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Friday, December 07, 2018

On the Knowledge of God, part I

The question of the nature of God's knowledge came up in a recent Darkstream. So as not to repeat myself unnecessarily, I will simply post this selection from The Irrational Atheist which still represents my thoughts on the matter. I make no pretense of being a theologian, nor do I claim that I must be correct on the matter, they are simply my thoughts and conclusions concerning the concepts of divine omnipotence and divine omniscience.

MASTER OF PUPPETS OR GAME DESIGNER?
“She was an atheist, but she was a Lutheran atheist, so she knew exactly what God she didn't believe in.”
- Garrison Keillor, Wobegon Boy

Doubts about the existence of God, particularly the existence of a good and loving God, often stem from great emotional pain. While doubts are naturally bound to occur to any rational individual in moments of somber reflection, it is particularly hard to imagine that a loving God who loves us would choose to intentionally inflict pain upon us, especially if He is all-powerful. When one surveys the long list of horrors that have engulfed countless men, women and children throughout the course of history, the vast majority of them innocent and undeserving of such evil fates, one finds it easy to sympathize with the individual who concludes that God, if He exists and is paying attention to humanity, must be some sort of divine sadist.

Because doubts are reasonable, normal and inevitable, they should never be brushed aside, belittled or answered with a glib phrase, for not only does decency demand that they receive a sensitive hearing, but also because they can have powerful ramifications that resonate long after the doubter himself has had them resolved one way or another. Randal Keynes, a descendant and biographer of Charles Darwin, asserts that it was the death of Darwin's beloved daughter Annie, at the age of ten after a long illness that convicted the great evolutionist of his dangerous idea that neither divine intervention nor morality had anything to do with the operation of the natural laws. And if this tragic loss was not the only element involved in Darwin's transition from an accomplished student of theology to the inventor of what today is the primary driving force behind the anti-theist New Atheism, it is widely considered to have been the final step that pushed him over the edge.

One would not be human if one could not sympathize with Darwin's anguished rejection of the notion that there was any justice or even a silver lining to be found in the death of his beautiful little girl. And perhaps there was some consolation, if any consolation was to be found, in viewing his terrible loss as taking place within the context of a mechanistic universe, wherein one was not subject to the ineffable caprice of an unpredictable deity, but to the predictable operation of natural laws which one could at least hope to understand and attempt to utilize.

But if God exists, it is a basic theological error to attempt to place the blame for earthly tragedies on Him. In fact, it is not only a theological error, but also a fundamental error of logic to conclude that God, even an all-powerful God, must be to blame for every evil, accident or tragedy that befalls us.

The Contradiction of Divine Characteristics
In a chapter considering the arguments for God's existence, Richard Dawkins muses briefly upon what he considers to be a logical contradiction. He writes:

Incidentally, it has not escaped the notice of logicians that omniscience and omnipotence are mutually incompatible. If God is omniscient, he must already know how he is going to intervene to change the course of history using his omnipotence. But that means he can't change his mind about his intervention, which means he is not omnipotent.

As Dawkins surely knows, this is a silly and superficial argument, indeed, he follows it up with a little piece of doggerel by Karen Owens before promptly abandoning the line of reasoning in favor of a return to his attack upon Thomas Aquinas. While the argument appears to make sense at first glance, it's merely a variation on the deeply philosophical question that troubles so many children and atheists, of whether God can create a rock so heavy that He cannot lift it.

First, it is important to note that the Christian God, the god towards whom Dawkins directs the great majority of his attacks, makes no broad claims to omniscience. Although there are 87 references to the specific things that the Biblical God knows, only a single example could even potentially be interpreted as a universal claim to complete knowledge. Among the things that God claims to know are the following:

He knows the way to wisdom and where it dwells, he knows the day of the wicked is coming, he knows the secrets of men's hearts, he knows the thoughts of men and their futility. He knows the proud from afar, he knows what lies in darkness, and he knows what you need before you ask him. He knows the Son, he knows the day and the hour that the heavens and the earth shall pass away, he knows the mind of the Spirit and that the Apostle Paul loved the Corinthians. He knows who are his, he knows how to rescue godly men from trials, and perhaps most importantly, he knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.

The only straightforward claim to omniscience is made on God's behalf by the apostle John, who clearly states “he knows everything”. However, the context in which the statement is made also indicates that this particular “everything” is not intended to encompass Life and The Universe, but rather everything about human hearts. Not only does this interpretation make more sense in light of the verse than with an inexplicable revelation of a divine quality that appears nowhere else in the Bible, but it is also in keeping with many previous statements made about God's knowledge.

After all, when Hercule Poirot confronts the murderer in an Agatha Christie novel and informs the killer that he knows everything, the educated reader does not usually interpret this as a statement that the Belgian detective is confessing that he is the physical manifestation of Hermes Trismegistus, but rather that he knows everything about the crime he has been detecting.

In keeping with this interpretation, Dr. Greg Boyd, the pastor at Woodland Hills Church and the author of Letters to a Skeptic, has written a book laying out a convincing case for the Open View of God, which among other things chronicles the many Biblical examples of God being surprised, changing His mind and even being thwarted. Moreover, it would be very, very strange for a presumably intelligent being such as Satan to place a bet with God if he believed that God knew with certainty what Job's reaction to his torments would be.

But in addition to the fact that it is based on a false assumption, the problem with the Contradiction of Divine Characteristics, as we shall henceforth refer to the logical conundrum posed by Dawkins, is that omniscience, or the quality of knowing everything, is the description of a capacity, it is not an action. Likewise, omnipotence, being all-powerful, is a similar description, which is why these nouns are most often used in their adjectival forms modifying other nouns, for example, an omniscient god is a god who knows everything, i.e. possesses all knowledge. But capacity does not necessarily indicate full utilization and possession does not dictate use; for example, by this point it should be clear that an intelligent scientist is nevertheless perfectly capable of writing something that is not intelligent at all.

Lest you think that this distinction between capacity and action is somehow tantamount to avoiding the question, note that Dawkins himself refers to God “using his omnipotence” in constructing the supposed contradiction.

Now, as I write this sentence, I am holding the book entitled The God Delusion in my hand. I paid cash for it at the bookstore prior to reading it through in its entirety, so I now possess the book in a very real and legally binding sense, and I feel sure that the reader will readily acknowledge that I therefore possess all of the knowledge contained within it in every relevant meaning of the term. But can I tell you the precise wording of the first sentence on the seventh page? Well, no, not without taking the action required to actually look at it.

This illustrates the difference between capacity and action, and the distinction is a vital one. Possession may be nine-tenths of the law, but it is not synonymous with use. Unless one clings stubbornly to an overly pedantic definition of both omniscience and omnipotence, an inherent incompatibility simply doesn't exist between the two concepts. Indeed, if Daniel Dennett is correct and “knowledge really is power”, then logic not only dictates the compatibility of all-knowledge with all-power, but requires that the two superficially distinct concepts are actually one and the same. In this case, there not only is no contradiction between God's omniscience and omnipotence, there is not even the theoretical possibility of a contradiction.

Regardless, a God who stands outside of space and time and who possesses all knowledge as well as all power is not bound to make use of his full capacities, indeed, who is going to shake their finger at him for failing to live up to his potential? Only the likes of Dawkins and Owens, one presumes, as their ability to logically disprove God's existence by this method depends upon His abiding by their rigid definitions of His qualities... at least one of which He does not even claim in His Word.

When considered in this light, the Contradiction of Divine Characteristics can't help but bring to mind a scene from the novel Catch-22, in which Joseph Heller wrote of an aptly named atheist called Frau Scheisskopf.

“'I don't believe, ' she sobbed, bursting violently into tears. 'But the God I don't believe in is a good God, a just God, a merciful God. He's not the mean and stupid God you make him out to be.'"

Furthermore, there is no theological significance whatsoever to a reduced form of omniscience and omnipotence that would satisfy even the most pedantic critical application of the logic. If one accepts the hypothesis that God is bound by logic and thereby imagines a God possessing qualities of tantiscience and tantipotence equating to omniscience and omnipotence minus the amount of knowledge and power required to avoid conflicting with the logical incompatibility, one is still left with a God whose theoretical capabilities are sufficient to fulfill all of the various claims about His knowledge and power made in His Word. Morever, from the human perspective, this logically acceptable tantiscient God would be completely indistinguishable from the omniscient one.

When it's time to feed my Viszla, I don't magically summon food from the mysterious bag of plenty. But my dog doesn't know that. From his perspective, there's no difference between my buying it at the store or my summoning it into material existence by the magic force of my divine will. Likewise, we are incapable of perceiving the difference between a god who knows everything and a god who merely knows a whole lot more than we do, moreover, the latter is the god that more closely fits the description of the Biblical God.

Dawkins, of course, knows that it is as pointless to logically consider the potential contradiction between two arbitrarily defined concepts as it is to argue over the score of the 1994 World Series; would that his acolytes understood as much themselves.

Omniderigence
DERIGO -rigere -rexi -rectum [to set straight, direct]; of placing [to order, dispose]; milit. [to draw up]; Transf., [to direct, aim, guide]
- Latin Dictionary and Grammar Aid, The University of Notre Dame.

Though it may at first seem to be a waste of time to analyze an argument that Dawkins himself doesn't assign much value, it is important to remember that all things, even specious and superficial arguments for His nonexistence, may prove useful in serving the greater glory of God. That's true in this case, for in considering the Contradiction of Divine Characteristics argument, we were forced to draw a distinct line between capacity and action, the confusion of which is also the root of a much more serious theological error. Interestingly, this theological error is committed by Christians as readily as atheists, perhaps even more often, as they trust in God's plan for their lives instead of making use of their God-given intelligence and free will.

There are a variety of phrases which contain the same inherent implication about a certain view of God. Many evangelical Christians often refer to “God's perfect plan” for their lives. This concept is reinforced with children's songs such as “He's got the whole world in his hands” and echoed by sports stars who compete in the assurance that their victory has been divinely secured ahead of time. It is held by American Exceptionalists who believe that God has uniquely blessed the United States of America and has authored a Manifest Destiny for it, and by Christian Zionists who see a divine hand in every violent twist and turn of the Mideast Peace Process.

These various evangelicals have an unexpected ally in Sam Harris, who declares it to be an obvious truth that “if God exists, he is the most prolific abortionist of all” due to the fact that 20 percent of all known pregnancies miscarry, and then asserts that those who believe in God should be obliged to present evidence for his existence in light of “the relentless destruction of innocent human beings that we witness in the world each day.”

What the evangelical and the atheist have in common here is a belief that because God is omnipotent, omniscient and compassionate, he is somehow responsible for these events, although Harris would qualify that with the necessary “if he exists”. And in fairness, it must be pointed out that when Harris cites Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Asian tsunami as God's failure to protect humanity, he is really doing rather better than the “perfect plan” evangelical who would assert that these tragedies were sent by God for some ineffable higher purpose intended to benefit humanity.

This belief in an all-acting God, who not only guides the grand course of events but actually micromanages them, is the result of the same confusion between capacity and action that we saw in the Contradiction of Divine Characteristics. When God asserts that He cares about the sparrows and knows when one falls from its branch, this is very different from an assertion that He only happens to know about it because He personally struck the sparrow down. An omniscient God knows the numbers of hairs on your head and an omnipotent God is capable of changing their color, but it requires an active Master Puppeteer to personally pluck them, one by one, from your balding head, in the desired order.

Sadly, the English language appears to lack a word describing such a god, even though this is the way that many individuals, even those who do not believe in Him, believe God behaves. So, as Richard Dawkins coined the very useful word “meme”, it appears to have fallen to me to invent a word that is, despite its undeniable utility, rather less likely to be dropped into conversations at coffeehouses for sheer effect.

Hence the term “omniderigence”, which I define as: 'making infinite use of unlimited or universal power, authority, or force; all-controlling; all-dictating.” Less formally, one can think of it as uber control-freakdom or ultimate puppet-mastery.

In Letter to a Christian Nation, Sam Harris shows how this mistaken belief in God's omniderigence is part and parcel of the atheist case against God.

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142 Comments:

Blogger The Cooler December 07, 2018 10:17 AM  

"The Almighty is under no obligation to be reasonable with you."

One of my father's quips.

Blogger Rory December 07, 2018 10:22 AM  

Interesting read. Do you cover other arguments in TIA? In particular, the question of which religion is right, if one accepts the existence/necessity of God? Looking at the table of contents on Amazon, the closest I can see is maybe some of the material covered in the Occam's Chainsaw bit?

Speaking as someone who just... has never felt the necessity of God. It's not some emotional pain for me, just a lack of his absence, and of not being convinced of logical appeals to a First Mover or some such. But even if I somehow discovered that feeling, or was convinced of that logic, I don't understand how you decide what God really is and what the truth of what he wants actually is?

Blogger VD December 07, 2018 10:26 AM  

Do you cover other arguments in TIA?

Only the arguments that are specifically raised by the New Atheists. Definitely not the question of which religion is correct, since that obviously is not one that was relevant to them.

Blogger Amos Bellomy December 07, 2018 10:26 AM  

The answer seems to be in Job and confirmed by Aquinas: Just because we don't know why God is doing or allowing anything means nothing in light of our total inability to understand the situation to His extent.

Blogger electricsheeple December 07, 2018 10:28 AM  

So if you are looking at this from a game designer perspective, do you think the Holy Spirit functions (in part) to allow a non-omniscient God to receive prayers? God doesn't know everything all the time in your model, meaning he may not hear every prayer, but perhaps, under the right conditions, the prayer reaches God through the Holy Spirit?


Just a thought I had while reading this.

Blogger Amos Bellomy December 07, 2018 10:29 AM  

That's basically what God tells Job when he finally complains: You are not God, you have no idea what my reasons are, and in light of that if you truly believed in me you would not complain.

Blogger VD December 07, 2018 10:32 AM  

The answer seems to be in Job and confirmed by Aquinas: Just because we don't know why God is doing or allowing anything means nothing in light of our total inability to understand the situation to His extent.

True, but you appear to be failing to take into account that we are given a considerable amount of information concerning the matter in the Bible. IF the Bible is the Word of God AND God is omniscient, THEN we have no choice to observe that God has not told humanity the truth about Himself.

No amount of Calvinist gymnastics have ever been able to successfully or convincingly address the many Bible verses that very clearly indicate non-omniscience on God's part.

Blogger VD December 07, 2018 10:34 AM  

do you think the Holy Spirit functions (in part) to allow a non-omniscient God to receive prayers?

No idea. As I mentioned, I am not a theologian and I'm not really interested in purely theoretical speculation. I simply read and reflect upon the information we are given.

Blogger August December 07, 2018 10:35 AM  

When people hear the phrase, 'God knows all things,' they assume 'all' means a lot more than what is. Time travel movies are a good example- because it is assumed the past and future are there, fully existent in a way that you can travel to them- like you can travel to Paris.

Blogger Amos Bellomy December 07, 2018 10:36 AM  

Well, I am not a scholar. I am a Biblical and Educational Studies major but haven't graduated yet. Whether it can be reconciled with the words of the Bible, I won't comment yet. I'll just note that *logically* there seems to be no REAL issue, merely a difficult emotional one.

Blogger Matt Robison December 07, 2018 10:39 AM  

I find it helpful to think in terms of authorship. God is thwarted sometimes in the way an author's protagonist is thwarted by the villain. With no Sauron, there would be no Lord of the Rings, and we would all be poorer for it, though I'm sure many times the characters of those books wished that Sauron had never existed. And understandably so. But from the point of view of Tolkien, everything was working together for his world's good, as he envisioned it.

An interesting read is Dorothy Sayer's The Mind of the Maker. She takes the idea of the Trinity and extends it to the process of creative acts, in particular the creative acts of a writer. As a plus, she also makes fun of journalists a lot in the book.

Father -> Idea - Outside of time, holding the entire work complete at once.
Son -> Energy - Working in time to bring the Idea about, incarnate in matter. Begotten from the idea. The Word.
Spirit -> Power - The meaning of the work and the response it causes in a soul who experiences it. Indwelling.

Blogger Peter Gent December 07, 2018 10:40 AM  

Amos Bellomy wrote:That's basically what God tells Job when he finally complains: You are not God, you have no idea what my reasons are, and in light of that if you truly believed in me you would not complain.
I agree that Job is important, especially where in 40:4-5 he says:
Then Job answered the Lord and said:
4 “Behold, I am vile;
What shall I answer You?
I lay my hand over my mouth.
5 Once I have spoken, but I will not answer;
Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.”


So, basically he shuts his mouth. It is one of the measures of true belief...knowing when to shut your mouth. I believe a lot of atheists, if confronted by God in the same way as Job, would not shut up but would instead start complaining to God about what they saw wrong with His creation and demand to know why he did this or that.

I believe this would happen because their problem is not really with God, per se, but authority and God is the ultimate authority.

Job knew his place and accepted it, as do all true believers. Atheists don't and won't.

Blogger electricsheeple December 07, 2018 10:44 AM  

VD wrote:do you think the Holy Spirit functions (in part) to allow a non-omniscient God to receive prayers?

No idea. As I mentioned, I am not a theologian and I'm not really interested in purely theoretical speculation. I simply read and reflect upon the information we are given.


I respect that. On thinking further, I shouldn't ask fellow Christians to wildly speculate on things like that. That's basically what Jordan Peterson engages in, and it leads down the wrong path.

Blogger The Cooler December 07, 2018 10:48 AM  

There is a combination of petulance and inability to comprehend Faith that inheres the atheist. Something missing and yet some sort of... accumulation. Like a scabbed-over cut, maybe.

I have yet to decide if atheists are born or made.

Blogger tz December 07, 2018 10:54 AM  

This parallels the Calvin - Armenius debate.

I use Revelation's "Who was, and is, and is to come". That is one tense, not three. Call it God's eternity tense.

We watch time as we watch a video, even if we can skip, it is linear. God sees the whole spiral track at once, and has/is/will act(/-ed/-ing). We have choices of which fork in the road. God is in a helicopter above.

From the divine eternal perspective, there is no contradiction. Stefan Molyneux is stuck with God acting linearly in time, so is argument about the contradiction means he doesn't understand Armenius' argument - or simply ignores it because his arguments use words in a way that implies God is subject to time. We have a temporal "now". Every moment of time stretching from the infinite past to the infinite future is God's "eternal now". Everything has happened, is happening, will happen. God has chosen, is choosing, will choose. God has seen, is seeing, will see. The eternal tense, he always was, is (in our "now"), and always will be

Blogger BentheBrave December 07, 2018 10:55 AM  

Read C.S. Lewis's autobiography "Suprised by Joy". It smashed any lingering doubts I had on the existence of God. It changed my life.

Blogger VD December 07, 2018 10:56 AM  

We watch time as we watch a video, even if we can skip, it is linear. God sees the whole spiral track at once, and has/is/will act(/-ed/-ing). We have choices of which fork in the road. God is in a helicopter above.

No. God CAN see it. To claim that he always DOES see it directly contradicts the Word of God. Even if you're in a helicopter and you can see everything beneath you, that doesn't mean that you're looking down all the time. Maybe you're looking ahead. Maybe you're sleeping. Maybe you're daydreaming....

Blogger pyrrhus December 07, 2018 10:56 AM  

The World is not a petting zoo, it is a tough school in which humans suffer many (mostly humanity-created) travails and sorrows...But, as poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote, "The world is charged with the grandeur of God, it will shine out like shining from shook foil..."

Blogger Resident Moron™ December 07, 2018 11:00 AM  

Calvin has a lot to answer for and Calvinists even moreso.

I admit to curiosity as to what verses Vox thinks deny omniscience as commonly understood.

I have never had occasion to be concerned about it as I've never accepted the standard invention of omniscience being antithetical to free will.

Blogger DonReynolds December 07, 2018 11:03 AM  

The Bible says that God's ways are God's ways, and it is not possible for Man to understand God's ways. I believe this is true.

I also take comfort when the Bible says that God is wise and He is pleased whenever Man prefers wisdom over other things. This was true of David. So long as God is wise, we have no reason to fear whatever God intends for us.

Blogger The Cooler December 07, 2018 11:05 AM  

To claim that he always DOES see it directly contradicts the Word of God.

Most Evil is done when one believes God is not looking, after all.

Blogger Mr Darcy December 07, 2018 11:05 AM  

@10 & 14:

Good points (" … there seems to be no REAL issue, merely a difficult emotional one." "There is a combination of petulance and inability to comprehend Faith that inheres the atheist.")

Seems to me that such people are operating on an assumption that is unexamined and maybe even unconscious: "I am so special that nothing bad should ever happen to me."

After the death of my eldest child--a son--just over 17 yrs ago, I felt really, really put-upon and sorry for myself. But (and this is the literal truth) the Lord granted me a dream in which He smacked me around and told me to get on my feet, etc., and that I was wallowing in self-pity because I had the idea that nothing bad should ever happen to me ("Why me??"). I had to admit that He was right. Then He showed me that suffering and traumatic loss could be instructive and beneficial IF YOU EMBRACE IT. IT's what St Paul means by "Resist not evil." Don't try to swim upstream. Accept what IS. Trust God.

I once had the occasion to answer the "If-God-is-all-powerful-and-all-good-then-why-is-there-evil question." As it happened, this was in a room in my flat where I have a crucifix on the wall. In answer to The Question of Evil, I simply pointed to the crucifix and said, "There's your answer." My interlocutor paused for a long moment, then said, "I don't understand." And I said, "Nobody does, but that's the answer to the problem of evil. In fact, it's the ONLY answer."

The questioner wasn't really satisfied with that, but I didn't care and still don't.

Vox, this is one of those articles that moves me to say that I continue to be amazed at your ability to up your game so frequently. It seems that every week you come up with something even more interesting than previously.
So, just out of idle curiosity, can you pull a hat out of a rabbit?

"Thanks" doesn't seem sufficient, but thanks all the same.

Blogger VD December 07, 2018 11:14 AM  

Vox, this is one of those articles that moves me to say that I continue to be amazed at your ability to up your game so frequently. It seems that every week you come up with something even more interesting than previously.

Thanks, but this quite literally is "previously". It's taken directly out of a book I wrote and published in 2008.

Blogger KPKinSunnyPhiladelpia December 07, 2018 11:20 AM  

I'd call myself an Agnostic, but I was raised a Christian and guys like Dawkins and Harris just don't get it.

In my view, the most important book of the Old Testament is the Book of Job. It directly addresses the issues of suffering.

And there's one big lesson to be learned from Job -- it's the height of human hubris and intellectual incapacity to assume that suffering occurs because God is sadistic, or--to take it one step further beyond the actul Biblical tale -- that God does not exist.

So God says to Job, "Hey, pal, you are incapable of understanding because of who you are as a human. Don't make stupid analogies or causal conclusions about anything except know that I love you."

Whether God exists on not, it's a profound lesson about the way the universe works.

Blogger Remonstrances December 07, 2018 11:22 AM  

VD wrote:Do you cover other arguments in TIA?

Only the arguments that are specifically raised by the New Atheists. Definitely not the question of which religion is correct, since that obviously is not one that was relevant to them.


I have to express my appreciation for this book (TIA) as it was the book that smashed my last objections to returning to Christianity. The New Atheists had really taken me in.

Blogger Gunnar Thalweg December 07, 2018 11:28 AM  

I have answered the question of theodicy by taking it personally: These are the rules of existence, and I consent, if I did not consent before I was born. I am glad to be alive. I am aware of the risks.

Blogger camcleat December 07, 2018 11:30 AM  

@19

"I admit to curiosity as to what verses Vox thinks deny omniscience as commonly understood."

Not speaking for Vox or even quoting specific scripture; only commenting on this because it came up more than once this week in our homeschool discussions.

There are several places in the Bible where men have "changed God's mind," or at least engaged in conversation in a way that God was open to having his mind changed. The two we discussed were Moses and Abraham. I think one can reference the very end of Jonah's story as well.

There's a number of places where we are given that God does not "know" how something will end. Vox's description that maybe he CAN "know all space and all time simultaneously" doesn't necessarily mean that he DOES or CHOOSES to influence it in a direct way.

Conflating the "can" with the "does" definitely seems central to the issue.

Blogger Matt Robison December 07, 2018 11:32 AM  

Job is profound. If you read it carefully, Job gradually comes to the conclusion that there must be a resurrection for it all to make sense. The three friends always beat the same drum, over and over. Job learns as he continues to talk.

"Though he slay me, yet I will hope in him."

After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has."

Most modern evangelicals have never really wrestled with Job, the way Job wrestles with his circumstances.

Blogger S1AL December 07, 2018 11:36 AM  

I've come to question why it's assumed that "omniscience" is always assumed to include absolute prescience. The indication from the scripture is that some things are ordained, and others are not. And as you said, there are many times where God indicates that He has gained new knowledge when a human makes a critical choice - perhaps His knowledge is retroactive, even if it does not appear so from our perspective.

Blogger Lamarck Leland December 07, 2018 11:43 AM  

"If one accepts the hypothesis that God is bound by logic..."
What if one does not accept that?

In traditional Christianity, the very idea that God can learn something is heretical as God "is what He will be", perfect and immutable.

But I still recommend TIA everywhere because it's an excellent book.

Blogger Peter Gent December 07, 2018 11:45 AM  

Resident Moron™ wrote:Calvin has a lot to answer for and Calvinists even moreso.

I admit to curiosity as to what verses Vox thinks deny omniscience as commonly understood.

I have never had occasion to be concerned about it as I've never accepted the standard invention of omniscience being antithetical to free will.

Surprise, there is no free will since Adam's fall, since everything we think and do is tainted by sin, or as Paul would say, the Old Man, our sinful nature. Study Romans 7 to get a grasp of the fact that you do not have free will, just free choices and often without the power or will to even accomplish them, just like Paul.

Blogger John Calla December 07, 2018 11:47 AM  

If God is not omniscient He can't be a just judge, because His judgments would be imperfect. If He was not omniscient His law would be imperfect. He wouldn't be able to know the future if He didn't have a composite of all information. Prophecy would be about as reliable as a weather forecast.

Reason and logic show us that God must be omniscient.

@7 IF the Bible is the Word of God AND God is omniscient, THEN we have no choice to observe that God has not told humanity the truth about Himself.

The far more likely conclusion is that any apparent contradiction comes from an errant interpretation of the Word of God. No human person, on his own, is capable of interpreting the Word of God infallibly. That must always be the first premise.

@27 There are several places in the Bible where men have "changed God's mind,"

But that has nothing to do with omniscience.

Blogger Angantyr December 07, 2018 11:52 AM  

Tangently, it does remind me of this:

The Nature of Crom

"...[Crom] dwells on a great mountain. What use to call on him? Little he cares if men live or die. Better to be silent than to call his attention to you; he will send you dooms, not fortune! He is grim and loveless, but at birth he breathes power to strive and slay into a man's soul. What else shall men ask of the gods?"

Conan of Cimmeria in Queen of the Black Coast by Robert E. Howard

*********************************
Granted, the accusations of uncaring and "loveless" do not apply, but we are all granted free will and your own personal might to strive in this world, so go forth, use it and use it wisely! What more would you ask of G-d, anyway? To fetch you your slippers because the floor is cold? (thx, Sgt. Apone!)

Blogger Crush Limbraw December 07, 2018 11:54 AM  

Knowing God is a process which I have found to be an interesting combination, including biblical knowledge, prayer and reading the writings of church fathers, but also simply living my life- all overseen by the grace of God in our lives which is becoming more evident to me almost daily.
As we mature, we become more aware of seeing ourselves as we really are - and the picture ain't pretty! That leads to our discovery of the absolute need for His Grace.
When Peter wrote in 2Pet3:18 that we need to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Savior, what did he mean?
I found an answer in the writings of Augustine in which he clearly spells out a process - our faith comes by hearing, but understanding comes from knowledge and knowledge comes by sight.
This also is confirmed by the writer of Hebrews 5:11-14 which admonishes the readers of their infantilism and instructs them to become mature by their exercise of their faculties to discern between good and evil.
I emphasize again - it's a process!

Blogger John Calla December 07, 2018 11:55 AM  

@31

Original sin weakens the will and darkens the intellect. That doesn't mean we no longer have free will. Likewise, we still have an intellect, even if it is darkened.

Blogger Dangeresque December 07, 2018 11:57 AM  

If God is a game designer, can it then be assumed that the highest affront to God would be to design bad games?

Gamergate is a literal holy war, folks.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer December 07, 2018 12:03 PM  

Prophecy would be about as reliable as a weather forecast.

Most of the prophets in the Old Testament spend their time telling the Israelites:

a) They are not obeying God
b) They need to start obeying God
c) God will punish them if they fail to obey God

Yes, there are the specific prophecies concerning Jesus, but I don't see that Omniscience is needed for those. As for judgement, God will know what he needs to know.

Blogger John Russo December 07, 2018 12:06 PM  

God continually evolves from the beginning in Genesis to the very end. At first he is God, then he becomes the Lord God, followed by the Lord. He shows different characteristics with each title. He then becomes a personal God, the god of Abraham and such. Perhaps he does not know who he really is either.
When he asks Abel, " what have you done" he clearly is not all-knowing. However when Jesus speaks to the woman at the well, we are told that he could read her mind. These are simply observations that I've made.

Blogger The Greay Man December 07, 2018 12:09 PM  

There are so many new readers who don't even know about TIA or all the 300+ comment Calvinist debate topics!

Man, where is 2008? I miss it sometimes.

Blogger Wade Wilson December 07, 2018 12:13 PM  

"is the description of a capacity, it is not an action"

So simple, so perfect, yet it seems you need an IQ of 150 to understand that. I love this book

Blogger Jack December 07, 2018 12:17 PM  

When my children were born, I knew that they would one day stand and walk. I was still "surprised" the first time they stood and first time they walked. As Aquinas discussed, there's a difference between actuality and potentiality. You do not give specific instances from the Bible which you believe suggest non-omniscience; however, I suspect most (if not all of them) could also be explained by God caring about what actually occurs and choosing between potentials known to him.

I think you are right that the Bible leaves open the possibility that God is not all knowing, but I think this is something we just don't have enough information to ascertain.

Blogger Nate73 December 07, 2018 12:23 PM  

I don't know what Calvinists preach, but the bible explicitly calls the devil the "Prince of this World", indicating some kind of dominion or control. If that's the case then condemning God for allowing evil is like condemning Australia for "allowing" the problems of your tiny country in africa. And if they were to offer foregin-aid it would still not make it their fault.

Blogger John Calla December 07, 2018 12:24 PM  

@37 As for judgement, God will know what he needs to know.

It's not sufficient to just know partially, as if everything is not interconnected. And how would He know what He needs to know? What if the information He doesn't know is needed to be known to make a just judgment?

Blogger Peter Gent December 07, 2018 12:31 PM  

John Calla wrote:@31

Original sin weakens the will and darkens the intellect. That doesn't mean we no longer have free will. Likewise, we still have an intellect, even if it is darkened.


Free will - the power of making free choices unconstrained by external agencies.

According to Romans 7, sin constrains us all and since we are all under the power sin we are no longer free. Our will is constrained and corrupted by sin. See Romans 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. We are slaves to sin and as such, our will is not free.

While not a Calvinist by any means (I lean Anglican/Orthodox), I am always amused by those who cling to the need to assert their freedom and demand that they have free will. I like Bob Dylan's song Serve Somebody. We either serve Satan or the Lord, but even when we serve the Lord the Old Man constrains us.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer December 07, 2018 12:31 PM  

It's not sufficient to just know partially, as if everything is not interconnected.

Why? I don't see how that follows at all. You have either accepted him, in which case you get to be in his presence, or you haven't, in which case, you don't. Jesus took on your sin. You are saved by Grace. As for rewards in heaven, I don't know how that works. We discussed that in the men's group I was in, and the general consensus was we would just be glad to make it into heaven, even if we had to perform janitorial duties.


And how would He know what He needs to know?

He will know all about you.

Blogger Sean Carnegie December 07, 2018 12:33 PM  

@42

A Calvinist would not condemn God for "allowing evil". Instead, the Devil has been given power (limited by God Himself) over some of this world. A Calvinist would also not condemn God for things happening in this world that are considered evil. Hurricane Katrina being nothing more than a part of Romans 9: we are God's Creation and He can do with us whatever He pleases. If he chooses to wipe us off the map this afternoon in a mass shooting, that's He prerogative.

@27

Have you ever thought that the "changing of God's mind" was more an effect on those desiring that? Prayer doesn't affect God, it's there to affect you.

Blogger chronoblip December 07, 2018 12:35 PM  

Mr. Day, how many parts you will elect to post?

Feels like responding without all the parts you want to reproduce here would not be appropriate.

Or did you choose the size of excerpt based on presenting a thought completely?

Blogger Bernardo Tavares December 07, 2018 12:38 PM  

I will adopt the “omniderigence” word. Very good text.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer December 07, 2018 12:39 PM  

Jesus took on your sin. You are saved by Grace.

I'll elaborate further. When God judges you he doesn't need to know everything because everything is interconnected because judgement does not mean balancing your good works vs your sins and determining which is greater, with allowance for circumstances. A handicap I suppose. He will look into your heart.

Blogger Gregory the Great December 07, 2018 12:47 PM  

so heart-warming to read this post and the discussion!

Blogger nbfdmd December 07, 2018 12:59 PM  

I'm continually impressed by VD. As a reformed atheist-turned-believer, I am ashamed to say that I've never actually bothered to read the Bible, a situation I'm rectifying now. But after that, I may need to pick up a copy of TIA.

Blogger VD December 07, 2018 1:03 PM  

What if one does not accept that?

Then you're probably stupid. If you want to posit an illogical, irrational Creatrix, feel free.

In traditional Christianity, the very idea that God can learn something is heretical as God "is what He will be", perfect and immutable.

Then "traditional Christianity", whatever that is, specifically denies the Bible.

Reason and logic show us that God must be omniscient.

They do nothing of the kind. Most of the evidence tends to indicate otherwise.

The far more likely conclusion is that any apparent contradiction comes from an errant interpretation of the Word of God.

As your previous comment already indicated, you are logically inept and don't understand probability either. We're not talking about "an errant interpretation". We're talking about 86 references to knowledge that indicate specific knowledges, all of which are unnecessary if God is simply omniscient. We're also talking about numerous examples of limited Divine knowledge.

But that has nothing to do with omniscience.

Of course it does. It's implicit rather than explicit, but it is obviously related.

Blogger Alphaeus December 07, 2018 1:06 PM  

"whether God can create a rock so heavy that He cannot lift it."

I think God DID create a "rock" so "heavy" He could not "lift" it: The "rock" which is the thick stubborn skull enclosing the free will of the unrepentant sinner. Because God cannot lift that "rock" without violating free will, He has to send it to the only place it can exist without stinking up His heaven and ruining the eternal joy of the good people, i.e., hell.

Blogger VD December 07, 2018 1:09 PM  

Mr. Day, how many parts you will elect to post?

No idea. At least two more, one a response to Daniel Dennett that is from TIA, another a response to Thomas Aquinas that is new.

Or did you choose the size of excerpt based on presenting a thought completely?

More or less, yes.

Blogger Elijah December 07, 2018 1:12 PM  

the Dominicans and the Jesuits argued for over 500 years on whether free will exists or does Gods omniscience negate free will.

Blogger tz December 07, 2018 1:13 PM  

Andrew Sullivan gets much wrong But realizes Christianity - real Christianity - is vital to Western Civilization

Blogger Seth December 07, 2018 1:14 PM  

So at any moment God only has partial knowledge of what is happening in the world (but full knowledge of human nature in general)? God has set partial knowledge of the past, present, and future. Or that God fully knows the present and past but doesn't know the future?

I think William Lane Craig's middle knowledge view answers most issues. Partial knowledge positions would have to contend with "greatest conceivable being" theology.

There are more about foreknowledge (knowing future events) and some verses could be flowery language but:

“Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please” (Isaiah 46:9-10).

“Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD” (Psalm 139:4).

“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways” (Psalm 139:1-3).

“My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you” (Psalm 139:15-16).

“He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit” (Psalm 147:4-5).

“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever” (1 Chronicles 28:9).

“Do you know how the clouds hang poised, those wonders of him who has perfect knowledge?” (Job 37:16).

“From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth—he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do” (Psalm 33:13-15).

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Luke 12:7).

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:29-30).

Blogger Jackson Peds December 07, 2018 1:18 PM  

Guys, about the "Can God create a stone so heavy he can't lift" rhetoric, I gave this answer when asked, can you review it, please?

"Yes, yes, he can, and being omnipotent means he can scale the rock to a weight he can lift."

Is this the proper way to respond?

Blogger FrankNorman December 07, 2018 1:21 PM  

I'd like to see a list of the verses that Vox believes contradict Divine omniscience.

I have another question for him though: what about Divine omnipresence? There are statements in Scripture to the effect that God is everywhere, that He "fills the heavens and the earth".
So how could He be unaware of what anyone is up to, when He's right there with them?

Blogger tz December 07, 2018 1:22 PM  

It is an error to assert any part of the Bible about God is clearly understood. God said he would cover us with his wings so God is a giant bird?

So "God Lied" cannot be true, but our attempting to read the Bible is about as faulty as the Mauri trying to decipher a nuclear physics and quantum mechanics book before they met their first Englishmen.

Moreover there are very clear passages, but because they explain what we must do, how we must act, we won't look too closely, lest we fail to measure up to something God clearly commands. Better to play theology with obscure and hard passages.

But one thing has always been considered true - Saints understand scripture much more clearly than those still even on the edges of sin. You can't understand God without attempting and desiring to be Godly.

Blogger Ray Mota December 07, 2018 1:25 PM  

Seems like, in a quick scan, many of the above respondents refer to God as a he.

Think about it.

Blogger John Calla December 07, 2018 1:27 PM  

Certainly God can not be mutable. To be mutable means that the thing exists in the confines of time. How can God be confined to the thing He created? That completely contradicts the philosophical definition of God as a being that is the ultimate cause and has qualities that transcend the created universe.

If his very essence depends on time, then he can not be eternal, but must have been created himself.

Therefore, it is not possible for God to "learn" something, since learning is a change, and change requires a period of time to pass. God's essence is outside of time.

Then "traditional Christianity", whatever that is, specifically denies the Bible.

More accurately, it denies your interpretation of the Bible. And your interpretation is fallible because you're human (and not even consistent with Christian tradition itself, which is a far weightier evidence than a single person's view).

Blogger Ray Mota December 07, 2018 1:27 PM  

Seeems like, in a quick scan, many of the above respondents refer to God as a he.

Think about it.

Blogger ted beale December 07, 2018 1:31 PM  

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Blogger Seth December 07, 2018 1:37 PM  

Readers should take some notes from this series, some simple points are being confused.

https://www.reasonablefaith.org/podcasts/defenders-podcast-series-3/s3-doctrine-of-god-attributes-of-god

"Can God create a stone so heavy he can't lift"

Is easy to answer, the answer is no. The same way he can't create a married bachelor. All powerful means doing anything that power can do, the strongest man in the world can't bend a paper clip into a 4 sided triangle.

Blogger VD December 07, 2018 1:37 PM  

It is an error to assert any part of the Bible about God is clearly understood. God said he would cover us with his wings so God is a giant bird?

Don't be a jackass. We understand metaphors. But saying "I don't know" when you actually do know is not a metaphor, it is a lie.

We know God uses metaphors. In your opinion, does God lie?

Therefore, it is not possible for God to "learn" something, since learning is a change, and change requires a period of time to pass. God's essence is outside of time.

You've already demonstrated your logical ineptitude. No need to further demonstrate it.

So how could He be unaware of what anyone is up to, when He's right there with them?

I don't know. Why would He lie to them about not knowing?

More accurately, it denies your interpretation of the Bible.

No, it denies the clear meaning of many words in every single human languages.

Blogger Lamarck Leland December 07, 2018 1:38 PM  

VD wrote:Then you're probably stupid. If you want to posit an illogical, irrational Creatrix, feel free.



It is better to be stupid and be correct.

VD wrote:Then "traditional Christianity", whatever that is, specifically denies the Bible.

These are the dogmas of the Church.
Has every Christian denied the Bible until you came along and found the only truth?

The truth is every protestant is his own pope, interpreting the Bible to suit his needs. I do not know why do you need this particular false interpretation and I don't care, do your thing.

Blogger VD December 07, 2018 1:40 PM  

Is this the proper way to respond?

No, because the correct answer is no. Unless you want to accept the argument that God does not exist because He is all things, and therefore He is both existence and nonexistence, and therefore does not exist.

Blogger Alphaeus December 07, 2018 1:43 PM  

"HE gave you a CHURCH and you reject it."

You need to explain why you think rejection of a "CHURCH" is inherently ungodly and unbiblical. You need to explain why Jesus would say this in the book of His Revelation, chapter 3:

14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:


I mean, can you blame someone for not wanting to stand to close to people like the Laodiceans?

I think the fall back position is made clear by Jesus in this saying in Matthew 18:

19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Jesus seems to be implying that all we need to make a "CHURCH" is 2 or 3 of us gathering together in His Name and agreeing on things.

Blogger John Calla December 07, 2018 1:43 PM  

@44 According to Romans 7, sin constrains us all and since we are all under the power sin we are no longer free.

It's a matter of degree. Just because our wills are limited by our weaknesses doesn't mean we have no free will at all. It does depend on the circumstances of course. An addict is certainly less free in that particularly addictive act than one who does not suffer from addiction, etc.

@45 He will know all about you.

To truly know all about me would require Him to know all about every ancestor that ever contributed to my DNA going back to the beginning of humanity, and every law and essence in this universe that has ever influenced me, and to know of every demon and angel that has ever acted upon me. Basically, he would have to know everything just to know me.

Not to mention, he would have to know everything simply to create all of those things.

Blogger VD December 07, 2018 1:45 PM  

It is better to be stupid and be correct.

You're not correct. You also believe that God does not exist.

These are the dogmas of the Church. Has every Christian denied the Bible until you came along and found the only truth?

Of course not. There are many Christians who believed as I do. The observation is very far from original to me.

There is absolutely no way for you to simultaneously believe what the Bible says and dogma that contradicts it. And there is also Church dogma that states Mary was sinless from the moment of her conception. I don't believe that either.

Blogger VD December 07, 2018 1:47 PM  

Basically, he would have to know everything just to know me.

More logical ineptitude on display.

Blogger Alphaeus December 07, 2018 1:50 PM  

"The truth is every protestant is his own pope, interpreting the Bible to suit his needs. "

Protestants do not recognize a "Pope" that has the authority to tell us what to believe and what not to believe in contradiction to our own individual conscience and in violation of our own personal responsibility to the truth. Like Luther said, if you can show us with Scripture or by Reason that we are wrong, then we will recant and submit to the truth. But otherwise, blow it out your @$$, you psychotic megalomaniac; sorry if I put too fine a point on it.

Blogger Lamarck Leland December 07, 2018 1:50 PM  

*Is this the proper way to respond?*

You could simply say "No, because God cannot contradict Himself".

Your answer is also "valid" and it seems like the position adopted by Descartes, that God is absolutely omnipotent, He can create a rock so heavy he can't lift, and then lift that rock anyway.
You can read on Infogalactic about the Omnipotence_paradox

Blogger Duke Norfolk December 07, 2018 1:57 PM  

Vox,

You're slowly getting me there. So much you said in that Darkstream really resonated with me. Seeing the evil in this world, and seeing how this plays out over and over again, validating the Bible in so many ways; well, it has opened my eyes.

I never thought I could/would reason my way to believing in God, but you've helped me in doing just that. I'm sure there's something wrong with even saying that (reasoning my way to belief), but that's where I feel like I am.

Blogger Seth December 07, 2018 2:00 PM  

"I never thought I could/would reason my way to believing in God, but you've helped me in doing just that. I'm sure there's something wrong with even saying that (reasoning my way to belief), but that's where I feel like I am."

No, you're not the only one. Many others leave churches that aren't providing real answers, to later be exposed to reason and evidence for Christianity for the first time later in life.

Blogger Kallmunz December 07, 2018 2:06 PM  

@42 When Satan confronts Jesus showing him the Kingdoms of the world he states "all these have been given to me and I will give them to whom I choose." You will notice that Jesus does not argue the point for it is obvious.
Satan won the right to rule this world it was solidified in I Samuel 8. It's easy to think that only the Jews would be such fools to make such a demand but I assure you the Americans of today would make the same demand.

Blogger Lamarck Leland December 07, 2018 2:08 PM  

VD wrote:You also believe that God does not exist.

I agree with your comment.
Our God is not limited by what we understand as existence.

VD wrote:The observation is very far from original to me.

Fair enough, I take it back then.
I only read this on TIA.

Alphaeus wrote:if you can show us with Scripture or by Reason that we are wrong, then we will recant and submit to the truth

No, you won't. The capital letter in "Reason" shows your pride. All the logic and science in the world won't save your soul or bring back the dead.
You go seek God in humility. I'm not here to convert anyone or preach anything.

I intended to post only one comment expressing dissent and that was it.

Blogger Ingot9455 December 07, 2018 2:15 PM  

The gag I heard is that when God creates a rock so heavy he can't lift it, it's because the rock is everywhere and there's no longer any meaning to ther concept of 'lifting' it somewhere.

Blogger Seth December 07, 2018 2:19 PM  

"VD wrote: You also believe that God does not exist."


I agree with your comment.
Our God is not limited by what we understand as existence."

Damn, I thought VD was being harsh but it looks like he called it right again.

"Don't put God in a box!" is the warcry of the Gnostics and the New Age.

Everything that exists has properties that make it one thing and not another.

Blogger ted beale December 07, 2018 2:20 PM  

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Blogger ted beale December 07, 2018 2:20 PM  

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Blogger ted beale December 07, 2018 2:20 PM  

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Blogger ZhukovG December 07, 2018 2:27 PM  

I believe the universe is God's computer game. Created for his own enjoyment, it is a place where he need not know everything and need not be able to do everything.

Sure, he could use the 'cheat codes' and read the 'walk through', but where's the fun in that.

Blogger Amos Bellomy December 07, 2018 2:34 PM  

Come to think of it, I would go as far to say that what you rename your characteristics of God pretty much lines up with the scholastic definitions of omnipotence and omniscience anyway to my understanding.

Blogger Lamarck Leland December 07, 2018 2:40 PM  

Seth wrote:I thought VD was being harsh


I've been reading this blog for more than 10 years I think, before we even had comments.
EVERYDAY I've seem people defaming and attacking Vox dishonestly, not only here but on many other places on the Internet.
People out there trying to get a single word so they can say GOTCHA!
It is only natural that anyone would develop a defensive attitude in this case.
So, if he seems harsh you have to cut him some slack.

These theological discussions will continue until the return of Our Lord.
One thing we can all agree is that it is good for people to live on separate countries,
this way we don't have to be at each other's throat.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer December 07, 2018 2:51 PM  

To truly know all about me would require Him to know all about every ancestor that ever contributed to my DNA going back to the beginning of humanity, and every law and essence in this universe that has ever influenced me, and to know of every demon and angel that has ever acted upon me. Basically, he would have to know everything just to know me.

That's absolutely ridiculous. Why would God need such a complete knowledge of you? All he needs to know for judgement is whether or not you have accepted Christ and repented your sins.

Blogger Alphaeus December 07, 2018 3:03 PM  

"Why would God need such a complete knowledge of you? All he needs to know for judgement is whether or not you have accepted Christ and repented your sins."

Matthew 10:

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Blogger John Calla December 07, 2018 3:06 PM  

@87 That's absolutely ridiculous. Why would God need such a complete knowledge of you? All he needs to know for judgement is whether or not you have accepted Christ and repented your sins.

To make a perfectly just judgment requires full knowledge, otherwise there would be a defect in the judgment. How does He know that I'm truly repentant? Or what if there is some characteristic -- not of my own fault -- that impedes me from doing what is fully proper, thus attenuating my responsibility? What if there is some ignorance that is not my fault?

Nobody can judge anybody to heaven or hell partly because they don't have full knowledge to understand the reasons why somebody makes the choices he makes.

In addition, there is a judgment in terms of what rewards the soul will enjoy in heaven or what punishments he will endure in hell. Judging that perfectly requires full knowledge not only of the person but of every circumstance surrounding the choices he made in life.

Blogger Haxo Angmark December 07, 2018 3:08 PM  

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Blogger Peter Gent December 07, 2018 3:09 PM  

One of the things that one gets from reading Job is how God is not like us and how our logical thinking can sometimes get us in trouble (as it did Job's counselors). I have always loved The Chronicles of Narnia and how Lewis talks about the deep knowledge of creation that connects everything through dimensions unseen and unknown to us.

While useful and God does say to come and reason with him, sometimes all one can say is that what God is and does transcends our limited understanding and our logic since it is very linear and single planar.

I look forward to what comes after as things that are muddy (mirror darkly) will become clear and the unknown will become known. Most likely, these kinds of issues will just melt away and we will get on with real living and experiencing God and His creation for that is why we were created and I look forward to being what I was created to be.

Blogger chronoblip December 07, 2018 3:21 PM  

Is the tanti* term useful because it allows for God's actions to be different from God's capacity?

That it gives a dimension of choice for God in manifesting any particular trait, while omni* terms do not?

So if God is omniscient, by definition God would then need to know all things that could be known all of the time, which forms a problem because when God claims not to know something, God also cannot lie, so a cogent solution would be that what God actually knows at any moment is a subset of all that could possibly be known.

If that's how it works, tantiscience would cleanly explain how Jesus could have known the time of His return, but when asked, He did not already know, neither did He seek to know, before answering.

Similarly, this would explain Isaiah 43:25, in that when God chooses to forget sins, God is actually forgetting, despite the fact that the sins still happened, and their existence and the natural consequences would still be in the full set of knowledge that God could know, but God is only choosing to know, and then act, on a subset of that full set of knowledge.

This is a very interesting concept to ponder on, even if I am getting it wrong.

Blogger Didas Kalos December 07, 2018 3:34 PM  

We are talking about a Being who created everything in 6 days without breaking a sweat. For any one of us to say the God doesn't know everything is a tad prideful (IMHO).
He is way bigger than any of us can think!
He is immutable, "I am the Lord: I change not"
A different topic is does the God absolutely control every minutiae as some Calvinists believe?
And then some do not believe Jesus is fully God and fully man (At the same time.) John 1 is pretty simple.

Of course this is not a theological website. So, no reason to get all huffy either.

God will be what and who he is no matter what one thinks or does.

He made kazillions of massive stars in 1 day. He isn't affected by our fallible reasonings.

Praise be to God.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer December 07, 2018 3:47 PM  

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.


Which has nothing to do with judgement.

How does He know that I'm truly repentant? Or what if there is some characteristic -- not of my own fault -- that impedes me from doing what is fully proper, thus attenuating my responsibility? What if there is some ignorance that is not my fault?

He's God. He can see what is in your heart.

"then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive and act and render to each according to all his ways, whose heart You know, for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men"

1 King 8:39

"But You know me, O LORD; You see me; And You examine my heart's attitude toward You Drag them off like sheep for the slaughter And set them apart for a day of carnage!"

Jeremiah 12:3

'But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."'

1 Samuel 16:7

Blogger Mr Darcy December 07, 2018 3:48 PM  

@58:

Hmmm … I've (mercifully) never been asked about the rock so big He can't lift it, but I sorta kinda think that if anybody did ask me that, I'd say something like, "You know … you have WAY too much time on your hands."

Blogger Mr Darcy December 07, 2018 3:50 PM  

@61 Ray Motta:

You have WAY too much time on your hands.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer December 07, 2018 3:53 PM  

In addition, there is a judgment in terms of what rewards the soul will enjoy in heaven or what punishments he will endure in hell. Judging that perfectly requires full knowledge not only of the person but of every circumstance surrounding the choices he made in life.

This denies free will and moral agency. Maybe God doesn't care why you made a particular choice. You either accepted Jesus as your savior or you didn't. You are at a certain point in your sanctification or you aren't.

Blogger Alphaeus December 07, 2018 3:55 PM  

"Which has nothing to do with judgement. "

I was responding to the question of omniscience, not judgment. I would say that the reason we can have confidence in God's judgment includes our belief that He is in fact omniscient enough to consider all the possible facts and understand the circumstances.

It is my opinion that we are all pretty full of BS compared to God when it comes to judgment. Consider what Elihu said when it was his turn to speak to his elders:

Job 32
1 So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes.
2 Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God.
3 Also against his three friends was his wrath kindled, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer December 07, 2018 3:56 PM  

To be clear, our salvation isn't just at all. We are saved by Grace. We are getting grace instead of justice.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer December 07, 2018 4:00 PM  

I would say that the reason we can have confidence in God's judgment includes our belief that He is in fact omniscient enough to consider all the possible facts and understand the circumstances.

I agree that God will have all relevant knowledge. I don't know if He is omniscient or not. That knowledge is not necessary for salvation. I disagree with John Calla that God needs to be omniscient to render judgement because his reasoning is works based, ignores Grace, and is not Biblical.

Blogger Mr Darcy December 07, 2018 4:02 PM  

@93:

It's kinda sobering, though, to think that God made Hillary Clinton.

Blogger Mr Darcy December 07, 2018 4:03 PM  

@81 82 & 83 Ted Beale:

You have WAY too much time on your hands.

Blogger VD December 07, 2018 4:06 PM  

To make a perfectly just judgment requires full knowledge, otherwise there would be a defect in the judgment.

All that is required is full knowledge of the human heart, which God specifically claims to have. Nothing more is necessary.

Again, we see that you are inept when it comes to logic and reason.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer December 07, 2018 4:12 PM  

All that is required is full knowledge of the human heart, which God specifically claims to have. Nothing more is necessary.

I would also point out that the "God has to have full knowledge of your ancestors and any and all influences upon you" is an argument against spirituality and for the "humans are moist robots" atheist position regarding free will.


Blogger Solon December 07, 2018 4:27 PM  

She made her choices. She has turned away from God, and will suffer the punishment on her passing.

Understand, though, that it is conceivable that Hillary Clinton was always intended to be a forge, to harden and temper the steel of this nation's heart against sin.

We cannot know God's plan. I prefer to look at her existence as a warning, to say to the faithful: "this is the wages of sin. This is what becomes of a people who have turned from me, who have made of themselves Gods and who revel in debauchery and degeneracy."

The evil in this world is meant as a teacher. The Clintons are one of His lessons. Even if one thinks He should have chosen a softer lesson, that is not for us to decide. All we can do is learn the lesson, or not.

Blogger John Calla December 07, 2018 4:46 PM  

re: "full knowledge of the human heart"

How would God know that He has "full knowledge" if there are facts that He doesn't know, either by ignorance or choice? This is a contradiction. If there is a piece of information that one does not know, how can it be determined that it lies outside of this particular domain?

Blogger Mark Stoval December 07, 2018 4:47 PM  

Mr. Day, how many parts you will elect to post?

No idea. At least two more, one a response to Daniel Dennett that is from TIA, another a response to Thomas Aquinas that is new.


I am looking forward to that. Thomas Aquinas is my favorite Saint, theologian, and philosopher. And just at Christmas time to boot. Neat.

Blogger Steve Samson December 07, 2018 4:53 PM  

@ seth
Count me in as one of those.

Blogger Jack December 07, 2018 5:19 PM  

I am looking forward to it!

Blogger campbreeze December 07, 2018 5:48 PM  

“When he asks Abel, " what have you done" he clearly is not all-knowing.”

Have you never asked someone a question that you knew the answer to? You can’t read that and conclude one way or the other whether God is all-knowing.

Blogger xevious2030 December 07, 2018 6:00 PM  

Satan is the reprobate mind. He is not concerned with Truth and lies to himself as to his measure. And so he has no measure to the outcome.

Blogger Gettimothy December 07, 2018 6:00 PM  

Regarding capacity vs action...

God cannot tell a lie. He has neither the capacity nor the means nor the will. Yet, He knows all about lies and liars.

We cannot say that this 'failure' on God's part diminishes Him in any way.

Your approach is interesting and worth reflection. It is clearly useful.


Blogger Avalanche December 07, 2018 6:05 PM  

@16 "...that implies God is subject to time. We have a temporal "now". Every moment of time stretching from the infinite past to the infinite future is God's "eternal now"."

You mean God is a TARDIS!?!?

(Joke! It's a joke -- it's just what came to my twisted little mind! No offense intended!)

Blogger Doktor Jeep December 07, 2018 6:07 PM  

God is a comedian.

Blogger HoosierHillbilly December 07, 2018 7:11 PM  

@7 There have been some attempts to refute each of the mentions in Dr. Boyd and others' works in Orthodox Presbyterian/Protestant Reformed circles and some others I'm sure, but no argument at all that when we start from different places, it certainly feels like gymnastics. (And there are plenty of knots one ties themselves into). Best we have put forward is yelling about the slippery slope with an open God that is changeable. Which is well...not a logical argument, so there we go.

But the Open Theodicy...discussion...still takes place here in Reformed circles. And probably will until the end of time, sadly. No amount of back of forth will likely resolve it...

until Jesus comes back and tells us He knew the answer all along.

Blogger Wild Man December 07, 2018 8:00 PM  

There is no evidence that reality (or 'God's creation' if you prefer) is bounded (finite). To the contrary, consider Cantor's uncountable aleph-infinity (by way of power set operation upon the continuum), ..... with the continuum itself (i.e. - the real numbers) an uncountable infinite set of aleph 1).

Cantor went on to speculate that absolute infinity (or 'God') transcended aleph-infinity (i.e - I believe his final intuition on this was that a description of 'absolute infinity' cannot be captured by way of set theory operation). That is my intuition as well, given that Cantor's work didn't really deal with the concept of strong emergence that implies an infinity of qualitatives.

Discussion with regards to the qualities of God should begin with discussion about the quality of absolute infinity. Good luck with that. It's beyond human conception. Everybody is just speculating here. There is not even the possibility of a human authority on the matter. But we can grope along and try to do a little better bit by bit. We need more Georg Cantors.

Blogger Amethyst Dominica December 07, 2018 9:29 PM  

Inspiring Philosophy did a couple of videos on the debunking of God's Omniscience and Omnipotence Paradoxes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqpKKS9BilA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOHQVSpwEH8

Be interesting to hear what others think.

Blogger bob kuk mando ( everything has Consequences. that what makes them Consequences ) December 07, 2018 9:49 PM  

43. John Calla December 07, 2018 12:24 PM
What if the information He doesn't know is needed to be known to make a just judgment?


the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was sufficient to expiate ALL ( forgiveable ) sins.

therefore, stipulating Omniscience is completely irrelevant to the question of whether or not God's judgment OF YOU is "just".

are you perfect and without fault or blemish? no? then you have fallen short of the glory of God and it is only by His grace and sacrifice that you will enter into Heaven.

do you not believe this?

then you are not Christian.

Blogger John Russo December 07, 2018 10:11 PM  

I totally see your point. I may have worded it incorrectly. I was just attempting to show his metamorphosis. I have no idea, nor does anyone.
I would assume the ceator, with a relatively new creation at that point would have known exactly what was going on. Who knows. Have a nice weekend.

Blogger John Calla December 07, 2018 10:44 PM  

@118

You're missing the point.

Not everyone goes to heaven. And in those cases His judgment is just (and perfect, not subject to any defect of ignorance). But even for those who go to heaven due to God's mercy, His judgment of our sins is also based on justice and knowledge of those sins even if we don't receive the penalty. That requires a lot more than just "knowing the heart", which is an intentionally vague phrase. If a person is condemned to a deeper level of hell because of a particular sin, then He must not only know of the sin but also all of the circumstances surrounding it.

Blogger xevious2030 December 07, 2018 11:18 PM  

Math is three blind men describing an elephant by feel. It can be very helpful in understanding, but there is much not described. How much space is between two balls one foot away from one another? However many divisions you want, or none, or there are no balls, just swirling energy, or the effects on a null energy field of zero point energy and gravity interaction. It is neither bounded nor unbounded, it is simply defined by criteria. Probably better not to confuse the tools of measure with the "object" being measured.

Blogger cyrus83 December 07, 2018 11:39 PM  

I'll be the first to admit there are many passages in the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, where it seems that God is lying, changes his mind, or is not omniscient. If God can either lie or change His mind however, the Word of God is unreliable. If God is not omniscient, then it is either the case that God is capable of expanding His knowledge or that there are things He does not and cannot know.

The key truth, said plainly in both Malachi 3:6 and James 1:17 is that God does not change. This precludes any possibility of God changing His mind, lying (because to then tell the truth would be a change), or learning. That means either that God is omniscient, or there are things that God does not and cannot know, an apparent absurdity given God created everything there is.

As such, I believe that God cannot lie, does not change His mind, and knows all things. Can I explain every Bible passage that suggests otherwise, or explain why the Bible seems to contradict those suggestions in the 2 passages cited above? I am left in the position of Job, to say that I do not understand.

Regarding the book of Job itself, the entire book reads more as a parable than a history, in which case the discussion between God and Satan is the means for setting up the lesson taught therein. If taken at face value though, it is not absurd that an omniscient God would choose to "bet" with Satan in this manner - neither Satan nor Job know the outcome in advance or God's purpose in allowing it, and the book also doesn't get written without those events being set in motion.

Blogger Wild Man December 08, 2018 12:03 AM  

@122 - cyrus - you said: "If God can either lie or change His mind however, the Word of God is unreliable".

There is another possibility. That Jesus repudiated much of the Old Testament. That's certainly the flavor of the Gospel of John. Judaic prophecy is mockingly affirmed by Jesus (or at least usurpingly affirmed), by way of that gospel. Said type of affirmation is tantamount to repudiation of what ends these prophecies sought to fulfill.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd December 08, 2018 12:48 AM  

It's been over a year since I read the whole bible. I think I need to read through it again.

Blogger Resident Moron™ December 08, 2018 3:09 AM  

Peter Gent will be standing off to one side scratching his chin and nodding.
Calla will be complaining; "well of course I knew I COULD be wrong, I just didn't believe it!"
The Calvinists will be huddled in the corner formulating a new creed to explain to themselves that although God isn't a Calvinist he really would have been had he known better ... er, more.
Nate will be drinking in another corner with Jonah.
Vox will be watching heaven sliding into another theology thread with a slightly frustrated air, until God leans in and whispers to him, "you think YOUR followers pissed you off!?" ... at which point he'll start to grin.

I'd say that God has a wicked sense of humour, but ...

Blogger Blastman December 08, 2018 4:15 AM  

On the "can God make a rock so heavy He cannot lift it question. The correct answer is no.

I recently I ran across a video at the YT channel of Rationality Rules, purporting to prove that an omnipotent being cannot exist. He made this conclusion using the argument of whether God can make a stone so heavy that he cannot lift it, formulating it thusly …

Can an omnipotent being create a stone so heavy that it cannot lift it?

If the answer is yes, then the beings power is limited because it cannot lift the stone.

If the answer is no, then the beings power is limited because it cannot create the stone. …"


So, he concludes that he has reasoned or proved that an omnipotent being cannot exist.

His reasoning to such a conclusion is incorrect. Basically, the question as posed is asking whether an aspect of God's power is limited, stone creation or stone lifting. The answer to the question is of course no. And the logic fail of his reasoning is -- if the answer is no, that doesn’t necessarily mean God's power is limited because he cannot create the stone. A being with infinite powers of creation would mean that neither power, stone creation nor stone lifting trumps the other -- as each power is infinite. To use a mathematical analogy, if I ask whether x > y, and you answer no, that doesn't mean that y > x as a third possibility is that x = y. His error is that he assumes a no answer means one power is greater than the other.

Other similar lines of attack on God's existence amount to asking God to do or be 2 logically opposed things at the same time. Or asking whether God can do something he's not capable of doing, and then saying that proves God is not omnipotent. Like stating God cannot turn himself into a finite being, such that he is no longer God -- so that proves he can't be God or infinitely powerful.

God can do what's logically possible, because he is truth. Any proposition that asks God to do something outside of the bounds of truth or logic, and then stating that he can't do that, is not a indication of lack of perfection or omnipotence, but a contradiction of truth. It's equivalent to asking something, or God, to be what it or he is not, and then saying that because it or he can't be what it is not, that indicates God is not all powerful.

"be what you are not," … and then concluding if you cannot be what you are not, then that proves you are not what you are. The definition of omnipotence is being able to do what is logically possible. God can't contradict truth, and that being the case doesn't prove God isn't God.

Another line or reasoning for the "Could God create a stone bigger than he could lift? is that God can lift anything finite and everything created is finite. Any created stone would be finite, and you can't have something like a stone that is both finite and infinite, so God could lift anything he creates. Again, the answer is no.

Blogger Blastman December 08, 2018 5:30 AM  

John Calla @32.

I think that sums up pretty well the well established traditional conclusions of Christian philosophers and theologians.

encyclopedia

That God is omniscient or possesses the most perfect knowledge of all things, follows from His infinite perfection. In the first place He knows and comprehends Himself fully and adequately, and in the next place He knows all created objects and comprehends their finite and contingent mode of being. Hence He knows them individually or singularly in their finite multiplicity, knows everything possible as well as actual; knows what is bad as well as what is good.

From TIA

" … Incidentally, it has not escaped the notice of logicians that omniscience and omnipotence are mutually incompatible. If God is omniscient, he must already know how he is going to intervene to change the course of history using his omnipotence. But that means he can’t change his mind about his intervention, which means he is not omnipotent. … Dawkins, The God Delusion. p.78

The bible references to God changing his mind must be put in proper context. It's only from a limited human perspective that God changes his mind, and not in respect to the fact that God did not know something, or, that God got something wrong about some state of facts or issue of justice, and had to change his mind about it. If God were in error about something, then he wouldn’t be God.

This issue is nicely addressed at … In Numbers 14 it appears that Moses changed the mind of God. How can you explain this? …

"… What in Moses' words and actions would possibly have provoked God to change His mind? I think that what we have here is the mystery of providence whereby God ordains not only the ends of things that come to pass but also the means. God sets forth principles in the Bible where He gives threats of judgment to motivate His people to repentance. Sometimes He spells out specifically, "But if you repent, I will not carry out the threat." He doesn't always add that qualifier, but it's there. I think this is one of those instances. It was tacitly understood that God threatened judgment upon these people, but if someone were to plead for them in a priestly way, He would give grace rather than justice. I think that's at the heart of that mystery.

The instances of God changing his mind in the Bible are always about some sin of mankind and the threat of punishment from God. Like …

Jonah 3:10 … When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.

The equation is …

man sins = deserves punishment.

If God threatens punishment, and the facts of justice don't change, or man does nothing to change the scales of justice, then one can be certain that God can and will carry out his punishment. By repenting and changing his ways, man changes the equation to …

man sins + repentance = avoids the punishment decreed by God that man had deserved.

Thus, God is not changing his mind about some fact, but is adjusting the scales of justice to some new set of circumstances.

As noted above …

The Change Is Always God Stopping Punishment

When Scripture tells us about God relenting, or repenting, of what He said He would do, each instance is in regard to punishment. It is never a case of God promising to do something good and then changing His mind. His promises to His people will not be broken.


Also

Prayer

… In hearing our prayer God does not change His will or action in our regard, but simply puts into effect what He had eternally decreed in view of our prayer.

Blogger VD December 08, 2018 6:16 AM  

The bible references to God changing his mind must be put in proper context. It's only from a limited human perspective that God changes his mind, and not in respect to the fact that God did not know something, or, that God got something wrong about some state of facts or issue of justice, and had to change his mind about it. If God were in error about something, then he wouldn’t be God.

Come on. Do you really think no one is going to pick up on the circular nature of your argument. That's not even an argument, it's just a tautology.

Either God changes His mind or God is a liar. Which do you believe? Trying to hide behind "when God said He changed His mind, that actually doesn't mean He changed His mind" is an idiotic and dishonest evasion.

Blogger The Cooler December 08, 2018 7:28 AM  

The Almighty is, by definition, capable of intentional deception. Descartes notes the following in his fourth meditation:

To begin with, I recognize that it is impossible that God should ever deceive me. For in every case of trickery or deception some imperfection is to be found; and although the ability to deceive appears to be an indication of cleverness or power, the will to deceive is undoubtedly evidence of malice or weakness, and so cannot apply to God.

In short, while God possesses the ability to intentionally deceive, He, being perfect, lacks the will to do so. Ergo, the biblical instances in which God appears to change his mind are necessarily that.

This, of course, supports the supposition that that God, while Almighty, is not Omniscient.

Blogger cyrus83 December 08, 2018 8:59 AM  

Consider 2 Kings 20, where it is seems pretty evident that God either lied to Isaiah and Hezekiah concerning the king's illness, or God changed his mind and contravened the prophecy delivered by Isaiah in that same chapter.

The problem can be resolved if one takes the view that Hezekiah was only going to be healed if he prayed to God as he did to spare him and that God knew that Hezekiah would only make that prayer if Isaiah prophesied his impending death.

Blogger Gunnar Thalweg December 08, 2018 9:14 AM  

This line of thinking is how Calvin got into trouble ... can a human mind grasp the mind of God using human reason?

No.

It's difficult to say either God changes his mind or is a liar. That is precisely the kind of logic chopping we should avoid.

In what sense does God have a mind? In what category is God's "knowledge" and how is it like our knowledge?

You end up in areas where you are trying to argue if God's knowledge is perfect but not complete, because God cannot know the unknowable ... just above the paygrade if the human race, see Job, when not asking if God can hide his car keys so well that even He cannot find them.

Not to mention the Trinity. Jesus is clearly limited during His time on earth. The Father knows the Day of Judgment, not the Son.

God is not a liar. Nothing intelligent can be said by humans about the outer limits of His knowledge.

My two cents.

Blogger Alphaeus December 08, 2018 9:23 AM  

" it is not absurd that an omniscient God would choose to "bet" with Satan in this manner "

God loves to bet, but it is impossible for Him to gamble, sort of like Big Giuli.

Blogger Didas Kalos December 08, 2018 9:23 AM  

The Wildman has lost his crazy mind. Surely you do not believe what you wrote!

Blogger Didas Kalos December 08, 2018 9:27 AM  

@bob kuk long name: I fully believe this! "are you perfect and without fault or blemish? no? then you have fallen short of the glory of God and it is only by His grace and sacrifice that you will enter into Heaven."

Blogger Alphaeus December 08, 2018 9:42 AM  

"Either God changes His mind or God is a liar. Which do you believe? Trying to hide behind "when God said He changed His mind, that actually doesn't mean He changed His mind" is an idiotic and dishonest evasion. "

This is why us more intelligent folks do not claim to be theologians. Eventually every theologian comes up short and looks like a stupid idiot who blithers nonsense.
How do us finite beings comprehend, much less explain, how God changes His mind? It cannnot be the same way we change our minds. I think God uses the terminology of changing His mind because it is the simplest way to express why God appears to say one thing but then eventually does another. We were condemned already, but God changed His mind when His Son made satisfactory atonement and propitiation for our sin. Redemption was in the plan from the foundation of the world, but the word "change" is used for simplicity. If whom God foreknew He did also predestinate, then there is no change from the original plan, but instead salvation was the plan for the foreknown and predestinated from the beginning. I don't say this as a theologian, I say it as some dude on the interwebs who has an interest in these things.

Blogger Unknown December 08, 2018 11:36 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Alex Sorensen December 08, 2018 11:40 AM  

Vox please correct me if I'm wrong, but as I understand it. If evil was not an objective material force then doing bad to others is subjective, I can justify anything I do because if it's good for me then it's right for me to do so. Would this be the problem with a rational atheist?

Blogger Lamarck Leland December 08, 2018 2:38 PM  

VD wrote:
That's not even an argument, it's just a tautology.

Either God changes His mind or God is a liar.


It is a tautology because he is trying to explain an axiom or a dogma of the faith.

The nature of God is that He cannot change His mind or lie.
Therefore whatever changes it's mind or lies is not God.

There are many apparent contradictions in the Bible. But they are only apparent, because the Bible must be interpreted so that there is harmony. There is nothing dishonest about that, it's how it's always been and will be.

Blogger xevious2030 December 10, 2018 12:02 PM  

Ok, here is the big failing of Einstein. And it is entirely understandable. Not because he was dumb or stupid, but because they were outside the availability of his experience and the understanding he had accumulated or drawn upon. He saw the universe as closed, upper limits and lower limits, nothing else beyond those. He was looking for a unified field in a closed system.

To put it bluntly, this universe is a unifying field. There is energy above the threshold of this universe, and energy that is below the threshold of this universe. New Agers, go away, nothing to do with that.

Now, some of the joining characteristics had not been found yet, and still haven’t been found. So, there is still plenty of room for unifying discovery. But there are a number of lower threshold characteristics which are related to the lower out of threshold field, and a number of higher threshold characteristics which are related to the higher out of threshold field, which simply have nothing in common with the opposite. The unification of these fields (actually three segments which are part of a larger continuum) is this universe, a bridge between the higher and lower. Now, there may be connections which simply have nothing to do with this universe, which can not be measured from this universe, and which may only be relevant to providing a better picture of the higher lower energies outside of the threshold of this universe, but those are largely pointless unless able to actually understand the characteristics of what exists beyond the thresholds in more than the most basic nuance.

And again, now, out of threshold itself means “beyond our current means.” And even while actually experiencing these may be currently outside of our means, it does not mean we can not measure the impacts and interactions where they exist, much in the same way as Pluto was discovered (found and described to a degree) well before it could be directly observed.

So, again, the failing was in considering the system as entirely closed, and by using this universe as the sum total of everything. Such as matter as a substance, not a state of energy, and supposing that it would require the same or more than the sum total of the combined energy of the universe to move matter faster than the speed of light. The failing on that latter part being the consideration it was impossible, not realizing that there may be more energy than that present anywhere and everywhere, a realization that would have rightly and correctly flattened and straightened out the spurious curved space/time continuum notion, and would have taken the quantum entanglement mythos out of the realm of spooky fairy tale/false-religion and into something that can actually make sense (removed the notions which produce error) in detail.

Blogger xevious2030 December 10, 2018 12:22 PM  

Think of matter as wrapped magnitude. When you have no energy created or destroyed, when you change the frequency, you change the magnitude (loss/gain). If you reduce the magnitude of matter until it is less substance, you increase the frequency of the energy and expand the output (amplitude). Now consider the potential for relatively unlimited input of magnitude. The difference between considering something impossible and possible.

Blogger Wild Man December 10, 2018 3:33 PM  

xevious2030 - OK - as theological considerations around the definition of 'universal' means 'open' or 'unbounded', if in fact there is any possibility of such (which there is as you outline), then ..... in your view:

Human truth, as based on our limitations, must necessarily be relative (i.e. - relative to our limited perspective) - yes? Or in other words, full human comprehension of the absolute infinite or the absolute universal, is necessarily not possible - yes? Or in other words, theologically speaking, God (the absolute infinite or the absolute universal) is in the main, necessarily unknowable, from the human perspective - yes? As such, the best we can ever hope for, necessarily, is better and better shadowy insinuations of the absolute infinity of the absolute universal (God) - yes? In other words, the proper Christian perspective is one that emphasizes the agnositc (i.e. - accept the humility associated with necessary doubt, with respect to contemplations around universals) - yes? In other words, Christian faith is about embracing this necessary doubt but choosing to believe in a loving God based on all the anecdotal evidence for a loving God (with perhaps the best anecdotal evidence being, that no one is able to answer the question - 'why is there something instead of nothing?') - yes?

I was raised a catholic and I see no heresy in this view, as far as the catholic perspective is concerned (but I cannot speak for other Christian denominations on this matter, because I don't know enough about them, however, if said denominations do see this perspective as heretical, to my mind, they then are spreading false doctrine).

Blogger xevious2030 December 10, 2018 4:27 PM  

Wild Man – Thank you for your questions. Mine was based more on the evidencing of math as proof of the characteristics of the universe, focusing on particular mathematic concepts of @116 and creation, and also to their relation to defining God in the theoretical as an offshoot (I am week in math, but get the concepts described to understand the limitations of math to being a useful tool). Some of it was just stuff I wanted to say, meaning it may or may not have added or subtracted to the specific post, but it provided a better background for the idea. And who knows what the soul is or is not capable of knowing? Not a bunt, but a question I do not currently recall (or know) the answer to. And I am Catholic, though either the administration or myself is prodigal, with a degree of distance thuswise for now. But the brain, as an organ, and even DNA, as it has been present in the multitude of individuals throughout human history (Jesus as an exception), has a limit on storage of information. Meaning biology within this universe seems finite in comprehension capacity.

So, to your questions, biologically, human truth would be limited, but not necessarily relative. Because the body, soul, and Spirit are part of the same entity, they have commonality of consciousness. Which answers your second question too, three, and four. For five, agnostic, no, but it is certainly understandable for people to have that doubt out of ignorance and likely with the influence of Satan to plane the seed. It is not damnable per se, in other words not willful rebellion, but it proposes an obstacle and an exploitable weakness. As to the last question, it is about embracing the notion that it is often unlikely that the day to day happenings of the material world will provide proof from natural occurrence, and that may be an influence on the human observer bringing those with a lack of faith to embrace the doubt, but things such as walking on water (which was done by a human passenger, not just by Jesus), causing darkness, resurrection and ascension, healing the sick through healing of the Spirit, waking the dead, demonstrate that recognition of the divine interacting with the day to day may remove the room inwardly doubt would seek to inhabit/infect. In other words, proof of the divine, of God even, may be provided, which may be rejected or accepted by the human.

As for a heresy, the nature of heresy is to reject or bring to rejection (the Catholic Church has codified well beyond what I know, so I defer where deference is warranted where the Church is involved, as it is not my interest to parse wheat and chaff that may be involved at this time) salvation and the saving Grace offered by Jesus, himself the Word of God made flesh, or which adds to or takes away from this word in a meaningful way. So my understanding is that whether or not it is heresy depends. And I am bunting a bit on that. Because it is not something I feel drawn to focus on, at least not at this time. This is a linear experience.

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