This has been rattling around in my head for a while, so I thought I’d write it down. It’s the Three Laws of Imaginary Gods. I’ll put the laws below the fold, but what’s interesting about them is that all gods obey them. You can believe that one or more of these gods might be real, and you can imagine all sorts of perfectly logical reasons why they might want to obey the Three Laws voluntarily, but the fact remains that you will never see any of these gods disobey any of these laws. And that’s interesting, don’t you think?
The Three Laws of Imaginary Gods are as follows.
The First Law: Your god(s) can do anything you can imagine, in the stories, legends, rumors, and hearsay that believers share about Him/Her/It/Them, whether or not it is consistent with anything else you imagine concerning your god(s).
The Second Law: You can give your god(s) credit/responsibility for any real-world event or phenomenon, or not, however you see fit, whether or not it is consistent with anything else you say about your god(s).
The Third Law: Your god(s) cannot do anything in the real world that cannot be accomplished by imagination alone, apart from the efforts and assistance of real persons.
The fundamental nature of real things is that they are consistent with reality, which means first and foremost that they are consistent with themselves. Imaginary gods, however, are not real, and are thus under no obligation to be consistent with anything, not even with themselves. This is what gives rise to the First and Second Laws: they are under no constraints to be consistent with anything, and therefore you can imagine anything you like about them, and can give them credit for any real-world event you like, whether or not it’s consistent with anything else you believe about the character, motives, or methods of your god(s).
The one limitation of imaginary gods, of course, is that they are the product of human imagination, and thus their abilities are limited to what human imagination can produce. You can imagine a god so powerful he can move mountains with a single word, and in your imagination and in the stories you share about him, he really can move mountains. But in the real world, you cannot move mountains by imagination alone, and therefore your god’s mountain-moving power won’t work in the real world. In fact, your god couldn’t pick up a dollar bill lying on the sidewalk in the real world. He only exists in your imagination, and he can only act on things in your imagination. You can wait for something natural to happen to the mountain, and then use the Second Law to give your god credit for what happened, but until it does happen, your god has no power against it at all.
Or to use another example, you can imagine a god so wise and wonderful that he knows how to cure every form of cancer there is. In your imagination, he can possess all knowledge and wisdom, and know exactly how to fix everything that’s wrong with the world. But you cannot, by imagination alone, discover what any of those solutions really would be, and therefore your god cannot tell you how to cure cancer. You can imagine him having all kinds of interesting reasons why he does not want to share the secret of curing cancer (in obedience to the First Law), but he can never break the Third Law by revealing to you anything more than you can imagine. Or again, you can work and study and experiment until you figure out a workable answer, and then give your god credit, because that’s consistent with the Second Law. But he cannot break the Third Law, because he’s only an imaginary god, and he has no power or information that you did not give to him by your imagination.
So like I said, what’s interesting about these laws is that all gods obey them. No matter how real you think any god might be, he/she/it/they are always going to obey the Three Laws. You can attribute this to the inscrutability of divine wisdom, or to some wonderful, secret plan, or whatever you like, as permitted by the First Law. But the fact remains that all gods obey the same Three Laws, and we need to make our plans accordingly.