God and Identity

When is the YEC God no longer the YEC God?  That question came up in my recent thread on methodological naturalism and accommodationism.  In that thread I argued that science falsifies the YEC God, because it shows definitively that the earth is about a million times older than the YECs believe.  If the earth is old, then the YEC God doesn’t exist. There might still be a God, but not the YEC God, because the YEC God necessarily created the earth a short time ago.  Otherwise, it wouldn’t be “the YEC God” at all!

Robin and Petrushka objected because they didn’t see “the YEC God” as being essentially YEC.  In other words, they saw “the YEC God” as referring to a God who would still be the same God even if it turned out that he hadn’t created the universe several thousand years ago.

In short, I saw “the YEC God” as equivalent to “a God having YEC characteristics”, and they saw it as equivalent to “the God of the YECs, who might or might not have YEC characteristics”.

Of course, neither interpretation is correct in an absolute sense.  Language is a convention, and  “the YEC God” can plausibly be interpreted either way.    However, I argued that in the context of the thread, it was clear how “the YEC God” was being used:

…I thought that readers would notice that I used the unusual phrase “the YEC God” instead of “God” or “the Christian God” or “Yahweh”. Since I took the trouble of adding the qualifier “YEC”, they would infer that there must be some significance to it. There was; I added it to indicate that my argument was confined to YEC Gods. What is the characteristic of a YEC God that distinguishes him from an OEC God or other Gods? The clue is in the qualifier “YEC”. He must have created the earth a (relatively) short time ago.

This leads to a counterintuitive realization: the entity we refer to as “the YEC God” is not necessarily the same as the entity that YECs refer to as “God”!

How can we resolve this apparent paradox?  I think the key is to recognize that within our minds, “the YEC God” doesn’t really refer to a single possible entity.  It refers to an entire set of possible entities, any of which would qualify as “the YEC God”.  Likewise with “God”.

The set of possible entities encompassed by the word “God”, when spoken by a YEC, is larger than the set encompassed by the phrase “the YEC God” as used in the other thread.  The latter is a subset of the former.  Since they are not coextensive, they don’t mean the same thing.

There’s much more to be said about this, particularly about how God’s status as a fictional (or at best unknown) entity affects all of this, but I’ll leave that to the comments.

304 thoughts on “God and Identity

  1. keiths: Take it easy, Alan.

    I didn’t use all caps.

    I don’t think that Russell’s Teapot is supernatural, and my definition doesn’t imply it, either.

    That’s because you can’t define that word. I’m out for the evening so just time to respond to Gregory.

  2. Gregory:
    The CATEGORY List (of what is ‘non-natural’ that is not ‘supernatural’) at TSZ has obviously stopped at 1. Anyone else?

    You sound like a Greek chorus, Gregory. What point are you making? I can’t comment on the words you use because I have decided they are unnecessary bars to communication. I don’t think imaginary concepts such as “God” are real. As soon as you add an attribute, like “answers prayers”, they fail the test for reality. Do you disagree? Do you have a test for “God” that bears out the reality?

  3. keiths:

    Take it easy, Alan.


    I didn’t use all caps.

    Exclamation points count too. 🙂


    I don’t think that Russell’s Teapot is supernatural, and my definition doesn’t imply it, either.


    That’s because you can’t define that word.

    I can, and have, and so have hundreds of English-language dictionaries. It’s not like I invented the word, Alan.

  4. So what can I tell everybody about the word supernatural? Frankly, I’d already dismissed the word as being of no use at all.

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