“Bad Path” Karma Advice to A Young Girl

Sadly, the youngster has never received treatment and is taunted by the other children in her remote village on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 

Relatives and local monks have lead Bo to believe that her appearance is because of bad karma she is carrying from a past life – one of the fundamental teachings of Buddhism.

Bo said that when she rides her bike the other kids yell ”old folk” at her. While even her siblings call her ”grandmum” instead of sister.

The youngster now dreams of having plastic surgery to ”make her pretty”.

[….]

devout Buddhist, named Voeun, told her that her appearance is down to a ”bad path” from a previous life which is still haunting her to this day.

In the video, Bo appears to agree and says that she ”was shot in a previous life” and has ”not cleared the bad path yet”.

She said: ”My mom had a dream and saw that she took a flower which had already bloomed, then she gave birth to me with the old face.”

Monk Voeun adds: ”I feel pity for her. When we are born, we always studied about the bad path. People were born in this place or that place based on the good or bad path that have taken before….

(NEWSFLARE)

I have noted the depravity of the Eastern Worldviews for years… here is one story I include in my chapter on this:

Another illustration with some personal dialogue between some aid workers will help explain this concept some more:

While speaking in Thailand, Ron Carlson was invited to visit some refugee camps along the Cambodian border.  Over 300,000 refugees were caught in a no-man’s-land along the border.  This resulted from the Cambodian massacre under Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in the mid-70’s (which is known as the “killing fields”) and then subsequently by the invasion of the Vietnamese at the end of the 70’s.  One of the most fascinating things about these refugee camps was the realization of who was caring for the refugees.  Here, in this Buddhist country of Thailand, with Buddhist refugees coming from Cambodia and Laos, there were no Buddhists taking care of their Buddhist brothers.  There were also no Atheists, Hindus, or Muslims taking care of those people.  The only people there, taking care of these 300,000[+] people, were Christians from Christian mission organizations and Christian relief organizations.  One of the men Ron was with had lived in Thailand for over twenty-years and was heading up a major portion of the relief effort for one of these organizations. Ron asked him: “Why, in a Buddhist country, with Buddhist refugees, are there no Buddhists here taking care of their Buddhist brothers?” Ron will never forget his answer:

“Ron, have you ever seen what Buddhism does to a nation or a people? Buddha taught that each man is an island unto himself. Buddha said, ‘if someone is suffering, that is his karma.’ You are not to interfere with another person’s karma because he is purging himself through suffering and reincarnation! Buddha said, ‘You are to be an island unto yourself.’” –  “Ron, the only people that have a reason to be here today taking care of these 300,000 refugees are Christians. It is only Christianity that people have a basis for human value that people are important enough to educate and to care for.  For Christians, these people are of ultimate value, created in the image of God, so valuable that Jesus Christ died for each and every one of them.  You find that value in no other religion, in no other philosophy, but in Jesus Christ.”

Ron Carlson & Ed Decker, Fast Facts on False Teachings (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1994), 28-29.

In a personal conversation in a philosophy class where I “paraphrased” the following to elucidate my point to the professor (who was a Hindu) was this final example of mine (also in the above linked chapter):

Another example, albeit more poignant, is that of a mock conversation between a Buddhist named Zen, and a non-religious person named Atos.

Atos:  What if in my reality, my “island,” it is wrong for people to own things, and so when you’re not looking, I elect to play “Robin Hood” by relieving you of your new two-thousand-dollar-crystal and giving it to someone else?

Zen: Well, uh, I guess I’d have to conclude that my Higher Self wanted me to learn a lesson about material things [as Buddhism teaches and New Age thought teaches].

Atos:  Okay, if stealing is not a sin, lets take it further.  Now let’s pretend I’m a “pedophile” – its part of my reality to “love” children in every way possible.  So, while you’re at work I’m going to invite your children into my home to play a “game” that I’ve made up.  Is that all right with you?

Zen:  It most certainly is not!  It would be part of my reality to report you to the police.

Atos:  Why?  After all, it’s the reality I’ve sovereignly chosen to create for myself.  What gives you the right to interfere in the reality of another god? [Which are what Eastern religions teach, coming to the realization that you are one with the Brahmin.]

Zen:  Simple.  Your reality is infringing on my children’s reality.

Atos:  But according to your belief system, before your child incarnated she chose you [by past actions] as her parent and she also chose whatever happens to them, including my act, and you’ve no right to interfere[They have “chosen” this act and life by a previous life and lifestyle – karma.  An adaptation from Ravi Zacharias makes the point that one doesn’t even know ultimately if it was something in your previous life or something in the parents previous life or the child’s previous life (or others involved) that dictated this karmic outcome![1]]

Zen:  I do tooin this case.

Atos:  Can you see my point now?  You are naturally and rightly outraged at the very suggestion of such an act.  Something within you knows that it is wrong in and of itself!  This reality is in direct contrast to what you should believe if your Buddhist philosophy holds true.

Zen:  You are right.

Atos:  But that can only be so if there are absolute rights and wrongs independent of our personal reality [which Eastern religions don’t teach].  Yet, try as you may, you will not find a ground for such moral absolutes and human value in your worldview.  Your God is impersonal and amoral, “beyond good and evil,” so you can’t appeal to It [as “It” is impersonal].  In addition, since in your view [Buddhism or Hinduism] we are all equally gods, my truth about any subject is as good as your truth.  So you see, Eastern beliefs fail the test of human experience – it cannot be consistently lived out.[2]

I hope, with this graphic example, one can see the problem with karma, reincarnation, and the philosophy that naturally follows.  Believing that if my son were to be raped (sodomized) and very probably killed by the perpetrator (all over the news these days) and then believing that something my son did in a previous lifetime demanded that this happen to him in this lifetime is a religious philosophy that just doesn’t compute with reality.  And to deny this thinking is to insert a Western view of human nature that is foreign to Eastern thought.  In doing this, said person is “Christianizing” Eastern religion to fit their pre-conceived ideals and moral values learned in a culture that pre-supposes the Grecian-Judeo-Christian concept of man and reality – which is at odds with Eastern pre-suppositions of man and reality.


[1] Ravi Zacharias, The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha. (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah, 2001).

[2] Elliot Miller, A Crash Course on the New Age Movement: Describing and Evaluating a Growing Social Force. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1989), pp. 209-210.

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All Religious and Moral Thinkers in History Rejected Same-Sex Marriages

I was challenged after I noted that every religious and moral leader of note never endorsed or supported same-sex marriage. Here is the response to this challenge.

A point Dennis Prager makes is that this is the first time in human history where a “liberal elite” thinks it knows better than all previous religious, political, and moral thinkers before them. I have been challenged on this point and so I enter here a response to some of it. But first the audio portion in which discussion took place over:

(To follow up on Plato and Aeschines’ thoughts, read this.) Here is the small portion of one of the conversations that emboldened me to post this information:

Initial “Religious” Challenge:

Also, this is not just a matter of discrimination based on sex. It is also a matter of religious persecution. There are religious institutions where gay marriage is condoned and officiated just as heterosexual marriage is. To list a few, Buddhism, Satanism, Wicca, Paganism, the Metropolitan Community Church, the Old Catholic Church, the United Church of Canada, the United Church of Christ, the United Church of Australia and there are even more!!! Just as they would not dare to tell you what to do with your religion, so should you not dare to tell them what to do with theirs. If you believe in freedom of religion, you cannot be against gay marriage. You cannot control what others do with their religion. That is one of the founding principles of this nation. And that is what this really boils down to in the end. It is a matter of control. You seek to control others. You seek to tell others how they are supposed to live their lives. That is the antithesis of freedom. For someone as obviously intelligent as you are it is extremely disheartening that you cannot see something this simple.

After I refuted the world religious challenge of Buddhism (see beneath this conversational example that took place here), I got this response:

…I listed a lot of churches that condone gay marriage. One of them was mistaken and you spend how long arguing against it while ignoring every other one? I made a mistake on buddhism. What of the rest I listed and the many more that I didn’t?


To which I responded:

I wish to clarify something I said. In the historical past, same-sex marriage has never been accepted. While polygamy, concubines, and the like have been accepted in cultural practice. Homosexuality being on equal footing with other forms of marriage has never, never been a practice accepted by any religion or culture. Wiccan, Satanism, and liberal forms of the world religions (Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and the like) have only recently endorsed such a view. Since the “sexual revolution” of the 60’s when radical Marxist ideals were injected into Western thinking, writ large. So even your list is a new phenomenon.

I did mention paganism in the past. What I was saying is that men in historic pagan thinking/actions controlled women so that they were prostitutes at the local temple and a place for men to stop and “give sacrifice” to the gods. Other aspects that paganism and other cultures practiced that were harmful to women that Christianity helped cure were (below — partial list) only made possible by a faith that lifted women up. Something modern day feminism and radical gender equality movements do not do, or cannot do… since Wiccan practices do laud – for instance – the older pagan prostitution practices that subjugated a whole swath of women to serve men in horrible ways:

Paul, who often gets a bad rap for his perceived low view of women, considered at least twelve women coworkers in his ministry.* Paul clearly had a high view of women: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The earliest Christians recited these remarkable, countercultural words as a baptismal confession. Widows, far from being abandoned, were cared for, and older women were given a place of honor. In light of all of this, is it any wonder “the ancient sources and modern historians agree that primary conversion to Christianity was far more prevalent among females than males”?

In recent history, Christians were responsible for the banning of three despicable practices inflicted upon women around the world. Christian missionaries pressured the Chinese government to abolish foot binding in 1912. This practice was done for the sole reason of pleasing men—”it made a woman with her feet bound in an arch walk tiptoe and sway seductively.” In 1829 the English outlawed the Indian practice of suttee, in which widows were burned alive on the funeral pyres of their husbands, because of Christianity’s teaching regarding widows and women. Finally, Western countries influenced by a Christian view of women and sexuality have condemned clitoridectomy (female genital mutilation), a gruesome practice that is still common in Muslim countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow, Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2010), 230-231.

Historian Alvin Schmidt points out how the spread of Christianity and Christian influence on government was primarily responsible for outlawing infanticide, child abandonment, and abortion in the Roman Empire (in AD 374); outlawing the brutal battles-to-the-death in which thousands of gladiators had died (in 404); outlawing the cruel punishment of branding the faces of criminals (in 315); instituting prison reforms such as the segregating of male and female prisoners (by 361); stopping the practice of human sacrifice among the Irish, the Prussians, and the Lithuanians as well as among other nations; outlawing pedophilia; granting of property rights and other protections to women; banning polygamy (which is still practiced in some Muslim nations today); prohibiting the burning alive of widows in India (in 1829); outlawing the painful and crippling practice of binding young women’s feet in China (in 1912); persuading government officials to begin a system of public schools in Germany (in the sixteenth century); and advancing the idea of compulsory education of all children in a number of European countries.

Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010], 49-50.

My goal is not to refute every example [you give]. Yes, extreme leftism in Christianity is nothing new. In fact, the term “fundementalist” was coined in the 1920’s. In fact, a free book about this movement by one of its founders is here, “Christianity & Liberalism

And of course Paganism is [against treating people with humanity]. At least historical paganism, [modern paganism in the West adopts the Judeo-Christian ethic]. Of course I deal with this in my book as well.

With that example of a conversation, I wish to officially give my readers an insight in how to refute such thinking (that major world religions supported same-sex relationships). A proper understanding of Buddhism regards all marriages as mundane. In fact, even love in Buddhistic understanding is mundane and is rejected as anything based in reality — which is also key to this discussion. Here are some actual historical cases that the Buddha interacted with as well as more recently the Dalai Lama dealing with the issue.

….there was a case of a gay monk who was overcome by sexual desire and could no longer restrain himself. He was seducing his friends and novices to have sex with him. They rejected him so he left the monastery and had sex with men who were elephant keepers and horse keepers. When news spread around the entire Buddhist community that he was homosexual, the Buddha was alerted to the problem and he issued a rule for the community not to give any ordination to a homosexual, and those ordained gays are to be expelled. (Vin.I, 86).

The Buddha was more tolerant of lesbianism than male homosexuality. Nuns who were caught in lesbian practices were not expelled from the order. They must confess to the fellows about their practice, and then the offense will be redeemed. (Vin. IV, 261)

The monastic rules do not guarantee Buddhist monasticism is entirely free from homosexuals. Indeed, they only say that monks and nuns are required to live a celibate life. Often in history, the monastic community has been plagued by homosexual scandals.

In Thailand, the worst such scandal took place in 1819, during the reign of King Rama II, when a high-ranking monk, a Somdet who was also the abbot of Wat Saket who had just been promoted to take the position of the Supreme Patriarch, one day was found guilty of enjoying homosexual activities with some of his good-looking male disciples.

It was a shock to all Buddhists of the time, and the case was considered the scandal of the century of Buddhism in Siam.

Interestingly, the graveness of the mistake was not severe enough to defrock him, although the King had him removed him from his position of honour and ordered him to leave the royal monasteries.

As for the lay homosexual people, the Buddha gave no rule or advice as to whether they should be allowed to marry or not. The Buddha posted himself simply as the one who shows the way. He did not insist that he had any right to enforce on others what they should do. With this principle, the original teachings of the Buddha do not cover social ceremonies or rituals. Weddings and marriages of all kinds are regarded as mundane and have no place in Buddhism.

(The Buddhist Channel)

Another authoritative source mentions that “in practice, Theravada Buddhist countries are not terribly open to homosexual practice. This has much to do with … the notion of karma, which remains strong in countries such as Thailand. From this viewpoint, a person’s characteristics and situations are a result of past sins or good deeds. Homosexuality and other alternative forms of sexuality are often seen as karmic punishments for heterosexual misconduct in a past life. Thus far, the gay rights movement has not had great success in Theravada Buddhist countries.” So one would have to reject the core of this religion in order to supplant it with a personal view and new model of sexuality. Obviously, ripping the core of an ancient religious belief out in the name of tolerance is what the Left is all about! The article continues:

In a 1997 interview, the Dalai Lama (the leader of Tibetan Buddhism and a widely-respected spiritual figure) was asked about homosexuality. He did not offer any strong answer either way, but noted that all monks are expected to refrain from sex. For laypeople, he commented that the purpose of sex in general is for procreation, so homosexual acts do seem a bit unnatural. He said that sexual desires in themselves are natural, perhaps including homosexual desires, but that one should not try to increase those desires or indulge them without self-control.

In a 1993 talk given in Seattle, the Dalai Lama said:

  • nature arranged male and female organs in such a manner that is very suitable… Same-sex organs cannot manage well. …

The Dalai Lama was more specific in a meeting with Buddhist leaders and human rights activists in San Francisco in 1997, where he commented that all forms of sex other than penile-vaginal sex are prohibited for Buddhists, whether between heterosexuals or homosexuals. At a press conference the day before the meeting, he said, “From a Buddhist point of view, [gay sex] is generally considered sexual misconduct.

(Religion Facts)

So we see in Buddhistic history and theology a firm denial of homosexuality being approved of (or endorsed, like the Left wants done with same-sex marriage). Even at its best there is no universal Buddhist position on same-sex marriage. In other words, it was never endorsed (if forgetting the above) by the Buddhistic religion or state — like the Left wants in this case.

In all religious understanding, if the practice wasn’t frowned upon, it was never endorsed. Bottom line. Nor was it even thinkable until about a generation ago.

Free Tibet? Human Rights and Eastern Thought (Borrowing Worth from the Judeo-Christian Worldview)

Religion News Blog updates an older story about Christian persecution by Buddhists

THIMPU, Bhutan, February 1 (Compass Direct News) – Bhutan officials have given assurances that freedom for Christians to worship “within the cultural norms” of the tiny Buddhist nation in the Himalayas will not be violated, but they remain ambiguous on whether and when the miniscule community will obtain legal identity.

The cultural norms include a prohibition against proselytizing. But Bhutan Minister for Home and Culture Lyonpo Minjur Dorji told Compass there are provisions in the Constitution of Bhutan that can be interpreted as allowing room for Christianity in “the Land of the Thunder Dragon,” as the country is called.

The country’s agency regulating religious organizations was expected to make a decision last December on whether it could register a Christian federation representing all Christians, but an official at the agency said the matter requires further investigation. Meantime, Home Minister Dorji indicated no change was necessary.

“What else do you need?” he said. “Ask Christians if they have been prevented from meeting together for worship. Two of our parliamentarians are Christian. Christians need not fear the government.”

…(read more)…

In case you are note aware of the situation, there has been some pretty extreme reactions to showing Christian DVDs:

A human rights organisation has learned that Bhutanese police are preparing to arrest two more Christians for their involvement in showing a movie about Jesus.

Bhutan is a small country in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and bordered to the south, east and west by India and to the north by China.

International Christian Concern (ICC) reported that Prem Singh Gurung has been sentenced to three years imprisonment for showing the film. He has been jailed in the town of Gelephu.

On October 22, ICC wrote a letter to the representatives of Bhutan at the UN protesting the sentencing of Gurung.

ICC said that Gurung has the right, under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to express his religious beliefs. That includes the right to receive and exchange information and ideas through any media.

…(read more)…

Here is an example for those who want to free a nation or stop persecution using an Eastern philosophy in doing so (Example taken from my chapter in my book):

….If you are born into a family that is well off, and you have a good family relationship, then you are being rewarded for some good work[s] from a previous life. If you are born into a famine-ridden area, destitute, or mentally or physically incapable of caring for yourself, then you are in retribution for the “cause and effect” law of karma. This is the reason that there is no firm “right or wrong” in this life according to Eastern thought.  All people who are treated unfairly or unjustly — like slaves were in America, racial wars, famine and disease in undeveloped nations — are merely reaping what they sowed in a previous incarnation. In addition, to interfere with this process — outlaw slavery, end racial strife, feed and heal the hungry and sick — is to interfere with a person’s karma, which is strictly forbidden in the eastern philosophies! (Alternatively, doing so has no intrinsic value – e.g., no real positive moral benefit, as any benefit must be illusory as well.)

It is laughable that some defend this doctrine tooth and nail.  However, if really believed, they would come to realize there is no real good or evil!  The Inquisitions, the Mumbai terror killings at the hands of Muslims, as examples, were merely the outgrowth of the victim’s previous karmic lives.  Therefore, when those here defend karmic destiny in other posts speak of the horrible atrocities committed by religion, they are not consistently living out their philosophy of life and death, which are illusory.  The innocent victims of the Inquisitions, terror attacks, tsunamis, or Crusades then are merely being paid back for something they themselves did in a previous life. It is the actions said people did prior that creates much of the evil upon them now. So in the future when people who are believers in reincarnation say that Christianity isn’t what it purports to be because of the evil it has committed in the past, you should remind them that evil is merely an illusion (maya – Hinduism; sunyata – Buddhism) to be overcome, as karmic reincarnation demands.

Even “Love” is a foreign concept to Buddhists. In a conversation about this exact fact you will see that theism, specifically Christian-Theism is a far superior concept in that it presupposes “love” as a reality. And in fact, “love” existed eternally in the triune Godhead n Christian theology:

I wish to illustrate with a conversation (unfinished by the way) between myself and a Zen Buddhist.  This conversation can almost happen with any religious Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, or the like.  The conversation takes place after an interesting post by the person on his blog about self-defense, the Dalai Lama, WWII, and the Buddha. I will post my reply to his original thought, and then he responds, followed again by me.  (Keep in mind I am using our “blog” names, they are almost like “handles” like in the movie Top Gun):[42]

 

  • My initial engagement:

Does the idea of “violence” as a moral good or a moral evil truly exist in the Buddhist mindset? What I mean is that according to a major school of Buddhism, isn’t there a denial that distinctions exist in reality… that separate “selves” is really a false perception? Language is considered something the Buddhist must get beyond because it serves as a tool that creates and makes these apparently illusory distinctions more grounded, or rooted in “our” psyche. For instance, the statement that “all statements are empty of meaning,” would almost be self refuting, because, that statement — then — would be meaningless. So how can one go from that teaching inherent to Buddhistic thought and say that self-defense (and using WWII as an example) is really meaningful. Isn’t the [Dalai] Lama drawing distinction by assuming the reality of Aristotelian logic in his responses to questions? (He used at least three Laws of Logic [thus, drawing distinctions using Western principles]: The Law of Contradiction; the Law of Excluded Middle; and the Law of Identity.)  Curious.

 

  • They Call Him James Ure, responds:

You’re right that language is just a tool and in the end a useless one at that but It’s important to be able run a blog. That or teach people the particulars of the religion. It’s like a lamp needed to make your way through the dark until you reach the lighthouse (Enlightenment, Nirvana, etc.) Then of course the lamp is no longer useful unless you have taken the vow to teach others.  Which in my analogy is returning into the dark to bring your brothers and sisters along (via the lamp-i.e. language) to the lighthouse (enlightenment, Nirvana, etc.)

 

  • I respond:

Then… if reality is ultimately characterless and distinctionless, then the distinction between being enlightened and unenlightened is ultimately an illusion and reality is ultimately unreal. Whom is doing the leading? Leading to what? These still are distinctions being made, that is: “between knowing you are enlightened and not knowing you are enlightened.” In the Diamond Sutra, ultimately, the Bodhisattva loves no one, since no one exists and the Bodhisattva knows this:

“All beings must I lead to Nirvana, into the Realm of Nirvana which leaves nothing behind; and yet, after beings have been led to Nirvana, no being at all has been led to Nirvana. And why? If in a Bodhisattva[43] the notion of a “being” should take place, he could not be called a “Bodhi-being.” And likewise if the notion of a soul, or a person should take place in him.

So even the act of loving others, therefore, is inconsistent with what is taught in the Buddhistic worldview, because there is “no one to love.” This is shown quite well (this self-refuting aspect of Buddhism) in the book, The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha. A book I recommend with love, from a worldview that can use the word love well.  One writer puts it thusly: “When human existence is blown out, nothing real disappears because life itself is an illusion. Nirvana is neither a re-absorption into an eternal Ultimate Reality, nor the annihilation of a self, because there is no self to annihilate. It is rather an annihilation of the illusion of an existing self. Nirvana is a state of supreme bliss and freedom without any subject left to experience it.”

(http://www.comparativereligion.com/Buddhism.html)

 

  • My Final Response

I haven’t seen a response yet. Which is fitting… because whom would be responding to whom? Put another way, would there be one mind trying to actively convince the other mind that no minds exist at all?

Here’s another way to see the same thing, Dan Story weighs in again:

It may be possible that nothing exists. However, it is impossible to demonstrate that nothing exists because to do so would be to deny our own existence. We must exist in order to affirm that reality doesn’t exist. To claim that reality is an illusion is logically impossible because it also requires claiming that the claim itself is unreal—a self-defeating statement. If reality is an illusion, how do we know that pantheism isn’t an illusion too?[44]

Another author put it thusly, “if pantheism is true (and my individuality an illusion), it is false, since there is no basis by which to explain the illusion.”[45][46] You see… The challenge then becomes this: “if reality is an illusion, how do we know then that pantheism isn’t an illusion as well?”

… most people assume that something exists.  There may be someone, perhaps, who believes that nothing exists, but who would that person be?  …. no one ever consciously tries to defend the position that nothing exists.  It would be a useless endeavor since there would be no one to convince.  Even more significantly, it would be impossible to defend that position since, if it were true, there would be no one to make the defense.  So to defend the position that nothing exists seems immediately to be absurd and self-contradictory.[47]

Another problem in pantheism is God’s inability to deal with or solve the problem of evil.[48] Dan Story points out what should be becoming obvious, “He is the cause of it (remember, all is God).”  Mr. Story continues:

Pantheism and the New Age may try to ignore this problem by claiming that sin and suffering is merely illusion.  But let’s bring this philosophy down to the real world.  Try to convince a man dying of cancer or a parent who has just lost a child that evil and suffering are illusion.  Even if evil is an illusion, the illusion itself is real.  In either case, evil exists.  As Geisler noted, “If evil is not real, what is the origin of the illusion?  Why has it been so persistent and why does it seem so real?…  How can evil arise from a ‘God’ who is absolutely and necessarily good?”[49] The answer must be that if pantheism is true, God cannot be good, and He must be the source of evil.[50]

Between karmic destiny and the god[s] of pantheism and its dealing with pain and suffering (and consequently the promotion of it) by claiming everything is an illusion is not an answer at all.  Must we not live as if this illusion is reality?…

…(read more)…

footnotes:

[42] I use quite liberally in this exchange two resources, they are follows: Michael J. Murray, ed., Reason for the Hope Within, 212-214; Ernest Valea, “Possible difficulties in Buddhism,” Many Paths To One Goal? Found at: http://www.comparativereligion.com/Buddhism.html (last accessed 8-11-09), the main site is: http://www.comparativereligion.com/index.html

[43] “One who has taken a vow to become a Buddha.” David Burnett, The Spirit of Buddhism: A Christian Perspective on Buddhist Thought (Grand Rapids, MI: Monarch Books, 2003), 329.  “Celestial” Buddha’s and bodhisattvas are said to be able to assist in guiding believers towards salvation as supernatural beings.  These bodhisattvas vary in their rolls and offices as the many gods of Hinduism, from which Buddhism comes.  See: Michael D. Coogan, Eastern Religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Toaism, Confucianism, Shinto (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2005), 133-139.

[44] Dan Story, Christianity on the Offense, 112-113.

[45] Francis J. Beckwith and Stephen E. Parrish, See the Gods Fall: Four Rivals to Christianity (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1997), 210.

[46] Dan Story, Christianity on the Offense, 112-113.

[47] L. Russ Bush, A Handbook for Christian Philosophy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1991), 70.

[48] Michael J. Murray critiques quickly the Ramanuja and Madhya philosophies:

Stated in terms of Christian terminology, Ramanuja’s view implies that every soul that has ever existed endured an eternity in “hell” (i.e., the cycle of rebirths) before it could enter “heaven” (i.e., union with God). Now unlike Madhya, Ramanuja claims that God freely, and beginninglessly, created the world, and all existing souls, out of his own being. This latter claim, however, presents Ramanuja with a very severe problem of evil: that of reconciling his belief that God is perfectly good and all-loving with God’s ultimate responsibility for the beginningless existence of souls in a state of sin and suffering. The problem of evil faced by Ramanuja here is much more severe than that faced by Western theists. First, unlike Western theists, Ramanuja cannot say that this evil is a necessary consequence of God’s creating creatures with free will. Although the suffering of a soul in any individual life could be blamed on the bad karma resulting from its free choices in previous lives, the fact that the suffering is beginningless — and hence infinite — cannot be blamed on free choice. The reason for this is that, no matter what free choices souls make in this life, or have made in any previous life, they cannot change the fact that they have beginninglessly endured an infinite amount of suffering; but one cannot be responsible for what one was powerless to change. Followers of Ramanuja, therefore, do not seem to have recourse to the traditional free will theodicy invoked in the West to explain evil. Second, the amount of evil that needs to be explained is infinitely larger than that faced by West­ern versions of theism, since, according to Ramanuja each soul has committed an infinite number of evil acts and endured an infinite period of suffering. Unfortunately, as Julius Lipner points out, neither Ramanuja, nor any other orthodox Hindu theologian, ever attempted to address this particular problem of evil since they took the eternality of the world and souls as an “unquestioned datum for life and thought.” Unlike Ramanuja (and Western theism), however, Madhva’s theol­ogy largely avoids the problem of evil. The reason for this is that in his theology God is neither responsible for the beginningless existence of souls in a state of bondage, nor for the fact that they continue to remain in bondage, this being ultimately the result of their inherent, uncreated na­ture. Nonetheless, his system suffers from two drawbacks when com­pared to Ramanuja’s view. First, Madhva’s system leaves one with a plurality of ultimates — souls, matter, and God — without accounting for their existence. Although this is not a devastating criticism of Madhya, everything else being equal, views that hypothesize a single, unified source of everything (such as God), are in virtue of their simplicity, philosophically more satisfactory. Second, even though Madhya claimed to base his view on scripture, from the perspective of many orthodox Hindus his theology seems to contradict both those passages of Hindu scripture that appear to imply a deep sort of identity between God and souls and those that appear to imply that the world emerges out of God.

Reason for the Hope Within, 200-202.

[49] Geisler, Christian Apologetics, 189 (emphasis added).

[50] Dan Story, Christianity on the Offense, 113.