Refuting Buddhism

I was thinking on Buddhism and was wondering if it was refutable. Some parts of it are so hard for me to wrap my head around, I can’t think of how to refute it. Has anyone seen anything refuting it?

Buddhism is purposefully vague, and thus irrefutable. What is there to disprove about the notion that meditation leads to “enlightenment”?

You could begin with the fact that the Buddha was an atheist who rejected the notion of a god. It makes the fact that he is worshiped as one kind of, well, ironic… I think that would count as irony.

I don’t believe that Buddha is worshipped by Buddhists. But there are many things in Buddhism that contradict Christianity. We could start with the view that creation is the source of all evil and suffering in the world. This contradicts the word of God who said that “it is good.” Then we could move on to our eternal destiny which in Buddhism means that you will become part of the “all”; basically a drop of water in the ocean. You will loose your individuality. Quite the opposite in Christianity where we will be reunited with our bodies at the resurrection and remain who we are.

Really? Huh, if I’m mistaken on that point I’d love to know so. I know very little about Buddhism, only that their founder was an atheist, and didn’t really like organized religion.

How about the fact that Buddha was only a man, therefore he was not divine, therefore his teachings are more a philosophy of life than a true religion?

Here is an article which might be helpful: “Can a Christian Practice Buddhism?” It gives the basics of Buddhism and why it is not compatible with Christianity.

An excerpt:

These four truths [in Buddhism] are: 1) life is suffering, 2) the cause of suffering is desire, 3) to be free from suffering we must detach from desire, and 4) the “eight-fold path” is the way to alleviate desire. The eight-fold path includes having right views, intentions, speech, actions, livelihood, effort, mindfulness and concentration. The final goal of Buddhism is not merely to eradicate desire, but to be free of suffering.

Northern Buddhism usually adheres to a pantheistic worldview while Southern Buddhism and schools like Zen Buddhism teach atheism. Buddhism may have some teachings that agree with Christianity such as some of the ethical teachings, but there are deep divides between the fundamental beliefs of Buddhists and those of Christians.

For instance, Buddhists do not believe in the existence of the soul. They believe people who think they have a soul are rooted in ignorance and in a desire to please one’s “self” and that we become truly enlightened only after we come to the realization that there is no such thing as a soul. Christians not only believe in the existence of the soul, but that the soul can achieve eternal life through Jesus Christ. Buddhists believe in a reincarnation of sorts, but not of the soul. This reincarnation involves some element of one’s former identity.

The author, Sue Brinkmann has several links at the bottom of the article to further reading.

May Christ’s peace be with you.

My understanding of Buddhism is that it rejects all metaphysical concepts and indeed all distinction between truth and falsehood. For this reason refuting it might be a bit like trying to grasp a gust of wind with your hands. I suppose the real refutation of it would be to assert something, anything, to be actually true.

The Buddha was not an atheist. He accepted the existence of gods, and on occasions preached to them. He did not consider the gods of any great importance; they were merely other living beings who were themselves in need of enlightenment, which is why he preached to them.

The main function of gods in Buddhist scriptures is to applaud at the right places when the Buddha is speaking. From the Buddhist point of view, Jesus-as-God is far less important than Jesus-as-Bodhisattva.

As to worship, in theory the Buddha is to be honoured, not worshipped, much as Catholic saints are to be honoured but not worshipped. In practice I am sure that there are some Buddhists who worship him. That is indeed ironic.


Buddhism is not an orthodoxy, it is not terribly interested in what people believe. Beliefs alone will not get you anywhere. Buddhism is an orthopraxy, actions are what count. What you do can get you somewhere.

Buddhism is a path. Believing about the path is not of any use. Walking along the path is what you should be doing.

To avoid all evil,
to cultivate good,
and to cleanse one’s mind -
this is the teaching of the Buddhas.

– Dhammapada 14:5

Given that emphasis, it is very difficult to “refute” Buddhism. I suppose you could find a different path and travel along it to reach nirvana, that would be a sort of refutation. Not an easy thing to do; it took the Buddha six years to reach enlightenment.


Buddhism is not really at all about God or worship. As rossum has pointed out, it is a philosophy, a way of live designed to help one escape the world of suffering and evil.

Why would you want to refute that which others hold to be true and valuable to their life’s journey? As the Buddhists say…the hand that point’s to the moon is not itself the moon. The fact that Buddhists have a different practice and tradition than your own should not lead you to question the sincerity of their seeking…in all seeking, we find.

The Aztec, Maya and Zapotec cultures all believed in human sacrifice as valuable to their life’s journey and they were very sincere about it. They had to appease the gods and if they did not they believed they may not eat next year. Would you charitably tolerate these beliefs because they are valuable to their Life’s journey?

No one is questioning the sincerity of anyone. What can be questioned, however, is the truth of their beliefs. We are free to question and they are free to answer.

Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby come to mind… Weird, I haven’t heard that story in DECADES.

I’m told that it actually takes a rather advanced course in philosophy to prove that 1 + 1 = 2.

Count me as uninterested, for the same reason.

“There are 10 kinds of people in the world. Those who understand binary, and those who don’t.” :smiley:


When talking to friends of other faiths, I find it useful to listen respectfully to what they believe. Inevitably, the opportunity to talk about Catholic teaching arises. That way, I’ve built understanding with them. Thomas Merton was greatly interested in Eastern religions but remained a faithful Catholic. :slight_smile:

Train of thought game!

So the pope walks into a bar and…

OK, I won’t derail you further. :wink:

As Rossum pointed out, beliefs aren’t important in Buddhism, so it might be hard to refute. I think your job would be rather to prove the truth of Christianity in a discussion with a Buddhist or someone considering Buddhism. And the first thing would be to make sure that your life really does reflect that of Christ. Practice is more important to the buddhist (and I would argue that it is more important in Christianity) than orthodoxy. What matters is that you live like Christ, not that you have all the correct philosophy and theology.


With the caveat that the former is a lot easier if you have the latter down pat. :wink:

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