Atheists: If there had to be a god, what would you want it to be like?

In the past, when there were such threads, some Dopers dodged the hypothetical by replying, “I don’t want there to be a god, period.”

So - suppose we bypass that for a moment - if there had to be a god - no dodging this - what would you want it to be like? You get to choose the attributes of such a god.

Would you prefer it be a god who creates the Universe but then leaves it to its own devices and does not do anything more? (the analogy of the “creator who winds up a watch and lets it tick”)

Would you prefer it be an interventionist god who is watching everything and zapping people who do bad things like arson or murder?

Would you prefer it be a god who prevents things like disease, crime, injury, death or suffering from ever existing in the first place?

Etc. Etc. What about prayer, should such a god listen to prayers and intervene based off of them? (that could be complex if 1 billion want this but 1 billion want that)

One that respects Karma.

Not the reincarnation bit, but the good things happen for good people and shitty people get what’s coming to them part.

A being that does that is worth respect.

  1. Clear line of communication, both ways. Being omnipotent, it should be no problem to set it up so that if anyone claims falsely to speak for Newgod, a large flashing “Thumbs Down” emoji appears above that person’s head.
  2. A clear declaration that Newgod, favors no particular sports team, nation, race or political party.
  3. If people wonder if what they are doing is Newgod’s will, she/he/it will provide a clear verbal and/or written answer.
  4. If there is a Heaven, clear rules as to what it takes to get there, and periodic personal updates as to whether individuals are off-track for that goal.
  5. Make rape impossible.
  6. As far as prayer is concerned if the goal cannot be accomplished via mortal means, and the result doesn’t screw up the plans/health/well being of others and/or her/him/itself, an occasional wish granting to keep hope going couldn’t hurt.
  1. Newgod would have good self-esteem and wouldn’t feel the need for human praise. If you feel like praising/thanking/worshipping Newgod that’s fine. But Newgod doesn’t require anyone to do it and won’t punish people for not doing it.

If this was the universe newgod created, there would be no need for prayer. What would there be to pray for?

I like the previous three replies. I would add that She should be a lot more nurturing.

A god that gets the universe going and then walks away may as well not exist in the first place.

I’ll take option one Velocity. While it would be comforting to have a god who rewards good and punishes evil, I don’t feel comfortable that my assumptions of good and bad would match with other human beings, much less a being that can see all the ramifications of any single choice I make and judge me on all of them. :scream:
I philosophically also have issues with free will in any universe with such a supreme being. After all, my will is meaningless if in some way this deity can alter everything about me at any moment. I mean my illlusion of free will is what makes me, me afterall.
So I’d definitely want God the experimenter, who has a theory about free will, creates and sets the universe in motion to let things happen and has deliberately removed all possible influence by itself and is watching to see what we do, not because we are bugs, but because it is curious. Sure, it’s distant, uncaring being who has created and abandoned us, but we are equally responsible for our triumphs as our tragedies.

I assume that, if there were a deity, it would be the one that Zarniwoop, Zaphod, et al, encountered in chapter 28 of Restaurant ….

There is some attraction in the ideas presented in the first few replies: “Newgod”, a truly just God, Who doesn’t demand “worship”, doesn’t speak in riddles or fragments or self-contradicting “scriptures” and then expect everyone to understand His (or Her) message–on pain of being smitten or tortured forever and ever you if you don’t–and Who actually establishes and enforces some kind of truly ethical and fair moral order.

But to me, for “Newgod” to exist we would also have to have “Newuniverse”, which would have to be radically different from the Universe we actually experience. I just can’t see how such a Newgod is compatible with a Universe that’s so unfathomably old, huge, violent, and mostly empty; or even with a world–this little dust mote, I mean–full of living things that relentlessly strive to reproduce at all costs, with all the (by human standards) cruelty and perversity* that that entails. The Universe of a Newgod would have to be something very different from ours: A comfortably Ptolemaic little cosmos, maybe, where the world was big but not mind-shatteringly so (there might be other planets, but they would also have people on them), and where it wouldn’t actually be unreasonable for people (on all those worlds) to say “The cosmos is rational and orderly and was clearly made for our benefit”. And I really can’t imagine what the world of living things would look like in a Universe that had actually been made by a loving and just Creator: Would there still be predators and prey? Parasites and disease? The “war of nature” and “famine and death” and all that?
*Fungi that turn ants into “zombies”, parasitoid wasps, traumatic insemination, sexual cannibalism, infanticide by mammals, and on and on and on.

So I guess I’ll have to go with a radically Deist “Intelligent Designer” that–for some reason that may be forever totally incomprehensible to us–made or built or crafted a Universe (and established it with “physical laws” that automatically generate elements and stars and planets and–eventually–self-replicating systems that can temporarily and locally overcome entropy) but otherwise has no interactions with us humans. Some kind of entity that if we could demonstrate its existence would make us go “Well, that was certainly unexpected!” but otherwise wouldn’t really have much impact on our day to day lives at all. Because otherwise you have to change everything, and the result is a world I struggle to even imagine.

As you note, the universe is huge beyond our ability to comprehend it. If God did exist, there’s no reason to assume he created the entire universe just for us. In a universe this big, he must have created billions of intelligent races capable of understanding his plan.

But the point is being capable of understanding his plan doesn’t mean it’s a guaranteed path. God gave all of his created races free will and some of them screwed up; they showed they weren’t qualified to be part of God’s bigger plan. So God just left them alone and devoted his intention to the more promising races.

So the first part of Genesis, where God created human beings and gave them instructions and they defied his instructions and God told them he was done with them; that all happened. All of the stuff that happened afterwards, where God came back and gave humans a second chance; that’s just humans thinking they’re the center of the universe and making stuff up. God moved on.

What is a “god?” Does it have to be “supernatural” in that it can snap its metaphorical fingers at laws of physics, so that it could, for example, play ninepins with the solar system if it so chose? If so there is no kind of “god” that would be acceptable to me, or better than another kind. You know what they say about absolute power.

If I were to accept the watchmaker analogy, for me it would have to mean that we are all inside some artificial universe that was started up by an actual being (potential for an entirely non-physical being noted) and that, once started, the only thing that the maker could do to affect us or our surroundings is to turn the whole thing off. If we have to have something, that is the kind of “god” thing that I could probably live with. Although if there were such a thing I’d rather not know about it.

Some people seem to want a “god” that would solve our problems and make our decisions for us (in effect, by telling us clearly what it wants). At that point, according to James T. Kirk in many many situations, we would cease to be human. Humans need adversity and setbacks, plus uncertainty, to continue to grow towards our full potential (you know, like we’re getting a face full of this year). So whatever “god” is imposed on us, it should be one that doesn’t know the meaning of “deus ex machina.”

I don’t trust any metaphysical construct – even one I created - to act to humanity’s benefit for an indefinite period of time. Given the history of humanity, I am very dubious that having a metaphysical construct is in humanity’s best interest. Nor do I wish to be a god for any significant time. That being the case:

Ideally, I see an idiot god in charge of things. There is no morality, justice, right or wrong, good or evil in its eyes; those values are human constructs and only exist for humans (most of them, anyway). Senseless events - e.g., earthquakes, floods, asteroids, etc. - take place which punish good or reward evil as often as the opposite. There is no rhyme or reason to it; big-time cataclysmic shit happens.

If this god does have some purpose or goal, short or long-term, there is no telling how it will turn out because – being this is a truly deranged/dysfunctional metaphysical construct and wholly incompetent - there is a wide disparity between intent and execution. A short attention span and/or full-blown ADD may also be involved.

In short, it would be impossible to tell this god from no god at all.

As you note, we’re often killed by random events which a God could have protected us from. So even if a God occasionally cause some problems (“I killed that guy because he put ketchup on a hot dog. I told you guys that’s wrong.”) he would still be a net positive if he prevented more problems (“I stopped a volcano from destroying Tokyo. You’re welcome.”).

I went for a walk early this morning before sun up. The gibbous moon was right above my head, washing me in light, and it made me feel good. Like a benevolent, nonjudgmentable, compassionate diety was shining a light down on me so it could watch me do my exercise thing and maybe intervene if I should fall into a ditch.

So I think that’s the kind of god I’d want. Doesn’t have to be omniscient or all-powerful. Just an entity with some awareness and some power as long as it is a gazillion times more than what a person has. I guess I’m OK with an entity that listens to general beseechings and intervenes sometimes. But I don’t want an entity that feels entitled to a personal relationship and expects praise and worship.

Little gods, lots of them. Gods of particular places, that could defend them. No, you can’t cut the top off that mountain and pollute all the water! God Of This Particular Mountain will smite you before you can get well started! (But will let you live there, and defend you too, if you’re willing to live in a fashion that doesn’t destroy too much.)

Athena: wisdom. The world could well use a bit more wisdom.

God of the gaps is all. If some power was needed to ignite the big bang, then that could be god. Nothing else needed or wanted.

I guess it would be nice if some being could effectively communicate to everyone that this life and this planet are all we’ve got, so we should be nice to each other and our planet.

Her Holy days would be fun !

cha-cha-cha. :cupid: :sparkling_heart:

Yes, it’s a Girl Genius quote.

Just before being born again, I’d like to meet and converse with this god:

[Apparition appears to me in the dark void of the pre-birth holding dimension]

Tibby: God, is that you?

God: Yo, Tibby, my main man! Wassup?

Tibby: Well, I’m a little scared about this whole being born thing. What’s my life going to be like? How responsible do I have to be? What if I make a lot of mistakes. Make bad choices. Forget to put the toilet seat down…

God: Don’t you worry about a thing, Tibbs, I got you covered. I’m your wing man. I’ll be looking over your shoulder all the time. Well, not really all the time…I got no interest in seeing you pinch loaves on the toilet, or beating your bishop, or any number of disgusting things you’re certainly going to do.

Tibby: I can live with that. Keep an eye on me, but not too close an eye, eh? That’s cool

God: Well, I mean, I may be a lookie-loo when you’re scoring with the ladies and such, just to make sure everything is on the up and up, you understand.

Tibby: Ah…a voyeur, eh?

God: [blush] guilty as charged.[/blush]

Tibby: How harshly will I be punished for all the mistakes and indiscretions I’ll no doubt make throughout the course of my life?

God: You’ll never be punished for anything you do!

Tibby: Say wha!?! How can that be?

God: Well, you see Tibbs, I’ve made this universe 100% deterministic. I’ve got everything all mapped out, including each and every thing you will ever do? You will never have to say, mea culpa. It’s all deus culpa, dude!

Tibby: Hey, I like that! But, if I have no say in the unfolding of my life, I’m totally at your mercy for my life’s fulfillment and satisfaction, right? That’s kind of frightening.

God: Dude, don’t you worry about a thing. I got you covered. I like you. I got a kick-ass life programmed for you, dig?

Tibby: Ok

God: Remember, I’ve been partying with the likes of Jimi Hendrix…and Janice Joplin…and Jimmy Dean…and Rodney Dangerfield…and Abe Vigoda—bruh, I known fun! Oh, man, I’d love to tell you all the shit you’re gonna get into, but I won’t spoil the fun!

Tibby: …well, hell’s bells! That does sound pretty damned good. Sign me up to be next born!

God: Here you go, sign here…

Tibby: How come there’s a pitch fork and a goat on your letterhead?

God: Don’t worry about it, son, just sign your name…

Kinda like Marvel’s Thor, but with boobs. Or the pantheon from Gods Behaving Badly. Petty, semipotent, and only somewhat deserving of worship, but damn, do they take good selfies.