Two Plus Two Older Archives  

Go Back   Two Plus Two Older Archives > Other Topics > Science, Math, and Philosophy

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 11-03-2005, 02:54 AM
ZeeJustin ZeeJustin is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Northern VA (near DC)
Posts: 1,213
Default The idea of God being omnicient / omnipotent confuses me

I'm an atheist, but I'd really like to understand more about what intelligent / rational believers actually believe.

I assume virtually all Christians, Jews, and Muslims believe that God is omnicient / omnipotent.

Does God have goals? motives? thoughts? plans?

If he has a goal, what is it?

I don't understand how humans could possibly be of any importance to God.

In the bible, there are several times where God puts people to tests. If he knows everything, what is the point of putting anyone to a test? He knows what the outcome will be.

If God created humans, why do they have sins? Doesn't this imply God is imperfect? Maybe it implies he doesn't want humans to be good beings. If so, why does Christianity assign such importance to humans over other animals?

Basically, I'm saying that if God is omnicient / omnipotent, what his creations do should be of no importance to them. They do what he wants them to do. There's no need for punishments or rewards or tests or anything.

I'm really hoping to get some answers other than "you have to have faith that we believe the right thing", or "it's his intention that these questions remain a mystery until after death." Those answers are just BS.

What is God capable of doing? Can he renounce his powers? I assume that God is not composed of matter. Could he manifest himself as a human being that dies like everyone else? Can he extinguish the existence of heaven?

Sorry for the lack of structure. Not all of these questions need to be answered, but I'm hoping NotReady and the other informed believers can clarify these things for me.
-ZJ
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 11-03-2005, 03:27 AM
PoBoy321 PoBoy321 is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 396
Default Re: The idea of God being omnicient / omnipotent confuses me

If there were answers to these questions, there wouldn't be a Theology department in any University in the world. That said, the simple answer is that no one really agrees on any of this stuff.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 11-03-2005, 04:00 AM
quinn quinn is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 16
Default Re: The idea of God being omnicient / omnipotent confuses me

[ QUOTE ]

I don't understand how humans could possibly be of any importance to God.


[/ QUOTE ]
Maybe it would help to consider that humans are at least the master race of planet earth. Most of our environment seems engineered for our survival and prosperity. So then it seems like God designed the earth for the prosperity of humans.

[ QUOTE ]

In the bible, there are several times where God puts people to tests. If he knows everything, what is the point of putting anyone to a test? He knows what the outcome will be.


[/ QUOTE ]

Because it helps people learn.

[ QUOTE ]

If God created humans, why do they have sins? Doesn't this imply God is imperfect? Maybe it implies he doesn't want humans to be good beings. If so, why does Christianity assign such importance to humans over other animals?


[/ QUOTE ]
To understand this, it really helps to know exactly what a sin is. A sin is something that defies the will of God. God created humans with the ability to make their own decisions, and so we have the option to defy God's will. We have sins, because we choose to.

[ QUOTE ]

Basically, I'm saying that if God is omnicient / omnipotent, what his creations do should be of no importance to them. They do what he wants them to do. There's no need for punishments or rewards or tests or anything.


[/ QUOTE ]
This all makes sense if God does not love His creation. But He does.

[ QUOTE ]

What is God capable of doing?


[/ QUOTE ]
Anything that can be done. I don't want to say "anything," because people will come up with dumb things to say like "can God make three equal two?"

[ QUOTE ]

Can he renounce his powers?


[/ QUOTE ]
God can decide not to use his powers in any particular case..
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 11-03-2005, 04:30 AM
DavidL DavidL is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 3
Default Re: The idea of God being omnicient / omnipotent confuses me

Very good questions.

Views of Christianity seem to mix a "knowledge-based doctrines-and-legalism" on the one hand, and a more "existentialist relationship-with-God/Christ" on the other. I lean heavily toward the latter.

From what I've read, this is predominantly a Poker forum, where I would expect arguments to be heavily reliant on probability, logic and philosophy. Perhaps you are seeking these types of answer to your questions; perhaps my response will disappoint you.

To hopefully give you insight into my perspective, I used to find it difficult to understand how God could forgive and forget sins (emphasis on the 'forget') and still remain omniscient. Then I read the (non-Biblical) proverb "Love is not blind it sees more, not less. But because it sees more, it is willing to see less".

God is love. Love is patient and kind. It is not envious, nor proud, nor boastful. It keeps no count of wrongs, it rejoices in the truth. It always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres. Love begs everything, but demands absolutely nothing.

God is omnipotent, but He has shelved his power sufficiently to permit the creation freedom of choice. That is to say, to freely respond in love. Love can not be coerced; it requires a free will response. If the response is negative, love gives all the more, until it can give no more; but God's capacity and desire to give are infinite, and His exhortations stop short only at violating the freedom of response.

That is the purpose of the creation: to ultimately choose eternity with God, or eternity apart from God. This is, I believe, the consummation of the 'tests' that you talk about: underlying all of the commandments and the covenants lies the question of allegiance: do we willingly side with our creator, or set ourselves apart from Him? It is not a question of breaking the rules, then, but of breaking God's heart.

Robots could have been created to forcibly obey laws, if unconditional obedience was God's priority, comprehensive proof of His omnipotence, but to the point where these automatons were effectively nothing more than an extension of God Himself.

This is the consummation of all the commandments: to "love God with all your heart, and your neighbor as you yourself would like to be loved". To give unselfishly and lavishly to others: therein lies true fulfillment, and therein one begins to assimilate the prefect character of one's creator.

Let me try to give another angle on the "existentialist" view. The Bible says on the one hand (as I've already alluded to) "God is love" and "love keeps no count of wrongs" but elsewhere "if you do not forgive your brother, your heavenly Father will not forgive you". An apparently literal contradiction, but not necessarily, if we adopt an experiential angle: "if you choose not to forgive, you will never experience the wonderful freedom and reconciliation that forgiveness brings, and you will alienate yourself from the character of the One who forgives you".

To try to answer some of your questions:
What is God capable of doing? With God, all things are possible.
Can he renounce his powers? I believe that He has, in the manner and to the extent to which I've attempted to describe.
I assume that God is not composed of matter. He is spirit, whatever that means. He is the author of life, and the creator of the substance of the universe: matter, energy and time. He is subject to no-one, thus His capacity to give is totally free.
Could he manifest himself as a human being that dies like everyone else? He has done, in the form of His Son, Jesus.
Can he extinguish the existence of heaven? I guess so, but one feels led to ask why He would want to do this.

The first will be last and the last will be first. He who humbles himself will be exalted. He who wants to be considered greatest must become the servant of all. Society admires, and indeed favors, the wealthy, the strong, the talented; but this is the great reversal: God, who had everything, emptied Himself in order that the creation could be rescued, evil conquered, and a reconciliation effected.

Am I making any sense? Many may disagree, but I find that a doctrine based faith is vulnerable to Biblical emphasis and interpretation. There are so many sects who claim to hold a monopoly on truth, yet their views on what they would consider to be key issues are divergent; they can not all be correct. That is the downside when logic and philosophy are deemed to be the essential instruments in the quest for "religious understanding". It is not about understanding; it is embracing the character of God, as exhibited in the life example of His Son.

Peace and love
David
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 11-03-2005, 04:57 AM
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: The idea of God being omnicient / omnipotent confuses me

Quick mini-derail:

[ QUOTE ]
I'm an atheist, but I'd really like to understand more about what intelligent / rational believers actually believe.

[/ QUOTE ]
You might also be interested to learn how these beliefs have changed over the centuries. It gives a fascinating perspective on the discussion, really, especially when the bible (or other texts) are quoted and used.

The most comprehensive book I've read on this is called "A History Of God" (by Karen Armstrong), and while it's not something that can be read altogether casually, it isn't a school book on history, either. It sheds some light on where the beliefs came from, and how they developed over time. What's fascinating about this, is how suddenly the seemingly random beliefs make sense - they have an origin, a cause, a reason. And the beliefs of different religions (Islam, Judaism and Christianity) are compared and shown how they have affected each other and evolved.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book.

/FP
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 11-03-2005, 05:32 AM
PrayingMantis PrayingMantis is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: 11,600 km from Vegas
Posts: 489
Default Re: The idea of God being omnicient / omnipotent confuses me

[ QUOTE ]
God is love. Love is patient and kind. It is not envious, nor proud, nor boastful.

[/ QUOTE ]

ZJ was talking about the God of Chrisitian, Jews and Muslims.

The "Jewish God", at least according to the main-stream perceptions of him, is comlpletely the opposite of what you have just described above. This should be extremely clear to anyone who have ever read the bible (the old-testament, that is). Reading it and thinking that God is love (i.e, patient and kind etc) is crazyness. Of course if you think about love as a love of say some very very strict, proud, envious and almost psychotic father, this is more in accordance with God of the old-testamant.


(Just to be clear, I don't mean this as any kind of "criticism" on the "Jewish God". I know that people here are capable of seeing it that way, but no, I'm just stating the facts. And I kind of like this specific "bearing-a-grudge-God" better anyway... The God=Love is a very boring God IMO).

You are thinking about and describing some specific version of the "Christian God", which is fine, but it certainly does not answer ZJ's general question.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 11-03-2005, 06:56 AM
addickt addickt is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 50
Default Re: The idea of God being omnicient / omnipotent confuses me

What I dont understand is this, if we can cure Impotence on earth, why in the world would God Be Impotent? He should have a cure for that if he is all knowing.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 11-03-2005, 08:40 AM
chezlaw chezlaw is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: London, England
Posts: 58
Default Re: The idea of God being omnicient / omnipotent confuses me

It always seems bizarre to me that religous folk use their claim of god's omniscience to deny god the power to make things happen at random even if he wants to.

Your post is clearly on the mark. If God is omniscient/ omnipotent in the way religous folk suggests then there can be absolutely no purpose in creating the universe.

Free god from the shackles of religon, let him cause things to happen at random, and it makes a tiny bit more sense.

chez
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 11-03-2005, 09:17 AM
txag007 txag007 is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 256
Default Re: The idea of God being omnicient / omnipotent confuses me

[ QUOTE ]
Very good questions.

Views of Christianity seem to mix a "knowledge-based doctrines-and-legalism" on the one hand, and a more "existentialist relationship-with-God/Christ" on the other. I lean heavily toward the latter.

From what I've read, this is predominantly a Poker forum, where I would expect arguments to be heavily reliant on probability, logic and philosophy. Perhaps you are seeking these types of answer to your questions; perhaps my response will disappoint you.

To hopefully give you insight into my perspective, I used to find it difficult to understand how God could forgive and forget sins (emphasis on the 'forget') and still remain omniscient. Then I read the (non-Biblical) proverb "Love is not blind it sees more, not less. But because it sees more, it is willing to see less".

God is love. Love is patient and kind. It is not envious, nor proud, nor boastful. It keeps no count of wrongs, it rejoices in the truth. It always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres. Love begs everything, but demands absolutely nothing.

God is omnipotent, but He has shelved his power sufficiently to permit the creation freedom of choice. That is to say, to freely respond in love. Love can not be coerced; it requires a free will response. If the response is negative, love gives all the more, until it can give no more; but God's capacity and desire to give are infinite, and His exhortations stop short only at violating the freedom of response.

That is the purpose of the creation: to ultimately choose eternity with God, or eternity apart from God. This is, I believe, the consummation of the 'tests' that you talk about: underlying all of the commandments and the covenants lies the question of allegiance: do we willingly side with our creator, or set ourselves apart from Him? It is not a question of breaking the rules, then, but of breaking God's heart.

Robots could have been created to forcibly obey laws, if unconditional obedience was God's priority, comprehensive proof of His omnipotence, but to the point where these automatons were effectively nothing more than an extension of God Himself.

This is the consummation of all the commandments: to "love God with all your heart, and your neighbor as you yourself would like to be loved". To give unselfishly and lavishly to others: therein lies true fulfillment, and therein one begins to assimilate the prefect character of one's creator.

Let me try to give another angle on the "existentialist" view. The Bible says on the one hand (as I've already alluded to) "God is love" and "love keeps no count of wrongs" but elsewhere "if you do not forgive your brother, your heavenly Father will not forgive you". An apparently literal contradiction, but not necessarily, if we adopt an experiential angle: "if you choose not to forgive, you will never experience the wonderful freedom and reconciliation that forgiveness brings, and you will alienate yourself from the character of the One who forgives you".

To try to answer some of your questions:
What is God capable of doing? With God, all things are possible.
Can he renounce his powers? I believe that He has, in the manner and to the extent to which I've attempted to describe.
I assume that God is not composed of matter. He is spirit, whatever that means. He is the author of life, and the creator of the substance of the universe: matter, energy and time. He is subject to no-one, thus His capacity to give is totally free.
Could he manifest himself as a human being that dies like everyone else? He has done, in the form of His Son, Jesus.
Can he extinguish the existence of heaven? I guess so, but one feels led to ask why He would want to do this.

The first will be last and the last will be first. He who humbles himself will be exalted. He who wants to be considered greatest must become the servant of all. Society admires, and indeed favors, the wealthy, the strong, the talented; but this is the great reversal: God, who had everything, emptied Himself in order that the creation could be rescued, evil conquered, and a reconciliation effected.

Am I making any sense? Many may disagree, but I find that a doctrine based faith is vulnerable to Biblical emphasis and interpretation. There are so many sects who claim to hold a monopoly on truth, yet their views on what they would consider to be key issues are divergent; they can not all be correct. That is the downside when logic and philosophy are deemed to be the essential instruments in the quest for "religious understanding". It is not about understanding; it is embracing the character of God, as exhibited in the life example of His Son.

Peace and love
David

[/ QUOTE ]
Excellent post, David.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 11-03-2005, 09:41 AM
jthegreat jthegreat is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 27
Default Re: The idea of God being omnicient / omnipotent confuses me

In other words, the Christian God is a petulant brat. "I created you with free will, but if you don't do what I want, I will torture you forever!"

Yeah that's mature. Creation > creator.

And as far as the world being designed for humans, quit being a dumbass. We evolved to match the conditions.

Duh.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 07:32 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions Inc.