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God's Omnipotence


Hornet
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I don't think that God's omnipotence should be understood as the ability to do anything because there are some things that God cannot do such as commit evil. I think that God's omnipotence should be understood as unlimited power. If God has unlimited power, then this would entail that He cannot do certain things. If God has unlimited power then He has no weaknesses. He cannot do certain things that would show a weakness.

 

If God cannot make a square circle does this mean that He does not have unlimited power? No. The reason why He cannot do it is because that task is self-contradictory, not because He is lacking in power.

Edited by Hornet
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Based on my understanding of theodicy (the relationship between God and evil) I do not believe that God is omnipotent in any way that I have ever seen described. In addition, I have the notion, derived from process theology, that God's power is more persuasive than controlling.

Edited by grampawombat
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The problem of evil is to my mind the greatest obstacle in believing in God's omnipotence. Or believing in God's existence at all. I have personally never encountered an argument which proved to my satisfaction how God, traditionally described, can co-exist with evil. To my mind this leaves two options, the first is what grampawombat describes: that God is indeed not omnipotent; the second, that God is either not at all personal or is not personal in the way that we usually think of persons. I fall somewhere in the second option. Somewhere, depending on my mood I suppose.

 

Peace to you,

Mike

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I think we need to (and have been for some time) need to re-think/redefine divine omnipotence. I don't think of God being able to do whatever god wants (raw power). Rather, to say that God is omnipotent and then to identify that God with Love (and not any love but the love exemplified on the cross) is to say that the ultimate power in the universe is that of a power-relinquishing love. And it is only through that kind of love that the kingdom of God is born.

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If God is believed to be a supernatural sentient being who intervenes with the universe, then I think Epicurus was right that a god who is incapable or unwilling to remove evil is not a god worth worshiping. But if we see "God" as the natural universe itself, then God is all-knowing in the sense that all of Nature is connected and the actions we cause to Nature effect nature and how Nature responds effects us if I'm making sense.

Edited by Neon Genesis
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Jakob Boehme felt that God wanted to know God's self; thus creation began. We are other to God. God is inherently unable to act in creation except perhaps by the pull of love.

 

from the secular world

"We are a way for the Cosmos to know itself."

Carl Sagan

 

May be that's how it is.

 

Take Care

 

Dutch

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Jakob Boehme felt that God wanted to know God's self; thus creation began. We are other to God. God is inherently unable to act in creation except perhaps by the pull of love.

 

from the secular world

"We are a way for the Cosmos to know itself."

Carl Sagan

 

May be that's how it is.

 

Take Care

 

Dutch

 

Ever since you first expressed this idea on the board I have found it very intriguing and appealing. Thanks Dutch.

 

Peace,

Mike

Edited by Mike
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  • 5 weeks later...

God's omnipotence is His having ALL power.

 

To me, 'coexist' implies a peaceful togetherness and some sort of equality while existing at the same time; like- milk and honey, which coexist; not like- snakes and mice, which don't.

 

In that sense, God and evil do not coexist.

-

 

Mike appears to be on the right track. It seems to me the question might also be asked this way: if God is a good and omnipotent God, how can evil exist at the same time? How can we dare say then, that God is a good God?

 

As Joseph is oft to say: just something for you to consder.

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To me, power is potential or the source of ALL. If God is seen as somewhere near Mike's second option, which i would share also, then evil in a sense uses that potential without making God a partaker in the sense of the word used as one who is taking part in. While the word coexist implies living in peace with another, i don't personally feel this word 'coexist' can be used accurately with God and evil.

 

On the lighter side..... To me, snakes and mice do coexist here in a delicate balance. Of course when the snake is hungry he/she will use the mice for food. biggrin.gif And that moment some might say they are not peacefully coexisting but it depends if you are looking at this from the snakes perspective or not. To the snake it is natural and peaceful enough and he will enjoy digesting his meal in peace with no animosity towards that mouse or other mice in the area. In fact the snake is most thankful that the mouse coexists in the same territory. biggrin.gif There is no evil in this.

 

Joseph

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I think I see what Hornet is driving toward, and with that thinking, I agree with you, Hornet.

God cannot do evil, because evil is contradictory to His character. Evil contradicts, as in- disobeys, God.

--

 

I believe, rather than using a word that implies other sources of power, I need it understood that I believe God has all power, rather than just an unlimited power.

--

 

If anyone wishes to hold to the concept of an impersonal beginning, it seems their language should be consistent with that belief.

To begin with the impersonal, the universe happens only by chance and is totally silent concerning any such words as good and evil.

With an impersonal beginning, everything is finally equal in the area of good and evil. Eventually 'good and evil' is just another form of metaphysics. They disappear and become only one philosophic area rather than two. In that reality, good and evil have no meaning in what exists.

 

 

By knowing good and evil exist and have meaning, we must begin with something other than the impersonal to explain it.

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Guest billmc

From my point-of-view, while there is certainly something in this universe from which it came that holds all things together, call that the ‘power of God’ if you like, the kind of ‘power of God’ demonstrated in the life and love of Jesus was not of the Cecil B. Demille ‘Wow-Factor’ flavor. Granted, according to a literal reading of the gospels Jesus did some amazing things for individuals, but let’s face it, he didn’t fix everything. We can debate whether or not he was ‘God in the flesh,’ but the fact remains that despite his Inaugural Address lifted from Isaiah, he didn’t eliminate all poverty, feed all the poor, heal all sickness and physical ailments, set all captives free, or establish a physical kingdom here on earth with all Romans excluded. It is no wonder that if the Jews were looking for a messiah to literally do all these things, Jesus failed in this regard and died with a mocking ‘King of the Jews’ sign nailed over his head. From a literal standpoint, Jesus as a messiah was a failure. Successful messiahs, as the book of Revelation portrays them, don’t die, they kill those that stand in their way of ‘the power of God.’

 

Davidk said that he wondered how PCs see the love of God demonstrated in Jesus’ death on the cross, though Davidk said the question might be better left as rhetorical. I think the subject is worthy of discussion. In fact, I would be interested in hearing how ‘the power of God’ was demonstrated on the cross from an ontological viewpoint. How did the cross actually change anything? Did it? What did it change? How do we know? My own answer is quite mundane and very anti-Wow-Factor. But I think it is simple and speaks beautifully of Jesus’ sacrifice. But…I’d like to hear what others think. The apostle Paul insists that God’s power is really seen in the cross of Christ. What does he mean by this? What did the cross really change in our world? How is God's omnipotence seen in the cross?

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To begin with the impersonal, the universe happens only by chance and is totally silent concerning any such words as good and evil.

What evidence do you have that an impersonal beginning leads to nihilism? On the other hand, there are plenty of instances throughout the bible where the Israelites used a personal god to justify committing immoral actions.
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David,

 

If anyone wishes to hold to the concept of an impersonal beginning . . . everything is finally equal in the area of good and evil.

 

On my side of the great divide :D

 

In an evolving creation the beginning and the end are not the same; just as the planet, universe, flora, fauna and organizaton change over time so do ideas, values, and morality. These shared values, morality and ideas have a significant claim on our lives and are not without meaning.

 

Possibly there is an impersonal beginning and a personal end.

 

Take Care,

 

Dutch

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If God were omnipotent, I don't think God would be constrained by human language.

 

"Pronunciation: \-tənt\

Function: adjective

Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin omnipotent-, omnipotens, from omni- + potent-, potens potent

Date: 14th century

1 often capitalized : almighty 1

2 : having virtually unlimited authority or influence <an omnipotent ruler>

3 obsolete : arrant

 

— om·nip·o·tent·ly adverb

 

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/omnipotent

 

... 'power' is a human construct with some very nasty connotations.

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I do wonder.

I wonder why- not how, if "Progressives tend to see Jesus' death as more of a symbol of self-sacrificing love." .

 

God is all powerful, omnipotent.

God gave us free will, but free will doesn't "make the rules".

Paul says God came to earth in manly form for us to believe. We are to choose either to accept the gift of God's sufficient and perfected path; or to reject His to follow our own.

Given that God is truly all powerful, which path do you suppose will contain the greater possibility of ending in success?

As Paul said, the cross exposes to us, on a very personal level, God's power.

--

 

I believe these things concerning morality do have meaning. But, an impersonal beginning cannot provide the sufficient 'why'.

 

This impersonality, whether mass, energy, energy particles, or motion, all are just as equally impersonal. The problem is, from an impersonal beginning, to find any meaning for any particular factor, any individual thing- the seperate parts of the whole.

 

Beginning with the impersonal, everything, including man, must be explained in terms of the impersonal plus time plus chance. Everything there is, from man to the stars, is finally understood by reducing it to the original, impersonal factor, or factors (mass, energy, energy particles, or motion).

 

No other factors would exist.

 

The complexity of the universe and the personality of man has never been demonstrated how they can emerge from the impersonal, so there is no meaning for the individual in existence. Everything would begin and end on a single note. Morals would have no meaning. Freedom would have no meaning. Man's personality would have no meaning. All would be pointless.

 

There is another possible answer for what exists.

 

It seems there is an urge to agree on the personal beginning when Mike and XianAnarchist agreed with Dutch, who agreed with Jakob Boehme, who "felt that God wanted to know God's self". There are other numerous references, from progressives, attributing God with personaity traits .

 

There is no sustainable argument explaining how man's personality can come from an impersonal speck.

Edited by davidk
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Guest billmc

I do wonder.

I wonder why- not how, if "Progressives tend to see Jesus' death as more of a symbol of self-sacrificing love." .

 

I'll take a crack at this, Davidk, but solely from the gospel's historical view without all the metaphysical/spiritual stuff Paul later added.

 

Jesus was the leader of a movement that was growing and gain public notice. People were responding to his 'good news' that God loved all and that such love could actually change things here on earth. But any movement, whether political or religious, was going to be watched closely by the Romans for signs of rebellion. And when Jesus 'cleansed the Temple,' the Temple leaders plotted to have him killed. Under Roman law, the Jewish leadership could not execute anyone. So they appealed to the ruling Romans and had him brought up on false charges of insurrection against Rome itself.

 

Here is what is important: The Jewish leaders said, "It is better that this one man die than for Rome to come and take our place." In other words, the Jewish, they still enjoy the privelege and wealth of having some authority in Israel AS LONG AS there were no rebellions. So the best way to get rid of Jesus and secure their status was to have him executed as a political threat against Rome.

 

There is no doubt that Jesus knew what happened to insurrectionists. And he knew that if Rome came against ANY uprising, they would kill EVERYONE involved. Only Caesar was lord. No other. So rather than having the Romans kill all of his followers, he went to the cross alone, he sacrificed himself to prevent Rome from slaying his followers. And his plan worked...for a while. His disciples all disbanded and went back to fishing, etc.

 

This is, of course, not the end of the story, but it shows why this Progressive views the cross as Jesus' act of self-sacrificing love. He himself put it this way: "Greater love hath no man than that he lay down his life for his friends." And that is exactly what he did. And, perhaps, that is what we are sometimes called to do.

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I will say things as if they are absolute, but they are probably not. I don't believe all things are relative - I am agnostic about absolutes. It is not a self-contradictory statement.

 

Theodicy

7Forming light, and preparing darkness, Making peace, and preparing evil, I [am] Jehovah, doing all these things.'

Isaiah 45:7 (Young's Literal Translation)

 

ALL things come from God; ALL. This is the only solution for a Theodicy that makes sense to me. There is not another source from which "evil" spews.

 

Several quotes so I can learn what I am thinking.

 

From The Ecole Initiative "Introduction to Boehme" by Edward A. Beach

http://users.erols.com/nbeach/boehme.html

 

According to [boehme], negativity, finitude, and suffering are essential aspects of the Deity, for it is only through the participatory activity of his creatures that God achieves full self-consciousness of his own nature.

...

The Deity needed to experience his epiphany in nature in order to become fully self-conscious. "In his depth," Boehme wrote, "God himself does not know what he is. For he knows no beginning, and also nothing like himself, and also no end. . . ."

...

Boehme's thesis that God's coming to self-consciousness was a genetic process led to a new model for revelation, one involving the mediation of successive creations through pre-mundane as well as worldly time. ... perhaps ... the first to attempt thinking through the historicity of the Absolute.

 

Boehme is very anthropomorphic but we start with "God himself does not know what he is." As God is becoming so is creation becoming; there is no personhood, no personality in the beginning. Being in relationship will change that. Relationship does mean that each will change over time in response to the other. I like XianAnarchist:

"the ultimate power in the universe is that of a power-relinquishing love. And it is only through that kind of love that the kingdom of God is born."

 

Perhaps that is where creation becoming and God becoming have arrived.

 

It is not the entropy of closed system resulting in chaos and non-meaning - dust; it is the evolution of complexity, meaning, significance, and value, which cannot be reduced to the dust of the beginning. Not always progressive, but certainly we can see that since "the beginning" much life is more complex. Organic from inorganic; personality from matter and energy.

 

Creation becoming is other to God becoming and in that relationship God influences but can't intervene in the instances or processes of creation.

 

May be that is the way it is.

 

Take Care

Dutch

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But then James contradicts Isaiah by saying we shouldn't blame God for temptations

13No one, when tempted, should say, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. 14But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; 15then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. 16Do not be deceived, my beloved.*
One explanation I've heard is the doctrine of open theism, the belief that God is not all-knowing and didn't know he would create evil when he created the universe.
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I should explain what I mean when I say all things come from God. In the active differentiation of creation becoming and God becoming, everything in the universe is a result of the becoming, the evolution of creation. God did not place things, processes into creation. All that that we know: tsunami and Iraq war, numinous and ecstatic experiences, the bacterial which keeps us alive and the bacteria which destroys us. All is a result of this original differentiation.

 

Take Care

 

Dutch

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Billmc,

I haven't it read it in quite same way.

 

Before being judged by Rome, Jesus was before the Sanhedrin: "And they all said, 'Are you the Son of God. then?' And He said to them, 'Yes, I am." And they said, 'What further need do we have of testimony? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.'

Then the whole body of them arose and brought Him to Pilate. And they began to accuse Him, saying,' We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.' And Pilate asked Him, saying, 'Are you the King of the Jews? And He answered him and said, 'It is as you say.' And Pilate said to the cheif priests and the multitudes, 'I find no guilt in this man.'"

Well the text in Luke 23, continues with Jesus' appearance before Herod and then again Pilate, with Pilate saying, "You brought this man to me as one who incites the people to rebellion, and behold, having examined Him before you, I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him. No, nor had Herod, for he sent Him back to us; and beheld nothing deserving death has been done by Him."

In John, more of what was said after Pilates verdict: "The Jews answered (Pilate), 'We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.'

 

Pilate made three declarations of innocence before saying to the Jews, "Behold, your King" to the chief priests, who responded saying, "We have no King but Caesar". To the priests and to those crying, "Crucify Him!", Pilate then delivered Him, to be crucified.

--

Davidk

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Dutch,

Is 45:7- The word used in Isaiaih for 'create' in this reference could be interpreted- 'cut down', depending on the context. Given the context of Isaiah, it appears "cut down" may be the more appropriate translation. i.e.; In the process of creating light, darkness is created/cut down; causing peace creates/cuts down evil.

 

You're right about the entropy problem in a closed system.

I would add that, without an influential and interevening God, the system will remain closed. So, not only would it result in non-meaning, it could not even come to exist in the first place.

 

I'd like to see Boehme's argument why he expects Man can get his personality from something that doesn't have one.

It's good that he asks the right questions of love and relationships. These questions are what we need answered.

 

Christian epistemolgy has no trouble with this. God doesn't need to create the universe to find himself, for His ability to love existed before He created. Jesus said He was with the Father since before the beginning, as was the Holy Spirit. Personality(personhood), love, and relationships pre-existed creation. God was always fully God, and quite sufficient in answering for what exists in all that He created. It gives real meaning to everything that an impersonal beginning simply cannot provide.

God must be personal before creation could exist.

--

With evolution having to begin from nothing, it simply cannot sustain any argument for anything being there.

--

Davidk

Edited by davidk
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David

 

I'd like to see Boehme's argument why he expects Man can get his personality from something that doesn't have one.

 

Boehme's dramatic description of how the Godhead manifests itself is convoluted. Whether you consider that it meets your criteria for personal I am not sure.

 

Beach's summary:

 

Boehme taught that the interaction between [the first principle] of the divine wrath, bitterness, chaos(God the Father) and [the second principle of divine] love (God the Son) produced the creative impulse out of which the manifold universe evolved. Moreover, the two cooperative forces did not cease to be productive after the universe's creation, for both are necessary also in order to sustain it. All things consist of positive and negative aspects, the divine Yes and No (SS, vol. 9, Theosophische Fragen, ch. 3, #2). In the present age, however, the first principle is no longer violent or chaotic, having been transmuted by the influence of the second principle. Indeed, Boehme's third major principle, identified with the Holy Spirit, is precisely the continual movement between the first two: It is the living breath of the cosmos (Gnaden-Wahl, ch. 1, #24; Eng. trans., #29).

 

My thinking doesn't follow Boehme's here except for the idea of a dialectic or relationship - between creation becoming and God becoming.

 

Only a personal beginning can lead to a personal result.

An impersonal beginning can only lead to an impersonal result

 

My problems with these statements are that 1) they are based on a dichotomy. Most dichotomies fail as a complete description of what is. 2) logic posing as a science is problematic and 3) used to describe God's attributes they seem anthropomorphic projections.

 

Take Care

 

Dutch

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Dutch,

First, let me say- logic is the science of the formal principles of reasoning; the interrelation or sequence of facts or events when seen as inevitable or predictable (isn't this strangely similar to how the scientific method is related to a hypotheses?)

 

Second, when Beach was summerizing, he says, "... bitterness,... and... love... produced the creative impulse out of which the manifold universe evolved."; and when he said the Holy Spirit "... is the living breath of the Cosmos", he introduces personality into the discussion.

I would suggest, by this, he understands there is a need for a personal creator diety. He says, in not so many words, that since the impersonal has no compelling force, personality(love) is needed, because it is the only possible answer for a compelling force for existence.

 

Third, being a dichotomy doesn't invalidate the premise. Both the impersonal and the personal do not fail to exist. Differentiation is alive and well.

 

Beach's summary of Boehme: asks the right questions, has similar conclusions, but hasn't appeared to fully comprehend the Christian concept.

 

Lastly; anthropomorphic projections. With God being personal first, God's personality does not fall under- anthropomorphic projection.

God's walking or having hands- does. I don't think the writers considered God physically walking like a man, but it is only how we are able understand God- in human terms. God is not a man, and he doesn't look like a man; man's likeness is essentially his having a personal and immortal spirit. Man's look is a God given differentiated adaptation for surviving in the physical environment.

--

 

Neon,

God, the personal-infinite-creator, existed since before the beginning.

--

 

Davidk

Edited by davidk
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