And yet, if you read it, it may bore you. It may be lengthy. Really really lengthy!! Don't read this unless you understand the difference between Truth and Perception. The aim here is an abstract version of Pascal's wager that does not force people to swallow any religion hook line and sinker and which incorporates all possible actionable religious systems.
Yes. So here is the Epic continuation of my black box article.
Note that this article will be using assumptions most people agree upon but some people like to disbelieve, such as "I exist" and "Pain sucks." Before I can even start I need to define a couple things. This is a bit of a work in progress so feedback is appreciated. (That is, unless you found this in a search engine and desire to flame me.)
Lets define the idea of a creator god as a being who created or helped create the Universe.
Lets define the idea of the True Creator god Set (TCGS) as that being or set of beings who are creator gods (this may be an empty set since this is a black box system).
Lets also define the idea of the Possible Creator god Set (PCGS) as any set of Creator gods whose existence is not impossible. Note that this is large. Note further that if a Creator God has all power it leads to paradoxes that do not cause that god's existence to be impossible. I'll not have people throwing unmoveable rocks at me. A truly silly argument made by people that do not truly understand the complexities of infinity.
So...here's a quick test.
What do you know about the True CGS?
Very little beyond what is defined or what we can learn from it being a black box system.
That said, lets approach this topic with some reverence.
Lets take a bad example of how to think about Black box theology.
A friend of mine (Not Unordained, this fellow is a practicing and evangelizing atheist) says "You know why I don't believe in the God of the Bible? If I were God, I wouldn't care what the little people on Earth were doing."
I'll give you all the time you need to find out why this is dumb.
Don't read on until you know. I mean it! :)
Answer: Okay so what...if I were God, I'd order pizza every day and charge it to Microsoft. The reason this is universal stupid is that it does not matter what truths would be if this fellow was God. Truly. It doesn't matter. At all. Why does this fellow think it matters? Does he assume that the God of the Bible is doing opinion polls to ensure his chances for re-election are as good as possible? I don't get to judge him, God doesn't get to judge him, but he gets to judge God's motivations? The only thing he has successfully proven is that he is not in fact God. Enough on that. :)
Hopefully we all know how to treat black box theology now. No assumptions about the nature of God that spring from your world view.
The rest is going to come pretty fast but please read carefully. If you catch yourself thinking "Yeah but...i just feel like any God who [disagrees with my preconceived notions] isn't worth my time" smack yourself.
Theory 1: The importance of the answer.
I assert that the TCGS may have punishment in mind for a certain set of people. This is to be avoided. If you disagree with my axiom that divine pain should be avoided stop reading now and go cause yourself some pain at random and then don't sue me because to you, pain is not bad. If pain is to be avoided then it is important for every one of us to study theology because powerful beings can create plenty of pain.
Theory 2: Narrowing the playing field via the necessity of Divine Revelation for Wrath Avoidance
If we're going to get anywhere, we'd better narrow the playing field for the PCGS. Since my main drive for studying theology is wrath avoidance (it is not only legal, it is adviseable, whereas wrath evasion is probably impossible) it is convenient to slice and dice the PCGS down several sizes. We do this by taking a subset of the PCGS such that the PCGS is wrathful and that wrath is avoidable by more than accident. Note that this requires knowledge of how to avoid the wrath in question; this requires Divine Revelation. See? We can get somewhere. Note that if the TCGS is wrathful and we don't know how to avoid it, or if the TCGS is not wrathful, it doesn't really matter; we can ignore these systems entirely. It also has a tendency to eliminate polytheistic systems since if the gods have equal power but disagree on principles, then evading pain becomes impossible or moot rather quickly.
Theory 3: The Necessity of Evidence
If you are like me and desire to avoid divine wrath if possible (hey, maybe some people like divine wrath) you want to study and think about theology right? Anybody? Well anyway, maybe someone does and maybe they'll read this. Note that Evolution will not save you here. Truly, Science cannot disprove most PCGS systems since Science, in any experiment it does, is assuming that there are understandable mechanisms at work. Silly silly Science. Bad Science bad. Science also assumes that there isn't some "Evil" God (note that evil by our standards may have nothing to do with any element in PCGS)("Evil" gods are very much a part of the PCGS) toying with their results for some unknown reasons. That's okay because if this is true, we're all toast anyway. So, I think we've pretty much found ourselves in the lap of religion. If the TCGS is not wrathful or if its wrath is basically unavoidable, it doesn't matter. If however the TCGS has revealed itself to mankind as to how to avoid divine wrath, then we still have this knowledge (if we don't, it's basically not avoidable). The conclusion? Study world religions. (note that if there is some poor prophet who looks to everyone else to be insane but who is indeed prophecying for the TCGS, this is essentially unavoidable wrath.) Second conclusion. Some of us believe we have found the TCGS and are desperate to help you find it too. Please don't hate us. Enlighten us if you can, but insults help no one. Third note: really study Islam (I didn't say believe it). Some of the stuff there is surprising, and watching other people mishandle it is disturbing and amusing (such as the assumption that Allah as the 9-11 terrorists (Who I think are evil) think of him cannot exist because he violates their silly humanistic (and arbitrary) notion of the Value of Human Life. This concept either stems from religion or not..but please understand that your belief in the value of human life has no impact upon truth unless it's objectively true). I find it interesting that it is silly to blindly believe in a God but not to blindly believe that you're life is truly objectively valueable.
Theory 4: Utterly Destroying Apathetic Agnosticism
One of the most common beliefs of agnostics that i have heard is "I believe that God exists, but that we can know nothing about him." That's one of the funnest, silliest statements ever. It's like saying "I know that it is impossible to know God's qualities even though (according to me) one of his qualities is Quality Unknowableness." In simpler terms, it is self defeating. The second definition exists in complete defiance of what we have learned above, that is, Theology is vitally, desperately important for anyone that doesn't like pain. IMO, no one should be agnostic. I'm pretty sure most people haven't done enough serious study to prove exhaustively that God exists and yet is unknowable.
Sidenote Theory 2: Definition of Evil and Good
Many people seem to think that their idea of good or evil impacts others. Many people are bothered by this tendancy in others while maintaining it within themselves. Futhermore, many people harbor the idea that their idea of Good or Evil have some sort of impact upon the TCGS. Lets take a look at the God of the Bible for a second (Which I am sure is not impossible). The Bible is pretty clear on the point that man is fallen. If the Bible is true, that means that it is perfectly understandable that you don't like God. In fact, it's perfectly predictable that you don't like God. You believe that man is valueable and it bothers you when God calls fire from heaven to burn 50 soldiers at a time just because they are following the orders from their king to arrest a prophet. 2 Kings, Chapter 1 (NIV) :: The Lord's Judgment on Ahaziah
Will we call God evil because we disagree with his actions? Surely not, because you don't much care for his version of Good vs Evil. You don't care for my version of Good vs Evil. Why should TCGS care what you say? Lets not bicker about definitions...lets suffice it to say that the more power a being has, the more his/her view on Good vs Evil matters since they have the power to hurt you. Note that you are not going to worm out of this by copping some sort of martyrdom tactic whereby you say "Then let them do their worst..i stand by my beliefs." If there is an Objective Good then you best find it. If not, then only power matters. And very possibly, the TCGS view of good is indeed Good since that was the definition at Creation.
That's enough for now, my brain hurts. Time to review.
Quick Note on Higher Power If any case in the above argument has a higher power (whether by death of the TCGS, or by the nature of the system) than the TCGS then we have one of three conditions. 1) This being is the one you are looking for if there is no concern about the wrath of another being. If the being's power is sufficient to save you then you're good to go. 2) A moot condition is reached where you are obligated to meet the conditions of two beings who cannot agree but neither can win and keep you safe. Kiss your buttocks goodbye. Not(the being's power is sufficient to save you).