Re: Religion and ethnocentrism

Peter D. Junger (junger@PDJ2-RA.F-REMOTE.CWRU.EDU)
Thu, 11 Apr 1996 07:30:48 -0400

Brian Michael Howell writes:

: To say that "religion" is expressed in a variety of ways is to imply that
: the content of religious belief is irrelevant. Muslims are not merely
: "expressing religion" they believe that a historical event, in which
: Allah gave teachings to Mohammed, actually happened. If you believe that
: this actually happened, how can you turn around and say that these
: teachings - GIVEN BY GOD! - are just one way to "express a universal?"
: The same can be said of Christianity, Judaism, and, to some extent
: Buddhism. These are not, in the belief if their adherents, merely
: ahistorical expressions of a human capacity for
: mythology/cosmology/whatever. They are historical instances of God
: interveining in human affairs or true enlightenment. You can encourage
: anyone in any of these systems to be tolerant (i.e. not want to attack,
: harm or insult) of other religions, but to tell them they should abandon
: the idea that they are exclusively true, is to tell them to abandon the
: core historical foundation of their beliefs.

Could you explain how you think that these remarks are true--even to
some extent--of Buddhism? Surely there are few, if any, Buddhist
schools that believe that their teachings are ``GIVEN BY GOD'', or even
that any of their teachings would be invalidated in any way if it turned
out to be the fact that the historical Buddha was clearly mythical, like
Amida Buddha. The Buddha taught, after all, that one should rely on
oneself and on the teachings, not on the Buddha.

This is not, of course, to deny that the Buddhists might well take the
positition that myths are true and that beliefs are irrelevant.

Peter D. Junger--Case Western Reserve University Law School--Cleveland, OH