We have considered what presence might be (“the state of bringing one’s consciousness to bear” or something like that), and how, when we slow down time within a story, it is clear that an author is necessarily omnipresent in her story. How might this translate to God, and his omnipresence in our Universe?
This might be messy. I hoped by having the analogy of an author that it might clear things up; I also wish I had more time to precisely reference some other thinkers. Moreover, this is only how we might think about God’s omnipresence – it is surely not a complete description of reality.
If we consider that the entire Universe, everything seen and unseen, is simply the result of God telling a story – “God said, ‘Let there be light…’” – it is not hard to see how God must, necessarily, be present everywhere in that Universe. If every part of it depends on his “words” (some thinkers would say every part actually does depend on God sustaining it in his mind – if he stopped thinking about you, for instance, you would simply disappear), and if by “words” we imply that God’s consciousness is attending to . . . → Read More: Existence of God – 15
This helps us understand, at least as a start, how the author is present in her story. She brings her consciousness (complete with talents and passions, ideas and shortcomings) to bear on the story, and therefore is present in it. Can we extend her presence throughout the story? Is she indeed omnipresent?
It would seem that she is, and we won’t stop there; it would seem she is necessarily omnipresent in her story.
What does this mean? Let’s assume that she wrote a book with 32 chapters, and didn’t skip any numbers. We can start by saying – as she tells the story, perhaps – that she is present in the context of the story, during Chapter 11. After all, her consciousness is directed toward the telling of the story, and the story does not tell itself. Nothing happens unless she speaks. If Chapter 11 was told, she was necessarily present as it was told.
Now, could she possibly skip Chapter 25 – just not tell it – and nevertheless have it exist? Of course she couldn’t, not in the context of her story. And so if Chapter 25 does not exist, she would not have been present for it. . . . → Read More: Existence of God – 14
We have said what omnipresence is not; let’s see if we can hone in on what it positively is.
What do we mean, for example, when the person we are speaking to is staring off in the distance and we say, “You look like you’re 1,000 miles away.” (Or, “Earth to Suzy!” – but this is more obviously out of fashion).
Or again, think of the phenomenon of video conferencing. One party may be in New York, the other in San Francisco (or Tokyo, or Berlin). Yet we see and hear them – are they present? How would you explain your answer?
If so – take it back one step. Imagine you are only able to talk on the phone. Is the other party present to you?
Now both of those require communication, so let’s bring it back yet another step. Say you have an infant, and the child is now fast asleep. You walk in to enjoy the moment (and to make sure the baby is still breathing). Are you present to the child, who is unaware of your physical presence, and is not communicating with you?
So “to be present” seems to include (but not require) communication; it . . . → Read More: Existence of God – 13
If God can be compared with an author, how shall we think of God’s omnipresence?
This may be one of the more difficult “omni-” attributes that we have to think about. We’ve thought a bit about omnipotence, and we have omniscience waiting in the wings; these two are already “invisible” traits.
That is, if I say to you, “Superman is stronger than any human being,” you don’t have any trouble with that. His strength is not necessarily apparent, but lies in wait, and we only see it when he’s doing something. Then, we compare what he can do with what the strongest human beings can do, and we see that he is stronger than they are.
Or take the root of omniscience, intelligence*. Let’s say I invite you into a room full of Stephen Hawking look-a-likes. They are chatting amicably, and amid the computerized chatter I ask you to pick out the real Hawking, who is one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists in the world. You can’t easily tell which one is he – his intelligence lies in wait. But a good way to find out might be to ask them all to give a quick exposition on whether . . . → Read More: Existence of God – 12
(Not going to lie, it took me three tries to type out that subject. You might really be in for it this time).
In our last post, I compared God to a common author, and applied the analogy to the classic riddle, “Can God make a rock so big He can’t lift it?” This, of course, is a challenge to the coherence of a property like “omnipotence” (being all-powerful).
William Lane Craig gives us more to think about, however, than omnipotence alone. If the KCA is successful, it also gives us a God who transcends space, time, matter, and energy. Furthermore, God is the “First Cause” of the Universe, the one who brought it into being.
How does this comport with our analogy? ”Nicely,” it would seem.
Who or what else, for example, can be said to bring a story into existence except its author? The story does not write itself…
We quickly run into a kind of obstacle, perhaps only a matter of scope. In our world, it is obvious that any given author is not THE first cause, but has a prior cause (the author’s parents, for a start). So, for the purposes of our analogy, we are . . . → Read More: Existence of God – 11
This is a brief addendum to the last post, which I hope was easy enough to follow for anyone still reading the series. I’m sure I don’t always make it easy, and I’m hoping by the exercise of writing these things out that I will become better at articulating them.
Moreover, the subject of infinity is challenging enough, and I find myself in a peculiar position of understanding somewhat more than I used to, and yet not very much at all. There are things like “infinite set theory” that are beyond the scope of anything I have studied, though I hope to approach such things in the future.
But what can be said now about infinity as it relates to God and the large stone?
In the last post, I am essentially describing a “potential infinity,” a series of ever larger numbers that can be supposed to go on forever. One never reaches the number “infinity,” because it is impossible to count to infinity, but the fact that the series can go on forever is what makes it “potentially” infinite. For all we know, there is no end to the series, just as, for all we know, there is no . . . → Read More: Existence of God – 10.1 (an aside)
Last time, I introduced the analogy of God being related to his creation like an author is related to her story. Since we have dealt primarily with the attribute of God being all-powerful, I raised one of the classic challenges to God’s omnipotence, and proposed that we address it with our analogy.
The challenge is this: Can God make a stone so heavy that he cannot lift it? As we saw, if God cannot make a stone that large, then there is something he cannot do, and therefore he is not omnipotent. Likewise, if he can make the stone, but can’t lift it, there again is something he cannot do, and therefore he is not omnipotent.
How does the theist escape this?
I think I have one vague way leading to one clear way.
Let us first suppose an author, whose abilities within the context of her story will (hopefully) help us see the way out. She is, for all intents and purposes, presumed to be all-powerful in the context of her story.
So let’s ask the question a different way: Can an author create a rock, within the context of her story, which is too big for her to . . . → Read More: Existence of God – 10