The Omnipotence of God and Economic Competition

If the God of classical theism exists, then God is omnipotent (all-powerful). Given that God is all-powerful, would God set up the world in such a way where humans compete for resources?

The upshot is that an omnipotent Being doesn’t need competition in order for humans to survive and thrive; God can bring about human flourishing and societal flourishing without economic competition. In fact, there are countless ways for God to do this because God is all-powerful.

Formal Statement of the Argument

1. It is a known fact that many humans compete in society for resources in order to survive and thrive (i.e. economic competition).
2. (1) is more expected on the hypothesis of metaphysical naturalism than on the hypothesis of classical theism.
3. The intrinsic probability of metaphysical naturalism is equal to that of classical theism.
4. Therefore, other evidence held equal, classical theism is probably false.

Clarification
It’s important to notice that premise 1 isn’t so much focused on human competition in general, nor is it focused on societal competition in general. Rather, the premise is more focused on economic competition, nevertheless, economic competition includes societal and human competition.

Defense of Premise 2
There is no reason on theism to expect a world filled with competition. Thus, even more specifically, there is no reason to expect (on theism) a world filled with human competition in society. In fact, it seems that we would expect the opposite on theism. On theism, we have an all-loving Being who cares deeply about the needs and wants of finite creatures. On naturalism, however, nature is indifferent to our needs and desires. In other words, it is survival of the fittest (this would also include the ability to thrive). So, if we have good reasons in general to expect competition for resources on naturalism, then it seems that this fact would give us at least some reason to expect the more specific fact of societal competition for resources on metaphysical naturalism.

Secondly, given the omnipotence of God, there are countless ways for God to help humans survive and thrive in society, and God doesn’t need competition to do this. On naturalism, however, there are not countless ways. Therefore, even if naturalism doesn’t exactly predict capitalism, it certainly predicts something like it.

Objections

It might be objected that we will eventually get to a society where humans don’t have to work or compete for resources because robots will be doing all the work. However, even if this is true, the point is that God could have set up the world to be that way from the very beginning.

It might also be objected that humans implemented economic competition through their own free choices, hence, there is no issue here. But even if that is true, there are still humans and other animals who suffer as a result of being born in such places. Humans have to work in the system in which they were born in, which is a society that is largely capitalistic.

One might also object that there are no societies that are purely capitalistic. I agree with this, and I’m not saying any society is only capitalistic. The issue is that having humans compete for resources in society isn’t surprising on the no-God hypothesis. And, in general, humans competing for resources is not surprising on the no-God hypothesis (e.g. naturalism. [1]

Finally, one might say that economic competition builds character. Firstly, we don’t need economic competition to build character. In fact, we don’t need any societal competition to build character. In addition, even if building character is a good thing, one must weigh that good vs. all the harm the societal/economic competition can bring.

Notes
[1] See my previous posts for a definition of metaphysical naturalism

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6 thoughts on “The Omnipotence of God and Economic Competition

  1. I am sure the reply from classical theists will be that Adam was ejected from the garden of Eden with a curse to experience “painful toil” to earn his daily bread. I wrote a post today expanding upon my contention that Yahweh does not act like an all-powerful god. You point is that is he truly wanted us to go forth and multiply, he would have provided unlimited resources (daily rain of manna, such as in Riverworld). My points are more extensive. Why does Yahweh need dust to make Adam and a rib from Adam to make Eve? he created billions of galaxies with a thought, yet he needs something to make Adam and Eve, which shows limitations. This is not the way an all-powerful god acts. I also want to know what Yahweh needs helpers (angels, cherubim, seraphim, et. al.)? His reason for creating Adam was as a gardener (to tend his garden). Again, why would he need this help?

    1. Philosophy of Religion blog (Does God Exist?)

      Indeed. It’s a serious debate as to whether Yahweh should even be considered “all-powerful” (or all-knowing, all-good, etc.)

  2. Hi Jonathan!

    Thank you for an interesting post.

    Would you please help me to understand this topic better?

    You wrote, “The issue is that having humans compete for resources in society isn’t surprising on the no-God hypothesis. And, in general, humans competing for resources is not surprising on the no-God hypothesis (e.g. naturalism. [1]” and that note [1] refers to how you’ve defined metaphysical naturalism in previous posts.

    Would you please provide a link to a previous post in which you define metaphysical naturalism and comment on the possibility that we may evolve, even on the no-God hypothesis to conquer the present need to compete for resources?

    Our society is founded on cooperation and without it, we could not even drive on busy roads. The need for cooperation and our desire to improve may eventually lead to a structure that does not depend on capitalism.

    Best wishes,

    Dinos Constantinou

  3. Good article but you are making many un-necessary fallacies!!

    First.

    competition is the mechanism that helps workers find the jobs for
    which their interests and abilities best suit them.
    So a competitive system is one in which we test our abilities
    and find if we can do something better than others,

    example:
    Similarly, in our school system, the assigning of grades is a
    competitive activity in which the best math students and the
    best English students and the best art and music students
    receive higher grades. The grading system provides guidance
    to help students find something they can do well. When I fly in
    an airplane, I am glad that it has been designed by someone
    who got straight A’s in mathematics and engineering! The grading
    system is “competitive,” and it guides society in assigning jobs
    to those who are best suited to those jobs.

    Second:
    In fact, if you have ever shopped around for the lowest
    price on a shirt or a computer or a car, your actions show that
    you approve of competition in the economy, because you are
    making competition work. You are buying from the person
    who can produce and distribute a computer cheaper than
    someone else, and you are encouraging that more efficient
    manufacturer to stay in business, and you are discouraging
    the less efficient, more expensive computer manufacturers from
    staying in business. This happens every day, and we take it for
    granted. This should cause us to realize that if we are going to
    be good stewards (Christians) of our possessions we need to have competition
    in the marketplace.

    On the other hand, competition brings many temptations
    to sin. There is a difference between trying to do a job better
    than others, on the one hand, and trying to harm others and
    prevent them from earning a living on the other hand.
    hese temptations to sin
    should not obscure the fact that competition in itself, within
    appropriate limits (some of which should be established by government),
    is good and pleasing to God, and provides many
    opportunities to glorify him.

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