Monday, January 4, 2010

Tiger Woods, Buddhism and the need for Redemption

21 comments:

synkarius said...

Saying that Buddhism offers no forgiveness is like saying that oranges don't offer protein or that football doesn't have home runs.

Forgiveness is not central in Buddhism like it is in Christianity. That doesn't mean that there aren't doctrines dealing with sexual misconduct- specifically, Right Action.

Hume should stick to what he does best. If you disagree, think how displeased you'd be if his suggestion had been the opposite.

(FTR, I'm not advocating Buddhism as much as criticising Hume.)

Todd Pruitt said...

synkarius,

It sounds to me like you don't understand what Hume was saying. His point (and it's the point of central importance) is that what Tiger needs is redemption not self-improvement. Buddhism does not have a category for redemption because it fails to understand the true nature of sin.

What he said is absolutely accurate.

Harley A. said...

Synkarius, I fail to see your point. It doesn’t matter whether Buddhism offers a category for forgiveness/atonement/redemption or not. Right or wrong, Hume’s argument was not illogical or out of bounds. Agree or disagree with him, fine – but at least present an argument rather than engage in sophistry. A good sophist can bring pretty much any argument to a stand still with plausible silliness that confuses the issue and leaves folks scratching their heads.

In reality, football doesn’t offer home runs. If a home run is what I need and I’m playing football, then I’m a very confused and unfortunate individual. For someone to come along and say, “hey, man, you’re gonna need to get a baseball game going to get any home runs” would be the most coherent, logical, and helpful argument to make. In fact, pretty much any other argument would be useless.

So, what you, in effect, did was to validate Hume’s point. You compared his argument to another equally valid (inferred) argument.

synkarius said...

Todd,

Self-improvement? Is that your perception of Buddhism? Buddhism is about removal of self, not improvement thereof. (Again, I'm not a Buddhist.)
I suppose you could say that Buddhism fails to understand sin. I respect your opinion and don't disagree, since I'm looking at this from an agnostic's perspective.

Consider my aforementioned challenge though. What would you have said about Hume if:
- Tiger was a Christian
- and Hume suggested Buddhism?
Wouldn't you say, in that case, that Hume was not only wrong, but also that he was stepping out of bounds?
My point is not whether he's right or wrong. My comments about Buddhism were intended to show how little Hume likely knows about it and how he therefore ought to stick to his area of expertise.

synkarius said...

Harley,

Sorry that my argument wasn't clear. Allow me to clarify, this time in propositional form:

A) Hume doesn't know much about Buddhism, as I attempted to evidence.
B) One shouldn't comment on television about matters about which one knows little, particularly sensitive issues like religion.
---Therefore:---
C) Hume shouldn't be talking religion.
(Sub-point: Hume may know Christianity, but he steps outside of that expertise when he mentions Buddhism.)

Also, you clearly understood my sports analogy, but I think you missed the point of it.
Hume thinks that Tiger needs Christian forgiveness to recover. He's assuming that Christian forgiveness is the only way to recover. This is analogous to a home run being the only way to win a game.
So, my food/sports analogies were intended to say, "Of course Tiger doesn't have forgiveness (because he's not a Christian); perhaps he has something else."

Are you still alright with agreeing to disagree?

synkarius said...

Hi again,

Sorry to triple-post, but I had another thought. My argument rests on Hume's ignorance of Buddhism, which I supported incompletely.
The reason that I believe Hume to be (please excuse the pun) unenlightened about Buddhism is that he seems to have assumed that there is no structure in Buddhism at all which deals with the consequences of what Christians call sin. You could counter, I suppose, that he doesn't have to know much about Buddhism to know that Christian forgiveness is not only superior, but the only way to recover, but if you counter with that, our debate ends,---- because, if I asked you how Hume could know that, you'd eventually fall back on evidence provided by the Holy Spirit, which I can neither confirm nor deny.

Todd Pruitt said...

synkarius,

Based upon what Hume actually said, you have no idea if he knows nothing or a great deal about Buddhism.

Also, I stand by my statement about buddhism as self-improvement. It seems that you know very little about Buddhism. Ultimately it is not about removal of self. It's about the removal of attatchments. "He who has many loves has many cares. He who has no love has no cares." I have never met a Buddhist (and I have known several) who did not see Buddhism as a means to improve themselves.

It is true that Buddhism has categories for wrongdoing. But this is a far cry from the biblical understanding of sin. What is more, in Buddhism it is not redemption that is needed but detatchment and enlightenment. Again, this is always man's prescription for his problem with the burden of sin - "How can I save (improve, etc) myself?"

If Hume had encouraged Woods to turn to Buddhism I would absolutely have criticized that prescription. Is that some sort of a grand discovery? Guess what. I'm a Christian. Everyone needs forgiveness and redemption in Christ. Buddhism is a man-made path toward self-salvation and therefore a destructive lie.

As it stands, what Hume said was true. Tiger Woods, you, me and every other son of Adam needs Jesus. There is simply no hope without Him.

Farming Family said...

Go Brit. We need more visible personalities saying things such as that. We need more preachers preaching the Word. We need more people voting according to God's Word. We need more discussions like this because the world needs Christ and Christ alone!

synkarius said...

Todd,

It's interesting that your Buddhist acquaintances read Buddhism like that. But I'd compare that sort of Buddhism to the Prosperity Gospel- you know, those preachers who say that your wealth is the degree of your faith. Both are aberrations of the actual doctrines they mock.

I agree though that the removal of attachments is a large part of Buddhism. But that's just the beginning, just as reading a Christian pamphlet version of the gospel wouldn't include the deeper things of the Christian faith, like the encouragement of testimony, sanctification, and the depth of grace. (How could you describe those things in a pamphlet anyway?)

I think I see where our disagreement stems from now. I, while not supporting Buddhism, also don't support Christianity, but rather assume that either of them has some psychological value.
You believe in Christ, and therefore the truth of Hume's assertion overrides what we even might agree is a lack of professionalism. (Do we agree on that?)

I ask you this then: is any proclamation of Christ's truth a good proclamation of Christ's truth? (Philippians 1:15-18 immediately comes to mind, but that's not exactly what I'm talking about, since I think Hume's motives were good.)

Harley A. said...

I am okay with agreeing to disagree. But I am also for the truth, and I believe that when two people disagree, we continue to pursue the truth.

It appears from your clarification that actually I did not fully understand your analogy. I originally understood you to mean that of course Tiger isn’t looking for true restoration because he isn’t playing within the game that offers truth (home runs) but rather in a game that offers only a fa├žade (touchdowns). Now, if I understand you correctly, you are expressing a more post-modern construct where home-runs and touchdowns both offer true restoration in their own way (not that we’ve even properly defined what we mean by restoration). And, why would Hume want him to find his restoration in homeruns when touchdowns offer him his version of restoration.

I have even more trouble with that analogy. The former was at least a sound argument, though I thought it was beside the point. The latter is not a sound argument, not to mention false.

What I find the most amazing is that folks are so agitated about Hume suggesting that perhaps Tiger may want to try a different approach to life. Seems like a fairly reasonable hypothesis to me at this point (and probably to Tiger as well). At least applaud Hume for coming at the story from a redemptive angel rather than a salacious one as the bulk of media are.

synkarius said...

Harley,

I agree that agreeing to disagree is a temporary way to keep in motion, not an endpoint. :)

It appears that you now do understand me correctly, as your summary is elegant and accurate.

Is my suggestion postmodern? I'd prefer "tolerant", but yes, I suppose there are some postmodern elements in there too. Let me be clear though: I don't think that two contradicting statements/viewpoints can both be true and would never suggest that "all roads lead to heaven" or any such nonsense.

Also, you're very much correct that Hume's approach is constructive and that he deserves applause for that. So let me say right now, Well Done Hume, in that regard.
And true, there's nothing to be lost by considering other angles, perspectives, etc. and perhaps a world to be gained by it.

I guess what's offensive about this is that Hume's remarks are a kind of superiority statement, not about himself, but about his religion--- which would seem totally appropriate if this were a televised religion debate or discussion--- but seems out of place in sports news.
It's not even like there's something wrong with making those kinds of remarks in general (even if one is less educated on relevant subjects than one should be). I guess it's the same thing that annoys people about product placement in movies or Mormons on your doorstep: wrong avenue.

Todd Pruitt said...

Harley,

Excellent point. Of all the commentary on Tiger Woods there has been one guy who has been compassionate enough to point him toward the source of forgiveness.

synkarius,
I don't agree that Hume was acting unprofessionally. He is a commentator for FOX. In dealing with one of the most famous men on the planet whose life is imploding it is entirely appropriate to wade into waters a bit deeper than "how will this effect his endorsement deals."

Also, I do believe that it was a postitive good for Hume to point to Christ (even though it was not a format to offer a full explanation of the gospel). It's good when done with good motives or bad (as your reference to Philippians reminds).

synkarius said...

Todd,

One final question. You said that if Hume would have prescribed Buddhism, you could have criticized that prescription. You're right: obviously you should criticize it since you disagree.

Here's the question: if Hume had suggested Buddhism, would he still have been acting professionally?
If yes, then I will be completely satisfied and un-bothered by our mildly different ideas of professionalism.
If no, then you'd be implying that professionalism is somehow dependent on one's religion, which I'd obviously call into question.

Todd Pruitt said...

Since Hume is a commentator now I would not have seen it as unprofessional for him to prescribe Buddhism. It would have simply been wrong.

Harley A. said...

Synkarius -

Good debate.

Genuinely curious - what are your theological/philosophical beliefs ?

I am a Christian, by the way...

Farming Family said...

Good and cordial debate.

synkarius said...

Good debate indeed, fellas. I enjoyed it.

Harley,

Theologically, I'm an agnostic, the "soft" type as Ravi Zacharias would say: I don't say that God is unknowable, but that I simply don't know God at present.

Philosophically, I'm a Libertarian and a Futurist. I believe in self possession, as all good Libertarians do. (Though I think it's logically groundless, only justifiable in a practical way.) I draw my hope from science and our accelerating future.

If you're wondering about my familiarity with Christian ideas, it's because I was a fairly devout Christian for a long time. Or I thought I was. (Not sure if I was never saved or if I still am, but am in a period of rebellion. It doesn't feel like rebellion though, so I'm guessing "never was".)
I guess you could say the falling out came through too much study. Unwilling to become a Christian liberal when faced with overwhelming intellectual doubts, I took the honorable route and became an agnostic.
So, I have no anger at Christians or Jesus, nor can I accept the atheists' claims (my faith is too small for that too). I view religions as being generally benevolent creations of man, one of which may be true (which would then obviously, not created by man).

synkarius said...

Er, and by "Christian liberal", I mean the kind that Machen warned about, who don't believe in anything, not the kind who voted for Obama. :)

Todd Pruitt said...

synkarius,

Thanks for your honesty. It is clear tht you have a Christian background. You even made reference to one of my heroes (Machen!). I must say that I find your reasoning to be much more intellectually consistent than Christian liberalism (which itself is unbelief).

You are welcome here anytime.

Harley A. said...

Thanks for sharing about yourself. I appreciate the intellectual honesty of admitting you don’t believe rather than proclaiming a shell of Christianity that isn’t really Christian at all. I do agree with your comment on atheism (takes a lot of faith), though I see it as simply a more extreme form of rebellion, moral in nature rather than intellectual. The atheist chooses outright fist-shaking rebellion, whereas you are in a time of sort of an aloof cold-shoulder. Please don’t leave off seeking Him – He is not far away.

As for all of our futures, I can tell you how they will end and save you the suspense ;)

synkarius said...

Oh, I won't stop looking...