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  #11  
Old 11-03-2005, 09:52 AM
chezlaw chezlaw is offline
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Default Re: The idea of God being omnicient / omnipotent confuses me

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Quick mini-derail:

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

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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

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Creationists think the bible must have had a creator, can't see them getting far with the idea it evolved.

chez
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  #12  
Old 11-03-2005, 10:13 AM
txag007 txag007 is offline
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Default Re: The idea of God being omnicient / omnipotent confuses me

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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.

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Please save your attacks on me for an appropriate thread. David gave a wonderful, well thought out response to the original poster's questions. I fear that my attempt to compliment him on it will take the focus off the original topic.
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  #13  
Old 11-03-2005, 10:46 AM
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Default Re: The idea of God being omnicient / omnipotent confuses me

Where is this explanation of God coming from? How can you claim to tell us the purpose of creation?

If I understand you correctly, you are saying don't get caught up in biblical 'facts', just imagine a God you like the sound of.

Did you know that if people listen to white noise, and are asked if they can faintly hear a specific song, many people will say they can?

This discussion is like if I said I had a dream featuring a character called Bob who was omnipotent, and then other people argue about the traits of Bob's personality ("No, you're wrong, Bob would have prefered McDonalds to Burger King"). Absolutely amazing.
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  #14  
Old 11-03-2005, 10:59 AM
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Default Re: The idea of God being omnicient / omnipotent confuses me

People have struggled with comprehending the 'nature' of God for thousands of years. Take this into account. Many christians will say that God is both omnipotent and wholly good, these are both defining characteristics of God. But if God is both omnipotent and good, then why does God allow innocent people to suffer? By innocents, i mean killing of babies and the like. A good bieng strives to eliminate evil as far as it can and there is no limit to what an omnipotent bieng can accomplish. Therefore God must be either omnipotent or wholly good, but cannot (in my eyes) be both.
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  #15  
Old 11-03-2005, 11:45 AM
jthegreat jthegreat is offline
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Default Re: The idea of God being omnicient / omnipotent confuses me

It wasn't an attack on you. It was an attack on Dave's post and the Christian idea of God in general. This is a nature-of-God thread, so it applies well enough.

The Christian God acts like a human 4 year old whose friends aren't doing what he wants. We're supposedly created with free will, but the threat of eternal torture kinda kills the "free" don't you think? It'd mean more to "love" God if he wasn't holding a gun to your head.
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  #16  
Old 11-03-2005, 01:14 PM
NotReady NotReady is offline
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Default Re: The idea of God being omnicient / omnipotent confuses me

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but I'm hoping NotReady and the other informed believers can clarify these things for me.


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DavidL's post is excellent.

One point concerning why God created. He did not do so out of necessity. The creation is therefore contingent and gratuitous.

I mostly accept the statement of faith in the Westminster Confession. It says on this subject:

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It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create ...


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I agree this is almost a non-answer. But the plain fact is Scripture gives no other reason. It is incomprehensible to humans. If I was God, why would I bother creating, since I would be wholly self-contained, self-sufficient and infinitely better than anything I create? As a human, I can't answer that. It makes no sense to me. Thank God I'm not God.

But I also believe that God is absolute rationality. He does nothing arbitrarily. He calls His creation good in Genesis.

So it's a paradox. Some call it the full bucket difficulty. Van Til said this:

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To the non-Christian our position may be compared to the idea of adding water to a bucket that is already full of water. “Your idea of the self-sufficient ontological trinity,” he will say, “is like a bucket full of water. To God nothing can be added. He cannot derive glory from His creatures. Yet your idea of history is like pouring water into the full bucket. Everything in it is said to add to the glory of God.”

No Christian can answer this full-bucket difficulty in such a way as to satisfy the demands of a non-Christian epistemology. We can and must maintain that the Christian position is the only position that does not destroy reason itself.

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  #17  
Old 11-03-2005, 02:20 PM
jthegreat jthegreat is offline
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Default Re: The idea of God being omnicient / omnipotent confuses me

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So it's a paradox

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Exactly. It makes no sense and at least you recognize that. Yet you believe it anyway. THAT is the true nature of "faith".

Personally, I fall on the side that thinks that if a God created me with the ability to reason, and there is no reason to believe there is a God, then I'm doing the right thing by not believe in one. [img]/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
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  #18  
Old 11-03-2005, 02:31 PM
NotReady NotReady is offline
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Default Re: The idea of God being omnicient / omnipotent confuses me

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It makes no sense and at least you recognize that. Yet you believe it anyway.


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I said it makes no sense TO ME. I also said God is absolute rationality. What I believe is God is smarter than me and so it does make sense but I can't explain it.
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  #19  
Old 11-03-2005, 03:38 PM
DavidL DavidL is offline
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Default Re: The idea of God being omnicient / omnipotent confuses me

PrayingMantis: "ZJ was talking about the God of Chrisitian, Jews and Muslims."
Christians believe that there is only one God. Jews believe that there is only one God. Muslims believe that there is only one God (Allah). Therefore all are supposedly attempting to describe the same concept. Perspectives that are doctrine based (i.e. trying to acquire knowledge about God, rather than existentially knowing God) will always differ. That was my point.

"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."
When I read the Bible as a whole, that is not what I see.

Addickt: "He should have a cure for that if he is all knowing."
God would need to suppress free will in order to effect an omnipotent cure.

Jthegreat: "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!"
Where did you hear this? I'm a Christian and I believe the opposite of what you're describing. Hell is self-imposed alienation from God. God tortures nobody. If one "sheep" is lost, He temporarily leaves the other 99 to seek and save it. When the son who has squandered the inheritance in a lifestyle of extravagance and debauchery returns home, He is so overcome with love and forgiveness that He rushes out to greet him.

Alex-db: "If I understand you correctly, you are saying don't get caught up in biblical 'facts', just imagine a God you like the sound of."
You are arbitrarily making your own fact-based world-view (whether Biblical or not) your supreme judge. The problem with a doctrine-centered viewpoint is that no two people agree, because the Bible (or the Koran, or whatever sacred text, theology or philosophy that one believes in) is open to emphasis and interpretation. Truth comes from revelation, and it encompasses the whole human psyche, not just the intellect, but the emotions and spirit as well. You would perhaps call me arrogant, but in response I would say that this revelation is available to all. There is only one God, and He will reach all who genuinely seek Him.

"This discussion is like if I said I had a dream featuring a character called Bob who was omnipotent..."
Yes, and if while I'm asleep, I'm a man dreaming that I'm a butterfly, then how do I know that when I'm awake, I'm not a butterfly dreaming that I'm a man....
Unless one knows everything, all knowledge is based in assumption, and is therefore as incomplete and precarious as any view. Show me incontrovertible fact. Time appears constant, but Einstein suggests that time is relative to motion. Blue supposedly appears the same to all, unless one is color blind. I appear short to a giant, but tall to a dwarf. 2+2=4 to all of us, except to those who have no concept of arithmetic. Reality is ultimately limited by perspective: what effective use is knowledge that lies outside of one's grasp? And what is ultimately more beneficial to civilization, to have a factual view of "reality", or a compassionate one?

Three-toed sloth: "But if God is both omnipotent and good, then why does God allow innocent people to suffer?"
I think Bertrand Russell (and many others) have used a similar argument. But if I (for example) kill, rape or steal, is that God's fault?
The greatest charge that can be laid against God is that He gave the creation free will, and He has taken responsibility for that by Himself dying for free will that has been abused.

Would you prefer a world where an omnipotent being makes all of your decisions for you? You want to play Poker today, but the omnipotent being wants you to spend the afternoon nursing the elderly, which includes cleaning the slime from their bed sheets.... (an exasperatingly dumb example, I know, but I think you see my point :-)

With my freedom to choose, I can work unselfishly for the betterment of others, or choose to further my own path at others' expense, covered in the security that God will continue to love me, no matter what I do.

NotReady: "But I also believe that God is absolute rationality."
Yes I agree, but all that is rational (and wise, and just, and compassionate, and righteous) proceeds from God's character, that He is love. God is rational because He is love, not in spite of the fact (although I'm not suggesting that you're saying this).

"To God nothing can be added."
True, but without a creation there is nothing for God to love. Love without object is futile, dead, inexpressible. Hence, even with the full bucket, the creation is "necessary". From a mathematical standpoint, infinity can not be added to, but that is... only a mathematical standpoint.

Jthegreat: "there is no reason to believe there is a God"
Friend, you are unwittingly making reason your "god", in that you are assuming that there is nothing greater, and that all can be explained according to reason. I respect your viewpoint, but I still contend that all reason ultimately proceeds from assumption.

David
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  #20  
Old 11-03-2005, 03:51 PM
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Default Re: The idea of God being omnicient / omnipotent confuses me

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Three-toed sloth: "But if God is both omnipotent and good, then why does God allow innocent people to suffer?"
I think Bertrand Russell (and many others) have used a similar argument. But if I (for example) kill, rape or steal, is that God's fault?
The greatest charge that can be laid against God is that He gave the creation free will, and He has taken responsibility for that by Himself dying for free will that has been abused.

Would you prefer a world where an omnipotent being makes all of your decisions for you? You want to play Poker today, but the omnipotent being wants you to spend the afternoon nursing the elderly, which includes cleaning the slime from their bed sheets.... (an exasperatingly dumb example, I know, but I think you see my point :-)

With my freedom to choose, I can work unselfishly for the betterment of others, or choose to further my own path at others' expense, covered in the security that God will continue to love me, no matter what I do.

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And I agree, you can CHOOSE to use your freedom for the betterment of others just as easily as a sadistic mom can choose to drown her children. Maybe our ideas of omnipotence are contradicting. What i was saying is that why would a God that is both omnipotent and wholly good allow such a thing? It doesnt make any sense to me. Freewill almost seems like a limitation of God.

"Our ideas only reach as far as our experiences..We have no experiences of divine attributes or operations"
-David Hume
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