Ambigamy

Insights for the deeply romantic and deeply skeptical

R&Deism: What If We're God's Experiment?

An alternative to theism and deism that might work even for non-believers

What if God wanted to create the best of all possible worlds but didn't know how. Undaunted he tried anyway, the way we would try, by trial and error, creating creatures and then setting them in motion, doing what they do, God watching and learning.

He could intervene but won’t, because, like any good scientist, he knows that tampering mid-experiment contaminates results. World after world, experiment after experiment, he’s been learning, and applying what he learns, crafting new worlds until he gets it right.

His worlds are getting better, so good that we are within a hair's breadth of the native wit to make this the best of all possible worlds. Between our preprogrammed capacity to evolve, and learn from our mistakes, he has really high hopes that we'd be the one, the best possible world given the necessary physical limits and trade-offs whereby for one creature to survive another must die. Not ideal, but then God is a realist. You got to have physics and with it physical limits.

He’s got opinions about what we could do better, but sharing them with us would contaminate us. He keeps them in his notebook for use in his next world’s design.

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There's theism, the belief that God runs the show manually in real-time, everything you do watched and potentially controlled by God, and there's Deism, the belief that God set it all in motion but can't or won't intervene.

This is R&Deism, a cross between the two, a research and development God who won't intervene, but isn't just watching us like some couch potato either. He's on a mission and has commissioned us in the service of it. We are each trials in life's trial and error process, and our whole world is a trial in God's process, his R&D skunk works.

It's implications for us? Well, for one thing do your best. For another, pay no attention to the God behind the screen. He wants us to go about our business here, not get distracted with appeals to him or claims that we know what in particular he wants.  He's programmed us to want this to work.  That's what he wants. And nope, there's no award for being more devoted to him that other elements in this trial. This working is all the reward we're getting. And no punishment for failing other than failing either.

Nice to be one of his later-stage trials, maybe a hair’s breadth from the best of all possible worlds. We're close enough we can almost taste success. But hey if it isn't us, live and learn, God will try try again.

 

Jeremy Sherman is an evolutionary epistemologist studying the natural history and practical realities of decision making.

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