Soft Theism: Did God Create Physics and Logic?

Soft Theism: Did God Create Physics and Logic? April 12, 2021

We’re responding to an imaginary dialogue that explores Soft Theism, which is basically Christianity without the unpleasant baggage. Can jettisoning Christianity’s crazy bits make it acceptable? Read part 1 here.

This is post 18 in this series, and the topic is physics and logic. Did God create these, and what follows from that? And is God complex or simple?

God’s complexity

Atheist: We know the universe exists; we don’t know about any God. Occam’s razor says . . . you don’t multiply causes beyond necessity. What could POSSIBLY be more complex than an all knowing, all powerful mind? That’s about as much of a violation of Occam’s Razor as you can get.

Cross Examined Blog: And a related shaving-away maxim, also relevant here, is Hitchens’ Razor, named after Christopher Hitchens: “What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.” Our soft theist makes himself vulnerable to this with declarations of his offended common sense. My own common sense is also offended by some of science’s conclusions, but that’s poor grounding for any conclusion that the scientific consensus is wrong.

Soft Theist: But being “complicated” is an attribute of our world. You can’t apply it to God. A God who is SUBJECT to the limitations of the world He Himself created, such as size, location, . . . complicatedness . . . is not a reasonable concept of God.

Why is it out of bounds to label God complicated or simple? Even if we only look at the supernatural realm, complicatedness must be a thing. And God does enter into our world. Even if you have no place in your theology for God performing miracles, he certainly played a role in our world, having created it.

William Lane Craig and Alvin Plantinga are Christians, not soft theists like you, but for what it’s worth, they say that God is simple. (I disagree.)

You’re inventing the properties of God, based on nothing.

Did God create physics?

I think your concept of God is a caricature. You automatically assume God is subject to the laws of physics, like some anthropomorphic being WITHIN the universe, instead of an ultimate power that transcends the world He created.

Here again it’s like you’re inventing the properties of a character in a Dungeons & Dragons world. Does it make sense that God would be able to invent the ultimate physics of our universe? On what would that physics be based? You’ll say it’s based on and built on nothing, but how do you know? “Well, we gotta create out of nothing somewhere, right?” isn’t good enough.

This brings to mind a swimmer in a pool who tries to push off from a wall but realizes that they’ve misjudged their distance and have simply pushed against water. Nothing happens. As a swimmer needs a wall if they want to push off, doesn’t God need something from which to create the properties of our universe? Yes, I know lots of theists imagine that God created from nothing, but Genesis 1 doesn’t even claim that, and it may make no sense to imagine God inventing properties in a property-less pre-universe situation.

You’re positing a being that breaks all the laws of physics.

I’m positing a being that created the laws of physics.

Did Walt Disney go on every Disneyland ride for free? Or did he feel obliged to buy a ticket like anyone else? I don’t know—it could have been either way. Or take the video game Civilization. You’re the boss as you decide what everyone does, but you’re constrained by the physics of the game.

Similarly, what are the constraints on a god creating our universe? We’re just making stuff up here, so let’s not imagine this handwaving about God reliably answers any question.

Did God create logic?

When you say that God is not subject to physics and the laws of logic, that’s merely an assertion, based on no evidence, and it opens the gates to a total breakdown of logic. Without evidence, you’re really just “making stuff up.” Your assertion that God would be the only entity not strictly subject to logic, makes no sense, and the only way it could ever make sense would be if you had any evidence for it. As soon as you say God Himself is not subject to logic, then ANYTHING goes!!

NOT AT ALL! The universe has its rules, it’s governed by logic and physics. But God . . . is a different level of reality. I think it’s very logical to say that IF, IF, a Creator of the world exists, then that Creator . . . created logic. If logic and physics existed by themselves first and then a creator came along, who could only operate within those parameters, then that is not a supreme being, but a LESS-THAN-SUPREME being!! To me, your assumption that the limitations of reality apply to an entity that CREATED reality, is NOT a reasonable concept of God. It is not a broad enough perspective on the issue.

God would be a less-than-supreme being if he were constrained by parameters? Okay then—he’s not a supreme being. You seem to imagine that that’s a problem somehow, but you’ve given no evidence for any god, supreme or otherwise.

You’re building your supernatural worldview in a sandbox. Create whatever you want, but don’t imagine that this is grounded on anything or that it’s convincing to others.

If God created logic and wasn’t constrained by any external reality, God could’ve made logic be anything. Show us that God could’ve made 2 + 2 = 9.

Soft theism or warm deism?

So, you’re a theist, not a deist? You think God cares about us?

Yeah, a totally non-caring deistic God doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t see why an intelligence would create a world with all this drama and meaning, on earth, and NOT care about it.

So he cares about us as if we were an ant farm, something to monitor but not assist? You’re treading an odd middle ground, like the Christian, where God cares . . . but not that much.

But this question of how much God cares is unresolved in my mind. If he deliberately made a world with these consequences, why not eliminate most or all of the bad parts like pain, premature death, illness, hunger, and so on. Seen from the other direction, if he didn’t care to tone down these bad features of life, why think that he cares at all?

Next: What good is the soft theist God?

Three things cannot be long hidden:
the sun, the moon, and the truth.
— Buddha

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Image from Christian Holzinger (free-use license)
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