Was It Even Possible for God to Create the Universe?

Was It Even Possible for God to Create the Universe? December 3, 2018

Editor’s Note: The following essay, written by a Clergy Project member whom I just met, makes a good case against the creation story.  I think people who are doubting religion will be impressed and people who already stopped believing (or never believed) will nod in agreement. But I bet fundamentalists would have a bunch of counter-arguments!  Linda LaScola, Editor

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By Scott Stahlecker 

Why am I here? It’s a question our cavemen ancestors have been pondering for thousands of years. They had little more than myths to help them answer this riddle. Nor did we, until the dawn of science. These days, we find ourselves at a fulcrum in history in which the question of whether or not we were created or evolved is still a contentious issue for many who follow the Abrahamic religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Many believers are simply too reluctant to throw the weight of their convictions on the side of evolution until more evidence comes in.

I’m not going to argue the pros of evolution as it has been traditionally addressed. Instead, I prefer to tackle a far more interesting question:

Was it even possible for the biblical God to create the universe?

To answer this question, I’ll do a quick review of the creative process from a human perspective. If, as Genesis 1:27 suggests, we were created in the image of God, then understanding human creativity should tell us whether or not the biblical God can create under the same preconditions. Make sense?

Think for a moment of the reasons why we create. We create primarily to free ourselves of boredom by stimulating our minds and emotions. Creating is exciting! It fuels our passions, inspires self-confidence, and makes us feel unique. The act of creating is like a suspenseful, unfolding mystery. Ultimately, we don’t know if what we imagine could be accurately expressed in reality. So, creating allows us to use our aesthetic reasoning to manipulate a work of art, which may be spectacular. Then again, it may be a grotesque rendition of what we anticipated, in which case, creating can leave us feeling defeated and worthless, especially if people don’t value what we’ve created. Creating is for the most part a selfish, ego-driven endeavor, except when we use our creativity to enrich others, as well.

However, there’s no way to attribute these same human characteristics to the biblical God. The snag is that the Bible also infers that God is omnipotent. In Latin, “omni” means total, and “potent” means power. This means God possess any and all powers and he’s also intellectually and emotionally flawless.

I propose that having creativity is a purely human endeavor that’s rendered moot by omnipotence. Creativity and omnipotence are incompatible terms.

Let’s think about the biblical creation story. Genesis 1 tells us that God took a full seven days to work out the details of creating the universe. The first few days he spent separating light and darkness as well as fabricating the heavens and earth. In the days that followed he crafted plants and flowers, as well as every living creature. In Genesis 2 we are told God even got his hands dirty by handcrafting Adam out of dust, then worked like a surgeon to remove one of Adam’s ribs to make Eve. While the details in Genesis are remarkably sparse, we can appreciate the analogy of God taking the time to thoroughly enjoy the creative process as you or I might. Problem is, he could not have, given his omnipotence.

When we pair God’s omnipotence with the human traits God would need in order to be the heroine of the creation story, we discover just how impossible it would be to cast him in this role.

Consider these fundamental questions: Was God bored at some point in time and so needed to stimulate his mind by creating the universe? When did God become so lonely and insecure that he considered building a race of people to worship him? Would an all-knowing God take a full seven days—much less a full second—to think through the ramifications of crafting every intricate detail of the universe? Is there any reason to assume that God, who lacks any intellectual power or emotional need, and who has full knowledge of everything in the past, present and future would be motivated to lift a metaphorical finger and create anything at all?

We began by asking the question, is it even possible for the biblical God to have created the universe? No. Not the biblical God. The primary reason for this is that the Bible portrays God as a perfect omnipotent being, but also, as an emotionally troubled and intellectually challenged individual. You see, our emotional and intellectual deficits are key requirements that permit us to create and being creative is what makes us uniquely human. Yet, if we were omnipotent, we would lack the deficits required to be creative. Ironically, it’s the writers of the Bible who have disqualified their own God as being the creator of the universe.

But could a god—any god—create the universe? Since we are dealing in pure speculation — sure. Any comic book writer could construct a being made of just the right amount of supernatural power and human qualities to make it seem plausible. We are, however, concerned with the likelihood that the biblical God got bored one day and suspended his omnipotence so that he could become human enough to create our universe. This is, of course, unbelievable, which leaves science as the only factual alternative to understanding the origins of our species.

***Editor’s Questions*** Got any other arguments to make Scott’s case?  What are some good fundamentalist counter-arguments?

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Bio: Scott Stahlecker was raised a Lutheran but converted to Seventh-Day Adventism in 1980. After serving the church in both lay and professional capacities, he left the church in 1990. He identified as an agnostic until 2004 and has been an outspoken atheist ever since. Throughout his life he and his wife have owned many businesses to include hospice agencies in Texas and music stores in Alaska. He is the author of the novel Blind Guides and Picking Wings Off Butterflies, a memoir about raising a child with a traumatic brain injury. He continues to write extensively about the benefits of living life as a freethinking individual. Learn more about him at www.scottstahlecker.com

>>>>Photo Credits:  “NGC7293 (2004)” Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NGC7293_(2004).jpg#/media/File:NGC7293_(2004).jpg : “Creation of the Sun and Moon face detail” by Michelangelo – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Creation_of_the_Sun_and_Moon_face_detail.jpg

 


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  • Cozmo the Magician

    The problem IMO is not the ‘all powerful’ it is the ‘all knowing’. Since god knows EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME, he had to know exactly what was needed to make the universe he wanted, and therefore the universe would have been poofed into existence EXACTLY as he wanted in less than a mili-second. He also would have known that this universe would NOT live up to his expectations so he would have never made it in the first place. So either god must also be OMNI-FUCKING-CRAZY., or he don’t exist.

  • Cosmo, I had this same argument with my mom when I was a child, minus the F word. So she sent me to fundamentalist Christian school.

  • wannabe

    Cozmo, if God has the power to know, then he also has the power to choose not to know.

    Would it be enough for God to simply know everything Cozmo the Magician would feel, think, say, and do, or do you prefer actually living a life where you feel, think, say, and do?

    Even atheist me prefers the latter.

  • scottpresnall

    When you throw logical arguments at creationists, it just makes them angry.

  • mason

    Scott, good to see you here on RD. Two thoughts.

    If our distant ancestors had just asked “what” created all this instead of the egocentric anthropomorphic human default of “who” … so much absurdity could have been eliminated.

    Now, the ancient Hebrew God of war in the “Bible.” Well, this supernatural comic book character couldn’t even stand up to iron chariots, so that removes him and his vast collection of male foreskins from the discussion of powerful creators. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/21463891ab0ec5a76c708cf53f0cf3aefc84b3f441bca4305e83238256564d24.jpg

  • Brian Davis

    We are, however, concerned with the likelihood that the biblical God got
    bored one day and suspended his omnipotence so that he could become
    human enough to create our universe. This is, of course, unbelievable

    Is this really unbelievable? We do things “the hard way” all the time in order to give ourselves a challenge and make existence more interesting. How much easier would basketball be without the dribbling and with waist high baskets? If we’re created in God’s image then couldn’t that love of a challenge be something in God’s nature too? So maybe God could have bought a ready made universe from Amazon, but chose to spend time in his basement hand crafting one instead.

    I’ve never been a Christian, so I have no idea if a fundamentalist would use such an argument. I’m sure many of them would just fall back on “mysterious ways” to explain away any apparent inconsistencies.

  • Scott Stahlecker

    Yep, for God to be all-knowing is also a major factor of the creation conundrum. Your comment reminds me of another article I wrote a while back about how could God even think? What’s it like to know everything, all at once, in perfect detail, with no need for an imagination, no way to reminisce about awesome memories of the past, nothing to wonder and anticipate seeing or doing in the future. Obviously, every detail of any universe he thought about creating would have existed in his mind in perpetuity. If I were such a god, I would have invented a super weapon ions ago to put me out of my misery.

  • Scott Stahlecker

    I had not thought about God loving (like welcoming) the challenge of creating as you point out, or buying a universe from Amazon–which was pretty dang funny. To use your basketball analogy, if God created the game and played it, I’d assume him to be a perfect player. He’d be a perfect shooter and dribbler. He’d never miss either a ten foot basket or a 100 foot basket, because this would require a physical defect on his part, or a slight loss in focus in the mental department. Given that he would have created all the laws of physics like gravity and the trajectories of moving objects, I’m guessing he would have mentally thought through every possible basketball shot from every angle in the universe.

  • Scott Stahlecker

    Thanks, Mason. LOL! It would be hard to blame our cavemen ancestors for lookin in the “who” direction, or as other religions go, in the direction of other things that creepeth. Then along came science, and given how awesome our universe is I can scarcely imagine “what” it could be. No need to worry though, as it’s not interested in showing itself.

  • Scott Stahlecker

    True.

  • alwayspuzzled

    An argument proving that the fundamentalist story about creation is false proves that the fundamentalist story about creation is false. But that is all it proves. In some ways, it is an argument from within the fundamentalist box against the fundamentalist box.

  • Linda_LaScola

    which ultimately did’t work out as planned, right?

  • Cozmo the Magician

    Maybe that is why he invented booze (:

  • Scott Stahlecker

    I believe he asked Jesus to be the bartender once at a wedding in Cana since he could make good wine…

  • Cozmo the Magician

    and now all his followers just make bad whines. PERSYKUSION!!111!!

  • Scott Stahlecker

    I’ve never been a fundamentalist, but the article was focused on the god of the Abrahamic religions.

  • Linda, I am just the wrong type of personality to accept authoritarian dogma. Questioning and rebelling are part of my DNA…

  • See Noevo

    We began by asking the question, is it
    even possible for the biblical God to have created the universe? No. Not the
    biblical God. The primary reason for this is that the Bible portrays God as a
    perfect omnipotent being, but also, as an emotionally troubled and
    intellectually challenged individual. You see, our emotional and intellectual
    deficits are key requirements that permit us to create and being creative is
    what makes us uniquely human. Yet, if we were omnipotent, we would lack the
    deficits required to be creative. Ironically, it’s the writers of the Bible who
    have disqualified their own God as being the creator of the universe.

    Yeah, that’s probably the first thing that comes to mind for
    the awestruck members of the concert audience –

    What an emotionally troubled and
    intellectually challenged individual with emotional
    and intellectual deficits
    that Ludwig van Beethoven must have been!!!

    Or

    I love this musical creation so much, I hope one
    day that I’ll be emotionally troubled and
    intellectually challenged enough to compose like that!!!

    Yeah, right. Yeah, ridiculous.
    ……………….

    BTW, God’s “work” of creation was not for His benefit and
    was not a surprise to Him. It was for man’s benefit and is
    an awesome surprise to man.

  • Scott Stahlecker

    If I understand your comment, your thinking creation was kind of like a show for Adam? If this is the case, and I were God, I would have created Adam first and let him watch my performance in creating the universe right before Adam’s eyes. But Genesis 1 states Adam was created after the performance happened. Genesis 2, however, offers a slightly different order of creation in which Adam is created kind of in the middle of everything else that was created. Sadly, Eve in the second creation account is more of an afterthought for God. Perhaps he thought women didn’t need to see any of the creation performance?

    But I do agree that it’s ridiculous–not your comment or opinion because they’re important–but the two creation stories are unbelievable.

    I enjoyed your analogy about Beethoven. I play a little music myself and I really enjoy listening to great musicians. I also marvel at anyone who has phenomenal talent in other areas. The human mind is a wonderland filled with awesome potential. But as awesome as human genius is, most of us are average, and some people are born with severe mental deficits. Personally, I’m more inclined to empathize with the non-geniuses. In other words, I’m not inclined to believe in God because he made a very small percentage of geniuses. And I’m even more disinclined to believe in God because he made so many of us average–and oddly–built some humans to be so mentally and emotionally unstable that they cannot enjoy life.

    Does this make sense?

  • See Noevo

    ”If I understand your comment, your
    thinking creation was kind of like a show for Adam?”

    No. I was making fun of your idea that in
    order to be creative one must be emotionally troubled
    and intellectually challenged.
    ………….
    “If this is the case, and I were God, I would have created Adam first and let him watch my performance in creating the universe right before Adam’s eyes. But Genesis 1 states Adam was created after the performance happened.”

    First, you’re not God, and neither do you have a mind like His (cf. Isaiah 55:8-9).

    Second, given that each creative act was essentially instantaneous, Adam’s enjoyment would not have been in observing the act of
    creation but in experiencing the ongoing result of the act of creation (i.e. nature).

    [Similarly, a concert audience member focuses not on the (even longer) note-by-note writing of the symphony but instead appreciates the resulting final sound of the symphony itself.]
    …………….
    Sadly, Eve in the second creation
    account is more of an afterthought for God. Perhaps he thought women didn’t need to see any of the creation performance?

    And Adam not only missed the rest of the creating, he didn’t even see the creation of Eve – he was asleep!

    Just as well. We couldn’t understand God’s act of creating anyway. We don’t even fully understand the result of the creating (i.e. us and nature).
    ………………..
    In other words, I’m not inclined to believe in God because he made a very small percentage of geniuses. And I’m even more disinclined to believe in God because he made so many of us average…

    If God made us all geniuses, then we’d all be average.

  • Otto

    So basically you relegate your answer to ‘we can’t understand God’ and at the same time commit yourself to a religion that goes on and on about all the stuff that it ‘understands’ about God.

  • Scott Stahlecker

    You bring up a lot of points but I’ll just have to pick your brains on one of them this morning. If you are a creative person, the next time your create think about all the emotions and thought processes you go through. Then think about what you mentioned here, that God can create instantaneously. There is an inconsistency in your thinking that parallels the biblical inconsistency about God. The inconsistency is that God cannot be both omnipotent and anthropomorphic. Genesis 1 should have only one verse; that God created everything instantaneously. This would solidify his omnipotent power. (To be omnipotent and all-knowing means to have full knowledge of everything all at once in perpetuity.) But then the Bible goes into the details of him taking a full seven days to work through the creative process, which makes him anthropomorphic. He cannot be both.

  • See Noevo

    “…think about what you mentioned here, that God can create
    instantaneously.”

    Think about how you can go gradually (i.e. not instantaneously) from nothing to something.

    You can’t.

  • Ralton Redelinghuys

    We can have all the perspectives we want, but it will remain vague
    due to the fact that the age of the planet in which we live is known to
    be 4.5 billion years old, and the universe itself, in the region of 13 Billion
    years! Simply put, What does common sense mean in all of this?

  • Tex Fiftynine

    You gotta love those folks who say, “God is beyond our understanding, here let me tell you exactly what he wants”.

  • Scott Stahlecker

    The younger generation tends to think that. The older generations I’ve noticed think it’s taboo and very dangerous to question belief that can’t be explained.

  • disqus_GbXjFCBTpb 5++

  • disqus_GbXjFCBTpb no but