Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Jinasena on God

In her blog The Useless Tree, Namit Arora writes:

In 9th century CE India, a Jain teacher called Jinasena composed a
work called Mahapurana. The following is a quote from it.

Some foolish men declare that [a] Creator made the world. The
doctrine that the world was created is ill-advised, and should be
rejected. If god created the world, where was he before creation? If
you say he was transcendent then, and needed no support, where is he
now? No single being had the skill to make the world—for how can an
immaterial god create that which is material? How could god have made
the world without any raw material? If you say he made this first, and
then the world, you are faced with an endless regression. If you
declare that the raw material arose naturally you fall into another
fallacy, for the whole universe might thus have been its own creator,
and have risen equally naturally. If god created the world by an act
of will, without any raw material, then it is just his will made
nothing else and who will believe this silly stuff? If he is ever
perfect, and complete, how could the will to create have arisen in
him? If, on the other hand, he is not perfect, he could no more create
the universe than a potter could. If he is formless, actionless, and
all-embracing, how could he have created the world? Such a soul,
devoid of all modality, would have no desire to create anything. If
you say that he created to no purpose, because it was his nature to do
so then god is pointless. If he created in some kind of sport, it was
the sport of a foolish child, leading to trouble. If he created out of
love for living things and [in his] need of them he made the world,
why did he not make creation wholly blissful, free from misfortune?
Thus the doctrine that the world was created by god makes no sense at