I grew up in this belief, so I am awarer of it. I see you have not read my paper The End of the World, which gives another explanation to God’s plan, one that I find more logical. Why would God create a Earth with useful life of 3 billion years or so, and not to use it? Jesus came to save all of God’s children, and it will take that long for this to happen…
For the universe to be the size it is, the current solar system has to fit into the universe as a logical entity. Thus we have appearance of age.
From most ANE context of cosmology, God only effected this solar system. We know today that the actual stars, not the planets which were thought to be all stars are separate from this system. They are all systems in their own rights.
The question then; is “the heavens” the rest of the universe? If so then God logically created all at the same time but gave all ages accordingly in relationship as a whole universe.
So we are not talking about a 4 billion year old timeframe or a 14 billion year old timeframe. We are talking about a set time that God said the universe would exist. God is not limited to the logic and laws the universe was designed to operate with. It is not a given that God will wait another 3 or even more billions of years. That is why since Jesus’ time we are given heed that it could happen soon, even though it has not.
I’ve often wondered about these resurrected old threads myself, and why they occasionally pop up again. Sometimes people find their way to an old thread because of an outside search engine got them to it. I.e. Google may dig up stuff that the forum has already buried underneath the strata of more recent posts. That happened in this case as a new visitor (whose post was quickly removed by moderators) commented on the old thread, making its time stamp fresh again to be as you found it. That is what I suspect happens in at least some of these cases.
A thought, if interesting, this piqued my curiosity… I fear this simply does not follow… God’s omnipresence for instance does not simply mean he only “can” be anywhere he chooses to be; rather, it means he is everywhere. Omniscience has always traditionally been understood to mean he knows all things, not that he could know things if he so chooses, any more than omnipresence means he could be anywhere if he so chooses.
Also, another thought…
Even claiming God”s omnipotence, it is claimed sometimes, results in a laundry list of things people “can” do that God cannot… go hungry, thirst, feel powerless, feel helpless, feel hopeless, lack omnipotence… Behold the numerous powers I have that the omnipotent God lacks!
But God’s “inability” to do these things are not lacking powers, however. they are descriptions of lack of power.
If God exists categorically above us, there will be some things we “can” do (like lack knowledge) that an omniscient being cannot experience. But it is a semantic play in words to claim these things as “abilities” we posses that God lacks.Beyond this, I fail to see how omniscience can possibly God cannot give real power and control to others, or to love others.
Finally, for an omniscient being to not know the future requires that he be limited to, and exist within, the very same space-time reality as the rest of us. Every bit of Christian thought I’m familiar with says that God created this universe as something outside of and independent from himself, not that he is a being contained within it and subject to its laws, including being bound and limited by the progress of time.
For those seeking to enslave God to their theology I am certain that is true. But for those who believe in a God who cannot be chained by any such human definitions it is quite natural to believe that none of these theological concepts can EVER say that God has no choice but to do what such human concoctions dictate. So I most certainly do include omnipresence in this list to say that YES, God can be wherever He chooses AND He can be absent somewhere if He chooses that also.
Furthermore we might ask which conception is actually Biblical? You say God is incapable of not knowing things or not being present but the Bible says that God can do these things.
Can God choose not to know things? According to the Bible, yes He can.
Hebrews 8:12 God will remember our sins no more.
Can God choose to remove Himself from some place? According to the Bible, yes He can.
Ezekiel 5:11 Therefore, as I live, declares the Lord God, surely, because you have defiled my sanctuary with all your detestable things and with all your abominations, therefore I will withdraw.”
Can God take risks so that He later regrets what He did? According to the Bible, yes He can and did.
Genesis 6:6 And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.
Taking risks, giving privacy, giving up control to others, and loving others are not inabilities in any way whatsoever – none of them. Nor are these founded upon inabilities or require inabilities. Just because someone CAN control something doesn’t mean they have to. Just because someone CAN know something doesn’t mean they have to. Just because someone CAN be somewhere doesn’t mean they have to. Just because someone can eliminate all risks doesn’t mean they have to do so.
So why would somebody suggest that these abilities are somehow “inabilites?” It is becuase these abilities are somewhat connected to values, like whether you value anything more than power and control. Those who do not value anything more than power and control certainly have a hard time imagining why anyone would choose to take risks, give privacy to others, give up control, or love others enough to share important decisions and give them any autonomy – and frankly I don’t think I could ever convince them that these things have value if they haven’t learned this themselves. But even though they may equate not grasping for power and control whenever possible with weakness, and though they may equate love with weakness and foolishness, they are absolutely wrong because the opposite is the case. People ONLY grasp for power and control when they are WEAK! Those who really have power do not behave or think this way at all.
So I do not believe in the god of power and control worshiped by so many people. Indeed that creature sounds like the devil to me. I believe in a God who chose love and freedom over power and control and that is why He created a universe that operates autonomously according to natural laws supporting the self-organizing process of life. When one is all about power and control then the only thing one would create is tools for an end, in which life serves no useful purpose at all. But when one values relationships of love with others who have the freedom to make their own choices, then and only then, does it make sense to create life.
That God chooses love and freedom over power and control is also demonstrated in His choice to leave all that divine power and knowledge behind in order to become a helpless human infant (Philippians 2:5-8). To be sure, I have no doubt that some will never understand the choice of love and freedom over power control and thus must believe in a god who can never make that choice. But I will continue to see this god of power as not only being more like the devil but as rather pathetic as well – little more than a tool of manipulation invented by people using religion as method of exerting power over others.
Instead of discussing God in terms of choices (choices are applicable to humans and our limitations), we should consider the Grace of God freely given to us because of Christ.
Not interested. A “god” incapable of choices is a nonentity and thus like pan(en)theism not significantly different from atheism and naturalism for me. Without choices, God cannot respond in a relationship with us which can even rival let alone surpass the relationships we have with other people – rendering Christianity effectively meaningless, to me at least. I began this journey with the inquiry as to whether Christianity could hold any value in the context of scientific discovery. I found that value was possible but that discovery of value only works within a narrow window that excludes quite a few theological directions. A negative conclusion that Christianity is worthless to me is always a possibility and most theological systems would lead me to that conclusion. Your suggestion is one of them.
To be sure there are vast difference between God and man, and the nature of our choices is certainly one of them. God’s choices naturally have a self-limiting character to them and to be sure that bothers a lot of theologians. But I find limitations imposed upon God by human theology (as required to avoid this) to be much much much more troublesome and even offensive. Our choices are also self-limiting but only in terms of our potential/growth/becoming, while God choices are narrowing of His own limitless actuality. So in both cases the choices are an expression/exercise of our limitlessness (of our potential and God’s actuality) – and without choices that limitlessness becomes empty of significance for both God and man.
To be sure we both (God and man) make choices to define who we are – and of course for God to have such liberty is very troubling to theologians who want to make those choices themselves. The absurdity, irony, and arrogance of this is monumental, though we are certainly free decide which choices are made by a deity whom we can respect or love. And as a final observation, I would point to the fact that the God presented in the Bible is most certainly one who makes choices.
Know what things?
I find your response curious - in all of this, you have not said a word on the Grace from God to us. It is this that I find odd in your response - instead of choices, God is infinite in Love, Grace and the power to forgive and restore us to Himself through the death and resurrection of Christ.
I get the impression (correct me if I am wrong on this) that you equate divine power (omnipotence) with some type of malevolence - but do you not see that God displays His power through forgiveness granted to any and all repentant sinners?
Can you explain to me your definition of restore? In this context it implies a pre-existent state of Grace and fallen state of Grace, correct?
Sin cuts us from communion with God, Christ restores this.
God knows everything that is, but that means that God does not know to be true thangs that are not, or not yet.
The future is not a thing. The future exists as possibilities. God certainly knows the possibilities, but since free will for humans exists God does not “know” which possibilities ate actual until it happens. This does not mean that God could not make the future predetermined, by God chooses not to do so. Thus in this way God does not know the future.
It is true that I do not think of God in terms of what He can do for me, but rather in terms of His character, which I see as a product of His choices rather than the choices of human theologians and their definitions or their talk about some so called “nature” they ascribe to Him.
Grace means that salvation is in God’s hands and faith means I leave it in God’s hands. These things are not earned by talking talking about them so I really don’t see the point of your question, unless your point is that grace freely given implies God’s choice in the matter… and I don’t have a problem with that. Or perhaps your comment is meant to shift our attention to what is important instead of arguing about something like angels on the head of a pin… and to that I will agree that it is no more important than any of the other things which may interest us, like football or physics – a hobby to occupy our minds and time.
I certainly agree that God is infinite in love, grace and the power to forgive and restore us, but not that this means such power overrides logical consequences. And I would agree that God is empowered to restore us through the death and resurrection of Christ, though not because of an effect on Him changing His character but because of an effect upon us, changing ours.
I do not equate divine power with malevolence. Rather I associate human obsession with power with distortions of human values and sin which connect us more with the devil than with God. I definitely see that God displays His power through the choices He makes to love, forgive, and otherwise choose goodness over evil. I also think that grace is offered to all but will not say it is granted to all as basis for any kind of entitlement. Nor will I say that grace is earned by the quality of our repentance for even opening the door the tiniest crack may let God in to work on increasing that repentance or whatever else is necessary to restore us.
The issue is this. Being is seen as a thing, as static. God is not static or a thing. God is relational. God loves everyone unconditionally. Thus grace which is love is given to all, but it is not received by all.
Only those who receive it as a gift will receive all the benefits, including salvation. Grace is not earned, but it is received and accepted. Forgiveness is not earned, but it can be received and accepted.
Jesus Christ came into the world to demonstrate how God loves us and the fact that God forgives humans of our sin. When we accept this forgiveness, we are in right relationship with God and receive Eternal Life, that is an eternal relationship with God the Father through God the Son in God the Holy Spirit of Love.
Being does not change. People do. God does not change, but God does not force people who are unwilling to love and change to love God. God loves us. God challenges us to love God and others.
“But then, his forgiveness is limited by our willingness to repent.”
AH, something that God can’t do?
Why can’t God simply be a creator/observer? Why must this universe be God’s only creation? Maybe God is running simultaneous experiments.
God has built chaos/randomness factors into this universe. What is the purpose of creating anything if one knows exactly how it will “evolve?” For the amusement of the Angels?
OK, but Christian dogma is that God only actuates the noted attributes towards people who have been taught the Gospel respond positively to the Gospel as they understand it.
It is interesting to me that God is never described as having infinite justice. Seems to me that infinite justice is not compatible with infinite love, grace, and the power to forgive and restore us to Himself through the death and resurrection of Christ unless the emphasis is on the word “through.” In other words, Jesus’ faith in himself and God that saves us, not our finite ability.
You can propose, like the Deist, that the creator is only an observer, but that does not make it God anymore than the evil creator Demiurge of the Gnostics is God. That is not indicative of a character worthy to be addressed by the word “God.” I am willing to entertain any possibility but I certainly reserve the right to decide for myself what I will respect and worship or call upon as my God.
I suppose no such thing any more than I suppose that life or intelligent life only evolved on this one planet around one star among 250 billion in this one galaxy among trillions in the universe. Indeed, I see no real need to suppose any other creation since this one is sufficient for human imagination of just about anything. And I expect that God made this universe according to rules which served His intentions and don’t see why God would do otherwise as if God did not know what He was doing when He created this universe.
Experiments in science are for the acquisition of knowledge and God already has all of that. So what are these “experiments” for exactly? Simply to toy with the lives of others? That also is not indicative of a character worthy to be addressed as “God.”
When one is creating a tool for a purpose then knowing all the specifications of how it will fulfill that function is only reasonable. For more complex applications we now know that randomness can serve a useful purpose in optimization and that way one tool can be used for many applications. But life as a process of self-organization doing things for its own reasons serves no purpose for a tool, but rather indicates that one is seeking to create things not for an end but as an end in itself as do many artists in the creation of their work and parents in raising children. In that case, knowing everything ahead of time would not serve such an intention…
… your questions look to be aimed more at someone like Daniel_Fisher or David_Wood than myself, since I am the one arguing against this idea of God knowing a determined end result of the universe before He created it.
But in this very post you’re ascribing to God various characteristics… the nature that He makes choices, does provide forgiveness or salvation by certain means but not others, is infinite in love and the power to forgive…
I’m confused what justifies you in ascribing certain characteristics or definitions to God’s nature, but others are invalid in their doing so?
Correct… but only to say that God can do anything and NOT to come up with some list of things God cannot do. So YES I am doing theology. I find no fault in doing theology. What I have objected to is a theology which enslaves God because I think that is absurd. The theology which I am promoting is one which says God can do anything He chooses. And when I say God is good it is not because He is like the sun which is good because it is its nature to shine down upon us, but because He chooses to do good. That is part of what we mean when we say a person is good, meaning a great deal more than the passive goodness of something like the sun.
Just because everyone is free to make their own choices, believe as they are inclined, and live their own lives does not mean that all choices, beliefs, and ways of living are equal in goodness and value.