In the comments thread of the last article, commenter “Lydia” shared a video of George C. Scott explaining (in character…it’s a movie clip) what Calvin’s TULIP acronym means.
I had seen this clip before and thought it totally egregious (naturally)…for the fact remains that there is nary a shred of truth to ANY point of TULIP whatsoever. It is a complete farce from front to back. But something else caught my attention this time. I started replying to Lydia, and, as often happens, by the time I finished there was too much information for a comment. But a perfect amount, as it turns out, for a new post.
What caught my attention was a reference George C. makes to God’s “omniscience”. God’s “knowing everything…that’s why He’s God”. Since you all likely–by now–understand my categorical aversion to and rejection of determinism in any form or under any label, no matter how pretentious, I couldn’t help myself from railing once again at this most egregious of theological posits…and unfortunately, one of the most universally accepted. For try as I might, I cannot seem to shake peoples’ assumption that God doesn’t actually have to be “all knowing” and “all powerful” to be God. And indeed not only is it not a requirement that God be able to do everything and know everything, it is not even possible. What I mean to say is that the truth is,as usual, the complete opposite of what Reformation theology–in its most devious and destructive manifestation as today’s neo-Calvinism movement–teaches. That is, if God really is God, then He cannot possibly do anything or know everything, because in order for us to make the assumption that there are agents (like man, for instance) in the universe which are distinct from God–are NOT God–we must assume that there are things then which are given for those agents to do and to know, which if God did and knew them…well, then they wouldn’t actually exist as themselves. They would merely be manifestations of God, Himself. If there is a distinction between God and the rest of whatever exists then the rest of whatever exists must do what IT does, which means that God cannot do those things for it; if He did, then they could not be known as metaphysically (nor even physically) distinct from God. God cannot do everything and anything because God cannot possess what is not Himself. Which means that whatever the universe does, IT does, not God.
No matter how humble it may sound…no matter how reluctant you are to deny it or to break from it, you MUST understand that ideas like “omniscience” and “omnipotence” are merely euphemisms for God-qua-Determinism. There is nothing different between God able to know and do everything and the theology of Determinism. Period. Full stop. If God is able to know and do everything it must presume that God actually has a direct frame of reference for such an ability, which implies that he actually DOES everything and KNOWS everything; which means that what you and I do, and everything in the universe does, is not really us or the things of the universe doing them, or knowing them (if we are self-aware), it must be God. Which means again that everything is merely a direct extension of God; which means that nothing else exists, and that everything you or I see or think or do is not really us, but a pre-ordained version of God’s very Self. Indeed, this is precisely what R.C. Sproul is arguing when he says that God must be in control of every molecule or he is not God. If God is in control of every molecule, we must assume absolute control…for how is it control otherwise? If it is only “partial” control, then there is some substance of the created thing which is operating on its own utterly apart from any divine manipulation or sustenance at all. And I can assure you that this is not what R.C. is conceding. And even if it was, he would be left with the unanswerable question which utterly undermines his irrational premise which is: where is the line between the SELF of God and the SELF of the object? If it is not a distinction that man can observe, then man possesses no capacity for assuming that there is any control whatsoever. Objects are objects which do what they do and know what they know (if the object in question is self-aware, like man); they are NOT God. Which means that God is not in control of them or their thoughts, which means that there are things that God has no frame of reference for, like BEING an object which He is not; in which case, the assumption that God is “able to to anything” is a lie. Incidentally–and I know that this doesn’t wash much in the Reformed camp that adheres to “penal substitution” whereby an innocent man is tortured and put to death for a group of totally depraved humans who cannot be held culpable for their sin because it is not a function of choice, but of nature, which makes it not a sin at all, by definition–yes, incidentally, this is why God can reward and punish humanity justly, without being a hypocrite. He does not proclaim that He is in control (read: possession) of humanity’s thoughts and actions. Which is why the divine rewards and punishments are actually just.
Here are some waders. Hoist them up high as you can. The neo-Calvinist, neo-reformed bullshit just keeps getting deeper and deeper as the ticker tape of theological madness and mystic oppression roles on and on with ever fancier propaganda.
My wife says my posts sound angry.
You bet I am. I’m sick and bloody tired of being lied to by people who think that other humans exist for no other reason than to affirm their own subjective, asinine, irrational assertions about God and the world and everyone else.
Really? Well, I submit that Reformation theology is proof that God doesn’t know everything. If He did, Calvin would have been a milk maid and Luther would have been hit by a bus on the way to post his 95 Theses. Because Reformation theology removes God as far from His Creation as it does man from himself.
Now, finally, here is my response to Lydia:
Yes. I’ve seen that before. What caught my attention this time is…the woman says: “Then it’s all worked out; it’s fixed.” And George C. says, “More or less.”
LOL…how could it be “less”? If God is “omniscient” then everything, certainly not “more or LESS” than everything, would have to be “worked out” by definition.
Because you of course understand that the implicit reason God knows everything, according to the Calvinist construct, is because He determined everything…which means that everything you think and do and say and feel, and that of everyone else, too, is merely part of the determining force of God’s “omnipotence”–from which his “omniscience” stems. For the truth is that God cannot “know everything” unless He DID everything, Himself. Which means that you don’t exist, nor do I, nor anyone else. Everything is simply a direct extension of God. And God is likewise an extension of the determining force. And, incidentally, people always seem to miss that little, but infinitely (literally) important, extension of the logic. For even God, if truly everything is determined, must also be determined. Determinism is absolute…it can have no beginning, by definition; for determinism cannot be a function of that which is NOT determined. If everything that happens had to happen the way it happened and could not have happened any other way because God absolutely determined it, then God, Himself, must also have been determined to determine those things to happen exactly as they happened. By definition of determinism, He could not have determined them to happen any other way. So, again, as we see, even God is a victim of the determinism implicit in TULIP.
It is “all worked out”, as George says in the clip, because it couldn’t be any other way and still be determined so that God can know it ALL perfectly.
And, furthermore, what does “know everything” mean? What exactly is knowing everything there is to know?
First problem: human beings have no frame of reference for “knowing everything”. Therefore, for a human being to claim that God can “know everything” when that human being can never, EVER, by existential definition, be in a position to even define “everything” is antipodal to rational thought. How can humans know and define this specific attribute of God when that attribute utterly eludes their apprehension? The problem is that “everything”, outside of a specific context, which then must exclude “everything” except as a completely conceptual (non-actual), qualifier, cannot be given a set value. Everything is simply another word for “infinity”, and infinity has no measurable value, by definition. What is the value of infinity goes the answer-less question. The value of infinity is infinity…infinity wholly defines itself. There is no actual value to infinity which man can observe and thus apply efficaciously to his own context…his own existence. Which gives infinity a practical and functional value of…you guessed it. ZERO. Which means that functionally “everything” is really nothing, because everything has no practical nor applicable value with respect to man’s context. Which, if you are a human being, is the only context that is relevant, not matter what the neo-Reformed say. They cannot argue their way out of their own existence. They forfeit the debate as soon as they open their mouths to speak. Because ALL their speaking and thinking will always and can only ever be from the context of their own SELF. So they lose immediately. And we, the rationalists, win. As usual. Which is why no one on any discernment blog or physics blog will debate me. As soon as they concede that everything starts with SELF, they realize they forfeit. Existence is the inescapable axiom…and yet man has been denying it for years.
(Hence the mad scramble by physicists to find the “God particle”, and now, since they have found it, to scramble to explain it in a way that doesn’t simply lead them further down the inevitable path of the Standard Model, which is infinity; this has been the whole problem with the Standard Model from the very beginning. And not to sound arrogant, but I could have saved them the trouble and told them that without an external observer (i.e. God) simple logic dictates that all matter must reduce down to an irreconcilable “dimensionless” infinity, which is why scientists spend so much time scratching their heads the further down the path they go. The realize that the path doesn’t end, and yet when they arrive at a place where it they think it’s supposed to end, but doesn’t, they are absolutely fit to be tied. They never realize, in the forest of their Platonism, that it is the OBSERVER who mitigates infinity. For without an agent who is aware of SELF as distinct from OTHER, then OTHER is utterly infinite. There is no end to that which cannot be observed and realized to be NOT something ELSE.
And this is where atheism also always ends up: unexplainable infinity, and irrational theories which attempt to reconcile infinity in a way which doesn’t include the only thing which is capable of doing this: God as a distinct SELF. And this is also why I reject Objectivism (which is a self-proclaimed atheistic world-view). For all of Rand’s brilliance–and she was brilliant–her Philosophy winds up down the valueless road of infinity just like everyone else’s. And so she eventually must concede the very philosophies she rails against. Her premise is the same, whether she realized it or not: you start at nothing, and nothing is what you get. Which means…who cares what philosophy rules men at the end of the day? Man’s very existence cannot be valued against any objective plumb line at all. And thus you have the weird irony of Objectivism.)
So we blithely proclaim, in our ignorance and false “humility”, in an effort to make ourselves sound so pious, that God knows everything, while at the same time not knowing what that could even possibly mean.
Stay tuned for part two.
15 thoughts on ““Omniscience” and “Omnipotence”–God possesses neither: Another failure of Reformed determinism (Part One)”
Wow. Talk about taking on the third rail of Christianity! You are quite daring and good thing burning at the stake for heresy is illegal…for now.
These things need to be discussed. Where did these terms come from, for example? Same place Trinity came from? Were they mined from scripture to explain the attributes of God? What creed/council of men did they come from first? ;o)
“First problem: human beings have no frame of reference for “knowing everything”. Therefore, for a human being to claim that God can “know everything” when that human being can never, EVER, by existential definition, be in a position to even define “everything” is antipodal to rational thought.”
Very true. I liken it to my kids. I know them so well that I know if there are a dozen doughnuts and all have sprinkles, one of the kids will always pick the one that has pink. If there are no pink, she will chose red. If there is no red, she will then choose purple ones. Did I make her choose them? No. I just know her well enough to know the process of sprinkle choices.
Right!! Your “knowing” your child’s preferences is not causal. You can know her preferences, but you cannot know her preferences as they function from HER SPECIFIC context as a distinct (and infinite) SELF. You knowing her preferences and her knowing her preferences are from distinctly separate frames of reference (the perspective of the individual SELF.
And if she changes her mind one day and surprises you, then you are not on the hook for “knowing” that before if happens. Because her choice is HER choice, stemming from her own distinct SELF. This is exactly why God doesn’t know or create the future. If He did, no metaphysical or physical distinctions between God and everything/everyone else could be made.
But by Reformed standards, if you were God, your knowing her preferences WOULD be causal. Your knowing would create her actions.
And now…I want doughnuts.
Argo, this really makes me think! And I love that. Thank you. (Nothing like approaching Christianity anew with a clean slate!)
P.S. You’re not the only one who’s angry.
Your comment was not supposed to be moderated. NO ONE is moderated here unless they have never posted before or I have informed you. Which has only happened once.
Thank you for your kind comment. It really means a lot. So few people it seems are even willing to listen, let alone consider. Thank you so much for reading here and your contributions.
All you guys are priceless!
No problem, I knew it would be moderated because I typed in a different e-mail address. 🙂
The reformed gospel in one sentence:
You are just a plastic Lego piece.
“No matter how humble it may sound…no matter how reluctant you are to deny it or to break from it, you MUST understand that ideas like “omniscience” and “omnipotence” are merely euphemisms for God-qua-Determinism.“
This is an excellent insight.
And I might also point out that omnipotence and omniscience are in fact Greek preoccupations to define the “attributes” of the divine. By contrast Yahweh gave himself different names to define his personality and the facets of his personality. And notice the profound difference between Old Testament Theology and Hellenistic Christian theology.
“You are just a plastic Lego piece.”
BWAHAHA. This is priceless.
John, Great point. And those names communicate “relationship” with people.
Those fucking Greeks. 🙂
John Immel has used Legos in his definition of Reformed proof-texting. Bible passages are stacked like legos to build whatever version of “reality” the neo-Cals want. Your comment reminded me of that.
Let the Pastor in the Stead stick you somewhere in the lego menagerie. Thing about legos…everything is always lego-shaped. All corners and squares.
And that pretty much sums up what is wrong with reformed thinking, and why so many analytical types love it. 🙂
The plastic Lego piece was a relatable analogy for all the kids reading here. 😉
John, Nice. I appreciate the contrast you highlighted. It is noticeable.
Lydia, Yes. It is relationship. God wants to commune with us & among us. Not an up there somewhere god and we’re down here as lowly worms. The twin omins imply separation. I think this is another big difference between Yahweh and gods of other religions.
NT Wright calls it “Spy in the sky” theology.