What is Wrong With Buddhism?

Woman meditating on grassy field

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If there is one religion which at least receives significant sympathy from irreligious atheists, and may even be accepted to varying degrees by a large number of atheists, it would have to be Buddhism. On the whole, Buddhism is regarded by many atheists as at least being less superstitious and irrational than most other religions and perhaps to a certain degree being reasonable enough to adopt.

Are There Any Irrational Elements to Buddhism?

This perspective may not be completely unjustified, but it's not nearly as justified as many seem to assume. There are in fact significantly irrational elements in Buddhism but far worse are some of the very anti-humanistic elements—elements which effectively allow or encourage the anti-social and immoral behavior. People can try to eliminate these aspects of Buddhism, but they are likely to eliminate so much that it's hard to call the leftover very Buddhist. For example: 

The major vehicle for achieving  enlightenment is meditation, a potent way to calm and comprehend our minds. The trouble is that research have shown meditation's effects to be highly unreliable, as James Austin, a neurologist and Zen Buddhist, points out in Zen and Brain.
The Buddhist doctrine of anatta holds that the self is an illusion. In fact, cognitive science has revealed that the mind is an emergent phenomenon, which is difficult to explain or predict in terms of its parts; few scientists would equate the property of emergence with nonexistence, as anatta does.
Much more dubious is Buddhism's claim that perceiving yourself as in some sense unreal will make you happier and more compassionate.
Buddhism holds that enlightenment makes you morally infallible—with this belief can easily excuse their teachers' abusive acts.​​​
Source: Slate

What Buddhism Shares With Other Religions

Although Buddhism seems so different from religions like Christianity and Islam that it doesn't look like it should be in the same category, it still shares with other religions a very basic element: a belief that the universe is in some fashion set up for our sake—or at least set up in a manner conducive to our needs. In Christianity, this is more obvious with the belief in a god that supposedly created the universe for our benefit. In Buddhism, it is expressed in the belief that there are cosmic laws that exist solely to process our "karma" and make it possible for us to "advance" in some fashion.

This is one of the most fundamental problems with religions—pretty much all religions. Although it's more of a problem in some and less of a problem in others, it's still a fairly consistent problem that people are falsely taught that there is something in or above the universe that has picked them out for special protection and consideration. Our existence is a product of luck, not divine intervention, and any improvements we achieve will be due to our own hard work, not a cosmic process or karma.

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Cline, Austin. "What is Wrong With Buddhism?" Learn Religions, Aug. 27, 2020, learnreligions.com/whats-wrong-with-buddhism-3975210. Cline, Austin. (2020, August 27). What is Wrong With Buddhism? Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/whats-wrong-with-buddhism-3975210 Cline, Austin. "What is Wrong With Buddhism?" Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/whats-wrong-with-buddhism-3975210 (accessed April 1, 2023).