The Omnipotence Problem.

The world was made perfect, humanity was made in the image of the creator and endowed with free will and free choice. The “fallen” “sinful” state of the world is the result of the wrong choices made by mankind as a result of free will and only an acceptance of god and its will can heal the broken world and ensure paradise everlasting. These are things that we’ve all heard before. This is the theist’s justification for the state of reality in the face of their assertion of a loving god, however there is one major problem with this argument. The problem is the idea that “god” in this scenario is omnipotent and all-powerful. Why is that a problem?

If you’re going to assert an omnipotent creator then you’re required to accept all that that entails. First off it means that if such an entity existed it would have been intimately aware of the ramifications of it’s creation before it had even begun. Long before the big bang ever banged an omnipotent creator would have had to know, by definition, every movement of every molecule,   and every thought and action of every microbe, animal and individual within this imagined creation.

Free will is defined as: “The power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate. The ability to act at one’s own discretion.”  This, obviously, is not possible in a universe monitored and maintained by an all-knowing all-capable life form. If the omnipotent god hypothesis is true then it follows that you act the way you act not because you choose to but because said god chose to allow you to by the initial act of creation. It is patently ridiculous to think that we are in some way capable of acting in contravention to the will of something that is truly omnipotent.

If the god hypothesis is true it leaves us with only two possibilities:

1) There is an omnipotent god and we are, all of us, fulfilling his original design every day: If this possibility is true it would mean that all of the horror of history the witch hunts, inquisitions, holy wars, genocides, murders, rapes and various other atrocities were foreseen and are part of the design. If this is the case then how can we possibly take seriously the idea that this creature we call god has any warm feelings at all for us and what makes it worthy of anything but our distain?

2) The god which created the universe is not omnipotent and is subject to errors and mistakes: this possibility addresses the fact that god is apparently so displeased with the make-up of it’s creations, so reproachful of the instincts and drives which it implanted in us to begin with. If this option is truly the case though why is there any reason to believe that worship of it would result in anything of better design or construction than that which is already before us?

So either god is perfect all knowing and coldly indifferent to the trials and tribulations of we lower life forms or it is loving but bumbling and incapable. These are, in my view the only rational possibilities available under the umbrella of the god hypothesis.

Of course there is another possibility. It is possible that we are natural phenomena resulting from a complex and not fully understood process of growth change and development. It is possible we are beholden to no one and nothing for our existence, and that we are limited to a finite period of time before we break down and cease to be. Under this possibility our actions are explained by our upbringing, culture, traditions and education. Our various crimes and cruelties are explained by the fact that we are imperfectly evolved creatures whose adrenal glands are too large and whose frontal lobes are to small. Under this possibility we live in a universe of cause and effect in which we have to make a conscious effort to better our own circumstances and those of the fellow creatures around us or simply watch them both deteriorate. This possibility requires us to act as stewards of ourselves and our world. To take responsibility for the shape of our reality and to put away the notion that it will all work out regardless of us. It requires us to act. If not out of any altruistic motivation then out of simple self-interest. In my view this possibility is the one most likely to result in the kind of radical shift in perception and action that I honestly believe is necessary if we’re to survive as a species. Whether or not the god hypothesis is true is, to me, of less importance as whether or not it is good for us collectively. I think an honest weighing of the pros and cons throughout our history points to the fact that it is not, and yet we cling to this support blanket while it’s influence divides us, distracts us and ultimately imperils all of us.

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Posted on October 6, 2012, in Editorial, Religion and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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