This post is the first in a series meant to highlight potential absurdities of a Christian conception of God where “Christian” here is being used as an umbrella term for any faith that affirms or endorses a view of God based on the Bible.
Although it sounds funny, game theory is actually a branch of mathematics. In a very broad sense, one could summarize game theory as the study and analysis of strategic decision making. As the name suggests, this includes decision making in the context of games (often two person zero sum games), but also has powerful applications in military strategy and economics. The player of any relevant sort of “game” aims to maximize a desirable outcome.
To some extent the matter of a personal creator God can be cast in terms of a game where the assumption is that God is a rational being who intends to create a world with beings possessing some measure of “free will”. he objective, then, is to do so in a manner which, in general, is consistent with “his” nature and, more specifically, fulfills “his” wishes (which depend upon “his” nature). Right away it is evident that for an omnipotent, omniscient being, winning the game should be of no consequence. The only rules of the game are determined by God's nature along with whatever further rules “he” imposes.
So what are God's wishes? According to most flavors of Christianity, God desires to be in a personal relationship with his creatures as a result of loving them. Now, along with free will (we'll ignore all the issues surrounding this idea) comes some measure of risk in that while one may wish for relationship the other party may not reciprocate. Even so, it is hard to imagine any well-formed creature would decline to know the greatest of possible beings. So, what might we expect creation to be like if God is to maximally fulfill his wishes? In other words, how would God play the game?
A first conundrum is in the type of creation we see — i.e. a physical reality. I think it safe to say that the unanimous Christian perspective is that God is wholly other than “his” creation. God is a “spirit” (whatever that is) whereas his” creatures are material. It is, however, maintained that humans possess a spirit/soul, but this only punctuates the problem: why the physical side at all? It would be much easier to see and relate to God if we simply existed in the spiritual realm. It would be much easier not to fall into doubt if we were not distracted by what comes with the natural, but directly apprehended the spiritual instead.
In the next post I'll delineate some further problems (in more detail) that indicate that the state of affairs runs counter to what we would expect if a rational God were seeking to maximally realize “his” wishes.
- A personal God cares - March 10, 2014
- From a philosophical standpoint… - September 16, 2013
- Christianity, non-believers and salvation: the case for inclusivism - June 22, 2013
- They are not equivalent concepts - September 5, 2012
- Is someone hateful just for taking a stance? - July 31, 2012
- What is faith? - July 16, 2012
- What is a soul? - June 25, 2012
- Hell and the death penalty - May 10, 2012
- God and game theory, part 2 - May 8, 2012
- God and game theory, part 1 - April 29, 2012