Creator in Buddhism

Buddhist thought consistently rejects the notion of a creator deity.[1][2] It teaches the concept of gods, heavens and rebirths in its Saṃsāra doctrine, but it considers none of these gods as a creator. Buddhism posits that mundane deities such as Mahabrahma are misconstrued to be a creator.[3] Buddhist ontology follows the doctrine of Dependent Origination, whereby all phenomena arise in dependence on other phenomena, hence no primal unmoved mover could be acknowledged or discerned.

Early Buddhist texts

According to Buddhologist Richard Hayes, the early Buddhist Nikaya literature treats the question of the existence of a creator god "primarily from either an epistemological point of view or a moral point of view". In these texts the Buddha is portrayed not as a creator-denying atheist who claims to be able to prove such a God's nonexistence, but rather his focus is other teachers' claims that their teachings lead to the highest good.[4]

Citing the Devadaha Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 101), Hayes states, "while the reader is left to conclude that it is attachment rather than God, actions in past lives, fate, type of birth or efforts in this life that is responsible for our experiences of sorrow, no systematic argument is given in an attempt to disprove the existence of God."[5]

Mahabrahma as a false creator

According to Peter Harvey, Buddhism assumes that the universe has no ultimate beginning to it, and thus sees no need for a creator God. In the early texts of Buddhism, the nearest term to this concept is "Great Brahma" (MahaBrahma) such as in Digha Nikaya 1.18.[3] However "[w]hile being kind and compassionate, none of the brahmās are world-creators."[6]

In the Pali canon, Buddhism includes the concept of reborn gods.[7] According to this theory, periodically the physical world system ends and beings of that world system are reborn as gods in lower heavens. This too ends, according to Buddhist cosmology, and god Mahabrahma is then born, who is alone. He longs for the presence of others, and the others gods are reborn as his ministers and companions.[7] Mahabrahma, states the Buddhist Canon, forgets his past lives, and falsely believes himself to be the Creator, Maker, All-seeing, the Lord. This belief, state the Buddhist texts, is then shared by other gods. Eventually, however one of the gods die and is reborn as human with the power to remember his previous life.[3] He teaches what he remembers from his previous life in lower heaven, that Mahabrahma is the Creator. It is this that leads to the human belief in Creator, according to the Pali Canon.[3]

According to Harvey, "[a]fter a long period, the three lowest form heavens appear, and a Streaming Radiance god dies and is reborn there as a Great Brahmā."[8] Then "other Streaming Radiance gods die and happen to be reborn, due to their karma, as his ministers and retinue."[9] The retinue erroneously believes Mahabrahma created them.[9] When one of these ministers "eventually dies and is reborn as a human, he develops the power to remember his previous life, and consequently teaches that Great Brahmā is the eternal creator of all beings."[6]

Medieval philosophers

Vasubandhu

The 5th-century Buddhist philosopher Vasubandhu argued that a creator's singular identity is incompatible with creating the world in his Abhidharmakosha.[10]

The Chinese monk Xuanzang (fl. c. 602–664) studied Buddhism in India during the seventh century, staying at Nalanda. There, he studied the Yogacara teachings passed down from Asanga and Vasubandhu and taught to him by the abbot Śīlabhadra. In his work Cheng Weishi Lun (Skt. Vijñāptimātratāsiddhi śāstra), Xuanzang refutes a "Great Lord" or Great Brahmā doctrine:[11]

According to one doctrine, there is a great, self-existent deity whose substance is real and who is all-pervading, eternal, and the producer of all phenomena. This doctrine is unreasonable. If something produces something, it is not eternal, the non-eternal is not all-pervading, and what is not all-pervading is not real. If the deity's substance is all-pervading and eternal, it must contain all powers and be able to produce all dharmas everywhere, at all times, and simultaneously. If he produces dharma when a desire arises, or according to conditions, this contradicts the doctrine of a single cause. Or else, desires and conditions would arise spontaneously since the cause is eternal. Other doctrines claim that there is a great Brahma, a Time, a Space, a Starting Point, a Nature, an Ether, a Self, etc., that is eternal and really exists, is endowed with all powers, and is able to produce all dharmas. We refute all these in the same way we did the concept of the Great Lord.[12]

Others

The 7th-century Buddhist scholar Dharmakīrti advances a number of arguments against the existence of a creator god in his Pramāṇavārtika, following in the footsteps of Vasubandhu.[13] Later Mahayana scholars such as Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla continued this tradition.[14]

The 11th-century Buddhist philosopher Ratnakīrti at the then university at Vikramashila (now Bhagalpur, Bihar) criticized the arguments for the existence of God-like being called Isvara, that emerged in the Navya-Nyaya sub-school of Hinduism, in his “Refutation of Arguments Establishing Īśvara” (Īśvara-sādhana-dūṣaṇa). These arguments are similar to those used by other sub-schools of Hinduism and Jainism that questioned the Navya-Nyaya theory of dualistic creator.[15]

See also

References

  1. ^ Taliaferro 2013, p. 35.
  2. ^ Blackburn, Anne M.; Samuels, Jeffrey (2003). "II. Denial of God in Buddhism and the Reasons Behind It". Approaching the Dhamma: Buddhist Texts and Practices in South and Southeast Asia. Pariyatti. pp. 128–146. ISBN 978-1-928706-19-9.
  3. ^ a b c d Harvey 2013, p. 36-8.
  4. ^ Hayes, Richard P., "Principled Atheism in the Buddhist Scholastic Tradition", Journal of Indian Philosophy, 16:1 (1988:Mar) pgs 5-6, 8
  5. ^ Hayes, Richard P., "Principled Atheism in the Buddhist Scholastic Tradition", Journal of Indian Philosophy, 16:1 (1988:Mar) pgs 9-10
  6. ^ a b Harvey 2013, p. 37.
  7. ^ a b Harvey 2013, p. 36-37.
  8. ^ Harvey 2013, p. 36.
  9. ^ a b Harvey 2013, p. 36-7.
  10. ^ Hayes, Richard P., "Principled Atheism in the Buddhist Scholastic Tradition", Journal of Indian Philosophy, 16:1 (1988:Mar.) pg 11-15.
  11. ^ Cook, Francis, Chʿeng Wei Shih Lun (Three Texts on Consciousness Only), Numata Center, Berkeley, 1999, ISBN 978-1886439047, pp. 20-21.
  12. ^ Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research (January 1999). Chʿeng Wei Shih Lun. 仏教伝道協会. pp. 20–22. ISBN 978-1-886439-04-7.
  13. ^ Hayes, Richard P., "Principled Atheism in the Buddhist Scholastic Tradition," Journal of Indian Philosophy, 16:1 (1988:Mar.) pg 12
  14. ^ Hayes, Richard P., "Principled Atheism in the Buddhist Scholastic Tradition," Journal of Indian Philosophy, 16:1 (1988:Mar.) pg 14
  15. ^ Parimal G. Patil. Against a Hindu God: Buddhist Philosophy of Religion in India. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009. pp. 3-4, 61-66 with footnotes, ISBN 978-0-231-14222-9.

Bibliography

Anti-Evolution League of America

The Anti-Evolution League of America was an Adamist organization created in 1924 a year after William Bell Riley founded the Anti-Evolution League of Minnesota. The first president was the Kentucky preacher Dr. J. W. Porter and T. T. Martin of Mississippi was field secretary and editor of the organization's official organ, The Conflict. The organization was behind anti-evolution legislation in Kentucky, where its efforts were supported by William Jennings Bryan. Following Bryan's death after the Scopes Trial, his son, William Jennings Bryan, Jr., briefly accepted the presidency of the league.

Apatheism

Apatheism (; a portmanteau of apathy and theism) is the attitude of apathy towards the existence or non-existence of god(s). It is more of an attitude rather than a belief, claim, or belief system.An apatheist is someone who is not interested in accepting or rejecting any claims that gods exist or do not exist. The existence of god(s) is not rejected, but may be designated irrelevant.Scientist and philosopher Ian von Hegner has argued that apatheism is an alternative to positions such as theism, atheism, and agnosticism, with implications that have been overlooked in modern philosophical discussions. Philosopher Trevor Hedberg has called apatheism "uncharted territory in the philosophy of religion."

Created kind

In Christian and Jewish creationism, a religious view based on the creation account of the book of Genesis, created kinds are purported to be the original forms of life as they were created by God. They are also referred to as kinds, original kinds, Genesis kinds, and baramin (a neologism coined by combining the Hebrew words bara [created] and min [kind], though the combination does not work syntactically in actual Hebrew). The idea is promulgated by young Earth creationist organizations and preachers as a means to support their belief in the literal veracity of the Genesis creation myth as well as their contention that the ancestors of all land-based life on Earth were housed on Noah's ark before a great flood. Old earth creationists also employ the concept, rejecting the idea of common descent. In contrast to young Earth creationists, old earth creationists do not necessarily believe all land-based life was housed on the ark, and some accept some evolutionary change within the given kinds has occurred.

In contrast to the scientific theory of common descent, these creationists argue that not all life on Earth is related, but that life was created by God in a finite number of discrete forms. This viewpoint claims that kinds cannot interbreed and have no evolutionary relationship to one another.

Creation Research Society

The Creation Research Society (CRS) is a Christian research group that engages in creation science. The organization has produced various publications, including a journal and a creation-based biology textbook. During the first few years of its existence, different beliefs about Creationism and disagreement over its statement of beliefs resulted in various members of the board and voting members being forced out of the organization.

Creationist museum

A creationist museum is a facility that hosts exhibits which use the established natural history museum format to present a young Earth creationist view that the Earth and life on Earth were created some 6,000 to 10,000 years ago in six days. These facilities generally promote pseudoscientific Biblical literalist creationism and contest evolutionary science, which has led to heavy criticism from the scientific community.

Day-age creationism

Day-age creationism, a type of old Earth creationism, is an interpretation of the creation accounts in Genesis. It holds that the six days referred to in the Genesis account of creation are not ordinary 24-hour days, but are much longer periods (from thousands to billions of years). The Genesis account is then reconciled with the age of the Earth. Proponents of the day-age theory can be found among both theistic evolutionists, who accept the scientific consensus on evolution, and progressive creationists, who reject it. The theories are said to be built on the understanding that the Hebrew word yom is also used to refer to a time period, with a beginning and an end and not necessarily that of a 24-hour day.

The differences between the young Earth interpretation of Genesis and modern scientific theories such as Big Bang, abiogenesis, and common descent are significant. The young Earth interpretation says that everything in the universe and on Earth was created in six 24-hour days, estimated to have occurred some 6,000 years ago. Modern scientific observations, however, put the age of the universe at 13.8 billion years and the Earth at 4.5 billion years, with various forms of life, including humans, being formed gradually over time.

The day-age theory attempts to reconcile these views by asserting that the creation "days" were not ordinary 24-hour days, but actually lasted for long periods of time (as day-age implies, the "days" each lasted an age). According to this view, the sequence and duration of the creation "days" may be paralleled to the scientific consensus for the age of the earth and the universe.

Deva (Buddhism)

A deva (देव Sanskrit and Pāli, Mongolian tenger (тэнгэр)) in Buddhism is one of many different types of non-human beings who share the godlike characteristics of being more powerful, longer-lived, and, in general, much happier than humans, although the same level of veneration is not paid to them as to buddhas. The concept of devas was adopted in Japan partly because of the similarity to the Shinto's concept of kami.

Other words used in Buddhist texts to refer to similar supernatural beings are devatā ("divinity") and devaputta ("son of god"). While the former is a synonym for deva ("deity"), the latter refers specifically to one of these beings who is young and has newly arisen in its heavenly world.

Gap creationism

Gap creationism (also known as ruin-restoration creationism, restoration creationism, or "the Gap Theory") is a form of old Earth creationism that posits that the six-yom creation period, as described in the Book of Genesis, involved six literal 24-hour days (light being "day" and dark "night" as God specified), but that there was a gap of time between two distinct creations in the first and the second verses of Genesis, which the theory states explains many scientific observations, including the age of the Earth. It differs from day-age creationism, which posits that the 'days' of creation were much longer periods (of thousands or millions of years), and from young Earth creationism, which although it agrees concerning the six literal 24-hour days of creation, does not posit any gap of time.

Geoscience Research Institute

The Geoscience Research Institute (GRI) is a creationist institute of the Seventh-day Adventist Church that specializes in "original research and the study of scientific and Biblical literature". Founded in 1958, it is located on the campus of Loma Linda University in California.

In keeping with the teachings of the church, they have a young Earth creationist agenda, with beliefs based on a literalist interpretation of the Genesis creation narrative and rejection of the scientific theory of evolution from a single ancestor for all life forms.

Islamic views on evolution

Islamic views on evolution are diverse, ranging from theistic evolution to Old Earth creationism. Some Muslims around the world believe "humans and other living things have evolved over time," yet some others believe they have "always existed in present form." Muslim thinkers have proposed and accepted elements of the theory of evolution, some holding the belief of the supremacy of God in the process. Usaama al-Azami suggested that both narratives of creation and of evolution, as understood by modern science, may be believed by modern Muslims as addressing two different kinds of truth, the revealed and the empirical. Muneer Al-Ali argues that faith and science can be integrated and complement each other.

List of Catholic creationist organisations

This is a list of Roman Catholic creationist organisations.

Neo-creationism

Neo-creationism is a pseudoscientific movement which aims to restate creationism in terms more likely to be well received by the public, by policy makers, by educators and by the scientific community. It aims to re-frame the debate over the origins of life in non-religious terms and without appeals to scripture. This comes in response to the 1987 ruling by the United States Supreme Court in Edwards v. Aguillard that creationism is an inherently religious concept and that advocating it as correct or accurate in public-school curricula violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.One of the principal claims of neo-creationism propounds that ostensibly objective orthodox science, with a foundation in naturalism, is actually a dogmatically atheistic religion. Its proponents argue that the scientific method excludes certain explanations of phenomena, particularly where they point towards supernatural elements, thus effectively excluding religious insight from contributing to understanding the universe. This leads to an open and often hostile opposition to what neo-creationists term "Darwinism", which they generally mean to refer to evolution, but which they may extend to include such concepts as abiogenesis, stellar evolution and the Big Bang theory.

Notable neo-creationist organizations include the Discovery Institute and its Center for Science and Culture. Neo-creationists have yet to establish a recognized line of legitimate scientific research and as of 2015 lack scientific and academic legitimacy, even among many academics of evangelical Christian colleges. Eugenie C. Scott and other critics regard neo-creationism as the most successful form of irrationalism. The main form of neo-creationism is intelligent design. A second form, abrupt appearance theory, which claims that the first life and the universe appeared abruptly and that plants and animals appeared abruptly in complex form, has occasionally been postulated.

Nylon-eating bacteria and creationism

The discovery of nylon-eating bacteria has been used by critics of creationism and intelligent design, in both print articles and on websites, to challenge creationist claims. These bacteria can produce novel enzymes that allow them to feed on by-products of nylon manufacture which did not exist prior to the invention of nylon in the 1930s. Critics of creationism have argued that this contradicts creationist claims that no new information can be added to a genome by mutation, and that proteins are too complex to evolve through a process of mutation and natural selection. Creationists have posted responses to these challenges on their own websites, which have in turn generated more responses from their critics.

Old Earth creationism

Old Earth creationism is a form of creationism which includes gap creationism, progressive creationism, and theistic evolution. Old Earth creationism is typically more compatible with the scientific evidence on the issues of physics, chemistry, geology, and the age of the Earth, in contrast to young Earth creationism.

Omphalos hypothesis

The omphalos hypothesis is one attempt to reconcile the scientific evidence that the universe is billions of years old with the Genesis creation narrative, which implies that the Earth is only a few thousand years old. It is based on the religious belief that the universe was created by a divine being, within the past ten thousand years (in keeping with flood geology), and that the presence of objective, verifiable evidence that the universe is older than approximately ten millennia is entirely due to the creator introducing false evidence that makes the universe appear much, much older.

The idea was named after the title of an 1857 book, Omphalos by Philip Henry Gosse, in which Gosse argued that in order for the world to be "functional", God must have created the Earth with mountains and canyons, trees with growth rings, Adam and Eve with hair, fingernails, and navels (ὀμφαλός omphalos is Greek for "navel"), and that therefore no empirical evidence about the age of the Earth or universe can be taken as reliable.

Various supporters of Young Earth creationism have given different explanations for their belief that the universe is filled with false evidence of the universe's age, including a belief that some things needed to be created at a certain age for the ecosystems to function, or their belief that the creator was deliberately planting deceptive evidence.

The idea was widely rejected in the 19th century, when Gosse published his book. It saw some revival in the 20th century by some Young Earth creationists, who extended the argument to include visible light that appears to originate in far-off stars and galaxies.

Problem of the creator of God

The problem of the creator of God is the controversy regarding the hypothetical cause responsible for the existence of God, presuming God exists. A common challenge to theistic propositions of a creator deity as a necessary first-cause explanation for the universe is the question: "Who created God?". It contests the proposition that the universe cannot exist without a creator by asserting that the creator of the universe must have the same restrictions. This, in turn, may lead to a problem of infinite regress wherein each newly presumed creator of a creator is itself presumed to have its own creator.

Some faith traditions have such an element as part of their doctrine. Jainism posits that the universe is eternal and has always existed. In Mormonism it is believed that the God of this Earth was once a mortal human, who had a father of his own. Ismailism rejects the idea of God as the first cause, due to the doctrine of God's incomparability and source of any existence including abstract objects.

Progressive creationism

Progressive creationism (see for comparison intelligent design) is the religious belief that God created new forms of life gradually over a period of hundreds of millions of years. As a form of old Earth creationism, it accepts mainstream geological and cosmological estimates for the age of the Earth, some tenets of biology such as microevolution as well as archaeology to make its case. In this view creation occurred in rapid bursts in which all "kinds" of plants and animals appear in stages lasting millions of years. The bursts are followed by periods of stasis or equilibrium to accommodate new arrivals. These bursts represent instances of God creating new types of organisms by divine intervention. As viewed from the archaeological record, progressive creationism holds that "species do not gradually appear by the steady transformation of its ancestors; [but] appear all at once and "fully formed."The view rejects macroevolution, claiming it is biologically untenable and not supported by the fossil record, as well as rejects the concept of universal descent from a last universal common ancestor. Thus the evidence for macroevolution is claimed to be false, but microevolution is accepted as a genetic parameter designed by the Creator into the fabric of genetics to allow for environmental adaptations and survival. Generally, it is viewed by proponents as a middle ground between literal creationism and evolution.

Special creation

In Creationism, special creation is a theological doctrine which states that the universe and all life in it originated in its present form by unconditional fiat or divine decree.

Roman Catholicism uses the phrase in two different senses: both to refer to the doctrine of immediate or special creation of each human soul, and to refer, in the context of theistic evolution, to the "special creation of humans", a point of hominization where evolved near-human animals were given souls by God, and became fully human; this belief is also called "special transformism".

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