Does God exist as a Tulpa effect?

Questions about God, the Bible and the Christian culture

(Click here to read Monday Musings ... the place where I discuss the thinking that went into this article.)

Question: Is it true god is like a Tulpa effect? What I mean is, if we believe in god, god exists. If we don’t believe in God, god doesn’t exist.

(Click here to learn more about tulpas.)

Answer: Greetings friend. Thank you for touching down with us at Mainsail Ministries — and thank you for asking such a decidedly different question!

The relationships Christians have with God have enough similarities to those of a tulpamancer to his tulpa to be discussed... as long as we do not add too much weight to the tenuous connection I’m making between our relationship with the One True God and any practices associated with Eastern mysticism. That being said, let me start with the only similarity I see.

The more a Christian “believes” in God — that is, the more earnestly he seeks him (Hebrew 11:6) — the more real he finds him. This is not to say that the Christian is creating or growing God through his positive mental energy... as a tulpamancer purportedly does to his tulpa.

It’s just that God set things up so people will experience him on gradient: those who dismiss him still perceive him... but it’s like a nagging voice that they try to ignore (Romans 2:14-15). But for those of us who earnestly seek him, he is an unmistakable presence.

Again... do not misunderstand what I am saying. God exists — period! But so doesn’t human free will. This is why God doesn’t bulldoze us into believing. It is certainly within his power to give us a constant dose of proofs like healings — or even parting-of-the-Red-Sea types of miracles! Instead, he reveals himself firmly yet gently... perfectly balancing the world he has established with the nature of the beings he placed in it. God forces no one. God ignores no one. God excuses no one.

I have borrowed the idea from cosmology that God has “finely tuned” the physical universe to support human life, and I modified it to include all phenomena — all that exists in physics and metaphysics. I assert that God has finely tuned all reality so that people may land on either side of the “Does God exist?” question. Some people like me engage with him confidently while others try to live their lives as if he does not exist. I know that to be a fool’s errand, but it is a true option.

Under this scenario, the relationship between a human being and God is a little like the relationship between the tulpamancer and the tulpa. The more positive energy the tulpamancer or the believer puts into the enterprise, the more positive the result!

But tulpamancy is false — and tulpas do not exist. All I am doing here is making a connection to the purported processes and results... stretching out logically... trying to connect with you.

But I don’t think too many Christians will yell at me for saying that God is experientially more real the more energy we put into the relationship. This does not speak to his ontology... his essential being. God alone is a “necessary being.” He exists because of who he is at his core. He exists with or without any relationships.

But the assertion that how people approach God affects their relationship with him is nothing new. King David talked about this 3000 years ago. In Psalm 18 he said...

“With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless; with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.” (Psalm 18:25–26, ESV).

In my opinion, the Christian worldview is the hardiest worldview available. It repels attacks from atheists and competing religions easily. But it does not derive its power solely from the Bible... because there is much more going on in the revelatory world than just the Scripture.

In fact, I have identified no less than eleven ways that God has revealed himself to humankind! I will paste them below this paragraph, so take a minute to consider these. See how God has done his part... and why there is no excuse for people who haven’t done their parts... and what those implications are for people of other religions.

The Revelations of God

How has God revealed himself to us?

God has revealed himself in Scripture — but not just in Scripture. I’ve identified eleven ways that God reveals himself. To form a hardy Christian worldview, we must embrace all of them.

  1. The most well-known way God has revealed himself is in the Bible. This sixty-six-book collection is sometimes called Scripture, God’s word, God’s written revelation — and God’s special revelation. But since this is God’s only written revelation, I cannot overemphasize its importance (Psalm 119:105; Hebrews 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16).
  2. God also reveals himself through the things he created. We call this his “general” revelation to differentiate it from his “special” revelation, the Bible. Since all the following revelations have to do with God’s creation, they are often included under the “general” category, but I find describing them separately to be more useful (Genesis 1:1; Romans 1:18-20; Hebrews 11:3).
  3. God also reveals himself through the human conscience. This is his moral revelation. Morality is ubiquitous among humankind! When an atheist argues against the existence of God using the idea that a loving God wouldn’t allow murder, he is applying moral judgments. The problem is — in the absence of God — there is no objective morality! — so their argument fails. Without God, murder is not wrong in itself. It is customarily.. and customs are merely collective arbitrary opinions (Jeremiah 31:33; Matthew 5:48; Acts 28:4; Romans 2:14-15).
  4. God reveals himself through the Holy Spirit. This is a spiritual revelation. The Holy Spirit works in the world to convict people of sin. But (arguably) more importantly, he indwells believers, giving them veridical proof that they are children of God. He also helps them understand Scripture and supplies gifts for their work in the Church and wisdom when they engage with the world (John 1:12; 14:26; Romans 8:14-15; Revelation 2:7; 22:17).
  5. God reveals himself through the gospel. This is a salvific revelation. People think that God will accept them if they live good lives in the main… and they’d be wrong. People are saved through the atoning death of Jesus Christ. That is the gospel. That is the salvific revelation of God (Mark 16:15; John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-10).
  6. God has revealed himself through the birth of the person Jesus Christ. This is a living revelation (John 1:1; John 4:13-14; 1 John 5:11-13; Luke 2:1-21).
  7. God reveals himself through the continual revelation of Jesus Christ. This is different from the living revelation where God provided Jesus to the world through the virgin birth. This is also more specific than the spiritual revelation. This is God the Father taking care of the world’s most important business personally.
    You see, God wants everyone to believe in the one he sent (John 6:29), so he is proactive in drawing everyone to him. He is not merely letting everyone figure out Jesus for themselves. There’s more going on than that. The Father is proactively drawing people to Jesus (John 6:44).
  8. God also reveals himself through human intelligence. This is a philosophical revelation (Isaiah 1:18; Romans 1:20; James 1:5).
  9. God reveals himself by writing eternity in our hearts. This is a metaphysical revelation (Ecclesiastes 3:11; Romans 11:33).
  10. God reveals himself through the free will of humankind. We humans have self-awareness and agency. This is an ontological revelation. In my opinion, this is part of being made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26). But also, these would be basic requirements for subduing creation (Genesis 1:28; Joshua 24:15; Galatians 5:16-17; Revelation 3:20: 22:11).
  11. God reveals himself through direct revelation. The Bible shows God sending people information in dreams, visions and direct words. He did this to people like Abraham, Moses and the prophets of old. He continued this in the New Testament to the disciples of Jesus Christ — but perhaps most notably to the Apostle Paul (1 Chronicles 17:15; 1 Corinthians 7:10, 12, 25; 15:8; Galatians 1:12). This is where a lot of the Bible comes from.
    But note this well: Scripture did not capture every word spoken by God to every person or every historical detail of their lives. That was not its purpose. It did, however, capture everything that God wanted us to have in writing.
    Note also that our official position is that this still can occur — particularly in churches that are underserved by Scripture. But the Mainsail churches are served well by Scripture and by teaching… so don’t look for this type of thing… and if it shows up, be suspicious.

Close

I have shared eleven ways that God reveals himself — and eleven is a lot! So I agree with Paul that people are “without excuse” (Romans 1:20). God has loaded both the physical and the metaphysical creation with enough information for people to see his power, his deity and his provision. So, when they “miss” it, they have no credible excuse.

But it’s not so much that unbelievers are “missing” God. They are dis-missing God. That’s a whole other animal. Jesus too taught that such people were without excuse.

“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’” (John 15:22–25, NIV)

God balanced his revelations so that people with true free will can truly choose. It is not irresistibly apparent that he exists — and God could have made such a world! Instead, he made one that engages every aspect of who we are — who we are made to be. All of creation is optimized to engage with the free will of humankind as are all of God’s revelations.

Now, God understands that we will have seasons of ignorance (Acts 17:23, Hebrews 9:7). That’s part of the human condition. He established the Church to help overcome that! (Matthew 28:18-20). But dismissing God is not ignorance — it’s arrogance… and the penalty for dismissing God’s revelations is as severe as it gets (Mark 3:28).

Let me share one more idea in closing. You do not seem to be “sold” on the Christian idea of God. So let’s set Christianity aside for a moment and just think philosophically. The God we see in Scripture, physics and philosophy is by any reasonable definition “the greatest possible being.” So, here’s the thing.

If it is possible for a maximally great being to exist — and you affirmed this possibility by postulating his existence through the tulpa effect — then a maximally great being exists... and the God who is the author of those 11 revelations sounds like the perfect candidate for a maximally great being.

But this assertion is not based on the Bible. It is based in pure logic... on the Ontological Argument For The Existence Of God... one of the many extra-biblical arguments for the existence of God.

I’m inviting you to think about this some more. I have a list of five-minute videos, many of which are extra-biblical reasons to consider the biblical God. To see this list, click here. But either way, God bless you.

 

(Mainsail Ministries articles often have a preamble where I discuss the thinking that went into them. These are called Monday Musings — and if you haven’t read the one associated with this article — consider doing so at the following link: 20220509 Is God a result of the tulpa effect? ).

(For comments, or to join the Monday Musings mailing list, contact us at mainsailep@gmail.com. To submit a question about God, the Bible or the Christian culture, click here.)