It's always a pleasure to share perceptive well-written comments on this blog by Appreciative Reader. Below is my latest offering from him. I admire the breadth of knowledge Appreciative Reader has, along with his passion for truth. Calling out spurious reasoning (sometimes better called lies) by other commenters is a specialty of Appreciative Reader which I appreciate. This is a great example.
Some define God as, “I am that I am.” Others say, “God is Love.”
Some say God is a man with a beard who smites people.
Buddhists say it none of that but a place called Nirvana.
Everyone gets to define it how they see fit and believe accordingly. There is no one right definition for anyone.”
Posted by: 12 months left | April 15, 2023 at 10:33 PM
Hello, 12 months left.
Pardon me, I’m going to disagree again. Disagree strongly. And I’m going to be blunt about it, again. I’m sorry, I don’t wish to be the Internet ass that keeps on flogging some issue beyond the limits of courtesy -- despite being completely in the right about this, and despite only correcting your very egregious error here, but even so it’s not a pretty thing to keep on doing beyond a point -- and so, after this last comment I’ll stop doing that, for now at any rate.
You’re completely totally mistaken about, like, everything you’ve said in that short comment of yours.
First: No, Buddhists don’t have some “place” called Nirvana; and they most emphatically don’t equate Nirvana with God. To actual practicing Buddhists, Nirvana simply means cessation, and Nirvana refers to the state of being of the practitioner, the meditator, who’s overcome desire, and therefore attained cessation of the impulse towards extraversion.
That comes with some superstitions involving rebirth and cessation therefrom, as well, which is obviously all nonsense; but it can, from a secular perspective, be viewed as a psychological state; and in any case, no matter which perspective you’re coming from, the woo-laden or the secular, but in neither case is Nirvana a “place”, or in any way connected with God as the word is commonly understood.
(Qualification to the above: I’m referring here to Theravada Buddhism, as actually practiced, as well as most major strands of Buddhism that I’m familiar with. I’m adding this qualification here in order to be extra scrupulous about one thing: Some extra woo-woo versions of Buddhism, Pure Land for instance, do go in for different planes of existence, that sort of thing.
As far as I know Nirvana isn’t one of those planes, Nirvana refers to cessation of existence beyond those planes; but I’m not overly familiar with those branches of Buddhism, and it is possible I may be mistaken. Probably no-one looks on Nirvana as a place; and on the off chance that some whackjob sects do, then these would at most be a very small minority and most assuredly not representative of Buddhists in general. And none of them equate Nirvana with God.)
Second: No one defines God as “I am that I am”, or as love. The former is a cryptic answer by the deity of the Old Testament to Moses, and the latter is a poetic reference to what some believe is an attribute of God. But neither of those amounts to a definition, not as the word “definition” itself is commonly understood.
Third: That last paragraph of yours, comprising those two sentences, is a jaw-dropping instance of misdirection. I don’t say you’re being deliberately disingenuous; and quite possibly you’re deluding yourself here, rather than lying on purpose to try to obfuscate things for your readers here; but the end result is exactly the same.
That last sentence is fine: agreed, God does mean different things to different people, and no one can insist on one single definition that everyone must accept. But as for the sentence preceding that: no, people don’t get to define God in any random way they like, most emphatically not.
I can’t just go and define my neighbor’s dog as God, and claim that God is born, and that God will die in the next ten or fifteen years at most (unless He happens to die before that of illness or from some accident), and that God barks and yips and pees on bushes, and that when God is horny He will hump any likely bitch He can lay His paws on.
That’s patently ridiculous. You can’t just make up your own random definition like that -- or at least, while you *can* do that, in the sense that no one is going to shoot you in the head if you do it, but it’s completely nonsensical to use words that way.
Fourth: Don’t forget that when Aquinas used those arguments, he was referring to the Christian God. This is transparent sleight of hand. In fact, this is a classic motte-and-bailey gambit: where you introduce an innocuous-sounding uber-milquetoast version of your thesis, speaking of God merely as “first mover” -- a definition that no Christian actually believed in, and nor did Aquinas himself, we can be sure of that -- and then surreptitiously slip in all of the baggage that goes with the word God, like consciousness and intelligence (and also, in Aquinas’s case, omnipotence, and omniscience, and omnibenevolence) without actually making the case for all of that.
That’s plain disingenuous, that’s plain dishonest. Aquinas should have been ashamed of himself, for trying to bamboozle the gullible amongst his audience like that.
And finally: As I’ve already shown in my previous comment, even if for the sake of argument I should grant you that very dodgy definition of God, even then it simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Because those using Aquinas’s argument -- you, for instance -- basically employ not one but TWO strawmen simultaneously: first, in how you define God; and two, in how you describe the current scientific consensus on the origin of the cosmos. I’ve discussed that clearly, if briefly, in my previous comment, and will not repeat that here.
Sorry, that whole Aquinas crap you’re trying to slip in here is completely totally fully mistaken, and transparently so, from beginning to end.
Here's the previous comment by Appreciative Reader that he mentioned above.
Are we doing Aquinas again? That man was brilliant for his times, if disingenuous and deluded; but anyone who swallows his infantile nonsense today is a complete idiot. What is a strawman argument is the idea that something arose from nothing.
As has been pointed out, quantum fluctuations have existed forever, eternally -- should you favor that model. Defining God as the uncaused first principle is, again, what is dishonest, disingenuous, a fabrication, a lie. That is Aquinas's definition, but not how God is actually defined. He also needs, at the very least, to be intelligent and conscious -- not to mention a host of other things as well, including omniscient, and omnipotent, and omnibenevolent.
Without those attributes, you don't get God, certainly not the Christian God, and not any God I know of. Not only is your definition of God dicey, but even that dicey definition does not hold up to the gotcha you fondly imagine it is.
There are many cosmological models. Quantum fluctuations birthing just the one universe is just one of them. If you define God as quantum fluctuations, that is plain wrong, a lie: because no religion defines God like that, and you are simply piggy backing on science shamelessly and distorting the end results of science.
And in any case that does not correspond with the more detailed cosmological models, like multiverses, and bubble universes, and so forth. There may well have been NOT ONE SINGLE, UNITARY CREATIVE PRINCIPLE, BUT A HOST OF THEM. Again, for his times Aquinas was fairly smart; but those who swear by him today are ignorant morons.
The difference between ChatGPT and religious poseurs is that the former has the honesty to clearly admit its error/s when pointed out, and the decency to apologize. Religious propagandists, on the other hand, simply turn tail when their lies are exposed, only to return another day with those same lies; and nor have they the decency to apologize. Stop flogging that idiotic Aquinas nonsense.