Re: Paper-tigers

William B. Provine (
Wed, 01 Apr 1998 00:54:49 +0100

Dear Linda,

How nice of you to join the discussion.

> Since Will's 3/19 posting I have been pondering the question of what
> our world would be like if we had a god that did NOT primarily work
> using consistent, regular, and describable laws. It seems to me that if
> that were the case, the world would be unpredictable, chaotic, and a
> truly fearful place to live. I doubt that we would be able to recognize
> miracles if that were the case, as we wouldn't have "laws" to be broken.

I think that a natural world with no gods at all from any religion would behave exactly
the same way. This assumption is hard to disprove, just as I cannot disprove your
intuition that your Christian God is necessary to to give the laws that govern nature.
Plato in the Timaeus argued as do you: nature without the Demiurge's influence (though
later in the dialogue he talks mostly of lesser gods) would yield a "chaos" that
resembles somewhat your view given above.

Incidentally, I don't consider the world a "fearful" place to live if devoid of gods of
any kind. I am not scared of death or thinking about death forever. With the sting of
death thus solved, the other problems of a naturalistic view are rather minor. Christians
seem very scared of death as a total end of their lives. Why is this?

> As for those exceptions, I am sure that God does sometimes do things
> which do not conform to the regularities he normally uses.

I am always glad to try out naturalistic interpretations even of these events that are out
of the normal regularities.

Very best wishes, Will