David N. Snyder wrote:
I am going to take the specifically of a creator who intervenes in the universe, as an important qualification in the definition. And if I were to use the above definition then I would conclude that while gods exist within the Buddhist cosmology, it is essentially an atheistic doctrine because of the rejection of a creator who intervenes in the universe.
I agree with this definition. Opinions, definitions will vary, but I think this one applies to Buddhism, especially Theravada.
Cittasanto, what would you call Buddhism, theistic or non-theistic? Or what other label? If theistic, which type, monotheistic or polytheistic?
Monotheism does not apply for obvious reasons.
Polytheism does not apply since the gods are not eternal and are samsaric beings, sometimes with attainments and powers, sometimes with no attainments and full of delusion.
Non-theistic applies the most and is how Buddhism is most often described, which makes it de facto atheistic too in the definition above.
well I have used Theism initially as it is also an umbrella term for the different varying beliefs about god/s, i.e. its broadest meaning is a belief in at least
one god, so I would not call it either poly or mono-theistic, although poly does have more advantages as a term for descriptive purposes due to the implication of the immortality it could only be used in explaining later.
Atheistic does not apply due to the illiberality of the beings in the canon, as noted in the OP, and its strictest meaning an affirmation that there is no monotheistic god does not mean that they would accept after evaluation polytheistic views, it is just an affirmation against the cultural backdrop view which allot of people who call themselves atheists are within. Although this literal depiction does not discount applying the lessons for anyone.
I did initially consider deistic although as this still implies the first cause i find it a tricky term, although as noted earlier Ven Analayo does note the refutation does not necessarily apply to the deistic conception, although I would suspect it would fall in one of the categories of gods listed in the hierarchy, doesn't mean that it does, only that the beginning point, whether deistic or otherwise is not knowable.
non-theistic "approach" (with the qualifier) seams to fit best, as it is not discounting the literalistic stance the canon takes on gods within the text like atheism (and thus causing more problems than it is worth) and most importantly regarding the theistic view removes the centrality of the gods (which is a similar problem with the term theology when talking about Buddhist studies). with my initial support for theism being based on the umbrella term rather than any specific theoretical views implied.
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