A Short Response to Gold, Verma, and Saxena

- Masahiro Morioka, CIAS, Osaka Prefecture University,
Gakuencho, Sakai, Osaka, 599-8531 Japan
International Network for Life Studies
http://www.LifeStudiesNetwork.com
Email: pbi01055@nifty.ne.jp

Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 11 (2001), 157.
Discussion on monotheism and polytheism by Gold, Verma and Saxena is very interesting, but I am not sure if their argument could cover all polytheist religions. Gold states that 'the difference between this and idolatry is that in practicing "shittuf" one affirms the existence of the One God, while in idolatry the many gods believed in are taken to have independent authority,' hence he seems to emphasize the existence of 'One God.' Verma and Saxana interpret the Hindu concept 'adwaitvad' as 'God or the Supreme Power or the Life Force resides within living individuals.' They seem to share the scheme that there is one God and its many representations.

Similar things happened in Japanese Buddhist history. Mahayana Buddhism worships the ultimate being, the origin of all life. It is not God, but a kind of dynamic function hidden (and apparent in a sense at the same time) behind our world. When Mahayana Buddhism came into Japan, there was Shintoism in the country that does not admit the ultimate being. What happened next was to compromise Buddhism and Shintoism by attributing the ultimate being to Buddhism, and its many representations to Shinto's various gods, including idols, trees, mountains, etc..

I am not sure if this compromise was a happy end to both religions. The only thing I can say is that this kind of compromise must have occurred many times in the world history. As an agnostic person, I do not believe 'one God,' but I can understand the emotion to worship 'life' and 'creature,' and I believe bioethics or 'life studies' must be based on this emotion. The dialogue should be continued not only among religions, but including agnostic people and atheists.


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