Is God omniscient or limited?

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by BlackHeart, Sep 18, 2003.

  1. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Perhaps that is more indicative of our use of language, rather than of the actual nature of God?
     
  2. Avinash

    Avinash Well-Known Member

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    Do you think any part of our use of language can really capture the nature of God? Maybe anything we say on this subject is always from a limited perspective?
     
  3. mcedgy

    mcedgy Active Member

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    Hello Vajradhara – By faith I acquire everything including personal claims. Yes, I did see your Einstein quote and was really surprised to find out that he was a philosopher! :) It’s all relative I suppose! Are you pointing at the moon or has that turned into an obscene gesture? :) mcedgy
     
  4. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste mcedgy,

    thank you for the post.

    i am the moon... and so are you :)

    we both point to it as we are able... mistakenly thinking that the "other" is not "us" :)

    maybe... we can help each other along our spiritual path... and, for me, that would be ideal :)

    yes... it is all relative!
     
  5. StrangeQuark

    StrangeQuark Wannabe Scholar

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    This is one of those questions that I've never been able to resolve for myself. I have a particular belief, and a philosophical stance I take that surrounds it, but there are still contradictions that are unsatisified.

    It helps for me to accept that God does not have to be what I believe. After this acceptance, I still decide to to believe it anyway, which I think is the very definition of faith.

    I am a very non-traditional "Christian." The things I am about to say may confuse the issue, but I'll give it a shot. I am not a monotheist (woah, how many Christians out there are suddenly screaming at me for that one?). Philosophically, I am a "panentheist." This implies, of course, that evil and imperfection are part of the same God I choose to believe is loving!

    It is very difficult to reconcile this, and my understanding is naturally flawed. Still, it works for me. I think that in someway evil and imperfection were a natural result of existence and God had to find a way to contain it. Unfortunately, if this perception has any truth, he probably contained it all right here in nature! Following that, he needed a plan to "heal" the imperfections, or the wound in existence. This probably has correlations in several or more belief systems, including Christianity (the war in heaven and Lucifer's expulsion). Most Christians just don't look at it this way (nor do I expect them to).

    In short, I believe that God is not perfect but he has a plan to achieve perfection.

    Christian doctrines I do not accept include: eternal damanation, in which case I think evil might be too strong a word. But how any of this fits in with my "Christian" belief is another matter entirely.
     
  6. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    More that when we use language to attempt to define God - then reveal the limitations of that definition - it is the words that are being criticised, rather than God.
     
  7. pswfps

    pswfps Member

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    Re: Omnipotent God?

    Not a reply to anyone in particular...

    I think it's pretty clear that an omniscient god is incompatible with human free will. To be all knowing requires foreknowledge of all human activity, thus from the deity's perspective, all human activity is pre-determined. This in itself is fine but if deity then judges human activity as "good" or "bad" then we have quite a ridiculous situation. Deity is effectively judging it's own creativity as good or bad - judging it's own actions! But wait; omniscient deity is perfect and possesed of infinite wisdom and so cannot make mistakes. Ergo no point in judging.

    In conclusion: If you consider that we have free will then deity is not omniscient and may be judgemental of human activity. Alternatively, if you consider that we have no free will (determinist) then deity can be omniscient but not judgemental. Omniscient deity is not judgemental OR judgemental deity is not omniscient. :confused:

    Regards
    Paul W.
     
  8. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Re: Omnipotent God?

    God's omniscience is born from the idea that God cannot be subject to any temporal condition, so God cannot be ignorant of the outcome of an action or event.

    The idea however, that because God knows what will happen, or what we will do (for example), he has pre-determined the outcome, is not proven from the argument.

    Pre-knowledge in God (an inexact phrase as there is no pre- nor post- condition) does not mean pre-determination precisely because such would invalidate the idea of 'freedom'.

    The idea of 'freedom' at this level - the freedom of man in relation to God - necessitates the reality of 'choice', the First Choice, as it were, being to 'go with God' towards an end which lies beyond our ken, but which is Good (being God-ordained); or 'go our own way' which being other than that Divinely willed must necessarily be a lesser good if not actually evil - ie in direct opposition to God - and essentially illusory or empty by the fact that we cannot sustain eternally a 'reality' of our own manufacture.

    So on the one hand we have Truth and Reality; Goodness and Beatitude, on the other we have Error and Illusion; Evil and Suffering.

    And judgement follows accordingly

    Thomas
     
  9. pswfps

    pswfps Member

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    Re: Omnipotent God?

    If deity is outside of any temporal condition then deity must exist in a single unchanging state across all moments of time. Fine.

    If deity created this universe of space/time/energy then deity must be present outside of the universe also. Fine.

    If an omniscient deity created the universe then such deity must by definition have known in advance the outcome of such creation - all suffering and wrongdoing included. Ergo omniscient deity is responsible for everything which transpires therein - including all suffering and wrongdoing. Further, if deity is omnipotent then presumably deity could have done things differently? In any case, it seems pointless for omniscient deity to blame a creation for it's faults when that creation had no say in how it should be created.

    It does not seem possible for an omniscient deity to create beings which have independant free will of their own. In the eyes of deity, they are effectively judged before they are even created.

    Regards
    PaulW.
     
  10. PersonaNonGrata

    PersonaNonGrata CODinside

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    Re: Omnipotent God?

    sawadee PaulW,
    would like to know why you think It must be out of this universe, think about the cocoons. dig, ... good. maybe the universe and everything is Its protection, but then a question might arouse from here "towards what/who/ewwww ?"

    so that is to say my mom is responsible for everything i do, huh? interesting..

    what would you like to be created as? maybe nextime ; but then you wouldnt have the chance to think about these matters, do you?

    first of all possibelness (?) is really a very earthly word, you cant use it for the maker. possibility suits better. try to commit suicide now, and do it. could you? you are never guilty till you disobey the basic rules, which is to respect and love. Ergo original sin is the biggest lie of all religious times.

    sincerely my lord's...
    EraiT

    cogito ergo sum
     
  11. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Re: Omnipotent God?

    Yesterday is a cancelled check, today is cash in hand, and tomorrow is a promisary note...(my dad)

    GOD in His Omnipotent way gave Himself a challenge, with us. He knows what could happen (every infinite possibility, based on the infinite series of choices man has). Because He gave us free will, His Omniscience is challenged. He does not know WHICH path we will take, only which paths we can take. Even if man had only two choices each (yes or no). The number of potential outcomes are mind boggling! 6,000,000,000 living human beings with two choices each, times 12,000,000,000 combinations, times 12,000,000,000 more times...I think I made my point.

    And if GOD is in fact skipping across the possible future realities (as any omniscient being can do), then He is by no means bored.

    The Bible (my strongest reference point) does not say Man is doomed. It says if man goes a certain way, he will be doomed, and if he chooses another way, he will be saved.

    Man's future is an open book, with blank pages yet to be written upon. GOD appears to be excited about the outcome (waiting to exhale comes to mind).

    I can see no challenge to GOD's omnipotents, nor His omniscience.

    Also, I see nothing wrong with a Christian view being considered "pantheistic"

    There is GOD, all three parts of Him. Then there is the "Devil" (which means literally "Little god". The Supreme Being Himself acknowledges the existence of all, but asks us to choose. (again based upon Biblical reference).

    This is a great thread !


    v/r

    Q
     
  12. PersonaNonGrata

    PersonaNonGrata CODinside

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    i totally agree with what you have said. he can not be bored when there is this huge amount of people hanging-around foolishly, thinking that their destiny has been determined before they were born. and blaming the deity, of their actions. that'll make me angry though )

    i am usually using the bible too, when i want to remember how a person should be. (not that much. lol.) strange one that is. but hey, they were all human beings werent they? couldnt even fly )

    limited? i wonder what is exactly meant by that? in which terms of limitaishen (wow i made up a word) are we talking about? do you believe that his limits starts on our wills? do you find yourself limited?


    xcuse my gendering the deity...




    In a place that can not be described to you by the words that is known by your on-going concious, a conversation is taking place between the Devil and its Creator.
     
  13. pswfps

    pswfps Member

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    Re: Omnipotent God?

    PersonNonGrata,
    LOL! That's the funniest thing I've heard all day! Are you suggesting your mother is the omniscient creator of the universe? All this time I've been searching for God and it turns out to be your mother!! I think I need to lie down for a while...

    I don't know the range of possibilities - I'm not omniscient. Having independant free will would be nice. That is what I'm trying to understand - how can I have free will when deity knows already everything I'll ever do, say and think! There is no choice but to be according to the will of God.
     
  14. PersonaNonGrata

    PersonaNonGrata CODinside

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    Re: Omnipotent God?

    raise your bigtoe, not now whenever you want to. look somewhere that you wouldnt look in normal circumstances (just a quick look, moving your eyeballs might to the trick too) do you think that is even written on your book of movements?

    stop thinking, if you can, that the deity knows what you are going to do. how do you know he does?

    you have the maximum free will one being can have. You are a human being in the first sight; can think and act, can act without thinking, you even have the choice of that. so as i mentioned if you have the right to commit suicide what else you want? In which ways do you feel yourself limited?




    Immmmmm coming home, so you better get the party started... )
     
  15. pswfps

    pswfps Member

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    Re: Omnipotent God?

    Now this makes some sense and is similar to what I've been wondering lately. According to Genesis, God made man in His image. I interpretted this as meaning that God made man with the capacity to know and love God and all that proceeds from God. To be in fellowship with God. In this sense we must have free will because God can hardly have a rewarding relationship with something which has no freedom of being. However, I cannot rationalise His complete and total omniscience with our own free will because in this case, from God's perspective we have none.

    So then if we have free will then God must have, like you say, given up some of His omniscience to allow man to exist as a free moral agent? Otherwise there's no point to it. That is an act of great sacrifice on His part wouldn't you say?

    If we allow ourselves to conclude this then it becomes necessary to believe that God is not omniscient and by extension, is limited. Sticks in the throat to say it though, doesn't it?

    I like the idea of there being many possible pre-defined paths and that God has given us the choice to continuously choose between them. A little like a pinball game - no one knows for sure which paths the ball will take but that it must eventually go out of play. Similarly for us, there are lots of paths to choose but eventually, they all lead us to God?

    Regards
    Paul.
     
  16. pswfps

    pswfps Member

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    Re: Omnipotent God?


    Persona,

    OK, you seem to be suggesting that God doesn't know everything I'm going to do. This means that God is not totally omniscient and so is to a degree limited. Perhaps I have taken the meaning of omniscience a little too literally then? To put what I said below slightly differently; perhaps God has given us little pockets of freedom (at His own expense) within the infinite omniscience of God?

    Thanks
    Paul.
     
  17. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Re: Omnipotent God?

    All roads eventually lead to Rome... all paths eventually lead us home.

    To say that GOD is not omniscient does indeed taste like a bitter pill. But to say that GOD "gave up" some of His omniscience for our sake...now that makes sense. It historically appears that GOD is a regular self sacrificing deity, for Man's sake. From Christian perspective GOD even gave up His God head (put it aside), for a time, just to physically walk with man.

    We all came from the "Guff", and we will each and all one day stand before the Creator. These are fixed points for Man, because we are finite. But it isn't the journey's end that GOD seems interested in, but rather man's journey itself. In this respect I believe that GOD has allowed Himself to be...surprised.

    Because man's spirit (some say soul) is immortal, then it goes to reason that GOD has a strong vested interest in our developement. He is our biggest fan, coach, and cheerleader. But because He laid down the ground rules for this game of life, He will not break them. By His very nature, He cannot.

    Oops, gotta go to work.

    Have a great day!

    v/r

    Q
     
  18. pswfps

    pswfps Member

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    Re: Omnipotent God?

    Thanks Qua - I feel a little better about it all now.

    What on earth is the "Guff"?

    I think He can because He can do anything. Rather He chooses not to. Perhaps the ultimate example of self discipline and control? I think that is part of what Christianity is about; the more you have the greater the responsibility is to do the right thing.

    I still have some nagging thoughts though. For example, Judas Iscariot, God knew in advance what path he would take. This seems to dent the theory of God not knowing what decissions/paths we will each take.

    Thanks
    Paul.
     
  19. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Re: Omnipotent God?

    I thought of that too (for a good part of the morning). But several forces were at work at the time if I recall. Peter nearly betrayed Jesus by attempting to use force to stop the arrest in the garden (which I think would have nullified Jesus' teaching of peace). The priests betrayed one of their own Rabbis (Jesus) by paying 30 pieces of silver. They wanted him dead. Judas accepted the silver that apparently was given to him under false pretenses. He thought like many others, that Jesus would literally lead an overthrow of the Romans, and set up a new Kingdom. Some theologians speculate that his intention was to force Jesus' hand, not to have him killed. Peter also actually betrayed Jesus later by denying he knew Jesus three times, out of fear for his own life. Thomas was said to have vocally doubted the return of Jesus after death.

    The prophets of the old testement, and their writings are significantly different than the books of the new testement. Almost as if the stage had to be set for the future. Often the old testement describes man as "children" of GOD, however the New testement tends to lean toward the "sons and daughters" of GOD.

    Jesus himself it can be argued, nearly betrayed his own cause. In a moment of utter terror at what was about to happen to him, he asked the father if "this cup might be taken from him...", then recanted and accepted the Will of the father, what ever that might be.

    He then nearly did so again, when he accused the father of foresaking him at the hour of his death. But he pulled back from that chasm, when he said it was finished, and stated "Into thy hands I commence my spirit" (paraphrased).

    I'm not saying I am right my friend, you've given me cause to think a little deeper into the what ifs.

    It seems to me that man is at his most terrible, or most honorable, when he is at his weakest point. And at that point, mans' decisions change the world irreversably, for better, or worse.

    Even the father changed His mind as scripture shows (at the last moment). The prophets did not write these as future events, but rather recorded them as historical actions (after the fact).

    We (mankind) almost didn't make it past Noah, and the Jews nearly went extinct in the desert. Moses had no intention of going back to Egypt (he was an old man, full of fear for what was left of his life). Issac would not give into the angel, even though his hips were dislocated. If he couldn't beat the angel, he was not going to let go either. Man showed his potential by stalemating the angel of the Lord.

    The Roman centurian astounded Jesus with his absolute faith, as did the old woman with ulcers who touched his robes. Jesus was not expecting these things (by his reaction to them). The Father was bemused by the stubborness of Lot, and royally ticked off at Sarah because she doubted Him in givng her a child in her old age.

    It would seem that man has caused GOD's eyebrows to rise in surprise on quite a few occasions.

    Somethings to ponder the next time we feel we can't make a difference.

    Good thread, good debate. Great questions we're coming up with, eh?

    v/r

    Q

    p.s. The "Guff" is the chamber of souls of the unborn. When the "Guff" is empty then the world as we know it is over, and the new world comes into being...at least that is how the legends go.
     
  20. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Ah, my friend, if you have children of your own, then you might rethink the part about getting angry with being blamed for their actions. Sad, maybe. Firm, probably, but not angry with your child who does not know better.

    I recall when I was six, a birthday party given me. I got presents, and they were abundant, however, in my childish mind I thought there weren't enough, and I was mad, so I said "Is that all there is?" The party went silent, it was over. And I remember the saddest look cross my father's face, and I KNEW I messed up, and it was MY FAULT. Two things I learned that day: Give only the kind of presents to others, that have significant meaning to them (and you), and never expect anything from anyone. You won't be dissapointed, and you will always be pleasantly surprised and grateful.

    As far as your questions about limitations...I think I missed something. If you mean do I think GOD refrains from interfering with our wills, then the answer is yes, GOD has deliberately limited Himself. If you are refering to GOD refraining from interfering with your hearts, then the answer is no, in that area GOD has no limits.

    Example: Saul of Tarsus (who later became Paul). Talk about a dedicated, hardcore Christian exterminator (with extreme predjudious), Roman Citizen to the nth degree, and as willful as they come. It appears that GOD did not want to break that awesome will of Sauls, only change his heart. The result as we read was, same will, different feelings. Same drive and dedication, different objective and goals.

    GOD makes it clear that He will not interfere with our wills, but also as clear is GOD's free manipulation of man's heart.

    You might say that He in fact does force compliance to His ways by manipulating our feelings...

    There have been a time or two in my life, when I had the "enemy" in my sights. My anger and "hatred" were so strong, I could have wiped them off the face of the earth and never looked back. It was war, and I was justified. And, I wanted to. But I chose not to. Why? Because I love life, even my enemy's life. And the enemy was in no position to harm me at the time. I think I was given the opportunity to see that I am more than the sum of my feelings. That sets man apart from the rest of nature.

    If that is what you were asking, then the above is my answer (works for me anyway).

    Have a great day.

    v/r

    Q
     

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