Do Buddhist believe in god?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Ben
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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by Ben » Thu Jul 05, 2012 11:20 am

And let us not forget the following:
Refutation of the Issaranimannana-hetu view
The Buddha declared "Monks, of these three views, there are some samanas and Brahmins who hold and set forth the following view: "All bodily and mentally agreeable sensations, all bodily and mentally disagreeable sensations and all indifferent sensations enjoyed by beings in the present existence are created by a supreme brahma or god".
I approach them and ask: "Friends, is it true that you hold and set forth this view: 'That all bodily and mentally agreeable sensations, all bodily and mentally disagreeable sensations, and all indifferent sensations enjoyed by beings in the present life are created by a supreme brahma or god'"
To this the samanas and brahmas reply, "Yes, venerable sir," Then I say to them "Friends if that be the case, there will be persons who, owing to the creation of a supreme brahma or god
1. will kill any living being,
2. will steal,
3. will tell lies,
4. will indulge in immoral sexual intercourse,
5. will slander,
6. will use harsh language,
7. will foolishly babble,
8. will be avaricious,
9. will maintain ill-will against others,
10. will maintain wrong views.
"Monks, indeed, in the minds of those who confidently and solely rely on the creation of a supreme brahma or god, there cannot arise such mental factors as desire-to-do and effort, as to differentiate between what actions should be done and what actions should be refrained from.
Monks, indeed, in the minds of those who cannot truly firmly differentiate between what actions should be done and what actions should be refrained from, and live without the application of mindfulness and self-restraint, there cannot arise righteous beliefs that are conducive to the cessation of defilements.
Monks this is the second factual statement to refute the heretical beliefs and views advanced by those samanas and brahmins who maintain that all sensations enjoyed by beings in the present life are created by a supreme brahma or god".

- Tika Nipata, in Sammaditthi Dipani, Ledi Sayadaw
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Cittasanto
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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by Cittasanto » Thu Jul 05, 2012 12:12 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Cittasanto wrote: which assumption?
Both the major assumptions you make in the two paragraphs I responded to. They are certainly not appropriate to my experience.
Please be more specific.
but to assume the abrahamic god is the only conception is also not a safe assumption when talking in a general sense, something many here have done.
I make no such assumption.
I am afraid I read the Abrahamic or brahma (of which I see no difference between) description in your first post which doesn't make reference to other forms of view on divine beings other than the Kammicly bound form found in Buddhism, and there are other views other than a first cause creator monotheistic god, which was my point there.
tilt wrote:
Cittasanto wrote: without a god?
Certainly without this god (DN 24): "That Worshipful God, the Great God, the Omnipotent, the Omniscient, the Organizer, the Protection, the Creator, the Most Perfect Ruler, the Designer and Orderer, the Father of All That Have Been and Shall Be, He by Whom we were created, He is permanent, Constant, Eternal, Unchanging, and He will remain so for ever and ever." Certainly without a god/godhead -- omniscient, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos -- as characterized in the Upansihads or the Gita, not to mention the atman as characterized in the Upansihads or the Gita.
I believe I have already explained there are other forms of god than this.
which is part of the answer to Buddhism being theistic or not.
tilt wrote:No one here is denying that there are "gods" found through out the suttas, but the gods, taken from the brahmanical pantheon, are certainly radically redefined so as to fit with the Buddha's understanding of reality,
and who is saying they are not?
but one aspect of theism does not encompass the whole of theism.
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He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by Cittasanto » Thu Jul 05, 2012 12:19 pm

sunyavadin wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:do you mean God as a alternative designation of Dhamma (reality and all it encompases) not as any being, as found in deistic or even some depictions of Brahma?
My way of thinking about 'God' is as 'the Not'. The Pali character 'a' is the negative particle - as in not-born, not-become, not-manifest. The Udana says 'if it weren't for the not-born, the not-fabricated, the not-manifest, there would be no escape from the born, the fabricated, the manifest'. My interpretation is that this is pointing to 'unconditioned mind' as a state of being. This is a lot more like a 'Mahayana' understanding though, I acknowledge that.

I don't believe in 'believing', though. That is why I am studying Buddhism and practicing meditation. I do ask myself, 'If I was Christian, what would I do differently?' I can't see any answer to that. I am not very impressed by 'belief', per se. You have to walk the walk.
Ok, but this could be problematic communicating here, as there are particular conventions here and your view may not be understood properly in context, so any refutation or disagreement warranted or not could be exaggerated unwittingly, more so than with other members.
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by kirk5a » Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:27 pm

tiltbillings wrote:If Theravada is "not absolutist not essentrialist" then there is no "The unconditioned, unborn." Awakening is -- by definition according to the Buddha -- freedom, liberation, from the conditioning of greed, hatred, and delusion; it is freedom. liberation, from any further rebirth.
The Buddha also defined awakening as turning one's mind away from form, feeling, perceptions, formations, and consciousness - and towards the deathless element.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by Zach » Thu Jul 05, 2012 4:49 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Zach wrote: Some throw the Baby out with the Bath water don't they ? There are many references to Gods within the Sutta's requesting Buddha to turn the wheel of Dharma, Granting him various protections and receiving teachings from him, It is important for those coming in from a monotheistic background to be able to eliminate delusions of a creator god as this could not fit in with Dependent origination but the Gods according to the system of the 6 realms seems perfectly reasonable beings enjoying marvelous forms based upon their Karma " After Death, After the break up of the body, Having performed good and virtuous deeds they will appear in the Good destination ( The higher realms) " :buddha1:
And we should not forget that these "gods" can be quite deluded.
Of course, With some exception to those who where students of Buddha. :buddha1:

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Jul 05, 2012 6:04 pm

kirk5a wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:If Theravada is "not absolutist not essentrialist" then there is no "The unconditioned, unborn." Awakening is -- by definition according to the Buddha -- freedom, liberation, from the conditioning of greed, hatred, and delusion; it is freedom. liberation, from any further rebirth.
The Buddha also defined awakening as turning one's mind away from form, feeling, perceptions, formations, and consciousness - and towards the deathless element.
The problem with "deathless element" is what is actually meant by "deathless" and by "element" in the Pali. Would you be kind enough to give us a careful exegetical exposition of these two words showing that nibbana/bodhi refers to some thing outside the arahant?
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by kirk5a » Thu Jul 05, 2012 6:58 pm

tiltbillings wrote:The problem with "deathless element" is what is actually meant by "deathless" and by "element" in the Pali. Would you be kind enough to give us a careful exegetical exposition of these two words showing that nibbana/bodhi refers to some thing outside the arahant?
No, because I did not say nibbana/bodhi refers to some thing outside the arahant. If you have difficulties with what I said above, then you have a difficulty with what is said in the suttas, not with my personal opinion.
He regards whatever phenomena there that are connected with feeling, perception, fabrications, & consciousness, as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a disintegration, an emptiness, not-self. He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

What you have said, on the other hand -" there is no "The unconditioned, unborn." " - is nowhere to be found in the suttas, commentaries ancient or modern, nor translated or explained in that fashion by the most skilled Pali to English translators in the world.
Last edited by kirk5a on Thu Jul 05, 2012 7:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Jul 05, 2012 7:06 pm

Cittasanto wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Cittasanto wrote: which assumption?
Both the major assumptions you make in the two paragraphs I responded to. They are certainly not appropriate to my experience.
Please be more specific.
What are your major assumptions in your two paragraphs in question?
I am afraid I read the Abrahamic or brahma (of which I see no difference between) description in your first post which doesn't make reference to other forms of view on divine beings other than the Kammicly bound form found in Buddhism, and there are other views other than a first cause creator monotheistic god, which was my point there.
Interestingly the kamma bound gods found in the suttas are derived from the immortal gods of the Brahmanical pantheon. Had the Buddha had to deal with Thor or the Greek/Roman/Celtic gods, or the gods of any other pantheon, there is no reason to assume that these gods would have fared any differently in light of the Buddha's insight.
Cittasanto wrote:
tilt wrote:
Cittasanto wrote: without a god?
Certainly without this god (DN 24): "That Worshipful God, the Great God, the Omnipotent, the Omniscient, the Organizer, the Protection, the Creator, the Most Perfect Ruler, the Designer and Orderer, the Father of All That Have Been and Shall Be, He by Whom we were created, He is permanent, Constant, Eternal, Unchanging, and He will remain so for ever and ever." Certainly without a god/godhead -- omniscient, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos -- as characterized in the Upansihads or the Gita, not to mention the atman as characterized in the Upansihads or the Gita.
I believe I have already explained there are other forms of god than this.
which is part of the answer to Buddhism being theistic or not.
What this passage and the various passages where the Buddha states that there is no first cause to be seen as well as the text (S ii 77) where the cosmos are discussed as well as MN 22 and MN 82 and paticcasamuppada covers it all: polytheism, mono-theism, deism, monisn, pantheism, panentheism and what ever other permutation there is of some sort of divine cause of the of the universe.
tilt wrote:No one here is denying that there are "gods" found through out the suttas, but the gods, taken from the brahmanical pantheon, are certainly radically redefined so as to fit with the Buddha's understanding of reality,
and who is saying they are not?
but one aspect of theism does not encompass the whole of theism.
Well, it is the underlying principle that the Buddha has put forth that addresses "the whole of theism."
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Jul 05, 2012 7:41 pm

kirk5a wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:The problem with "deathless element" is what is actually meant by "deathless" and by "element" in the Pali. Would you be kind enough to give us a careful exegetical exposition of these two words showing that nibbana/bodhi refers to some thing outside the arahant?
No, because I did not say nibbana/bodhi refers to some thing outside the arahant. If you have difficulties with what I said above, then you have a difficulty with what is said in the suttas, not with my personal opinion.
I do not have difficulty with what the suttas say, but I do question some translations of some very difficult technical terminology. Since you are putting "deathless element" out there, I am interested in seeing how you are seeing the word "element" used in the various suttas that would support "deathless element" as referring to some sort of thing.
He regards whatever phenomena there that are connected with feeling, perception, fabrications, & consciousness, as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a disintegration, an emptiness, not-self. He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
And the "property of deathlessness" is what? The text tells you and it makes my point
What you have said, on the other hand -" there is no "The unconditioned, unborn." " - is nowhere to be found in the suttas, commentaries ancient or modern, nor translated or explained in that fashion by the most skilled Pali to English translators in the world.
There is no "the unconditioned" in the sense that the two words seem to imply -- that is, there is no "the unconditioned" thing. The Buddha was very clear in his very straightforward definition of asankhata, badly translated as "the unconditioned." S.N. IV 359 and S.N. 362 we find: "That which is the destruction of greed, hatred and delusion is asankhata." That is to say, it is the freedom from the conditioning, being without the conditions, of those three unwholesome factors. As an awake individual one is no longer conditioned -- one is unconditioned, asankhata --, by the volitional conditions of greed, hatred, and delusion. It is hard to find a more straightforward definition, which is exactly the "property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding."

In the S.N. IV 251 and IV 321 we find: "That which is the destruction of greed, hatred and delusion is nibbana." Clearly nibbana/nirvana and
asankhata are equivalent terms, and "property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding" point to exactly the same thing, a letting go grounded in insight. There is no "property of deathlessness -- deathless element -- other than that, and all of this plays itself out in the mind/body process.

Itivuttaka, 37-8:
This said by the Blessed One, the Worthy One, was heard by me in this way:

"Monks, there is freedom from birth, freedom from becoming, freedom from making, freedom from conditioning. For, monks if there were not this freedom from birth, freedom from becoming, freedom from making, freedom from conditioning, then escape from that which is birth, becoming, making, conditioning, would not be known here. But, monks, because there is freedom from birth, freedom from becoming, freedom from making, freedom from conditioning, therefore the escape from that which is birth, becoming, making, conditioning is known."


[Here the Buddha, The Blessed One, offers his own verse commentary on the above statement.]

This meaning the Blessed One spoke, it is spoken here in this way:
That which is born, become, arisen, made, conditioned,
And thus unstable, put together of decay and death,
The seat of disease, brittle,
Caused and craving food,
That is not fit to find pleasure in.

Being freed of this, calmed beyond conjecture, stable,
Freed from birth, freed from arising, freed from sorrow,
Freed from passions, the elements of suffering stopped,
The conditioning [of greed, hatred and delusion] appeased,
This is ease [bliss].
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by kirk5a » Thu Jul 05, 2012 8:24 pm

tiltbillings wrote: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding[/b][/i]" point to exactly the same thing, a letting go grounded in insight. There is no "property of deathlessness -- deathless element -- other than that, and all of this plays itself out in the mind/body process.
So then you are saying that nibbana is the mind/body process. One of a certain type, namely, one where there is no craving. In that view, then, nibbana would be subject to cessation along with the mind/body process.
The conditioning [of greed, hatred and delusion] appeased,
This is ease [bliss].
So are you supposing that the "ease[bliss]" referred to there is a mind/body process?
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by daverupa » Thu Jul 05, 2012 8:28 pm

kirk5a wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding[/b][/i]" point to exactly the same thing, a letting go grounded in insight. There is no "property of deathlessness -- deathless element -- other than that, and all of this plays itself out in the mind/body process.
So then you are saying that nibbana is the mind/body process. One of a certain type, namely, one where there is no craving. In that view, then, nibbana would be subject to cessation along with the mind/body process.
I don't think he's saying that nibbana is that, but that it plays itself out therein. A living arahant's experience of nibbana is definitely subject to cessation, whereupon we call them parinibbanized (I paraphrase) and can say nothing more about the matter.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by Way~Farer » Thu Jul 05, 2012 10:23 pm

Tiltbillings wrote:Interestingly the kamma bound gods found in the suttas are derived from the immortal gods of the Brahmanical pantheon. Had the Buddha had to deal with Thor or the Greek/Roman/Celtic gods, or the gods of any other pantheon, there is no reason to assume that these gods would have fared any differently in light of the Buddha's insight.
Right! Very important point. 'The Gods' are very much the ancient pantheon of the Indo-European peoples.

Here's an interesting thing. The name 'Jupiter', chief of the Roman Gods (a.k.a. Zeus), is derived from 'Dyaus-Pitar', which is Sanskrit for 'Sky-Father'. I have always felt that to a great many people, both believers and atheists, have this figure in mind when they talk about 'God'.

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:45 am

kirk5a wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding[/b][/i]" point to exactly the same thing, a letting go grounded in insight. There is no "property of deathlessness -- deathless element -- other than that, and all of this plays itself out in the mind/body process.
So then you are saying that nibbana is the mind/body process.
I did not say that, but keep in mind: Who sees paticcasamuppada sees Dhamma, who sees Dhamma sees paticcasamuppda. - MN 1 190-1.
One [ mind/body process] of a certain type, namely, one where there is no craving. In that view, then, nibbana would be subject to cessation along with the mind/body process.
I would not make that assumption.
The conditioning [of greed, hatred and delusion] appeased,
This is ease [bliss].
So are you supposing that the "ease[bliss]" referred to there is a mind/body process?
The word here is sukha, ease, bliss. An interesting question: where/how is sukha experienced for the arahants?
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by Cittasanto » Fri Jul 06, 2012 2:58 am

tiltbillings wrote:What are your major assumptions in your two paragraphs in question?
you objected, so you should know!
Interestingly the kamma bound gods found in the suttas are derived from the immortal gods of the Brahmanical pantheon. Had the Buddha had to deal with Thor or the Greek/Roman/Celtic gods, or the gods of any other pantheon, there is no reason to assume that these gods would have fared any differently in light of the Buddha's insight.
and interestingly an assumption not made.
tilt wrote:What this passage and the various passages where the Buddha states that there is no first cause to be seen as well as the text (S ii 77) where the cosmos are discussed as well as MN 22 and MN 82 and paticcasamuppada covers it all: polytheism, mono-theism, deism, monisn, pantheism, panentheism and what ever other permutation there is of some sort of divine cause of the of the universe.
You are assuming all gods are first causes here.
tilt wrote:]Well, it is the underlying principle that the Buddha has put forth that addresses "the whole of theism."
yet not all gods are creation gods, some such as the greek pantheon were late comers after the creation, and the celts don't have a specific creation myth (strange considering the scribes were quite good at recording the myths.)
and as already pointed out theism isn't specifically the belief in a "creation god", rather the belief in at least one god.
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Jul 06, 2012 3:13 am

Cittasanto wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:What are your major assumptions in your two paragraphs in question?
you objected, so you should know!
You wrote the paragraphs, so you spell them out, we'll discuss them.
Interestingly the kamma bound gods found in the suttas are derived from the immortal gods of the Brahmanical pantheon. Had the Buddha had to deal with Thor or the Greek/Roman/Celtic gods, or the gods of any other pantheon, there is no reason to assume that these gods would have fared any differently in light of the Buddha's insight.
and interestingly an assumption not made.
I did not say you did make such an assumption, but I see that you are not addressing the point raised here.
You are assuming all gods are first causes here.
Not at all, but if a god is not a first cause, then what function might it have?



tilt wrote:]Well, it is the underlying principle that the Buddha has put forth that addresses "the whole of theism."
yet not all gods are creation gods, some such as the greek pantheon were late comers after the creation, and the celts don't have a specific creation myth (strange considering the scribes were quite good at recording the myths.)
And i have already carefully addressed that point and you have carefully ignored it.
and as already pointed out theism isn't specifically the belief in a "creation god", rather the belief in at least one god.
And that does not affect at all what I said.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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