The Problem of Non-God Objects
Maybe you have heard of this argument against the existence of God before, but it is news to me. I stumbled on “the problem of non-God objects” this morning whilst doing my daily skim through of articles about a variety of topics related to theology, apologetics, and the like. I have been thinking about this problem throughout the day, and decided to take a first stab at putting together my thoughts on the subject. I will first line it out basis what I have read so far on the subject. Next I will offer some thoughts that perhaps begin to move toward clarity on the various points put forth by the proponents of the argument for the problem of non-God objects.
The following information comes from IronChariots.org, which is a self-defined counter-apologetics resource site.
The problem of non-God objects asserts that if God is a maximally great being against which nothing could hope to compare, then God would never create any Non-God Objects.
Consider the concept of “GodWorld,” a possible world in which God never actually creates anything. If we presume that that God exists, we can assume that GodWorld could exist, since the act of creating the universe (or any non-God object) was a choice that was not borne of necessity.
- Proposition P1: If the Christian God exists, then GodWorld is the unique best possible world.
- Proposition P2: If GodWorld is the unique best possible world, then the Christian God would maintain GodWorld.
- Proposition P3: GodWorld is false because the Universe (or any non-God object) exists.
- Conclusion: Therefore, the Christian God, as so defined, does not exist.
So the premise of the argument is based on a view of God that assumes God is a perfect being (a view I happen to ascribe to). As such, if God created anything than it would not be perfect lest that being would also be considered God. Further, if God created beings that were less than perfect than this so called GodWorld would be less than the purest – or most perfect – possible version of existence.
Iron Chariot goes ont to support P1-P3 thusly:
If God exists, he is an ontologically perfect being – meaning he has those great-making properties to their maximal compossible degrees and no such properties to any lesser degree. A world comprised of only the maximally-great being for eternity would be a world comprised of all those great-making properties to their maximal compossible degrees and no such properties to any lesser degree. Unless there is some source of unique Goodness – Goodness that exists outside of and fully independent of God, GodWorld must be the unique best possible world. GodWorld eternally sustains the highest overall ontological purity and, therefore, overall ontological quality to which no other world can compare, therefore it is the unique best possible world.
An omniscient being would be aware of the fact that himself existing alone for eternity as GodWorld is the unique best possible world that could ever exist, and because God is essentially morally perfect, he couldn’t have a motivating reason to intentionally alter the overall maximal purity and, therefore, the quality of the unique best possible world – because any alteration in overall purity by the introduction of a universe or any Non-God object, would, by necessity, be a degradation of overall purity and, therefore, overall quality. God wouldn’t introduce limited entities each with their own unimpressive set of degraded great-making properties like the creation myth of Genesis records. While Adam and Eve clearly do have great-making properties (knowledge, power), they have them to an unimpressive degree and so introducing such beings would result in a degradation of overall ontological purity and, therefore, a degradation of overall ontological quality. To suggest God is in the degrading business is to suggest he wasn’t maximally great in the first place.
P3 is the easiest of the three to justify. It can be justified merely by a simple recognition that you, yourself, are not God.
Further implications of this argument indicate that God would not only degrade GodWorld by creating anything at all, but that creating something indicates there is something God lacked. With the nature of the Christian God including perfection there can be nothing that God lacks, or nothing that God desires, which He does not have.
Boiling It Down
P1 makes good sense to me. Simply stated, if nothing existed except for God then that existence would be perfect. Further anything brought into said existence that is not God (or non-God) would compromise the perfection of what the author refers to as GodWorld. This in no way conflicts with a Christian worldview. All humans, for example, are less than perfect . Said in another way, humans do not have the great-making properties inherent to God to their maximum compossible degrees… not even close. The apostle Paul writes in Romans 3:9-12:
9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:“None is righteous, no, not one;11 no one understands;no one seeks for God.12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;no one does good,not even one.”
- God’s motives should be explainable with our limited understanding, and ability to reason.
- God should want to maintain a maximally perfect world (GodWorld).
As P2 states, non-God objects are less than pure, or are comprised of a lesser degree of great-making properties than the Christian God. If this is the case (as I believe it is) then how could we presume to possibly understand God’s motives for creating anything? Based on the premise in the argument we would not. Furthermore, why would we assume that God would want to maintain GodWorld? Just because something is less than perfect it does not mean said thing should not exist.
Despite my occasional boasts to the contrary my children are less than perfect, but does this mean that the world would be better if they did not exist? Hardly. God knows we are less than perfect, yet he loves us. He makes us better than we are inherently. 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 explains it well, as Paul writes:
4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Not much to say about P3 realistically. Yes, the proposed GodWorld does not exist, as I exist, and you exist. Does this mean God does not exist? The logic simply does not follow.
So Why Would God Create Us?
OK, if God knew that creating us would only mess up GodWorld then why would He do it? Why mess up a perfect thing? Certainly, I am not going to profess to know the absolute answer to something that is not presented in the bible, but I can offer some thoughts. Let’s first look at some things that are not a reason for God to create us:
- God does not need us
- God did not “think” we would do better than we have
- This is not Jerry Maguire… we do not complete God
Some of God’s great-making properties are grace and mercy. Specifically, I think we would do well to focus on grace for the purpose of this article. The simplest definition of grace I have heard is that grace is giving something good that someone does not deserve. Grace is different than mercy. Mercy is not giving someone something bad that they do deserve. So how does grace play into the problem of non-God objects?
God is full of grace to the maximum possible degree. We did not deserve to be created, but through God’s grace He gave us life. We do not deserve to continue existing; however, God allows us to go on (mercy). God is good to the maximum possible degree. Thus God, in His grace and goodness created us to share in His grace and mercy. To share in His goodness. To share in His love. Ironchariot.org included in the article about non-God objects a quote from J.P. Moreland:
To say that God is perfect means that there is no possible world where he has his attributes to a greater degree… God is not the most loving being that happens to exist, he is the most loving being that could possibly exist so that God’s possessing the attribute of being loving is to a degree such that it is impossible for him to have it to a greater degree
What greater act of love than to create beings with which to share that love… beings that don’t even deserve to share that love! I submit that God did not create us to fill some void… God is not depressed, lonely, in need of companionship – He is perfect! In God’s love and grace He gave us life. In God’s mercy he lets us continue to exist. As further evidence of God’s love He sent the ultimate sacrifice to cover our sins in the form of Jesus. A perfect God is a righteous God. God knew we would be lesser than He, but – as an unthinkable act of compassion – God gave us a way to redemption. A way that we cannot earn, we do not deserve, and we cannot lose. Now that is the Christmas story!