Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Odd Coupling

For me, embracing atheism has been rather recent for me.

I considered theism in a generic sense. Paganism became particularly attractive for a short while. Yet, I couldn't summon the drive to worship God in any sense.

I just slid into a posture of atheism.

Since then, I never really gave the philosophy of atheism serious thought until lately.

Upon doing so, I noticed something odd . . .

The coupling of omniscience and omnipotence as qualities of God become quite problematic.

With omniscience, God knows everything. He knows all of history. He also knows all future events. He knows which door we choose to open and which path we take throughout our lives.

Omniscience suggests that God's knowledge transcends ours. Yet we tend to desire the kind of rationality that makes sense only to us rather than to God. Besides -- if God made us, we are that way because of it. So, either God built into us a drive for inquiry, or our powers of rationality and intellect was honed by evolution.

Regardless, we humans are a curious bunch. Thus, I cannot resist asking some hard question about God.

If God knows everything, at what point do I truly chose my own path in life? If God knows everything but cannot do anything about our choices, then he is not omnipotent. But if he is omnipotent . . . why does he allow certain evils in the world?

What does God understand that I don't about allowing people to starve to death?

Every single day?

What greater good does God see in things like that? I would like to know.

Free will doesn't convince me. If someone attempts to commit suicide, people who care will violate that person's free will to save his or her life. A person who is suffering in the final stages of a terminal illness cannot seem to easily exercise his or her free will to perform euthanasia; people won't readily allow it. We breach the free will of others all the time for what we think is the greater good. Why doesn't God? Why does he get an excuse?

Why do doctors have to study stem cells and learn how to grow new organs for people when God can effortlessly heal everyone?

Why do people try to thwart evil in the world, yet God sees all things and seems to do nothing about it -- so far as I can tell?

When we say that God knows all things and can do anything . . . God's goodness and purity turns into a philosophical quagmire.

Examine the idea of God creating a person, yet he knows that person will die and go to hell.

For what? Why? I'd rather have not existed, than to be born only to spend eternity in hell.
My life span next to eternity? Can you even imagine how lopsided that is?

And when a person gets to heaven, what will make him or her different from today? How can humans who are prone to sin really be different in heaven? After all, Lucifer (Satan) is said to have lived in heaven as an angel. He was sinless and holy at first -- until he fell.

What will keep people from that same danger, even in heaven? Will God? Why will he do this for us, yet punish Lucifer for eternity?

And remember that mankind ultimately fell, too. What will keep him from falling again? Will God finally lock down our free will when we get to heaven to keep us sinless?

What about the Pharaoh in Exodus? God hardened his heart to receive glory for himself. What if Pharaoh's heart had not been tampered with by God? Was Pharaoh doomed to be swallowed by God's wrath no matter what?

Isn't that rather harsh for an omnipotent God to pick on a measly human?

I know many of the typical answers Christian apologists would give to my questions.

And when I believed in the Bible, such answers would easily dismiss such questions from my mind. But when I lost faith in the Bible, these questions resurfaced. And this time, my mind could not ignore them any longer.

For me, the omniscience and omnipotence of God is an odd coupling indeed. I am now baffled by this strange union of self-opposing attributes.

My musings leave me to think that should God exist, he (or she) is confided by a series of laws from nature, just as we.

Either that, or God is a tyrannical, illogical despot.

Then there is this last alternative . . .

Perhaps God doesn't truly exist.
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