The following is adapted from a correspondence with a professing atheist.
atheist: I’d find the idea of a “hands-off” god who’d simply create the universe and then let it be, easier to swallow than the interventionist character from the Bible. But then, such a hands-off god is simply a way to explain (for now) the creation of the universe and we don’t really need a complex “godlike” entity for that, so we’d simply abstract him away and be left with a universe that simply is.
The original “hands off” god (the deistic god) has been out of favor for some time but variations and modifications of “Mr. Hands-off” are wildly popular. He is found in such religions as Mormonism, JWism (Jehovah’s Witness), Roman Catholicism, Arminianism, semi-Pelagianism, and Pelagianism.
Then there are those who are referred to by some as “Calvinist” or “Reformed.” The aforementioned would utterly repudiate a free-will-ish “hands off” god. They would repudiate the idea that god gives man free will, as held by most false religionists. Yet despite this, they have their very own version of a “hands off” god:
The “reformers” (and I’m NOT one) and those who hold to such reformed confessions as the wicked Westminster Confession of Faith say that there are at least some things that God does not cause, but rather “permits”, “allows”, or “lets happen.” They would say regarding the reprobates’ unbelief that God “lets them alone,” “leaves them to their own devices,” or in other words “hands off.” These fashionable Calvinists have their own version of a modified or semi-deistic god who controls and actively causes some things, while regarding the sin and unbelief of man, he merely “permits.” Thus, they believe in a “god” who is only “partially sovereign.”
This idea of “permission” is only possible where there is an independent force, or an independent power. But this is NOT the situation in the case of God and the universe. Nothing in the universe can be independent of the Omnipotent Creator, for in Him we live and move and exist (Acts 17:28). Therefore the idea of “permission” makes no sense when applied to the God of the Bible.