September 25, 2005


Is God Omnipotent?: Surprising answers from the world's religions. (Deborah Caldwell, BeliefNet)

If God is all-powerful, why did he allow Hurricanes Katrina and Rita? Or the Asian tsunami? Or September 11? Or the Holocaust? Or bubonic plague?

Whenever incomprehensible, seemingly random tragedy affects us, we humans try to make sense of it--which is why, as we deal with the wreckage of Katrina and Rita, we ask about God's role. We wonder: If God is all-powerful, couldn't he have prevented the hurricanes? But since he didn’t prevent them, what kind of vindictive God is that? (And who wants such a God?

Then the next thought swirls to the surface: If God isn’t inherently cruel, is it possible He isn’t actually omnipotent?

Given how badly He biffed Creation, one wonders where the notion that He is all-powerful ever arose?
3:1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

3:2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

3:3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

3:8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

3:9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

3:10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

3:11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

3:12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

3:13 And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

3:14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:

3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

3:17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

3:18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

3:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

3:20 And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.

3:21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

3:23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

3:24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 25, 2005 11:01 PM

Free will trumps perfectionism.

Posted by: Gideon at September 26, 2005 6:25 PM

The book of Job deals head-on with the question of suffering. Not coincidentally it is the earliest biblical writing, predating Moses' book of Genesis by 1000 years.

Key verses: 1:9-11,20-22. (The KJV translation is buggy; try the NIV.)

Posted by: Gideon at September 26, 2005 6:32 PM

I think omnipotence makes plenty of sense to everybody. What everybody is really complaining about is that he doesn't seem to exercise his omnipotence in the same way that we would, if we had it. Apparently, if we were God, we could out-nice him. The idea of being terrible apparently wouldn't occur to us, because we're such nice folks at heart.

Posted by: Judd at September 26, 2005 10:21 PM