In the swirling mists of beliefs and doubts, the nature of God stands as a beacon and sometimes a stumbling block of enduring inquiry.
After thousands of conversations over the past 25 yrs, what is exceedingly obvious is that “unbelief” is generally tied to an inconsistent and illogical set of qualities or characteristics ascribed to the divine. The secular world is incapable of clarification, so consider belief from a believer’s point of view with a emphasis o a biblical foundation.
The depiction of God in Psalm 139:1-4, where David marvels at God’s intimate knowledge of him, hints at the divine attribute of what most would call “omniscience”.
You have searched me, LORD, 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.Psalms 139:1-4
But without clarity and reason it is easy to make inaccurate claims or illogical conclusions and it is exactly these conditions that lead towards doubt and unbelief.
You will not be the first to be confronted by the difficulties of the “Omni’s” and the purpose of this post is to bring focus on the actual or literal character of God that is not formed by Greek mysticism or more contemporary experts and outright illogical claims.
We can certainly identify Augustine’s “Confessions,” where he discusses God’s omniscience in proposing that God exists outside of time and therefore perceives all of time instantaneously. This view challenges a linear understanding of time and suggests a divine perspective that is all-knowing and not bound by temporal constraints. This position is illogical and untenable if the future does not exist to be known. And interestingly called the “Eternal Now”. Interesting but inaccurate.
Aquinas argues that God’s His omnipresence signifies that God is present in all things and places yet scripture teaches that God has separated Himself from everlasting destruction.
“They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.”2 Thess 1:9
I suspect God is in control of His presence and just because Aquinas claims God must be present in all places at all times doesn’t mean his description is accurate in fact it is inconsistent with the bible.
Alvin Plantinga explores the compatibility of free will and divine omniscience in contemporary philosophical debates. He proposes that God’s foreknowledge does not conflict with human free will, suggesting a model where God’s omniscience includes knowledge of all possible futures rather than a predetermined future.
William Hasker and Greg Boyd advocate a view of God’s foreknowledge that emphasizes the dynamic relationship between divine knowledge and human free will. They propose that God, knows all that can be known. However, the future, being open and not yet determined due to human free choices, is not fully knowable even by God in terms of specific, determined events. This perspective suggests that God has perfect knowledge of all possibilities and probabilities but allows for human actions to actualize the future in real time. This approach is designed to preserve the authenticity of human freedom and the genuine responsiveness of God to human choices.
In this view, God’s “omniscience” is not compromised but is understood in the context of a future that is not exhaustively settled but contains possibilities that are shaped by free decisions. This perspective emphasizes a relational God who engages with creation in a dynamic process, allowing for a more interactive and responsive relationship between the divine and the human.
It’s essential to delve into the nuanced discussions that have shaped theological and philosophical discourse. The “problem of the Omni’s,” primarily focuses on reconciling the traditional attributes of God—omniscience (all-knowing), omnipotence (all-powerful), and omnibenevolence (all-good)—with the existence of evil and human free will.
The dilemma often arises when attempting to reconcile the existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good God with the presence of suffering and injustice in the world. This is famously encapsulated in the Epicurean paradox: “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”
In addressing these challenges, Plantinga’s Free Will Defense argues that God could have created a world in which there is no evil, but such a world would not contain the great good of human free will. According to Plantinga, the existence of evil is a necessary consequence of God granting humans free will, and it’s this free will that allows for genuine relationships and moral goodness.
These discussions highlight a shift from a simplistic understanding of divine attributes to a more sophisticated and nuanced approach. Theologians like John Polkinghorne, a physicist and Anglican priest, advocate for a “free process” view of creation, where God allows the universe and life within it to evolve freely, with all its randomness and unpredictability. This view reconciles the presence of natural evil with the concept of a loving God by suggesting that God has chosen to create a world that is genuinely other than himself, capable of evolving and bringing forth new, unforeseen possibilities.
In conclusion, the quest to understand the divine character and reconcile it with human experience and rationality is an ongoing journey. It invites believers and skeptics alike to engage with the complexities of faith, free will, and the nature of existence. By embracing a more nuanced and critically examined belief, one can find a faith that is not blind but informed, resilient, and open to the vast mysteries of the cosmos. This approach does not eliminate doubt but rather acknowledges it as a part of the human condition, a stepping stone towards deeper understanding and, perhaps, a more profound faith.