I think you are drawn into arguments with people like these either out of
compassion or ego. If you engage with them thinking you might help them,
that could be compassion. If you engage with them to defend your beliefs or
yourself (your self), then it is ego-related.
I consider myself at the least an agnostic (a person who holds the view that
any ultimate reality such as God*) is unknown and probably unknowable) and
perhaps even an atheist (one who believes that there is no deity*). I do
believe there is 'an ultimate reality', but that ultimate reality is Just
THIS! It's everyday life - the ultimate WYSIWYG (What You See (and Touch
and Hear and Smell and Taste) Is What You Get).
Although I do not consider myself a Buddhist, I see no conflict between
Buddhism and either agnosticism or atheism.
Back to your question 'why are you drawn into arguments?', I think the
simple answer is that it is fun for you, maybe challenging. You do learn a
lot from arguments. They make you think about whatever the topic is in a
different way than you usually think. They certainly can be uncomfortable,
but I think they are healthy.
Just remember, especially when arguing about religion: almost all arguments
are based on logic, and logic is not the basis for religion. Faith is the
basis for religion. Don't let your opponent drag you into a logical
argument. Then you're on his territory.
And if all else fails you can fall back on the 'fact' that logic and
rationality is actually based on faith itself - faith in cause-and-effect.
I myself actually consider science itself a religion which is based on faith
in logic and cause-and-effect. When I think about this I'm always reminded
of a valuable story which compares logic and belief:
A European hunter was on a trip to Africa and was taking a trip up a river
on a boat which was propelled by a steam engine. He hired a couple natives
to keep the fire in the boiler stoked. When he hired them and told them
their assignment he explained very carefully how a steam engine works and
why it was important to keep the fire going. They understood, but
inevitably they would eventually stop shoving wood into the fire, the fire
would go out and the steam engine and the boat would stop. This happened
over and over again. His African guide watched all this and finally decided
he would have to sort this out. He told the men that there was a very
powerful, angry, vengeful and HUNGRY god living in the boiler. If they
didn't keep his belly full of wood he would become so enraged with hunger
that he would come out of the boiler and eat them! The boat never stopped
for lack of steam again.
Sometimes logic is not the most appropriate tool to use. Another example is
if a 3-year old child has just been run over by a car, talking to the mother
about momentum, kinetic force, inertia and the crushing threshold of a human
skull is not going to soothe her. Telling her that her child is now
'playing with the angles' or 'in the arms of Jesus' would be a better
From: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com [mailto:zen_fo...@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
Sent: Thursday, September 30, 2010 12:20 AM
Subject: [Zen] How to walk away from arguments
i have this frustrating tendency to get into arguments with random people on
the internet. I personally try to keep in civil, but I get discouraged by
all the insults and obnoxiousness.
Many of the arguments are about religion. I encounter a lot of so-called
"internet atheists" who seem to design their arguments to provoke people and
make self-congratulatory statements (although I wouldn't call them all
trolls). They spare no religion, citing examples of Buddhist violence or
badly misrepresenting concepts to make them sound like so much babble. (I
have some Christian beliefs, but they are not very orthodox, which they find
hard to understand and therefore I get a lot of "why not just give it all
So why do I feel the need to argue with these people? Why does my ego make
it so I feel the need to confront everything they say, not give them the
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