Almost all of what secular Buddhist protests against in Buddhism, such as rebirth, for example, is not an academic criticism insofar a scholars have not come to any final word as to what the Buddha actually taught. Sure, there are many good educated guesses—some better than others. Nor do various sects, like Theravada have the final word. Rather the protest is an emotional reaction, a reaction against immaterial spirit.
More importantly, what the reaction reveals, or I should say, belies, is the fact that traditional Buddhism is being colonized by materialists who claim to be Buddhists. As part of their colonizing effort, ‘science’ replaces the former Christian missionaries whose job is now to convert native Buddhists using the new gospel of scientism. In other words, native Buddhism must be saved from its antiquated, outworn superstitions such as karma, rebirth and nirvana!
The colonizing efforts of the materialists like Stephen Batchelor and others certainly has to be stopped in its tracks. A line in the sand has to be drawn that separates the needs and goals of the natural and physical sciences from Buddhism as a spiritual science which has much different goals.
Personally, I would like to see a more clearly defined battle between the secular Buddhists and the true Buddhists for the hearts and minds of Western Buddhists, one in which the claim of scientism, namely, the only means of knowledge is through the natural and physical sciences, is crushed once and for all.