The Paradoxical Nature Of God
What is a paradox?
A paradox is a statement or proposition that, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory.
Do you believe in God?
- Psalm 33:6 “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth."
- Jeremiah 32:17 “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”
- Jeremiah 23:24 "Can a man hide himself in hiding places So I do not see him?" declares the Lord "Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?" declares the Lord."
- Proverbs 15:3 "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good."
- Psalm 18:30 "As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord's word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him."
- Matthew 5:48 "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
- Isaiah 46:9-10 “Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please."
- Prov 16:4 "The Lord has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil."
- Psalm 147:4-5 “He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.”
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines omniscient as knowing everything : having unlimited understanding or knowledge.
In monotheistic religions we typically find that God is omniscient, and at the same time humans have free will.
God's omniscient nature means that he knows everything. He knew what you would look like before you were born. He knew which animals would be on the earth before he created it. Now this is where things get controversial. God knew Lucifer and some angels would rebel against him. Before God created anything in existence he knew the exact number of souls that would be cast into the lake of fire and that would be brought up into everlasting paradise.
How is this paradoxical? The premises of human free will, and God's omniscience are blatantly contradictory and inconsistent. The interconnected nature of God's knowledge and human behavior causes one to question the morality of his testing of sentient beings even when he knows the outcome of the test in advance.
Omnipresence and Perfect Benevolence
God's omnipresence means that he is everywhere at the same time, he observes all things in all places without the restrictions of space or time.
God is perfectly good, he can do no wrong, and his morality is absolute and unquestionably flawless.
God is watching children starve to death, women getting beaten and raped, and people calling out to him as they are about to end their own lives. This is paradoxical because with the two premises of omnipresence and perfect benevolence, we know God should do something about these events. After all, he is watching, and he is righteous enough to do something about it. And yet, he doesn't. This means omnipresence and perfect benevolence are mutually exclusive or self contradictory, these two attributes cannot occur simultaneously in our current reality without being logically unacceptable.
God gives us free will. We have the free will to choose between infinite paradise or suffering. This is often overlooked, and so I'll compare this to a human event.
Imagine we are having a vote for the next president of the United States. Upon going to vote, you observe the two choices on the ballot. You can put a check-mark next to president so and so, or you can put a check-mark next to death. You are told that it is your choice to make out of your own free will. You say that you are not going to vote, and that you would like to leave the country. You are immediately shot six times in the chest and die from internal hemorrhaging. The people who are voting see this and quickly put a check-mark next to president so and so. Although they are terrified, they recognize that it's an act of their free will to vote for the president.
This example is an analogy for the choice between heaven and hell.
In heaven natural human free will is impossible. In heaven you cannot chose to hurt others, or to feel pain or suffering. You do not have the free will to do so. People will predictably respond to this saying that you will not want to sin or experience hardship or distress in heaven. Well in that case, couldn't this system of perfect paradise with free will have been utilized in the garden of Eden? People will then say, well, then you'd be a robot because of the lack of free will. Well, then you are a robot in heaven. See how free will is a paradoxical aspect of theism?
- create a rock so big he can't lift it?
- create a box with contents unknown to him?
- create a space which he cannot enter?
- kill himself?
- terminate his plan at any point?