Can there be a Religion without God? by Nalinaksha Mutsuddi SignUp
Can there be a Religion without God?
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A recent lecture at Kashmir University on Buddhism by Indologist Viktoria Lysenko of the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Philosophy generated a fierce discussion among audience, because Buddhism doesn’t recognize a creator God as many other mainstream religions do. The argument is that there can be no religion without God. Now, the problem is how to define a religion. My search for a suitable definition failed to lead to a universally accepted view on religion. No consensus is available. And it is bound to be so, as it is a subjective concept about human behaviour pertaining to belief, faith, and practice along with its associated rituals. I opted for the Kile Jones’ view on religion ‘as a theological, philosophical, anthropological, sociological, and psychological phenomenon of human kind’. It is a combination of all these categories in different proportion, at variant time interval, and among diverse cultures.


However, besides Buddhism, Jainism also doesn’t believe in a creator God. Lord Buddha was silent about God, as he never felt the necessity of it for the attainment of ‘Nirvana’. But Lord Mahavira categorically denied the existence of God. Both of these religions believe in deities and gods other than the Creator.


Buddhism is termed as ‘bottom-up’ religion in contrast with other revealed religions like Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, which can be called ‘top-down’ as they depend on pleasing a higher supernatural power for its blessings and salvation. Hinduism also – though not a revealed religion – falls in this category. Buddha was not a supernatural being, nor an agent of any supernatural entity. He only showed the path how to attain enlightenment. Anybody by following the five ethical precepts and eight ‘Noble Paths’ can attain Buddha hood in course of several rebirths. It was only Buddha to extend a call to anybody, first, ‘come and see’ if his methods were effective as they were based on personal experience. Loving kindness to all, compassion to suffering sentient beings, sympathetic joy at any sentient being’s wellbeing, and equanimity under any circumstances are its mainstay.


To subscribe to the concept of ‘no religion without God’ is to admit Buddhism is not a religion -- Jainism is not excepted – though having about 376 million followers world wide. According to this notion Buddhism, initially, was a bundle of ethics, psychology and philosophy as applied to everyday life. But, now, -- to concur with the opinion of Venerable Master Chin Kung of Singapore – it is degenerating into a religion. He says, “Today we mainly see people offering to the Buddha statues and praying for blessings and fortune. In this way, Buddhism has been wrongly changed into a religion”. Buddha, now, occupies the place equivalent to God of other religions, though he never wanted to be worshipped at all.


This is exactly in conformity with the findings of the neurologists that human brain seems to be wired to believe in God. Whether God exists or not human mind is not at peace without believing in any God-like character.


This is what the present day Buddhists are doing.  

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Comment Dear Mr. Chitrakar,

In continuation to my reply given a few minutes ago, I found the issue 8, which is a book, not available in the net.
From the contents of the book I guess they provided some scientific basis for existence of God, -- leading still, to some inexplicable existence of super power. It is upto you to accept the view, because it forms  a part of 'belief' system you are made of.

The trouble is that i can't take scientific finding  -- however startling it may seem at the moment -- as final. It is an ongoing quest and will ever remain on-going; the moment it stops, the spirit of science will be lost & the progress of human civilisation will come to standstill. 


07/31/2011 04:59 AM

Comment Dear Mr Chitrakar,

I visited the site suggested by you, but regret not to find the Vol.1 ,issue 8 article. In Vol1  the  issues available are 1,3,5 & 7. Sorry to miss the interesting article.

Whatever Himangshu Pal might have written about the impossibility of self-created universe, I presume he agrees God is self-created, is it? If that is so my contention is vindicated.

Thanks for your enlightened comment.


07/31/2011 03:51 AM

Comment "Your contention I suppose is that how without any creator the world could come into being -- there must be someone responsible for creation. Can I ask then who created God?"
         As regards the question in the above quote I want to say this much that an article has been published in the online Journal Scientific God Journal, Volume 1, Issue 8 ( written by an author Himangsu S. Pal. I will request you to go through that article, and I hope that you will get the answer to your question.
        The other articles by the same author and published in different issues of the above-mentioned journal has made it very clear as to why this universe cannot be considered as self-created.

Udaybhanu Chitrakar
07/26/2011 13:01 PM

Comment Dear Mr. Chitrakar,

Due to Boxbe muddle I missed your comment for a long time.

 From the question posed by you “who created gravity” I presume you are pointing at God as creator of everything in the universe as believed by majority of the world population, despite existence of divergent views on the same topic. That simply means – according to majority belief -- the life and the universe as we see, must have been created by some power – whatever may be the name of that power.


Our topic started with silence of Lord Buddha on the God as creator. He said for liberation knowledge of who created us was not required – you can obtain salvation by following his Noble Eight fold paths. Lord Mahavira is categorical in denying the existence of God. He says the universe was there already and will continue to be there as always.


Your contention I suppose is that how without any creator the world could come into being -- there must be someone responsible for creation. Can I ask then who created God? It is likely, you may say, God is self-created. He is “Swayambhu”.  If so, what is the harm in believing that the universe is self created? To me it appears to be same. Emphasis on semantics differs. That’s all.


My personal view is that a man is such an insignificant creature to know the secrets of the mindboggling universe. Stephen Hawking in spite of his stupendous genius has to bring in the concept of “condition of singularity” where he failed to offer convincingly cogent explanation. Such is the limitation of human beings. The difference between science and religion is that the former is open to revision due to further enquiry, while in the later, question of further enquiry is ruled out. Science is dynamic and religion is static.

Thanks for your comments.


If you like see my blog, “Faith is a many Splendoured Thing”. It gives my view on the subject.

07/06/2011 10:00 AM

"Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist."
                                 - Stephen Hawking in "The Grand Design"

Here three questions can be asked:
1) Which one came first, universe, or law of gravity?
2) If the universe came first, then how was there spontaneous creation without the law of gravity?
3) If the law of gravity came first, then the law of gravity is Hawking's "God". Therefore Hawking will have to answer the question: Who created Hawking's God? 
                  So here we see that Hawking has merely replaced God with the law of gravity. Therefore it is legitimate to ask the question: Who created Law of gravity?

Udaybhanu Chitrakar
06/22/2011 13:02 PM

Comment The topic started with the disagreement of some of the audience on the talk given by Russian indologist Viktoria Lysenko  saying Buddhism is an atheistic religion. The argument :  there cannot be any religion wihout God. Buddhism and Jainism do not believe in the creator God, yet they are universally recognised as religion. Individually if somebody wants to allude, attribute or imply anything differently it should be left  entirely at the liberty of the individual concerned. Interpretation will vary from person to person. There are arguments reducing polytgheism also to monotheism in the ultimate analysis. The elasticity is enormous. One should be satisfied with one's own belief system : arguments will lead to  nowhere. 

07/31/2010 23:30 PM

Can there be a religion without God? This is the question that should have been resolved, instead of which it was side-tracked by me into a vindication of monotheism. Thanks for your patience and magnanimity in publishing my skewed comments in your blog.   I did make the important point, however, that the existence of God cannot a matter of choice, though due to the infinite nature of God, God is indeed equivalent to nothing in tangible terms – perhaps vindicating atheism!   It is only in treating the existence of God as a thing of belief and open to denial that your question is meaningful.   Again the intangibility of God eludes the scope of deep meditation and the realm of enlightenment postulated by the Buddha – so given that this is an eternal state, one must presume that the presence of God is implied, out of which potency the present theistic trend of Buddhism might be explained. 

R D Ashby
07/31/2010 09:35 AM

Comment I told you already that "it's a tricky topic, Agreement is far fetched, if not, impossible." It will be better to refrain from arguing on this point, as it is futile. Personally I believe in the scientific rationality, with full understanding of human limitation. The pioneering scientist Dalton found atom was 'indivisible'. It was accedpted till atom was smashed into elctron, proton and neutron and taken for granted those were the parts of the atom. But later they found many more parts as photon, boson etc. Till today it is accepted but the option is kept open because tomorrow we may discover many more parts. And so on. There is nothing like absolute, all are only rfelatively true and we take it as that.
In Hinduism God is 'swayambhu' -- that is self created -- there is no other creator of God. That is what -- I think-- you want to say.
I must thank you profusely for the most enlightened discussion we had.

07/31/2010 03:08 AM

Comment 'If you believe in the ‘intelligent design’ theory that means some ‘intelligent power’ must be there behind all this creation. Then who designed that ‘Intelligent Power’?'

This question doesn't prove what it might appear to.  The following example will illustrate: a box is placed in front of me: it is quite plainly designed and constructed, let us say, by a certain Mr. A.  Then someone says, no, it is not designed by Mr.A. because someone else would have designed Mr.A, and so on.  But this misses the point entirely, that the box was designed and constructed by Mr.A.  The vastness of what we call the Universe, which incidentally, is not a fixed object, but a process, would indicate a creator of infinite power, God, who designed and constructed it and sustains it in process.  It is there the argument stops.  It is irrelevant, as in the example of the box designed and constructed by Mr.A., to ask who created God, as the presence of God is already proved by the creation.  We cannot logically argue that because God is creator, someone must have created God, rather the converse, that since God is the originator of the creation, the buck stops with God, and no one else is involved.

R D Ashby
07/30/2010 07:38 AM

Arnold Toynbee, the historian of repute, once said: 'Historically, religion came first, and science grew out of religion.  Science has never superseded religion, and it is my expectation that it never will supersede religion.' (from 'Surviving the Future' A.T. 1971)  Be that as it may, what he is saying is that from its most primitive form, religion, like science, is based on data, and the use of imagination, as in science, is in ascertaining the reality from the data. Religion does this in religious theory, science in scientific theory.  And scientific theory has been flawed all along, from alchemy  to the existence of ether in space, beliefs imaginatively construed , like religious belief, from the prevailing evidence.  You are right in saying, therefore, that there is a human limitation in science, the limitation of human imagination,  that will forever dog its theories.  The difference in the religious context is that it is not human limitation but the infinite perfection of God, especially in the faith of the great monotheistic religions you mention, that is the source of revelation: thus it is not a case of man's imagination providing the theories, but the divine source of absolute knowledge.  This is why monotheism is so sustainable, because there is no possibility of change in the revealed truth. Your argument would be that religion imagines monotheism, and that that is proved by the three different versions of monotheism,  but seeing that religion like science is based on the data, you would have to refute the data, in other words, deny existence itself, of which God, in the faith of believers in monotheism, is the ground.  It is more the nature of the one infinite God that is disputed between the three religions, most evidently that of Christian revelation, in the notion of three persons in one God – something no unassisted imagination could dream of, but again a derivation from the evidence in Christian revelation, most directly from the lips of Jesus Christ  himself, in reference to his heavenly Father, and the Holy Spirit.

R D Ashby
07/29/2010 10:41 AM


This is a very tricky subject; agreement is farfetched, if not outright impossible. Judaism, Christianity and Islam originated from the same geographical region and they share many things in common without any dispute, such as story of Adam and EVE, Abraham, Moses and the theory of creation etc. If it is not figment of imagination – solely dependent on the individual bent of mind -- there should have been no conflict in the belief and practice of these religions. But in actuality it is fraught with irreconcilable dissensions. Many paths to same  peak also doesn’t hold good here. Every path leads to different peaks. Then where is the same and only God? Everybody’s God is different from others, still, everybody swears by one God only. Doesn’t it automatically prove that the premise is fallacious/  Buddhist channel of Kualalampur says there  are about 4000 different – big or small so to say – in the world. Every adherent believes his is the right path and others’ are wrong. It is left to your guess who is right. Is it not audacious to believe that almighty God took full 23 years to complete one revealation/


How imagination works in this manner and to what avail? Is there some instinctive dependence on spiritual powers…As I understand now – according to present-day neuroscientists --  there is some part in the human brain ‘instinctively depending’ on the inclination of believing in spiritual power. They claim it can be artificially induced by stimulating particular portion of the brain


Science may demystify gods but can never give the ultimate answer to anything. Always something will remain unanswered. This is the inherent human limitation. If you believe in the ‘intelligent design’ theory that means some ‘intelligent power’ must be there behind all this creation. Then who designed that ‘Intelligent Power’/  Now, to believe in the Big Bang theory, what caused the explosion/ No answer as far as I am concerned.


I would be sorry if I hurt your feelings. Please take it as  just another form  of gossip only.





07/27/2010 00:56 AM

Comment Your comment 'God exists in the imagination of man' is fairly derived from the various ideas of God expressed in as many different religious forms.  This would prove if God really existed then all ideas of God would be the same, especially in the added insistence of each religion that the idea of God is not a figment of the imagination but one revealed.  God reveals himself, as in the case of the God of Abraham.   One thinks, for example, of the pantheon of gods in Greek and Roman mythology, and for that matter Hindu mythology, where the reality of the gods is never doubted as a form of revelation, and one has to ask how imagination works in this manner and to what avail?  Is there some instinctive dependence on spiritual powers, or, in any case, higher beings called gods?  How does this come to pass, unless the very structure of our existence leads to such a conclusion, as an idea of greater power behind nature, in control of nature, which reveals itself in the forms of gods.  And if there is a blindness, for any given reason, of the true source of divine revelation, is there not a possibility of lesser revelation of heavenly powers controlling natural processes, until such time God chose to reveal God as God is, and in control of all powers in heaven and on earth? 

And this is where science comes in to gradually demystify the gods in nature, explaining all natural processes: that one does not need to take a man's heart out in sacrifice for the sun to rise.  Science puts the blame squarely on the imagination of man for the idea of gods or God controlling nature, wiping out the mythologies of Greece and Rome, not quite that of Hinduism - but with the advantage of taking the rational stand.  As for the great God of monotheism, science cannot be so successful, since this invisible God is revealed to faith as being the root of all existence, and science has some way to go, confident it will get there, but never undermining the faith of believers.

07/26/2010 10:48 AM


R D Ashby,

I am sorry in the morning  I was in a hurry. I have a blog titled  'Faith is a many Splendoured Thing'

If you send me your email address I can send it directly to you. That will explain my view on religion. Human faith is a very  fascinating  topic. Infacr, I was planning to write a book titled ' And Man created God in His Imagination' some five years ago. Then suddenly I switched over to some thing else, that 's the problem with me. I cannot stick to one thing for long.

My email id is



07/25/2010 04:33 AM

Comment Dear Ashby,

After going through many of the mainstream and tribal religious beliefs  I  feel God exists in the imagination of man. If Chriatians , Muslims, Hindus et al believe in the same creator God there should be no restriction for a Muslim to enter  a church and offer his prayer and so on for any other believers. But it is never allowed. So, your God is not my God.

It a fact that Buddhism and Jainism do not recognize a creator God.
And it doesn't make any difference whether believe it or not. Say for example I don't believe in God sti;ll I am living. Faith is entirely a subjective matter.

Sometimes in the future we will discuss it in greater detail if possible.


07/25/2010 01:13 AM

Comment Interesting, but it appears from your analysis, that each religion creates its idea of a creator God, who then is said to reveals its existence in that form; and in the case of Buddhism since it doesn't create an idea of a creator God, Buddhism is not a religion; but the creator God? - Does a creator God have a right to exist independent of Buddhism?  Let us say, the creator God does exist, then Buddhism is in grave error for attempting the impossible in its practice.  But it is not as if because Buddhism exists, therefore, to Buddhists, the creator God does not, and to the rest of religion, the creator God does exist!  As if the choice of the creator God's existence were an arbitrary one, dependent on belief!

R D Ashby
07/24/2010 17:01 PM

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