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Let's face it: You are The ultimate God

You created the universe, including its physical laws. You created the stars and alligned them in specific order. You created the solar system where the planets are in order as you wish.

You brought life to one (or more) planet(s) in that solar system and did fiddle with evolution for so long it produced intelligent life.

Maybe you even created other Gods and Goddesses for that intelligent species to believe in. Or you let them all be just atheists. But there is one ultimate truth: In Worldbuilding, you are the ultimate God.

Well, at least in meaning: The one who created it all, the one who knows everything about the universe and the one who has ultimate power about that universe.

In my own case, I am playing with the idea of admitting the idea by having only one God in my world. Myselves.

But the thing is, I am benevolent creator. I would like people to have the right to completely disbilieve into me and reject the idea of ultimate creator of All.

On the other hand, I would like to keep believers happy and give them signs that I exist (last time I checked, I did exist).

How can I achieve this task?

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    $\begingroup$ Well, if you exist and are part of nature and science then there is no reason for atheism, not more than agravitation today. But then the whole concept of "believe" doesn't make sense anymore. If you as an omnipotent being want to please some groups more than others (or even strike at the others) it boils down to an economic decision if one wants to follow your cult and do the chores or not. Does it pay? Kind of like an insurance or a club membership. $\endgroup$ – his Dec 20 '15 at 11:23
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    $\begingroup$ Since you have complete power over the world, keeping them happy should be simple. You know what makes them happy, and you can give it to them. The fact that everything goes in their way will be seen as enough evidence by them to prove your existence. Of course if you are a truly benevolent god, you'll also try to make the non-believers happy, so the believers cannot convince the non-believers since those can point out that their life is just as good without believing. $\endgroup$ – celtschk Dec 20 '15 at 11:36
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    $\begingroup$ Give them free will ! $\endgroup$ – Kii Dec 20 '15 at 13:43
  • $\begingroup$ This is essentially the theme of this TVTropes article. $\endgroup$ – March Ho Dec 20 '15 at 14:01
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    $\begingroup$ @PavelJanicek You have already succeeded. Reread your last comment. QED. $\endgroup$ – CAgrippa Dec 21 '15 at 10:30
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Note: Many theologians, priests, rabbis, imams, and believers in God can argue that your situation mirrors life right now. I feel the Worldbuilding Stack Exchange is not the place for this religious discussion. This answer will attempt to answer your question and nothing more; rephrasing this question and posting on Mi Yodeya, Christianity, or Islam SE may yield more insight into this.

It seems you have several attributes for your deity that you want to enforce. Among which:

  • Freedom to choose and of belief is granted to intelligent beings
  • Allow for reasonable deniability of the creator's existence

(I should mention that the groups mentioned in the starting note may say things about why it is this way, but that's not here nor there for the scope of this answer.)

This is actually easy; this deity ought to give believers miracles which is in line with their faith and that god's will. However:

  • These "miracles" need not be supernatural occurrences, but unexpected or direly needed by your believers.
  • To retain reasonable deniability, not everything should go their way. That is, the more subject believers are to forces and events that occur to everyone, the better.

The key here is that the miracles in question can be explained by "scientific" or "rational" thought. If a person can just as easily look at isolated incidents and say "that was chance" or "it just happened to be that way" as say "that was my god," then people can argue for and against the existence of that god. This can result in the same problem posed by the Bielefeld Conspiracy, except it's a deity and not a town in Germany; how do you prove that something exists without witnessing it?

What About Science?

If this god wants to avoid being exposed by scientific inquiry, you simply need to avoid repeatable responses and bring your miracles about by mundane, natural-law abiding means. My wife is a grade school science teacher, and the public-school approved curriculum teaches that things which cannot be repeated are not fit for scientific inquiry. (As another side note; lack of repeatability may be why psychologists have such trouble replicating results.)

Reliance On Deniability

Of course, you shouldn't ever discount people's ability to deny. Some people just don't seem to accept some things even though it stares them in the face. People can by annoyingly or unreasonably skeptical, especially when suffering an existential crisis. After all, if you're unsure if you exist, how can you determine if something else does?

Also, remember the Bielefeld Conspiracy! Non-believers can engage in many of the same type of arguments for the non-existence of deity as well as Bielefeld. Maybe all the believers are in on some big trick against nonbelievers? Perhaps the miracles never happened! Pictures and other evidence can be falsified. The list goes on. (Also consider Clark's third law: "Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Maybe the believers or other miracle-workers used technology!)

In Conclusion

A deity must not do much to leave room for doubt; simply giving free will to its creations, working within natural law, and not publicly revealing itself may be enough.

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I'm going to take a page from D&D here. (Specifically, the Pathfinder Golarion setting, although this may have been inherited from previous settings.)

In a world where gods (or a God) incontrovertibly exist, denying their existence is equivalent to denying that the sun comes up in the east: You can claim it, and totally believe it, but you're objectively wrong. In the D&D settings, there's all kinds of proof that gods exist - clerics draw their power from them, divine servants show up all over, and even the gods themselves might be encountered in disguise.

Instead, in a setting like that, an athiest believes that the "gods" aren't actually divine. They're just beings with powers far beyond those of ordinary mortals.

Rather than outright disbelieving in gods whose existence is a matter of hard fact, atheists in Golarion instead deny that the gods are truly divine and thus not deserving of worship or blind faith. Thus, atheists may be classed as dystheists or misotheists.

The same can be applied to your world. You clearly exist. Not believing that you exist is absurd. But believing that you're some kind of superpowerful alien, or time traveller, or hyper-evolved being, or other way-beyond-human-understanding creature is perfectly valid. After all, while you can prove you exist, you can't prove that you created everything. Nor can you prove that you're omnipotent or omniscient. All you can prove is that you're more powerful and more knowing than they are.

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Well, just as it's impossible to prove there is no God, it's also impossible to prove there is a God!

How does God prove He's God? He could appear in the sky as a giant figure and speak to us, predict the future, tell each of us our own private secrets we've never told anyone, turn water into wine, and all the rest of the magic tricks we associate with God, turn the earth into 7 billion pieces and send us all off into space on our private rocks in different directions and join us together again and have us survive the experience to tell each other about it.

But all that could be achieved by someone powerful enough to fake it! In other words, someone with enough power over the human mind, who could cause vivid hallucinations and read our thoughts (or even just make us think they've read our thoughts like the "link to file:///C:/ " trick). Any power beyond the ability to do that is impossible for a human to observe.

Atheists know this, so they simply say that there's a trickster (perhaps alien, perhaps a government conspiracy, etc. ) out there doing this to us to make us think there's a God.

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I agree with Pipper's answer, but would like to add/emphasize:

Perform miracles that leave no evidence, but rarely and only in front of believers. If you keep the effect localized, and leave no scientific proof (and actually proving things to scientists requires extremely solid evidence) then you can cure cancer, raise the dead, smite evildoers, provide a variety of blessings, etc. Just erase the video and make the photos all come out blurry, so to speak. Disbelief is very resilient. If a skeptic meets someone who looks like someone they thought was dead, they will not believe it's a miracle but a cruel hoax or merely an extremely similar looking person, as an example.

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This is perhaps less of an answer, and more, some thoughts to consider when attempting as you propose.

The main difference between you, the World Builder, and any traditional idea of a god is the reason you are making the world and its peoples.

A deity in your world would likely have in-world reasons to do what they are doing. You can write those in however you like, be they altruistic, malevolent, or benign.

But you, the World Builder, despite how you might craft internal reasons for making the world and wanting to make people happy, you are from beyond that world. You are from a world in which you have your own mortal trials and issues. You are likely writing their world to be something enjoyable to read, which means intentionally creating conflicts that the people in that world will not enjoy. You are likely writing their world to appease some internal desires and fears of your own life.

Furthermore, you do not know everything in their world like one of their deities supposedly would, you only know of it that which you have thus far created (and even then, you probably should check your notes from time to time to avoid retcon). You do not know a character's thoughts, you create their thoughts.

Every character is, to some significant degree, an avatar of the World Builder. Even the atheists are the World Builder themselves, not believing in you because you decided they shouldn't.

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You are the creator, not only of the world, but also of the people in it. So instill within them, a healthy dose of self-serving hypocracy. (very much like we have in this real world).

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  • $\begingroup$ How exactly could hypocrisy ensure the existence of atheist in a world where the god is clearly real? $\endgroup$ – user8808 Dec 21 '15 at 14:33
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, I ran out of time after I started that answer and should have deleted the unfinished bit instead of posting it. My concept was that hypocrites regularly claim one set of beliefs while their actions demonstrate a different, sometimes contradictory set of beliefs. In this way, a scientist might claim to serve the perceived facts but really ignore those facts when they contradict his world view. In this way, he could remain an atheist even when proof of a god was evident. $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Dec 21 '15 at 15:21
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A person of faith may very well be skeptical and convinced that this entity is a fraud (man-made) if it were to present itself even in an obvious manner, and an atheist may very well be convinced rather easily if it were to present sufficient evidence that was observable by the atheist.

You can't really ensure that this can't happen, since various people have different thresholds for sufficient evidence, different levels of bias, and different personalities.

However, you're God. You can have a bi-directional dialogue with religious people and make it so only religious people can see or hear you. Optionally, you can make it so when they're communicating with you, no one else can witness that communication. You could even make it so your miracles, words, and actions differ based on the religion of the witness.

Such an illusion was performed in the book/film Left Behind (albeit by the Antichrist) when he1

Spoiler

Executes two men, but everyone except for the Christian in the room sees that one of the men shoots the other man and then himself, an illusion by the Antichrist.

Conceivably, if it's within the scope of a supernatural power to do this, it's a good way of pleasing all the religious people of the world but at the same time giving freedom to disbelieve to the atheist. Doxastic involuntarism (whether involuntarism or voluntarism is the way of the world is outside of the scope of this SE) insists that we not give evidence to the atheist.

Since all observable phenomena would be impossible to record, there would be no observation to make therefore it would be outside of the scientific method.

With such a powerful tool of controlled censorship, as God you have a lot more leeway and time to convince your believers with whatever signs they're looking for, based on their individual desires to see it. You can do this for atheists, as well, if they're looking for you.

1 The assumption here is that if it's within the abilities of the bad guy, it's within the abilities of the good guy.

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