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Switch to Forum Live View Omnipotence and creation
3 years ago  ::  Feb 18, 2015 - 11:48AM #1
upsala81
Posts: 2,733
Some recent posts from Oncomin reminded me of something that comes up quite often on this forum.  

There are some posters who discuss omnipotence and creation within the rhelm of the universe we have. The one we live in.  How does God use what we have discovered to exist, to create, using the physical laws that we find?  How can God be found in what we know and have. Our physical reality

On the other hand some post about an omnipotence that is not bound to the universe we know.  if God is omnipotent why can't he create a Universe where life can be found almost everywhere? Create a universe where there is no suffering? Create a universe where there is only joy? and so on.

This points out of course that the universe we find is not like the above paragraph.

But it also requires us to imagine a universe that is pure fantasy and is not related to any reality.  The problem with "why not" universes is that the answer is ultimately, I don't know.

There is also no way to test them, or critique them, or experience them. Because of this we do not know, nor will ever know that they actually are better than the universe we find ourselves in.  We may believe it would be better, but we will never know.

Some would say that perhaps our universe is the best possible of all universes.  But that again can not be proven.

Perhaps you've seen the Twilight Zone episode where the compulsive gambler dies and wakes up in a kind of eternal version of Las Vegas.  He got, (excuse me) booze and broads and all the gambling he wants. He thinks he must be in heaven.

But when he goes to the craps table. He wins everytime.  He spins the roulette wheel and wins every time.  Every slot machine pays out at every pull.  Finally he is sick of it all: win, win, win... he's tired of winning. Gambling is a game of beating the odds, of the excitement of winning amidst the losing. It's about the challenge. That is where the joy is. Always winning is boring and ultimately just painful.

Then the "angel" that brought him to his eternal resting place clarifies where he is.  He is really in hell. 
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3 years ago  ::  Feb 18, 2015 - 12:09PM #2
Blü
Posts: 26,191

upsala


The problem for even an omnipotent god is, how come there's something instead of nothing? Where did god come from?


And if (as some models are now suggesting) the universe is eternal, then it didn't need a creator. Or if (as I like to hypothesize) spacetime exists because it's a property of energy, and not vice verse, then the question of origins needn't arise.


All good clean fun!


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3 years ago  ::  Feb 18, 2015 - 12:23PM #3
Oncomintrain
Posts: 3,516

Feb 18, 2015 -- 11:48AM, upsala81 wrote:

Some recent posts from Oncomin reminded me of something that comes up quite often on this forum.  

There are some posters who discuss omnipotence and creation within the rhelm of the universe we have. The one we live in.  How does God use what we have discovered to exist, to create, using the physical laws that we find?  How can God be found in what we know and have. Our physical reality

On the other hand some post about an omnipotence that is not bound to the universe we know.  if God is omnipotent why can't he create a Universe where life can be found almost everywhere? Create a universe where there is no suffering? Create a universe where there is only joy? and so on.

This points out of course that the universe we find is not like the above paragraph.

But it also requires us to imagine a universe that is pure fantasy and is not related to any reality.  The problem with "why not" universes is that the answer is ultimately, I don't know.

There is also no way to test them, or critique them, or experience them. Because of this we do not know, nor will ever know that they actually are better than the universe we find ourselves in.  We may believe it would be better, but we will never know.

Some would say that perhaps our universe is the best possible of all universes.  But that again can not be proven.

Perhaps you've seen the Twilight Zone episode where the compulsive gambler dies and wakes up in a kind of eternal version of Las Vegas.  He got, (excuse me) booze and broads and all the gambling he wants. He thinks he must be in heaven.

But when he goes to the craps table. He wins everytime.  He spins the roulette wheel and wins every time.  Every slot machine pays out at every pull.  Finally he is sick of it all: win, win, win... he's tired of winning. Gambling is a game of beating the odds, of the excitement of winning amidst the losing. It's about the challenge. That is where the joy is. Always winning is boring and ultimately just painful.

Then the "angel" that brought him to his eternal resting place clarifies where he is.  He is really in hell. 



That Twilight Zone episode was created by human beings, who evolved and live exclusively in and for the universe we have. Our psychological responses, needs, and desires are shaped by that. The example suffers from exactly this same flaw that mars all arguments of this type. Yes, naturally, given the universe as it is, suffering and the threat of suffering are important to our survival, and therefore very likely important to our psychological well-being.


It is true: we can't truly know whether this is the best (or even only) reality for the development and proliferation of something like life. We are indeed hamstrung by the fact that we cannot test or experience what any other reality might actually be like. This is why, actually, I think the fine-tuning/universe-looks-designed arguments are such bollocks: we have no idea what any other reality would actually be like. So thinking that reality is somehow objectively special because WE'RE in it is the height of ego.


That said, when one posits an omnipotent, omniscient Being... And one posits that Its goal (or at least one of Its major goals) was the development and proliferation of something like life (and in particular something like intelligent life), it does strike me as at least SUSPICIOUS that the best this Being could do is create a universe that is ALMOST entirely, fundamentally hostile to the existence of life.


And even more suspicious if one accepts the reality of angels, per the Bible, which are apparently highly intelligent, and complex, and lifelike, and were apparently brought about without recourse to any such process.

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3 years ago  ::  Feb 18, 2015 - 12:37PM #4
upsala81
Posts: 2,733

That Twilight Zone episode was created by human beings, who evolved and live exclusively in and for the universe we have. Our psychological responses, needs, and desires are shaped by that. The example suffers from exactly this same flaw that mars all arguments of this type. Yes, naturally, given the universe as it is, suffering and the threat of suffering are important to our survival, and therefore very likely important to our psychological well-being.


So then at least in this existence suffering has a purpose.  And if God created this existence then suffering is not incompatible with God.

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3 years ago  ::  Feb 18, 2015 - 12:39PM #5
Roymond
Posts: 3,779

A big problem here is that the Bible doesn't have this concept of omnipotence as "able to do anything that can be imagined"; the Bible's term indicates that God owns all the power that exists.  So the wild speculation gets cut off at the knees.


But it's an interesting thing to ask anyway.  Nothing in the Bible suggests this is the only universe, nor we the only intelligence.  Indeed, when I was game master for a substantial fantasy RPG campaign, we tested every rule by asking if it could be the way things worked in any universe the God we know might have made.  Not infrequently, those discussions were more fun than the game itself!


They often led us to look at a question Einstein asked, whether God had a choice but to create, and from there if He could have created any universes but this one (the parameter being that God can only create in accordance with His nature).


 . . . . .


Now, what was the OP about?


Oh -- the "Why couldn't He....?" question.  Well, there's the above parameter, but I presume there's nothing in His character that would prevent having a universe wheree there was nothing but joy -- but would it be joy, if it was normal?  Do we need contrast in order to appreciate joy?  Would we call something "success" if we never knew what failure was?


But then there's this question about His character: given that GOd the Son became flesh and suffered, is suffering something built in to His character?  Does being able to become like Him mean that suffering is necessary?


And there's the question of balance, which some mystics have addressed:  in order to get something from nothing, is it necessary to accept negatives in order to get positives, so the balance remains zero (or close to it)?


Frightened minds will avoid such questions, even saying they're blasphemous or something.  But God gave us imagination, so why should we not use it?

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3 years ago  ::  Feb 18, 2015 - 12:47PM #6
upsala81
Posts: 2,733

I also think "the omnis" as usually discussed don't match the Biblical understanding of God, but they keep on being brought up.

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3 years ago  ::  Feb 18, 2015 - 12:51PM #7
Oncomintrain
Posts: 3,516

Feb 18, 2015 -- 12:47PM, upsala81 wrote:


I also think "the omnis" as usually discussed don't match the Biblical understanding of God, but they keep on being brought up.




A fair point. But if we're talking about a God with the power to set the fundamental qualities of the universe ("the rules" so to speak), we're talking about a God that is omni- or close to it.


If we're going to talk about "God of the Bible," we'd need to settle on God of which interpretation of the Bible? Otherwise, we just get to watch the theists push the goalposts around the field, to avoid having to answer for any particular definition of the Godhead.

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3 years ago  ::  Feb 18, 2015 - 12:52PM #8
Oncomintrain
Posts: 3,516

Feb 18, 2015 -- 12:37PM, upsala81 wrote:


That Twilight Zone episode was created by human beings, who evolved and live exclusively in and for the universe we have. Our psychological responses, needs, and desires are shaped by that. The example suffers from exactly this same flaw that mars all arguments of this type. Yes, naturally, given the universe as it is, suffering and the threat of suffering are important to our survival, and therefore very likely important to our psychological well-being.


So then at least in this existence suffering has a purpose.  And if God created this existence then suffering is not incompatible with God.




But if God is infinitely loving, that is, at least to my mind, incompatible with the idea that He created a universe where suffering is necessary. To create such a universe is to inflict suffering. If the Being who created this universe had the power to set different "rules" for the universe, then It could have created a universe where suffering was NOT necessary. Therefore, such a Being is inflicting unnecessary suffering. Which is, to my mind, antithetical to loving behavior.

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3 years ago  ::  Feb 18, 2015 - 12:54PM #9
christzen
Posts: 8,781

Feb 18, 2015 -- 12:47PM, upsala81 wrote:


I also think "the omnis" as usually discussed don't match the Biblical understanding of God, but they keep on being brought up.






Sounds like theists need to define God a whole lot better and set more specific parameters on His abilities so that others will know how to address the issue .

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3 years ago  ::  Feb 18, 2015 - 12:56PM #10
upsala81
Posts: 2,733

But if God is infinitely loving, that is, at least to my mind, incompatible with the idea that He created a universe where suffering is necessary.




Which brings us back to the OP.

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