The “Omniscience” of God
Christians (and let’s be fair… the followers of all religions with gods) are taught to believe that their “god” is omniscient (i.e., he possesses all-inclusive knowledge regarding everything that has ever been, everything that currently is, everything that will ever be, and everything that has ever been possible—even if it never actually came to pass. You know… everything). I assume that this also means that he possesses all wisdom and understanding regarding the deepest meanings of the knowledge he possesses and the seemingly infinite possible applications of this knowledge; and that he possesses perfect clarity of foresight and perfect foreknowledge regarding the outcome of the things that he (and everyone else) plans, or does, or causes to be done—and that he can see with perfect clarity how all of these things fit together in some sort of giant, multi-dimensional mosaic we call “life” or “reality.” In other words, nothing can ever surprise him if he is truly omniscient, and possesses perfect wisdom, perfect understanding, perfect insight, and perfect judgment (as we are lied… I mean, led to believe). Surely he must have perfect, advance knowledge of how everything will turn out and he only does the wisest, most righteous, most just things, right? I mean, his “children” can count on him, right? He is, after all, perfect and loving and righteous… isn’t he?
IF it is true that nothing can surprise “god” and that he has perfect foreknowledge of how everything will turn out (in spite of our free will to make random, illogical, meaningless, emotional, disjointed, selfish, unpredictable, impetuous choices, and then to change our minds over and over again), and IF it is true that the totality of everything that has ever happened is a combination of: (1) things that god purposefully and directly caused to happen, (2) things that happened as a consequence of something that god purposefully and directly caused to happen (though it too was foreseen by his omniscient mind and purposefully allowed to happen), (3) things that happened as a result of mankind’s free will (which he supposedly gave us, so refer to number 2) or mankind’s fallen state (which HE caused in more than one way, so refer to numbers 1 & 2), (4) things caused by so-called “supernatural forces of evil” (which HE created and turned loose on the world, according to the bible, so refer to numbers 1 and 2) or (5) things that happen as a result of natural forces such as physics (which HE created and which he either passively allows to happen or fails to plan for, so refer to numbers 1 and 2); IF these things are true, then isn’t everything that has ever happened or ever will happen, in effect, really “GOD’S” FAULT? Not ready to go there yet? Fair enough. Let’s take a look at a few of the more “brilliant” things “god” has done, as documented in his own bible, and judge his culpability—and let’s judge his omniscience, his perfect wisdom, his perfect judgment, and his fitness as a “heavenly father.”
Now obviously, I could be wrong, but it occurs to me that if “god” were truly an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent being who loves us and wants the best for us:
- Shouldn’t god have anticipated that his Archangel Lucifer (aka, satan) would lead an angelic revolt against him, and that he would find it necessary to cast him and his followers out of heaven and reclassify them as “demons” and “evil spirits,” and shouldn’t he have foreseen that they (led by Lucifer/satan) would spend an eternity tormenting his beloved children and leading them into “sin” and ultimately into eternal damnation in hell? (Revelation 12:7-9 — “Then war broke out in heaven. [Really? War? In heaven? God can’t even manage things in his own “paradise?”] Michael and his angels fought against the dragon [i.e., satan], and the dragon and his angels fought back. [BTW, why is Michael fighting god’s war if god is all-powerful? And where did satan’s “spirit of rebellion” and ambition come from? If god made everything in heaven and on earth as the bible says, then didn’t god create these things in the heart of satan? For what purpose?] But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” [Why to Earth? Isn’t that his beautiful creation, and where his “children” will live?]) Now… maybe it’s just me, but shouldn’t an omniscient god have seen that “war in heaven” coming and just never created Lucifer/satan in the first place (or at least destroyed him and his followers after that war in heaven)? Shouldn’t he have done this if he was truly a “god of peace” and if he “loved” his children and desired that they all are happy and spend eternity in heaven with him? As a fallible human being with very finite intellect and knowledge, wouldn’t you do at least as much for your children? I think most of us would. How much more a “loving,” omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent “heavenly father” and “god of the universe?” (Personally, if I were a Christian I would have to seriously question his omniscience, his omnipotence, his judgment, his wisdom, his fitness as a so-called heavenly “father,” his faithfulness as a friend, and his basic ability to run things. I’m not trying to offend anyone, I’m just saying. It’s a little hard to have “faith” in such a seemingly inept deity.)
- What about the Garden of Eden and the fall of man? Now remember that god had just had a war with satan and cast him out of heaven—he knows what satan is about. Yet “god” chose to cast him out of heaven and “down to Earth” among his children, instead of just destroying him on the spot. And as if that’s not stupid enough, next, god invites (or, knowingly allows) satan into the Garden of Eden for the purpose of tempting his “beloved children” into sin—knowing in advance (as omniscient beings supposedly do) that satan would be successful and that all generations of his “children” would suffer, live difficult lives, be consumed by disease and depravity, and the vast majority would eventually be judged as unworthy of heaven and cast into a lake of fire in hell to burn eternally. Now, shouldn’t god have seen all that coming and just… gotten rid of satan? (Personally, if I were a Christian I would have to seriously question his omniscience, his omnipotence, his judgment, his wisdom, his fitness as a so-called “heavenly father,” his faithfulness as a friend, his basic ability to run the universe, and his so-called “love” for us. It’s a little hard to have “faith” in such a heartless and seemingly inept deity.)
- Genesis 11: 1-9 describes the Tower of Babel incident on the plains of Shinar (i.e., Babylonia according to biblegateway.com). According to the story, the people decided to build a great city with a tower to heaven, and thus make a name for themselves and prevent being scattered all over the Earth. Big deal. It was the Bronze Age. It was probably a tough time on the plains of Shinar, and they wanted a certain reputation among the other peoples of the region. And what could they really accomplish, after all? But apparently god saw the building of the tower as arrogance, or ambition, or pride, or a threat to himself and took (what he obviously considered to be) decisive action to prevent its completion, and to prevent the people from ever being able to work together in such an arrogantly “sinful” way again. According to the bible, he “confound[ed] their language” so that they could no longer understand one another or work together. Supposedly this is where the different languages of the world come from. [Silly, right?] And then, he scattered the people all over the Earth. Okay… the story is completely juvenile and ridiculous on its face, but let’s pretend for a moment that it were true—after all, “it’s in the bible.” Now, it’s true that people sometimes do some boneheaded things and are often in need of guidance and instruction (and whether that was more true during the Bronze Age or now, is debatable), but of all the seemingly infinite “teachable moments” god could have chosen to include in his rather small bible, he chose this one—so surely it must be really important. Apparently, he meant for his people to see the consequences of such arrogant teamwork, and to be warned—lest he be forced to confound our languages and scatter us—again. IF god was/is a truly omniscient being, then consider the following:
- Why would any “god” get so pissed about the “Tower of Babel” incident described in Genesis 11 (little more than a pile of rocks built during the Bronze Age)? What was the big deal?! If such a small thing upset him so much, then what must he think of us today? Just look at us! We are arrogantly working together again (in spite of his “solution”) and because of it, we are curing diseases, going to other worlds, cloning life, decoding DNA (the very stuff of life itself), creating self-replicating proteins in the laboratory and closing in on creating life itself, and creating great energy sources through atomic fission! We embrace the theory of evolution and growing numbers reject even the idea of god’s existence. We build skyscrapers of unimaginable height, and have taken apart the atom—even subatomic particles. Throughout human history, great cities have been built, great nations, great armies, great (as in large and powerful—not benevolent and good) religions, great institutions of all kinds, great societies, great causes of all sorts—all these things have been built by people working together with a unity of purpose, and the people who built these things made great names for themselves. What was so bad about building a small stone tower? If god was so angered by such a small thing, shouldn’t he have foreseen the things humankind is doing today and prevented them too—or something?
- Wouldn’t a truly omniscient god have known that “confounding the languages” of the people of Babel would ultimately make no difference? In other words, his solution would be completely ineffective—it would make no difference whatsoever. Look at the world today, and how the people of all nations and languages have overcome this so-called barrier “god” supposedly placed between the people of the Earth, and how we work together globally to achieve anything that the human mind can conceive of.
- Wouldn’t a truly omniscient god have known that scattering the people of Babel all over the Earth would ultimately fail to prevent humankind from working together on even more “sinfully arrogant” projects? In other words, his solution would again be completely and laughably ineffective.
- Wouldn’t a truly omniscient god have known that his method for teaching humankind about the sinfulness of arrogance, pride, ambition, and working together for such “sinful” purposes would fail miserably?
- If god were real and if he were omniscient, then he must have known in advance that none of his actions regarding the handling of the Tower of Babel incident would make any difference. In other words, why would there be a need to include this “teaching lesson” in the bible if god believed that he had actually solved the problem?
- Regarding his handling of all aspects of the Tower of Babel incident, if I were a Christian I would have to seriously question god’s omniscience, his omnipotence, his judgment, his wisdom, and his basic ability to solve simple problems. It’s a little hard to have “faith” in such an apparently inept and short-sighted deity.
- Wouldn’t a truly omniscient god have foreseen that unleashing satan onto mankind would bring about such depravity and “sinfulness” that eventually he [god] would lash out in anger at humankind and destroy all but a single family in a “great flood?” Shouldn’t he have foreseen this and just destroyed satan rather than cast him out of heaven and onto the Earth and cause everything he ultimately hated? BTW, it occurs to me… Why did he have to destroy all the animals too? Were they depraved and sinful too? (Personally, if I were a Christian I would have to seriously question god’s omniscience, his omnipotence, his judgment, his wisdom, his fitness as a so-called “heavenly father,” his faithfulness as a friend, his basic ability to run the universe, and his so-called “love” for us. It’s a little hard to have “faith” in such a heartless, unfair, and seemingly inept deity.)
- Wouldn’t a truly omniscient god have foreseen that his “great flood” idea wouldn’t solve the problem of “sin” in the world and that he was wasting his time? Wouldn’t purifying the hearts of his children and destroying satan and all his demons have worked better? After all, the so-called “fall of man” was 100% his fault. (Personally, if I were a Christian I would have to seriously question god’s omniscience, his omnipotence, his judgment, his wisdom, his fitness as a so-called “heavenly father,” his faithfulness as a friend, his basic ability to run the universe, and his so-called “love” for us. It’s a little hard to have “faith” in such a heartless, unfair, and seemingly inept deity.)
- The bible tells us of a man named Job. A good man. In fact, chapter 1 of the book of Job begins this way: “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared god, and eschewed evil.” According to god’s own bible, this was a good man who loved god with all his heart—please note the use of the terms “perfect” and “upright.” Then one day, the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and satan also came with them. god asked satan, “Where have you come from?” [Okay, wouldn’t an omniscient god already know the answer to this?] satan said that he had been roaming throughout the earth. So god asked satan if he had noticed “his servant Job,” and said that “there is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears god and shuns evil.” satan reminds god that he [god] has greatly blessed and protected Job, but that if god were to “stretch out [his] hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse [god] to [his] face.” So god tells satan that he can do any evil thing he wants to do to Job except to actually harm Job himself. So, apparently satan caused all but four of Jobs many servants to be put to the sword or burned alive, all of his many flocks and herds of various animals to be stolen or burned alive, and all of his children to be killed when a great wind made the house they were feasting in collapse. Job’s response to all of this sudden calamity? He tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” In other words, he stayed faithful to god. Chapter 2 tells us that satan came back again another day and spoke with god about Job and his faithfulness. satan tells god, “Skin for skin! A man will give all he has for his own life. But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.” So god told satan to do as he please with Job, but to spare his life. So satan afflicted Job (and remember, this is god’s “perfect” servant) with “painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.” Even Job’s wife admonished him to “curse god and die.” Naturally, Job lamented and cursed his own life, but remained faithful to god. In the end, the story tells us that god restored Job’s wealth and gave him a new family, but one has to admit that this is a very disturbing story. The most disturbing part of this story to me, is that god was supposedly omniscient and loving—he loved Job—and he knew in advance that Job would remain faithful and that satan would be proven wrong. So WHY was it necessary to crush Job’s children to death, kill all but four of his servants by burning them alive or having them killed by the sword? Why did so many of his animals have to be burned alive? Why was it necessary to wreak so much intense torment and suffering onto Job and his family and servants, when he already knew that Job was perfectly faithful? Wouldn’t a truly omniscient god have known that Job would not turn his back on him and just flicked satan away like a booger? (Personally, if I were a Christian I would have to seriously question god’s omniscience, his omnipotence, his judgment, his wisdom, his fitness as a so-called “heavenly father,” his faithfulness as a friend, his basic ability to run the universe, and his so-called “love” for us. It’s a little hard to have “faith” in such a petty, cruel, unfair, and seemingly inept deity.)
- Genesis 22 tells of the time when god decided to “test” Abraham—his most faithful and obedient “servant” of that time. Basically, he told Abraham to take his beloved son Isaac up into the mountains and to sacrifice him as a burnt offering to god. Naturally, Abraham obeyed, but he didn’t tell Isaac what was happening. Instead, Abraham misled Isaac by telling him that they were going into the mountains to give a sacrifice to god, and that god would provide the lamb for the burnt offering. Naturally, Isaac believed him, but imagine his shock when his dad tied him up and laid him on the altar they had built. Imagine his terror and confusion, because he had no doubt witnessed or participated in the killing of lambs for sacrifice. Now he was to be the lamb. Abraham actually took the knife in his hand and prepared to cut his own son’s throat for his “god” before god supposedly told him to stop. Imagine the terror in the heart of young Isaac! If this story in Genesis 22 were true, it certainly does not show god in the most favorable of lights. Wouldn’t a truly omniscient god have known that his faithful servant Abraham would not disobey him? Why was it necessary to terrorize young Isaac? What was proved by this ridiculous and cruel act? Is this the work of a loving and omniscient god? (Personally, if I were a Christian I would have to seriously question god’s omniscience, his omnipotence, his judgment, his wisdom, his fitness as a so-called “heavenly father,” his faithfulness as a friend, his basic ability to run the universe, and his so-called “love” for us. It’s a little hard to have “faith” in such a petty, cruel, unfair, and seemingly inept deity.)
- Wouldn’t a truly omniscient god have known that his “infallible holy word” would be confusing, misunderstood, mistranslated, self-contradicting, misquoted, and misused and do a much better job of “writing” or “inspiring” it in the hearts of men and then protecting it from change? (Personally, if I were a Christian I would have to seriously question…)
- Wouldn’t a truly omniscient god have foreseen that choosing the Israelites as his chosen people, was stupid because they would forever piss him off, disobey him, forsake him, and dishonor him (according to the accounts written in the bible)—just like all his other (non-chosen) “children” would? So why designate the Israelites as being more special or “treasured” than any other people on Earth? (Personally, if I were a Christian I would have to seriously question…)
- Wouldn’t a truly omniscient god have foreseen that his original system for the forgiveness of sin (by slaughtering selected young animals on an altar and doing strange ritualistic things with their blood and carcasses) would fail miserably and that eventually he would have to send his “son” to be ridiculed, tortured, and murdered to make it easier for us? Shouldn’t he have done it right the first time? (Personally, if I were a Christian I would have to seriously question…)
- Wouldn’t a truly omniscient god have foreseen that all of his great and elegant plans would go badly awry at the hands of simple-minded human beings, and prevent such things by the use of a smarter plan—with a few basic safeguards built-in? (Personally, if I were a Christian I would have to seriously question…)
- Wouldn’t a truly omniscient god have foreseen that sending his “son” (which was really himself… somehow) down to preach the gospel and save our souls would work no better than his previous system had worked? (Personally, if I were a Christian I would have to seriously question…)
- Wouldn’t a truly omniscient god have foreseen that there would eventually be a need for a “new covenant” with his people/children, because the original covenant (from the old testament) was so poorly thought out, grossly flawed, and stupid? (Personally, if I were a Christian I would have to seriously question…)
Doubtless, there are many other examples that could be cited and discussed. You probably know of some yourself. These are just a few that jump out as being kind of obvious. Personally, I think organized “religion” (as it is conceived and written) is silly, and it (as it is practiced) is too often dangerous, cruel, controlling, and oppressive; and surprisingly, detrimental to the ideas of freedom, peace, and love in our world. In the end, each person’s life is their own and each must decide spiritual matters for themselves, but it is clear to me that even if there were a god (and there is not), he is most certainly not omniscient, in any sense of that word—unless he is also cruel, sadistic, and uncaring. Neither is he omnipotent nor omnipresent. He obviously cannot be wise, or loving, or benevolent—unless he also lacks the omniscience to “see” the consequences of his own actions and inactions. In fact he repeatedly reveals himself (throughout his own bible) to be anything but benevolent, loving, wise, consistent, trustworthy, or omniscient. And if he is not all-knowing, all-wise, all-powerful, and ever-present; if he is not benevolent, loving, faithful, consistent, and trustworthy—if he is none of these things, then can he really be called “god?”
“You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” — John Lennon