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Could God be a Being who perhaps through evolution or some other mechanism was generated through physical laws and thus still interacts with the world. If anything can be created given enough time, how do we rule out a super alien like god who can basically do anything?

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    This bishop thinks not youtu.be/1zMf_8hkCdc?si=N09f5lBGs7sZrLiQ Commented Jun 16 at 7:21
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    Which "God"? People can call that anything powerful enough, have done it historically and still do. The question seems to be empty.
    – Conifold
    Commented Jun 16 at 10:14
  • Not saying this counts as theology, but any Mormon will tell you, "Yes! The God of Abraham was a mortal being on the planet Kolob before He was promoted to godhood and allowed to create the Earth as a reward for his saintly behavior during his mortal life." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormon_cosmology Commented Jun 16 at 15:26
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    @MarkAndrews the entire Christian creed hinges on the claim that God's death was God's objective. The purported lack of power here reduces to the definition of supreme power: God can't not accomplish what God sets out to accomplish.
    – g s
    Commented Jun 16 at 21:41
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    "If anything can be created given enough time..."; can it? evidence? Commented Jun 16 at 22:19

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In boring definitional terms, no. Such a being could not be God in the sense meant by classical theists and common English. (For instance M-W: "God: the supreme or ultimate reality [...] the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is [...] creator and ruler of the universe.")

In the secondary, much fuzzier sense used to refer to the kind of beings to whom one makes offerings and directs prayers in polytheism, there's no definitional problem. Many, probably most, pagan gods are or were the product of natural processes, in the sense of following the nature of things as guessed at by the storyteller: birth, spontaneous generation from an appropriate sort of substance or place, etc.

Some of the limits of what natural processes can do are as well-supported as any knowledge we have about anything, so we can't have "basically do anything", but we humans haven't even scratched the surface of how a being can affect the world with technological tools. And humans have already conjured oracles from fire and stone, built houses that fly above the clouds, spoken with the voice of thunder, and smote our enemies from afar as with a thunderbolt. Zeus still has us beat on transforming into a swan for erotic purposes, but I'm sure it's been tried.

There's a final problem in that we don't really have the faintest idea what consciousness is, where it comes from, or what, besides us, might have it. We have, at most, a vague guess about how humans might have gotten reason and abstract symbolic representation through natural processes. The claim that a person - you, me, or Super ET - can be a completely natural being to begin with is a claim that needs defending. But this could be easily bypassed by altering the question from "could Super ET be as natural a being as a human?"

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  1. There is no use in imagining arbitrary beings with arbitrary properties, just to equate them with traditional concepts.

  2. Your question uses empty concepts: “generated by evolution”, “some other mechanism”, ”super alien”, “basically do nothing”.

    Apparently “by evolution” you do not mean the biological evolution on earth.

  3. Please clarify your definition of “God” and specify a generating mechanism.

Which philosophical problem does your proposal aim to solve?

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Philosophy of language says no

One note: my argument does not assert there is no all-powerful creator of the universe, or that there is one.

De re vs de dicto

Consider Alex, a hypothetical guy living in the U.S. Alex tells me he is married to Beth, who is "the tallest woman in Kansas." Beth is quite tall, at 6'10", and let's suppose there really are no other women in Kansas of equal or greater height.

Then suppose that Han Xu visits Kansas for a month for some kind of extended sportsball event. Han is a real woman, currently the tallest player in the WNBA, at 6'11", which is one inch taller than Beth.

Is Alex suddenly married to Han? Han is the tallest woman in KS, so Alex's statement, that he's married to the tallest woman in KS, must necessarily pick out Han Xu rather than Beth.

Obviously not. Alex is still married to Beth, though she no longer satisfies the description "tallest woman in KS." The predicate "tallest" used to pick out Beth, but now it picks out Han Xu. But, presumably, Alex's marriage certificate has Beth's name written on it rather than her height and state of residence.

What's more, it stands to reason that Alex didn't marry Beth because she was the tallest, he married her because they are in love. If she had been shorter, he would have told me something else, like "I'm married to the sweetest girl in the world." To quote author Tom Robbins, "The highest function of love is that it makes the loved one a unique and irreplaceable being." Alex would love Beth no matter how tall she is, because she has stolen his heart; her height relative to other people is incidental.

This disconnect, between Alex's statements and the things in his world, flows from what is known as the de re vs de dicto distinction.

De re ("duh ray") means "of the thing." De dicto means "of the words."

When Alex said "the tallest woman in Kansas," we understand he's thinking of a specific person, a person who happens to be tallest at the time he's speaking. That is de re intentionality -- he has a specific object in mind (Beth), and has chosen to point to that thing by using a predicate that he believes only Beth satisfies: being the tallest woman in Kansas. The "extension" of the predicate, the set of things in the world that are picked out by it, has just one member: Beth, the woman Alex married.

If Alex were instead somebody who had a fetish for very tall women, and his goal really was to marry whoever happens to be the tallest, then he'd probably use de dicto intentionality: "I'm going to marry the tallest woman in Kansas... just as soon as I meet her!" He does not have a specific thing in mind (neither Beth nor Han Xu), but he does know what his selection criteria are: whoever is (1) the tallest (2) woman (3) in Kansas. (We may hope for Alex's sake that there are not two women tied for tallest, and also that some women in Kansas are taller than 4', or he will be in a real bind! Probably he should just listen to his heart.)

Could God be a real being who evolved to godhood?

When English-speaking people use the proper noun "God," (especially with the capital "G") they take themselves to be using de re intentionality: they already have a specific thing in mind: the deity that Christians and Jews and Muslims worship.

They have a whole bunch of specific beliefs about that entity, which almost always includes predicates like:

  • is all-powerful
  • is all-knowing
  • has a good will
  • was the creator of the universe
  • is the ultimate arbiter of the worth of every human life
  • authored a specific set of written texts (e.g. the Christian Bible)
  • communicated directly with a specific set of people at various points in history
  • demands that humans obey specific rules while alive (e.g. the Ten Commandments, the dictates of the church, etc)

When the faithful use the word "God," they do not take themselves to be referring to "whoever or whatever happens to fit that description." They also insist that none of those predicates are optional: their God unamibguously satisfies all of those predicates, and many more besides.

Your proposal, that maybe God started out as a natural biological creature, and simply grew or evolved over time until it became the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful supernatural master of the universe, runs afoul of their linguistic practice: even if there were such a creature, it would not be the creature all these people have been talking about for all these centuries. At best, this creature could be... God's brother.

The Pope doesn't lead the Catholic church on behalf of whoever happens to be all-powerful. When Fred Phelps said, "God hates fags," he did not mean, "whoever created the universe, that person condemns homosexuals." How could he know that if he didn't also believe that the name "God" picked out a specific individual whose purported beliefs Phelps has studied in his Baptist Bible?

The problem with your proposal is that "God" is widely held, even by atheists, to refer to a specific individual, who theists say played a specific role in history, who has specific values, who has made specific promises. That is the equivalent of Alex saying "I'm going to marry whoever happens to be the tallest woman in Kansas, because I know she likes butterscotch, and I have always admired the way she helped her younger brother with his paper route when they were kids."


It is impossible for a biological creature living in this universe to have been the creator of this universe, but even if that were somehow not a problem, it would mean that English-speakers using the word "God" have been mistakenly talking about a different, fictional counterpart of that creature, because they very definitely believe that their supernatural creature does not have that history.

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  • I just now noticed that my answer is essentially an expansion of g-s's first point. Le sigh.
    – Tom
    Commented Jun 16 at 18:20
  • "It is impossible for a biological creature living in this universe to have been the creator of this universe," - most Christians would disagree.
    – user58697
    Commented Jun 16 at 19:11
  • @user58697 All the Christian faiths I'm familiar with insist that the creator is a timeless being who predates the universe. Perhaps you're referring to the notion that Jesus Christ was both a mortal (biological) man and the creator; I won't argue that here, except to say that I did not read OP's question in that vein.
    – Tom
    Commented Jun 16 at 20:22
  • Yes, I meant the Jesus story.
    – user58697
    Commented Jun 16 at 20:24
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Yes, because we have had such beings

Here is one of them...

enter image description here

Emperor Hirohito in dress uniform, 1935 (image source)

Emperor Hirohito was a god, until 1946, when he declared himself to not be that any more.

And now you are pulling breath to say...

"Wait a minute, that is no god!"

Yes, he was. To the Japanese people, until and including 1945, he was a divine being, a god. What are you going to do, tell them that they were wrong and that you know better what they may or may not consider a god to be?

You can say you have a different notion of what "a god" is, but I am going to hazard a guess that the ends up being the definition of what some particular religion says is its particular god/gods. The Japanese people were of a different religion, and I am going to spare you the impossible task of trying to define which religion(s) "own" the god-concept, because that is indeed impossible; religion is religion, none better than any other.

So, can a god be a natural being?

By show of example: yes, because we have had such beings (and probably still do). Hirohito is but one of many humans – as well as animals and objects – that have been given godhood by the adherents of the respective religions.

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  • In your usage of the word, the term "god" is nothing more or less than a title. I highly doubt that that was the intention by which the Japanese emperors declared themselves divine. For they are not alone in this: The roman emperors did exactly the same. And I happen to know that the other roman gods were thought to be powerful beings commanding the elements etc. And the roman emperors wanted to be seen as equals to these gods for obvious reasons. So they did exactly what any other fraud would do, they declared themselves to be what they were not, and punished anyone who objected. Commented Jun 25 at 18:13
  • @cmaster-reinstatemonica Yes. And? Your objection does not take away the fact that Hirohito — and many others — have been considered / are considered divine beings. As much as you want the term "a god" to align with the Abrahamic religions' definition of what their god is, you have thousands of more gods around the world and history where many simply do not fit your definition. But that does answer the question: can a god be a "natural being". By show of example: yes.
    – MichaelK
    Commented Jun 25 at 19:25
  • If I were to put up a sign "dentist" at my flat and started to drill into people's teeth, would I be a dentist? No. I'd be a fraud. Because I do not have what qualifies a person to be called a dentist: I have no medical training, whatsoever. And I'm pretty sure that law enforcement would be very interested in what I'm doing to earn money. Same thing with dictators: They call themselves divine, but are nothing more than any other human on earth. They are simply frauds. I did take the roman example because they were not an Abrahamic religion, yet the emperor's fraud is in plain sight. Commented Jun 25 at 20:05
  • And I firmly believe that you should never let the fraudsters define the profession. If you have a term to define, there is only one valid authority to define: The majority of people who actually use(d) the term. If you want a definition for "money", you can ask just about anybody (and try to find some common denominators). If you want a definition for "common denominator", however, you need to ask some mathematicians. If you want a definition for "microwave background", you need to talk to some physicists. And if you want a definition for "god", you cannot ignore the believers. Commented Jun 25 at 20:17
  • @cmaster-reinstatemonica Which is why I keep asking you "according to you and what authority". Who is the authority on handing out certificates of divinity. Where is the Department of Divinity to which a deity can go and do their annual renewal of their god-license. Rhetorical question; that does not exist. So when you try to say that you(!) – of all people – have solved the ancient question of what makes a god be just that, sorry but: no. You have not. Which then answers the question: is it possible for a god to be a natural creature? Yes, by example, and you cannot say that is wrong.
    – MichaelK
    Commented Jun 26 at 11:57
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This is answered by a simple argument, as long as you define "God" to mean "creator of the universe" and/or "all-powerful, can work wonders".

A being that was generated through physical laws is subject to those same laws. As such, it cannot break them or modify them to their will. Whatever such a being can do is also possible to anyone else with the necessary technology. But the laws that restrict you are restricting any such being in the same way. And that kills any possibility of being all-powerful.

For instance, birds can fly; and so can humans. Fish can dive; and so can humans. There's nothing that any creature on this planet can do which we are not able to also achieve through the right technology. However, you are not able to look through a concrete wall. You are not able to walk on water. You are also not able to turn water into wine, create bread from naught, or set water on fire. I could go on, and on, and on. Point is, these things are not just hard, they are impossible due to the same laws of physics that generated you. You are subject to these laws, and thus have no control over them, whatsoever. You are a being generatedy through physical laws, and as such, you are neither the creator of the universe, nor all-powerful or able to work wonders.

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  • as long as you define "God" to mean "creator of the universe" and/or "all-powerful, can work wonders". I do not. And as soon as you start to move to – in particular – the polytheisms, this definition falls apart right quick.
    – MichaelK
    Commented Jun 17 at 14:24
  • @MichaelK And what about divine powers? Unless there's anything transcendental and supernatural about a being, it simply does not qualify for the term "god". Commented Jun 17 at 14:45
  • @cmaster-reinstate-monica According to you and what authority? Being able to affect miracles makes you a cosmic wizard, not a god, as even the simplest gedankenexperiment affected by a mundane TV show demonstrates; or are you prepared to call this "a god"? Power over physics is evidence of capability, not divnity.
    – MichaelK
    Commented Jun 17 at 14:59
  • @MichaelK May I propose a little experiment? Tell a cop "you are a bastard" and then explain to them, that the term does not imply any slander. What will happen? Exactly. He'll get your name, by force if need be, and you will either pay a hefty fine or go to jail. And I'll say: Please, use the terms in the way that the majority of people understand them. There's just as much use in denying the term "bastard" to be slander as denying the term "god" to imply divine powers. Whatever you mean, if there's no divine powers, it's not a god. Commented Jun 17 at 15:52
  • @cmaster-reinstate-monica You can insult a cop from here to high-heaven and they – unless they are one of those idiots that end up on YouTube for not knowing the law and the constitution – will not do a single thing about it since that is protected speech, because insults are not slander. This has been through the courts so many times it is not even a contentious issue. Oopsie! Turns out "everyone knows" is not an argument after all. So my question to you stands: according to you and what authority? Do better than "everyone knows", because they do not, as you just demonstrated with gusto.
    – MichaelK
    Commented Jun 18 at 12:06
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Newton addresses the matter in the Scholium to the Principia. He laid out the following attributes for any entity worthy of the designation "God":

(1) Eternal: exists at all times and/or outside the stream of time,

(2) Omni-Present: exists everywhere and/or in a manner transcending space,

(3) Omni-Scient: contains knowledge of everything that is, was and will be,

(4) Omni-Potent: makes everything happen that actually happens (and, by extension: makes everything not happen that actually happens not).

The language is simplified from what he wrote, since old fashioned philosophers always had a thing for writing in overly-ornate (and obfuscated) manner to make their pronouncements sound like they have reverb and deep bass.

To this, he cited also:

(5) Uniqueness: only one entity can match all of the attributes (1), (2), (3) and (4).

On the question of whether this entity should be regarded as being in the Universe - or more appropriately: of being the entire Universe itself - Newton argued, by simple assertion: not. So, by extension, he came down on the side of "no" to the question of whether there is any natural entity in the Universe worthy of the designation "God" - not even the Universe, itself.

I would argue that the physical Universe satisfies (1), (2), (3) and (4), when considered in its entirety and that - by (5) - it is thus one and the same as that which one would call "God". So, Spinoza 1, Newton 0; using Newton to argue against Newton.

However ... we must also take into consideration the as-yet-unnamed creed of deGrasse-Tysonism who (despite himself) asserts the likelihood that the Universe was designed by an intelligent being. Going by the description deGrasse Tyson gave, such a being, technically, satisfies conditions (1), (2), and effectively (3) and (4), though you might want to hedge your bets a little on that. To the degree that (3) and (4) are true, then this being also qualifies as "God" according to Newton and is "natural", but just not natural in our Universe... unless the simulation of our Universe that he alludes to is being operated from within our Universe! He never considered that possibility! But I'll tell you who did! Spaceballs watching Spaceballs watching Spaceballs watching Spaceballs ....

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    This assumes that Newton is the defining authority of what "a god" is. The obvious issue with this is that this clearly modelled on Christian or – a bit more generously Abrahamic – monotheisms. What about the Hindu gods? What about Shintoism? What about any of the thousands of other gods that mankind have created? Can we then assume that Newton is the authority on this subject? I would say: no. Also, NdGT have not asserted that the universe "was created by an intelligent being". HE has explained the hypothesis, not confessed any assurance it is true.
    – MichaelK
    Commented Jun 17 at 14:23

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