Monday, September 6, 2010

Episode 73 "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist" with guest Stephen Batchelor

Stephen Batchelor, author of "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist" joins us for the first installment of a three part series on Buddhism. Batchelor, a former monk in both the Tibetan and Zen traditions, was trained by monks in the Dali Lama's inner circle. Over time he began to doubt many core doctrines of Buddhism when he found they could not withstand the test of reason. This crisis of faith prompted him to closely examine the earliest Buddhist texts. In them he found a very different conception of the Buddha and his teachings--one that is surprisingly humanistic. Also in this episode: the doubtcasters give a thumbnail sketch of the religious and social context of early Buddhism and a summery of Buddhist doctrines such as "the three marks of existence" and "the four noble truths."

To download this or any previous Reasonable Doubts episodes click here. Find the episode you want and right click the "play now" link and select "save target as..."

18 comments:

Luke said...

By the way, Park51 does contain a mosque, even according to the builders of Park51. But yeah, I agree with you guys on freedom of religion.

Davitor said...

Just curious why it takes 2 or maybe 3 episodes to critique Buddhism?
My contention is that if there is a reasonable doubt then I suppose you would have no reason for the delay?

Insomniac said...

Having three parts means that Buddhism will be covered with much more depth. Also, more episodes (which certainly doesn't bother me).

Erik Harris said...

Strangely, this episode shows up as being dated December 17, 2010 in iTunes. If there's any way to fix this retroactively, you might consider doing that to avoid this episode appearing out of sequence.

Anonymous said...

Erik, I asked about that a while back... unfortunately they've been doing that for a couple months now, as a workaround for some glitch on the publishing side that they haven't figured out (yet?). I'd love to see it have the proper dates again, but it doesn't show much sign of happening any time soon. (What will they do in a few more months when we really are in December? ;) )

Anonymous said...

Guys please get the release dates fixed on the podcast. It screws with the iPod shuffle so you are put at the end of the podcasts list. This means that although the podcast may be downloaded it is not being listened to. Plus it makes you look like technophobic incompetent boobs.

Jeremy said...

Months ago we posted an extra that was dated wrong. Everyone (iTunes users) who subscribed before that point had issues with automatically updates. Download numbers plummeted. Angry emails rose. I tried a bunch of things, contacted itunes, talked to tech savvy listeners--nothing worked except this (which, will be back to normal in late December). If you have a solution, I would love your help in fixing this right away. Otherwise you'll just have to deal with any problems you are having on your devices.

llewelly said...

With respect to CFI: Thier implication that the "ground zero" is somehow special smacks of dualism.

Jeff said...

Good episode. Looking forward to the rest.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how to fix iTunes's problem, but I found a website (recommended by Apple) that offers suggestions for improving the overall compatibility/standards-compliance of feeds, that you might want to take a look at:
http://www.feedvalidator.org/check.cgi?url=http%3A%2F%2Ffeeds.feedburner.com%2Freasonabledoubts%2FMsxh

Shantivadan said...

As an admittedly secular Buddhist, I'm very interested in this particular subject. I'll certainly be listening to your next episodes with interest!
Thanks!

joe isuzu said...

I've been a practicing Buddhist for 35 years. A few years ago I started asking myself questions about cultural veneers and that lead me to thinking more critically and recently Reasonable Doubts, of which I am a huge fan. I seem to be headed in the direction of a "Buddhist Atheist" which is this strange marriage of using some of the concepts and tools of Buddhism to be skeptical about its claims. I'm really looking forward to the next two episodes. I also listen to many of the podcasts more than once to augment my critical thinking skills. Keep up the great work and thanks.

dirkismaximus said...

Thanks for episode 73, it promises to be an interesting series. Your commentary was intelligent and thought provoking as usual. But what caught my attention was your stand on the Islamic "Ground Zero" property at Park51. Arguments that raise a distinction between it being a cultural center/not a mosque, along with a reminder of our constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion, miss the point entirely. Here in the U.S. we do enjoy some basic freedoms, but always with restrictions. The right to bear arms, for instance, has many limitations. True, we have the freedom to practice our religion anywhere in the country. But installing an Islamic prayer room on the second floor of a building that overlooks Ground Zero is the same as yelling "God Is Great" in a crowded theater. Just because you could, doesn't mean you should. As bastions of free thought and atheism, I think you should be taking advantage of every opportunity to bash religion, especially when it's really deserved.

DirkisMaximus

Jeremy said...

dirkismaximus,


You may find the Mosque offensive, but you do not have a right to not be offended. We restrict our liberties (or should) as a last resort, according to Mill's harm principle, when there is a real danger that innocent will suffer (inciting a riot, selling assault rifles to the criminally insane, etc.) not according to the momentary whims and prejudices of public opinion. The "yelling 'God Is Great' in a crowded theater" example (though meant to be clever) shows just how hollow the threat from this Mosque really is. Your reasoning could have been used against atheists assembling during the McCarthy era or against building Christian churches near the Oklahoma City bombing site. In other words, it is prejudice cloaked in reason.

A few words about your "bashing religion" comment: Bashing is something you do with a club--a blunt tool which doesn’t require much skill to use but is only good for destruction, not repair. We use finer more precise tools that, when wielded by skillful hands, do a more efficient job with less mess and hopefully leaves the patient more healthy than before (though maybe a bit sore). We'll leave the "bashing" strategy to less capable hands.

Anonymous said...

It's spelt (and pronounced) Dalai Lama, not Dali Lama.

Hugh Lambert said...

I appreciate the show and this episode. My own journey to reason is so very odd, especially as a "traditional" person born and living on an Indian reservation. I had evolved from Christian to Athiest to "traditionalist" to Humanist to Baha'i and now back to something of a humanist Baha'i. There is even some Tibetan Buddhism in there somewhere. I think "reason" has to be the basis for all of it. Keep up the good work. You guys are appreciated!

NaturalMary63 said...

Other than the book written by your guest, what book on Buddhism would you recommend that explains the material about it that you outline in the Episode 73 (I haven't listened to the other episodes about Buddhism yet, but of course, I want to learn it all, even if I would dismiss the supernatural bits.)

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