I have regularly noticed people using words "Nature, Natural" to describe events, objects etc. Sometimes to denote contrast from "Artificial" origin, sometimes by atheists to refute "Intelligent Design" ideas, and sometimes to just convey "its the way universe is". This ambiguous use seems confusing.

My question is: Is Nature the same concept as that of God ? If not, how are they different ?

Note : Question is not about theist's or atheist's beliefs, but about a better investigation of the relation(if any) between concepts of Nature and Creator(if any).

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    I'm having a little trouble figuring out exactly what you might be after in an answer; but just FYI, it may be interesting to note that Spinoza talks about deus sive natura ("God or Nature").
    – Joseph Weissman
    Jan 4, 2013 at 17:04
  • @JosephWeissman Thanks for Spinoza reference. I've edited the question also.
    – user2411
    Jan 4, 2013 at 17:26
  • See this answer and the comments following it as one probable answer to your question. In short if you assume power and knowledge for Nature you are implicitly talking about God, or more precisely the influential shadow of God onto His created Universe.
    – owari
    Jan 5, 2013 at 19:35

3 Answers 3


A difference can exist, but it does not necessarily have to. It depends very much on how you construct things like God and possibility. To Spinoza, for example, God and nature in the sense you have described may have been effectively identical.

Consider, however, the theist that views God to be a genuinely conscious being with intention and Will. To that person, nature may be the all-encompassing vehicle of that Will, but it will be distinctly not God (or at best, a strict subset of God) because it will be only the dumb manifestation of that will. To analogize, the entirety of a racecar driver's will may be expressed in the form of the action of his or her racecar, but the racecar is distinctly the dumb machine which carries out that will.

Obviously, any actual attempt to separate the two WOULD render them moot--God without Nature is God unexpressed, and Nature without God is Nature unmoved (assuming the construction of the two mentioned above), but one certainly CAN conceptually separate them in this fashion.

Whether or not this has any resemblance to the "true" nature of the relationship between God and Nature is another question entirely, and probably no longer considered fit for philosophical discussion.

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    So, pantheism states that creator is the same thing as creation. To me, it seems to remove the distinction between cause and effect. More specifically, that the ultimate effect (creation) is the original cause (creator). Still, the two concepts exist semantically separated for average populace and, are used in argument against each other :) So, I guess the separation is a matter of debate and is unresolved so far.
    – user2411
    Jan 4, 2013 at 17:55
  • @Singularity: Hume took apart the whole notion of cause & effect. Jan 4, 2013 at 18:43
  • @MoziburUllah Interesting..., creator and creation are not rationally link-able by causation, according to Hume. This seems to support possibility that the two are separate concepts.
    – user2411
    Jan 4, 2013 at 19:06

"God" has anthropomorphic connotations; it is a strange word to use if there is no consciousness, will, intelligence, planning, interest in the affairs of humans, etc.. "Nature" assumes the opposite: mere blind rules of cause and effect, without any explicit deeper purpose (but perhaps a great deal of structure as a consequence).*

To conflate the two requires one or both of the terms to be stretched far from its colloquial meaning. I do not recommend it if your goal is clarity, though it may be of value in avoiding persecution or instilling warm fuzzy feelings in those that might otherwise be hostile.

* This is how I would characterize a modern interpretation of the terms; it has varied somewhat throughout history.

  • Not sure about the second part (maybe you could elaborate that), but the first paragraph does states a good point. +1. Thank you.
    – user2411
    Jan 5, 2013 at 5:14

"God" could be considered equivalent to "nature", depending on your definition of "God".

Especially the Pantheistic / Animistic concept of "God" could be considered indistinguishable from the Atheistic / naturalistic concept of "nature" beyond the level of mere semantics. I elaborate on this in my article The Atheistic approach to God… or how to bridge the gap between Atheists and Theists.

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