Do you WANT there to be a God?

Hello, all. I am new here, and have been reading through some of the discussions, but this is my first post.

A question has grabbed my interest I would like to pose to you all here. The basis for my question is a quotation from atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel:

“It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”

So, my question is, who among you can relate to his sentiment? Or, more than simply relate, perhaps you wholeheartedly agree? All argument and evidence aside, do you want there to be a God?

For the sake of clarity, let’s define “God” as it would traditionally be defined by Christianity.

I am unsure how honest people might be in responding to the question. I suspect some responses will be along the lines of, “I don’t care either way.” Or, “It does not matter to me one way or another.” But, I hope people really take the question seriously. It certainly would make a difference to every one of us if, for example, Christianity were true. No one could seriously claim that it wouldn’t make any difference to them (certainly not in the end, anyway) should Christianity turn out to be true. So, I hope we can avoid those types of responses.

I suppose this question is directly mainly to Nagel’s fellow atheists (and agnostics) here. I don’t imagine there are too many believing Christians secretly wishing it wasn’t true, but anything is possible and responses from all are welcome.

An atheist or agnostic would certainly say there isn’t enough evidence or reasons to believe in a God, but the question here put is, all evidence and arguments completely aside, what do you want to be the case? If a coin were flipped into the air, and it had the magical ability to tell us one way or the other. Heads, God is real. Tails, there is no God. While the coin was spinning through the air, what would you, in your gut, be hoping it would turn up? Be honest, now.


Hello @jmk00001, and welcome to Peaceful Science. :slight_smile:

I had never considered the question, but I can give it a try.
First, I don’t expect the universe to respond to my wants. If there is no God then my wanting is a wasted effort. If there is a God, then They don’t seem inclined to respond to anyone’s wants, maybe for reasons (Cue Morgan Freeman in Bruce Almighty). Either way, getting on with my business seems like a better use of my efforts. But I digress …

Let me rephrase the question. Do I want my inner dialogues with a hypothetical God to be anything more? That would be interesting, but would seem to defeat the purpose of those inner dialogues. No - I don’t want that.

Even better, leave the coin hanging, forever in superposition and the question undecided. I think that’s what I want.


if there is a God, he isn’t running the universe well.

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I wouldn’t want any of the gods of any religion I am aware of to actually exist. But an all powerful being who actually was perfectly moral and could create the best possible universe for us to live int? Sure, I’d like that.


You saw this thread, right? :wink:

Not sure here. Perfect morality in the best possible universe sounds like a Star Trek episode where someone has found yet another way to create a dystopia. It seems like a good idea in principle, but the practical aspects could be terrifying.

Yes, that is how I would answer.

Oh, I have taken the question seriously. It is a question that I have thought about. But still the same answer.

I not convinced that it would.

I was a Christian for around 12 years (roughly ages 11-23). I thought about this question at the time of leaving. I even thought about Pascal’s wager, but concluded that it did not have any persuasive power. And as I left Christianity, my conclusion was that it did not matter.


I would expect that a god who was Omniscient as well as Omnibenevolent and Omnipotent would be able to do a better job of avoiding dystopian aspects than the limited mortal writers of Star Trek could imagine – or would want to imagine – lacking the dystopian aspects, I rather suspect the episode would be rather boring.

Not even slightly.

That would rather depend on what God we are talking about.

I rather doubt that I’d have any problem with a genuinely Omnibenevolent, Omnipotent, Omniscient God. I just don’t (like @Faizal_Ali) accept that such a God would have created the universe we live in, or any of the monotheistic religions I’ve encountered.

I may be an atheist, but nothing that I’ve read of or about Nagel’s opinions to date makes be believe that I am his fellow in anything beyond that very bare fact.


The answer depends critically on what sort of God we’re talking about, and your “defined by Christianity” doesn’t help, as that God is just a mass of self-contradiction. I like the part about living forever, though that may be just because I don’t understand what “eternity” means. But eternal torture for sinners? That’s just plain evil. Add in the whole problem of evil, the Old Testament, and such, and that’s a God I would hate to have running the universe.


It’s hard to care whether there are any gods or not. They don’t seem to do much, if there are. What I would want is to correctly apprehend whether there are any, and find out what each of them is like, if there are.

That opens a 55-gallon drum of ambiguity, as there are a variety of traditions there. But I would think it’s exceedingly unlikely that any of the various cultural traditions about the supernatural are true to any meaningful degree, so it strikes me as very close to an absurd question, like asking a person if he wished cows had investment portfolios or if he wished the Book of Mormon were true.


Ah, but omnipotence!

Not especially. But I don’t especially want there to not be a god either.

But that’s for a generic god, rather than some specific god. If you’re talking about a specific god, the answer might be different.
For example, I’m glad that beings such as Apep, Azathoth and Loviatar are completely fictional. Xipe Totec, Yahweh and Zeus being real would have good points (e.g. ensuring plentiful harvests) and bad points (e.g. slavery and human sacrifice). Whereas I can see definite advantages for Brigid and Apollo being real.

That includes an awful lot of variation. Are you thinking of the monstrous being that drowned almost all humanity and killed children to settle a bet? Or the eternal life-giving prayer-answerer? Or both combined? You’d have to be more specific.

It also suggests that you’re not interested in whether we want a god to exist, but only in whether we want (some variation of) your god to exist, as if your fictional god is somehow more relevant or more interesting than Ahura Mazda, Ptah, Unkulunku or Vishnu. Well it’s not.

Now you know. It would make a difference if Christianity were true, but it’s not. It would also make a difference if Shinto were true, if Kalevala were true, if Tagai were true, or any of the hundreds of others, but they’re not; and there is no reason beyond the insistence of its followers to pay any special attention to Christianity.

Have you ever considered whether you want Hinduism or atheism or Mayan tradition to be true, or what difference that would make to you? If you haven’t, why are you asking us to do what you haven’t?

Be honest, now.

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That is what I am assuming. I am also assuming that such a world would not be unbearably boring, but maybe it would be without all the war, crime, etc. we have in this world. Maybe the perfect world still has some bad stuff happen, like your Amazon package gets stolen from your porch. But the criminal is always caught, he realizes what he did was bad and reforms, and you get your stuff back. There would still be some dramatic tension and there would still be evil in the world, just of a very mild and tolerable sort.

Alternatively, this god could create our minds so that we don’t need so much drama to avoid boredom.

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So, @jmk00001, if “God” is not that defined by Christianity, but instead more akin to any of a bajillion long-forgotten pagan deities, what would your answer be? If it turns out that your idea of “God” is all wrong, that your life’s devotion is a charade, would you still want for there to be a god?


I don’t know if there is a God or not but like others who have commented, I don’t think there is a need for any of the gods that humanity has so far imagined. None of the religious beliefs have made humans less dysfunctional.

My thought is that if there is a creator god that we meet when we die he/she/it will be widely different than any conventional belief we may have about god or gods including the Christian god.


Very likely. Alas, even if there are gods, they probably don’t host a postmortem meet-and-greet.


Thanks to everyone who responded, even to those who ignored the “all argument and evidence aside” stipulation, who simply couldn’t help themselves and just had to get in a “dig” or two on The Big Guy. I kind of expected a lot of that. But, even in the absence of a direct, unambiguous answer, such comments nevertheless get to the heart of the question, I suppose. With such apparent animosity toward a supreme being (even toward one they claim doesn’t exist), it’s not hard to imagine one would likely prefer that God not exist.

I was afraid I would get a lot of blow-back on this “God traditionally defined by Christianity”, but I also didn’t want to get too into the weeds. I think some of you understood what I was getting at with that: Omniscient, Omnipresent, Omnibenevolent, Timeless, Changeless, etc.

Fair question, and one I have actually thought about a bit. Are there long-forgotten deities that offer eternal life, love, justice, and peace? (If any of you find such things “boring”, I can only assume you’ve never really experienced them.)

Really? I didn’t expect any one would belabor this point. No meaningful difference between a reality in which you would have ongoing consciousness after death, whether as reward or punishment, vs. oblivion?

Forget about the reality of the question; the mere widespread belief that God does not exist has, and has had, tremendous consequences. Nietzsche understood this:

“The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. “Whither is God?” he cried; "I will tell you. We have killed him – you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.”

It’s unlikely that atheists are angry at God. More like they are angry at human behaviors associated with belief in God. These behaviors are sometimes annoying even to others who believe. :wink:


Sure, that’s how the Christian God is described, but that’s not what his supposed acts actually show us. You have to fall back on inscrutability and “mysterious ways” to make it all fit. Still, a God who actually fit all those words would be nice, if that answers your question. There is, however, no possibility that such a God actually exists, based on what we see in the world and in scripture.

Such as? Does Nietche’s madman speak for anyone?

In what way was my response not “direct and unambiguous”? I honestly tried to be both, and would appreciate your insight into how I failed.


You appear to be replying to your expectations, and not to the actual responses you received.