Buddhist response to Western ontology

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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Feb 11, 2012 10:27 pm

contemplans wrote:Here I am saying "pure being" just is.
"Just is" what? What does it do? Does it have parts? Does it change?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby contemplans » Sat Feb 11, 2012 10:38 pm

tiltbillings wrote:But there is absolutely no reason why reason must take us in the direction of "pure actuality."


You have to show that. You're saying a lot of things, but not proving anything. Your repeated red herrings do nothing to address the theory I am describing. You are latching onto the last argument any atheist has, which is the problem of evil. I have told you repeatedly that the problem of evil can only be address in the context of faith. You repeatedly say that "pure actuality" has no empirical basis, but apparently you are forgeting that philosophy, and ontology specifically, is a science of things outside the five senses. Not completely outside, but we only indirectly sense what philosophy talks about. We don't sense "truth", or "goodness". We don't see "happiness" or "joy" walking down the street. If we could directly sense them, that would be a natural science like physics. And you wouldn't need to spend hours in meditation overcomng the sensual sphere to gain some insight about them. So you're making demands that are utterly absurb in the context of the debate. And in case you wish to stick to what is "empirically" demonstrable, you can keep wishing, because that is a wrong understanding of the matter. Sciences only explain pieces, not the whole. Until you are willing to address the idea that an essentially ordered series of causes cannot give rise to itself, then I have nothing further to contribute to our dialog. I wish you well, my friend.
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby Kenshou » Sat Feb 11, 2012 10:38 pm

If nothing has objective significance, then how could the Buddha teach universal principles? Do you disagree with the Buddha? When he laid down the precept not to kill, was that only applicable to you, or to everyone? Even if you say, he said it applies if you want to attain nibbana, did he ever teach not killing as anything less than a universal moral principle?
I don't believe that the precepts are based on "objective significance", but on what is conductive to happiness and the attainment of nibbana, and not because these goals have an objective goodness, but because they are from the perspective of the subjective being preferable. And so then if we are to call them universal the universality is bound to that context, and does not extend to an ontologies of objective morality.

Yes, but the topic is not what is practical and useful for me and you, it is the response Buddhism has to western ontology. Pragmatism is a useful spiritual tool, but it does nothing to explain anything outside your head.
It seems to me that choosing to focus what is practical (meaning in this context, conductive to the attainment of nibbana) is the Buddhist (non-)response to ontology, western or otherwise.
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby contemplans » Sat Feb 11, 2012 10:41 pm

Kenshou wrote:I don't believe that the precepts are based on "objective significance", but on what is conductive to happiness and the attainment of nibbana, and not because these goals have an objective goodness, but because they are from the perspective of the subjective being preferable. And so then if we are to call them universal the universality is bound to that context, and does not extend to an ontologies of objective morality.


Can you name a case in which it is skillful/moral/good to intend to kill?

Kenshou wrote:It seems to me that choosing to focus what is practical (meaning in this context, conductive to the attainment of nibbana) is the Buddhist (non-)response to ontology, western or otherwise.


It goes back to an earlier part of the thread. The true Buddhist response seems to be, the topic is better left undiscussed.
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Feb 11, 2012 11:04 pm

Kenshou wrote:
If nothing has objective significance, then how could the Buddha teach universal principles? Do you disagree with the Buddha? When he laid down the precept not to kill, was that only applicable to you, or to everyone? Even if you say, he said it applies if you want to attain nibbana, did he ever teach not killing as anything less than a universal moral principle?
I don't believe that the precepts are based on "objective significance", but on what is conductive to happiness and the attainment of nibbana, and not because these goals have an objective goodness, but because they are from the perspective of the subjective being preferable. And so then if we are to call them universal the universality is bound to that context, and does not extend to an ontologies of objective morality.

it depends on the precept, I am afraid!
some are worldly precepts as they are blamable by the world, and others are by ordinance, you keep them because the Buddha recommended the practice.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Feb 11, 2012 11:09 pm

contemplans wrote:It goes back to an earlier part of the thread. The true Buddhist response seems to be, the topic is better left undiscussed.


The Topic has clearly been show to of been discussed by the Buddha, and not put aside, you said "Probably the most authentic Buddhist response would be that the Buddha set these questions aside." please don't mistake what you think for what the Buddha or Buddhist do or do not do!
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Feb 11, 2012 11:24 pm

contemplans wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:But there is absolutely no reason why reason must take us in the direction of "pure actuality."


You have to show that.
Since you are the one stating: "I am saying that we start with the assumption that we exist, reason to pure actuality," it falls to you back up this claim. Since "pure actuality" has no empirical basis, is not experiential, why would we need to "reason to pure actuality?" What would be the basis for it? What would be the necessity of it?

You're saying a lot of things, but not proving anything.
I am certainly calling into question the claims you are making, but as of yet I have not seen you prove anything other than the philosophy you are advocating does not hold well at all to questioning.

Your repeated red herrings do nothing to address the theory I am describing.
If they are red herrings, they would be easily disposed of, but, you have yet to do that. What you are doing now, rather than dealing with the actual points I have raised, is complaining about my questioning your points.

You are latching onto the last argument any atheist has, which is the problem of evil. I have told you repeatedly that the problem of evil can only be address in the context of faith.
Yes, which is really a non-answer. You posit a god, but you cannot deal with the implications of the god you posit and retreat to: “It is really a matter of faith.” That naught more than saying that god is a mystery but you must have faith.

You repeatedly say that "pure actuality" has no empirical basis, but apparently you are forgeting that philosophy, and ontology specifically, is a science of things outside the five senses.
Which is why the Buddha clearly rejected ontology of being, as has been pointed out to you more than twice. Also calling it a science is meaningless, unless you can clearly show what would count as a way of falsifying “pure actuality.”

Not completely outside, but we only indirectly sense what philosophy talks about.
Do we?

We don't sense "truth", or "goodness". We don't see "happiness" or "joy" walking down the street. If we could directly sense them, that would be a natural science like physics.
These things have noting to do with “pure actuality.” They are human emotions and values that arise and fall dependent upon cause and conditions in human contexts.

And you wouldn't need to spend hours in meditation overcomng the sensual sphere to gain some insight about them.
While one can cultivate positive human emotions in various way, the meditative practice is for insight into anicca, dukkha, and anatta. There is no necessity you have shown that in the understanding of notions such as truth and goodness that an assumption of self/soul/existence/pure actuality as being the truly true way things are.

So you're making demands that are utterly absurb in the context of the debate.
Not at all. I am simply pointing to the seriously fatal flaws of theism claims of existence of a god, which you are neatly exposing: God wills the will to will itself,

And in case you wish to stick to what is "empirically" demonstrable, you can keep wishing, because that is a wrong understanding of the matter. Sciences only explain pieces, not the whole.
And what does theism explain without finally resorting to: It is a mystery, one needs to have faith”?

Until you are willing to address the idea that an essentially ordered series of causes cannot give rise to itself,
This has been repeatedly dealt with by a number of folks here, and you just brush it aside offering a non-empirical explanation to what is empirically observable.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby Goofaholix » Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:33 am

contemplans wrote:I am saying that we start with the assumption that we exist, reason to pure actuality, and then reason from there the relation we have to that. If we started with creation, we've already assumed that the creator has an explanation.


Nobody is disputing that assumption that we exist and we've all moved beyond that question, except you'd rather back track to this as an avoidance strategy when you don't have an adequate answer to points raised.

Goofaholix wrote:Here I am saying "pure being" just is. Not everything that exists "just is". Why would I need to eat food if I just existed? My eating of food is an act based out of wanting something I did not have.


You and I "just is", and food "just is", we are all Interdependent. So you are saying pure being is that which does not eat? Perhaps rocks are pure being then?

When I say something "just is" it's not about whether something has Interdependence, or whether it eats, it's about whether there is any point in speculating how it came to be, but of course you knew that.

Goofaholix wrote:We see through experience that there is existence, but there is also a lack in our experience. Why would anyone change if there was no lack? Aristotle labeled the process of things, qualities etc. which actually exist "actualities", and those things which were potenital, or latent, "potentiality". A common one was that cold water has the potential to be hot water, and vice versa. From this he discerned that nothing within the system explains why anything in the system exists. From that he reasoned that "pure actuality" is necessary for there to be an "incomplete" actuality at any time. It literally is necessary at every moment, or things instantaneously would cease to exist. We exist, but our being is incomplete. Through this lack we are continually replacing our existence, through food, procreation, etc. We have to multiply to continue. Even if we take rebirth as a truth, a being at the end of life would continue beyond death because of a desire to fill a lack. We are constantly "feeding". This is where Aristotle is coming from.


From where I'm sitting this seems perfectly compatible with Buddhism, it appears to me to be another way of saying much the same as what the Buddha taught and you haven't even mentioned the G word. I really don't see the god concept adding anything useful to the above explanation, and if you don't add it I'm sure we'll all get along fine.

The Buddha taught that embracing this changeableness, this sense of lack, this incompleteness, is what leads to complete freedom. Whereas the god concept just comes from the desire people have to have something to cling to that is not subject to this changeableness, this sense of lack, this incompleteness.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby Sherab » Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:35 pm

Sherab wrote:
contemplans wrote:To answer Goofaholix, tiltbillings, Sherab, and others participating:

The topic is ontology, the study of being. Western ontology asks the questions concerning existence. The doctrine given called hylomorphism teaches that there is actuality, what is that which is in existence, and potentiality, what is a reference to potentially in existence, either the potential to be altogether, or the potential to be different than what you are. From this reasoning, which is very sound, Aristotle and those who followed him, reasoned that in order for anything to be actually in existence, not just a particular version of us at a given moment, it had to have an ultimate source which is pure existence, with no admixture of potentiality, no possibility that it could be anything other than what it is. In the Christian context we call this principle God. If you don't like that word for some reason, then the principle is also called pure actuality. The basic reasoning is that none of us have within ourselves to give rise to our own selves, that is, we are not self-caused. Therefore we are caused by another. Nowhere, however, within that chain of causes is there any explanation for existence itself, since all the causes are merely in process of actualizing what is potential. It is only outside of that causal chain that we come to an explanation, which Aristotle called Pure Actuality. So either pure actuality is the answer, or it isn't. That is the crux of the debate. But if one posits that it isn't pure actuality, then they need to have an explanation for why anything exists at all. I am just supplying to robust argument. I didn't come up with it, but I am convinced that it is sound and true.

I wish you all well. :anjali:

So does this principle create? If it does, then the creation is purposeless. If it does not, then it has no relevance whatsoever to the existence of this world since it is apart from this world. If it has no relevance whatsoever to this world, why bother with it?

Since you did not reply to the above, does it mean that you concede that your concept of pure actuality IS incoherent, and does not accord with reality?
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby contemplans » Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:39 pm

I am going to close my contribution to this thread. We've had a lot of room to explore the argument that I presented, and I think we all have some food for thought to go away with. If you felt like I didn't answer your question at all, or not adequately, it is probably because of one of the reasons below. Altogether there has been a confusion of method in the discussion, so I would like to address before I go two primary stumbling blocks to understanding that seem to stick out to me.


A misunderstanding of logical argumentation.

Natural science and philosophy of nature are two different type of pursuits of knowledge, with two different methods, and two different types of truths arrived at. Natural science has for its object and its goal the phenomena and processes of sensible being. Philosophy of nature has for its object the phenomena and processes of sensible being, while its goal is the essence and cause. Not phenomena as such, but being as such. The first method is called empiriological, while the second method is called ontological. The first reasons down, while the later reasons up. Both analyze to reach universal conclusions. Natural science deals with phenomena, so in its conclusions it never reaches beyond phenomena. It uses hypothesis, deductions, and the like to come to a probable explanation of phenomena. Philosophy of nature is simply the application of the intellect, in light of self-evident (obvious) truths, to an object offered it by experience until it finds a true principle by which it can understand the object. Infering what is necessarily implied by the facts, philosophy of nature comes to explanations which are necessary and "all or nothing". There can be a mistake in the premises somewhere, in which case the argument can be reformulated based on the new knowledge. Generally philosophy of nature handles matters which natural science take for granted. As long as one is not taken for the other, there is no real conflict between the two methods. Together they form a coherent view of existence.

So Thomas Aquinas argues that, given that we observe that things exist, undergo change, and exhibit final causes, there necessarily must be a God who maintains them in existence at every instant. Everyone has been looking at the conclusions (God, pure actuality), instead of addressing the premises, and the discussion hasn't really get off the ground.


An assumption/bias that scientific reasoning is superior to methaphysical reasoning. Or even that methaphysical reasoning has no value.

This view is called scientism or postivism. This view is problematic because the proponents of it never defend the claim, but just put it out there. In that case they are being just as dogmatic as any person they criticize for being dogmatic. Second the view they espouse is actually methaphysical, in that they would need to appeal to methaphysical reasoning to support it. As said earlier, natural science takes for granted propositions which philosophy of nature explain. Topics such as: there is a physical world existing independent of our minds, this world is characterized by various objective patterns and regularities, our senses are only partially reliable sources of information about this world, there are objective laws of logic and methematics that apply to the objective world outside our mind, etc. All these and other claims are methaphysical in nature and are presupposed by natural science. Scientism is there incoherent.


I wish you all well. I enjoyed the discussion. See you in another thread.
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby Alex123 » Mon Feb 13, 2012 7:02 pm

contemplans wrote:Natural science deals with phenomena, so in its conclusions it never reaches beyond phenomena.


Right. What (if anything) lies beyond phenomena can never be phenomena that we can experientially verify, observer or disprove. We can only argue about. What lies outside of phenomena, doesn't matter at all.


contemplans wrote: Philosophy of nature is simply the application of the intellect, in light of self-evident (obvious) truths,


What can be "self-evident" metaphysical assumption to one, is not so to another person who holds other "self-evident" metaphysical assumptions.


contemplans wrote:So Thomas Aquinas argues that, given that we observe that things exist, undergo change, and exhibit final causes, there necessarily must be a God who maintains them in existence at every instant.


Why God and not Invisible Green Spaghetti Monster? What you are saying is neither self-evident, nor provable.-
”Even the water melting from the snow-capped peaks finds its way to the ocean."
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Feb 13, 2012 7:37 pm

contemplans wrote: If you felt like I didn't answer your question at all, or not adequately, it is probably because of one of the reasons below. . . .
One of the reasons below? Not at all. Your second msg in this thread opened the door to looking at the coherence of what your were proffering: "1) The concept of the Greatest Possible Being (GPB) is coherent (and thus broadly logically possible)." The problem is that you were unable to deal with the serious issues of incoherence raised by your notions of a god/pure actuality/first cause/etc. as this final msg of yours tacitly admits

Also, you repeatedly refused to acknowledge when you were clearly and repeatedly shown to be off base, if not simply wrong, in what you were saying about the Buddha's teachings, teachings which you have twisted so as to conform to your untenable theistic point of view. This was not a dialogue on your part; it was naught more than Christian evangelism. You have the truth, we don't, so you are going to make sure we hear the truly true truth about what is what.

The issue here is not can Buddhists and Christian have a productive dialogue, because they certainly can; rather, the problem you so neatly illustrated is what happens when a Christian, who thinks he has the the truly true truth, insists upon telling the poor benighted Buddhists that they do not really understand their own teachings, teachings that can be, according to you, only truly understood in light of Christianity and Thomas Aquinas, which is nothing more than arrogance of the highest order. What you have demonstrated here -- and thank you for this -- is the fatal weaknesses of Christianity as it tries to confront and subsume the Buddha's teachings and evangelize Buddhists.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby Sherab » Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:07 am

contemplans wrote:A misunderstanding of logical argumentation.

Natural science and philosophy of nature are two different type of pursuits of knowledge, with two different methods, and two different types of truths arrived at. Natural science has for its object and its goal the phenomena and processes of sensible being. Philosophy of nature has for its object the phenomena and processes of sensible being, while its goal is the essence and cause. Not phenomena as such, but being as such. The first method is called empiriological, while the second method is called ontological. The first reasons down, while the later reasons up. Both analyze to reach universal conclusions. Natural science deals with phenomena, so in its conclusions it never reaches beyond phenomena. It uses hypothesis, deductions, and the like to come to a probable explanation of phenomena. Philosophy of nature is simply the application of the intellect, in light of self-evident (obvious) truths, to an object offered it by experience until it finds a true principle by which it can understand the object. Infering what is necessarily implied by the facts, philosophy of nature comes to explanations which are necessary and "all or nothing". There can be a mistake in the premises somewhere, in which case the argument can be reformulated based on the new knowledge. Generally philosophy of nature handles matters which natural science take for granted. As long as one is not taken for the other, there is no real conflict between the two methods. Together they form a coherent view of existence.

So Thomas Aquinas argues that, given that we observe that things exist, undergo change, and exhibit final causes, there necessarily must be a God who maintains them in existence at every instant. Everyone has been looking at the conclusions (God, pure actuality), instead of addressing the premises, and the discussion hasn't really get off the ground.

The problem as I see it is not with any misunderstanding of logical argumentation on our part but your refusal to accept the consequences of your thesis.

The way out of the logical conundrum that I set up is for you to accept that creation, if there is such a process, is purposeless, and pure actuality, if it exists, cannot be equated to any purposeful being including Creator God. Pure actuality, if you wish to posit its existence has to be purely neutral and purely spontaneous. In either case, any theistic concepts that you may have, have to be abandon.
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby polarbuddha101 » Wed May 02, 2012 4:01 am

Perhaps this makes sense. 'Being' in the sense that things 'are' is a fact. So, things have being. Everything and every process is a manifestation of being. Because of 'being' there are things. So, things necessarily need being. However, 'being' cannot have any actuality independent of things that have the property of 'being'. 'Things' necessitate being and being necessitates that there 'are' things. Therefore, god does not exist as 'being' because he would be dependent on things that have 'being' and thus god is an improper term to use. So, 'being' upholds the universe (as in everything, including multiverses) and the universe upholds 'being'. Thus, they are completely dependent on one another and cannot be separated because 'being' is a property of things and properties cannot exist independent of that which they are properties of and things cannot exist independently of their properties. So, if that makes sense and we accept this, god does not exist in the modern sense it is used in. If this doesn't make sense, then it because our minds can't comprehend it, either way I declare myself the momentary victor. :sage:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 02, 2012 4:02 am

Greetings,

polarbuddha101 wrote:If this doesn't make sense, then it because our minds can't comprehend it, either way I declare myself the momentary victor. :sage:

:rofl:

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby YouthThunder » Wed May 02, 2012 8:24 pm

I don't know for sure but there are things that suggest God might exist:
http://al-furqan.5u.com/miracles4.html

Especially the one about lungs,well I read one buddhist text about Mahabrahman but I am not sure if it applies,the text says the Mahabrahman thought that he created the things although in fact the things just rise dues to karmic laws or something(or something along these lines) but still......

In gnosticism,they have a concept of Yaldabaoth,Demiurge,but the question is could anyone prove whether who got it right?

P/S:You can say I am undecided between buddhism,islam and baha'i.
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby polarbuddha101 » Thu May 03, 2012 5:19 am

YouthThunder wrote:I don't know for sure but there are things that suggest God might exist:
http://al-furqan.5u.com/miracles4.html

Especially the one about lungs,well I read one buddhist text about Mahabrahman but I am not sure if it applies,the text says the Mahabrahman thought that he created the things although in fact the things just rise dues to karmic laws or something(or something along these lines) but still......

In gnosticism,they have a concept of Yaldabaoth,Demiurge,but the question is could anyone prove whether who got it right?

P/S:You can say I am undecided between buddhism,islam and baha'i.


there is also equally valid evidence that the flying spaghetti monster exists

http://www.venganza.org/category/evidence/
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby YouthThunder » Thu May 03, 2012 4:19 pm

polarbuddha101 wrote:
YouthThunder wrote:I don't know for sure but there are things that suggest God might exist:
http://al-furqan.5u.com/miracles4.html

Especially the one about lungs,well I read one buddhist text about Mahabrahman but I am not sure if it applies,the text says the Mahabrahman thought that he created the things although in fact the things just rise dues to karmic laws or something(or something along these lines) but still......

In gnosticism,they have a concept of Yaldabaoth,Demiurge,but the question is could anyone prove whether who got it right?

P/S:You can say I am undecided between buddhism,islam and baha'i.


there is also equally valid evidence that the flying spaghetti monster exists

http://www.venganza.org/category/evidence/

Well,it does not fell into a pattern that can be read as "flying spaghetti monster exists".The difference in level of "coincidence" is way too high.
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