Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The problem with Omni's

In an effort to get people to understand just what on earth it is that they really believe,  Christians gave god certain attributes. Once you give a god attributes, it then becomes critique-able. For example most Christians believe that god is omniscient, which is perhaps one of the most problematic of the Omni's. One of the difficult problems to wrap your mind around when dealing with omniscience is the following argument.

Omniscient beings do not have free will.
God is omniscient.
Ergo, god does not have free will.

If that is a bit hard to grasp, I'll try and explain it. If a being is omniscient, it literally knows everything, so it would know the decisions it would make in the future before it made them. This creates a confusing dichotomy, as if you know what you're going to do at every moment in the future it is hard to definitively say when you made the choice to enact that decision.
Once you add another popular attribute into the picture it becomes even more paradoxical. Lets say that god was omnipotent as well as omniscient. Omnipotent literally means all powerful, so an omnipotent being should be able to do anything. Would an omnipotent being that knows what decisions it was going to make in the future have the power to change them? If not, it is not omnipotent. If so, it is not omniscient.

Enough of the brain-melters....

The moral implications of omniscience in particular are also troublesome for Christianity. If god created Satan knowing that he would become "the devil", then it could be said that god created the devil expressly for that purpose, to be evil. The same could be said about individual people, for example Adolf Hitler.. If it was true that god had foresight of all the events of humanity before he "created", he is directly responsible for absolutely everything. Just trying to think about the implications of omnipotence and omniscience in regards to creationism is just giving me a headache now, so I'll leave it there.


  1. The moment you define god you limit god!

  2. That statement becomes rather vacuous when the definitions being given are to do with omni-max attributes. It just goes to show that the concept of deities is either completely incomprehensible, or just simply ridiculously and doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

  3. My question is:

    Why would an omnipotent being ever even desire in the first place to change the omniscient decisions he made?

  4. An even better question is:

    Does one who is omniscient even have to make "decisions" at all?

  5. I was asking the question because the god of the bible changed his mind several times about many things. Also, he did several things which he later realised weren't good.

    I would argue that a being that is incapable of making decisions is incapable of loving.

  6. quite interesting. and i'm liking the use of the word 'vacuous'. I met a person who used the words 'behove', 'indicia' and 'parlance' in ordinary conversation and in a very undouchelike way.

    My question is why can't an omnipotent and omniscient being deliberately choose to allow free will? Is there no room to move in this regard?

  7. I didn't even think when I used the word vacuous, it just fitted what I was writing as I was typing my reply. It just felt right.

    As I said in the post, it is a bit of a brain melter. But It would appear to me that an omnipotent being would able to choose free will, but it would seem to contradict the omniscient side, so you end up with this paradoxical being that contradicts itself by definition.
    On top of that, an omniscient being would be incapable of making decisions, as it would know what it would do before doing it. I guess being omniscient would kind of be like watching your life happen but not being able to control what happens.

    My brain is starting to melt again from thinking about this stuff... I probably just repeated myself here too..

  8. ahhh, yes that makes sense. i didn't understand it the first time. now i do.

    kia ora man.

  9. Hey KJ, give us a few references of events in the Bible where God changes his mind. I'm not trying to say "there's none" as I think there are e.g. Sodom and Gomorrah bargaining etc, I just want to read up on those chapters and cbf'd finding them myself :D

    I think most Christians would say God doesn't 'decide' to love us - he just loves us. Some would go as far to say he defines the word love. Or he is love, etc. etc.