What terms can I use for describing something as created or caused by God?

For example, if I wanted to say "There's nothing God-created about HIV" (context: someone claiming God gave gays HIV), I could say "There's nothing divine about HIV", but it feels awkward, because "divine" is commonly used to mean "good", apart from the phrase "divine retribution". Are there any more suitable alternatives? Alternatively, is "divine" acceptable?

Wiktionary lists as synonyms to "divine" the words "deific", "godlike", and "godly", but none of them seems suitable.


13 Answers 13


I believe you need a minimum of two words to convey the meaning. Then you can have :

HIV has no divine origin.

There is no divine punishment in HIV.

No divine intervention can be claimed in the appearance of HIV.

  • 6
    I think divine origin is the best fit. "There is no divine origin for HIV." Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 5:37
  • @PaulDraper: that's also my first choice for this example sentence, but as this is only an example, I think it best to show that there are actually a great many other choices.
    – Joce
    Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 8:08
  • Divine intervention might be better than divine origin. One could argue that if God exists, then everything has a divine origin. However, most theists (at least in the Western world) do believe in evolution so there can be a difference between something which was explicitly created by a divine intervention for a specific purpose as a response to human behavior (and humans have free will, according to the belief of the majority), and something which evolved naturally, even if those laws of nature were created.
    – vsz
    Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 14:13
  • These answers work well - I thought about suggesting "force majeure" or "act of God" but couldn't work them into a neat sentence related to HIV.
    – Mr_Thyroid
    Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 16:08

You could say:

There is nothing supernatural about HIV:

of, relating to, or being above or beyond what is natural; unexplainable by natural law or phenomena; abnormal.


  • 1
    Possible, but the meaning is ambiguous ... supernatural could refer either to a thing's origin (explanation), or to the thing's own nature. Still, this might be the best available answer.
    – LarsH
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 14:00
  • 15
    For clarity, you could say "There is nothing supernatural about the origin of HIV."
    – LarsH
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 14:08

I would say there is nothing providential about the virus:

1: of, relating to, or determined by Providence

2 (archaic) : marked by foresight ; prudent

3: occurring by or as if by an intervention of Providence

'There is no Providence in HIV' would be an alternate way of putting it.

Unlike "divine", there is no undercurrent of goodness over evil; at times it means lucky vs unlucky, or planned vs unplanned, but doesn't have the moral connotation.

  • I think divine providence would suit better?
    – insanity
    Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 11:23

You could use Praeternatural which refers to something that exists outside nature.

To say there is nothing praeternatural about HIV states that is is perfectly natural. In common usage, the word is often used as a synonym to exceptional.

You have avoided reference to any deity or supernatural being.


If you're referring to the creation process itself, a common phrase is "act of God." It probably doesn't work so well as "HIV is/isn't an act of God." But it works just fine as "The origin of HIV was not an act of God."


Divine adjective of, from, or like God or a god.

Divine creation or divine occurrence fit the bill pretty well. Also divine providence or simply providence:

Wikipedia: In theology, divine providence, or just providence, is God's intervention in the world. A distinction is usually made between "general providence", which refers to God's continuous upholding the existence and natural order of the universe, and "special providence", which refers to God's extraordinary intervention in the life of people.

synonyms:godly, angelic, seraphic, saintly,beatific;

  • 1
    This is the word I'd generally used for "God-created". It also has an implication of "something really good". That may or may not be helpful, depending on exactly what nuance of meaning you are shooting for.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 22:18
  • 1
    It is true that divine is usually meant to imply something good, but divine providence is used in negative connotations as well doesn't it? Such as: Your loss is so terrible that I can only explain it to myself as a special providence of God who, loving you, wishes to try you and your excellent mother. sentence.yourdictionary.com/providence
    – uday1889
    Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 3:42

Are commonly hyphenated doublets one word or two?

Standard dictionary definitions would seem to put it slightly out of register, but for your particular example, I would favour heaven-sent:

1. providentially opportune: A heaven-sent rain revived the crops. - dictionary.com

There's nothing heaven-sent about HIV.

  • 5
    This seems like it would work for good things, but not bad things like HIV.
    – J.R.
    Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 14:41

Visitation can mean a specifically divine punishment. "There is nothing visitational about HIV."

Though less awkward would be, "HIV was not visited upon us."


noun 5. A disaster or difficulty regarded as a divine punishment
"a visitation of the plague"



A.B.Woodward, in A System of Universal Science, 1816, p.231 ff, quotes a manuscript work by Vincenzo Mango, STP, in which “Theoctistics” is given as one of the chief departments of didactic science, embracing “cosmognostics, physics, chimics, and mathematics”.

Etymologically theoctistic appears to mean “god-created”; and since the word has not as far as I can discover been used since in any other sense (or indeed in any sense), I think Father Mango's title in it has lapsed by desuetude and you are free to resurrect it for your own use.


Try "there is no intelligent design in the origin of HIV". This addresses the issue of supernatural purpose rather than supernatural mechanism, and this may be what you are driving at.

However, "intelligent design" might imply more than you intend to. If you intend to allow the possibility that there are supernatural forces other than God at work, then my suggestion does not work.

  • "No intelligent design" would exclude both God and humans (and any other intelligent beings) as causes.
    – LarsH
    Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 14:56
  • 2
    "Intelligent design" is an extremely loaded term in the United States (at least) as it is intimately associated with Christian Fundamentalist–based Creationism (or anti-evolutionism). When U.S. courts found that teaching Creationism as a scientific theory in public schools constituted an "establishment of religion" (in violation of the Constitution's mandated separation of church and state), Creationists repackaged their theory as Intelligent Design—which likewise failed to pass muster under judicial interpretation of the Constitution.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 18:34
  • Good point about excluding design by humans. Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 11:53
  • Sometimes, using a loaded term is appropriate. I do take your point that the one using it should be aware that it's loaded. Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 12:07

One might coin a word: theogenic; but in your context, “There’s nothing godly about HIV” would actually sound right.

  • But protologisms (D-I-Y suggestions masquerading as acceptable words) are off-topic on ELU. Commented Jun 14 at 13:29

A more casual way is "There is no God's creating in HIV".

In general, anytime you want to refer to something "done (past participle of a verb) by someone", you can always use the noun form of the verb, "someone's doing (gerund of this verb)".

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    Commented Jun 14 at 3:42
  • 1
    This may be grammatical, but sounds outlandish. Commented Jun 14 at 13:30
  • @EdwinAshworth Yeah. I don't think it's a good example of this general pattern either. A less outlandish way is "There is no involvement of God in the creation of HIV"
    – Egret
    Commented Jun 15 at 5:09

When God directly intervenes in the affairs of humans, these are known as miracles (Merriam-Webster), so you might say "it's not miraculous". The extent that negative human consequences occur as a result of God's "plan," I feel, is a theological discussion.

  • My -1 is because a secondary meaning of miraculous is "remarkable and bringing very welcome consequences", which would not give the expression "There's nothing miraculous about HIV" the intended meaning of a lack of divine involvement. Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 10:34

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