Conversations at Starbuck’s, part II.
My son boogied next door to the Starbuck’s where where he was getting a footlong sub-sandwich from Subway... you know those 16-year-olds will eat you out of house and home. Me, I had to have a "cup-o-joe." As I was waiting for my venti java-chip frappachino with two add shots and caramel drizzled on the inside of the cup (yes, I am trying to beat the rapture), I noticed a guy reading a book. Being the bibliophile I am - (and Masters College being so close... brothers in the Lord and all that) - I accosted the guy and asked what he was reading. I was somewhat surprised to see he was reading the Urantia book. So my mind did a switch from a planned friendly conversation with a fellow seminary student to that of evangelism.
For those who do not know what the Urantia book is, I suggest a few stops online, as well as reading my intro to the new age:
- Watchman Expositor Profile: The Urantia Book;
- Apologetic Index: Urantia;
- A Crash Course in the New Age (long).
Now that you are caught up, I will continue. I sat beside the guy and mentioned that the Urantia book was an interesting read. He asked if I had read it, I mentioned that I had read large swaths of it. Naturally he asked what I thought of it, I said my feelings were mixed. I then asked him if he believed in reincarnation of the soul, he eventually answered yes.
I made mention of the Killing Fields and the fact that during the mass slaughter of people in Cambodia, people were fleeing (these people being Buddhists) into neighboring Buddhist nations. This influx of people created refugee camps. You would think that fellow Buddhists would be concerned about their own, but they were not. Because the Buddha taught that you are your own island, and you must work out your own karma. So these fellow Buddhists viewed these refugees plight through the lens of Eastern ideology. In other words, these people were starving and being killed and dying because of something they did in a previous life. It took many Christian organizations to come in and feed, clothe, and provide shelter to these Buddhists.
I then mentioned that this is why the holy men in India can walk by those who are maimed, starving, uneducated, and the like, and walk right by them. Why? Because they are in that predicament because of some built up karma. This is why it takes a Mother Theresa to literally adopt the city of Calcutta. As he was ingesting this, I continued my challenge:
I mentioned that the Urantia book was a message given to the author by an alien civilization through the means of automatic writing (where the author allows a spirit or some being to write through them while they are in an altered state of consciousness). I politely engaged him in conversation, challenging him at one point with this:
He was caught off guard I am sure because this is a poignant question that 1) has never been asked of him, 2) gets him to think internally about whether he has ever questioned his own thinking on the acceptance of such an occult text, and 3), how does he judge truth. This is the answer I got:
This answer is similar to those adherents of Scientology and also the "burning in the bosom" that Mormons experience. It is just that, experience, which are subjective at best. I then asked the gentlemen if he bases truth on his feelings, to which he responded positively to. I didn't press the issue as I had already challenged his thinking on other issues (I used some examples from a paper I did - I attached it if you are curious), but I could have continued with this line of thinking by comparing Hitler's feelings on truth as compared to those of Mother Theresa.
I hope this short brush with this guy will help you formulate a response to a self-refuting worldview, here I will post the end of a paper I did for my world religions class, enjoy (references have been removed for ease of publishing):
~ Adapted from an online debate many years ago ~
The law of cause and effect to which on the “spiritual” plain is called Karma. One writer says of the law:
Practically, karma is somewhat like Isaac Newton’s law: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Mark Albrecht continues:
Earlier Albrecht made the point that:
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.)
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 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 persons 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, I will remind them that evil is merely an illusion (maya – Hinduism; Sunyata – Buddhism) to be overcome, as karmic reincarnation demands.