March 15, 2006


The Do-it-Yourself Deity (Julian Baggini & Jeremy Stangroom,

Do-It-Yourself Deity

What is God?

In an attempt to resolve any disagreement surrounding the meaning of the word "God", TPM has assembled a crack team of "metaphysical engineers" who have devised a new computer-modelling virtual environment in which to test the plausibility of different conceptions of God.

Here's how it works. You are invited to select from the list below the attributes which you believe God must have (or the attributes that a being deserving of the name God must have). Metaphysical engineers will then model this conception of God to check out its plausibility.

Please select from the list below. You may choose as many, or as few, attributes as you wish. Then press the submit button. [...]

The Report

Plausibility Quotient = 1.0

The metaphysical engineers have determined that your conception of God has a plausibility quotient (PQ) of 1.0. A PQ of 1.0 means that as far as the metaphysical engineers can determine your conception of God is internally consistent and consistent with the universe that we live in. A PQ of 0.0 means that it is neither internally consistent nor consistent with our universe. More than likely, your PQ score will be somewhere between these two figures. But remember that this is your PQ score as determined by the metaphysical engineers. The editors of TPM have no control over their deliberations, so don't blame us!


What kind of God is that!?

The metaphysical engineers are happy to report that, to the best of their knowledge, the God you conceive is internally consistent and could exist in our universe. But they are less sure that what you have described deserves the name of God. She is not, for example, all-powerful. A God which knows everything or is totally benign may be a wonderful ideal, but is she really a God unless she has ultimate power?

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 15, 2006 11:40 PM

Uh. I did this and got what you did OJ. I am afraid everyone gets the same thing. How lovely. How precious. I didn't tick any of the boxes because none of them NECESSARILY apply.

Posted by: exclab at March 16, 2006 12:46 AM

I did this too. These types of things are usually quite fun to fill out and see the results. This particular test was boring.

Posted by: Brandon at March 16, 2006 10:53 AM

I got a .8 and the following questions:

Can God do the illogical?

The metaphysical engineers request clarification of what you mean when you say God is able to do anything.

In the model, God was asked to make 2 + 2 = 5 (where all the terms hold their common meanings). She could not do so and the model broke down. It seems that no being can ever do what is logically impossible. It is not just beyond the wit of humanity to make 2 + 2 = 5, such a thing is a contradiction in terms.

So the metaphysical engineers seek your permission to understand by all-powerful that God can do anything which is logically possible. Before accepting this, however, you should understand that by accepting the limits of logical possibility on God, you are leaving open the possibility that, if some characteristics you attribute to God turn out to entail logical contradictions, you must give these up. It means, in effect, accepting that rationality is a constraint on God (though it is a moot point exactly what the word constraint means in this regard).

The metaphysical engineers request clarification of what you mean when you say God exists eternally.

You may mean that God exists through all space and time. But according to our best physics, space and time exist only within the confines of a universe. This would seem to constrain God's existence to within a universe.

You could mean that God exists "outside" space and time. But the metaphysical engineers find it hard to understand what you mean by "eternally", if that's the case. Doesn't the concept "eternally" require some notion of time to make sense? The metaphysical engineers are still puzzling over these issues.

Once again, the materialists are fuzzy about what "created" means.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 16, 2006 11:36 AM

I, too, was hoping for some light-hearted fun but ended up being bored. Not only are they fuzzy about what "created" means, but in a purely scientific sense they don't appear to even know what "time" is.

Posted by: BrianOfAtlanta at March 16, 2006 2:06 PM

Transcendentally boring. None of their "objections" to God are new or interesting to anyone who knows even the slightest thing about the history of religious thought. The fact that we moderns know so little of our cultural heritage is tragic.

Posted by: b at March 16, 2006 3:10 PM

So she's a ninja?

Posted by: Dave at March 16, 2006 4:28 PM

Yes, god can do the illogical. Not sure what this was supposed to do.

Posted by: exclab at March 16, 2006 4:50 PM

The whole thing is sinful, idolatrous.

I do not define God.

Posted by: Lou Gots at March 16, 2006 5:21 PM

Theologically speaking, what a bucket of bilge water. I imagine that it made God LOL!

Posted by: Dave W at March 16, 2006 11:09 PM


The header sounds like something Bill Murray said.

Posted by: John J. Coupal at March 16, 2006 11:51 PM

Man is always trying to make God more "accessible". More definable. You know, more like man.

It doesn't work that way.

This doesn't seem like idolatry to me - moderns (and post-moderns) already worship sex, music, drugs, their intellects, vapid ideas, their egos, their bodies, other people, their fears, food, self-definition, money, the pride of life, isolation, and so on.

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 17, 2006 1:24 AM