Sunday, March 19, 2017

Why God created

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:31-32)
I've written before about why God created, hoping to move the conversation beyond the usual defenses that God is not needy. (Of course not. Agreed. The conversation doesn't have to end there.)

Imagine there's no universe, and nothing exists but God alone. What good is it to be omnipotent if there's nothing to do? What good is it to be omniscient when the only thing to know is yourself, or omnipresent if there's nowhere to go? It's also not possible to appreciate the vastness of ocean, or the night sky, unless you're small in comparison.

And I have trouble imagining that there could be any variety without limits. That is: if there's one kind of flower, it isn't another kind; if it's growing here, it's not growing there. So variety comes from being specific, and in that sense limited.

A being of pure spirit cannot taste or feel or touch. So much of the glory of this world is sensual, it helps to be physical to fully know and love it. And then there is companionship, and fellowship, which is enriched by the company of others. At times I think it's possible that God created the world so that he could become human.
This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:32)
And if God did create the world so that he could become human, then I've vastly underestimated how blessed it is to be human.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Once we qualify the scope of "omnipotence", is it meaningful?

I've often heard advice not to engage in all-or-none thinking. But some words seem to exist for the sole purpose of saying, "this is about all." One such word is "omnipotence," used to speak of God being all-powerful, or able to do anything. I think most people would accept "able to do anything that isn't inherently impossible" as a reasonable understanding, rather than a backdoor or escape route.

Is it possible to give billions of people the "image of God" -- including ability to shape our own surroundings and paths -- and have God remain in control of everything? In a discussion on omnipotence, either our mastery over our environment is an illusion -- we are simply God's proxies -- or God has granted us our own domain where we are agents in some real sense.

There are many kinds of evil in this world caused by people: caused by hatred, malice, greed, lust, unfaithfulness, indifference, arrogance, and a whole series of problems that need no introduction to those who have lived enough years. If God is good and can do all things, why not prevent people from harming each other by a use of his power? Typically, Christians view this as God choosing to limit the extent of his control -- a choice that was inherent in the act of creating sentient beings -- in which he gives us an area where we are in charge, for good or ill.

But once we think of God as holding himself back, once we think of billions of agents who are not God's proxies -- is the word "omnipotent" still applicable? A crude understanding of "omnipotent" is no longer accurate; for accuracy, it has to be qualified. And if it is qualified, it is no longer simply "all". Without 'all', whatever is left may not be 'none' but it also isn't 'all'.

Theologians can discuss the intricacies of God's power and speak of the subtleties of "omnipotence". But once there are subtleties involved, is the popular meaning void?

Sunday, March 05, 2017

The art of apologizing

Normally I try to share anything I may have learned or discovered. Today I do not think I should do any more than say: if you want to learn the art of apologizing, this is the best article I have found:

The delicate art of apologizing without making it worse