy go to ctcrnal hcavcn or ctcrnal hcll: !l
God rcally crcatcd us with a plan in mind, that plan is ccrtainly
not vcry obvious. Furthcr, as thc majority ol thc world’s pcoplc
arc nonChristian and as not cvcn all Christians will bc savcd,
this mcans that a good pcrccntagc ol all thc souls that God crc
atcs will go to hcll. God’s supposcd plan to savc cvcryonc sccms
to havc gonc tcrribly wrong. So although wc can’t provc cithcr
thc Christian or thc 8uddhist altcrlilc thcory, thc 8uddhist doc
trinc is morc appcaling and acccptablc.
.a¡ .a¸
If we are really reborn, how do you explain the increase
in the world’s population:
Vhcn bcings dic thcy arc rcborn but thcy arc not ncccssarily
rcborn as thc samc typc ol bcing. For cxamplc, a human could
bc rcborn as a human, as an animal, or pcrhaps as a hcavcn bcing,
according to its kamma. Tc lact that thcrc is a dramatic incrcasc
in thc world’s human population indicatcs that morc animals arc
bcing rcborn as humans (thcrc has bccn a corrcsponding drop in
thc numbcr ol animals duc to cxtinction ctc.) and morc humans
arc bcing rcborn as humans. Vhy is this so: Just why morc
animals arc bcing rcborn as humans is dimcult to say. 8ut why
morc humans arc bcing rcborn as humans is undoubtcdly duc to
an incrcasingly widcsprcad knowlcdgc ol thc 8uddha’s tcachings.
¡vcn whcrc thc Ðhamma is not widcly known its capacity to bc
a subtlc inßucncc lor good is powcrlul. All this can account lor
thc incrcasc in thc human population.
Nirvana is an impractical goal because it takes so long
to attain and so few can do it.
!t is truc that attaining Nirvana may takc a long timc but on thc
othcr hand rcbirth givcs us plcnty ol timc. !l onc docs not do it
in this lilc onc can continuc striving in thc ncxt lilc. !n lact, it
will takc as long as onc wants. Tc 8uddha says that il onc rcally
wants, onc can attain Nirvana within scvcn days (Majjhima
Nikaya Sutta No..c). !l this is so, thc Christian will ask, why
havcn’t all 8uddhists alrcady attaincd Nirvana: For thc simplc
rcason that mundanc phcnomcna still hold an attraction lor thcm.
As insight and undcrstanding gradually makc that attraction ladc
onc movcs stcp by stcp, at onc’s own pacc, towards Nirvana. As
lor thc claim that only a lcw pcoplc can attain Nirvana, this is
.a¡ .a¸
not corrcct. Vhilc in Christianity a pcrson has onc and only onc
chancc ol bcing savcd, 8uddhism’s tcachings on rcbirth mcan
that a pcrson will havc an innnitc numbcr ol opportunitics to
attain Nirvana. Tis also implics that cvcryonc will cvcntually
bc libcratcd. As thc 8uddhist tcxt says:
Tis immortal statc has bccn attaincd by many and can bc
still attaincd cvcn today by anyonc who makcs an cßort.
8ut not by thosc who do not strivc (Tcrigatha, vcrsc ¸.¸).
In Christianity, history has a meaning and is moving
towards a particular goal. Buddhism’s cyclic view of
existence means that history has no meaning and this
makes Buddhists fatalistic and indiferent.
!t is truc that according to 8uddhism history is not moving
towards any climax. 8ut thc pcrson who is walking thc Noblc
¡ightlold Path ccrtainly is. Hc or shc is rcsolutcly moving
towards thc pcacc and lrccdom ol Nirvana.
Just as thc rivcr Gangcs ßows, slidcs, tcnds towards
thc cast, so too onc who cultivatcs and makcs much ol
thc Noblc ¡ightlold Path ßows, slidcs, tcnds towards
Nirvana (Samyutta Nikaya, Grcat Chaptcr, Sutta No. 6,)
So it is not truc to say that 8uddhism’s morc rcalistic vicw ol
cxistcncc and history ncccssarily lcads to indißcrcncc. And what
climax is history moving towards according to Christianity: Tc
Apocalypsc, whcrc thc vast majority ol humanity and all thc
works ol humankind will bc consumcd by brimstonc and nrc.
¡vcn thc lucky lcw who arc savcd will havc thc gloomy prospcct
ol an ctcrnity in hcavcn knowing that at lcast somc ol thcir lam
.a6 .a,
ily and lricnds arc, at thc samc timc, bcing punishcd in hcll. !t
would bc dimcult to imaginc a morc dcprcssing luturc to look
lorward to than this.
e Buddha copied the idea of kamma and rebirth from
Hinduism.
Hinduism docs tcach a doctrinc ol kamma and also rcincarna
tion. Howcvcr, thcir vcrsions ol both thcsc tcachings arc vcry
dißcrcnt lrom thc 8uddhist vcrsions. For cxamplc, Hinduism
says wc arc dctcrmincd by our kamma whilc 8uddhism says
kamma only conditions us. According to Hinduism, an ctcrnal
soul (atman) passcs lrom onc lilc to thc ncxt whilc 8uddhism
dcnics that thcrc is such a soul (anatman) saying rathcr that it
is a constantly changing strcam ol mcntal cncrgy that is rcborn.
Tcsc arc just two ol many dißcrcnccs bctwccn Hinduism and
8uddhism on kamma and rcbirth.
Howcvcr, cvcn il thc 8uddhist and Hindu tcachings
wcrc idcntical this would not ncccssarily mcan that thc 8uddha
unthinkingly copicd thc idcas ol othcrs. !t somctimcs happcns
that two pcoplc, quitc indcpcndcntly ol cach othcr, makc cxactly
thc samc discovcry. A good cxamplc ol this is thc discovcry ol
cvolution. !n .·¸·, just bclorc hc publishcd his lamous book e
Origin of the Species, Charlcs Ðarwin lound that anothcr man,
Allrcd Russcll Vallacc, had conccivcd thc idca ol cvolution
cxactly as hc had donc. Ðarwin and Vallacc had not copicd cach
othcr’s idcas, rathcr, by studying thc samc phcnomcna thcy had
comc to thc samc conclusion about thcm quitc indcpcndcntly
ol cach othcr. So cvcn il Hindu idcas about kamma and rcbirth
wcrc idcntical to thosc ol 8uddhism (which thcy arc not) this
would still not bc prool ol copying. Tc truth is that Hindu sagcs,
.a6 .a,
through insights thcy dcvclopcd in mcditation, got vaguc idcas
about kamma and rcbirth, which thc 8uddha latcr cxpoundcd
morc lully and accuratcly.
Jesus forgives our sins, but Buddhism says you can never
escape the consequences of your kamma.
!t is only partially truc that Jcsus lorgivcs sins. According to
Christianity, altcr pcoplc arc crcatcd thcy will livc lorcvcr — nrst
lor a lcw dccadcs on carth and thcn lor ctcrnity in cithcr hcavcn
or hcll. Jcsus will lorgivc pcoplc’s sins whilc thcy livc in thc world
but lor thc rcst ol ctcrnity hc will rclusc to do so, no mattcr how
lrcqucntly or how pitilully thc souls in hcll may call upon his
namc. So Jcsus’ lorgivcncss is vcry conditional, it is limitcd to a
minutc pcriod ol timc in a pcrson’s cxistcncc altcr which hc will
withhold it. So most pcoplc will ncvcr cscapc lrom thc consc
qucnccs ol thcir supposcd sin.
Can 8uddhists cscapc lrom thcir kamma: Tc doctrinc ol
kamma tcachcs that cvcry action (kamma) has an cßcct (vipaka).
Howcvcr, this cßcct is not always cqual to its causc. For cxamplc,
il a pcrson stcals somcthing this act will havc a ncgativc cßcct.
!l howcvcr altcr thc thclt thc pcrson lccls rcmorsc, rcturns thc
stolcn articlc and sinccrcly rcsolvcs to try to bc morc carclul
in thc luturc, thc ncgativc cßcct ol thc thclt may bc mitigatcd.
Tcrc would still bc an cßcct although not as strong. 8ut cvcn il
thc thicl docs not mitigatc thc wrong which hc has donc with
somc good, hc will bc lrcc lrom thc dccd altcr its cßcct comcs
to lruition. So according to 8uddhism wc can bc lrcc lrom our
kamma whilc according to Christianity our sins will only bc
lorgivcn during an cxtrcmcly limitcd pcriod ol timc.
Tcrc arc othcr ways in which thc doctrinc ol kamma is
.a· .aµ
bcttcr than thc Christian idcas ol sin, lorgivcncss and punish
mcnt. !n 8uddhism whilc onc may havc to cndurc thc ncgativc
cßccts ol thc cvil onc has donc (which is only lair) this mcans
that onc will cxpcricncc thc positivc cßccts ol thc good onc has
donc as wcll. Tis is not so in Christianity. A nonChristian may
bc honcst, mcrcilul, gcncrous and kind yct dcspitc this at dcath
this pcrson will go to hcll and not rcccivc any rcward lor thc
good hc has donc. Furthcr, according to thc doctrinc ol kamma,
thc cßccts wc cxpcricncc, all things bcing cqual, arc in dircct
proportion to thcir causc. Tis is not so in Christianity — cvcn
il a pcrson is cxccptionally cvil during this lilc, ctcrnal hcll is an
uttcrly disproportionatc punishmcnt. How much morc this so
il is thc pcrson is good but not Christian: !ndccd thc ctcrnity
ol hcll and thc idca that all nonChristians arc condcmncd to it,
arc tcachings that cast vcry scrious doubts on thc conccpt ol a
just and loving God.
Christianity has spread to almost every country in the
world and has more followers than any other religion,
so it must be true.
!t is truc that Christianity has sprcad widcly but how has this
happcncd: Until thc .¸th ccntury Christianity was largcly con
nncd to ¡uropc. Altcr this, ¡uropcan armics sprcad throughout
thc world lorcing thcir rcligion on thc pcoplc thcy conqucrcd.
!n most conqucrcd countrics (c.g. Sri Lanka, thc Philippincs,
Mcxico, Taiwan and parts ol !ndia) laws wcrc passcd banning all
nonChristian rcligions. 8y thc latc .µth ccntury brutc lorcc was
no longcr uscd to cnlorcc bclicl but undcr thc inßucncc ol thc mis
sionarics, colonial administrators tricd to hindcr nonChristian
rcligions as much as possiblc. Today thc sprcad ol Christianity
.a· .aµ
is supportcd by lavish nnancial assistancc which missionarics
gct largcly lrom thc U.S.A. So thc sprcad ol Christianity has
nothing to do with its supposcdly supcrior doctrinc but bccausc
ol lcar, powcr and moncy.
Vhcthcr Christianity is thc world’s largcst rcligion is a
mattcr ol dcnnition. Can wc considcr thc Mormons, thc Moonics
and thc Jchovah’s Vitncsscs to bc rcal Christians: Can wc con
sidcr thc numcrous strangc cults and sccts that ßourish in South
Amcrica and Alrica and which account lor many millions ol
pcoplc, to bc rcal Christian: Most Protcstants don’t cvcn con
sidcr Catholics to bc gcnuinc Christians! !l wc dcny that all thc
hcrctical, hctcrodoxist, cultic and bizarrc Christian groups arc
‘rcal’ Christians, this would probably makc Christianity onc ol thc
smallcst rcligions in thc world. Tis would also cxplain why thc
8iblc says that only .¡¡,ccc pcoplc will bc savcd on Judgcmcnt
Ðay (Rcv .¡:¸¡).
God blesses those who believe in him. at is why
Christian countries are so rich and Buddhist countries
are so poor.
Òl all thc argumcnts that lundamcntalist Christians usc to try to
convcrt pcoplc this is by lar thc most loolish. Firstly, il what thc
8iblc says about wcalth is truc (Matt .µ:a¸a¡) it would sccm that
thc blcssings which God has supposcdly pourcd out on ¡uropc
and Amcrica arc rcally a cursc in disguisc. Sccondly, il prospcrity
is rcally prool ol God’s lavor it would sccm that hc rcally likcs
thc Muslims bccausc hc has givcn thcm all thc oil. Tirdly, somc
Christian countrics such as Honduras and thc Philippincs arc
cxtrcmcly poor whilc Japan, prcdominantly a 8uddhist country,
is vcry rich. And nnally, by making statcmcnts likc this, lunda
.¸c .¸.
mcntalist Christians arc lctting slip thcir rcal motivc lor wor
shipping God — dcsirc lor moncy. 8uddhism lor its part tcachcs
that qualitics likc contcntmcnt, lovc, gcntlcncss and inncr pcacc
arc morc prccious than moncy.
Christianity has been a force for progress while
Buddhism has done little to improve the world.
!n Christianity’s long history thcrc has bccn much to bc proud ol
and pcrhaps cqually as much to bc ashamcd ol. Takc lor cxamplc
slavcry, a tcrriblc institution that almost all churchcs supportcd
until thc .µth ccntury. Altcr Paul convcrtcd thc runaway slavc
Òrcsimus hc convinccd him that as a Christian hc should go
back to his mastcr (Philcmon .:¸ac). Paul askcd thc mastcr to
bc kind to Òrcsimus but hc did not ask him to lrcc his slavc. Tc
8iblc says that slavcs should obcy thcir mastcrs cvcn il thcy arc
trcatcd with cruclty.
Slavcs, obcy your carthly mastcrs with lcar and
trcmbling, singlcmindcdly, as il scrving Christ
(¡ph 6:¸)
Slavcs, givc cntirc obcdicncc to your carthly mastcrs,
not mcrcly with an outward show ol scrvicc, to curry
lavor with mcn, but with singlcmindcdncss, out ol
rcvcrcncc lor thc Lord (Col. ¸:aa)
8id slavcs to bc submissivc to thcir mastcrs and givc
satislaction in cvcry rcspcct, thcy arc not to bc rclrac
tory, nor to pillcr, but to show cntirc and truc ndclity
so that in cvcrything thcy may adorn thc doctrinc ol
God our savior (Tit a:µ.c)
.¸c .¸.
Tc rcason why slavc owncrs in Alrica, U.S.A, Cuba and 8razil
cncouragcd thcir slavcs to bccomc Christians was bccausc it
madc thcm passivc and obcdicnt. !n ¡ngland thc campaign to
abolish slavcry in thc .·th ccntury was strongly opposcd by thc
churchcs as thcy opposcd similar campaigns in Mcxico, 8razil
and thc southcrn U.S.A. (lor dctails rcad thc scction on ‘Slavcry’
in e Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, .µ·µ).
Takc scicncc. Tc dcvclopmcnt ol scicncc in thc Vcst
was rctardcd by church opposition (scc A History of the Warfare
of Science with eology in Christendom, A. Ð. Vhitc, .µ6c).
Christian opposition to disscction ol corpscs hcld back thc dcvcl
opmcnt ol mcdicinc and anatomy lor ¸cc ycars. Tc churchcs
wcrc against disscction bccausc thcy bclicvcd that it would makc
bodily rcsurrcction impossiblc. Tc church was opposcd to thc
hclioccntric vicw ol thc univcrsc and cvcn thrcatcncd to cxccutc
Galilco lor saying that thc carth movcd around thc sun. Vhcn
8cnjamin Franklin invcntcd thc lightning rod that prcvcntcd
buildings lrom bcing damagcd by lightning, Protcstant clcrgy
mcn wcrc in an uproar. Tcy bclicvcd that God would no longcr
bc ablc to punish sinncrs by hurling thundcr bolts at thcm. Vhcn
chlorolorm was invcntcd thc churchcs rcluscd to allow it to bc
uscd to allcviatc thc pain ol childbirth. Tc 8iblc tcachcs and
thcy bclicvcd that thc pain ol childbirth was God’s punishmcnt
on womcn lor thc sin ol ¡vc (Gcn ¸:.6).
Takc thc pcrsccution ol thc Jcws. Òl all thc black pagcs
in thc history ol Christianity this is thc blackcst and most dis
gracclul. For accc ycars Christians havc harasscd, houndcd,
humiliatcd and murdcrcd thc Jcws simply bccausc thcy rcluscd
to bclicvc in Jcsus. !n this rcspcct Protcstants havc bccn no bct
tcr than thc Catholics. !n .µ·6 a lcading Protcstant clcrgyman
.¸a .¸¸
in thc U.S.A. said “God docs not listcn whcn thc Jcws pray”.
Martin Luthcr, thc loundcr ol Protcstant Christianity, wrotc a
book callcd thc Jews and their Lies in which hc advocatcd cxtrcmc
pcrsccution ol Jcws on thc grounds that thcy did not bclicvc in
Jcsus. Not surprisingly thc Nazis uscd Luthcr’s book to justily
thcir cruclty towards Jcws.
Vc could go on but pcrhaps this is cnough. Howcvcr, sincc
thc .µth ccntury it is truc that many Christian churchcs havc
bcgun to cagcrly adopt thc outlook ol thc libcral sccular tradi
tion and makc it thcir own. So now Christians arc oltcn in thc
lorclront ol movcmcnts lor justicc, dcmocracy and cquality. 8ut
thcrc is littlc in thc 8iblc that thcy can usc to justily thcir actions.
Òn thc contrary, thc 8iblc spccincally says that all rulcrs, cvcn
thc unjust, gct thcir powcr lrom God and to opposc thcm is to
opposc God.
Lct cvcry pcrson bc subjcct to thc govcrning authoritics.
For thcrc is no authority cxccpt lrom God, and thosc
that cxist havc bccn institutcd by God. Tcrclorc hc who
rcsists thc authoritics rcsists what God has appointcd,
and thosc who rcsist will incur judgmcnt (Rom .¸:.a,
scc also Jn .µ:.., Tit ¸:., Pct a:.¸, Prov ·:.¸.6)
Ðcspotic kings, cardinals and bishops quotcd passagcs likc
thcsc lor ccnturics to justily thcir rulc. Libcration thcologics
arc vcry silcnt about such 8iblc passagcs today. Christian social
philosophy docsn’t comc lrom thc 8iblc. !t comcs lrom thc
Vcstcrn sccular tradition that thc churchcs spcnt ¡cc ycars
opposing. Now thcy try to prctcnd that thcsc valucs originatc
lrom Jcsus (scc What the Bible Really Says, cd. M. Smith and
R. S. Hoßman, .µ·µ).
.¸a .¸¸
8uddhism has always bccn lcss aggrcssivc and lcss organ
izcd than Christianity. Tis has mcant that its inßucncc on
socicty has bccn subtlc, lcss noticcablc and cvcn pcrhaps lcss
dynamic than it should havc bccn. Òn thc othcr hand it has also
mcant that thc witchhunts against hcrctics, thc pcrsccution ol
nonbclicvcrs and thc bloody rcligious wars that havc marrcd
Christian history, havc bccn rarc or abscnt in 8uddhism.
Buddhism may be a noble philosophy but if you look at
Buddhist countries you notice that few people seem to
practice it.
Pcrhaps! 8ut is it not cxactly thc samc in Christian countrics:
Vhat honcst Christian can say that all Christians lully, sinccrcly
and with dccp undcrstanding lollow Jcsus’ tcachings: Lct us not
judgc a rcligion by thosc who lail to practicc it.
[onclusion
Vhat has bccn writtcn so lar may havc stimulatcd in thc rcadcr
thc dcsirc to know morc about Christianity and 8uddhism and
so wc will bricßy rccommcnd somc books lor lurthcr rcading. A
popular and casy to rcad book cxposing many ol thc lallacics in
Christianity is Jesus — the Evidence by !an Vilson, .µ·¡. Vilson
cxamincs thc history ol thc 8iblc and shows how scholars havc
dcmonstratcd bcyond doubt that it is an untidy compilation
composcd ovcr scvcral ccnturics. Hc also shows how thc man
Jcsus gradually camc to bc sccn as a god. Anothcr good book is
Rescuing the Bible from the Fundamentalists by John Spong, .µµ..
Spong is a Christian bishop and scholar who lrccly admits that
.¸¡
much ol what thc 8iblc contains is cithcr mythological or crronc
ous, and hc givcs abundant cvidcncc lor this. Tc two bcst schol
arly and critical studics ol rcccnt timcs arc Is Christianity True:
by Michacl Arnhcim, .µ·¡ and e Case Against Christianity by
Michacl Martin .µµ.. Tcsc outstanding studics cxaminc cvcry
major Christian doctrinc and cxposcs cach ol thcm to thc cold
light ol rcason and nonc ol thcm survivc thc cxposurc.
Many cxccllcnt books on thc tcachings ol thc 8uddha
arc availablc. A good introduction is e Life of the Buddha by
H. Saddhatissa, .µ··. !t includcs a wcllwrittcn biography ol thc
8uddha and a clcar account ol basic 8uddhist conccpts. What the
Buddha Taught by V. Rahula, .µ·¸ and e Buddha’s Ancient Path by
Piyadassi Tcra, .µ,µ arc good introductions. A Buddhist Critique
of the Christian Concept of God by G. Ðharmasiri, .µ·· is an cxccl
lcnt but somcwhat tcchnical cxamination ol thc modcrn Protcstant
conccpt ol God lrom thc 8uddhist point ol vicw. A most intcrcst
ing book is Two Masters One Message by Roy Amorc, .µ,·. !n this
study thc author dcmonstratcs that somc ol what was taught by
Jcsus is likcly to havc bccn dcrivcd originally lrom 8uddhism.
Fundamcntalist Christianity poscs a rcal thrcat to 8uddhism
and whilc wc can ncvcr hopc to match thc aggrcssivcncss or
organizational abilitics ol its proponcnts, wc can countcr thcm by
bccoming lamiliar with Christianity’s numcrous doctrinal wcak
ncsscs and 8uddhism’s many strcngths. !l thc Christian challcngc
stimulatcs in 8uddhists a dccpcr apprcciation lor thc Ðhamma
and a dcsirc to livc by that Ðhamma, thcn that challcngc can bc
to 8uddhism’s bcncnt.
©

 uddhist ritique of undamentalist hristianity
by A. L. De Silva ree Gem Publications Published  ree Gem Publications  Church Street Camperdown N.S.W.  Australia ISBN 0 646 21211 7

eyond elief

is book is not intended as an attack on Christianity or mainstream Christians. e purpose in publishing this book is to counteract the dogmatic propaganda of the, so called, “born again” evangelists.

Buddhist Library Meditation Centre  Church St. Camperdown  N.S.W. Tel.   

e. thinking that it has thus been handed down: through many generations) o not accept anything on account of rumours (i. when you find that anything agrees with and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all. as now people were and are confused by the myriad religious beliefs expounded by different religious teachers who exalted their own teachings and denounced those of others. believing what others say without investigation) o not accept anything just because it accords with your scriptures o not accept anything by mere supposition o not accept anything by mere inference o not accept anything by merely considering the appearances o not accept anything merely because it agrees with your preconceived notions o not accept anything merely because it seems acceptable (i. then accept and abide by it. is discourse was given by the Buddha when he was asked by the Kalamas (the citizens of Kesaputta) who were confused over the many religions at that time. should be accepted) o not accept anything thinking that the ascetic is respected. by us (and therefore it is right to accept his word) But after observation and analysis.e. . thinking that thus we have heard for a long time) o not accept anything by mere tradition (i.e.alama utta During the Buddha’s time. e uddha said: o not accept anything on mere hearsay (i.e.

................................................... e Problem of Free Will ......  e Problem of the Hidden God ...............ontents Kalama Sutta .............................................................  Attitude to War...  Miracles ........................  e Existence of the Universe ..........  Why God Cannot Exist God or e Buddha Physical Appearance .................................................. e Problem of Evil .......................................................................................................  Preface ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................  Character ......................................................................  e First Cause Argument ....................................................................................................................  e “Try and Disprove” Argument ......................................  Christian Arguments for God’s Existence e Authority of the Bible .........  He Set an Example by being a Man of Peace .............................................................................................................................................................  e Argument for God’s Necessity ....................  e Argument from Design ...................   ................................................ e Testimony ........................... Why Create? ..........................................................................................................................

 Jesus’ Last Words ........  Is it God’s Word? ..........................................................Idea of Justice ..................................................................................................  How Buddhists See Jesus ................................................................  e Resurrection ........................................................................................................................................................................................  Miracles ....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................  Sacrifices ......  Fact and Fiction in e Life of Jesus Did Jesus Exist? ............................. e Birth of Jesus ..................................  Inconsistency .......................................................................................................................  Love......................................................................................................  e Last Supper ..................................................................................................  e Trial .......................................................................................................  Hell ......................  How did Jesus become God?............................................................................................... Attitude to Disease .............................  Was He A Good Teacher? ...........................  Is the Bible Inspired? .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................. Prophecies about and by Jesus ..............   A Critique of e Bible ................... What Happened to Judas? ....  Was Jesus Perfect? ...............................................................................................  Was Jesus God?................................................................................................................................................... Creating Evil .

...............................  Life is Suffering ............................... Right Effort ................. .................................................  Selective Interpreting.............................................................................................  ere is a Way to Overcome Suffering....................................................................  Right Mindfulness and Concentration ...............................  Right ought........................................................  Suffering can be Overcome ......  Who Did Write the Bible? .....   ...........  Buddhism is impractical because it says you cannot even kill an ant....  Right Livelihood .................... ...........................................................................................................................................................................  en what does Buddhism sat about how everything began? ..... Speech and Action .........................................................................................  e Buddha is dead so he cannot help you........................................................................................  Mistakes and Variations in the Bible .............................................................  Are ere Mistakes in the Bible? .....  Removing Verses from the Bible ....................................................................  Buddhism – e Logical Alternative e Buddha ............  Right Understanding ................................................  When we Die we are Reborn ....................................... ...............................................................................................................................  Is the Bible Reliable Testimony? ..One Bible or Several? ........................  Changing the Lord’s Prayer.... How to Answer the Evangelists You do not believe in God so you cannot explain how the world began......

..................................................  If we are really reborn.................................... .............. so it must be true............................ Buddhism is so pessimistic.............  You claim that when we die we are reborn........... Conclusion  .............................................................  ... .................... .................. ....... but there is no proof of this..............................  Buddhist countries are so poor.................................Unlike Christianity........ In Christianity................ history has a meaning and is moving towards a particular goal.............. but Buddhism says you can never escape the consequences of your kamma...................  Jesus teaches us to love but Buddhism encourages us to be cold and detached..................................................  Buddhism may be a noble philosophy but if you look at Buddhist countries you notice that few people seem to practice it.................................  God blesses those who believe in him........................... Buddhism’s cyclic view of existence means that history has no meaning and this makes Buddhists fatalistic and indifferent.......................................................................  Jesus forgives our sins...................  e Buddha copied the idea of kamma and rebirth from Hinduism............................................... at is why Christian countries are so rich and Christianity has been a force for progress while Buddhism has done little to improve the world.........  Christianity has spread to almost every country in the world and has more followers than any other religion... ........... ..... ............ how do you explain the increase in the world’s population? Nirvana is an impractical goal because it takes so long to attain and so few can do it......... ............................................................ .............

In doing this I hope to be able to provide Buddhists with facts which they can use when Christians attempt to evangelize them. they must be prepared to answer doubts which others might express about it. philosophical and ethical problems. that their religion alone is true. As it is. is book should make such encounters fairer and hopefully also make it more likely that Buddhists will keep their faith. as many do with such insistence. In order to do this I have raised as many difficult about Christianity as possible. this understanding will help them to develop an acceptance of and thereby genuine friendship with Buddhists. However. many Buddhists know little of their own religion and nothing about Christianity which makes it difficult for them rebut the claims Christians make or answer the questions about Buddhism they ask. I was a Christian for many years and I still retain a fond regard and even an admiration for some aspects of Christianity. rather than relating to them only as either lost souls or potential converts. when Christians claim.reface  he purpose of this book is threefold. e second aim of this book is to help fundamentalist Christians who might read it to understand why some people are not and will never be Christians. Hopefully. If it appears sometimes that I have been hard on Christianity I hope this will not be interpreted as being motivated by malice. For me. Firstly it aims to critically examine the fundamentalist approach to Christianity and thereby highlight its many logical. Jesus’ teachings were an important step in my becoming a Buddhist and I think I am a better Buddhist as a result.  .

declare it. Christianity with its ‘modern’ image begins to look increasingly attractive. analyze it. I hope I have avoided doing this. expound it.   . As these countries become more Westernized. make it clear.” Subjecting a point of view to careful scrutiny and criticism has an important part to play in helping to winnow truth from falsehood so that we can be in a better position to choose between “the two and sixty contending sects. Some Buddhists may object to a book like this. believing that a gentle and tolerant religion like Buddhism should refrain from criticizing other. and be able by means of the Dhamma to refute false teachings that have arisen. In some Asian countries Buddhism is thought of an out-of-date superstition while Christianity is seen as a religion which has all the answers. I think this book will amply demonstrate that Buddhism is able to ask questions of Christianity which it has great difficulties answering and at the same time offer explanations to life’s puzzles which make Christian explanations look rather inadequate. In the Mahaparinibbana Sutta he said that his disciples should be able to “Teach the Dhamma. is is certainly not what the Buddha himself taught. establish it.” Criticism of other religions only becomes inappropriate when it is based on a deliberate misrepresentation or when it descends into an exercise in ridicule and name-calling.e third aim of this book is to awaken in Buddhists a deeper appreciation for their own religion.

 e uthority of the ible When asked to prove that God exists the Christian will point to the Bible and say it is the best proof of God’s existence. e problem is that if we ask a Hindu. someone must have made it and therefore there must be a creator God. However. a Sikh or a Jew the same question they too will point to their respective holy books as proof of the existence of their gods. In fact. e xistence of the niverse In their attempts to prove God’s existence Christians will sometimes say that the universe didn’t just happen. there is strong evidence that the Bible is a highly unreliable document. claim that there is an all-knowing. fundamentalists and liberals. all-loving God who created and controls the universe. When it starts to rain we do not ask. we have no evidence that this is so. as we will demonstrate later. Several arguments are used to prove this idea.hristian rguments for od’s xistence ll Christians. a Taoist. Why should we believe the Bible but not the holy books of all the other religions? Using the Bible to prove God’s existence is only valid if we already accept that it alone contains God’s words. ere is a major flaw in this argument. We will examine each of these arguments and give the Buddhist objections to them. “Who is making it rain?” because we know that rain  .

All of these things have a cause or causes but this need not be a being. evaporation. Firstly. as the universe is so intricate and complex we could expect it  . ere is. etc. even if we insist that a divine being is needed to explain how the universe came into existence. etc. When we see smooth stones in a river we do not ask. a Christian might say. It is the same with the universe — it was not brought into being by a god but by natural phenomena like nuclear fission. an order and balance in the universe which point to its having been designed by a higher intelligence and that this higher intelligence is God. “Who polished those stones?” because we know that their smooth surface was not caused by someone but by something — natural causes like the abrasive action of water and sand. how does the Christian know that it was his God who is behind creation? Perhaps it was the gods of non-Christian religions who designed and created the universe. the God of Islam or one of the gods worshipped by tribal religions created it. After all. inertia.is not caused by someone but by something — natural phenomena like heat. Christianity is not the only religion to claim that there is a creator god or gods. However. gravity. Secondly. e rgument from esign In response to the above refutation the Christian will maintain that the universe not only exists but that its existence shows perfect design. what proof is there that it was the Christian God? Perhaps the Hindu God. precipitation. how does the Christian know that only one God designed everything? In fact. But as before there are some problems with this argument.

Is this perfect design? ese and other natural calamities prove that inanimate phenomena do not exhibit perfect design and therefore that they were not created by a perfect God. perhaps dozens. Is this perfect design? e gentle breezes cool us but storms and tornadoes repeatedly cause death and destruction. To live. In nature there is no room for pity. of gods to design it. Let us look first at inanimate phenomena to see whether they show perfect design. Rain gives us pure water to drink but sometimes it rains too much and people lose their lives. it is also imperfect in that it often goes wrong. At a superficial glance nature seems to be beautiful and harmonious. Next. we would have to ask whether the universe is really perfectly designed? We must ask this question because it is only natural to expect a perfect God to design a perfect universe. Is this perfect design? e mountains give us joy as we see them reaching up into the sky. So if anything the argument from design could be used to prove that there are many gods. nature is utterly ruthless as any biologist or careful observer will confirm. their homes and their means of livelihood in floods. why did such a cruel design result? But the animal kingdom is not only imperfect in the ethical sense. all creatures are provided for and each has its task to perform. not one as Christians claim. Now let us look at animate phenomena. love or mercy. If a loving God really designed everything. At other times it doesn’t rain at all and millions die because of drought and famine. are stillborn  . However. each creature has to feed on other creatures and struggle to avoid being eaten by other creatures. But landslides and volcanic eruptions have caused havoc and death for centuries.to need the intelligence of several. Every year millions of babies are born with physical or mental disabilities.

that there must be a first cause and that God is the first cause. fundamentalist. evangelical and born again Christians are so anxious to prove that miracles have occurred at their prayer meetings that the truth often gets lost in a flood of wild claims. is is an appealing argument until it is looked at a little more closely. even if we accept the necessity of a first cause. While Christians are quick to claim that because of their prayers the blind could see. In fact. iracles Fundamentalist Christians claim that miracles are sometimes performed in God’s name and that this proves he exists. much of it is either cruel or faulty. the deaf could hear and crooked limbs were straightened. extravagant boasts and sometimes even conscious lies. And as before. Perhaps six. is indicates that the universe was not created by a perfect all-loving God. Logically. ten or three hundred causes occurring simultaneously caused everything. what proof is there that it was the Christian God? None. e irst ause rgument Christians will sometimes say that everything has a cause. there is no good reason to assume that everything had a single first cause.or die soon after birth. they are very slow in producing hard evidence to back up their claims.  . ere is another problem with the first cause argument. is old argument contains its own refutation because if everything has a first cause then the first cause must also have a cause. Why would a perfect creator God design such terrible things? So if there is design in the universe.

Jains. Hindus.  . Surely the same could be said for the miracles performed by Hindus. is claim is apparently supported by numerous books written by Christians who have endured and overcome various crises through their faith in God. all claim that their God or gods sometimes perform miracles. Muslims. If the miracles they do result in good how can they be the work of the Devil? e rgument for od’s ecessity Fundamentalist Christians often claim that only by believing in God can people have the strength to deal with life’s problems and therefore that belief in God is necessary. Some of these books make highly inspiring reading so the claim that one can cope with problems only with God’s help sounds rather convincing — until we look a little more deeply.However. Jews etc. it is true that things which are unusual or difficult to explain do sometimes happen during religious events — but not just for Christians. Perhaps the best way to counter this claim is to quote the Bible. Christianity certainly does not have a monopoly on miraculous happenings. Taoists. He answered by saying that healing the sick results in good and if the Devil went around doing good he would destroy himself (Mk :-). When Jesus healed the sick his enemies accused him of doing this through the power of the Devil. then miracles performed in the name of the numerous other gods must likewise prove that they exist too Fundamentalist Christians try to deny this fact by claiming that when miracles occur in other religions they are done through the power of the Devil. Jews or Sikhs. So if miracles performed in God’s name prove that he exists.

but you can’t disprove it either. It is clear however. You cannot prove that God doesn’t exist — but you can’t you prove that the gods of Taoism. there is no more evidence for the existence of the Christian God than there is for the gods worshipped in all the other religions. Hinduism. Such  . that people from non-Christian religions and even those with no religion are just as capable of dealing with life’s crises as Christians are — sometimes even better. confusion and hopelessness while most Christian through their faith in God would be able to unfailingly deal with their problems and never need to seek help from counsellors or psychiatrists. despite all the hyperbole. It is also sometimes true that people who are devout Christians lose their faith in God after being confronted with serious personal problems. In other words. e estimony After everything else has failed the Christian may finally try to convince us that God exists by appealing to our emotions. is of course is quite true. the extravagant claims and the confident proclamations. we would expect that most nonChristians in the world to lead lives of emotional distress. the claim that belief in God is necessary to cope with and overcome problems is baseless. Consequently.If this claim is true. e “ry and isprove” rgument When Christians find they cannot prove their God’s existence with doubtful facts or faulty logic they may switch tactics and say that perhaps you can’t prove God exists. African spirit worship and a dozen other religions don’t exist either.

” Such testimonies can be deeply moving but what do they prove? ere are millions of people whose lives became equally happy and meaningful after they embraced Buddhism. Likewise. Hinduism or Islam. So this argument. there are no doubt many people whose lives have not changed for the better after they became Christians — the same weaknesses and problems sometimes remain. “I used to be unhappy and discontented but after giving myself to God I am happy and at peace with myself.   .a person will say. like all the others. does not prove the existence of the Christian God. perhaps quite truthfully.

 ess :-. If people are evil it is because God has chosen to make them evil (Rom :-) and caused them to disobey him (Rom :). e Bible also makes it clear that everything people do. good or evil. We will act not according to our will or choice but according to the way God has already foreseen we will act. right and wrong. Rom :-.g. is all due to the will of God (e. all the present and all the future. We will now demonstrate that logically an all-loving.hy od annot xist  e have seen that the arguments used to prove God’s existence are inadequate. If this is so then he must know everything we do long before we do it. If we are predetermined to be good we will be good and if we are predetermined to be evil we will be evil. is means that our whole life must be predetermined and that we act not according to the free exercise of our wills but according to our predetermined natures. e roblem of ree ill For the religious life to be meaningful we must have free will. Although Christians will insist that we do have free will. According to Christians. God’s omniscience simply makes this logically impossible. If we do not have free will we cannot be held responsible for what we do. God is all knowing — he knows all the past. all-knowing and all-powerful God such as the one in which Christians have faith cannot exist. we must be able to choose between good and evil. Rom :). If they do not understand God’s message it is because  .

not from any effort or decision on their part (Eph :-). how can God find fault with anyone? For who can resist God’s will?” But who are you. e idea that all our actions are predetermined is quite consistent with the idea of an all-knowing God but it makes nonsense of the concept of trying to do good or avoid evil. Now one may ask “If we can only do what God predetermines us to do. God prevents the Gospel from being preached in certain areas (Act :-) and he fixes long before it will happen when a person will be born and when he or she will die (Act :). their faith comes from God. to answer God back? A clay pot does not ask the man who made it: “Why did you make me like this?” After all. and to make two pots from one lump of clay. one for special occasions and one for ordinary use. how can he hold us responsible for their actions?” e Bible has an answer for this question. ose who were going to be saved were chosen by God before the beginning of time (II Tim :). So apparently in Christianity a person’s life and destiny are due purely to the whim of God and as mere humans we have no right to complain about what he has decided for us. And the same is true of what God has done (Rom :-). If a person has faith and is thereby saved. e roblem of vil Perhaps the most potent argument against the existence of an allpowerful and all-loving God is the undeniable fact that there is  . the man who makes the pot has the right to use the clay as he wishes. my friend.he has made their minds dull (Rom :) and caused them to be stubborn (Rom :). But one of you will say to me: “If this is so.

epidemics and accidents. At first this seems to be a good explanation. Another way Christians will try to explain away evil is to say that it is God’s punishment for those who do not follow his commandments. We often hear of painful sickness or disasters befalling good people including good Christians and likewise we often hear of really bad people who seem to have nothing but good fortune and success. polio. In fact. deformity and suffering to which they give rise. they will say.so much pain and suffering in the world. according to the Bible. Evil. Firstly they will say that evil is caused by humans not God and that if only we would follow God’s commandments there would be no pain. Next. exists to test us. So it is not correct to say that evil and suffering are caused by humankind. However this implies that terrible things only happen to bad people which are certainly not true. evil or suffering. they can hardly be blamed for the millions who die each year in earthquakes. were created by God before he created man (Gen. murder and exploitation can be blamed on humans. while it is true that evils such as war. cholera. However. rape. the germs that cause hideous diseases like TB. So it cannot be said that suffering and evil are God’s way of punishing sinners. If there really is a God of love who has unlimited power why doesn’t he put an end to all this evil? Christians try to answer this difficult question in several ways. and all the misery. Christians will say that God allows evil to exist in the world because he wants to give us the freedom to choose good over evil and thereby be worthy of salvation. all of which are natural events. :-). If a man sees someone being beaten up by a bully he has  . leprosy etc. floods.

He will say that even though there is suffering in the world we can use it as an opportunity to develop courage and patience. To be perfect means to be  . an all-knowing God must already know what choices a person will make so what is the point of testing us? Also. hy reate? Christians claim that God is perfect.a choice between turning away (doing wrong) or deciding to help the victim (doing right). all-powerful God. is may be true but again if God is so loving why doesn’t he simply prevent the Devil from causing suffering and doing evil? In any case. it seems rather unloving and unfair to allow pain to be inflicted on one person just so that another can have the opportunity to choose between good and evil. innocent bystanders to be killed in accidents and leprosy victims to suffer deformity. In fact. the existence of so much unnecessary pain and suffering in the world is very strong evidence that there is no all-loving. However. misery and pain. is is undoubtedly true but it still does not explain why an all-loving God allows babies to die of cancer. By this stage the Christian will start to get a bit desperate and shift the argument from logic to pragmatism. Some fundamentalist Christians will try to free God from responsibility for evil by saying that it was not created by him but by the Devil. who created the Devil in the first place? Surely it was God. If he decides to help then he has been tested and found good. as we have seen before. even if suffering and evil exist to test us couldn’t an all-loving God think of a less cruel and painful way to do this? Further.

no good or evil. e roblem of the idden od Fundamentalist Christians claim that God wants us to believe in him so that we can be saved but if this is so why doesn’t he simply appear and perform a miracle so that everyone will see and believe? Christians will say that God wants us to believe in him out of faith. However. this would mean that the whole universe came into being without purpose or forethought and therefore prove that God was not a loving creator. in the past God performed the most awesome miracles and often intervened dramatically  . no earth. However. according to Christians. what motivated him to create the universe and thus bring imperfection into being? Was it because he was bored and wanted something to do? Was it because he was lonely and wanted someone to pray to him? Christians will say that God created everything because of his love of man but this is impossible. Let us examine why. So if God was perfect and nothing but perfection existed. Now if God really did create the universe this would prove that he was not perfect. according to the Bible. God could not love humans before he created them any more than a woman could love her children before she had conceived them. Before God created the universe there was nothing — no sun. Christians might then say that God created spontaneously and without need or desire. perfect. God’s need to create indicates that he was dissatisfied in some way and therefore not perfect. no people.complete in every way. Further. no pain — nothing but God who was. not because we see him with our own eyes.

solving personal problems etc) but being stubborn and evil most people still refuse to believe. these so-called miracles are individual and minor and leave much room for doubt. During the ’s. e Bible tells us that when the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years God fed them by making food fall regularly from the sky (Ex :). why doesn’t he do so now? Christians will say that God does perform miracles today (healing. If God performed a really impressive miracle which could have no other possible explanation then most people certainly would believe.in human affairs so that people would know his presence. his power and his love by making food fall from the sky as the Bible claims he did in the past. If he did so in the past. several million Ethiopian Christians died slowly and painfully from starvation due to a prolonged drought. However.   . Buddhists would say that God did not manifest his presence at that time because he does not exist. At that time God had the opportunity to prove his existence.

Although Christians have never seen God they claim to know him by communicating with him through prayer and through feeling his presence. While Buddhists reject the Christian concept of God because it seems to be illogical and unsubstantiated. ey find that how God is portrayed there is profoundly different from how they hear Christians describe him. the Buddha. fingers (Ps :) and a face (Deut :). Buddhists look to the Buddha as their inspiration and ideal. Apparently he does not like people seeing his face but he doesn’t mind if they see his backside.  . However when Buddhists look at what the Bible says about God they are often very shocked. We will now examine what the Bible says about God and compare it to what the Tipitaka (the Buddhist sacred scriptures) say about the Buddha.od or e uddha  hile Christians look to God as their lord and creator. ey also claim that they can know God’s will by reading his words in the Bible. hysical ppearance What does God look like? e Bible says that he created man in his own image (Gen :) so from this we can assume he looks something like a human being. arms (Deut :). e Bible tells us that God has hands (Ex :). As Buddhists neither prays to nor acknowledge God the only way they can get an idea of what he is like is by reading the Bible. they also reject it because it seems so much lower than their own ideal.

and the foundations of the mountains shook. When God is angry. and when he heard them his anger was aroused. A fire issues from his presence and burns his enemies on every side (Ps :). However. before him a fire burns and around him fierce storms rage (Ps :). he has flames coming out of his body. which seems to be quite often. smoke and fire come out of his mouth and noise. For example. consuming fire came from his mouth.  . en fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp (Num :). they trembled because he was angry.And I will take away my hands and you will see my back parts but my face you shall not see (Ex :). e earth trembled and quaked. burning coals blazed out of it (Ps :-). Our God comes and shall not keep silent. although God seems to have some human characteristics he does at the same time look not unlike the demons and fierce guardians one often sees in Indian and Chinese temples. Smoke rose from his nostrils. When the prophet Ezekiel saw God and his attendant angels he described them as looking like this. Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord.

and two wings covering its body. eir legs were straight. and on the right side each had the face of a lion. and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north — an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. Each one went straight ahead. each had two wings. All four of them had faces and wings. Such were their faces. Under their wings on their four sides they had the hands of a man. e appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. eir wings were spread out upward. it was bright. without turning as they went. e center of the fire looked like glowing metal. but each of them had four faces and four wings. As I looked at the liv .On the fifth of the month — it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin — the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest. one touching the wing of another creature on either side. Each one went straight ahead. each also had the face of an eagle. In appearance their form was that of a man. they did not turn as they moved. and their wings touched one another. e creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning. they would go. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures. ere the hand of the Lord was upon him. and on the left the face of an ox. eir faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a man. I looked. their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. Wherever the spirit would go. the son of Buzi. and lightning flashed out of it. by the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians.

en the Lord will appear over them. great and powerful sword (Is :). suddenly they will be struck down (Ps :). Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel (Ezek :-). e sovereign Lord will sound the trumpet (Zech :). In wrath you strode through the earth and in your anger you threshed the nations (Haba :-). his arrows will flash like lightning. at the lightning of your flashing spear. e sun and moon stood still in the heavens at the glint of your flying arrows. and all four looked alike. his fierce. He shot his arrows and scattered the enemies (Ps :-). is was the appearance and structure of the wheels: ey sparkled like chrysolite. In that day the Lord will punish with his sword. But the Bible describes God as having a very similar appearance. For example he carries weapons.ing creatures. I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces. Another interesting way in which God’s appearance resembles non-Christian idols is in how he travels. e Lord thundered from heaven. e Bible tells us that  . Fundamentalist Christians often claim that the many-armed and fierce-faced gods in Hindu and Taoist temples and claim that they are devils rather than gods. the voice of the Most High resounded. But God will shoot them with arrows.

Whenever people saw the Buddha. composed and controlled. When I think of him I am in dread of him. God has made my heart faint. kiss his feet or else he will get angry and you will perish in the way. e Almighty has terrified me (Job :). the Tipitaka frequently speak of his great personal beauty. for his wrath is quickly kindled (Ps :). e Bible also very correctly says that where there is fear there cannot be love (Jn. his calm appearance filled them with peace and his gentle smile reassured them. He is handsome. like a perfectly tamed elephant (Anguttara Nikaya. his form and countenance is like Brahma’s. inspiring faith.he gets from one place to another either by sitting on a cloud (Is :) or riding on the back of an angel (Ps :). his appearance is beautiful (Digha Nikaya. What did the Buddha look like? Being human the Buddha had a body like any ordinary person.). good-looking. However. Serve the Lord with fear and trembling. pleasant to see. It is obvious from these quotes that God has a savage and frightening appearance. Sutta No. Sutta No. a conclusion verified again by the Bible where people are described as being utterly terrified by his appearance. with calm senses and mind tranquil.g. erefore I am terrified at his presence. Lk :-). Jesus says God is a truly frightening deity (e. As we have  .). of most beautiful complexion. :) and so if God creates fear in people it is difficult to know how he can genuinely be loved at the same time. He is handsome.

But when I am sitting on a court case people sometimes interrupt even me. able to execute those deserving execution. e sound of the good Gotama’s voice has eight characteristics.  . uplifts. as I sat listening to the Lord teach Dhamma a certain disciple coughed and one of his fellows tapped him on the knee and said. deep and resonant (Majjhima Nikaya. indeed it is wonderful. inspires and gladdens them with talk on Dhamma. God carries weapons because he has to kill his enemies and because he controls people with violence and threats. King Pasenadi once said: I am a king. fluent and clear. Addressing the Buddha. he delights. Sutta No. Sutta No.” But when the Lord is teaching Dhamma there is not even the sound of coughing coming from the assembly. “Silence. fine those deserving to be fined. marvelous how well trained these disciples are without stick or sword (Majjhima Nikaya. sweet and audible. e Buddha by contrast.). On the contrary.). God’s voice is loud and frightening like thunder (Ps :) while the Buddha’s voice was gentle and soothing. or exile those deserving exile. When in a monastery he is teaching the Dhamma. Our Lord is teaching Dhamma”. make no noise. it is distinct and intelligible. and I thought to myself. showed enmity to no one and was able to control people by reasoning with them. I can’t even get a chance to say: “Don’t interrupt me! Wait until I have finished speaking. Once.seen. sir. he does not exalt or disparage the assembly.

But Buddhists also reject the Christian God because. If your brother. All of the negative emotions which most cultured people consider unacceptable seem to be found in God. a jealous God (Deut :). “Let us go and serve other gods” which neither you nor your fathers have known. It is clear from what has been said above that the Buddha’s physical appearance reflected his deep inner calm and compassion. some of the gods of the people that are around you whether near or far. Let us examine how the Bible describes God’s character. entices you secretly.We can just imagine how God would react if one were foolish enough to interrupt him while he was speaking. or your son. daughter. nor shall you spare  . He even admits that he is jealous. People were always inspired by the aura of peace that surrounded him. the son of your mother. saying. haraer We have seen that Buddhists do not believe in God because to them the idea is illogical and contrary to the facts. from one end of the earth to the other. nor shall your eye pity him. the wife of your bosom or the friend of your own soul. you shall not yield to him or listen to him. if the Bible is correct. Nothing makes God more jealous than when people worship other gods and he tells them that they must even kill our own children if they do this. he appears to be so imperfect. e emotion which is associated with God more than any other is jealousy. For the Lord is a devouring fire.

with wrath and fierce anger.  . You hate all those who do wrong. Your hand shall be the first against him to kill him and after that the others can strike him (Deut :). Mala :. e Lord will cause men to hear his majestic voice and will make them see his arm coming down with raging anger and consuming fire (Is :). nor shall you conceal him. God has a particularly deep hatred for other religions which probably explains why Christianity has always been such an intolerant religion. Lev :). His anger will burn against you and he will destroy you from the face of the land (Deut :). but you shall kill him. bloodthirsty and deceitful men the Lord abhors (Ps :-). See. e Bible tells us that God frequently loses his temper. God tells us to love but he is described as hating and being filled with abhorrence. You destroy those who tell lies.him. God is angry every day (Ps :). He is described as hating many other things as well as people (see Deut :. to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it (Is :). He is often described as feeling special hatred for those who will not worship him. the day of the Lord is coming — a cruel day.

the Buddha urged people to give up anger. e Buddha had compassion for those who were cruel. We would expect God.Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates (Is :). he forgave those who did wrong and he had respect for those of other religions. “It is mine to avenge. :-. your God will come with vengeance (Is :). We find no teacher other than the Lord who is so consist . Behold. For we know him who said. “e Lord will judge his people”. e Lord is avenging and wrathful. (See also Rom :. I will repay”. :). to be vengeful and so not surprisingly the Bible often mentions God’s vengeful nature. e Lord acts as he speaks and speaks as he acts. the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and holds wrath for his enemies (Nahum :). jealousy and intolerance and never once in all that time did he fail to act in perfect accordance with what he taught to others. being capable of jealousy and hate. Buddhists are genuinely shocked when they read things like “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”. What sort of savage deity is this! What is the point of worshipping a God who is full of the very mental defilements which we ourselves are striving to overcome? During the forty years after his enlightenment. It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb :-). and again.

jealousy. a warrior who gives victory (Zeph :). God is quite capable of hatred and so not surprisingly that he is often involved in war. I will make my arrows drunk with blood while my sword devours flesh: the blood of the slain and the captives. When I sharpen my flashing sword and my hand grasps it in judgment. being perfect. e Lord is a man of war (Ex :). he had transcended all such negative emotions. like a man of war he stirs up his fury. Sutta No. because. e Lord your God is in your midst. he shouts aloud. As we have seen. he cries out. he shows himself mighty against the enemy (Is :). For centuries Christians have been inspired by these and other Bible passages encouraging and even glorifying war to use violence  . I will take vengeance on my adversaries and repay those who hate me. e Lord goes forth like a mighty man.). etc. hatred. the heads of the enemy leaders (Deut :-). ttitude to ar e Bible tells us that there is a time for hate and a time for war (Ex :) and it is widely recognized today that those two great evils feed upon each other. In the whole of the Tipitaka there is not a single example of the Buddha expressing anger.ent as this whether we survey the past or the present (Digha Nikaya.

On the contrary. Num :-. Even Christians are often shocked when they read passages like these. the hymns that speak about “Onward Christian soldiers marching as to war”. e Bible contains dozens of examples of God helping his devotees to capture cities. the Jesus Army. Buddhists simply feel that they justify their rejection of God and their faith in the Buddha. or going to war himself. encouraging it. What was the Buddha’s attitude to war? ere is of course no example of him ever praising war. rejoicing in peace. He is a reconciler of those who are in conflict and an encourager of those who are already united. etc. If military leaders do such things today they are considered war criminals. Concerning prisoners of war God says: And you shall destroy all the peoples that the Lord your God gives over to you. Josh :-. he is one who speaks in praise of peace (Digha Nikaya. he urged all to live in peace and harmony and is described as being like this. When the Lord your God gives them over to you and you defeat them you must utterly destroy them and show no mercy to them (Deut :). e Salvation Army with its motto “Blood and Fire”. your eye shall not pity them (Deut :).). Deut :-. Sutta No.  . Even today there is a distinctly militaristic flavor about certain Christian churches.to spread their religion. delighting in peace.). etc. slaughter civilian populations and defeat armies (for example Num :-. loving peace. the saying “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition”. Deut :-.

“Blood is more valuable. Instead courageously he stood between the two factions and brought them to their senses by asking.” en the Buddha said. “en is it not unbecoming to spill blood just for the sake of water?” Both sides dropped their weapons and peace was restored (Dhammapada Atthakata Book . When his relatives were about to go to war over the waters of the Rohini River. ideas about what is fair and right differ from time to time and from person to person. God tells us that anybody who disobeys him will be punished “seven times  . dea of ustice Justice is the quality of being fair and one who is just acts fairly and in accordance with what is right. Sutta No. the Buddha did not take sides.). blood or water?” e soldiers replied. sir. But the Buddha was not content with merely speaking in favor of peace or with being peaceful himself. compassion and sympathy for others (Digha Nikaya.e et an xample by being a an of eace Abandoning killing. However. e Buddha had put aside hatred and filled his mind with love and compassion so approving of war was impossible for him. the monk Gotama lives refraining from killing. He actively promoted peace by trying to stop war. give them advice on tactics or tell them to show no mercy to their adversaries as God did. urge them on. “What is more valuable.). Christians claim that God is just so by examining his actions we will be able to know his concept of justice. he is without stick or sword and he lives with care.

God tells us that even minor offences should be punished by death.” So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death as the Lord commanded Moses (Num :-). e whole assembly must stone him outside the camp. We are told that all who do not love God will suffer eternal punishment in hell. For example he says that those who work on Sunday should be stoned to death.over” (Lev :). one sin will be punished seven times. is is known as collective punishment. that is. I the Lord am a jealous God. Collective punishment is universally condemned today but God seems to consider it quite fair and just. To demand capital punishment for such a minor offence seems to be a monstrous injustice. ere are many kind.  . God’s idea of justice does not seem to embrace the idea that the punishment should fit the crime. punishing a whole family or group for the crime committed by one of its members. He also tells us that he will punish the innocent children. grandchildren and even great-grandchildren of those who sin. God apparently considers this to be fair and just. Is this fair and just? God apparently thinks so. honest and good people who do not believe in God and they will all go to hell. Once a man was found collecting firewood on Sunday and God said to Moses and the people who caught the man: “e man must die. punishing the children for the sins of the fathers to the third or fourth generation of those who hate me (Deut :).

a fellow monk might commit an offence. confessed it to the Buddha and asked for his forgiveness. or one who metes out punishment. In all his dealings with people he was fair. Full of understanding and compassion the Buddha said:  . a judge. As for punishment. He himself was always ready to forgive. Sutta No. mild and merciful and he encouraged his followers to act in a like manner. But you should not rush to condemn him. Unlike God. the Buddha would have considered stoning someone to death or any other form of capital punishment to be utterly unacceptable. If someone did wrong he said that one should not rush to judge or punish them. One who does not judge others arbitrarily but passes judgment impartially and in accordance with the facts. In addition. Once a man called Nigrodha abused the Buddha but later realized his mistake. the issue must be carefully examined first (Majjhima Nikaya. ). He was a teacher. when a person is being examined one should remain uninfluenced by bias or partiality and should look at both sides of the case. he was not primarily a lawgiver.Was the Buddha just? He had attained the freedom of enlightenment and taught others how they too could attain this same freedom. When you are living together in harmony. that person is a guardian of the law and is rightly called just (Dhammapada -). Not by passing hasty judgments does one become just. a wise person is one who investigates both sides. a transgression.

He used this affliction to punish men. transgression overcame you when through ignorance. from the firstborn son of Pharaoh who sits on the throne. Sutta No. e Buddha forgave all whether they accepted his teachings or not and even if Nigrodha had refused to apologize the Buddha would not have threatened to punish him. When they sees them they correct them and when another confesses a fault the wise forgive it as they should (Anguttara Nikaya. When Pharaoh refused to release the Jews he caused festering boils to break out on “all Egyptians” (Ex :-).Indeed.). blindness and evil you spoke to me like that. But since you acknowledge your transgression and make amends as is right. What three? ey see their faults as they are. women. ttitude to isease Disease. Nigrodha. causing untold suffering and misery. to the  . He says: By three things the wise can be known. Later he caused the first-born of every male child die. sickness and plagues have been the scourge of humankind for centuries. He says: Every first-born son in Egypt will die. To the Buddha the proper response to faults was not the threat to punish but education and forgiveness. Sutta No. e Bible shows us that God has always considered disease to be a useful way of expressing his anger and exercising his vengeance. I accept your confession (Digha Nikaya. Book of rees. children and babies for the sin of one man.).

(Deut :-).. So unbearable was Job’s grief and suffering that he began to wish he had never been born (Job :-).the Lord will strike you with wasting disease.. In many places in the Bible God threatens to inflict terrible diseases on those who do not follow his commandments.first-born son of the slave girl who sits at her hand-mill. He will bring upon you all the disasters of Egypt that you dreaded and they will cling to you. e Lord will inflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors. ere will be loud wailing throughout Egypt — worse than there has ever been or ever will be (Ex :-).. boys and innocent babies were killed by God because Pharaoh would not obey him.. e Lord will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants. festering sores. Sometimes God even inflicts hideous diseases on people just to test their faith. God even created some people blind and allowed them to spend their  . is is another good example of God’s idea of justice and compassion. To test Job he allowed all his children to be killed (Job :-) and Job himself to be struck with a terrible disease (Job :-). Countless thousands of men. and with itch. e Lord will plague with diseases until he has destroyed you. harsh and prolonged disasters and severe and lingering illness. e Lord will also bring on you every kind of sickness and disaster (Deut :-). with fever and inflammation. from which you cannot be cured (Deut :).

urine. sickness and disease as useful way and of demonstrating the extent of his power. one knows what is good for the patient and offers it. Now let us have a look at the Buddha’s attitude to sickness. Once when he found a sick monk neglected and lying in his own excrement he bathed him. Obviously.). comforted him and  . one is unmoved by excrement.lives begging and groping in darkness just so that Jesus could miraculously heal them and thereby demonstrate God’s power (Jn :-). one nurses the sick out of love not out of desire for gain. and what is not good one does not offer. Book of Fives. he gave advice on how to help and comfort the sick. He saw sickness and disease as a part of the general suffering that he came to free humankind from. Sutta No. He rightly understood that for as long as we have a body we will be susceptible to disease and he encouraged all to attain Nirvana and be forever free from suffering. ere are no examples of the Buddha ever having caused people to become diseased in order to punish them or because he was angry at them. gladden and satisfy the sick with talk on Dhamma (Anguttara Nikaya. But while he tried to cut the problem at the root he also took practical steps to comfort the sick and restore them to health. What five? One can prepare the correct medicine. vomit and spittle. Rather than inflict diseases on people as God did. us he was called “the compassionate physician”. and from time to time one can instruct. With five qualities one is worthy to nurse the sick. God also sees illness. e Buddha not only taught this but acted in conformity to his own teaching. inspire.

When God was angry he would inflict diseases on people and then watch them suffer. Tuberculosis germs kill and deform millions of humans each year and they too were created by God. “If you would nurse me.then called the other monks together said to them. nurse those who are sick” (Vinaya. But God tells us that he also created other forms of evil as well. He says: When disaster comes to a city. He created the plague bacteria. the fleas and the rats that together cause bubonic plague and which have killed perhaps as many as a hundred million people throughout the centuries. Leprosy germs cause untold misery and they were created by God. In . out of compassion he did all he could to restore them to health. When we think of nature and remember that God is supposed to have created everything we understand the meaning of these words. has not the Lord caused it? (Amos :). I form the light and I create the darkness. Mahavagga. reating vil God created all that is good but because he created everything he must have also created all that is evil. When the Buddha saw people with diseases. people died of the plague in London alone. . I make the good and I make evil (Is :-). No doubt all this is what God means when he says he created darkness and evil. 8). He himself says: I am the Lord and there is no other.  .

is undoubtedly refers to the earthquakes, fires, social strife, wars and other forms of evil which periodically afflict humankind’s towns and cities. We read in the Bible that even evil spirits come from God. In  Samuel :- we are told that an evil spirit from God tormented Saul. Did the Buddha create evil? As he was not a creator God he cannot be held responsible for “‘darkness and evil”. e only thing he created was the Dhamma which he discovered and then proclaimed to the world. And this Dhamma has brought only light, good and gentleness everywhere it has spread.

acrifices
In Old Testament times when people broke God’s commandments he would get angry and the only way the sinner could make atonement and soothe God’s anger was to sacrifice an animal. God himself gave exact instructions on how this was to be done. If the offering to the Lord is a burnt offering of birds, he is to offer a dove or a young pigeon. e priest shall bring it to the altar, wring off its head and burn it on the altar; its blood shall be drained out on the side of the altar. He is to remove the crop with its contents and throw it to the east side of the altar, where the ashes are. He shall tear it open by the wings, not severing it completely, and then the priest shall burn it on the wood that is on the fire on the side of the altar (Lev :-).
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God tells us that when the meat, fat, skin, bone and hair of the sacrificial victims are thrown in the fire and burned, he likes the smell of it (Lev :, :). But not all the sacrifices God demanded were animals; sometimes he demanded even human sacrifices. He once said to Abraham: Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about (Gen :). Abraham took his son to the place God indicated, built an altar, laid his son on it and then took up the knife. Just as he was about to slit his own son’s throat, he was stopped by an angel (Gen : ). Presumably, Abraham was a good devotee because he blindly, unquestioningly and willingly did what God told him to do, even to the extent of preparing to butcher his own son. In later centuries, humankind’s sins became so bad that the sacrifice of mere animals could no longer appease God’s anger. He required a greater, a more valuable sacrificial victim — his own son Jesus. Once again it was the blood of a victim which most atoned for sin and which is able to reconcile the sinners with God. us modern born again and evangelical Christians often say that their “sins have been washed away by the blood of Jesus”. What did the Buddha think of animal or human sacrifices? During his time Indian deities were offered animal sacrifices just as the Christian God was and so the Buddha was quite aware of this crude practice. However, he considered all types of blood sacrifices to be vulgar, cruel and useless.
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e sacrifice of horse or man, the Peg-rown Rite, the Sacrificial Drink, the Victory Rite, the Withdrawn Bolt, all these rites are not worth a sixteenth part of having a heart filled with love, any more than the radiance of the moon outshines the stars (Anguttara Nikaya, Book of Eights, Sutta No.). Christians believe that Jesus’ sacrificial blood will wash away their sins just as Indians at the time of the Buddha believed that their sins could be washed away by bathing in holy rivers. e Buddha criticized the Indian idea just as he would have criticized the Christian idea if he had known about it. To believe that blood, water or any other external things can purify the heart did not make sense to the Buddha. In the Bahuka River, at Adhikakka, at Gaya, in the Sundrika, the Sarassati, the Payaga or the Bahumati the fool can wash constantly but cannot cleanse his evil deeds. What can the Sundrika, the Payaga or the Bahumati River do? ey cannot cleanse the angry, guilty man intent on evil deeds. For the pure in heart every day is lucky, for the pure in heart every day is holy (Majjhima Nikaya, Sutta No.). is being the case, bathing in holy rivers or sacrificial blood, even symbolically, is a poor substitute for purifying oneself by acting with integrity, kindness and generosity. e only sacrifice that the Buddha asked us to make was to give up our selfishness and replace it with love, wisdom and kindness.
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Obviously he is not always very kind. is shocking passage proves beyond all doubt that God is capable of truly terrible cruelty. grow indifferent or even hateful towards them. Someone might have a strong love for their own country but a burning hatred for another country. is is the lower less developed type of love which ordinary people feel. love is kind. We are told that love is kind. it is not proud. especially at foolishness or slowness. is higher type of love is called metta in Buddhism and agape in Christianity and is well described in the Buddhist texts and also in the Bible. it does not boast. there are different types of love.ove We are told that God is love and the Bible sometimes mentions love as one of God’s attributes. due to changed circumstances. ough we may love someone deeply. Obviously he has very little patience. Is God kind? Please take up your Bible. However. it does not envy. In Corinthians we read: Love is patient. A person can love his or her own children but hate the neighbor’s children. We are told that love is patient. it is not selfseeking. Does God have this higher type of love? Let us have a look. turn to Deuteronomy :- and read God describing in his own words just how cruel he can be. we may. it is not rude. to control oneself when angered. We have already seen that God gets angry every day (Ps :) and that he gets angry very quickly (Ps :). it keeps no record of wrongs ( Cor :-).  . Patience is defined as the ability to wait calmly for a long time. more universal type of love than this. it is not easily angered. But there is a higher.

We have already seen that God is very easily angered. he refuses to  . grandchildren and even great-grandchildren of those who sin (Deut :). In other words. Envy is of course. very similar to jealousy and God often describes himself as fiercely jealous. Does God keep a record of wrongs? He tells us that he will punish the children. kiss his feet or else he will get angry and you will perish in the way. In order to do this he must keep a record of the wrongs that have been committed and long remember them. Is God like this? Certainly the Bible does not give us the impression that he is a modest and retiring deity. He says: For the Lord your God is a devouring fire. He spends a lot of time telling Job how great he is (Job :) and ends by boasting of himself that: He looks down on all that are haughty. Jesus tells us that God will never forgive those who insult the Holy Ghost (Lk :). Next we are told that love is not easily angered. Finally we are told that love does not keep a record of wrongs that are done. Serve the Lord with fear and trembling. it soon forgives and forgets. a jealous God (Deut :). he is king over all that are proud (Job :). We are told that God casts sinners and non-believers into eternal hell. We are told that love does not boast and is not proud. that is.We are told that love does not envy. for his wrath is quickly kindled (Ps :).

His every action displays a calm. God does not have the highest type of love.ever forgive them. In short. Just as he was always patient the Buddha was also free from anger. One is a healer of both (Samyutta Nikaya. Chapter Seven. Even when he was abused he remained calm and unruffled. If one knows that the other person is angry but refrains from anger oneself. Quite clearly. not only to the good but also to the evil. When Asurinda cursed and abused him he calmly replied: He who abuses his abuser is the worse of the two. Even when his cousin Devadatta tried to murder him he displayed only pity and tolerance. not only to humans but also to animals. Sutta No. He says: One should do no unkind thing that wise men might condemn and one should think. strong patience. What about the Buddha? Did he exhibit the highest type of love? e first characteristic of this highest kind of love is patience and there is not one incident recorded in the Tipitaka of the Buddha being impatient. Was the Buddha kind? Again there is not the slightest hint of the Buddha being anything other than kind and compassionate — not only to those who accepted his teachings but also to the followers of other faiths. “May all beings be secure and happy. To refrain from retaliation is to win a battle hard to win. one does what is best for oneself and the other person also. moving  . he keeps a record for eternity of the wrongs which have been done.). We are also told that love is kind. Whatever beings there are.

may they all be happy. existing or not yet come into existence. Just as a mother would protect her only child even at the risk of her own life. therefore I hate every wrong path (Ps :). A man called Upali was a follower of the Jain religion. Was the Buddha jealous of other faiths? Indeed. Upali. Careful inves . God tells us that he is jealous and by this he means that he is jealous of other gods and other religions. Do not wish pain on another out of either anger or jealousy. So jealous is he that he says his devotees should kill even their own children if they worship other gods (Deut :) and that God hates followers of other religions.” One should not harm another or despise anyone for any reason. great or small. e Buddha explained the Dhamma to him after which he decided to become a Buddhist. Rather. e Buddha did not exult nor was he anxious to ‘win’ Upali. middle-sized or short. tall. one should develop unbounded love towards all beings in the world (Sutta Nipata.or still. even so. Verses -). I hate those who cling to worthless idols (Ps :). He wants everyone to worship and revere him alone. I gain understanding from your precepts. seen or unseen. whether living far or near. he was not. he advised him to think carefully before making such an important decision: Make a careful investigation first. e Buddha did not only teach this but he also practised everything he taught.

Truly. Sutta No.). and the Lord is proof of this because we can see that he abides in love (Majjhima Nikaya. Sutta No.). He said this because he was able to appreciate the good in other religions and because he was free from envy and jealousy. Even today many fundamentalists and evangelical will refuse to have anything to do with non-Christians and refuse to help non-Christian charities. As one of his contemporaries said: I have heard this said. He hinders the giver from doing good. his every thought. Book of rees. e Buddha then encouraged Upali to keep offering donations to the Jain religion. Sutta No. he was not rude or self-seeking.). Vacchagatta said to the Lord. to your disciples.tigation is good for well-known people like yourself (Majjhima Nikaya. whoever discourages anyone from giving charity hinders in three ways. he was not easily angered and he did not keep a record of wrongs that were done to him. “To abide in love is sublime indeed”. “ose who say this are not reporting my words.  . not to other teachers. they misrepresent me and tell lies. not to the disciples of other religions. he hinders the receiver from being helped and he hinders himself through his meanness. e Buddha was not boastful or proud. From the day of his enlightenment.” en the Lord said.” (Anguttara Nikaya. “I have heard it said that you say that charity should only be given to you. word and action was an expression of love and compassion.

When we quote some of its many shocking passages. How amusing it is to discuss the Bible with Christians! At one moment the Old Testament is God’s eternal word and at another it is not. it is merely a reflection of people’s limited understanding of God.Some of the Bible passages quoted in this chapter are rather shocking. even Christians find them disquieting.   . When they quote the Old Testament to prove a point of dogma. When we point out such passages to them they will say that they come mainly from the Old Testament and are not as God really is but how people at the time understood him to be. it is authoritative scripture.

rophecies about and by esus  () Every time there is a change in the turbulent politics of the . Latin. ere is one reference to him in the writings of the historian Josephus but all scholars now consider this to be a later interpolation. etc. a and iion in e ife of esus he single thing which makes Christianity what it is. is is not to say that he didn’t exist but only that there is no independent evidence that he did. that only faith in Jesus can give a person peace and happiness. e very fact that early Christians committed this forgery suggests that they did so precisely because there was so little that Jesus ever lived. that he was the only person in history to claim to be God. id esus xist ? All Christians and even most non-Christians assume that Jesus was a real person. All these claims sound very impressive and certainly millions of people believe them. Christians are always making the most exaggerated claims about this man. or rather. . claims about Jesus Christ. . that thousands saw him rise from the dead so it must be true. However. the foundation on which it rests. But are they true? Let us have a look. Aramaic or Greek literature or inscriptions.). According to the Gospels Jesus was a well known figure in Israel (Mk. Given this claim it is strange that he is not mentioned in any contemporary Hebrew. Lk. other than the Bible itself there is not a shred of evidence to show that he ever existed. is Jesus Christ..

(Is :-). fundamentalist Christians will open their Bibles and loudly proclaim that the newest crisis has been foretold or prophesied centuries ago.  . e problem with this prophecy is that it could refer to any period in world history because there are always a few wars occurring somewhere. ese so-called prophecies are bandied about for a while and then quietly dropped when they don’t come to completion in the way the Christians claimed they would. the Holy Ghost predicted to Agabus that there would soon be a world wide famine (Acts. and the government will be upon his shoulder.Middle East. When the prophecies are more explicit and clear they are usually wrong. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end. Let us have a look at some of these supposed prophecies and see if they are as accurate as Christians claim. and his name shall be called ‘Wonderful Counselor. Mighty God. When one actually asks to have a look at these “amazing prophecies” one can see that they are usually so vague and general that they could be interpreted to correspond to virtually any event. For example. Christians also claim that all the events in Jesus’ life were prophesied in the Bible long before he was born and the fact that these prophecies came true proves that he really was the Messiah. Prince of Peace’. .) But there is no record that such a thing ever happened. is is supposed to be a prophecy foretelling the birth of Jesus. Everlasting Father. . In the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament it says: For to us a child is born. to us a son is given. For example. the Bible says that before Jesus return “there will be wars and rumors of wars” (Matt :) and as there are numerous conflicts going on now this is a sign that Jesus is just about to come again.

But does it? Other than being born no event mentioned here ever happened to Jesus. he was never called nor did he call himself by the titles mentioned here and there has been no more peace since he was born than there was before. Further. And finally. the Jews) never accepted Jesus as their king — politically.e. not Joseph. was Jesus’ real father. spiritually or in any other way — and have refused to accept him to this day. But in the Gospels Jesus is portrayed as robustly defending himself against criticism and loudly condemning his enemies. Again in Isaiah it says: He was oppressed. and he will be the king of the descendants of Jacob forever (Lk :-). so he opened not his mouth.  . is is a fairly good example of the “amazing prophecies” of Christianity. David was a king in a political sense while Jesus never became a king in this way or in any other way similar to David. as his ancestor David was. He cursed and criticized the Pharisees when they opposed him and according to John :- he was anything but silent at his trial. e government was not on his shoulders. Before Jesus’ birth an angel is supposed to have prophesied that. is is supposed to prophesize that when Jesus was attacked by his opponents that he would not retaliate. yet he opened not his mouth. like a lamb that is led to the slaughter. (Isa :-). and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb. But if what the Bible says is true David could not possibly have been Jesus’ ancestor because God. and he was afflicted. e Lord God will make him a king. So as before this prophecy is wrong on every point. the descendants of Jacob (i.

when the Romans came to break Jesus’ legs he was already dead and so they did not bother (Jn :-). Although the bones in Jesus legs may not have been broken. Even a child can see this is not three days and three nights as the prophecy says — but one day and two nights. Unfortunately Christians have overlooked a very important fact. e supposed prophecy says: For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly. today you will be in Paradise with me. was prophesied centuries before Jesus in Psalm : where it says that God will not let even one bone of the Messiah’s body be broken. Christians claim that Jesus died and on the third day rose from the dead and of course they claim that this was prophesied before it happened.When the Romans crucified people they would nail them to a cross. But like the others this prophecy is wrong. Yet according to the prophecy Jesus would be in the tomb for three days and nights before ascending into heaven so how could he  . thereby increasing the poor victims’ pain and killing them. let them hang there for some time and then finally break their legs. When the nails were driven into Jesus hands and feet they must have broken or crushed several of the metacarpal bones. the bones in his hands and feet definitely were. so Christians claim. so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Matt :). Another problem is that just before Jesus died he turned to the two criminals crucified with him and said “I assure you.” (Lk :). According to the Bible. is. Jesus died on Friday (Good Friday) and supposedly rose from the dead early on Sunday morning (Easter Sunday).

By “this generation” he was obviously referring to the people he was addressing. this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened (Lk :-). I tell you the truth. the prophecies he himself made were also wrong. On another occasion he again told the people who stood listening to him that some of them would still be alive when the end of the world came. e people who lived at his time have been dead for . But even where a prophecy seems to be true this does not necessarily mean anything. Where do they get this bizarre idea from? ey get it from Jesus. years and the world has not ended nor has Jesus returned.assure the two criminals that they would be in heaven on the day he died? But it is not just prophecies about Jesus that are wrong. some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom (Matt :). ese and other examples prove that most of the supposed prophecies about and by Jesus are false. I tell you the truth. Fundamentalist and evangelical Christians are always claiming that the end of the world is coming soon. On every one of these points Jesus’ prophecies proved to be wrong. It can be demonstrated that whoever wrote the Gospels deliberately invented events in the life of Jesus to make them fit into what  . Jesus’ disciples finished going through all the cities in Israel within a few years of Jesus’ death and he has still not returned. He believed and explicitly taught that the world would end within his own lifetime or very soon afterwards.

by an angel (Lk :). en in another we are told that the news was given to Mary. Several hundred years before Jesus the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew into Greek.they thought were prophecies about him. So it is not that prophecies foretold events in Jesus’ life but rather that events were fabricated to fit into prophecies. in a dream (Matt :). the word for young woman (almah) was mistranslated as virgin (parthenas). In one place we are told that news of Jesus’ impending birth was conveyed to Joseph. Jesus’ father. Which of these two stories are true? Was it Joseph who got the news or Mary? Christians will say that they both got it but then why does the Gospel of Matthew fail to mention the angel appearing to Mary and the Gospel of Luke fail to mention Joseph’s dream? On one hand  . Considering how carefully they read their Bibles it is difficult to know how such claims can be made. just as we will often hear them claim that the Bible is the inspired word of God and therefore infallible. Let us have a look at what the Bible says about the birth of Jesus. Jesus’ mother. When a passage in Isaiah which prophesizes that the Messiah will be born of a young woman (Is :) was translated. We will examine one well-known example of this. When the authors of the Gospels read this they thought that to qualify to be the Messiah Jesus’ mother had to be a virgin and so they fabricated the story of the virgin birth. much less believed. e irth of esus We often hear fundamentalist born again and evangelical Christians boast that no one has ever found a mistake in the Bible. In fact it only became necessary to invent this story because of a mistranslation. the language of the day.

it is ridiculous to talk about Jesus’ ancestors on his father’s side and Jesus being related to King David (Matt : ). Sutta No. when not Joseph but God is supposed to be Jesus’ real father. And at his death the Niganthas split into two parties. ey do not even agree about the name of Jesus’ grandfather.).we are told that Jesus’ parents went on a journey before the baby was born (Lk :-) and on the other that they went on a journey after the birth (Matt :-). Moreover. displeased and repelled when they saw that the doctrine was so badly presented. We have two lists of all Jesus’ ancestors on his father’s side but when we look at the names in these we find almost no correspondence between them.  . as e a ood eacher? At the time of the Buddha there was a religious sect called the Niganthas which fell apart soon after the death of its founder Nataputta. fighting and attacking each other and using a war of words…. You would have thought that they were disgusted. so poorly laid out and so ineffective in calming the passions because it had been taught by one who was not fully enlightened and was now without guide or arbiter (Digha Nikaya. quarrelling and disputing. Was Jesus born at home (Matt :-) or was he born in a manger at the back of an inn (Lk :)? Next we come to Jesus’ ancestry. Which of these true stories is true? When we come to where Jesus was actually born we meet with more contradictions. One says his name was Jacob (Matt :) and the other says his name was Heli (Lk :).

Jesus is justly famous for the parables he used to illustrate his ideas but at the same time he often failed to make his meaning clear. to you it has been given to know the secrets of the Kingdom of God: but for others they are in parables.  . Sometimes this was because he himself was unclear about his ideas and at other times it seems that he was just a poor communicator. But they did not understand this saying. He tells us of his squabble with Peter and the elders of the church in Jerusalem (Gal :-). Paul complained that all the churches in Asia turned against him ( Tim :) and that they refused to take his side in some theological argument ( Tim :-). that they could not perceive it: and they were afraid to ask him about this saying (Lk :). he said. and of course he accused his rivals of not having real faith ( ess :-). and it was concealed from them. so that seeing they may not see. In the Epistles there are constant references to the bickering and squabbling between the various factions amongst the early Christians. And when his disciples asked him what the parable meant. of teaching “another Christ” and of not really knowing God (Tit :-). and hearing they may not understand (Lk :-. Mk :-). this was exactly what happened as soon as Jesus died and for exactly the same reasons.Interestingly enough. of how he was snubbed by the church at Philippi ( ess :-). What is even more strange is that Jesus seems to have sometimes deliberately obscured his message. Add to this deliberate obscurity the numerous contradictory ideas in Jesus’ teachings and it is not hard to imagine why his disciples fell into disagreement as soon as he died.

Paul made a desperate but futile appeal for harmony between the early Christians. I appeal to you. Paul was against it and called those who disagreed with him “dogs” (Phil :). sects. Phil.John bitterly complained that his opponents threw his supporters out of the church (John :-). Gal :-. All this is reminiscent of modern Christians. For Buddhists this is all very bewildering. If it is true that Jesus’ gospel of salvation is so clear and if it is true that God communicates with and guides Christians through prayer. But one of the numerous points of disagreement between them seems to have been on the issue of whether it was necessary to be circumcised (Rom :-. Gal :-. cults and churches and can’t even sit down with each other and worship the same God together. What were the early Christians squabbling over? Just about everything. said that he hoped that they would go all the way and castrate themselves (Gal :) and he warned other Christians to keep away from them (Tit :). brothers. While confidently proclaiming that they alone have the truth there is almost no agreement between them about what that truth is. ey have split into hundreds of mutually hostile denominations. that you all agree with one another that there may be no divisions between you and that you might be perfectly united in mind and thought ( Cor :-). Col. :-. in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. why is it that there is so much disagreement and ill will among them? e ast upper e Bible gives us almost no information about the life of Jesus  . :-).

it could just as easily make mistakes about what he said. In the Gospel of Mark we are told that Jesus left Tyre and passed through Sidon on his way to the Sea of Galilee (Mk :). Mark. For instance. Lk :-). Christians will reluctantly admit these mistakes but say that they are minor and of no significance. in a complete contradiction to this we are told that the centurion sent people on his behalf to speak to Jesus (Lk :). If they  . but the Gospel of Luke claims the cleansing took place at the end (Lk :-). e Gospel of John on the other hand claims that it took place on the day before Passover (Jn :). A look at any map of Israel will show that this is quite impossible as Sidon is in another direction altogether. But even when we look at very important events in Jesus’ life we find confusion. Let us have a look at the Last Supper. Mark and Luke. And even after his public ministry started there is great confusion about what happened and when. In one place we are told that Jesus stayed in Peter’s house and then healed a leper (Mk :-). Matthew. the Gospel of John claims that the cleansing of the temple took place at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry (Jn :-). According to the Gospels of Matthew. Jesus’ Last Supper took place on the Jewish holy day of Passover (Matt :-.until he started teaching at about the age of . Mk :-. Perhaps so. On one hand we are told that the centurion spoke personally to Jesus (Matt :). Luke and John were supposed to be among the disciples who attended the Last Supper with Jesus and they are also supposed to be the disciples who remembered and wrote down all Jesus’ teachings. but they do prove that the Bible is not infallible and if the Bible makes mistakes about what Jesus did. while in another we are told that he healed the leper and then went in Peter’s house (Matt :-. :).

Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey to the acclaim of the population of the city. is sudden change from adulation to hatred is hard to explain. e Roman governor. e trial and the events leading up to it are usually described by Christians like this. is is clearly impossible. could find no guilt in Jesus but the Jewish priests kept insisting he was guilty. either the release of Jesus or a Jewish rebel. e Bible portrays Pilate as a man who can find no guilt in Jesus but who is pushed into crucifying him by the Jewish priests. Pontius Pilate. e crowd cried out for the release of the rebel and the crucifixion of Jesus. Unable to make up his mind. Could the trial really have proceeded like this? Let us have a look. So Pilate reluctantly had him executed. Next we have Jesus brought before Pontius Pilate.couldn’t even remember the day of the Last Supper how do we know that they remembered Jesus’ teachings correctly? e rial Now we will have a look at that most important event in the life of Jesus. laying their cloaks on the road and praising him as their king (Mk :). He was arrested by the henchmen of the Jewish priests who beat him and handed him over to the Romans. e Romans were famous for their strong and effective government. We are told that when Jesus rode into Jerusalem crowds of delighted people greeted him. his trial. their judicial system was  . the governor decided to ask the crowd what they wanted. As described in the Bible the trial is predictably full of contradictions but it also raises many questions which are difficult to answer. But only a day later a huge crowd were screaming out for him to be crucified (Mk :-).

If we read what Jesus is supposed to have said at his trial we can see that all the accounts of it are fabrications. (Matt :) and “made no reply. and when they said Barabbas. not even to a single charge. North Africa and the Middle East by releasing dangerous rebels.known for its justice and they did not send weak. to the great amazement of the governor” (Matt :) during his trial. ey were completely ruthless with all who opposed them. We are asked to believe that a Roman governor would execute a man he believed to be innocent and set free a rebel involved in murder and trying to overthrow Roman rule (Lk :). Jesus “gave no answer”. asked questions and spoke much during his trial (Jn :-). e Romans did not conquer and govern Europe. he was set free and Jesus was executed. Now credibility has been stretched to the limit.  . Obviously. So the Christian account of Jesus’ trial is unconvincing. reliable historical document are completely untrue. But if we compare his account of what was said with Luke’s account we find that almost every sentence is different (Compare Jn :- with Lk :-). the Gospel of Luke also claims that Jesus spoke during his trial. Christian claims that the Bible is an accurate. In a complete contradiction to this the Gospel of John claims that Jesus answered charges. According to the Gospel of Matthew. Which of these two accounts is true? Was Jesus silent or did he speak? Like the Gospel of John. Who could believe that a Roman governor would allow the people he ruled to make up his mind for him and tell him how to run his own court? e Bible says that Pilate asked the crowd whether they wanted either Jesus or Barabbas released (Lk :-). indecisive men to govern troublesome parts of the empire.

So Judas threw the money into the temple and left.hat appened to udas? Judas was the disciple who betrayed Jesus. that is. the Bible gives us several confused accounts. According to Matthew this is what happened: When Judas. he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. “It is against the law to put this into treasury. there he fell headlong. “I have sinned”. en he went away and hanged himself. But how did he die? Here. Elsewhere we are told a different story. After he had done this he is said to have died. Judas bought a field. field of blood (Acts :-). Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this. as with many other incidents. e chief priests picked up the coins and said. “What is that to us”. he said. at is why it has been called the field of blood to this day (Matt :-). saw that Jesus was condemned. his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. they replied. “at’s your responsibility!”. With the reward he got for his wickedness. who had betrayed him. Was it Judas who bought the field or was it the chief priests? Did Judas hang himself or did he fall down and have his body burst open?  . so they called that field in their language Akeldama. since it is blood money”. “for I have betrayed innocent blood”.

why have you forsaken me?” (Matt :). . According to Luke he said. We have already seen that the Bible is quite confused about what Jesus did and said. every sentence. into your hands I entrust my spirit” (Lk :). To prove the truth of their beliefs fundamentalist Christians will rush to their Bibles and point sometimes to a single sentence saying as proof. . the cradle of logic.) With unusual frankness he also admitted that the idea that Jesus’ resurrection can somehow save sinners makes no sense ( Cor. ey assume that every phrase. According to John. reason and philosophy. “Father.” (Jn :). In fact even Jesus’ last words have not been accurately recorded. . e informed Buddhist would agree with Paul on this matter.esus’ ast ords Many Christian doctrines are based on a phrase or sentence which Jesus is supposed to have spoken. Jesus’ last words were: “It is finished.) and that one would have to be a fool to believe it ( Cor. people just laughed at  . Once again we have discrepancies and contradictions which make it impossible to know what Jesus actually said. When Paul preached about Jesus’ resurrection in Athens. e esurreion e most important event in Jesus’ life and the cornerstone of Christian faith is the supposed resurrection of Jesus.). every word in the Bible is exactly what Jesus said. my God. Jesus’ last words were: “My God. According to Matthew. Paul very correctly said “If Christ has not been raised our preaching is empty and our belief comes to nothing” (I Cor. According to Mark he just gave a loud cry and died (Mk :).

). . Mark says that the two Marys and Salome went (Mk :). Jn :). People must have been talking about it for years. () Who went to the tomb? Now the problems begin. News of it must have spread far and wide and at least some of those who came back to life must have written something about their astonishing experience. At this point the reader is advised to have a Bible ready and to check the references () Jesus’ Death Matthew says that as Jesus died the curtain in the Temple was tore from top to bottom and other strange things happened. and John says that Mary went alone (Jn :). Luke says that the two Marys. () When did the Resurrection happen? All four Gospels agree that the events described took place early on Sunday morning (Matt :. ey claim that  . Joanna and some other women went (Lk :). . Matthew says that the two Marys went to the tomb (Matt :). If this is true it must have been one of the most amazing days in history. Let us examine what the Bible says about the resurrection. Lk :. But most extraordinary of all he claims that numerous people who had recently died came out of their tombs and walked around in Jerusalem (Matt.). Mk :. Christians claim that the Bible contains no mistakes but surely there are a few mistakes here.him (Acts. Buddhists are too polite to laugh at the idea of resurrection but they can find no good reason why they should believe it. It is very strange therefore that this event is not mentioned in any of the historical documents of the time including even the other Gospels.

would be hard to forget. It is far more likely that Matthew just made up the story to add drama to his account. Mark’s story is quite different. Luke’s story is even more inventive. () How many angels? Next. He claims that the women went into the tomb and saw not one but two angels (Lk :). And it is on this garbled ‘evidence’ that Christianity rests upon. Matthew claims that an angel appeared before the women.those who wrote the Gospels were inspired by God as they wrote. Obviously someone is not telling the truth. but why do the other three Gospels fail to mention it? Surely a great earthquake. () Post-Resurrection Appearances ere are several accounts of Jesus appearing to his disciples and  . John claims that Mary went to the tomb alone. He claims that the door had already been removed before the women arrived so they went into the tomb and saw the angel inside (Mk :-). especially occurring at such a significant moment. After everyone went home Mary waited and as she did two angels appeared to her and then Jesus appeared although she could not recognize him (Jn :-). in other words he lied. rolled back the stone door and sat upon it (Matt :). but apparently not inspired enough to be able to count properly. saw the tomb open. He also says that the guards were so frightened that they fainted (Matt :). ran to get the other disciples and when they went into the tomb she waited outside. () Was there an earthquake? Matthew tells us that at that time there was a “great earthquake” (Matt :). And he doesn’t mention any guards.

It is also well known that those who lie can’t always remember the lies they have told and end up contradicting themselves. So it is strange that Paul neglects to give the name of even one of these witnesses. . It is equally strange that none of them ever wrote about what they saw. Further. It is well known that people tend to elaborate their stories the more often they repeat them and even more so if they are trying to impress or convince others. . Paul says that Jesus appeared to a crowd of five hundred people. each time Paul recounts what Jesus is supposed to have said to him it gets a bit longer and more detailed (compare Acts.). many of whom he claimed were still alive ( Cor. . Stranger still is the fact that this appearance is not mentioned in the other three Gospels.-). Later. . with Acts. e accounts of Paul’s experience of the resurrected Jesus are a good example of these tendencies.-).others after his supposed resurrection but all of these raise more questions than they answer.) and saw the light although they couldn’t hear the voice (Acts. One would think that having five hundred eyewitnesses to an event would be conclusive proof that it actually happened. he reverses it saying that his companions fell to the ground (Acts. Such are the doubtful testimonies that form the foundations of Christianity () What Did Happen? If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead what did happen to him? As we have no evidence apart from the Bible we will probably never know but we could make an intelligent guess. First it is claimed that Paul was blinded by a flash of light and then heard a voice. when Paul repeats this tale. For example. His companions remained standing and heard the voice although they couldn’t see the light (Acts.). . We know that  . .

If you asked if anyone else had seen this happen and they said  people had witnessed it and you asked for the names of some of them but they were unable to provide the name of even one. Let us see if there is any justification for this strange claim. If you then asked when all this was supposed to have happened and they said more than  years ago.) as esus od? Christians claim that Jesus was God. (According to New Testament scholars the earliest account of Jesus life. some of it caused by Jesus himself. ere is not one place in the whole of the Bible where Jesus simply and unambiguously says. ere is no more evidence for this scenario than there is for the Christian explanation but it is a thousand times more probable and believable.there had been a lot of trouble in Jerusalem. was written about  years after Jesus died. Christians will object to this and say that Jesus often called himself or was called the Son of God. a rumor or a tall story. you would probably become quite suspicious. “I am God”. If Jesus really was God it is very strange that he never said so. It is quite possible that either the Jewish priests or the Romans removed Jesus’ body from the tomb so that it could not become the focus of more trouble. the Bible clearly shows that any good person who had strong faith quali . rise up into the sky and disappear into the clouds. the Gospel of Mark. If someone came to you saying that they saw a dead man come to life. and the authorities must have been anxious to keep the peace. you would probably be very skeptical because such things go so much against ordinary experience. However. you would dismiss the whole thing as a delusion.

“You are my son. Jesus said: Is it not written in your law. You are God’s. Christians will protest that in these quotes ‘son of god’ is not written in capitals but when Jesus makes his claims capitals are used thus. It will happen that in the very place where it was said of them “you are not my people” they will be called “sons of the living God” (Rom :). But capital letters to make a phrase  . today I have begotten you” (Ps :) Further. In the Psalms God says to King David. ‘Son of God’. For example. Jesus distinctly said that when he called himself a son of God he did not mean he was God or related to God in a literal sense. Jesus called Adam a son of God (Lk :). Jesus is called God’s “only begotten son” but even this is not unique. “I have said you are gods”? If he called them “gods” to whom the word of God came — and the Scripture cannot be broken — what about one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? (Jn :-).fied to be called a Son of God. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. you are all sons of the most high (Ps :). that you may be sons of your father in heaven (Matt :-). You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Gal :). When the Jewish priests criticized him for claiming to be equal with God.

Even a non-Jew could be and sometimes was called a Messiah. Christians could say that the term Son of God is used in the Bible in two different ways — as a title for a particularly holy person and for the actual son of God. e Bible tells us that God had numerous sons with him in heaven who later came to earth and lived with humans just as Jesus is supposed to have done.  . who was with God in heaven before coming to earth. e Hebrew word mashiah of which the Greek translation is christos simply means ‘anointed one’. Yet the Bible also tells us that in the eyes of God the Son of Man is nothing more than a worm (Job :). capital letters were never used and so the distinction between ‘son of god’ and ‘Son of God’ did not exist. In ancient Greek and Aramaic. How can Christians claim that the Son of Man is God when the Bible itself says that the Son of Man is nothing more than a lowly worm? Christians will then insist that Jesus was called the Messiah and that this proves he was God. But even in this second sense Jesus was not unique.outstanding or to give it emphasis is an innovation of modern English. the languages in which the New Testament was written. and refers to anyone sent by God to help the people of Israel. When mankind began to increase and spread all over the earth and daughters were born to them. there is absolutely nothing unique in this claim. Jesus. so they took for themselves such women as they chose (Gen :-) In the Bible Jesus is called the Son of Man more than  times. Christians make an enormous fuss about Jesus’ claims to be a son of God but as we can see. the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful.

Jesus said. Again Jesus said that he can do nothing without God. he can only do what he sees the Father do (Jn :). By myself I can do nothing. If Jesus was God he could do anything he wanted to do and in these passages and dozens of others he is making it as clear as crystal that he is one thing and God another. In fact. I judge only as I hear and my judgment is just. meaning that when people saw him they were not seeing God. “e  . for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me (Jn :). I can do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me (Jn :). I tell you the truth. Quite clearly he was making a distinction between God’s will and his own. he said to God.e Bible even calls the pagan Persian King Cyrus a Messiah because he let the Jews return to their homeland (Is :). Jesus said that no one has even seen God (Jn :). Now if Jesus was God why would he deny that he was good? We are told that Jesus prayed but if he was God why would he need to pray to himself? And when Jesus prayed. “not my will but yours” (Lk :). throughout the Bible Jesus goes out of his way to make it clear that he was not God. When someone called Jesus ‘good teacher’ he said: Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone (Lk :). the Son can do nothing by himself. So just because Jesus was called the Messiah does not prove he was God.

his father’s father. but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven (Lk :). How can God possibly die? Who was looking after the universe while he was dead? Jesus said that at the end of the world he would be sitting at the right hand of God to judge the world (Lk :).Father is greater than I” (Jn 14:28) emphasizing again that he was not as great as God and therefore different from him. is passage clearly states that Jesus is not God for if he was. his mother Mary. Lk :) we are given the name of Jesus’ father. He says: Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven. In the Bible we are told that no one born of a woman can be pure (Job :). the man Jesus Christ ( Tim :). to blaspheme one would be the same as blaspheming the other. If Jesus and God are the same. back through many gen . For there is one God and one mediator between God and men. David is described as sitting on the right hand of God so to do this one does not have to be anything other than a good human being (Ps :). In the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (Matt :. how could he stand between God and men? It also specifically calls Jesus a man (see also Acts :-). We are told that Jesus stands between God and man. And anyway. and so on. Now if Jesus and the Holy Spirit were the same. so he likewise must have been impure and if he was impure how could he be God? We are told that Jesus was dead for three days before ascending into heaven. how would it be possible for them to sit besides each other? To do this they would have to be separate and different. Jesus was born of a woman.

If God was really Jesus’ father. it goes against common sense and it raises numerous logical problems. again just as Jesus did (Acts. messiahs. e claim of Christians that Jesus is God contradicts what the Bible says. e Jewish and Islamic concepts of God are much more logical than this in that they say that God is unambiguously unitary and one.ff). ere were numerous people passing themselves of as prophets. wonder workers and saviors of the Jewish nation. During the time of Jesus Israel was a land in political and social turmoil. God and the Holy Spirit are all different and yet all the same.). . like Simon Magus.). . were apparently able to perform miracles nearly the same as those done by Jesus (Acts.erations. Most people were ignorant and superstitious and wild rumors were readily listened to and believed. When Paul and his companions healed a man in Lystra a huge  . why does the Bible list all Jesus’ ancestors on his father’s side? Christians are forever claiming that Jesus is God and at the same time that he is the son of God. Some of these. ow did esus become od? It seems inconceivable today that a mere human being could be regarded as a god but the situation was very different in the past... none of these problems arise. One of these characters even had a name almost identical to Jesus (Acts. . But how is this possible? How can a father be his own son and himself all at the same time? And to make matters more confused. . an outstanding teacher. Acts. reformer and prophet. the Holy Spirit is brought in and we are asked to believe that Jesus. Others like eudas and Judas the Galilean attracted large followings. Whereas if we see Jesus as he was.

some of the things he taught were impractical and sometimes he failed to practice what he preached. In the Old Testament divorce was allowed under certain circumstances. which of course is the most humane thing to do when a couple no longer love each other. It happened to others and it happened to Jesus too. etc.). . denied that he was perfect (Lk :) but despite this and all the evidence in the Bible. Most Roman emperors were considered divine after they died and temples were built to worship them in. But Jesus took an  . their teachings to be humane and practical and there to be consistency between what they preached and how they behaved.crowd gathered and began worshiping them as gods. as esus erfe? If a religious teacher were perfect we would expect the behavior of such a person to be unfailingly blameless. lofty. Let us examine the evidence. Paul was horrified and tried to explain that he and his friends were only humans but “even these words could hardly keep the crowd from offering sacrifices to them” (Acts. ey have to do this because they mistakenly believe that he was God and how can one have an imperfect god? Buddhists believe that Jesus was a good man as were the founders of the other great world religions but because he was not enlightened like the Buddha he was certainly not perfect. But were they? Let us look at his teachings on divorce. Jesus of course. Clearly this was a time when any charismatic person could attract a huge following and even be proclaimed a god. Christians continue to claim that Jesus was perfect. Jesus’ ethical teachings are often described as sublime. Like other unenlightened people he sometimes did wrong. utterly perfect.

and anyone who marries a woman so divorced also commits adultery (Matt 5:31-32). Woe to you that are full now. sell what you possess and  . While it is true that the rich are sometimes greedy and thoughtless (as are the poor) no mention is made of this. causes her to commit adultery. for you shall hunger (Lk :-). It also meant that countless women who did manage to get a divorce from their husbands even without committing adultery were branded as adulterers if they married again. He seems to have had a deep resentment for the rich: But woe to you that are rich. Another example of Jesus’ far from perfect teachings is his attitude to money. e rich are condemned simply because they are rich. Once when a young man pressed Jesus for an answer to the question of how he could have eternal life he finally said: If you would be perfect. go. except for marital unfaithfulness. for you have received your consolation. “Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce”. is terrible teaching has meant that in Christian countries until recently millions of couples were trapped in unhappy loveless marriages because they were unable to get a divorce. But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife. is teaching of Jesus alone has caused untold misery and heartbreak.extreme position on divorce saying that it was allowable only on the grounds of adultery: It has been said.

won by strength of arm and sweat of brow. He recognized that wealth honestly earned can be a source of goodness and happiness. Truly. Again. it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God (Matt :-). What is the happiness of ownership? Herein. justly and lawfully won When he thinks of this. it will be hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. When he thinks of this. I tell you. I say to you. and with it he does many good deeds. ese rather impractical and unfair ideas contrasts very sharply with the Buddha’s attitude to wealth. He even went so far as to say that it is virtually impossible for a rich person to go to heaven. a householder has wealth acquired by energetic striving. Christians of course have never taken any notice of these sayings of Jesus but if they did the economies of most Christian countries would collapse and all the good qualities that honest entrepreneurship can engender would disappear. And what is the happiness of wealth? Herein. a householder has wealth justly and lawfully won. And what is the happiness of freedom from debt?  . he feels happiness and satisfaction.give it to the poor and follow me and you will have treasure in heaven (Matt :). he feels happiness and satisfaction.

Once he said that unless a person becomes like a little child they cannot enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. his mother and father. and when he thinks of this. But how are we going to separate truth from falsehood and right from wrong with an attitude like this. won by strength of arm and sweat of brow lawfully and justly. With wealth acquired by energetic striving. One aspect of Jesus teachings that many thoughtful people find disturbing is his depreciation of critical and independent thinking. Sutta No.. a householder owes no debt large or small to anyone. his servants and workmen and his friends and acquaintances cheerful and happy — he creates perfect happiness. a noble disciple makes himself.). used for good and appropriately made use of (Anguttara Nikaya. e Buddha also understood that with the right attitude the wealthy can do great good with their money.Herein. his wife and children. He praised more highly those who believed without seeing than those who asked for evidence (Jh. Book of Fives. he feels happiness and satisfaction (Anguttara Nikaya. trusting and often believe anything they are told.). Sutta No. So rather than dismissing the rich wholesale from the religious life as Jesus did the Buddha taught them to earn their money honestly and to use it for the benefit of themselves and the general community. ) Small children are of course naïve. . Book of Fives. Is it wise to just blindly believe  . is is the first opportunity seized by him.).

. including his own..anything we are told? ere are many false and even evil ideologies being promoted today and common sense demands that we scrutinize in a very adult manner before accepting them. Do not go by revelation. He taught that just to look at a woman with lust amounted to committing adultery which pretty much makes every male on earth an adulterer (Mat. the administration of justice. tradition.). domestic violence. Slavery for example was a inhumane and widespread institution during his time and yet he is completely silent about it. rumor.) Another problem with Jesus’ as an ethical teacher is the numerous important moral issues he failed to give any guidance about. e Buddha always encouraged people to make a careful and through inquiry before believing any ideas. Other crucial issues like how societies should be governed. But when you yourself know that a thing is good.. On the other hand there are numerous ideas that Jesus did teach which even the most enthusiastic fundamentalist Christians would be reluctant to practice or even to agree with.). war or the problems of alcohol and drugs. He said that if we call someone a fool in a moment of anger that we will be con . economics or medical ethics are not addressed either. He says nothing about racial discrimination. useful and praised by the wise then accept and practice it (Anguttara Nikaya. or the sacred scriptures…. When the Kalamas said that they didn’t know how to choose between the various contending faiths he said to them. He said that we should not resist those who do evil although most people today would say that not countering evil is the height of irresponsibility (Matt.

). I Pet. It should be noted here that some early Christians actually did take these words of Jesus seriously and cut off their genitals when they couldn’t control their sexual desire. wicked. ). Sadly.. But the teaching of Jesus which has caused more problems than any other is his claim that he and he alone can give salvation (Jn :). followers of false prophets and idol worshippers (see e. Christianity has always equated disbelief in Jesus with evil and has castigated nonbelievers as godless.demned to eternal hell so presumably most of us are destined for the fiery furnace (Mat. a Buddhist? For Paul as for fundamentalist and evangelical Christians the fact that the Buddhist  .g. It follows axiomatically from this that all other religions lead to the only alternative to salvation — hell — and are therefore evil. :-). In this passage Paul asks what a Christian can possibly have in common with. this claim by Jesus is the root of that very characteristic Christian trait — intolerance. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? ( Cor :-). stubborn.). He even said that if we do wrong with our hand or tongue that you should cut them off which seems extreme by any standards (Matt. Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. for example. He said that poor people will always be with us which is hardly an incentive to try to eradicate poverty and depravation (Matt. scoffers. .. pagan.

patience. ell Jesus taught at least two different ideas about what happens after death. counts for nothing. . How nice it is to be able to be happy when one sees others happy with their religion. -). Fundamentalist Christianity is intolerant because it is obsessed with Jesus and excludes everyone who does not accept him. Buddhism is tolerant because it treasures wisdom and compassion wherever they are found and it can embrace anyone who upholds these virtues. Guru Nanak and other great religious teachers. Jesus was quite clear that hell is the only alternative to heaven that all those who do not believe in him and many others too will go to hell and that  . How pleasant it is to be able to communicate with others without the need to be always trying to convert them. Krishna. compassion. . -). the Prophet Mohammed. humility and truthfulness just as he himself does. For the fundamentalist and evangelical Christian the single fact that the Buddhist does not believe in Jesus automatically puts him on the side of wickedness and darkness. charity. What a relief it is to be able to Take Refuge in the Buddha and still be able to respect Lao Tzu. the more partisan. According to the first when someone dies they will be judged and then assigned to either heaven or hell (Lk. However. bigoted and intolerant he usually becomes. is is the great tragedy of Christianity — the stronger the Christian’s faith. he is an idol worshipper who should be shunned and who deserves to go to hell. According to the second when people die they will remain in their graves until Jesus returns and only then come before him to be judged (Matt.may value and practice love.

Behind all his gentleness and his exhortations to love and to forgive lurks the terrible threat of eternal damnation. I will tell you who to fear. do not fear those who put to death the body and then can do no more.hell is a place of eternal punishment. . Without any doubt this is the most unattractive of all Jesus teachings. . Further. Most liberal Christians are very uncomfortable with these ideas and try to make them sound a little better by rationalizing them. Fear He who after killing you is able  . ) and as a place of “wailing and gnashing of teeth” where the dammed cry out for pity and for water to quench their burning thirst (Lk. is judgment is not an automatic process but the result of a conscious decision on the part of Jesus. is flatly contradicts the Bible. ). the Bible makes it clear that it is not primarily our actions that determine whether we go to heaven or hell but our beliefs. “I tell you my friends. e next way Christians try to explain away hell is by saying that it is not really a place of torture and punishment but of purification or separation from God. Jesus describes hell as an “eternal fire that has been prepared by the Devil and his angels!” (Matt. which repeatedly says that the dead are judged before being assigned to hell. God or angels acting on their behalf. Jesus says that God’s ability to cast us into eternal hell should make us utterly terrified of him. Firstly they will try to free Jesus or God from responsibility by saying that they do not send us to hell but that we send ourselves there by our evil actions. A good Buddhist is destined for hell while a Christian who has been bad but later repents will go to heaven. Again this directly contradicts the Bible.

In raising him from the dead. cruel and unjust.to throw you into hell. is is who you should fear” (Lk. Another strategy is to say that all these ideas are not meant to be taken literally. vengeful. Lazarus had been dead for at least four days and was presumably in heaven. But why not? If we take the idea of resurrection. . Jesus certainly demonstrated his power but what did Lazarus and his family get out of it? Lazarus was removed from heaven and brought back to “this vale of tears” only to have to die all over  . Evangelical and fundamentalist Christians are far less squeamish about hell than their liberal brethren. Liberal Christians are embarrassed to admit that Jesus could have conceived of such ideas. ey are only too happy to proclaim the reality of eternal damnation and are quick to tell you that this will be your fate too if you do not believe in Jesus. e most famous of these was bringing Lazarus back from the dead. while his family were heartbroken and grieving. -). iracles One of the most bizarre things about Jesus were the miracles he is said to have performed. In this sense they are less pleasant than liberal Christians but at least more true to what Jesus taught. salvation or the incarnation on face value why shouldn’t we do the same with the idea of eternal hell? Why are Christians so ready to endorse some of Jesus’ ideas but so reluctant to even acknowledge others? Of course the reason for this is very clear. To the modern mind the concept of eternal hell for all non-Christians seems vindictive.

How much more practical and humane was the Buddha’s approach to death. e possessed man must have been very grateful for this but one wonders what the owners of the pigs would have thought. Sutta No.again some time in the future.). On one occasion a young mother named Kisagotami came to the Buddha with her dead son. Note that Matthew tells this  . Jesus performed showy miracles which seemed to leave people much as they were.). we are told that after this incident the people from the nearby village came to Jesus and begged him to leave their territory (Mk :). Not surprisingly. Another miracle where Jesus seems to have given little thought to the consequences of what he was doing was the one he supposedly performed at Godara. deranged with grief and pleading with the Buddha to give her son some medicine. Jesus obliged. sending the devils into the pigs. A man was possessed by devils and just before Jesus exorcised them these devils asked him to send them into a nearby herd of pigs. Kisagotami gradually came to realize that death is an integral part of life and she overcame her grief (Dhammapada Atthakatta. e loss of their animals would have caused them great financial hardship. is is what the Buddha meant when he said that education is the highest miracle (Digha Nikaya. e Buddha gently and skillfully helped people to understand and accept the reality of death. To the Buddhist this miracle. if it even really happened. seems to be unnecessary and even cruel. while his family would have to go through grieving and distress all over again (Jn :-). In the process of looking for such a seed. Book . which then rushed screaming down the side of a cliff and into a lake where they all drowned (Mk :-). Full of compassion the Buddha told her to go and get a mustard seed from a house where no one had ever died.

impractical. but it does seem a bit incongruous that God should incarnate as a human. No advantage at all came from killing the tree — it was little more than an act of wanton vandalism. He taught that we should  . He could simply have expelled the devils but instead he chose to do it in a most cruel way by driving to their deaths a large number of completely harmless and innocent animals. No doubt the host must have appreciated not having to go out to buy more alcohol. And perhaps it is not surprising that not only have Christians often failed to practice Jesus’ teachings.same story but he exaggerates it. but he often also failed to practice them himself. come to earth and use his powers just so that people wouldn’t run out of drinks at their parties. birds could have nested in its branches. After some time there was no wine left to drink so he turned several large jars of water into wine (Jn :-). nconsistency What we have said above indicates that while some of Jesus’ teachings were good. travelers could have rested in its shade and its roots would have helped prevent erosion of the soil by the rain and wind — which probably explains why the tree had been left growing. is supposed miracle also highlights Jesus utter disregard for nature. and in some cases just silly. Apparently he never considered that animals could have eaten its leaves. While some of Jesus’ miracles were pointless others seem to have verged on the ridiculous. On another occasion he used his miraculous powers to kill a fig tree simply because it could not bear fruit (Matt :-). others were cruel. We are told that once Jesus was invited to a wedding. claiming that not one but two men were exorcised (Matt :-).

So much for loving one’s neighbor. Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel (Matt :-). He believed that his teaching could lead people to heaven and yet he specifically instructed his disciples not to preach the Gospel to anyone but his own people. Jesus taught that we should love our enemies. A Canaanite woman from the vicinity came to him.g.love our neighbor but he seems to have problems doing this himself. “Lord. the Jews. He answered: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel”. “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs” (Matt :-) It was only after strong urging from his disciples that he finally decided to help the woman. Jesus did not answer a word. crying out. have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession”. Jesus said that we should not  . Matt 23:13-36). Jn 8:42-47. but again he seemed to have difficulties doing this. Teaching the Gospel to Canaanites was. “Send her away. for she keeps crying out after us”. He replied. So his disciples came to him and urged him. When the Pharisees criticized him he responded with a tirade of curses and insults (e. like taking food from children and throwing it to dogs. “Lord. When a poor distressed woman came to Jesus begging for help he refused to help her simply because she was not Jewish. he said. e woman came and knelt before him. son of David. help me!” she said.

even his own life. and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting about him. and they said to him. Matt 23:13-16) In conformity with the Old Testament Jesus taught that we must honor our mother and father (Matt 19:19) but on other occasions he taught and practised the exact opposite. If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters. “Here are my mother and brothers!” (Mk :-). Once Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him while he was preaching only to be rudely rebuffed.  . what have you to do with me?” (Jn :). And yet while he acted like this to his parents he condemned the Pharisees for their supposed hypocrisy over the law requiring that parents be honored (Matt :-. asking for you”. Mk :-). And he replied.judge others (Matt 7:12) and claimed that he himself judged no one (Jn 8:15). even our own parents. “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around on those who sat about him. Once when his mother spoke to him. But despite this he was constantly judging and condemning others. “Your mother and brothers are outside. Jesus snapped at her: “O woman. seems to be very much at odds with the idea of honoring parents — let alone with the idea of loving our neighbor. often in a harsh and sweeping manner (Jn 8:42-47. And his mother and brothers came. he cannot be my disciple (Lk :). yes. is demand that to love Jesus we must be prepared to hate others. he said.

When he was arrested there was a fight during which “one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword. a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household (Matt :-).In some instances. Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace on the earth. because of his commands “to turn the other cheek” and to “not resist an evil”. I have come to turn a man against his father. Before his arrest Jesus was expecting trouble so he told his disciples to prepare themselves by getting weapons. When he saw the money changers in the temple he lost his temper and lashed out with violence. And indeed Jesus seems to have acted like this sometimes. But at other times he clearly saw his role as a violent one. It  . a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. it is difficult to accuse Jesus of failing to practice what he preached for the simple reason that he taught contradictory things. drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest. Christians are used to thinking of him as “gentle Jesus meek and mild”. If you do not have a sword sell your cloak and buy one (Lk :). a daughter against her mother. cutting off his ear” (Matt :). I did not come to bring peace but the sword. Certainly he saw nothing wrong with using violence when he thought it was necessary. So he made a whip out of cords and drove all from the temple areas: he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables (Jn :).

Christians have great difficulty understanding why Buddhists and other non-Christians cannot accept Jesus as their Lord and savior as they themselves do. When Jesus said. His teachings that evokes most admiration in Buddhists is his stress on humility. ) and the Buddha taught exactly the same thing (D. “Do unto others what you would like done unto you”. As are others so am I’. . ow uddhists ee esus Clearly there is much in the life and teachings of Jesus that a Buddhist would disagree with but equally as much he or she could admire. ‘As am I so are others. But when we read the life and teachings of the Buddha — a man who smiled at abuse. . “In that you did it for the least of these my brothers you did it for me” (Matt. and harm none nor have them harmed”.is very difficult for the Buddhist to reconcile such behavior with the idea of being perfect. ese ideas are very similar to what the Buddha taught some  years earlier and strike a cord with all Buddhists. Mahavira. To retaliate against one’s accusers. Jesus said that the greatest love is to give ones life for ones’ friend (Jn. ). love and service to others. remained calm when provoked and who always discouraged violence — the reason for their rejection becomes clear. Kabir. to lose one’s temper and to encourage others to carry weapons and use them seem to negate the whole idea of moral perfection. So how do informed Buddhists see Jesus? Firstly they think of him as a great moral teacher on a par with Confucius. Krishna or Guru Nanak. ). we are reminded of the Buddha’s exhortation “ink like this. we immediately think of the Buddha’s words “He who would nurse  . III. When he said. Lao Tzu.

According to Buddhism all good people can be reborn in the heaven realm. Jesus was clearly a good person. irdly. and so Buddhists agree when the Bible says he went to heaven after his death. When his life span in heaven is over Jesus may well be reborn on earth again and continue his mission with even more love and wisdom than before. However inadequate his ideas might have been in some way there can be no doubt that he was utterly sincere and believed deeply in what he was doing. Secondly. e accounts of his betrayal.me let him nurse the sick”. there is little evidence that he himself ever made this claim. a very good person. But some other claims made about him fit into Buddhist doctrines very well. his torture. Buddhist also agrees with the Bible when it says that Jesus will come again. Buddhists have the highest respect for Jesus honesty and integrity. Buddhists sees Jesus as being worthy of sympathy and compassion.   . ey cannot accept the Christian claim that Jesus was God and as we have seen. his trial and finally the terrible manner of his death are deeply moving and evoke genuine sorrow in all Buddhists.

an infallible and complete revelation given to man by God. Not so. One would expect that the creator of the universe would only speak to humans when he had something of great importance to say and that what he said would be of universal significance. no hints on how to live properly or to worship God — just page after page of useless names. ere is no evidence for the claims of Christianity other than what is said in the Bible and this fact alone makes this book the bedrock of Christian doctrine and faith. e book of Chronicles for example consists of little more than lists of names of people we know little or nothing about and who died thousands of years ago. No commandments. but that it is God’s word. Once again.  ritique of e ible hristianity is a book-based religion. But one thing which all Christians agree on is that the Bible is God’s word — not that it contains God’s word. Why would God waste his and our time revealing such things? And what about the Songs of Solomon? is book consists of a collection of erotic love poetry. Today as in the past fundamentalist Christians have picked through the Bible arguing with each other over the meaning of its phrases and words and have tried to convince non-Christians of the truth of a book that they themselves cannot agree about. no ethical principles. s it od’s ord? If the Bible really is God’s word it indicates that he is a very strange deity indeed. with the world in such a mess one would have supposed that God could have thought of  . We will examine this claim and see if it has any truth to it.

historians have given perfectly plausible answers to these questions. he simply says that others had written accounts  .something more important to say to humankind than this. en we come to the Gospels which recount the life of Jesus. Why has God decided to reveal the whole of Jesus’ biography. but four times and why has he revealed what are quite clearly four different and contradictory versions of the same story? Unlike fundamentalist evangelicals. it is a compilation. not once. the Ramayana or the Mahabharata. e Bible is not a revelation from God. sacred and secular writings. to write an orderly account for you…. the ancient authors of the Bible never did. written by many different people. For example. genealogies. It is no more a revelation from God than are the Iliad or the Odyssey. Nothing about being filled with the spirit of God either before or while he wrote. a rather untidy compilation. (Lk :-). stories. While contemporary Christians make this claim. these people were inspired and guided by God as they wrote. fables. changed and edited from time to time and containing legends. Insomuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us… it seemed good to me also having followed all things closely for some time past. over many centuries. s the ible nspired? Christians claim that although the books of the Bible were actually written by different people. Luke says at the beginning of his Gospel.

Joshua. all containing different text and different numbers of books. that he gives them advice and tells them what to do. e New Testament did not appear in its present form until the year  . eodotion’s version and Symmachu’s version.. Christians are always claiming that God speaks to them in prayer. But if they really have no doubt that God is communicating with them then surely his words should be recorded and included in the Bible.of the life of Jesus so he thought it might be a good idea if he wrote something also. In  . very clear and very real. Before that time.. the Aquila. nearly four hundred years after the death of Jesus. e Old Testament used by modern Christians is based on the Massonetic version which only appeared after the Jamnia Synod at the end of the st century .. the Acts of Paul and a dozen other books were all considered canonical. the Gospels of omas. the Gospel of Nicodemus.. it also raises a very serious problem. ey claim that God’s voice is very direct. e Bible contains words God spoke to Moses. the Acts of Peter. Mark. Different Jewish groups and different regions had their own versions. If he was really inspired by God to write his Gospel why didn’t he say so? But the claim of inspiration is not just unsubstantiated. Matthew. Peter and Paul so why shouldn’t the words he speaks to modern day Christians be included also? Christians will balk at such a suggestion which indicates that they are not so convinced that the words they hear in their hearts really do come from God after all. ne ible or everal? In ancient times there was no standardized version of the Old Testament.  . ere were the Septuagint.

contains the Books of Enoch and the Shepherd of Hermas which are not found in the Bibles used by Catholics and Protestants. Prof. How can a book like Judith be the infallible word of God one moment and not the next? Why are there so many different versions of God’s supposed infallible word? And which of these different versions of God’s word the real one? re ere istakes in the ible? We have seen previously that there are many mistakes in the Bible but we will have a look at three more examples of its inac . If these books were considered to be revelation from God by early Christians why don’t modern Christians consider them to be so? When we look at the Bibles used by modern Christians we find that there are several different versions. these books contained ideas which the churches did not like so they just censured them. One of the oldest existing Bibles. Drummingwright of the Southwestern Baptist eological Seminary in his introduction to the Bible explains how these books came to be cut out of the Protestant Bible. led by the British and Foreign Bible Society voluntarily began to omit them”. ese books were. Once again. Tobias. a book that is not included in the modern Bible. H. Banuch. L. e Bible used in the Catholic Church contains the books of Judith. when publishers. “in most Protestant Bibles until the th century.these books were simply cut out of the Bible because they contained teachings that were contrary to Christian theology at that time. one of the most ancient of all churches. the Codex Sinaiticus. includes the Epistle of Barnabas. e Bible used by the Ethiopian Church. etc which have been cut out of the Bible used in Protestant churches. he says.

after that all birds and animals (Gen :) and only then did God create woman (Gen :-). man and woman on the sixth day (Gen :-). ese two versions of the creation story clearly contradict each other. Here. and in many places. In  Chronicles : the Bible says. In one place in the Bible we are told that Noah took two of every animal and put them in the ark (Gen . But the Bible does not just contradict science it also contradicts itself. Let us have a look at the creation story. the Bible contradicts scientific fact. then all plants and trees (Gen :). In the first book of the Bible it says that God created all the plants and trees on the third day (Gen :-). Today.” (See also Ps :. Further. Again the Bible is contradicting itself. if mistakes can be made in small matters they can be made in important matters. all birds. e Bible however.curacies. ). Now let us have a look at the story of Noah’s Ark. it moves on its axis and at the same time it moves around the sun. “e world is firmly established. clearly states that the earth does not move. We know that the tectonic plates on the earth’s surface move also. it cannot be moved. only one mistake is required to show that the Bible is not infallible.  . But later the Bible says Noah took seven pairs of all clean animals and birds and two of all other creatures and put them in the ark (Gen :). Yet a little further on the Bible gives a different version of the creation story saying that God created man first (Gen :). animals and fish on the fifth day (Gen :-) and finally. Fundamentalist Christians will object to all this saying that these and the numerous other mistakes in the Bible are only small and of no significance. : and :). However. one mistake is proof either that the Bible is not the word of God or that God is capable of mistakes. even schoolchildren know that the earth moves. And finally.

erefore. another of Jesus’ disciples and so on. So the Gospel of Matthew is supposed to have been written by Matthew. Some of Jesus’ disciples were tax collectors (Matt :). others were mere illiterate fishermen (Mk :-). people from good backgrounds. one of the disciples of Jesus. So if it is not God’s word whose word is it? Many of the books in the Bible are named after the people who are supposed to have written them. Mark. a dishonest and despised class with a well earned reputation for corruption (Matt . Hardly the sort of people with whom we would feel comfortable. Were the disciples of Jesus such people? Let us look. Luke and John knew Jesus well. ey could claim that Matthew. However. Peter and James were given the nicknames ‘Boanerges’ meaning ‘sons of thunder’ (Mk :) once again suggesting their involvement in violent politics. Christians could claim that even if the Bible is not necessarily an infallible revelation it is the testimony of reliable people. a group of men known for their fanatical and often violent opposition to Roman rule and like many people involved in illegal politics he used an alias and was also known as Peter (Matt :). e Gospel of Mark is supposed to have been written by Mark.s the ible eliable estimony? We have seen that the Bible is not infallible and therefore cannot be a revelation. ). they heard his teachings and they wrote down what they saw and heard and that there is no reason for them to lie or exaggerate.  . Simon was a Zealot (Lk :). they lived with him for several years. Christians could claim that the Bible is reliable testimony. for testimony to be reliable it must come from reliable people. When Jesus was arrested his disciples were carrying swords and were willing to use them (Matt :). people we could trust.

Whether possession by devils actually happens or whether it indicates serious psychological dis . :. But should we believe everything such people say? An even more disturbing thing about the people who wrote the Bible is just how many of them were possessed by demons or devils from time to time. had been possessed by seven devils (Mk :). traitors and fools in order to help them. Should we trust the writings of men who constantly failed to understand what was being said to them and whom even Jesus called men of little faith? How unreliable and faithless the people who wrote the Bible were is best illustrated by what they did just prior to and during Jesus’ arrest. tried to get into Simon (Lk :) and Jesus once actually called his chief disciple Peter “Satan” (Matt :) suggesting that he too was possessed by a devil at the time. :). Satan entered into Judas (Lk :). and after his execution they simply went back to their fishing (Jn :-). Further. liars. Lk :. as Jesus did. He asked them to keep watch but they fell asleep (Matt :-). And who betrayed Jesus in the first place? His disciple Judas (Matt :-). they are supposed to have seen Jesus perform the most amazing miracles and yet despite this they still doubted. Association with sinners. :). is a good thing. :-. If even the people who knew and saw Jesus didn’t believe how we could who have never seen him be expected to have faith in him? Jesus scolded his disciples and called them “men of little faith” (Matt :. After Jesus was arrested they lied and denied that they even knew him (Mk :-). Mary Magdalene who later claimed to have seen Jesus rise from the dead. :.Another thing that should make us wary of trusting the testimony of Jesus’ disciples is that they seemed to be constantly misunderstanding what Jesus was saying (Mk :.

ey are in fact. e Gospel of Matthew is supposed to have been written by Matthew (tax collector. man of little faith).orders as modern psychiatrists believe. Leviticus. often called ‘e Books of Moses’. must have been written by someone other than Moses. either way it indicates that we should treat the words of Jesus’ disciples with great caution. We will now show that the Bible was not even written by the people who are supposed to have written it. We read:  . and they buried him in the valley in the land Moab opposite Beth Peor. but no man knows the place of his burial to this day (Deut :-). Let us have a look at the first five books in the Bible. However. God’s first revelation to man and the early history of the tribe of Israel and are supposed to have been written by Moses. Numbers and Deuteronomy. So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab according to the word of the Lord. one of the disciples of Jesus. his authorship is clearly impossible because in these books we have an account of Moses’ death. ho id rite the ible? We have seen that the Bible is not infallible. Genesis. Exodus. doubter. that it cannot be a revelation and that it is not the testimony of reliable. trustworthy people. How could a person write an account of his own death and burial? e book of Deuteronomy at least. Now let us have a look at the New Testament. Yet we can easily demonstrate that Matthew could not have possibly have written this Gospel. ese five books describe the creation of the world.

Obviously this was not written by Matthew but by some third person. Next we are told that whoever wrote the Gospel of  . We are told that although the real author is unknown it is “convenient” to keep calling him Matthew. B. If Matthew had really written this we would expect it to read: As Jesus passed on from there he saw me sitting at the tax office and he said to me. And I rose and followed him. who we still can conveniently call Matthew has plainly drawn on a collection of oral traditions. Who this third person I was we do not know but Bible scholars have made a guess. He has used Mark’s Gospel freely.As Jesus passed on from there he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office and he said to him. “Follow me”. e author. “Follow me”. though he has rearranged the order of events. Neither now nor in the past do people write in the third person. is is a deeply disturbing admission especially coming from an eminent Christian Bible scholar. In the preface to his translation of the Gospel of Matthew the distinguished Bible scholar J. and has in several instances used different words for what is plainly the same story. Phillips says: Early tradition ascribes this Gospel to the apostle Matthew but scholars nowadays almost all reject this view. And he rose and followed him (Matt :). We are told that “almost all” modern Bible scholars reject the idea that the Gospel of Matthew was actually written by Matthew.

But when we compare these quotes with the original text of the Old Testament we find that they are almost  . Some of the mistakes or variations consist of only a few words but some of them are long passages (see for example the notes to Luke :-. we don’t even have the words of Matthew. ese notes indicate mistakes.  Corinthians :-. So apparently in the Gospel of Matthew not only don’t we have the words of God. this long passage was added at a later time and has now been removed. :-. Bible scholars like Prof. the Gospel of Matthew is just a plagiarism where material has been “rearranged” and restated in “different words”. In other words. How can born again and fundamentalist Christians honestly claim that their Bible is infallible and without mistakes when all the mistakes are listed at the bottom of each page? In the New Testament Jesus and his disciples often quote the Old Testament in order to make a point or more usually. variations or doubtful readings in the text of the Bible and there are literally hundreds of them. To their credit. Acts :.Matthew has “freely” copied much of his material from the Gospel of Mark. Also notice that the notes to Mark :- mention that this long passage is not found in the ancient copies of the Bible. to attempt to prove that the Old Testament prophesizes events in the life of Jesus. istakes and ariations in the ible If we look at the bottom of the pages in most Bibles we will find many notes. John :.  Corinthians :-). In other words. Phillips freely admit these and other major doubts about authorship of the Bible but such admissions make the claim that the Gospels were written by the disciples of Jesus clearly untrue.

if it is true as Christians claim that the authors of the New Testament were inspired by God as they wrote it is very strange that they couldn’t even quote the Old Testament accurately. out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel. Old Testament But you. Further. contrary to what Christians say. it also changes the meaning of the original.always different. Bethlehem Ephasthah. New Testament But you.  . Bethlehem. We will use here the New International Version of the Bible. though you are small among the clans of Judah. for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel (Matt :). Has Matthew misquoted the Old Testament because he was not familiar with it and made a mistake? Has he deliberately misquoted in order to alter the meaning? Or is the Old Testament Matthew used different from the one we have today? e New Testament quotes the Old Testament dozens of times and hardly a single quote is accurate. in the land of Judah are by no means the least among the rulers of Judah. but these are proofs that the Bible does contain mistakes. Perhaps so. Christians will protest and say that these changes are only minor and of no importance. is quotation from the Old Testament in the New Testament contains not just different words. whose origins are from old (Mic :).

your kingdom come. “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. y kingdom come. Ask  hanging the ord’s rayer . hallowed is your name. and the glory forever and ever. Give us this day our daily bread. e New International Version Father. But anyone who memorized it  years ago will have to learn it again because the Lord’s Prayer has been changed. Amen. Notice that these phrases — “who art in heaven”. And lead us not into temptation (Lk :-). hallowed be thy name. Forgive us our sins. Amen” — have been removed from the Lord’s Prayer. for thine is the kingdom and the power. but deliver us from evil. and the glory forever and ever. We will compare the original Lord’s Prayer found in all Bibles until about  years ago with the Lord’s Prayer now in the New International Version of the Bible to show that Christians have even tampered with this most important teaching of Jesus. and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation. for thine is the kingdom and the power. thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.Just before his death Jesus taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer and since that time generations of Christians have learned this prayer by heart. “but deliver us from evil. for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. Give us each day our bread. King James Version Our Father who art in heaven.

How can evangelical. You will find that they have great difficulties answering these questions. You will see with your own eyes how much the Bibles differ as the result of tampering. Ask them which of these two different versions of the Lord’s Prayer is the infallible. Notice also that verse  has been cut out of chapter  of Acts and verse  has been removed from chapter  of Mark. Ask them who had knowledge and wisdom enough to tamper with the Bible. censuring and careless mistakes. Notice that verses  and  have been deleted from chapter  of the Gospel of Mark.your evangelical Christian friends why these verses have been cut out of the most famous and important of all Jesus’ teachings. As you read you will sometimes notice that one or two verses have mysteriously disappeared. unchanging word of God. fundamentalist and born again Christians honestly claim that their Bible is the infallible and unchanging word of God when they cut out inconvenient verses and words? eleive nterpreting Whenever fundamentalists want to convince us of the truth of their religion they will quote from the Bible believing as they  . emoving erses from the ible Proof that the Bible has been tampered with is found on nearly every page if one looks carefully. Here as elsewhere. e text of the Bible is arranged into chapters which in turn are divided into verses. find different versions of the Bible and carefully compare them. the reader is encouraged to go to a library or bookshop.

do that every word of it is literally true. But when we quote from the Bible to show that their religion is silly or illogical (e.g. that smoke comes out God’s nose and fire comes out of his mouth, Ps :-; or that donkeys can talk, Num :) the they will say: “at’s symbolic, its not meant to be taken literally.” Fundamentalist Christians are very selective in how they interpret the Bible. Some passages are God’s word and literally true and other parts, usually the embarrassing parts, are not meant to be taken literally. Either the Bible is God’s infallible word or it is not, one cannot pick and choose. And if indeed some passages are meant to be taken literally and others are not, how do Christians decide which is which? If the stories about Balaam’s donkey talking, Adam and Eve eating the apple or Moses turning his stick into a snake are not meant to be taken literally, then perhaps the stories about Jesus’ resurrection are only symbolic and not meant to be taken literally. 



uddhism – e ogical lternative

f you have no satisfactory teacher, then take this sure Dhamma and practice it. For Dhamma is sure and when rightly undertaken it will be to your welfare and happiness for a long time.

e uddha
Christianity is based upon certain supposed historical events (the virgin birth, the resurrection, etc), the only record of which is an allegedly reliable document called the Bible. If these events can be shown to have never occurred or if the documents recording these events can be shown to be unreliable, then Christianity will collapse. In this book we have shown that Christian claims are at best highly doubtful and at worst demonstrably wrong. When we examine the teachings of the Buddha we find an entirely different situation. Even if we were able to prove that the Buddha never existed or that there are mistakes in the Buddhist scriptures this would not necessarily undermine Buddhism. Why is this? Because Buddhism is not primarily about the historical Buddha or about events which happened in the past; rather, it is about human suffering, what causes that suffering, and how it can be overcome so that humans can be free, happy and radiant. If we wish to understand or verify Buddhism we would not have to flick through scriptures squabbling about the meaning of various words or phrases. Rather, we become sensitive to our own experience. Let us examine the four principles which are the doctrinal basis of Buddhism.
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hen we ie we are eborn
Christians believe that when people die they have only one of two possible destinies – heaven or hell. ey believe that these destinies are eternal and that one goes to one’s destiny according to God’s judgement. Buddhism teaches that when people die they can have a variety of destinies; heaven, hell, the spirit realm, as a human being, as an animal, etc. It teaches that none of these destinies is eternal and that having finished one’s life span in one of these realms one will die and pass to another. It also teaches that one’s destiny is conditioned by one’s kamma, that is, the sum total of the good or bad that one has done during one’s life. is means that all good people, no matter what their religion, will have a good destiny. It also means that even those who have done evil will have a chance to become good in some future life. Christians scoff at the idea of being reborn and say that there is no evidence that such a thing happens. But the idea of rebirth is not that different from what they believe. If people can become angels in heaven after death, why can’t they become humans on earth? And as for evidence, there is certainly no evidence for the Christian afterlife theory while there is at least some evidence that people can be reborn (see Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville U.S.A., ).

ife is uffering
e next principle upon which Buddhism is based is the idea that ordinary existence is suffering. Although Christians accuse Buddhists of being pessimistic for saying this, life’s inherent unsatisfactoriness is confirmed by the Bible: “In the world you
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Even if we get what we want we soon grow tired of it and begin to want something else. “All things are full of weariness” (Ecc :). When craving and  . Christianity relies on what is plainly a myth to explain the origin of evil and suffering. Jude. “the earth mourns and withers. “Man is born to trouble as sparks fly upwards” (Job :). etc. uffering can be vercome e third principle upon which Buddhism is based is the idea that it is possible to be free from suffering. a fact again confirmed by the Bible. And our experience tells us that this is so. :). If having been in heaven one can fall from that state this proves that heaven is not perfect and everlasting as Christians claim (see Is. claiming that they are due to Adam and Eve having eaten an apple. craving and desire. Rev. :. When we want something and cannot get it we feel frustration and the stronger the wanting the stronger the frustration. existence in heaven need not be eternal).e.will have tribulation” (Jn :). . Even physical suffering is caused by craving because the strong craving to live causes us to be reborn and when we are reborn we become subject to sickness. e Bible tells us that Satan was originally a heavenly angel but that he rebelled against God (i. the world languishes and withers. the heavens languish together with the earth” (Is :).e. II Pet. accidents. he was dissatisfied) and was cast out of heaven (i. Buddhism sees suffering as a psychological phenomenon with a psychological cause — wanting. old age. :-. But while the Bible agrees with the Buddha on this matter the two disagree on why suffering exists. Buddhism says that even the bliss of heaven is impermanent and imperfect.

 . Mal :). Both now and in the past. e Buddha categorically said that Nirvana is not nihilistic. :) with doors and windows (Gen :. But the Buddha also said that Nirvana is not the crude ‘eternal life’ like the one described in Christianity. It is an utterly pure and blissful state which no conventional language can adequately describe.  Kg :. Although I say this. Rev :. When one has freed the mind. is state of complete freedom from suffering is called Nirvana and is described by the Buddha as being “the highest happiness” (Dhammapada ). one’s life becomes more content and happy and at death one is no longer reborn. there are some recluses and religious teachers who misrepresent me falsely.” And why? It is because the enlightened one is untraceable. the gods cannot trace him. Christians often mistakenly think that Nirvana is a blank nothingness and accuse Buddhism of being nihilistic.wanting stop. contrary to fact. even though they think: “is is the consciousness attached to the enlightened one (Buddha). Sutta No. where God sits on a throne (Rev :) surrounded by angels in beautiful gowns with crowns on their heads playing trumpets (Rev :). the destruction.” But this is exactly what I do not say. I simply teach suffering and the overcoming of suffering (Majjhima Nikaya. the disappearance of the existing entity. saying: “e monk Gotama (Buddha) is a nihilist because he teaches the cutting off.). is misunderstanding arises because of their inability to conceive of an afterlife more subtle than their own naive heaven — a place “up there” (Ps :.

for one who has destroyed the defilements.” — “Is there a way. that thought and that consideration cease?” — “Yes. that thought and that consideration he had for enlightenment has now ceased” (Samyutta Nikaya. thought and consideration together with concentration and effort. Because to get rid of one desire by means of another is impossible. that desire. that energy. A priest asked Venerable Ananda: “What is the aim of living the holy life under the monk Gotama?” — “It is for the sake of abandoning desire. ). ere is a ay to vercome uffering e last of the four principles which form the basis of Buddhism tells us how to eliminate craving and so we can become free from suffering both in this life and in the future.” — “Well. Book Seven. then it is a task without end. Ananda. energy. did not that desire.” — “en I will ask you a question. did you have the desire.Christians sometimes claim that Buddhism contradicts itself because in wanting to attain Nirvana one is strengthening the very thing which prevents one from attaining it. once he has won enlightenment. Venerable Ananda. answer as you like. that energy.” — “If that is so. the thought and consideration to come to this park? And having arrived. it did. the energy. is point was raised at the time of the Buddha and answered by one of his chief disciples. Before. a practice by which to abandon this desire?” — “ere is a way — it is by means of the psychic powers of desire. e first three principles are how the Buddhist sees the world and the human predica . Sutta No.

When we come to understand that we inflict suffering upon ourselves through our ignorance and craving we have taken the first step in overcoming that suffering. peech and ion e next three steps on the Noble Eightfold Path embody Buddhism’s ethical teachings. ight nderstanding If we persist in believing that evil and suffering are due to something Adam and Eve once did or that they are caused by devils. To practice Right ought we must fill our minds with thoughts of love and compassion. is practical and universally valid system of training comprises the development of Right Understanding. e truth is however that  years before Jesus the Buddha taught a love-centered ethic as good as and in some ways more complete than that of Christianity. And the Buddhist response to suffering is to walk the Noble Eightfold Path. Christians often try to give the impression that theirs are the only ethics which revolve around gentleness.  . Right ought. we will never be able to overcome them. Right Effort. Right Speech. Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. careful observation. weighing up the facts and openness. Right Livelihood. love and forgiveness. Right Action. Understanding requires intelligence.ment while the last principle is what the Buddhist decides to do about it. Knowing the true cause of a problem is the beginning of solving it. ight ought. We will look briefly at each of these steps. And it is not sufficient to just believe — we must try to understand.

and having reached perfection in love you will attain enlightenment (Jataka Nidanakatha -). neither blamed nor condemned by the wise. any limited actions one may have done do not remain lingering in one’s mind (Jataka . Book of Fives. Giving up lying. they are to the point. In practising Right Speech we should use our words only in ways which promote honesty. be compassionate and restrained by virtue. Sutta ). one becomes a speaker of the truth. in the same way you should develop thoughts of love to friend and foe alike. With a beauty and comprehensiveness typical of the Buddha he describes the person who is striving to develop Right Speech like this. arouse your energy.). Just as water cools both good and bad and washes away all dirt and dust. unlimited everywhere.  . When with a mind full of love one feels compassion for the whole world — above. e Buddha described Right Speech like this. kindness and peace. they are gentle. they are truthful. not ill-spoken.Develop a mind full of love. be resolute and always firm in making progress (eragata ). complete and well-developed. filled with infinite kindness. and they are motivated by love (Anguttara Nikaya. If words have five characteristics they are well-spoken. below and across. they are spoken at the right time.

self-control and helpfulness towards others. generosity. pleasant to the ear. going to the heart. about Dhamma and discipline. seasonable. peace is the motive of his speech. ). one speaks what is blameless. Sutta No. One should also use one’s income responsibly — providing for one’s needs. or repeat here what is heard there. not a deceiver of the world. for the purpose of causing divisions between people.reliable. dependable. promoting peace. Sutta No. An employee on the other hand will work honestly and diligently (see Digha Nikaya. Right Action requires that we avoid killing. Giving up harsh speech. reasoned. treat them with respect and make sure their working conditions are safe. pleasing and liked by all. Giving up useless chatter. one speaks at the right time. trustworthy. urbane. agreeable. one is a reconciler of those who are divided and a combiner of those already united. to the point.). us. ight ivelihood To practice Right Livelihood one will do work which is ethically wholesome and which produces something that does not harm society or the environment. Giving up slander. clearly defined and connected to the goal (Digha Nikaya. An employer will pay his workers fairly. words worthy of being treasured up. one does not repeat there what is heard here. about the facts. delighting in peace. saving some and giving some to charity. stealing and sexual misconduct and practice gentleness. rejoicing in peace.  .

exertion and diligence are of great importance. How can man be righteous before God. Buddhism by contrast. How can he who is born of a woman be clean? (Job :).” Cultivate the good. as human nature is basically good. sees human nature as primarily good and in the right conditions more likely to do good than evil (see Milindapanha ). If it were impossible to do. But since it can be done. In Christianity humans are held responsible for the evil they have done throughout their lives but they are also held responsible for and likely to be punished for the sins of Adam and Eve. But since it can be done. I say to you: “Abandon wrong”. this means that effort. If it were impossible to do. In Buddhism people take responsibility only for their own actions and. I would not urge you to do so. But since it conduces to benefit and happiness.ight ffort Christian beliefs about God and man make human effort inconsequential. I would not urge you to do so. It can be done. and desperately corrupt (Jer :). If abandoning wrong brought loss and sorrow. e Buddha says: Abandon wrong. I urge you: “Abandon wrong. Humans are by nature depraved and evil sinners. e heart is deceitful above all things. It can be done. I say to you:  . I would not urge you to do so. Being nothing more than a maggot (Job :) humans are incapable of being good and cannot be saved through their own efforts but only by the grace of God.

then controlling it and finally transforming it. it to refer only to the simple practice of ruminating over passages from the scriptures (e. I urge you: “Cultivate good. God also says “Commune with your own heart on your beds and be still” (Ps :) which is exactly what Buddhists do when they meditate. the conscious and gentle practice of firstly coming to know the mind. e Bible seems to be almost completely devoid of the sophisticated meditation techniques found in the Buddhist scriptures. is absence of meditation is also the reason why fundamentalist and evangelical Christians so often appear agitated and lacking in that quiet dignity characteristic of Buddhists.  . ). ight indfulness and oncentration e last two steps on the Noble Eightfold Path jointly refer to meditation. weep and clap their hands. Although the word meditation occurs about twenty times in the Bible. writhe. with the pastor shouting and wildly gesticulating while the people in the congregation sway back and forth. let alone still their minds. Book of Twos. I would not urge you to do so. But since it conduces to benefit and happiness. speak in tongues. But evangelical and born again Christian prayer meetings often seem to resemble a rock concert in a lunatic asylum. Josh :).g. Consequently when Christians are plagued by evil desires or troubled by stubborn negative thoughts about all they can do is pray harder. for a moment.” (Anguttara Nikaya. God says “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps :) but Christians can’t seem to sit still. Sutta No.” If cultivating the good brought loss and sorrow.“Cultivate the good.

psychiatrists and counselors. It is not surprising that many of the meditation techniques taught by the Buddha are now being used by psychologists. to modify specific mental defilements. And of course when the mind is calm and free from prejudices. to encourage positive mental states and to change attitudes.e great advantage of Buddhism is that it not only advises us to be calm. ere are meditations to induce calm. preconceived ideas and distorting passions it is more likely to see things as they really are. peaceful. free from unruly desires and self-aware but it also shows us how to develop these states.   .

You do not believe in God so you cannot explain how the world began. It is true that Christianity has an explanation about how everything began but is this explanation correct? Let us examine it. For example.ow to nswer the vangelists  vangelical. born again and fundamentalist Christians often ask Buddhists questions with the intention of confusing or discourage them. ere are no departments of astronomy or biology in any of the world’s universities which teach the creation myth for the simple reason that it is not based on fact. So while it is true that Christianity has an explanation for how everything began it is nothing more than a quaint old legend. How can there be day and night. it is said that on the first day God created light and darkness but only on the fourth day did he create the sun (Gen :-). light and darkness without the sun? is creation myth also contradicts modern science which has proven how the universe began and how life evolved.  . We will look at some of these questions and comments and give effective Buddhist responses to them. e Bible says that God created everything in six days and that on the seventh day he rested. Some parts of the creation myth are plainly absurd. is quaint old story is nothing but a myth and is no more true than the Hindu myth that the gods created everything by churning a sea of milk or the classical belief that the universe hatched out of a cosmic egg.

According to Jesus if  .’ at man would die before all these questions could be answered. ). what feathers are on the end of the arrow. My job is to help you to remove the arrow of suffering from yourself ” (Majjhima Nikaya Sutta No. I want to know what type of wood his bow is made from. which village he was born in. Knowing how the universe began can contribute nothing to this task. what clan he comes from. when the doctor comes to remove it. Buddhism is impractical because it says you cannot even kill an ant. how long the arrows are. let us see if Christianity is practical. e aim of Buddhism is to develop wisdom and compassion and thereby attain Nirvana..en what does Buddhism sat about how everything began? Buddhism has little to say on this subject and for a very good reason. Once a man demanded that the Buddha tell him how the universe began. Before we defend Buddhism against the charge of being impractical. etc. e Buddha said to him: “You are like a man who has been shot with a poison arrow and who. etc. says ‘Wait! Before the arrow is removed I want to know the name of the man who shot it. Buddhism concentrates on helping us solve the practical problems of living — it does not encourage useless speculation. And if a Buddhist did want to know how and when the universe began he would ask a scientist.

In fact it is so sub . he has attained Nirvana. e other name the Buddha gives Nirvana is the Deathless State (amita) because after one attains it one is no longer subject to birth or death. If we discover that someone has stolen our pants we should go out and give the thief our shirt as well (Matt :). Buddhists sometimes have difficulty responding effectively when Christians say this to them. Creatures such as ants can be an irritating inconvenience. As with turning the other cheek. We could call all these teachings impractical although Christians would probably prefer to call them challenging. humility. the Buddha is not dead. When we take the precept not to kill and try to practice it we are challenged to develop patience. So in asking us to respect all life. this is not always easy. e Buddha asked us to have respect for all life. Firstly. And perhaps they would be right. etc. If we ourselves cannot resist stealing we should cut off our hands (Matt :). it is based upon misunderstandings. Of course Nirvana is not the naive eternal life described in the Bible where the body is resurrected and where angels sing. To turn the other cheek when someone assaults us is not easy. love.someone slaps us on the cheek we should turn the other cheek and let them slap us there also (Matt . even for humble creatures. non-retaliation and love. humility. if we know Dhamma well it will be quite easy to refute it because like most Christian claims about Buddhism. If we are never challenged we will never grow. It requires that we control our anger and doing this helps to develop patience. However. a state of utter peace and freedom.). Buddhism is no more impractical than Christianity and it is certainly more compassionate. e Buddha is dead so he cannot help you.

Christians claim that Jesus is alive but what evidence is there of this? ey will say that the Bible proves that Jesus rose from the dead. we will learn from our experiences and our mistakes. developing strength. However. it guarantees that they will remain weak. e Buddha’s words are as helpful and as valid today as when he first spoke them. If an athlete knew that by merely asking for it the judge would give him the prize. maturity and wisdom as we proceed.tle that it is not easy to describe. it is not non-existence as the Buddha makes very clear (Majjhima Nikaya Sutta No. If a student knew that during the exams he could ask the teacher for the answers to the exam questions he would never study and consequently would never learn. Sutta Nipata. verse ). So when Christians say they that the Buddha can’t help us this is quite wrong. Let us look at these two assumptions. Because of the Buddha’s skilful help we will be fully enlightened. e Buddha pointed us to Nirvana and told us what provisions we would need for the journey. It is equally untrue to say that the Buddha cannot help us. During his forty year career the Buddha explained in great detail and with masterly clarity everything we need to attain Nirvana. Simply giving people everything they ask for does not necessarily help them. A state . But it also implies two things: that Jesus is alive and that he can and will help us. In fact. Unfortunately statements written by a few people thousands of years ago don’t prove anything. Of course the Buddha doesn’t help us in the same way as Christians claim Jesus helps them and for a very good reason. All we need to do is to follow his instructions. Consequently when we finish our journey we will be completely different persons from when we started.. dependent and lazy. As we proceed. he would never bother to train and develop his body.

the Bible actually proves that Jesus is not alive. A passage in the Old Testament even says that a man named Balaam had a donkey which could talk. e second assumption is that Jesus always responds when you pray to him. give in to temptations etc just as non-Christians do and despite the fact that they pray to Jesus for help. We cannot uncritically accept claims made in the Bible any more than we can uncritically accept claims made in other sacred books. he eventually left the church and later became a Buddhist. Does this prove that everything which exists is just mud? Of course it does not. Yet despite all these prayers to Jesus for strength and guidance my friend’s doubts increased. have emotional problems. Just before he was crucified he told his disciples that he would return before the last of them had died (Matt :. But does this prove that the ancient Indians invented the airplane? Of course it does not. Matt :. In fact. It is very easy to prove that this is not true. Why? Obviously because he is dead. Lk :). I have a friend who had been a devout Christian for many years. e pastor instructed him to pray and even got members of the church to pray for him. Christians die from sickness. When we examine Bible claims about Jesus’ supposed resurrection we find very good reasons why we should not believe them.ment in the Mahabharata (one of the Hindu holy books) says that a saint had a chariot which could fly. If Jesus is really alive and ready to help why do Christians have just as many problems as  . Is that conclusive evidence that animals can speak? Of course it is not. suffer from misfortunes. Gradually he began to doubt and he asked his pastor for help. e ancient Egyptian scriptures say that the god Khnum created everything out of clay which he shaped on a potters wheel. at was  years ago and Jesus has still not returned.

Jews. If this is true. Why didn’t Jesus protect Paul? Obviously because he is dead and can’t help.. Taoists. Hindus. it is also true that there are Muslims. Buddhism on the other hand has a very different not to  . Once Jesus appeared to Paul and promised that he would protect him from both the Jews and the pagans (Acts. In answer to this objection Christians will say that there are people who can testify that their prayers have been answered. incapable of freeing themselves of sin and that the evil in us is stronger than the good (Rom :-). ere is even evidence in the Bible that he cannot help people. Buddhism is so pessimistic. ) but we know that Paul was eventually executed by the Romans. and even the follows of tribal religions who can say the same thing. Unlike Christianity. pessimism is the belief that evil in life outweighs the good. is may be so but it is still the case that Christians feel they need Jesus because their view of human nature is so utterly negative and pessimistic.non-Christians do? Why didn’t Jesus answer my friend’s prayers and help him to remain a Christian? Obviously because he is dead and unable to help. Two of the fundamentalist Christians favorite Bible quotes are “All have sinned. It is interesting that Christians accuse Buddhism of being pessimistic because the idea that evil is more pervasive than good is one of the central doctrines of Christianity. all have fallen short of God’s glory” (Rom :) and “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins (Ecc :). e doctrine of Original Sin teaches that all human beings are sinners. Christians will say that while this is true we can be free from sin if we accept Jesus. According to Webster’s Dictionary. Sikhs.

“Cultivate the good!” (Anguttara Nikaya. Buddhism teaches that we can conquer evil and develop good through our own efforts. Just as a mother would protect her only child even at the risk of her own life. So petty and jealous  . e Buddha says that we should develop a warm caring love towards all living beings. I would not ask you to do so.say more realistic view of human nature. But as it can be done. But as it can be done. “Abandon evil!” Cultivate the good! One can cultivate what is good! If it were impossible to cultivate the good I would not ask you to do so. that the quality of their love is superior to that of others and their constant disparagement of and scoffing at others’ efforts to practice love. ere is however something which somewhat spoils the fundamentalist Christians’ practice of love. Abandon evil! One can abandon evil! If it were impossible to abandon evil. Jesus teaches us to love but Buddhism encourages us to be cold and detached. even so one should cultivate unconditional love to all beings (Sutta Nipata. Whether one agrees with this belief or not. is is not true. While fully recognizing mankind’s potential for evil. eir loud insistence that only they love. therefore I say. Book of Ones). makes them appear thoroughly invidious. verse ) In every sense love is as important in Buddhism as it is in Christianity and is emphasized just as much. one could certainly not say that it is pessimistic. therefore I say.

are some Christians that they cannot acknowledge or appreciate a quality as beautiful as love if it is found in non-Christians. to experience oneself as a separate. Each being lives its life. God creates a new soul that becomes a human being. is process of dying and being reborn is a natural one and can go on forever unless the being attains Nirvana.) and it is not non-existence in that it is not annihilation. Before responding to this claim let us examine both the Christian and Buddhist after-life theories. In other words each being’s existence is beginningless and endless unless Nirvana is attained and until that time existence has no other purpose than to exist. According to Christianity. but there is no proof of this. dies and then is reborn into a new existence. So instead of being reborn into a new existence the being attains final Nirvana. Nature offers no examples of processes which  . there are several logical and moral problems with the Christian theory which are absent from the Buddhist theory and which make the latter more acceptable. Nirvana is not existence (to exist means to respond to stimuli. Christianity sees existence as having a beginning but no end whereas Buddhism sees it as cyclic. When a being does attain Nirvana in this life their understanding and consequently their behavior alters and this changes the process which causes rebirth. After death the soul will go to eternal heaven if it believed in Jesus or to eternal hell if it did not. lives its life and then dies. to move in time and space. You claim that when we die we are reborn. ere is little evidence for either of these two theories. According to Buddhism. However. to grow and decay. etc. it is impossible to fathom the ultimate beginning of existence.

e seasons go and return again next year. the Buddhist doctrine is more appealing and acceptable. unable to think even the most simple thoughts. millions of people are born and live their whole lives with severe mental retardation. God’s supposed plan to save everyone seems to have gone terribly wrong. Further. all the natural processes we observe are cyclic. flows to the sea. obey him and be saved.  . when we die the body breaks down and releases its elements into the soil. Rather. e Buddhist theory of rebirth is in harmony with the cyclic processes we see throughout nature whereas the Christian theory is not. Further. evaporates.have a beginning but no end. and forms clouds which again fall as rain. e planets circle the sun and even the galaxy containing our solar system slowly revolves. that plan is certainly not very obvious. So although we can’t prove either the Christian or the Buddhist afterlife theory. as the majority of the world’s people are non-Christian and as not even all Christians will be saved. e body is made up of the elements we ingest as food. If this is so it is very difficult to explain why each year millions of unborn babies naturally abort and millions of other babies are born dead or die within the first few years of their lives. Christians claim that God created us for a purpose — so we can believe in him. where they are absorbed by plants and animals which we again eat to build the body. How do all these people fit into God’s supposed plan? What purpose can God have in creating a new life and then letting it die even before it is born or soon after its birth? And what happens to all these beings? Do they go to eternal heaven or eternal hell? If God really created us with a plan in mind. Rain falls. this means that a good percentage of all the souls that God creates will go to hell.

If we are really reborn, how do you explain the increase in the world’s population? When beings die they are reborn but they are not necessarily reborn as the same type of being. For example, a human could be reborn as a human, as an animal, or perhaps as a heaven being, according to its kamma. e fact that there is a dramatic increase in the world’s human population indicates that more animals are being reborn as humans (there has been a corresponding drop in the number of animals due to extinction etc.) and more humans are being reborn as humans. Why is this so? Just why more animals are being reborn as humans is difficult to say. But why more humans are being reborn as humans is undoubtedly due to an increasingly widespread knowledge of the Buddha’s teachings. Even where the Dhamma is not widely known its capacity to be a subtle influence for good is powerful. All this can account for the increase in the human population. Nirvana is an impractical goal because it takes so long to attain and so few can do it. It is true that attaining Nirvana may take a long time but on the other hand rebirth gives us plenty of time. If one does not do it in this life one can continue striving in the next life. In fact, it will take as long as one wants. e Buddha says that if one really wants, one can attain Nirvana within seven days (Majjhima Nikaya Sutta No.). If this is so, the Christian will ask, why haven’t all Buddhists already attained Nirvana? For the simple reason that mundane phenomena still hold an attraction for them. As insight and understanding gradually make that attraction fade one moves step by step, at one’s own pace, towards Nirvana. As for the claim that only a few people can attain Nirvana, this is
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not correct. While in Christianity a person has one and only one chance of being saved, Buddhism’s teachings on rebirth mean that a person will have an infinite number of opportunities to attain Nirvana. is also implies that everyone will eventually be liberated. As the Buddhist text says: is immortal state has been attained by many and can be still attained even today by anyone who makes an effort. But not by those who do not strive (erigatha, verse ). In Christianity, history has a meaning and is moving towards a particular goal. Buddhism’s cyclic view of existence means that history has no meaning and this makes Buddhists fatalistic and indifferent. It is true that according to Buddhism history is not moving towards any climax. But the person who is walking the Noble Eightfold Path certainly is. He or she is resolutely moving towards the peace and freedom of Nirvana. Just as the river Ganges flows, slides, tends towards the east, so too one who cultivates and makes much of the Noble Eightfold Path flows, slides, tends towards Nirvana (Samyutta Nikaya, Great Chapter, Sutta No. ) So it is not true to say that Buddhism’s more realistic view of existence and history necessarily leads to indifference. And what climax is history moving towards according to Christianity? e Apocalypse, where the vast majority of humanity and all the works of humankind will be consumed by brimstone and fire. Even the lucky few who are saved will have the gloomy prospect of an eternity in heaven knowing that at least some of their fam

ily and friends are, at the same time, being punished in hell. It would be difficult to imagine a more depressing future to look forward to than this. e Buddha copied the idea of kamma and rebirth from Hinduism. Hinduism does teach a doctrine of kamma and also reincarnation. However, their versions of both these teachings are very different from the Buddhist versions. For example, Hinduism says we are determined by our kamma while Buddhism says kamma only conditions us. According to Hinduism, an eternal soul (atman) passes from one life to the next while Buddhism denies that there is such a soul (anatman) saying rather that it is a constantly changing stream of mental energy that is reborn. ese are just two of many differences between Hinduism and Buddhism on kamma and rebirth. However, even if the Buddhist and Hindu teachings were identical this would not necessarily mean that the Buddha unthinkingly copied the ideas of others. It sometimes happens that two people, quite independently of each other, make exactly the same discovery. A good example of this is the discovery of evolution. In , just before he published his famous book e Origin of the Species, Charles Darwin found that another man, Alfred Russell Wallace, had conceived the idea of evolution exactly as he had done. Darwin and Wallace had not copied each other’s ideas; rather, by studying the same phenomena they had come to the same conclusion about them quite independently of each other. So even if Hindu ideas about kamma and rebirth were identical to those of Buddhism (which they are not) this would still not be proof of copying. e truth is that Hindu sages,
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But even if the thief does not mitigate the wrong which he has done with some good. which the Buddha later expounded more fully and accurately. returns the stolen article and sincerely resolves to try to be more careful in the future. ere would still be an effect although not as strong. It is only partially true that Jesus forgives sins. However. If however after the theft the person feels remorse. no matter how frequently or how pitifully the souls in hell may call upon his name. this effect is not always equal to its cause. if a person steals something this act will have a negative effect. Can Buddhists escape from their kamma? e doctrine of kamma teaches that every action (kamma) has an effect (vipaka). the negative effect of the theft may be mitigated. got vague ideas about kamma and rebirth.through insights they developed in meditation. but Buddhism says you can never escape the consequences of your kamma. So most people will never escape from the consequences of their supposed sin. he will be free from the deed after its effect comes to fruition. it is limited to a minute period of time in a person’s existence after which he will withhold it. after people are created they will live forever — first for a few decades on earth and then for eternity in either heaven or hell. So according to Buddhism we can be free from our kamma while according to Christianity our sins will only be forgiven during an extremely limited period of time. So Jesus’ forgiveness is very conditional. ere are other ways in which the doctrine of kamma is  . According to Christianity. For example. Jesus forgives our sins. Jesus will forgive people’s sins while they live in the world but for the rest of eternity he will refuse to do so.

By the late th century brute force was no longer used to enforce belief but under the influence of the missionaries. are teachings that cast very serious doubts on the concept of a just and loving God. Christianity has spread to almost every country in the world and has more followers than any other religion. forgiveness and punishment. merciful. colonial administrators tried to hinder non-Christian religions as much as possible. Today the spread of Christianity  . all things being equal. How much more this so if is the person is good but not Christian? Indeed the eternity of hell and the idea that all non-Christians are condemned to it. Sri Lanka. the Philippines. Further. is is not so in Christianity. according to the doctrine of kamma. A non-Christian may be honest. Taiwan and parts of India) laws were passed banning all non-Christian religions. It is true that Christianity has spread widely but how has this happened? Until the th century Christianity was largely confined to Europe. eternal hell is an utterly disproportionate punishment. the effects we experience. so it must be true. is is not so in Christianity — even if a person is exceptionally evil during this life. After this.better than the Christian ideas of sin. generous and kind yet despite this at death this person will go to hell and not receive any reward for the good he has done. Mexico.g. are in direct proportion to their cause. In most conquered countries (e. European armies spread throughout the world forcing their religion on the people they conquered. In Buddhism while one may have to endure the negative effects of the evil one has done (which is only fair) this means that one will experience the positive effects of the good one has done as well.

to be real Christian? Most Protestants don’t even consider Catholics to be genuine Christians! If we deny that all the heretical. And finally.is supported by lavish financial assistance which missionaries get largely from the U. funda . at is why Christian countries are so rich and Buddhist countries are so poor. Of all the arguments that fundamentalist Christians use to try to convert people this is by far the most foolish. if what the Bible says about wealth is true (Matt :-) it would seem that the blessings which God has supposedly poured out on Europe and America are really a curse in disguise. by making statements like this. the Moonies and the Jehovah’s Witnesses to be real Christians? Can we consider the numerous strange cults and sects that flourish in South America and Africa and which account for many millions of people. irdly. God blesses those who believe in him. is would also explain why the Bible says that only . people will be saved on Judgement Day (Rev :-). some Christian countries such as Honduras and the Philippines are extremely poor while Japan. power and money. So the spread of Christianity has nothing to do with its supposedly superior doctrine but because of fear. Secondly.A. is very rich. heterodoxist. Firstly. Can we consider the Mormons. Whether Christianity is the world’s largest religion is a matter of definition. if prosperity is really proof of God’s favor it would seem that he really likes the Muslims because he has given them all the oil.S. this would probably make Christianity one of the smallest religions in the world. cultic and bizarre Christian groups are ‘real’ Christians. predominantly a Buddhist country.

not merely with an outward show of service.mentalist Christians are letting slip their real motive for worshipping God — desire for money. e Bible says that slaves should obey their masters even if they are treated with cruelty. Christianity has been a force for progress while Buddhism has done little to improve the world. In Christianity’s long history there has been much to be proud of and perhaps equally as much to be ashamed of. a terrible institution that almost all churches supported until the th century. but with single-mindedness. but to show entire and true fidelity so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our savior (Tit :-)  . Take for example slavery. out of reverence for the Lord (Col. give entire obedience to your earthly masters. Buddhism for its part teaches that qualities like contentment. Slaves. to curry favor with men. obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling. gentleness and inner peace are more precious than money. love. :) Bid slaves to be submissive to their masters and give satisfaction in every respect. as if serving Christ (Eph :) Slaves. Paul asked the master to be kind to Oresimus but he did not ask him to free his slave. nor to pilfer. single-mindedly. they are not to be refractory. After Paul converted the runaway slave Oresimus he convinced him that as a Christian he should go back to his master (Philemon :-).

). e development of science in the West was retarded by church opposition (see A History of the Warfare of Science with eology in Christendom. Of all the black pages in the history of Christianity this is the blackest and most disgraceful. Take science. Take the persecution of the Jews. e churches were against dissection because they believed that it would make bodily resurrection impossible. When chloroform was invented the churches refused to allow it to be used to alleviate the pain of childbirth. In  a leading Protestant clergyman  .S.A. (for details read the section on ‘Slavery’ in e Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. In this respect Protestants have been no better than the Catholics. Cuba and Brazil encouraged their slaves to become Christians was because it made them passive and obedient. White.e reason why slave owners in Africa. Brazil and the southern U. In England the campaign to abolish slavery in the th century was strongly opposed by the churches as they opposed similar campaigns in Mexico. For  years Christians have harassed. humiliated and murdered the Jews simply because they refused to believe in Jesus. Christian opposition to dissection of corpses held back the development of medicine and anatomy for  years. D. ). When Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning rod that prevented buildings from being damaged by lightning. e church was opposed to the heliocentric view of the universe and even threatened to execute Galileo for saying that the earth moved around the sun. ey believed that God would no longer be able to punish sinners by hurling thunder bolts at them. Protestant clergymen were in an uproar. e Bible teaches and they believed that the pain of childbirth was God’s punishment on women for the sin of Eve (Gen :).A. U.S. hounded. A.

For there is no authority except from God. democracy and equality. the founder of Protestant Christianity. see also Jn :.  .in the U. Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. So now Christians are often in the forefront of movements for justice. Hoffman. On the contrary. since the th century it is true that many Christian churches have begun to eagerly adopt the outlook of the liberal secular tradition and make it their own. S. the Bible specifically says that all rulers. Martin Luther. ). Not surprisingly the Nazis used Luther’s book to justify their cruelty towards Jews. But there is little in the Bible that they can use to justify their actions. even the unjust. and those that exist have been instituted by God. We could go on but perhaps this is enough. Pet :. and those who resist will incur judgment (Rom :-. cardinals and bishops quoted passages like these for centuries to justify their rule. get their power from God and to oppose them is to oppose God.A. However. It comes from the Western secular tradition that the churches spent  years opposing. Christian social philosophy doesn’t come from the Bible.S. said “God does not listen when the Jews pray”. erefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed. Now they try to pretend that these values originate from Jesus (see What the Bible Really Says. Tit :. Prov :-) Despotic kings. Liberation theologies are very silent about such Bible passages today. M. wrote a book called the Jews and their Lies in which he advocated extreme persecution of Jews on the grounds that they did not believe in Jesus. Smith and R. ed.

have been rare or absent in Buddhism. is has meant that its influence on society has been subtle. He also shows how the man Jesus gradually came to be seen as a god.Buddhism has always been less aggressive and less organized than Christianity. Perhaps! But is it not exactly the same in Christian countries? What honest Christian can say that all Christians fully. Wilson examines the history of the Bible and shows how scholars have demonstrated beyond doubt that it is an untidy compilation composed over several centuries. . Buddhism may be a noble philosophy but if you look at Buddhist countries you notice that few people seem to practice it. On the other hand it has also meant that the witch-hunts against heretics. . sincerely and with deep understanding follow Jesus’ teachings? Let us not judge a religion by those who fail to practice it. onclusion What has been written so far may have stimulated in the reader the desire to know more about Christianity and Buddhism and so we will briefly recommend some books for further reading. Spong is a Christian bishop and scholar who freely admits that  . the persecution of non-believers and the bloody religious wars that have marred Christian history. Another good book is Rescuing the Bible from the Fundamentalists by John Spong. A popular and easy to read book exposing many of the fallacies in Christianity is Jesus — the Evidence by Ian Wilson. less noticeable and even perhaps less dynamic than it should have been.

ese outstanding studies examine every major Christian doctrine and exposes each of them to the cold light of reason and none of them survive the exposure. Saddhatissa. then that challenge can be to Buddhism’s benefit. Dharmasiri. we can counter them by becoming familiar with Christianity’s numerous doctrinal weaknesses and Buddhism’s many strengths. Rahula. Fundamentalist Christianity poses a real threat to Buddhism and while we can never hope to match the aggressiveness or organizational abilities of its proponents. In this study the author demonstrates that some of what was taught by Jesus is likely to have been derived originally from Buddhism.  and e Buddha’s Ancient Path by Piyadassi era. Many excellent books on the teachings of the Buddha are available.much of what the Bible contains is either mythological or erroneous.  is an excellent but somewhat technical examination of the modern Protestant concept of God from the Buddhist point of view.  are good introductions.   . If the Christian challenge stimulates in Buddhists a deeper appreciation for the Dhamma and a desire to live by that Dhamma. . A most interesting book is Two Masters One Message by Roy Amore. and he gives abundant evidence for this. What the Buddha Taught by W. e two best scholarly and critical studies of recent times are Is Christianity True? by Michael Arnheim.  and e Case Against Christianity by Michael Martin . A Buddhist Critique of the Christian Concept of God by G. A good introduction is e Life of the Buddha by H. . It includes a well-written biography of the Buddha and a clear account of basic Buddhist concepts.

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