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I found the article "Is evolution based on illogical premise?" in last Saturdays Winnipeg Free Press, by John M. Craig quite interesting and would like to share my views with your readers.
Many world religions claim that their holy books state that God created the universe and man. The interesting point is that each of these holy books claim that it is their God and only their God that created the universe and each holy book then describes an interesting story as to how this was accomplished.
Looking at the different holy books impartially, it is only fair to say that they all have an equal chance of being accurate. Each of these holy books have been read and researched by many of its followers who are convinced of the Truth found in their book. As acceptance is based on a book written many years after the death of its founder as opposed to direct experience, they all have equal right to their claim. As such if we had four religions that claim that their holy book is correct they each have 25% chances of being accurate just as if we had five religions that made such claim they each have 20% chances of being accurate.
In order to be fair by all the holy books, one could also presume that all of these Gods had a hand in the creation of the world. After all the universe is very complex. Unfortunately none of the holy books talk of such cooperation and harmony. And as such, it is doubtful if any of the theist religions are willing to accept such a possibility.
The possibility also exists that it is the same God that each holy book refers to with different names. The problem with this is that each holy book has a different account of how creation took place and a different description of the characteristics of their God. Some portray God as being compassionate while others portray God as being jealous and cruel. Different books may have different names for God but which of the books has the authentic version? It would be arrogant for any one to claim that his and only his holy book is correct, just because he happened to be born into a particular religious tradition.
I personally have no issue with any religion that wants to take the responsibility for creation so long as the said God takes full responsibility for His creation. If a scientists creates an advanced robot with super intelligence that benefits mankind he gets credit and accolade for his creation. But if his robot malfunctions and starts maiming and killing indiscriminately, the scientist is held responsible for its actions. Similarly a manufacturer of any item is fully responsible for its defects and the result and suffering that may be caused by its defects just as he enjoys the profits and accolades of his success.
As such it is logical that which ever God created the universe should be held fully responsible for His creation. The earth quakes, volcanoes, floods and famine that take countless lives and cause untold suffering are the results of the flaws in the creation of the world. And just as we can credit the creator God for the gentle rain and sun that resulted in a good harvest we can credit the creator God for the untold misery. Similarly the blind and the handicapped, the sick and the lame can credit God for their suffering and misery just as they credit God for their talents and good health. We could even go as far as to place all evil and good on Gods shoulders. After all God created man. Even if He decided to give free-will to man it was His sole decision and as such He should take responsibility for any lack of wisdom in such a decision. As an all-knowing God, I am sure he was aware that some of his creations would cause more suffering and misery than joy and happiness. (Beyond Belief - A.L. De Silva; BuddhaSasana web site).
The question then arises is God compassionate or is he omnipotent? All the misery and suffering in the world leads me to believe that He can not be both? Most people would like to assume that God is better than us and that our goal is to be as God like as possible and as such use Him as a role model. And yet, if we were omnipotent would we cause such misery? We now live in a society where we are taught to help our children grow with love and understanding as opposed to spanking and hitting. How does one relate to a God who kills and maims to teach us to grow? As I have previously indicated, despite my non-belief in creation, I have no issue with religions claiming that their God created the world. They have to, however, in my opinion take full responsibility for His creation.
I do, however, take exception to Mr. Craigs concluding statements. He writes, "In conclusion we are raising a generation of young people to believe that there is no God and that they are just accidents evolved from algae. What does this belief do to the value of human life and the basis of morality?..." Mr Craig implies that one can not be moral or value human life if one does not believe in a creator God. There are many people who do not believe in creation or an omnipotent creator God, who are moral. Compassion, loving kindness, generosity, tolerance, and universal responsibility exists in followers of every religion and in those that do not subscribe to any religion.
I would like to draw the readers attention to Buddhism, one such religion that has boundless compassion and wisdom that does not believe in an omnipotent creator God. And this is what the great scientist Albert Einstein says of Buddhism (What intellectuals say about Buddhism - Dr. K. Sri. Dhammananda):
The tolerance and compassion found in Buddhism has been acknowledge by all informed religious leaders just as the compassion found on the Sermon on the Mount is acknowledged by all religious leaders. In fact the similarities found in the Sermon on the Mount and the Dhammapada of the Buddha have been the authorship of many scholars and academics.
Dr. Roy. C Amore, professor of religion at the University of Windsor in his book Two masters one Message has done a wonderful comparison of the startling similarities and differences of the two religions and has come to some enlightening conclusions. Morality exists in both religions despite their different beliefs on creation. Is this just coincidence or is it possible that one religion borrowed from the other? Interesting reading especially as the Buddha was born more than 500 years before Christ. Gruber and Kirsten in their book, The Original Jesus - Buddhist Sources of Christianity goes into an in-depth study of not only the similarities in some of the teachings on morality but the historical beginning and spread of the teachings. These are but few of the books that address some of the similarities in two of the worlds leading theist and non-theist religions both of which contain deep compassion..
Dr. Paul Dahlke of Germany in his Buddhists Essays states, "It is the knowledge of the law of cause and effect, action and reaction, that urges a man to refrain from evil and gather good. A believer in cause and effect knows only too well that it is his own actions that make his life miserable or otherwise". Dr. Dahlke is referring to the Buddhist doctrine of kamma, where intentional wholesome and unwholesome actions have wholesome and unwholesome reactions at the opportune time and the doctrine of rebirth. Many scholars and academics have researched rebirth. Many Lives Many Masters - Brian Weiss MD, Rebirth as Doctrine and Experience - Francis Story, Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation- Ian Stevenson, and Many Mansions - Gina Cerminara are some that point towards rebirth and kamma. In this instance Dr. Dahlke shows that knowledge of the operation of the law of kamma and rebirth also leads its believers to morality. It is clear that belief in an omnipotent creator God is not an essential requirement for morality.
Jack Kornfield in his book A Path with Heart and Howard Cutler MD. and His Holiness The Dalai Lama in their book the Art of Happiness effectively convey the boundless compassion and loving kindness found in Buddhism a religion that does not believe in an omnipotent God or creation. Buddhism is a non-violent, compassionate religion, and throughout its peaceful existence of over 2500 years, not a drop of blood has been shed in the spread of the teaching of the Buddha. Unfortunately history does not support Mr. Craigs claims that belief in a creator God is required to value human life. Many theist religions have used the sword to spread their religion.
The compassion found in Buddhism extends to all living beings. Not only are Buddhists to refrain from killing all living beings but Buddhists are advised by the Buddha to refrain from any livelihood that is harmful to living beings such as the selling of animals for killing and manufacture and sale of weapons and armaments used in war fare. Practising Buddhists accept these precepts or modes of discipline (which are not commandments) after careful examination and understanding. And then with effort they try to live up to their commitment.
I believe that it is prudent to study all world religions before one claims that belief in an omnipotent God and creation are necessary for one to be moral. It is understandable for one who is brought up in a particular religious tradition to view the holy scriptures of that religion as being authentic. We must remember, however, that the frog in the well thinks it is the whole world. As we embark on the 21st century it is prudent that we study all world religions to find truth, compassion and tolerance. One will then see that morality and wholesomeness exists in every religion. All we need to do is to seek out the religion/philosophy/path that appeals to ones intellect and heart. Once one has confidence, gained through question and analytical examination of ones chosen path, one will practice with effort in order to reach ones spiritual potential. Human beings are varied and have different needs. Is it not wonderful that we have so many religious traditions to assist us in reaching our full spiritual potential?
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