1
Sep

Can A Perfect Being Create The Imperfect?

wAmong the many challenges that atheists bring are ones based on philosophy, like the following:

“If something is perfect, nothing imperfect can come from it. Someone once said that bad fruit cannot come from a good tree, and yet this “perfect” God created a “perfect” universe which was rendered imperfect by the “perfect” humans. The ultimate source of imperfection is God. What is perfect cannot become imperfect, so humans must have been created imperfect. What is perfect cannot create anything imperfect, so God must be imperfect to have created these imperfect humans. A perfect God who creates imperfect humans is impossible.”

The challenger here raises an interesting point, and it appears that he is using valid logic. If something that is perfect can only create perfection, then the Christian God is disqualified. But the challenger’s first sentence is not proven; it is simply an assertion. So too is the claim that what is perfect cannot create anything imperfect. So, for the argument to have force, there must be some support for the premise that a perfect being is “limited” in what it can do, namely, that it can only create perfection. But the very articulation of this notion betrays the problem embedded in the assertion: it purports to limit the power of a perfect being. In other words, immediately after acknowledging God’s infinite power – his perfection – the skeptic, himself an imperfect being, attempts to limit the types of things God can do.

But how could he possibly know what God can or cannot do? On what basis can he conclude that a limitless, all-powerful being is constrained in the options available to him? Certainly, the possibility that a perfect being could create something less than himself is not contradictory. The opposite, of course, would be true; an imperfect being would be unable to impart to his creation something that he himself does not possess. So, it would be contradictory to claim that an imperfect being could create God. But why would a greater being be unable create something that is lesser than himself?

But there is an even greater flaw embedded in the challenge. That is, the skeptic assumes that God set out to create a “perfect” universe and somehow failed. But how does the skeptic arrive at this conclusion? What evidence is there of God’s purpose or that God failed to achieve this purpose? To arrive at such a conclusion, one would first have to know the intent of the creator. Is not “perfection” in the eyes of the person setting the standard? After all, perfection denotes a quality or performance or attribute that cannot be surpassed. For example, perfect vision would mean vision that cannot be improved upon. But to know what perfect vision is, one would first have to know what is to be accomplished with vision. Is it simply seeing in daylight, or also in complete darkness or underwater? Only with a clear understanding of the designer’s purpose could one know how close to the mark he hit.

The challenger would no doubt respond that this universe is imperfect under any definition. But by this he would mean that things break, that health suffers, that people do evil, or other things of this nature. But what was God’s goal in creating this universe? Could it have been to allow for the development of beings who can experience true love, freely given? In other words, beings capable of exercising free will, and by so doing, necessarily capable of doing evil? Could the struggles we face in this broken world be part of a process by which we are developed, and refined? If so, then perhaps this universe is in fact a creation optimally designed to maximize the number of people who will freely choose to love God.

With sufficiently clear vision, it is possible to see that creating a universe filled with robots and other perfectly functioning things would not have accomplished God’s purpose. Indeed, what God had in mind was far more ambitious – and wonderful – and creating something that fits our definition of perfection simply wasn’t part of his plan.

Posted by Al Serrato

 

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13 Comments

  1. charles coryn says:

    Greetings…..
    You said, “….. creating a universe filled with robots and other perfectly functioning things would not have accomplished God’s purpose.”

    And God’s purpose is…… what? And how would you know? The two largest problems to my mind to believing in a “God” are, one, that no one can agree about ‘God’, so men have created thousands of gods and goddesses, and religion continues to splinter into more and more ‘belief systems.’ And secondly, there is no evidence of any ‘God’. ‘God’ simply won’t show up…… As a student of anthropology, I can comprehend the evolution and the utility of religion, but that says nothing about the reality of the gods. As a human being I can say I have never experienced anything beyond the natural world.

  2. Al says:

    God’s purpose was to create beings with free will. That’s seems fairly self evident, since that’s what human beings are. It’s also evident in God’s word. There’s a danger sometimes in being too skeptical; we risk missing what is fairly obvious. The problems you raise have solutions – the fact that people disagree about God tells us something about people and the way they think; it does not tell us about God. We also disagree about how best to fulfill our need for nourishment, but that does not make it any less necessary that we eat. Our spiritual need is compelling us to look for God, however much our flawed nature makes it difficult for us to recognize him. As for evidence of God, I suspect we are using different definitions. There are a dozen or more proofs for the existence of God. Finally, you say you have never experienced anything beyond the natural world. Your ability to imagine is not part of the natural world and you experience that on a daily basis.

  3. Hector Trujillo says:

    Once again, how would you know what God’s purpose for this was? It is not self-evident, and human beings are not yet certain of that answer. It is illogical for someone to claim they know the answer. Has God spoken to you? Has he personally told you what his purpose was for “making” us? It is not possible to extract the answer for this question just by looking around at how everything is, and how humans behave. Just because human beings behave in this manner, doesn’t mean it is “self-evident” that God wanted it to happen.

    And there is a problem with your analogy. Nourishing ourselves with food is a necessity. “spiritual” nourishment is not. There have been plenty of people who have lived great lives without this “spiritual nourishment.” We know for a fact that people die when they do not eat. However we do know that people continue to live regardless of whether they are “spiritually nourished” or not.This gives all the more reason to believe that something such as “spiritual nourishment” is completely unnecessary.

    Also, Imagining “is” part of the natural world, hence it is “natural” for human beings to have the ability of imagination. In no way is an ability like this part of the super natural. It takes place within our brain which is a physical portion of our bodies.

    Finally, you have also stated that there is proof of the existence of a God. Care to elaborate?

    • Al says:

      I’m afraid that I cannot agree with your conclusion. You say it is illogical for someone to claim they know the answer, yet you appear to be convinced that I am mistaken, which of course is an answer. I don’t think you can have it both ways.

      The problem is not with my analogy. Rather it is with your assessment of the spiritual component. The fact that most people seek a spiritual dimension to their lives cannot be ignored. It occurs for a reason, however much people differ as to how to fill that need.

      There are multiple proofs, such as the arguments from existence, from design, and from morality, which point to the necessity of a creator. They do not prove the God of the Bible, of course.

  4. Hector Trujillo says:

    I say it is illogical for someone to claim they know the answer to the purpose of our creation regardless of whether it came from a God or not. My conclusion was not to say “God did not create us for any reason.” My conclusion was stating that there is no way a human could know the answer to this. And that statement is for sure true, and even you cannot be sure of your answer. But you clearly implied that you were sure of the answer when you posted “God’s purpose was to create beings with free will. That’s seems fairly self evident, since that’s what human beings are.”

    If you think about it carefully, If God created perfect beings from the beginning, why was he sad when they broke the rules? Normally one should not be sad if something goes their way. Therefore he what? He failed. Because he was in disappointment of his creation. And they became imperfect, just like him. Think of this in another way. If God did set out to create imperfect beings, then he should’ve been happy that things turned out the way they did, due to the fact that “Adam and Eve” went against his rule. But in the end he wasn’t satisfied, which proves that things did not go the way he wanted them to.

    It reads in Genesis that God is in disappointment. And if one is in disappointment, things must not have gone in the way one wanted them to.

    Say that a student studies very hard for an exam, and when he/she receives their grade in return after taking the exam, he/she is disappointed to see that they did not score very high on it. Should they be happy that they didn’t score very high? Of course not. The person taking the exam is not perfect, and their score on the exam resulted in their own disappointment.

    *Therefore* one cannot claim that God set out to create imperfect beings either, and God’s disappointing reaction to “Adam and Eve’s” fault further proves my point.

    Looks like God was expecting something perfect, but didn’t get it, because he is imperfect himself by showing this sign of imperfection.

    • Al says:

      Your logic works only if you choose to read every line of the Bible as being literal. As you point out, disappointment and sadness are emotional states belonging to temporal, limited beings who cannot foretell or control the future. God does not suffer from these limitations. His “emotional” states are intended by the writer to convey something to the reader that the reader could understand; they were not meant provide literal descriptions of God’s “reactions.” I see we are at an impasse here, and you are of course entitled to your point of view.

  5. Hector Trujillo says:

    But God was still in disappointment. You’re correct in the matter that the writer meant to convey something that the reader understands, but in big picture thinking (which is what religion really is), disappointment is still disappointment, and sadness is still sadness regardless of whether it is permanent or temporal. If you say we are created in the image of God, where did we get all of our emotion from?

    He should’ve remained happy then, and the writer should’ve depicted Gods reaction to be “one of joy.” After all, if he did set out to create imperfect beings with freewill, what else could he have expected? Should he not be happy about what happened?

    As a student, I have to say I appreciate these sharing of ideas. There is nothing more wonderful than controversy.

  6. Al says:

    You raise interesting questions, for which definitive answers are elusive. Yes, the writer intended to convey that God does not approve of our rebellion, and that he wants to be in fellowship with us. Sadness and disappointment are the appropriate human reactions in this setting. I do not believe God experienced these as painful emotions; indeed, I believe that God is “perfectly happy.” His disappointment and sadness reflect the mess that we, as human beings are in, not a problem he is experiencing. I can be happy with the life I have while at the same time experience sadness and disappointment that people choose to hurt each other; the two are not mutually incompatible even for a limited imperfect being. In short, I think you are reading too much into the description of God’s reaction. It was meant to convey our problem, not God’s. Thanks for weighing in.

  7. Hector Trujillo says:

    When there is disappointment, there is imperfection. I believe God should be no exception to this, but you of course do, which is why we truly are at an “impasse.”

    Nice website. Do any of the other moderators ever reply? You seem to be the only one who is interested in responding.

    Now then, you have raised other arguments with other posts. I’ll see how I can argue to those.

    • Al says:

      You are correct that a God who was “really hoping” for something only to find out that he “can’t have what he wants” would not be a perfect being. That’s why I said earlier that he does not experience emotions in that fashion. What you need to keep in mind is that he is dealing with free will beings who have chose to rebel against him. He cannot have it both ways – either we are free and can reject him or we are robots controlled by him. He provided a solution to our problem, but as with free will generally, he does not force that upon us. There is no inconsistency in this position; the problem is that you are attributing human emotions and limitations to God which he does not have.

  8. Caleb says:

    That’s like asking can a human create inhuman things.

  9. Chantal says:

    Your making an assessment on your own preception of what perfection is. If we accept the fact that GOD IS PERFECTION ITSELF, THAN NO HE CANNOT CREATE THAT WHICH IS IMPERFECT. THIS WOULD MEAN THAT WHAT WE BELIEVE TO BE IMPERFECT IN GOD’S EYES IN NOT IMPERFECT BUT RATHER IT IS PERFECT JUST AS IT IS. THIS CAN DOUBLE BACK ON ITSELF BECAUSE IF GOD CREATED US PERFECTLY TO BELIEVE SOMETHING IS OR IS NOT PERFECT AND GAVE US PERFECTLY THE ABILITY TO CHANGE OR ALTER IT, THAN THINGS CHANGE FROM ONE PERFECT FORM TO ANOTHER PERFECT FORM, AND WE WERE ABLE TO DO THAT AS HE INTENDED BECAUSE WE WERE CR E ATES TO DO SO. THINK ABOUT IT, IF YOU KILL SOMEONE WE BELIEVE THAT IS WRONG BUT IF WE KILL SOMEONE BECAUSE THEY ARE TRYING TO KILL A CHILD OR SOME OTHER ACT WE BELIEVE TO BE EVIL THEN WE ARE A HERO. SOLDIERS ARE AWARDED MEDALS FOR KILLING BECAUSE IT’S BELIEVED THAT THE ACT WAS HORRIBLE BUT DONE IN THE NAME OF A GREATER GOOD. I had a conversation with a man once and we were talking about the trivial annoyance of traffic of all things, I said don you just hate it he said no not at all. I said really? Why? He said god put all those people in all those cars in front of me blocking a path I was on to prevent me from being somewhere I’m not supposed to be at that time. I am grateful for traffic and God. I never thought of traffic as a blessing before but I do now. It’s all about perception. Atheists have a purpose in God’s plan, maybe it’s so people can put messages on the Internet and learn about points of view that they never thought of as well. Ultimately and personally I don’t support religion buy I believe in grace, tolerance, acceptance, kindness logical consequences and that GOD IS LOVE. it’s pretty simple really.

  10. Akombo stephen says:

    all of us humans have seen and felt the existence of the supreme God in one way or another some of us refuse to believe Him becase of were we come from some of us just believe so much in our parents or gardians that we can not see beyound what they say and thats why some of us though our parents are corrupt we follow them unquestioning to our destruction just close your eyes sometimes and allow your spirit and mind to open up feel the presence of the power that controls the universe allow it to touch and talk to you when you have found out the reality that his there we can start talking about how he works in us.

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