Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Is god too simplistic?

  1. Dec 6, 2007 #1
    Has anyone ever thought that the idea of a god is simply too simplistic?

    We know that our universe is complex, and yet from that, there seems a tendency to reduce it all down to simply having been created from a single deity. Perhaps it is a product of flawed human reasoning; our desire to dismiss the complex in favor of something simpler and more easily understood?

    What if there really is no single “being” responsible for all that we see. What if there are simply billions upon billions of process at work, and nothing ever traces back to having originated from a single source?

    Hard to understand, yes. But what would be the problem with it?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 6, 2007 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Seems to me that the details of a superior intelligence manipulating the universe is less important to most people than whether or not there is one.

    i.e. those who think that God is an implausible answer are not concerned with the various flavours of Godness.

    At the risk of being flippant:

    "Does God exist?"
    "What if He were not one entity, but a committee? Is that more palatable?"
    "Still no."
    "But what if..."
    "Do you think my answer is going to change?"
  4. Dec 6, 2007 #3
    I don't see any problem with the universe being a set of infinitely complex processes interacting forever. As humans, we study the parts of it that affect us (the part we happen to be in) and manage to infer a few useful rules about this part. However, this says nothing about what may or may not lie outside the limits of our observable space.

    But the search for the simplest understandable answer is natural. For some, God is the concept they can understand. For others, a TOE is the holy grail. For both, the goal is to find whatever explanation satisfies, whatever makes us feel secure.
  5. Dec 6, 2007 #4
    The same general argument can be applied the other way around; how many devout theists do you think would change their mind if credible scientific evidence should arise that points otherwise?
  6. Dec 6, 2007 #5


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Perfhaps, but that's not the point of the OP's thread. S/he seems to be basically asking if it would be more palatable to atheists if we "watered down" the supernatural force.
  7. Dec 7, 2007 #6
    Sounds like one of those 'irreducible complexity' arguments the creationists try and sell.
  8. Dec 7, 2007 #7

    it's just one of those questions you cant answer.
    We assume that god doesnt exist.
    then we can never know whether he does exist or not, just because we havent seen something doesnt mean it doesnt exist.
    Let's assume that the universe goes to infinity
    but we can never be sure because we have never met a boundary which could exist
  9. Dec 7, 2007 #8


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    The question is more practically formulated as "Do we need God to exist in order to make sense of our universe?" We're not saying he doesn;t exist so much as we're saying we don't ned to factor him in to our answers.

    It's a more conservative application of Occam's Razor: the simplest answer is the one we can work with for all practical purposes - whether there is more to the answer is not really helpful to us.
  10. Dec 27, 2007 #9
    What if there were more than one god, such as a whole population of them. Maybe their race is are like giants which are omnipotent in our opinion, but in fact in their opinion, not all that great. Perhaps we are like microscopic organisms to them. Think of how we look down upon every other creature on earth. this could be just like that for them. every planet might kinda be like a house and them that one god could customize it however he wants. They would be very different than us. we may be created in gods form but we don't think or act like they do. But i'm only in eighth grade, i might not understand this kind of concept. ths all just came from my imagination.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2007
  11. Jan 9, 2008 #10
    It's already been thought of Laozi, but in Buddhism for instance these Gods aren't omni-functional sorts. They're mortal, but under the illusion of immortality(with such ridiculous life-spans that they may as well think themselves immortal) and are free to act in any way(with consequence, perhaps surprisingly to some) they can as any other being.

    The infinite descent line argument is fairly old. We may exist in something like a dimensional pocket within another larger dimensional plane and so ad infinitum(in perhaps both ways). If we are observables within the higher dimension they can be considered Godly(even if they may not be able to interact explicitly, near-objective observation is next to Godliness!) But here we come across a basic no no for theists; the thought that God maybe 'victim' to another 'God' and so ad infinitum is simply appalling to them and(seeing no way around it)therefore they mark the argument too simple to be worth their effort and look away.

    But this thread does not aim for a critique on the arguments for existence of God. Such are fun(bashing theist opinion always is)but never get anywhere. So is God too simplistic? I say yes, it moves on under our assumption that all things have a creator and helps weak people find sanity with the idea of omnipotency and individual love. The omniscience bit keeps people from asking too much!
  12. Jan 21, 2008 #11
    Surely the point is the theists cannot *prove* that God exists anymore than atheists can *prove* God doesnt exist? Belief is something that can't be proven or disproven and there is always going to be a part of religion that is impossible to prove (hence why creastionism cannot be called a theory - it can't be proven or disproven - but i'll leave that for another time...).
  13. Jan 21, 2008 #12


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    (This discussion has happened before but I'll repeat it anyway.)

    Theists most certainly have the potential to prove that God exists, with the right circumstances.

    If the clouds parted and a colossal white-bearded man stepped onto the Earth carrying a titanic staff with a "G" carved into the knob, and parted the Mediterranean ocean with a wave of his hand and wrote upon its bed "I am God, hear me roar", I think most people would accept that as adequate proof of God.

    Atheists on the other hand, have no such counterpart. There can be no proof of the non-existence of God. Ever. Even in principle. ("Maybe he's just asleep, curled up in some distant galactic arm".)
  14. Jan 21, 2008 #13
    That would be a corroboration, not necessarily a proof. The more reasonable explanatory model is that you are simply hallucinating.

    I would argue that he ability to disprove god certainly exist (some scientists even state that it has already been done to some extent). One or more modus tollens argument(s) will do. We derive testable prediction(s) from it and when they fail, the god also fails. Naturally, you can arbitrarily redefine "god" as ad hoc anything, but note carefully that the god already disproven by science will stay disproven, just like astrology. Your only way out seems to be to argue, like Kuhn, that falsifications don't take place in science, but that would be a somewhat bleak stance.

    Also, arguments from theological noncognitivism or materialistic apologetics can work considerably towards the same goal for a strong atheist if he or she chooses to go down that line.

    Naturally, as you mentioned before, it is really about whether such a being is necessary to explain anything or not.
  15. Jan 21, 2008 #14


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Seen by billions? I don't mean simply a sighting or an anecdote. I mean if God actually came down and said "hello. I've come to set you all straight."

    The most reasonable explanatory model would be that we atheists blew it.
  16. Jan 21, 2008 #15
    Indeed, if you had that much independent corroboration of it, then obviously, like true testable, repeatable advances in, say, parapsychology, it would be counted as strong evidence.
  17. Jan 21, 2008 #16
    God can't be scientifically proven.
  18. Jan 21, 2008 #17
    Say we set up a controlled double-blind prayer experiment. We have Catholics, Protestants, Hindu, Buddhists praying for different groups with irreligious atheists as a control group. 100% of the patients, say, Catholics prayed for get better, terminal diseases are cured, severed limbs are regrown and so on, whereas the others do no better than the control.

    Then what?
  19. Jan 21, 2008 #18
    That just says prayer works. Just as thinking "positive" works. Doesn't scientifically prove God.
  20. Jan 21, 2008 #19
    Does thinking positive make severed limbs regrown? Even if it is not a clear "proof", it is strong evidence, don't you agree?
  21. Jan 21, 2008 #20
    I guess thinking positive is powerfull stuff. No, it doesn't scientifically prove God exists.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook