Thank you for bringing this up (and no, I’m not being sarcastic).
I’ve always admired the Buddhist ideals of vegetarianism (to refrain from doing violence), and the idea that inner peace can be cultivated despite the filth and corruption in the world. I also place a lot of credibility in the idea that suffering is often caused by desire . . . and that eliminating the desire can eliminate the suffering, which seems very relevant when one considers the mechanics of alcoholism, drug addiction, compulsive gambling, and so on.
I’ve recently had an interesting discussion with a religious person who made several interesting points that I’ve never considered . . . and these arguments are not only relevant toward your points about Buddhism, but also toward Christianity (and many other religions).
Basically, I said that abortion was an accepted practice (and even advertised on church community bulletin boards) until about 150 years ago, and then it became a religious and spiritual issue . . . so the force of tradition can’t be brought out by the pro-lifers.
He countered by asking me if scientific knowledge has evolved and become more refined with time, and I agree that it has.
So, because science is more advanced, does that make the science less relevant today than, say, 50 years ago?
“Of course not,” I replied.
"Then why do you believe that religion can’t evolve as well when new insights are codified? As an example, we have amendments to the Constitution. Slavery used to be considered Constitutional, but the Constitution was interpreted more precisely, which led to a determination that slavery is wrong.
"Why do you believe that it’s impossible to interpret religious scripture with greater precision . . . which shows that people before us were wrong, but it’s fixed now?
So, he argued that the permissiveness about abortion from 150 years ago was a mistake that is being remedied by paying attention to it now . . . with our deeper understanding of Christianity.
I’m sure we could make a similar argument about Buddhism.
However . . . I still asked my friend why it took thousands of years to reach the point where we’re fixing everything.