This was an interesting video by 8-bit philosophy on whether God is useful or not. The video explores the question of whether believing in God is useful or not, even if we can’t provide His existence scientifically. It’s a fun, thought-provoking video:
Although Buddhism is basically non-theist, or rather, God isn’t really a feature of Buddhism (nor does it really deny either), this is a good question to ask: is Buddhism useful even if we can’t prove all of it scientifically.
After all, the oldest extant sutras we have of the Buddha were written 400-500 years after his death, and concepts like the cycle of rebirth or karma are near impossible to prove in a rational, scientific standpoint. Sure, we have logical arguments, and a cohesive system of metaphysics in Buddhism, but can we prove any of that? Not with current technology at least.
So, while Buddhism doesn’t really have a central deity, there is a certain amount of faith required.
But at the same time, Buddhism does have a lot of this-worldly practical benefits too. Buddhism is, first and foremost, concerned with the mind and with one’s behavior. That’s why so much Buddhism is spent on the nature of the mind, habits, behaviors and ultimately how to mold them into something more wholesome, both for yourself and others.
A person doens’t have to follow Buddhist training of course, in the same way a person doesn’t have to exercise or eat a balanced diet. But a person who does can see tangible benefits here and now.
Indeed, in the Buddha’s own words, he really only taught two things:
“What I teach now as before, O monks, is suffering and the cessation of suffering.
Thus, if the Buddha’s teachings are carefully understood and carried, one has the clear benefit of understanding suffering (something which all beings undergo in some way or another), and how to end suffering. The issue of the Buddhist sutras or whether Buddhist rebirth is less important. That isn’t to say it doesn’t exist either, but rather the question is secondary to your situation right here and now, and the Buddhist training definitely applies to your life here and now, just as it does for future rebirths.
So, is it useful? I think so.
P.S. RIP Donatello
P.P.S. More on the subject from Soren Kierkegaard.