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Thread: Not omnipotent, impotent

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    Not omnipotent, impotent

    What if God were not omnipotent, but instead impotent?

    The whole concept of omnipotence sucks. It is an infinite exponentiation of everything, it's silly. If God were omnipotent he could cure all evil, send everyone to Heaven and delete Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. It's just too self-contradictory a concept to work. But what if he were impotent?

    Let’s posit that there is a God, and that he did create the universe. He used his infinite wisdom to devise the exact balance of forces and masses and other subatomic particular behaviour that would result in the formation of atoms, molecules, stars, planets and life. Then he said “Let there be Light”, lit the blue touch-paper and retired. Just to stretch that analogy a little further, once it was set to explode it was too late to stop it, to affect it’s process or to do anything other than to watch.

    So He created a universe and it is governed by the rules he put in place, but they are physical rules affecting only matter.

    He is still God. He is omniscient and thus pretty much omnipresent, but he’s not omnipotent. In fact he’s impotent in real terms. He can’t make a mountain fall, kill all of the Egyptian firstborn boy babies, (which would be a bastardly thing to do anyway), all he can do is watch. However we have had Heisenberg to point out that you cannot observe without affecting the observed. So we also accept that God’s observation of his universe will result in small changes. Possibly changes at the level of human consciousness. This is where I am leaping a bit. I have no idea what effect God’s observation of us might have.

    Assume, though, that the all-knowing deity is smart with it, and it’s not too great a stretch to assume that He might be able to modify or control the effects of his interference. So He could possibly use his tiny effect on our universe to affect the thoughts of individuals. Hence there would be people who suddenly get a Saul on the road to Tarsus moment, and there would be those who would think “Wait a moment. I’m being a bastard. I should love God and my neighbours” and there might also have been people who were told stories about how the universe was made. God did it.

    It may be easier to imagine that God would use his minimal influence to convince rainbows to spell out the Truth, or Ducks to quack the old testament, but He's omniscient; He doesn't need to, He can manipulate human brains.

    In the good old days of n Millennia BC He would have explained that He made the universe and the story sunk in. After that all that's needed is just an occasional, personal tweak. Once the concept of "God the Creator" had been passed to the religious guys of long ago the message would be there. The rest would be an occasional nudge or warm, fuzzy feeling.

    As a hypothesis, it covers the observable facts, explains why so many people believe in God, and why he never does anything to prove that he exists.

    So what are the weaknesses of this hypothesis, apart from the fact that it’s probably untestable, and makes assumptions without any evidence. You must admit it makes more sense than the Bible.

    You may ask "What use is a God that can't do anything until we die?", to which I would ask,What's the point of the gods we have, that supposedly can do whatever they want, but allow babies to be raped, kittens to be stomped and the IDF to shoot little old ladies and kids in Gaza? At least mine has a grand plan and His hands tied over the 'little' things. He's not all mouth and no trouser like Jehovah, Allah and the others.

    He's still God. When you die you still get sucked into His infinite grace. He created the universe and can listen to every individual thought in it; how awesome is that? Impotent, but much better than the current God.
    Last edited by Brucelles; 20-03-2009 at 10:04 AM. Reason: To insert the word 'us'

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    Re: Not omnipotent, impotent

    Jesus would never have been?

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    Re: Not omnipotent, impotent

    Will I get this comment deleted if I pull out my metaphorical popcorn and watch the fireworks that are about to explode?

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    Re: Not omnipotent, impotent

    At the risk of starting a flame war, the idea of God even existing is sort of redundant. God's are invented through the need to explain things. The parameters of the universe are predominantly chance based, i believe that.

    There are some things that don't correlate with your thesis however.

    1. God is effectively a failure. So he tweaked, he *meddled*, he fiddled with things that didn't concern him and look what happened. Organised religion is used as a carte blanche reason for violence, rape, and general immorality. People have used God as a reason for just about anything that is banned on the list of Things Thou Shan't Do.

    2. Where is any evidence for life after death? Sucked into His Infinite Grace? Science is pretty much heading towards the conclusion that consciousness is a function of physics (chemistry and biology being subsets of the latter). Whilst this isn't necessarily the happiest view of life (well, everything is effectively meaningless - but then that again is a human concept and isn't really valid), who cares? It doesn't mean you can't enjoy your life to it's full extent, it doesn't mean you can't love, laugh and cry. And it certainly doesn't have a deity as a pre-requisite.

    3. This is something of an interstellar leap, but how do you go about explaining life on other planets. Now, the odds are HEAVILY stacked in favour of life on other worlds, through the basic principles of evolution over a few billion years it's almost certain. Now, does God have a finger in their pies too? Or just ours - big coincidence, but of course that's part of the fun isn't it. Now, think of it this way. God, through your theory tweaks people to make them think about God. Throughout history, people have invented hundreds if not thousands of Gods, societies often create deities for many little things - it's almost as if it's just a byproduct of our psychology. That should mean that there is no religion anywhere else in the universe because God didn't poke people to form belief.

    I think what your God is, is basically something that embodies chaos, entropy, randomness in the universe. Your God is the tiny fluctuations in people's personalities, the random numbers that operate the cosmic computer, the probabilities that operate quantum mechanics and on and on.

    It's a nice idea, and it's certainly a nicer idea than the Smiting God of the Old Testament - but i fear fatally flawed.

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    Re: Not omnipotent, impotent

    Here's the thing, just about every theory of God tries to make sense of the aparent fact that humans are unique and special in some way. They pander to the idea that of all the things in the universe, nothing else is like us and therefore the Creator God must be allowing bad things to happen to us for some reason.

    Ultimately, almost all "explanations" for God fall afoul of this reason, personally that's why I think out of all the religions in the world, Jedi's get it most right because they don't try and personify their creator.

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    Re: Not omnipotent, impotent

    Quote Originally Posted by mediaboy View Post
    Will I get this comment deleted if I pull out my metaphorical popcorn and watch the fireworks that are about to explode?
    I will join you. I am hoping its sweet popcorn, not too keen on the salty stuff.

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    Re: Not omnipotent, impotent

    Quote Originally Posted by Whiternoise View Post
    At the risk of starting a flame war, the idea of God even existing is sort of redundant. God's are invented through the need to explain things. The parameters of the universe are predominantly chance based, i believe that.
    OK. So do I. I am just trying to imagine what level of God would be consistent with what we see around us. My hypothesis is obviously flawed due to Occam's Razor, but just because something is less likely doesn't make it impossible. If you look at virtually any society they believe in a God. The vast majority have had to find an excuse to explain why their god, so powerful He/She created the whole universe, can't stop babies starving to death. My God covers that; there's not much He can do about it, for a good reason.

    Quote Originally Posted by Whiternoise View Post
    AThere are some things that don't correlate with your thesis however.

    1. God is effectively a failure. So he tweaked, he *meddled*, he fiddled with things that didn't concern him and look what happened. Organised religion is used as a carte blanche reason for violence, rape, and general immorality. People have used God as a reason for just about anything that is banned on the list of Things Thou Shan't Do.
    Again, that's the Christian God, Allah and the Jewish guy who became the Christian God. My postulated God didn't do that. He started the process and stood back knowing pretty much where it would lead. People know that He created the universe because their prophets told them, but they missed the point that the story ends there and that from now on it's up to us.
    Quote Originally Posted by Whiternoise View Post
    A2. Where is any evidence for life after death? Sucked into His Infinite Grace? Science is pretty much heading towards the conclusion that consciousness is a function of physics (chemistry and biology being subsets of the latter). Whilst this isn't necessarily the happiest view of life (well, everything is effectively meaningless - but then that again is a human concept and isn't really valid), who cares? It doesn't mean you can't enjoy your life to it's full extent, it doesn't mean you can't love, laugh and cry. And it certainly doesn't have a deity as a pre-requisite.
    Life after Death is one of the tenets of pretty much any religion. There's no point in worshipping a deity if it can't do anything for you. You know that religious people are much more likely to request expensive and painful life-prolonging medical treatment than atheists? That's partly why people get religion, so that their fear of death can be allayed a little, but even they don't generally go willingly into the dark.
    Quote Originally Posted by Whiternoise View Post
    A3. This is something of an interstellar leap, but how do you go about explaining life on other planets. Now, the odds are HEAVILY stacked in favour of life on other worlds, through the basic principles of evolution over a few billion years it's almost certain. Now, does God have a finger in their pies too? Or just ours - big coincidence, but of course that's part of the fun isn't it. Now, think of it this way. God, through your theory tweaks people to make them think about God. Throughout history, people have invented hundreds if not thousands of Gods, societies often create deities for many little things - it's almost as if it's just a byproduct of our psychology. That should mean that there is no religion anywhere else in the universe because God didn't poke people to form belief.
    I never meant to imply the God's purview only covers our little planet. I assume that whatever His plan is, it needed a whole universe full of sentient beings, probably all believing that "God did it".

    Quote Originally Posted by Whiternoise View Post
    AI think what your God is, is basically something that embodies chaos, entropy, randomness in the universe. Your God is the tiny fluctuations in people's personalities, the random numbers that operate the cosmic computer, the probabilities that operate quantum mechanics and on and on.
    Why is that bad? Surely it's better than the God that is omnipotent, and still allows the Nazis to massacre Jews by the millions and then allows the Israelis to start the process again with the Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. At least a God that had His hands tied doesn't need to explain why my cat was hit by a car, or why he allows psychopaths like Idi Amin, George Bush, Hitler and Pol Pot to run around organising mass murder. Mine would probably like it that people prayed to Him, and shake His metaphorical head sadly when a raped baby gets AIDS, but at least He wouldn't just sit there thinking "I could have fixed that, but chose not to."

    Quote Originally Posted by Whiternoise View Post
    It's a nice idea, and it's certainly a nicer idea than the Smiting God of the Old Testament - but i fear fatally flawed.
    Thanks. The idea of any God is flawed, but one that can only interfere in small ways is less flawed. It's only really flawed in that there is no reason to hold that idea, and that to do so is unnecessarily multiplying entities. But people like Gods, and one that fits the observable facts, and cannot be expected to demonstrate it's existence, has to be a step forward from the ones that "could do it, if they wanted to, but choose not to".

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    Re: Not omnipotent, impotent

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucio View Post
    Here's the thing, just about every theory of God tries to make sense of the aparent fact that humans are unique and special in some way. They pander to the idea that of all the things in the universe, nothing else is like us and therefore the Creator God must be allowing bad things to happen to us for some reason.

    Ultimately, almost all "explanations" for God fall afoul of this reason, personally that's why I think out of all the religions in the world, Jedi's get it most right because they don't try and personify their creator.
    Aha, there's where my God wins. There's nothing he can do, or be expected to do. There's no need to make excuses for my God. He doesn't "move in a mysterious way" He barely moves at all. You don't need to seek an explanation for the bad stuff that happens, because that's what life is about. It's built into the parameters of God's plan. He may still care about individuals, but you can't expect Him to destroy his own universe by breaking it's rules just to help someone's psoriasis to get better.

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    Re: Not omnipotent, impotent

    Quote Originally Posted by matty-hodgson View Post
    Jesus would never have been?
    I didn't say that. Just that he was probably a loony or a visionary or a rebel leader or some other charismatic motivator of people. Simplest explanation.

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    Re: Not omnipotent, impotent

    The Blood-Soaked Cross conquered Western Civilization. Gods were dethroned, images were smashed, history was changed. A wasteland where camels grazed became a holy land. Crude writings written in barbarous dialects became sacred scriptures. An ill-tempered desert deity became a universal god. Even more! A failed rebel prophet, who died a demeaning death on a tree, became a holy savior for millions. A simple peasant girl, impregnated under suspicious circumstances, became a holy mother–a blessed virgin. An ignorant fisherman, too cowardly to support his master in a crisis, became an infallible saint who guards the gates of heaven.
    The Galilean conquered. BUT THE LIBERATION HAS BEGUN….

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    Re: Not omnipotent, impotent

    Quote Originally Posted by mediaboy View Post
    Will I get this comment deleted if I pull out my metaphorical popcorn and watch the fireworks that are about to explode?
    Doesn't seem likely.

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    Re: Not omnipotent, impotent

    Woah! bit early in the morning for this isn't it...

    My two penth is that humans are not unique or special in anyway, we are just animals with some evolutionary advantages our problem is that we have developed to a point where our intelligence is such that we need an explanation for everything and when we can't explain something we invent something to stop us from going crazy... whether this be faith, an untestable scientific theory or whatever? ...take your pick, whatever works for you. Nothingness is frightening and beyond human comprehension.
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    Re: Not omnipotent, impotent

    Quote Originally Posted by matty-hodgson View Post
    Jesus would never have been?
    yes he would have... nothing in this thread states that the Angel Gabriel couldn't get it up. And it was he who visited Mary...

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    Re: Not omnipotent, impotent

    Quote Originally Posted by Brucelles View Post
    Aha, there's where my God wins. There's nothing he can do, or be expected to do. There's no need to make excuses for my God. He doesn't "move in a mysterious way" He barely moves at all. You don't need to seek an explanation for the bad stuff that happens, because that's what life is about. It's built into the parameters of God's plan. He may still care about individuals, but you can't expect Him to destroy his own universe by breaking it's rules just to help someone's psoriasis to get better.
    Except it doesn't, in making the assumption that He's impotent, you're also adding the assumption that He would do something, if only he could.

    Personally I don't think human motivation can truely make sense of a Creator god, the scale is just too great for anything we experience to draw comparisions. The closest I've come to rationalising it is described in God's Debris (http://nowscape.com/godsdebris.pdf) by Scott Adams. It even helps explain why we might truely be alone in the universe.

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    (='.'=) (='.'=) (='.'=) (='.'=) (='.'=) (='.'=) (='.'=)
    (")_(") (")_(") (")_(") (")_(") (")_(") (")_(") (")_(")


    This is bunny and friends. He is fed up waiting for everyone to help him out, and decided to help himself instead!

  16. #15
    mmh
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    Re: Not omnipotent, impotent

    If there is a god... maybe we're just one of his attempts at creating life on a planet in the universe... and we're making such a hack job of it, he's wondered off and started the evolutionary chain somewhere else....

    we're his cast-off failed science project... left in this quadrant of the galaxy to ultimately destroy ourselves whilst God is elsewhere trying to create the perfect being?

    who knows...

    all i know is, im alive now... not 2000 years ago and i wont be alive in 2000 years to come, (hell maybe live 50 years from now if im lucky)... so worrying about trivial stuff like gods exsistance and other mystical powers... i just dont have time for... if people havent figured it out in 2000 years, then i aint gonna figure it out in 50... may aswell make do with what we've got and what we do know...
    : RFNX Ste | : stegough | www.stegough.com

  17. #16
    Get in the van. Fraz's Avatar
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    Re: Not omnipotent, impotent

    Who gives a crap. I don't waste my time thinking about such things. It's never got anyone anywhere as far as I can tell.

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