I was listening to an interesting interview with Eric Steinhart and heard him use the term POG, which I thought was a great shorthand for the traditional monotheistic concept of God. POG = “Personal Omni-God”.
This traditional concept of God as I have always understood it has mainly the following properties (monotheists are not all in full agreement on this):
- It is personal. In other words it is like a person in that It has emotions, intention, the ability to make decisions, and the ability to relate to humans in some way.
- It is omniscient: knows everything.
- It is omnipotent: all powerful.
- It is omni-benevolent: perfectly good, compassionate, loving, just, and maybe more.
- It is typically described as desiring “some kind of” relationship with all humans that it has created. But some (many?) theists would say that It only desires relationship with some humans (perhaps with the humans that It has chosen). This however seems to run up against property #4.
Now my previous posts have basically described in more general terms why I doubt the existence of invisible, undetectable, bodiless entities that have attribute #1 above. As I’ve mentioned I’m not totally sure on this, but if I was forced to bet I’d put my money on them not existing. This includes gods, goblins, devils, etc.
But now when we throw in properties 2-5, then my doubts are even bigger. The problem is that all of the issues I have described before about gods with attribute #1 become even more problematic when we add the other properties. For me the main issue is the undetectability (what philosophers call divine hiddenness) of this God. The evidential problem of evil is obviously an issue for many philosophers and I definitely agree that it is an issue as well (although for me it doesn’t come close to the issue of undetectability). What many modern day philosophers on both the theist and atheist sides seem to agree on is that we don’t have complete certainty either way with this question, and I agree. What we can do is see if the description above fits with what we all agree is the evidence of our collective experiences. For me, I just have a very hard time seeing how there can be a God who: (1) knows exactly what every human being needs in order to have high certainty of Its existence, (2) is fully capable of causing those things to happen, and (3) desires relationship with all of these humans. This simply does not line up for me with the fact that I and many others I know agree that the existence of God is nowhere near obvious. For many of us it is quite the opposite. And even further, there are a lot of theists that I know who concede that the existence of the God that they believe in is not very obvious. I explain further the issues I have with the POG concept in my first very long comment of my previous post. I’ve heard some philosophers state that traditional theists have basically boxed themselves in a difficult corner just for the sake of holding on to traditional ideas. That really resonates quite a bit with me.
So if we start adjusting some of attributes 2-5 then the concept becomes a bit more plausible to me, but 2 paragraphs ago I stated where I lean on only attribute #1.
Now there are alternative concepts of “God” or “gods” that actually throw out attribute #1. My personal opinion is that we should use a different word for this than “gods” because it seems to fall out of the standard definition then, but that really is just semantics so no need to argue that point. What I would like to say though as I’ve stated before is that these alternative concepts of some non-personal force or “thing” start to put me more at the 50/50 point where I just have no clue where to lean. There are some times where I may even start leaning the other way, but not enough to really claim belief. I will go into this a little more once I am done with this series. With my current 1 post per month that will probably be mid-year.