God is a programmer. God wrote the code, compiled it, and now the program is running via the multiverse. This belief is compatible with:
1. An informational universe
2. The absence of free will
3. Ongoing biological evolution
4. The many-worlds interpretation
Contemplating the beginning of the multiverse leaves an opening for God as the first cause. God wrote the code that led to the infinite diversity of life in infinite combinations, and now that program is running until it finishes or repeats. Everything in this universe operates according to cause and effect. Holy texts have their flaws, as described later in this post. Even if people still insist on Biblical literalism, scripture does not support free will. The scriptural argument against free will is convincingly described in Vincent Bugliosi’s book The Divinity of Doubt (link here).
The many worlds theory of reality allows for a universe where Jesus was sacrificed to save everyone. This belief is known as universal reconciliation and becomes possible once people leave Biblical literalism behind. The idea of salvation being limited to certain people is based on interpretations of scriptures that were created by human beings with their own prejudices and limitations. In fact, the Flynn Effect indicates the authors of religious texts in the past were probably less intelligent than people in the world today.
Authors of religious documents combined those writings into canons in ways that allowed more inaccuracies to arise. Holy books are probably inaccurate, since they were compiled by fallible human beings. Mistakes were probably introduced even before the scriptures were written down, and typos may have been copied before collecting religious documents into a canon. The gospels were not even written by their namesakes. Flawed humans like early priests and popes and monarchs then interfered with these writings, with a small elite choosing what Christians would believe.
What if there were hypothetical documents similar to the Dead Sea Scrolls or Biblical apocrypha? What if there were documents that have been lost, but which described God and the universe more accurately than the current popular religious texts? What if a lost document contained the true teachings of God, but that document was inadvertently or deliberately destroyed at some point in history?
The following historians have published many useful thoughts on problems with religious texts and how people came to believe what they did:
Some additional findings on errors and contradictions in religious texts include:
Academic search engines and books written by historians at secular universities can provide information on the people who created the scriptures used in other religions. Entire academic disciplines are also devoted to understanding the history of religious documents, including their authors and the process of creating a spiritual canon. The religious studies departments of major universities have further information on the development of religious traditions in other faiths.
It’s possible to believe in God while not believing in religious texts. I still disagree with many secular religious scholars about embracing atheism or agnosticism. My belief in God is due to my neurobiology. I believe in God and Jesus, but I don’t feel the love that Christians often refer to, probably due to my limbic system being burned out from more than two decades of depression and anxiety. The reason people become believers in the first place is due to their brains, which goes for me as well and is described in the posts The Biology of Religion and Epiphenom. Whether someone becomes a believer or a nonbeliever, they have a ready-made explanation thanks to biology: “I was born (and developed) that way and my brain made me believe it.”
Scientific belief in the modern world is usually indifferent or even dismissive of the concept of God. M-theory describes eleven dimensions. Maybe God is in a yet-undiscovered twelfth dimension? An informational multiverse may seem like a “God of the gaps” argument, but it’s also compatible with the belief in a creator God. Other supernatural beliefs have weaker support. Centuries of scientific research show the importance of causality and randomness in our universe. Patterns of cause and effect drive the universe and the living things in it. Quantum physics introduces some randomness in that causal process. Complex adaptive systems respond to feedback effects. Every human action has a prior cause going back to the beginning of the universe. Human behavior is either deterministic or random, which means an individual doesn’t choose what to believe or how to act. It’s unrealistic to expect people to believe or disbelieve in something against their nature when their brain is structured a certain way.
Flaws in the Bible mean there are possibly only three ways of coming into contact with God:
1. personal revelation
2. biological predisposition towards spiritual beliefs
3. new technology that allows people to communicate directly with God
The Bible and traditional Christian teachings both have major contradictions. Christian traditions not only include internal contradictions, but they also contradict the way the universe actually works. Giving up obsolete religious beliefs opens up the path to embracing more fulfilling beliefs:
1. Universal Salvation: the belief that Jesus died to save everyone who ever lived and will ever live
2. Christian Hedonism: prioritizing the celebration of joy that comes from God
3. Scientific Relevance: studying scientific evidence of how God’s creation actually functions instead of adopting close-minded Biblical literalism
The belief in God as a programmer also solves the theological problem of evil. Evil and suffering could represent bugs in the system or the outcome of an artificial life simulation. This sounds like a glib answer, but it’s important to understand that many tragedies could be eliminated once people give up the Bible and start to embrace the science of cause and effect. Studying probability and implementing science-based techniques in medicine and disaster response could predict and prevent suffering. I personally don’t believe in intelligent design, but ID is more atheistic than the material I present in this post. Instead of positing the existence of God, intelligent design has loose enough standards to allow for human life to be the creation of intelligent extraterrestrials.
The ideas presented in this post distill Christianity to its most fundamental element – salvation through Jesus Christ. Focusing on that idea to the exclusion of everything else in Christianity allows one to avoid obsolete and inaccurate ideas from religious texts. As far as I know, scientific research conducted so far shows little support for supernatural ideas acting in today’s world. Like many other former believers in the paranormal, I at first devoted great effort to understanding spiritual and paranormal ideas but eventually came away disappointed.
Giving up the Bible and the Church allows Christians to purely focus on defending God and Jesus in religious discussions rather than debating on multiple unproductive fronts. This approach is also much more straightforward than having to endorse less defensible concepts regarding the Bible, intelligent design, and the beliefs and actions of the Christian Church as a whole. Christianity has adapted to different times and places by emphasizing certain teachings and scriptures and downplaying others. Christian teachings can adapt to the future by making the biggest change of all by leaving the Bible behind and focusing exclusively on God and Jesus. A more accurate interpretation of Christianity shows that salvation through Jesus Christ supersedes everything else, including reliance on fallible religious teachers or religious texts.
It doesn’t make sense to get angry at believers or nonbelievers for what they believe, since their brains are shaped through genetic and environmental influences. It’s still reasonable to prevent people of any system of belief or disbelief from harming others. Also, keep in mind that the idea that humans can presume to know what an infinite intelligence like God wants and thinks could in fact be totally arrogant and inaccurate. That goes for my ideas in this post as well.