Looking back over the history of religious thought, it’s clear that for believers in God, there is a dividing line between Deists (those who believe in a creator God who put the rules of the universe in place and let it go) and Theists (those who believe in the creator God but also that he is constantly interfering in our world). Although I’m an atheist, I’m sympathetic to the Deistic notion of God. Before Darwin and Einstein and modern science, people like James Madison and Thomas Jefferson thought Deism was reasonable and who am I to argue? But Deism and atheism are not that far apart in the fact that neither believes there’s an eye in the sky recording our lives and that death is the end for living beings. No afterlife.
Theists have a problem with their beliefs in both a creator God and an intrusive God both being the same God.
If Theism is true, how could any scientist trust his results? The scientist is measuring some physical phenomenon while God’s over there making mischief with physical laws. I actually heard a Christian scientist say that he goes out of his way to avoid praying for his patients when they are testing the efficacy of a new drug because God’s healing might skew the natural results. But that’s exactly my point. The potency of science lies in the fact that I can do an experiment in my lab, find some results, publish those results, and anyone else with a matching experiment should be able to reproduce those same results. And furthermore, we should be able to make predictions based on this experiment. But this wouldn’t be the case if God was constantly interfering with physical laws. Aron Ra in a debate with Ray Comfort had a good quote on this: “Whenever God reaches his hand into this plane he should pull it out dripping with physics.”
If Theism is true, God is constantly healing the sick. But he’s very finicky about who he will heal and how. Most of the time, he seems to heal people in the exact proportion that they recover naturally. Also, you do have to ask why amputees are off limits to God. His healing isn’t subject to testing either. If there was a Theistic God constantly healing people, don’t you think we would be able to measure that? After all, he’s intruding into our world. There should be some experimental way to discover him doing it. Why wouldn’t he want that? There have been some double blind experiments testing the efficacy of prayer (and take a wild guess how it came out). I listened to an utterly hilarious podcast episode of Unbelievable where the Christian claimed that his prayer had initiated creation of a missing lung. But when pressed (I’m not making this up), the doctor who witnessed it was dead and the fax was too difficult to see anymore. Listen here for a good laugh when the healer is confronted with having to document his claim.
If Theism is true, God is moving cars around on the roads like a child playing with matchbox cars. Whenever I hear someone claiming that God did something to their car to save them in an accident, I always think about all the traffic cameras there are at intersections. I would expect there would be loads of video over time showing cars swerving around against the driver’s will because God is taking the wheel literally. In reality, when God takes the wheel, we get the same result as if he hadn’t.
Problem of Evil
If Theism is true, God is constantly deciding on where to intervene. He’s causing hurricanes to punish homosexuals. He’s causing someone to miss their plane which later crashed. He’s helping people find their car keys. But even when I was a believer, I saw the Van Dam trial of the child rape and murder and couldn’t reconcile a God who could intervene skipping intervening in these cases. Christians have a quick answer to this. All the evil in the world is because of Adam’s sin and free will. But as usual, most of the apologetic arguments adult Christians make are the same simple ones they learned as a child in Sunday school. They treat “evil in the world” as what humans do to other humans but there is all kinds of evil – horrible childhood cancers, children born with 2 heads, no brain, heart defects, etc. The reason the childish Sunday school answer doesn’t work is because believers are claiming via Theism that God is constantly intervening in our world. So the next question has to be, “What is his criteria for intervention and non-intervention?” And the follow-on question: “If you were all powerful, wouldn’t you intervene where he hasn’t?”
If Theism is true, God is an incompetent designer. He created everything we see and knew how it would play out and yet he still feels the need to tinker in his creation. Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense for him to build the universe to run successfully without him? Imagine you’re a omniscient, all powerful car maker and you say to yourself, “I sure do love building cars but what I really love is having them break down on the side of the road where I have to get out my toolbox and work on them.”