As I suffer from a condition called "theism", I occassionally ponder the question of why God chose naturalistic means to create the world we live in today. Naturally, the answer can only be speculative, but I thought it would be interesting to phrase it here, since we have members of many different -isms and backgrounds.
Now, a few guidelines.
1. This thread assumes that the universe is ~14 billion years old, and that the scientific consensus regarding life's origins and diversity is an accurate description of reality.
2. This thread also assumes that there is an omnipotent Creator of some sort, who is fully capable of creating a complete universe by any means He (or She or It) chooses.
3. The Creator in question, created the universe with the express purpose of producing the human race, and to be worshipped by said humans.
A rather general description of a Creator for most theistic (at least monotheistic) religions I imagine.
So, if you had to make these assumptions, what reasons do you see for the Creator to choose gradual naturalistic processes, as opposed to an undeniably divine creation event?
It'll be particularly interesting to see what the theistic evolutionists think about the question.
Not sure if this is much of a debate topic, so coffee house perhaps?
First off, I'm impressed by the number of non-theists who were willing to consider my question. Kudos to you guys.
So far I have liked all of your suggestions. I especially enjoyed the D&D twist Izanaqi put on it. It makes sense, at least for the Judeo-Christian God. So unwilling to break his own laws, he has to sacrifice his son (himself) in order to forgive our sins. I always thought that aspect of God was strange, but maybe thinking of God in D&D terms will make it easier to understand him
My own position is similar to Taz' opinion on the matter. Young Earth Creationists will sometimes argue that a god who goes about using naturalistic processes is a weak god, while I think the very opposite is true. It is far more spectacular in my mind, to create a universe which in itself, using the properties that the Creator gave it, can create a world like ours. The vastness of it, the age of it, the beauty of it, seems to represent the existence of an omnipotent, eternal Creator much better than one that was just poofed into existence 6000 years ago.
There is also far more mystery in our universe, than in one that is maintained by the divine. So far, we have not run into any natural phenomenon that warranted the supernatural. We never find the "god of the gaps" in the gaps, and hence our ability to learn is unbridled by the existence of the supernatural. It's like being given an infinitely large playground.
Some of you had problems with my third assumption. I hesitated to include it, because I knew if I left it out my assumptions would agree with more beliefs. The reason I put it in there was partly my Judeo-Christian bias, and partly because I wanted to avoid the cop-out of saying that the Creator had no particular purpose in mind when creating the universe. I also wanted to explore the scenario where the Creator has an interest in humanity, rather than being an indifferent observer. This would make our answers to the question reflect how the Creator's actions would be not only in his interest, but also in ours.
Slevesque: You are assuming that death is a bad thing. Without the history of death on our planet we would not have soil, corals, oil or natural gas. I have never heard any reasoning suggesting why death is an objectively bad phenomenon. As for suffering, I think you'll find that the suffering we humans inflict on each other far outdoes that inflicted by nature under natural conditions.
ABE: Slevesque, if my assumptions do not match your particular understanding of God, it is only because I did not intend to describe the god of any particular religion.
quote:Is evolution's main aim in fact to propose a weak god or none at all, in place of an unerring Creator behind the universe?
I don't think there's any doubt that the argument is used by many creationists.
The bible clearly identifies death as an enemy and an intruder in this world
I don't think so.
You only have to see a mourners grieving over the death of a loved one
Death is indeed a sad thing, for the mourners. For the dead individual it is not sad, and if you believe in an afterlife, may even be a joyous event. Just because something is sad, doesn't make it bad. A world where nobody ever died would soon become overpopulated, and that would be bad.
And even if this 'God' did make a world with death as a key feature of it, why did he make us evolved so that we mentally suffer when we lose a loved one ? At least, he could have made us indifferent to death, so that we view it as he does: just another aspect of our universe.
Death is an integral part of our world, like it or not. Does that mean we should be indifferent to it? Cars are an integral part of the city as well. Does that mean I should be indifferent to them when I cross the road? Of course not.
FInally, a 6000 year old universe is just as vast, and just as beautiful as 14billion year old universe. The only difference is the age really. And so if you think a 6000 year old universe takes away all the mystery and greatness of being able to explore it, I would suggest you say that to Newton or Galileo, or pretty much any scientist before the 19th century.
A universe that was created 6000yrs ago in a "finished" form would be a lot less interesting. For one, you wouldn't be able to study the natural origin of our world. Pretty much everything, mountains, canyons, rivers, stars, and species would have only a supernatural explanation, and there'd be no reason to study by what processes they originated. You're putting a lot of scientists out of work.
The possibility of finding fathomable natural explanations for how things come together and work is one of the privileges our universe (and its creator?) has to offer.
I notice that we have strayed a little off-topic regarding death and the bible. This thread was intended to discuss why any creator, not necessarily the biblical one, would choose to create a universe like the one we live in (according to the scientific consensus). Maybe you could focus your next reply on giving objective reasons why you think a creator should or should not have involved death and natural processes in the creation of the universe.
Actually, the creation of an evolving universe would require so much more effort and creativity, than one that started out pretty much like it was going to end, and only had to last for a few thousand years.
I find it amazing to think that God might have created the universe from a carefully engineered seed in such a way that the universe is able to continuously express the creativity of God. Because he kicked it off with so much foresight and ingenuity, God wouldn't have to interfere in the creation process, although this doesn't preclude him from playing with it if he wants. Even if humans are the only point of the universe and he had to sit around and "wait" for us (which I personally think sounds absurd), it would not be boring because:
1. So much happened between the Big Bang and the arrival of people (certainly much more than has happened since)
2. How can a timeless existence be boring in the first place?
Also, welcome back my friend. I'm glad to see you didn't drop out of the debate for good.
I just realized that your post was a general response to my thread that I didn't notice way back when. I hesitate to reply, since it's so dated, but seeing how the thread has been bumped up recently anyway...
then why not start with the big ones (I don't think it's OT for here, forgive me if I'm wrong).
You are (or rather... were) completely and utterly OT. This topic is not supposed to be about dating methods or how the age of the universe is ascertained. I for one favor the scientific explanations for the evolution of the cosmos.
Beside that fact, I find your assumption that just because I'm a theist I must also believe in a flud or a recent creation highly offensive. Your tone comes across as needlessly sarcastic, or perhaps its just that you simply assumed that I have not but an elementary understanding of science. I'm not normally thin-skinned, but when someone confuses me for a moron and a YEC just because I express religious belief, I take offense.
And just in case anyone is interested in posting something OT: This topic is about why God decided to use naturalistic processes to produce the world we live in. It makes three assumptions for the sake of argument.
A. A God was somehow involved in the creation of the universe B. The scientific consensus is accurate regarding the age and evolution of the cosmos C. The Creator is omnipotent and thus could have done things differently
The reason I started this thread was that I was then pondering why God chose to take a less direct approach, making his hand in creation less apparent (or completely unapparent).