A thought experiment is a way to test an answer to a question too big or small for science to verify. Einstein’s speed of light train and Shroedinger’s cat are two examples from science, though you will find others in philosophy and mathematics. It is, in a sense, a way for man to play God.
In that context, a theological thought experiment came to my mind recently. It bears a relationship with the fifth proof of God’s existence by Saint Thomas Aquinus (his argument by design ), but with a different purpose.
Instead of proving that there is a God, let’s begin by simply assuming that he, she or whatever does exist and was responsible for the Creation. Stay with me if you don’t believe in God, because my little experiment may have still something meaningful to say.
Let’s assume as well that what one creates says something about the creator. That should be a simpler premise to accept. The posts in this blog, for example, would probably lead you to conclude that I’ve been around a while, try to view issues with a bit of perspective, am not that conservative – at least in today’s context – and want to share my thoughts while remaining relatively private.
Aquinus drew certain conclusions about the nature of God: that he is perfect, infinite and unchanging, but I wonder if the universe and world we live in offer more subtle insights to consider.
Given the size of the universe, God must have a vast imagination and power. God must also value simplicity and consistency, if you consider the mathematical precision of the laws of nature that we continue to discover. At the same time, the fact that God chose to allow events to unfold and creatures to evolve seems to say that he is both curious and satisfied not to intervene in creation in at least most respects.
I think God must have a sense of wonder and a joy in beauty, because the majesty of a sunset and the beauty of a bluebird cannot be things that we alone appreciate. He must also have a playfulness and sense of joy, because so many of his animal creations display those emotions. If we reflect something of God, he must also grieve as we, and even many animals, do.
There is another side to creation, evil in its natural and human forms, that we struggle to understand. Where that fits and how it relates to God forms the unsolvable problem of evil that we live with and see the results of daily. If nothing else, it tells us that God is ultimately incomprehensible for mere humans.
God must also have in mind an end to his creation. The arrow of time exists for a reason, and the the fact that disorder in the universe or entropy always increases means that, at some point in the long away future, creation will reach an end.
As a sailor, I often look at the sea and wonder. It is, in its own way, alive – constantly in motion and beyond our ability to tame. It gives life, provides livelihoods and can take both away without warning. Still, it draws many to it for reasons too deep to grasp. Almost like we, or at least many, are with God.
Is there a God? When all is said, we only answer for ourselves. Still, creation may say much about him.