An Indian Civilizational Perspective

The Implausible Do-it-Yourself God!

What is "God"? Well it is an interesting question. And if "She" or "He" may exist, then what may be Her characteristics? Then the question, that if She did had to have those characteristics… then is such an entity plausible? Well some metaphysicists ponder on this.. I chose the following characteristics for such an entity called “God”:

Omnipotent (all-powerful, able to do anything)
Omnibenevolent (all-loving)
Omniscient (all-knowing)
The Creator (of all that exists)
The Sustainer (if God ceased to exist, so would everything else)
Perfectly Free
Eternally Existing (will go on and on and on…)

What was the plausibility quotient? It was 30% or 0.3! That means the plausibility given the "consistency" of the various characteristics – as these metaphysicists define them and tend to articulate – I chose is very low indeed. Below is the entire analysis!

Is the salvation in occurences or is it in our reactions…. or lack of them? Aren’t we just all aggregations of "Reactions"… These reactions create our deeds… and the Deeds lead to our experiences.. .and experiences lead to further reactions. Where is the Freedom then? The Baggage of Reactions is creating suffering, isnt it? Is what happens to us a suffering…. or our reaction to that occurence? Is a flood a suffering? Or our reaction? Well.. ponder over it.. while you read this interesting analysis.. and maybe do one of your own!

The metaphysical engineers have determined that your conception of God has a plausibility quotient (PQ) of 0.3. A PQ of 1.0 means that as far as the metaphysical engineers can determine your conception of God is internally consistent and consistent with the universe that we live in. A PQ of 0.0 means that it is neither internally consistent nor consistent with our universe. More than likely, your PQ score will be somewhere between these two figures. But remember that this is your PQ score as determined by the metaphysical engineers. The editors of TPM have no control over their deliberations, so don’t blame us!

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The problem of suffering

Your God is omnipotent (all-powerful, able to do anything), omnibenevolent (all-loving) and omniscient (all-knowing).

The metaphysical engineers have found it hard to model this God in a universe like our own. The problem is this: our universe contains vast amounts of suffering, much of which seems either entirely unnecessary or unnecessarily severe. Although some of this is the result of human action, and thus may be seen as an inevitable consequence of human free will, much is not. Plagues, floods and famines are not all the result of human action. Even the idea that human free will explains the existence of much suffering is hard to accept, since God, if all-powerful, could surely limit our capacity to harm others or suffer at their hands (after all, there are many other limits on what we are able to do).

So why is there all this suffering? If God cannot prevent it, it would seem she is not all-powerful. If God doesn’t want to stop it, it would seem she is not all-loving. If God doesn’t know about it, she can’t be all-knowing.

The metaphysical engineers are continuing to study theodicies, which are attempts to resolve this difficulty, known as the problem of evil.

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The problem of loving too much

Your God is omnipotent (all-powerful, able to do anything), omnibenevolent (all-loving) and a perfectly free agent.

The metaphysical engineers have confronted a difficulty modelling this God. If perfectly free, then God could choose whatever she wants. Nothing could stop this because God is omnipotent. But this God is also all-loving. It seems to the engineers that such a God could never choose to do something which is unloving. It is not that God just chooses not to do such things, rather that God’s nature as omnibenevolent constrains what she can do. In other words, God does not have the freedom and/or the power to do something unloving.

One possible response is that God isn’t necessarily omnibenevolent, but, as a matter of fact, since she never chooses to do something which is unloving, is omnibenevolent. However, if this is true, then the metaphysical engineers can’t see how omnibenevolence can be a necessary characteristic of a God.

The metaphysical engineers suggest that this whole issue may hinge on a problem with their understanding of "a perfectly free agent". It cannot mean what it seems to mean, namely, that God can choose to do literally anything.

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God the sustainer?

Your God is the sustainer of all that is. This means that if God ceased to exist so would everything else.

The metaphysical engineers are finding it hard to model this God in our universe. The laws of physics do not seem to require that the universe has anything outside of itself to continue to exist. Therefore, they can’t quite see what kind of evidence it would be possible to point to in order to come to the belief that God is required for the universe to continue.

When they have previously confronted this problem, it has been suggested that a law-giver or law-enforcer is required in order to sustain the laws of physics. But this response seems to rest on a misunderstanding of the nature of physical laws. Laws in the legal sense do require law-givers and law-enforcers. But physical laws are simply descriptions of the nature of reality. So the idea that a law-giver is needed to sustain the rules of physics seems to confuse the legal and scientific senses of laws.

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Can God do the illogical?

The metaphysical engineers request clarification of what you mean when you say God is able to do anything.

In the model, God was asked to make 2 + 2 = 5 (where all the terms hold their common meanings). She could not do so and the model broke down. It seems that no being can ever do what is logically impossible. It is not just beyond the wit of humanity to make 2 + 2 = 5, such a thing is a contradiction in terms.

So the metaphysical engineers seek your permission to understand by all-powerful that God can do anything which is logically possible. Before accepting this, however, you should understand that by accepting the limits of logical possibility on God, you are leaving open the possibility that, if some characteristics you attribute to God turn out to entail logical contradictions, you must give these up. It means, in effect, accepting that rationality is a constraint on God (though it is a moot point exactly what the word constraint means in this regard).

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Why this universe?

Your God is omnipotent (all-powerful, able to do anything), omnibenevolent (all-loving), omniscient (all-knowing) and the creator of all that exists.

The metaphysical engineers have run up against a problem. When your God created the universe, being all-knowing, she must have known about all the suffering there would be in this world. Yet God still created it, as it is. She did not create a more benign version of the universe, or simply choose not to create the universe. Why is this?

It could be that God did not know about all the suffering which would occur. But that would make God not all-knowing. It could be that God doesn’t mind all the suffering, but that would make her less than all-loving. It could be that God could not have created a more benign world than this one. But that would seem to make God less than all-powerful. The only way we can resolve this problem is to conclude that God can only do what is possible and that this really is the best of all possible worlds. The metaphysical engineers find it hard to model this resolution as they think they can make a better world quite easily. For example, they are able to make human brains more hardy and thus reduce the incidence of psychopathology, resulting in an immediate decline, in their model, of crimes of sadistic murder. Are they mistaken in some way?

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For eternity?

The metaphysical engineers request clarification of what you mean when you say God exists eternally.

You may mean that God exists through all space and time. But according to our best physics, space and time exist only within the confines of a universe. This would seem to constrain God’s existence to within a universe.

You could mean that God exists "outside" space and time. But the metaphysical engineers find it hard to understand what you mean by "eternally", if that’s the case. Doesn’t the concept "eternally" require some notion of time to make sense? The metaphysical engineers are still puzzling over these issues.

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That is the end of the metaphysical engineers’ report. As we said at the beginning, we are not sure that the problems they identify are insuperable. But we do hope that by thinking about them you may come to understand what you mean by God more deeply, and perhaps even revise your former beliefs.

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