Redefining Good and a Not-So Omniscient God
If you have read my previous post, you will know of my Christian lady acquaintance who I met on a certain chat room. Just a while ago, she introduced me to a friend of hers. She then created a conference for the three of us to hangout. The conversation started with casual fun and lighthearted conversation. Then soon after, her friend’s curiosity led him to inquire about my atheism. To make things simpler, his question can be boiled down to, “What made me leave Christianity?”
Since the question requires a book to sufficiently answer, I just pulled out one of the simplest problem that I have seen in the Bible - the atrocities and violence committed by God and his followers.
My intent for using that is to make him see for himself if the God of the Bible is really as “good” as we initially thought him to be. I then quoted some verses from the Old Testament. And these were their answers:
- Those acts are not evil. We are simply looking things at our human point of view. But on God’s point of view, they aren’t evil.
This is actually a subset of the “God is beyond human understanding” argument. This argument assumes that there are two “versions” of good. The first good is what we humans commonly understand as good. The second is a version of "good" that only “God knows”.
Actually, to say that God has a different kind of morality than we, humans, is to concede that we should not call God good. If God doesn’t fit our definition of what is good, then God is not good. Case Closed.
Let me illustrate further. If I go outside, look above, and see a plane, I will describe the plane as a flying vehicle that has two wings, a metal body, a small set of wheels, a motor and so on. My description fits the definition of what a plane is. Did I see a plane? Yes I did because that is how a plane is described and my description fits the definition of what a plane is.
But what if someone then says that “on some other definition”, what I saw could be considered as a television. Is it no longer an airplane then?
No. To say so is absurd. The “plane” that I saw fits the definition of a plane. That is what we mean by saying that it is a plane. It does not fit the definition of a television, so we should not call it that.
If something fits the definition, then that is what it is. If God fits the definition of good, then he is good. If he does not, then he is not. If one will admit that he does not fit our definition of good, then he is not good. It is nonsensical to say that he could be “good” in some other definition. By the very definition of good, the God of the Bible fails utterly.
But then, one can argue that despite what we think, God could still have his own version of morality that dictates that he is good. Even if we could not call him good, that does not mean that he is not good on some definition. He could have his own “unknown” definition anyway.
But this argument poses many problems. If God has definitions of things that are radically different from our own, he might have a different definition about lots of other things. He might have his own definitions of such things as eternal reward, or eternal life. The Christian’s supposed eternal life in heaven might just be a year, or it could be a thousand years of torture on another definition. God could also say he has a definition of reward that includes excruciating torture as part of the definition.
If God can redefine any word, then anything goes. God could send all believers to what we call hell and say that it is heaven. He could give us ten days in heaven and say that that is his definition of eternity. God could promise us eternal life and then not give it to us and say that is his definition of keeping a promise!
So on and so forth.
Now you see the absurdity of claiming that God ordering people to dash infants against rocks and floors (Psalms 137:8-9), or God ordering pregnant women to be ripped open (Hosea 13:16), or God causing parents to eat the flesh of their children (Leviticus 26:13,29), or God discriminating against the handicapped (Leviticus 21:16-21), are all “good” by some other “unknown” definition (By the way how could we know that there is even a “different” version if it is “unknown” in the first place?). If a human dictator will do any of these, we would call him a psychopath. When God does the same we call him "loving" and build churches in his honor.
Emery Lee once wrote, “It is a sad day when we condone the abuse of one human being by another. It is also a sad day when we condone such abuse by God.”
- He gave us freewill!
At this point, I asked him if he believes that God is omniscient. I defined omniscience to him as having complete and perfect knowledge of the past, present, and future. After much side stepping on his part, he finally acknowledged that God is indeed omniscient. I then laid out this simple question, “If God knew ahead of time that I will be heading to hell even before I was created, why did God still created me anyway?” The point of this question is two fold. One is to demonstrate that “freewill” cannot exist in a world created by an omniscient God who has foreknowledge of the future. Let me illustrate:
- God is omniscient.
- God's omniscience is infallible.
- Freewill is the ability to choose freely among the options presented.
- On Saturday, God knows that I will do "X".
- It’s Saturday and I have a "choice" between "X" and "Y".
- By necessity, I choose "X".
- By choosing "Y", I would contradict #2.
He said on one point that he believes that “God gave us free will in order to change our destiny.” And on another point he said, “He knows the future, but he doesn’t know what we will do next.” What a blatant self-contradiction! How can you know the “future” and not know what humans will do next, which is an event that occurs in the “future”!
The second reason, is to make him realize that a being who punishes a person whom he had already foreseen to be heading to hell even before creating him but he still created anyway is not worthy of being called “good”. This also shows that being omniscient, God is perfectly responsible for everything that will happen in the reality that he created since he knows already the final outcome of everything - past, present, and future. To better understand this, let me repost an example that I posted on the Debating Christianity and Religion Forum:
Suppose you have been granted a one time ability to see what will happen to your unconceived future son and daughter. You saw in the future that at the age of 10, your daughter would be gang raped by 4 pedophiles. And you saw how exactly this animosity was done. You saw various sex torturing devices being used against her and you saw her being subjected to different sexual activities. Fortunately, she survived. But she became severely traumatized and refuses to be comforted. Consequently, at the age of 11, committed suicide and in her suicide letter, she wrote "I hate GOD". In short, she chose to go to hell.The answer that he gave me, after much side-tracking, is “I believe that God knows where we are going based on our free will. If we continue to do the things we are doing then he will continue to know where we are going”.
As a result, her 18 year old elder brother (your son) accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. A week later this son of yours died.
Then back to the present. You just recently married. Now the question is, will you still pursue conceiving this daughter of yours so that your first born son will be saved through her? Or will you rather not let the two of them be born at all?
I am asking you this as a parent who loves his children.
As obvious from the above, his answer necessitates the denial of God’s omniscience!
An example of the ramifications of a reality created by an omniscient God:
- Omniscience is a complete and perfect knowledge of the past, present, and future.
- God is omniscient
- If God is omniscient, he knows perfectly and completely all details of the past, present, and future.
- By virtue of his omniscience, God knows with complete and perfect knowledge what my future is even before I was created.
- God had seen, by virtue of his omniscience, that in the future, I am going be tortured to hell.
- Since God’s omniscience is perfect, then God cannot make a mistake on his foreknowledge of what my future is.
Conclusion: Since God’s omniscience is perfect and complete, I shall inevitably go to hell in the future if he so decides to bring me into existence.
- Omniscience is a complete and perfect knowledge of the past, present, and future.
- God knows where we are going BASED on our free will.
- From # 2, God’s knowledge of the future of each person depends and contingent only on each person’s actions.
- To make future knowledge contingent on a cause entails a period of uncertainty until the cause actualize itself. God cannot know (uncertainty) our eternal destiny (future outcome) until we make a choice (cause).
- If God can experiences uncertainty, then God cannot and does not possess complete knowledge of the future.
- To be unable to have complete knowledge of the future is to be not omniscient.
Conclusion: Therefore, God is not omniscient.