Jinasena – critique of creation ex nihilo
I was reading about Jainism and came across this 9th century argument against a universal creation. I like them.
“Some foolish men declare that Creator made the world. The doctrine that the world was created is ill-advised, and should be rejected.
1. If god created the world, where was he before creation?
If the “world” is all that there is then God must have created himself in the process of creation.
2. If you say he was transcendent then, and needed no support, where is he now?
And if where he is is not a part of his creation, then who created that?
3. 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 face 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.
This is really the essence of my comments to #1 and #2.
4. 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?
5. 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.
This is a very powerful point. If God is literally perfect and complete and unchanging then the universe must be as old as He is because His will to create it must be co-terminus with Himself. If He is outside of time then this is really he same as saying he universe is eternal since it, and God, has existed from all time. However, the concept of “before time” makes no sense as time is just an ordering of events. Time has no meaning when a single even is considered in isolation. If you have events A and B where A preceded B then you have time. If you call B “time”, referring to a situation where the passage of time is observed, and A “before time”, referring to a situation where no change occurs, then A and B considered together do constitute time.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. If he created out of love for living things and need of them he made the world; why did he not make creation wholly blissful, free from misfortune?
These all go to showing that God did not create the world because creation does not disclose any beneficent purpose. I disagree with this one but I like t all the same because there are those who do reject the purposefulness of creation and this shows that if they do they should also reject creation by God. Creation necessarily implies purpose and if that purpose does not include a role for evil then God cannot be both benevolent and omnipotent. If he is both then the existence of evil serves a benevolent purpose. The only persuasive argument is that overcoming evil permits growth. If allowing that this is the only way growth may occur poses a limit to His omnipotence I am fine with that.
Thus the doctrine that the world was created by god makes no sense at all.
I like Richard Gott III”s idea that a universe may spawn another universe which spawns another which spawns the first. If this is how God does it, I think all objections are overcome but so is the idea of a literally unchanging God. Perhaps that is the real heresy that needs to be discarded.