The following is the second installment of our series, Answering Jainism. You can read the first part here.
Jinasenna’s 2nd Argument:
How could God have made this world without any raw material? If you say that he made this first, and then the world, you are faced with an endless regression.
Why does God need raw material? When the Christian speaks of God as the Creator of the universe, we are speaking of a mind. This mind is capable of creating the universe without raw material. If God requires raw material, then He is not powerful enough to create the universe.
This interjection by Jinasena proves that he did believe in the simple idea that something can not be created out of nothing. In other words, something must have always existed.
In the previous section we defined what it means for something to be eternal.
The first two chapters of the Bible – Genesis 1&2 – describes how God created the universe and how He rules over His Creation. Scriptures clearly state that God brought everything into motion by speaking. (Genesis 1:3-26)
Numerous other passages confirm this point:
- For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. – Psalm 33:9
- By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. – Hebrews 11:3
Now imagine the immense power a God would have if He could create all things simply by speaking, simply by thinking. This is true omnipotence. A God which requires source material to create the universe is not omnipotent.
A counter argument to God’s omnipotence is “if God is so powerful, then why is there suffering in the world?”
There are many other similar questions related to why our world is the way it is. We expect the world to be perfect, and in turn our lives to be perfect. If the world is any short of perfect – in that if pain or suffering exists – then that must automatically mean that God does not exist, or if He does exist, He is not omnipotent.
The problem with such arguments is that the idea of perfection is based upon our own definition of what is perfect. Those raising such questions should also ask themselves why God should make all things perfect? Is it proper to simply take away all suffering? What would such a thing require?
This reason why God would create an imperfect Creation is because only He can be perfect. God’s creation can not be God.
With this point, we segway into the next point raised by Jinassena:
Jinassena’s 3rd Argument:
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.
Here Jinassena commits the infraction mentioned earlier – he judges God based on a definition of perfection found in Jain philosophy, which is man made. In Jainism, a perfect soul can have no desire, since it is desire and attachment that leads to a soul bound by Karma.
Why would an all-powerful God who is outside of time and space be subjected to the laws of Karma?
Creation is evidence of God’s love for the universe, just as a child is born due to an act of love between a man and a woman. In this context, desire, love, mercy, and relationships are celebrated. Attachment is celebrated and is a moral act, not an immoral act.
What’s interesting here is that Jinasena brings up the symbolism of a potter. The Bible also uses the same symbolism, although in a completely different manner:
You turn things upside down!
Shall the potter be regarded as the clay,
that the thing made should say of its maker,
“He did not make me”;
or the thing formed say of him who formed it,
“He has no understanding”? (Isaiah 29:16 ESV)
Jinasena has done just this, flipped God’s law upon its head by judging God based upon the man made Jain philosophy.
One must wonder, why is there such a strong resilience to believe in a Creator God?
Man’s ultimate purpose according to Jain Dharma is to achieve Godhood. Godhood is defined as attaining infinite bliss, infinite knowledge, infinite power, and infinite perception once the soul is free from the cycle of birth and death.
The price you must pay to achieve Godhood is the abandonment of all desire, including love and relationships. Within the Jain philosophical framework, God creating the universe out of love is a direct violation of the definition of god, and therefore contradictory to its core philosophy.
A perfect God creating an imperfect Creation makes absolute logical sense, since not everyone can become God. The Bible warns numerous times of men attempting to become Gods, and the consequence of such a behavior. (Genesis 11:1-9)
Jain Dharma is a reflection of an attempt by men to become gods.