Saturday, November 22, 2003

Good God

Thinking about God, don't ask me why. The old Heinlein quote about the absurdity of god being all of omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent. Yes, that's absurd. I think we mostly focus on the omnipotent part, god as creator and manipulator of the universe. This is the part science has successfully replaced.

What about the benevolent part? I'm doing the exercise of imagining a God that is far from omnnipotent but is omnibenevolent in the sense of being the source and focus of all that is Good. God/Good. You know. Somehow that's a lot easier to believe in because it's that much more decoupled from physics.

Let's say God is a concept that has some hard-to-understand relationship to reality, just like the concept of "3", or "function", or "factorial". All of these are concepts, they can be embodied as marks on paper or rituals or whatever, they are unreal things with real instantiations and influence.

Very good, but so what?

Here's the full Heinlein quote:

God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent - it says so right here on the label. If you have a mind capable of believing all three of these attributes simultaneously, I have a wonderful bargain for you. No checks, please. Cash and in small bills. [Robert Heinlein, Notebooks of Lazarus Long]
Ah, Heinlein, grandfather of all the net flamers that ever were and ever will be.

Theory 2: god isn't especially benevolent, since he created both good and evil and maintains them both. You probably couldn't have one without the other. Contrast, you know.

And I guess theory 3 would be giving up omniscience, evil exists because god just doesn't know about it, making him sort of a sunny airhead type. That one doesn't seem satisfying somehow.

Why I am engaging in this sophomoric theology is anyone's guess, I suppose it means I'm tired.

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