Posted by: Phil Anderson | May 6, 2013

What It’s Not Like to be God

A while back I wrote a post on what it’s like to be God. As a writer of fiction, I create characters and the world they live in, and I have sovereign control over everything that happens to them. The more I think about it and the more I write, the better I like the analogy. But I’ve also found many flaws in it because, like every analogy, it’s not perfect.

The main point to recognize is that the analogy is not reflexive or reciprocal. Being a writer is like being God, but God is not like a writer. And the difference can be summed up in one statement: my purpose in writing is completely different from God’s purpose.

My goal when I create is to tell an entertaining or interesting tale for someone else to enjoy. God has other intentions in his creation; there’s no audience to be entertained by our lives.

I don’t desire a personal relationship with my characters. I don’t intend for them to even acknowledge me. A few years ago there was a movie called Stranger Than Fiction in which the protagonist discovered that he was a character in a book, and he sought out the author hoping to convince her not to kill him off. The author in turn was disturbed to learn that he was a real person. God made mankind, intending to interact with us, for the very purpose that we should recognize him and know him personally.

My characters exist to move the plot forward and their motivation is only important in that it makes their actions believable. But I believe that God has more interest in our character and attitude than in what we actually do. For example, the fact that I am very active in my church is not impressive to God because there are any number of other people that he could put in my position. But he is concerned with why I serve, whether it is for the praise and accolades of those around me or because I acknowledge my debt to him for my very existence and want to accomplish what I believe to be his will.

As much as I am attached to my creations and am interested in what they think and do, I don’t hesitate to delete them out of existence if they become extraneous or kill them if it meets the needs of the story. However, as God’s creations, we do not cease to be when our time on earth has ended. Life continues after death, and the quality of that life depends on whether we’ve acknowledged God’s existence and followed his specific plan.

I could go on, but I’m interested to read your thoughts. Feel free to comment on what I’ve written or add your own contrasts for discussion. Existential questions are fascinating when you can share various perspectives and points-of-view. And as always please share this with anyone who may be interested.


  1. […] and how they relate to me as their “god” (see What It’s Like to Be God and What It’s Not Like). I don’t want to be worshiped by my characters, and they don’t have free will nor […]

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