Weblog of a Christian philosophy student

Weblog of a Christian philosophy student. Please feel free to comment. All of my posts are public domain. Subscribe to posts [Atom]. Email me at countaltair [at] yahoo.com.au. I also run a Chinese to English translation business at www.willfanyi.com.

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Would a creator of the universe imply a loving God? The 'motivation' argument

Assume there is a God who created the universe. Are there reasons to believe that 'It' is a loving God?

I think this is an interesting argument that may have potential. One could call it the 'motivation' argument.

The 'motivation' argument says that there aren't many motives that a God could have for creating the universe. There may be only one, because a lot of suggested motives are actually really implausible. This motive is that God is loving, and therefore belief in a creator God leads to belief in a loving God.

First of all, assume that if a God created the universe, then It would have a motivation for doing so.

Here is a list of possible motives that a 'God' might have for creating the universe:

1. Loving God: If God doesn't create then reality only contains one being who is happy - God. If God creates and makes billions of other beings happy, then there is a lot more happiness in reality overall. So out of love, God makes us so that beings other than God can be happy.
2. Amoral God: The universe is like a science project. God makes the universe to create and look at black holes, evolution, and other cool stuff. It watches and observes the universe, and species in the universe such as humanity like in an interesting scientific experiment.
3. Amoral God: God gets bored. God is hanging around in eternity and has nothing to do. So God creates the universe as something to do. It might whittle away some time.
4. Amoral God: God gets lonely, but Its not loving. Or at least, God is not very loving. Creating some other beings that go and do stuff would make God feel a bit less lonely and allow It to 'connect' with other sentient beings.
5. Evil God: God is actually malevolent. Creating sentient life, like humans, allows God to inflict pain and suffering. If God didn't make the world, then It couldn't inflict evil on us, and God couldn't be evil. So God made the universe to make us suffer.
6. Amoral God: Unknown motive. An amoral God could have a motive not on this list, because I didn't think of everything.

I'll go through them and hopefully eliminate all motives except 1 and 6. The conclusion will be that if we have to choose between 1 and 6 we should choose 1 because, I guess, it makes the most sense. This means that if a God did create the universe, then we should guess that He/She/It is a loving God, because it is hard to think of a motive for God to create the universe that isn't a loving motive.

Let's go through motives 2-5. Suppose an amoral/evil God created the universe.

How powerful and knowledgeable is this amoral/evil God? There are two possibilities:

1. An amoral/evil God who knows everything. An infinite God, probably.
2. A very powerful amoral/evil God, but not the most knowledgeable God that we can imagine.

If it's 2 then this doesn't seem like a very 'neat' view of reality. It means there's a God but He/She/It is not the greatest possible God, and it's a bit more appealing for some reason to talk about God in terms of absolutes, like the greatest possible. Also, it would mean that God isn't infinite as Its knowledge would be quite good but not quite the most you can get. But a God who created the universe would probably be a God who is so great that It 'grounds all of existence'. This implies an infinite God (link). So there are two problems with the second view.

So it seems that any God who created the universe would probably be God no. 1 rather than 2. An infinite God, probably.

Now, if the amoral/evil God is no. 1 (infinite) then I do think there is something hard to explain about this God making reality for a 'science project' type of reason. This God already knows everything that It could possibly discover by making the universe. There is nothing that the infinite amoral/evil God can possibly learn. So it makes no sense God would make the universe for that reason. This seem to rule out motivation 2.

What about motivation 3? God gets bored. But isn't it a strange view of the greatest possible being to say It gets bored? It seems that the greatest possible being shouldn't get bored, otherwise It has problems. An infinite God should have so many things going for It that It would not get bored. Motivation 3 implies the second type of God, and that idea of God has problems. This can rule out motivation 3.

Motivation 4: God gets lonely. If God creates because It gets lonely, then it seems God isn't perfect. God isn't complete and happy in Him/Her/Itself. So it seems this God lacks things, and thus It isn't the greatest possible God. So if God is lonely we're talking about no. 2 God rather than 1, which is a view with problems. This might rule out motivation 4.

Motivation 5: God is evil. But looking at the universe, I don't think you can say that God is evil, I think the most you could say is that He/She/It is indifferent. I can certainly think of a lot of ways in which there could be more evil in the world. Such as if God created a billion people every second and tortured them with indescribable pain forever (by the way, hell isn't an example of this because hell is just giving people who want to be separated from God the right to do that). This might rule out motivation 5.

So assuming that a creator God needs a motive to create the universe, and that the creator is infinite, then we are left with motivation 1 (a loving God) or 6 (unknown purpose). These assumptions, which I think are reasonable, lead us to believe in a loving God if we believe that a God created the universe.



Blogger Will G said...

Note to any readers: you can read a fairly long discussion of this post at Revelife here where I defend it.

Blogger AcesLucky said...

Let us suppose a god created the universe. Are there reasons to believe it is a "loving" god?

Instead of speculating on stuff we make up to support a conclusion in advance, let's take a look at the evidence first, and THEN take a gander at a conclusion based on the evidence.

(Such a method is useful if one is more interested in the truth, than finding a way to conclude what one already believes.)

So, what does the evidence say?
1. The universe is extremely vast (our galaxy alone is roughly 100,000 light years in diameter) and there are billions of galaxies in every direction spanning billions of light years (in every direction). To the universe, we (our galaxy) are much, much smaller than a grain of sand. Our neighboring galaxy, Andromeda, has about a trillion stars.

2. We humans can only survive in a very thin layer of atmosphere surrounding this earth, and can survive nowhere in space without special equipment designed to keep us alive, from everything from lack of oxygen to radiation to extreme temperatures to black holes. Clearly the universe was not "designed" with us in mind, nor does it in any way recognize our existence.

3. Even here on our home planet, practically every living thing must devour another living thing in order to live. Compassionate design, eh?

4. Roughly 99 percent of every species to ever exist on this planet has become extinct (gone forever) from an inhospitable environment to every other living thing being a potential enemy of prey.

5. Tornadoes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, even meteors happen without regard to our existence. And these are on our "home" planet.

Given just the few facts above from "home," it is not very likely or probable that a loving creator had any sense of "love" for the living. And so if there was a "motivation" for the creation of said universe, it could hardly be with "us" in mind, let alone a pretense of "love" in doing so for anything living on this planet.

In fact, it would appear that such a Creator Being does not yet know that we exist, if the efficacy of the universe is a measure of its awareness. If anything, it would appear that the universe is evidence "against" a loving Creator, as neither the universe nor anything in it recognizes us at all, let alone as anything special.

So I'm going to go with option 7: A possibly moral Creator God whose vastness is too great to recognize the existence of life on the planetary scale. (That or you started with a false presupposition because none of the evidence supports it.)

Blogger Will G said...

People say that communism is meant to work, but it doesn't. In a similar kind of way, if there's a loving God then we would expect reality to be quite different than it actually is. If there's a loving God, then it seems we should all be perfectly happy, living in a perfectly loving community forever and ever. So what's the deal with the vast amount of suffering in the world?

This is an entirely valid point.

I think the answer is that you need to bring in further assumptions to explain how everything is so messed up. Assume that humans are like someone standing with one foot on land and one foot on the sea. We have a physical body and a mind.

I think the answer is that our mind is meant to be in some kind of union or harmony with God in the mental world. And if someone does wrong then this unity or harmony is shattered in the mental world. So minds that are willing to do the wrong thing must experience pain and suffering even if everything is going OK physically. So this general kind of approach can help (with some clarification on various points) to explain why a loving God hasn't led to a happy outcome.

Blogger AcesLucky said...

If the facts do not support the assumptions, what does that tell you?

Blogger Will G said...

If there's a perfectly loving, all powerful God then it makes sense there's only one way things could be terrible. Problems couldn't come from God's end, they could only come about through bad choices made by creatures. And so it makes sense there could be suffering with a loving God because creatures have free will and make bad choices. So I don't agree that the facts show there is no loving God. Loving God + flawed choices by creatures = horrible suffering makes sense.

Blogger AcesLucky said...

Will G.,

There is a very consistent logical mistake made in science and philosophy; it's real easy to make and very easy to catch [but almost impossible to catch in one's self].

It's actually famous! It's called "Confirmation Bias". Once one discovers it, it works wonders for one's logic! And, it's just my opinion but, once grasped it improves the ability to think about things by leaps and bounds. It almost immediately shows us our blind spots and how to correct them.

I mention this because as a Christian student of Philosophy you will be torn to shreds, and no serious philosopher could ever take your work seriously, nor should they. Until you have grasped the logical error of Confirmation Bias you could entertain no academic audience greater than high school.

I apologize if this comes off a bit demeaning. But this is a GOOD thing. A teacher once told me, after I had scolded myself for making the same error over and over again, that to make the same mistake was far better than making a slew of different mistakes, because "one" mistake is far easier to correct. By making the same error (albeit consistently) I had only "one" thing to fix!

It is clear you're trying to be a Christian apologists. I'd like to make a suggestion. Instead of trying to find a way to make Christianity right, try first learning what makes something true.

Peace be with you Will,
May you live long in happiness, and prosper.


Blogger Will G said...

Peace be with you Will,
May you live long in happiness, and prosper.

Thanks AcesLucky.


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