The Omni Traits
]In some debates with theists, I've seen theists try to run from the logical contradictions inherent in the negative characteristics of omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence, by claiming that the christian god is NOT averred to be omnipotent, omniscient or omnibenevolent.
The problem with such ad hoc claims is that they are not biblical. Yet to deny what the bible says about the christian god would leave the christian without any basis for his claims at all. Hence, I wish to show here that the bible does assert that god is omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent, and therefore, the christian is basically trapped by the logical conundrum of an omnimax "god".
Important note: Atheists will point to passages in the bible that contradict god's omnipotence in order to show that contradictions exist in the books of the "bible. However, it is an error to take this to imply that the bible does not in fact assert that the christian god is an omnimax god.
For example, the most common citation is in the old testament book of Judges, where it is stated:
1:19 And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.
Some may therefore hold that this "proves that god is not omnipotent."
Let me say first that I do agree that this is a contradiction of god's averred omnipotence. However, it is an error to take from this contradiction that that bible does not assert that god is in fact, omnipotent! In other words, this contradiction is irrelevant vis-a-vis the biblical claim that god is in fact, omnipotent. All this passage shows is that the biblical authors were clearly human - i.e. they made a claim and then bungled the job by contradicting it!
If for example, I assert that 2+2=5, and you respond by stating "Imbecile! 2+2=4!" this does not mean that I did not assert that 2+2=5, all it means is that my assertion is in error!
Now, let's take a look at what the bible states, clearly and obviosly, about god's omnipotence, omniscience and omnibenevolence.
Biblical god's omnipotence
Luke 1:37: For with God nothing shall be impossible.
The following passage is from: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11251c.htm
The omnipotence of God is a dogma of Catholic faith, contained in all the creeds and defined by various councils (cf. Denziger-Bannwart. "Enchiridion", 428, 1790). In the Old Testament there are more than seventy passages in which God is called 'Shaddai', i.e. omnipotent. The Scriptures represent this attribute as infinite power:
god's omnipotence is so well established, that the genesis writer can't refer to the concept without being sardonic:
Gen.18:14 "Is any thing too hard for the LORD?"
Job 42:1 Then Job answered the LORD, and said,
42:2 I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.
Jerimiah holds a conference with the creator, and asserts that the big guy is all powerful:
Jer. 32:17 Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:
to which god replies with an affirmative, rhetorical question:
Jer. 32:26 Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying,
32:27 "Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me?
How can nothing 'be' too hard for thee": if his will is limited by his nature.
55:11 So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please,and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
1 Kings 8:27
27 "But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!
Matthew 19:26 "But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible."
Mark 10:27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.
Matthew 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
Luke 18:27 And he said (jesus), The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.
Rev 19:6 from the KJV - "And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."
The following passage is from: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11251c.htm
The Greek and Latin Fathers unanimously teach the doctrine of Divine omnipotence.
Origen testifies to this belief when he infers the amplitude of Divine providence from God's omnipotence: "Just as we hold that God is incorporeal and omnipotent and invisible, so likewise do we confess as a certain and immovable dogma that His providence extends to all things" (Genesis, Hom. 3).
St. Augustine defends omnipotence against the Manichaeans, who taught that God is unable to overcome evil (Haeres, xlvi and Enchir., c. 100); and he speaks of this dogma as a truth recognized even by pagans, and which no reasonable person can question (Serm. 240, de temp., c. ii).
Reason itself proves the omnipotence of God. "Since every agent produces an effect similar to itself," says St. Thomas (Summa, I, Q. xxv, a. 3), "to every active power there must correspond as proper object, a category of possibilities proportioned to the cause possessing that power, e.g. the power of heating has for its proper object that which can be heated. Now Divine Being, which is the basis of Divine power, is infinite, not being limited to any category of being but containing within itself the perfection of all being. Consequently all that can be considered as being is contained among the absolute possibilities with respect to which God is omnipotent."
This following states that god is a god of knowlege - implying that he knows all.
1 Samuels 2:3 Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.
God's knowledge is so great that he is able to count the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them, and he even names them all:
Psalm 147:4 '(god) telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.'
God is also said to know even the number of hairs on our heads:
P. 10:30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Next, god sees everything:
Genesis 22:14. god is called "the Lord Who Sees" (Adonai Yireh).
Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.
Not only does god see all, no one can hide from god
Job 42:1 Then Job answered the LORD, and said,
42:2 I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.
Ps.139:7-8 "Whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there."
Jer.16:17 "For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes."
Hebrews 4:13) Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
god also hears all
Psalms 94:9 He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see?
The inner most thoughts of men are known to god,...
Proverbs 15:11 Hell and destruction are before the LORD: how much more then the hearts of the children of men?
1 samuels 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
In case there remains any doubt, this sorta makes my point plainly
Ps.44:21 "He knoweth the secrets of the heart."
Ps.139:2-3 "Thou knowest my down-sitting and mine up-rising; thou understands my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
Paul in the new testament also tells us that god knows our innermost thoughts:
Acts 1:24 "And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men."
Nothing is hidden from god:
Hebrews 4:13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
Jer.23:24 "Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth?"
More on predestination here:
matthew assures us that god hears our secret prayers:
matthew 6:2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6:3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
6:4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
God knows both the past and the future perfectly:
Isaiah 46:9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
if god says something will happen, it will happen:
Isaiah 46:11 Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.
and he knows all that happens because he causes everything that happens!
matthew 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
again, god is omniscient because he planned everything perfectly, before any of us even existed:
Peter 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
1:20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
all that happens is already known to god, and written in his book:
revelations 13:7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
god knows all because all is already written: the book of revelations also tells us that the damned were damned before they were even born:
17:8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
jesus also verifies that all was already known to god before any of us were born:
matthew 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
Paul also chimes in and agrees:
Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
an old testament version of this same claim:
Jeremiah 1:4 Now the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, 5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee; I have appointed thee a prophet unto the nations.
From a newer translation:
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." (NRSV)
See also this thread: http://www.infidelguy.com/ftopic-15493-days0-orderasc-75.html
Finally, Isaiah 41:21-24 emphasizes foreknowledge as a distinguishing characteristic of deity.
"21 Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob.
22 Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come.
23 Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.
24 Behold, ye are of nothing, and your work of nought: an abomination is he that chooseth you."
First, a point based on logic: If you deny that god is omnibenevolent, then you admit that your god is imperfect, (i.e. he withholds love, feels hate, etc.)
God is perfect in all of his ways, which means that God must be perfect in whatever way he is good:
"As for God, his way is perfect" (Psalm 18:30)
Omnibenevolence in a second sense can also be seen as goodness, or love, extended to his creation. Thus, if God is good, then his goodness is in all things, and thus he is omnibenevolent by that second definition, too.
"One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Ephesians 4:6)
"For of Him and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen." (Romans 11:36)
The bible openly expreses god's love knows no bounds timewise...
1 Chronicles 16:34
34 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
2 Chronicles 5:13
13 The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang:
"He is good; his love endures forever."
Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud,
he would even "sacrifice" his own son/self/whatever
Jn.3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
the bible equates "god" with love
1 Jn.4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
1 Jn.4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
And this passage tells us that he is good to all:
"The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works."
Biblical God's stance as the creator of existence itself
Now that we have ascertained that the god of the bible is without limits, and is omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, let us now confirm that this god is the supernatural creator of all existence itself, making this god beyond existence (as the term supernatural denotes)
John 1:3 All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
Colossians 1:15 who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16 for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him; 17 and he is before all things, and in him all things consist.
Ephesians 3:9 and to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery which for ages hath been hid in God who created all things;
Revelation 4:11 Worthy art thou, our Lord and our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power: for thou didst create all things, and because of thy will they were, and were created.
Romans 4:17 (as it is written, A father of many nations have I made thee) before him whom he believed, even God, who giveth life to the dead, and calleth the things that are not, as though they were.
Omni-traits are negative terms. They are lack of limits. A set of negative definitions, devoid of any universe.
As per negative theology, a supernatural "being" is necessarily imcomprehensible.
The bible itself states this in Job 11:7-9
7 "Can you fathom the mysteries of God?
Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?
8 They are higher than the heavens—what can you do?
They are deeper than the depths of the grave [a] —what can you know?
9 Their measure is longer than the earth
and wider than the sea.
Other passages affirming this:
(God cannot be fully known.)
OT: Job 9:10; 36:26; Ps 139:6; 145:3; Isa 40:28; 55:8f.
NT: Rom 11:33-36; 1Cor 2:11,16; Eph 3:9; Phil 4:7.
Kant states that man can have no direct knowledge of a transcendent being.
Luther states clearly that no man can have knowledge of god, save for revelation, which is natural - natural symbols such as the bible, or jesus.
This has direct biblical support:
29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.
More on Luther found here: http://www.candleinthedark.com/luther.html
Luther maintained that God interacts with human beings in two ways -
Through the Law - as in the commandments (legalistic morality) and through the Gospel. However, our understanding of the law (God's Commandments) are always distorted by human sin.
The law has two functions. It enables us to maintain some order in our own lives despite our profound alienation from God, as well as alienation from our neighbors and even ourselves due to original sin. In addition, our inability to successfully meet the law makes us aware of our need for the forgiveness of sins and thus leads us to Christ. This point was picked up on by C. S. Lewis.
Luther held that God makes himself known through earthly (limited) forms rather than in his pure divinity. Thus, God revealed himself in Jesus Christ; he speaks his word to us in the human words of the New Testament writers and we experience his "body" through the Eucharist. Human beings are only instruments of God, who works in the world through them, as tools, they are incapable of apprehending God by means of their methods of understanding the world, such as philosophy or ethics; they must let God be God and see him only where he chooses to make himself known. God reveals his wisdom and his power through suffering, and the secret of meaningful life through Christ's death on the cross. As we will see directly, both this masochistic relationship to God, and the egotistical belief of man as the center of God's universe would be shocked to the core.
More from Luther:
Whoever wishes to be a Christian, let him pluck out the eyes of his reason. -Martin Luther (First Psalm Lectures, Luther's Works, Vol. 11, p.285)
The anabaptists pretend that children, not as yet having reason, ought not to receive baptism. I answer: That reason in no way contributes to faith. Nay, in that children are destitute of reason, they are all the more fit and proper recipients of baptism. For reason is the greatest enemy that faith has: it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but - more frequently than not - struggles against the Divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God. If God can communicate the Holy Ghost to grown persons, he can, a fortiori, communicate it to young children. Faith comes of the Word of God, when this is heard; little children hear that Word when they receive baptism, and therewith they receive also faith. Martin Luther , Table Talk CCCLIII  .
"Reason should be destroyed in all Christians."
-Martin Luther (First Psalm Lectures, Luther's Works, Vol. 11, p.285)
"Reason is the Devil's greatest whore; by nature and manner of being she is a noxious whore; she is a prostitute, the Devil's appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom ... Throw dung in her face to make her ugly. She is and she ought to be drowned in baptism... She would deserve, the wretch, to be banished to the filthiest place in the house, to the closets."
- Martin Luther, Erlangen Edition v. 16, pp. 142-148
"There is on earth among all dangers no more dangerous thing than a richly endowed and adroit reason...Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed. Faith must trample underfoot all reason, sense, and understanding, and whatever it sees must be put out of sight and ... know nothing but the word of God." -- -Martin Luther (Works Vol. 12)" The first two sentences are found quoted by Walter Kaufmann, _The Faith of a Heretic_, (Garden city, NY, doubleday, 1963), p. 75
To back this up:
As St. Paul writes:
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Bible: New Testament. Hebrews 11:1.
Romans 8:24-25: “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” (NKJV)
In addition, Negative theology states:
"One should not say that God exists in the usual sense of the term; nor should we say that God is nonexistent.We can only say that neither existence nor nonexistence applies to God, or that God is beyond existing or not existing."
"God's existence is absolute and it includes no composition and we comprehend only the fact that He exists, not His essence. Consequently it is a false assumption to hold that He has any positive attribute... still less has He accidents, which could be described by an attribute. Hence it is clear that He has no positive attribute whatever. The negative attributes are necessary to direct the mind to the truths which we must believe... When we say of this being, that it exists, we mean that its non-existence is impossible; it is living - it is not dead; ...it is the first - its existence is not due to any cause; it has power, wisdom, and will - it is not feeble or ignorant; He is One - there are not more Gods than one… Every attribute predicated of God denotes either the quality of an action, or, when the attribute is intended to convey some idea of the Divine Being itself - and not of His actions - the negation of the opposite." (Maimonides Guide to the Perplexed, 1:5)
Apophatic theology is another name for "theology by way of negation," according to which God is is known by negating concepts that might be applied to him, stressing the inadequacy of human language and concepts used to describe God. Philo and Plotinus influenced the Christian apophatic tradition, which is founds in the works of Gregory of Nyssa and Pseudo-Dionysus the Areopagite; it is characteristic of mystic theology and Eastern Orthodox; and shows parallels with Indian Advaita Vedanta. A.G.H.
Bowker, John, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, New York, Oxford University Press, 1997, p. 81
More references on the web
St. Macrina explained this method in this manner: "In the very act of saying that a thing is `not so and so,' we by implication interpret the very nature of the thing in question." (Pelikan 205) (Incorrect - without a universe of discourse, this is not possible) This form of apophaticism is more pervasive than might be realized. Words such as "infinite" and "ineffable" are obviously negative. Less apparent is the negation hidden in words like "individual" or "immense" (not measurable). Finally there is apophaticism hidden even in positive terms. For example, one defines God as "free" in order to show that He lacks the contrarieties found in finite creatures, and one calls Him "alive" merely to discriminate His nature from that of the lifeless. (James 431)
St. Augustine wrote:
What then, brethren, shall we say of God? For if thou hast been able to understand what thou wouldest say, it is not God. If thou hast been able to comprehend it, thou hast comprehended something else instead of God. If thou hast been able to comprehend him as thou thinkest, by so thinking thou hast deceived thyself. This then is not God, if thou hast comprehended it; but if this be God, thou has not comprehended it.
Gregory of Nyssa wrote:
‘Since Moses was alone, by having been stripped as it were of the people’s fear, he boldly approached the very darkness itself and entered the invisible things where he was no longer seen by those watching. After he entered the inner sanctuary of the divine mystical doctrine, there, while not being seen, he was in company with the Invisible. He teaches, I think, by the things he did that the one who is going to associate intimately with God must go beyond all that is visible and—lifting up his own mind, as to a mountaintop, to the invisible and incomprehensible—believe that the divine is there where the understanding does not reach.’
—Gregory of Nyssa
Life of Moses, §46
Keith Augustine wrote:
As defined by philosopher Paul Draper, naturalism is "the hypothesis that the physical world is a 'closed system' in the sense that nothing that is neither a part nor a product of it can affect it." More simply, it is the denial of the existence of supernatural causes. In rejecting the reality of supernatural events, forces, or entities, naturalism is the antithesis of supernaturalism. I agree that once we subtract out the natural, there is no positively characterized ontological category to which the nonnatural or supernatural belongs.
George Smith wrote:
All of the supposedly positive qualities of God arise in a distinctively human context of finite existence, and when wrenched from this context to apply to a supernatural being, they cease to have meaning.
"Considering that every predicative language is inadequate to the essence, in truth to the hyperessentiality (the being beyond Being) of God; consequently, only a negative (‘apophatic’) attribution can claim to approach God and to prepare for a silent intuition of God." - Jacques Derrida
3.032 It is as impossible to represent in language anything that 'contradicts logic' as it is in geometry to represent by its coordinates a figure that contradicts the laws of space, or to give the coordinates of a point that does not exist.
P1 God is ‘above’ logic
P2 Therefore he is not bound to it
P3 Which means he can do the logically impossible.
P4 We cannot represent anything that contradicts logic.
C1 Therefore we cannot represent god. At all.
C2 Hence talking of god is necessarily incoherent and meaningless.
That is aside from the fact that the supernatural is a meaningless and incoherent concept to us, so anything supernatural is meaningless and incoherent by defintion.
Also, to argue for the supernatural necessarily begs the question and argues from ignorance. ‘Supernatural’ is merely a word to contradistinct the word ‘natural,’ just as ‘dark’ is to contradistinct ‘light.’ There is no evidence for the ‘existence’ of a realm other than the natural world we live in.
Those who know the good, do the good. - Socrates