Monday, October 27, 2008

Why Would a God Create?

I have a question for the theistic world. Why would a god create anything in the first place? It is such a simple question, yet I don't think it is one that gets enough attention.

For simplicities sake, I'm going to assume for the moment the common belief of most theists, that a god is a perfect being. If a god is perfect, then it does not need anything to better itself (just like you cannot add anything to infinity to get a larger number). So why would a perfect being create anything at all? The question gets even deeper when you notice the universe is anything but perfect. This imperfection of the universe begs the question of why a perfect creator would intentionally create imperfection. Wouldn't this in itself be a flaw and violate the supposed perfectness of said god?

What would a god stand to gain by creating anything? It obviously wasn't out of boredom as perfection cannot know boredom. Loneliness is right out as well. A perfect god wouldn't need things to worship it unless it had some sort of inferiority complex or was incredibly childish (but if you buy into many holy books, you would be hard pressed not to come to these conclusions). It almost seems that by creating an imperfect universe, god would have to also be imperfect. But if god is so imperfect, what would separate this imperfect god from simply a highly advanced intelligence?

Some would argue that the universe would have to be imperfect for us to understand it. This question misses the point of my statement entirely. My question, in asking why an imperfect universe was created also asks why we were created (as we are a part of the universe, not separate from it). Why would a god even bother creating something so violent as humans? I've already gone over the worshiping part and why that really isn't a viable answer. So why create us? Some may say because god wanted to bestow the gift of life on something in its own image (essentially, an urge to procreate). But such an urge itself requires imperfection. Not to mention the shoddy job. If a perfect god was able to want to create a being, wouldn't its inherent perfection require it to create perfection. If this were true, then we would have been created as perfect and not be limited to understanding an imperfect universe. Obviously perfection is not limited, but by creating imperfection the perfect being is limiting itself drastically.

This is a question I've never had satisfactorily answered (or really answered at all). It is also a question that I believe needs to be asked more frequently. It seems to be one of the larger holes in a theistic belief that holds a perfect being.

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Brent the Closet Geek said...

One of the questions asked in the graphic novel series Preacher is exactly this, you may want to take a peek at it.

shapul said...

Of course theists will never stop coming up with answers. For example Shiite Muslims would say God is just and merciful (and so on and so on. In fact they would claim God has uncountable attributes but that is a separate topic….). Now, how can one be just and (or merciful or …) without anyone out there to show one’s justice? As such God created the world only because he is just (and merciful and…) and being like that needs a stage. Of course you wonder why the world is not perfect or just then! Aha! That’s why he also has created the after death world where he’ll demonstrate his full justice. Btw, the same reason goes for giving humans free will. If humans did not have free will, they would not make rights and wrongs and God would not be able to show his justice in the after world!

Valens said...

so one questions.
so questions require consciousness.
so consciousness understands answer.
so consciousness knows creator.
so the consciousness becomes aware of itself.

Valens said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Tanned Vampire said...

I may just have to look into that, thanks for the referral.

A rather convoluted set of reasons, no? So in other words, god needs someone to see him do good to make him feel better about himself.

While questions require consciousness I have seen many times when consciousness does not understand the answers or even see them before them. If you are referring to consciousness knowing creator in the sense that it has created the creator as a kind of impromptu answer, then yes.

And to all, thank you for commenting!

Anonymous said...

This reminds me a lot of Rand's argument:

To make this point fully clear, try to imagine an immortal, indestructible robot, an entity which moves and acts, but which cannot be affected by anything, which cannot be changed in any respect, which cannot be damaged, injured or destroyed. Such an entity would not be able to have any values; it would have nothing to gain or to lose; It could not regard anything as for or against it, as serving or threatening its welfare, as fulfilling or frustrating its interests. It could have no interests and no goals… Only a living entity can have goals or can originate them. And it is only a living organism that has the capacity for self-generated, goal-directed action.

An interesting read, thanks!

Andrew said...

First off, I think placing alot of our human characteristics on God or a creator is doomed in failure. A thought I have had for a while that creativity is inherent in the fabric of the universe, like the physical constants. Like God creates, because thats what God does.

The Tanned Vampire said...

That is certainly a rather succinct way of putting it, I shall have to remember it. Thank you for that and the pleasant word.

Hans Holdings said...

You will never find an answer to your question because none of that shit is real to begin with. Just as Ayn Rand (philosopher and creator of Objectivism) discussed, trying to create and justify things beyond reality is meaningless. It underminds the very nature of being and reality.

Theists are ignorant (and often times stupid) people who rationalize their irrational behaviours because it is simply human to be stuborn.

gibs said...

While I agree that it's fallacious to project our human traits onto a god-entity, I think that a perfect being can still have desires.

"Perfect" in my mind means objective, omniscient, omnipotent. A perfect being would understand the plight of a subjective being; it would be able to empathise with the subjective "good" that us animals strive for. If god can empathise with subjective feelings, god can be driven by them to a course of action.

Put simply, an objective being understands and can "project" into a subjective mindset, and thus can be driven by subjective desires and feelings.

Anonymous said...

Why does a god have to have a reason for creating a universe? It seems conceivable to me to do it without a reason.

Considering this further, it occurs to me that people 'do things for a reason' because often we later have to justify why we have done things. A god would not have to justify itself to anyone, and therefore would be free to do things without a reason. Much like a a 3 year old brat, who does things we might not agree with "because I felt like it" (I say this by way of explanation and truly mean no disrespect to God).

Dave M said...

All things happen for a reason.

Not to be confused with something some people say that implies there's in invisible hand at work, that a higher being sometimes makes decisions for people. I'm talking about a tracable chain of cause and effect that leads up to our perception that we made a decision. We make decisions based on a number of factors that's hard to even grasp.

We sometimes "make up" reasons after the fact to justify our actions, true. We also sometimes admit our real reasons or sometimes the reason is just perceived by us as the real reason.

We may not know or understand the real reason we did it, but there always is one. Check the definition of spontaneous. Even it only covers things that happen without an apparent reason.

What really happens though when we think we're being spontaneous is just a reaction to perceived personal needs to "be spontaneous". "We should go see a movie tonight" can result from many things, but there will never be a case where you decide you should see a movie tonight and there was no reason for that decision. It could have been an advertisement you saw. Some related imagery/sound. A suggestion. Whatever you're susceptible in the way of influences. A want to do something and that was on the available list of things to do. Even if picked randomly, the reason you decided to see it is because you decided to make a random decision. Maybe you spun a wheel to decide. The wheel was oiled just well enough and you spun it just hard enough that it stopped on whatever selection. You may not be able to trace the entire line of reasons/causes, but...

There's always a reason, conscious or not, perceived or not.

Someone may have even made the decision for you (parents?), but then you didn't really make the decision at all then, did you...

Charles said...

You have a great mind. Keep it pure.

You'll be better by removing every badge (goth, atheist, etc) that you carry.

Badges and Categories destroy creativity.

Avoid them as long as you can.

You're going to get along famously with this world...

Jann said...

So God created the world because he couldn't help himself? He should be free to do what he wants (any ol' time). Your suggestion would make him non-free.

Still: why should a perfect being act like it was not perfect? Of course it could, but that would mean limiting itself and becoming less perfect.

(technical PS: captcha doesn't work in epiphany)

gibs said...

I think we are muddling the idea of "perfection". By my definition, the perfect being is objective.

The objective part of god can observe the subjective part doing and feeling things subjectively. At no point in this is objectivity lost, so its perfection is not compromised.

mike said...

I just finished reading a book (free eBook at that) by Scott Adams (the guy who draws Dilbert) that takes on this very question and arrives at a very creative answer. You may enjoy it:

The Tanned Vampire said...

Thank you for the compliment, it means quite a bit. Any badges I carry such as gothic are just kept around for entertainments sake. I see them as names and nothing more, but I agree, if one focuses on them they can be quite the hinderance.

Thanks for the link. Free is good, being a poor college student, I have learned the joys of this word. I shall have to take a look at it.

bharath said...

Interesting thought !
I am from India, and i am not even supposed to tell anyone that i read such an article.
Indians tend to be highly immersed into religion, be it Hinduism,Christianity or Islam, too bad.
I am struggling caught between the religious beliefs of my family,friends & relatives, even though i favor science over religion.
Anyway, thanks for the interesting post !