Also see the followup post: Belief in God is More Fun.
Thanks to the wonderful writer Ian North for sparking this intriguing question. If we use the continuing definition from “Atheism is Too Silly“, we can think about why a god might care about the human race or life in general.
My simplest definition of “god” is immortal creator. I use “immortal” to mean an entity that exists either outside of our dimension of time or exists with such ubiquity through time that it is irrelevant to consider existence without it. A creator is something that through natural processes tries to organize reality in favor of a continued existence of the creator. In this sense, even ideas that perpetuate themselves can be considered a type of creator. They are not physical, but they operate through physical bodies.
Why would an immortal creator care about you? To think about the immortal part, consider if you write a computer program to simulate a model of reality. If a program runs for only a subset of our time, we are immortal compared to it. Thus even if we are immortal we can still care about temporal entities.
I think the most compelling reason for a god to be intrigued by our existence is because it teaches something. I’m not defining a god to be perfect or complete, only immortal and creative, so it can certainly grow.
We, like gods, are creative beings that want to learn and have fun. For instance, we run simulations of reality in order to find out more about our universe and existence. We are interested in molecular biology and neuroscience because it helps us learn more about ourselves. It helps us learn how to improve our own biological machines.
We care about extinct animals. They help understand our fragile global ecosystem. They give us a simple awe about the infinite layers of intricacy that life has.
We curate zoos and museums and art and cultures. These are all the products of life. Why wouldn’t an immortal creator be interested in you? Something you’ve done probably has some interesting component to it.
The adjacent possible of biology and life is probably infinite. Proteins are the building blocks of life. They have three-dimensional folding patterns and the potential ways they can interact is incredible because of all the ways they can bend and fit together. Foldit is a program to help research protein folding and says, “The number of different ways even a small protein can fold is astronomical because there are so many degrees of freedom.”
Let’s get just a little more perspective on the ways life can interact. There are twenty amino acids that can be connected together to fold and form a protein. These proteins can be of any length. The current longest known protein contains 26,926 amino acids. If you take 20 to the power of twenty-seven thousand you get an incredibly large number, more than the number of stars in the observable universe. Take all those proteins interacting to make a cell, a tissue, an organ, a creature, a species, an ecosystem. At every level, from atom to ecosystem, the pieces are interacting with the pieces of every other level. Think of all the different ways these millions of billions of billions of different interactions can occur. Something interesting is going on in all that interaction.
Even besides learning, consider the pure fun of entertainment and consider what an immortal creator might find amusing. Instead of the short attention spans we have, immortal beings might think on galactic time-scales or play interstellar games.
Is there any way to prove any of this? No. There probably isn’t any way to “prove” anything. You have to choose what you want to accept.
I choose to believe because it makes life more fun. It imparts a meaning to any mundane action. I choose to believe because it makes life more interesting.
Why would a god care about you? Because you teach it something.