Theology, philosophy, math, science, and random other things

The principle of least awesomeness

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine..." - Ephesians 3:20.

I have this tool that guides my thinking, which I privately call the principle of least awesomeness. It simply says that God is at least as awesome as anything we can imagine. Straightforward idea, right? Let's see some applications of it.

At a basic level, this principle says that God is at least as awesome as our sciences have discovered our universe to be - for he created it. This is why Christians should be happy whenever science discovers something new about the universe. The more elegant and beautiful the universe turns out to be, the stronger evidence we have for God's existence and glory.

The principle also helps me deal with propositions of a more speculative nature. For example, when I was much younger I once wondered, "what if there was a super-being that's so powerful, so beyond everything, that God himself was unaware of its existence?" Could something like that really exist, and if so, would that mean that my worship towards God was fundamentally misdirected? The key out of this dilemma was that I - a mortal, and a rather immature one at that - had imagined it. But it is impossible for my imagination to exceed God's own knowledge. So, God was already aware of my concept of this super-being, since I had been able to imagine it. Yet he preemptively declares himself to be supreme over all others, thereby eliminating my fictitious super-being as a possibility. God is at least as awesome as anything I can possibly imagine.

Now, I generally don't find such childish speculations to be all that helpful. Certainly there's no shortage of possibilities if we're willing to engage in wild hypotheses with no biblical or scientific basis. However, the principle of least awesomeness allows some good to come out of these speculations. In my super-being case above, it gave me a new appreciation of God's power and transcendence. Other "what-if" scenarios can likewise help us appreciate other aspects of his being.

In this way, wild speculations can be somewhat productive - not because it's likely to be the truth, but because it helps us to exercise our mind and imagination, in stretching to a higher understanding for the lower bound on God's glory. God is at least as awesome as anything we can imagine.

As another example, I once read this idea about how each of us are all reincarnated as all other humans that have or will have existed, and once that process is complete we then become God, who then sends our human selves through all that process of reincarnation. Is the idea likely to be true? Of course not. It's just a wildly speculative idea with no backing. But it has a certain poetic appeal, no? In this system, anything nice or mean you do to someone else, you're really doing to one of your reincarnated selves. We're all one, with one another and with God. The principle of least awesomeness allows us to reject this system as any kind of accurate description of truth, yet allows us to redeem some of its poetic beauty. For the truth - the system that God has actually set up - is at least as beautiful as this system that we cooked up in our imagination. We are, in truth, truly one with each other and with God, in a profound unity that is at least as awesome as the one dreamt up of in any our imaginary systems.

Another idea I had concerns the multiverse theory - in particular, Everett's many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. This hypothesis, in short, says that everything that's quantum-mechanically possible happens in a different universe of the multiverse. Now, I believe that multiverse theories are all very wrong (a point I will expound on in a future series of posts). But they are fertile grounds for wild speculation. Specifically, I thought that a many-worlds interpretation would be a neat way to resolve the issue of predestination. If all possibilities are actualized in a parallel universe, so would an individual's decision to either accept or reject Christ. Those who accept Christ would go on to their eternal salvation, having freely chosen to do so as manifested by them being on the "right" branches of the many-world multiverse. Those who reject Christ would be damned, having freely chosen their destiny, again as manifested by being on the "wrong" branches of the multiverse. Yet the whole picture, from beginning to end, would have been timelessly predestined, as the whole history of every possibility, choice, and outcome would have been written into the multiversal quantum-mechanical wavefunction at the foundation of the world. It would be preordained that every possibility comes into being, yet each person would justly receive the destiny that they had freely chosen - and there would truly be a grand number of rooms in our Father's house to accommodate all the possible ways that each person could have accepted Christ.

Now, is all that likely to be true? Of course not - I've already expressed my rejection of the multiverse theories, to say nothing of the wild, baseless leaps that this theory makes about predestination. Are there great difficulties with this hypothesis? Of course there is - not the least of which is the innumerable universes in which Christ never existed. I intend to be absolutely clear that such speculations are worthless as representations of what God really has wrought.

And yet, according to the principle of least awesomeness, such speculations can be redeemed in some ways. In case of the multiversal predestination theory, we can say that however predestination actually turns out to work, it will be at least as awesome as how it is presented to work in that theory. God is sovereign and all-knowing, to at least the degree he would be if he had created the many-worlds multiverse. Yet his sovereignty will allow all who freely choose him to come to him: again, the many-worlds multiverse represents the minimum degree to which this would be true. And however we choose to conceptualize heaven, it will be at least as awesome as Hilbert's Grand Hotel, that can accommodate all possible ways that every possible person can come to Christ. For it is a place that Christ himself has prepared for us.

So, feel free to speculate about God and his works. Not with the delusion that you're going to arrive at the truth, of course - you are quite safe from that. You needn't worry about exhausting the riches of God with your thoughts. Still, exercise and stretch out your mind: you are safe in God's guarantee that he is at least as awesome as anything that we can imagine.

You may next want to read:
How is God related to all other fields of study?
Isn't the universe too big to have humans as its purpose?
Another post, from the table of contents

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