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The GOD Idea

bv Ven Dr. Kirinde Sri Dhammananda Sangha Nayaka Ph.D.D.Litt.
Courtesy : Vesak Lipi

Originally published by
VOICE OF BUDDHISM VOL.40.2006 May B.M.S Malaysia

The God Idea and belief in many (demi) gods and goddesses. Even the monotheistic God of recent times has gone through a variety of changes as it passed through different nations and people. The Hindu God is quite different from Gods of other faiths. Thus numerous religions came into existence: each one differed greatly from the other in the end, and each one says that 'God is One'.

To trace the origin and development of the God-idea, one must go back to the time when civilization was still in its infancy and modern science was still unknown. Primitive people, out of fear of and admiration towards natural phenomena, had believed in different spirits and gods. They used their belief in spirit and gods to from religions of their own. According to their respective circumstances and undersdaniong capacity different people worshipped different gods and founded different faiths. At the beginning of the God-idea, people worshipped many gods-gods of trees, streams, lightning, storm, winds, the sun and all other terrestrial phenomena. These gods were related to each and every act of nature.

Then gradually man began to attribute to these gods, sex and form as well as physical and mental characteristics of human beings. Human attributes were given to the gods: love, hate, jealousy, fear, pride, envy and other emotions found among human beings. From all these gods, there slowly grew a realization that the phenomena of the universe were not many but were one. This understanding gave rise to the monotheistic god of recent ages. In the process of development, the God-idea went through a variely of changing social and intellectual climates. It was regarded by different men in different ways. Some idealized god as the king of Heaven and Earth; they had a conception of god as a person. Others throught of god as an abstract principle. Some raised the ideal of Supreme deity to the highest heaven, while others brought it down to the lowest depths of theearth. Some pictured god in a paradise, while others made an idol and worshipped it. Some went so far as to say that there is no salvation without God, no matter how much good you do, you will not receive the fruits of your actions unless you act out of a faith in God.

The Atheists said, 'No' and went on to affirm that God did not really exist at all. The Skeptics or Agnostics said, 'We do not or we cannot know'. The Positivists say that the God-idea was a meaningless problem since the idea of the term God 'was not clear'. Thus there grew a variety of ideas and beliefs and names for the God- dea: pantheism, idolatry, belief in a formless god.

As each religion came into existence and developed around the God-idea, religion developed its own particular explanation of creation. Thus the God-idea became associated with various myths. People used the God-idea as a vehicle for their explanation of the existence of man and the nature of the universe. Today, intelligent men, who have carefully reviewed all the available facts, have come to the conclusion that, like the God-idea, the creation of myths must be regarded as an evolution of the human imagination which began with the misunderstanding of the phenomena of nature. These misunderstandings were rooted in the fear and ignorance of primitive man. Even today, man still retains his primitive interpretations of creation.

In the light of recent, scientific thinking, the theological definition of god is vague and hence has no place in the contemporary creation theories or myths. If man is created by an external source, then he must belong to that source and not to himself. According to Buddhism, man is responsible for everything he does. Thus Buddhists have no reason to believe that man came into existence in the human from through any external sources. They belive that man is here today because of his own action. He is neither punished nor rewarded by anyone but himself according to his own good and bad action. In the process of evolution, the human being came into existence. However, there are no Buddha-words to support the belief that the world was created by anybody. The scientific discovery of gradual development of the world-system conforms to the Buddha's Teachings.


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