Wednesday, March 7, 2012

God is Dead: Buddhist Response

Professor William Hamilton, who declared in the pages of Time that God is Dead, has died at 87.  Here is the Practical Buddhist's response:

I was in my third year of theology school when Hamilton was famous.  He'd thought about the problem of evil and decided there couldn't be an active God, so we'd have to re-vision Christianity non-theistically.  He lost his professorship and set off a firestorm that hardened positions on both sides. Of course he received death threats. 

I don't know what the fuss is about. If there is god, he, she or it is not "alive" or "dead."  Those terms are too limiting. The deity religionists imagine would be as far beyond those concepts as the image of a god as an old white man with a beard and a stern look. 

Buddhism is a non-theistic religion, but it does not deny the existence of any god or gods. We just don't know.  But we're pretty clear we can't use some narrow view of a god to intimidate or limit others. We're convinced that paying attention, practicing compassion, relieving suffering, and realizing our full potential are probably good things.

Even when I was a fairly conservative graduate student in theology years ago, I hoped that the god whose bishops blessed bullets and battleships, who condemned teenagers to the pits of fire for masturbation, and who considered all other religions inferior was long since in his holy grave.

God created man and man returned the favor.