Is G-d truly omnipotent?

I raised this question in another thread, but thought it might be worthy of its own thread. The issue involves G-'d’s omnipotence. Given that G-d is omniscient, not bound by time or space continua, but knowing all–past, present, and future–at the same moment, and G-d knows what all of our decisions will be yet without limiting our free will to make those decisions, has G-d thus relinquished His omnipotence by giving us free will? In other words, if G-d does allow us our own choices in life, both big and small, would that not mean He does not directly have control over the choices we make, and therefore not be omnipotent, particularly with regard to the choices He does not approve of?

Your thoughts are appreciated.

The way I understand it is The Almightly could have just run the universe without the input from angels and humans but decided not to.

The best analogy I can think of for knowing the outcome of a thing without causing it (and this is a poor analogy) is that I can know when the train is arriving to the station, although I didn’t drive the train. My knowledge has no bearing on its arrival.

But there will be people here way better to Explain It All.

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Yes I think so. That His omnipotence is not fully present in the world except when He intervenes. But mostly what happens in this world regarding what we do is mainly our own choice. The world being created so we can find our way to Him, He needs to let us choose rightly, so we can learn.
After we leave this world, after death, there His omnipotence is fully expressed and our own will is not longer able to oppose Him in any way. So we are being fully judged for what we do here while alive, while in this life time we not fully judged yet. Sometimes things get out of our control so we can think things through, if we lost our faith, find it back again, yet when this happens God is not judging us, or punishing us yet, He just hints at us that we are wrong. Sometimes He never hints and we do bad things and we imagine we are doing great spiritually because of the lovely feeling we get from life, but we are not and He is so mad at us He won’t even scare us of our ways.
If the power of God was fully present for us to experience here we would experience a great deal of fear and not be able to figure things out much.
I read that in some miracles feelings of fear and shock were experienced by the people who experienced the miracle. The fear comes I think because we are not truly one with Him and there is a lot of our inner selves that is contrary to Him, so being in conflict, we experience fear. However King Solomon said that fear of God is root of all wisdom. So maybe we should learn to accept this feeling that for us today is negative (fear of Him) because maybe after we live this world this feeling will actually be a good one.
Anyway, after I experience fear of Him I feel much better than after I fear or stress over some small aspect of daily life that can leave me stressed out much longer and fearing God.

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He knows the choices we will make but still gives us the freedom to make these choices.

It’s actually a modal logical error to conclude that His omnipotence means we don’t have free will.

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Omnipotence does not require direct action. It is knowledge and ability. The choice not to use an ability, or at least not to use it in a way we can perceive, does not remove that ability.

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The two most popular theories of free will in Catholicism are the Thomist and Molinist schools.

Thomists suppose that God pre-moves every will towards certain ends eternally. You could call it a pre-disposition, and this follows from God being the one to create every nature to begin with. And as the pre-moves God knows how the will he makes will act.

Molinists don’t believe in pre-motion of the will, however, they still believe that God knows how everyone will act in any given circumstance and then creates the exact set of circumstances he pleases.

Either way, man’s free will is not independent of God, but enabled by God and so can only be done with some type of cooperation with God’s action.

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I don’t want to derail the thread, but the starting question should be: “What IS omnipotence”? Does it entail doing something that is logically contradictory, like creating 4-sided triangles? Or married bachelors? Or creating a bullet which can penetrate any shield… and also create a shield which can stop any bullet?

Usually these options are excluded from the concept of omnipotence - on the basis that they violate the “law of (non)-contradiction”. But why should God be constrained by a laws of logic? However, there is more to the question. If God cannot violate the law of (non)-contradiction, how about the “law of identity”? Can God create a hydrogen atom, which contains one proton and one positron (instead of an electron)? Or can God create another hydrogen atom with one proton, one electron and 52 neutrons? Or can God create a temperature of minus one Kelvin? Of make the speed of light in vacuum more than “c”? In other words, what about the laws of nature?

The law of identity is just as basic as the law of (non)-contradiction. The law of identity says “A is A”, or everything is itself. Which makes the so-called miracles incoherent. Can an “acorn” grow into a “whale” or into a “human”?

The point is that the so-called “omnimax” attributes are nonsensical. Believers wish to endow God with unlimited attributes, and that is a logical nonsense. Any attribute excludes the existence of a competing attribute. Some apologists argue that “omnipotence” simply means that God can do everything “that can be done”. Which is an empty proposition, since it would require to learn: “just WHAT can be done”.

And then I did not even touch the other attribute - the concept of omniscience - which has even more problems. :slight_smile:

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I am not questioning G-d’s omniscience (at least not in this thread); however, I wonder whether, given the fact that G-d gave us free will, He still has omnipotence? That is, our having free will means that we can make our own choices, which G-d knows but doesn’t necessarily have total control of. And if G-d does not have total control over our choices, does He have omnipotence? Of course, if G-d does have total control over our choices, do we still have free will?

I have the ability to reach over and drink the stale coffee on my desk. By choosing not to do so, I am not relinquishing my power to do so. I’m exercising my ability to choose not to do something.

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Understood, but in that case, are we still talking about free will? In other words, just how “free” is free will if it must either be “pre-moved” or if G-d creates the “exact set of circumstances” so that our will is determined by that?

Logic is a human-contrived concept limited by the capability of human understanding. Omnipotence is cannot limited by logic, by definition.

By WHAT logic???

This was the understanding way back, when the question was “Can God create a rock which is so heavy, that even he is unable to lift it?” Which shows the problem with the concept of omnipotence (and generally with “unlimited attributes”).

Of course there is another problem: “is definition limited by logic???” :wink: So I am back to the question: “What IS omnipotence?”

Good point. However, your choice not to drink the stale coffee is based on the fact that you don’t wish to drink such coffee. Our free will is based on choices we wish to make, whether they are ultimately good or bad for us. In the case of G-d relinquishing His power, this would be done even against G-d’s wishes. Can we then say that G-d is omnipotent if He allows humans to exercise free will in making choices that G-d does not approve of? In other words, who determines the choices we make, especially those that are contrary to the will of G-d? It appears that we do. Therefore, is the will of G-d omnipotent in such cases?

It appears to be unanswerable. But if God can be Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at the same time (according to Christian theory), then logic has certainly been suspended.

I’d say that the notion of putting on a puppet show for oneself for all eternity sounds remarkably dull and God probably didn’t wish to do so. Not so different, really.

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I am not questioning G-d’s omniscience. But why is this an error in the first place? Wouldn’t G-d’s omnipotence be in question if He allows us to do as we choose without pre-approving our decisions? After all, this would mean He is not in total control of our choices.

That may well be the case. However, it still means G-d does not have total control of our choices, does it not, even if He knows what they are and even if He designed it that way?

It means that in a sense, but that does not preclude omnipotence. It’s not that our choices are beyond His control; it’s simply that he chooses not to exercise His control over them all the time.

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Great question. I would argue that God is omnipotent because he gave us free will. The act of giving somebody free will is an act of power. Can God take away the free will away from us? Yes he can, although he chooses not to.
God does interfere in our lives in various ways but never takes away our free will. This is not because he cannot but because he doesn’t want to. Just in the same way, Jesus could have saved himself if he wanted to, but he chose to die for us. If God was obliged to show his power at all times by impeding our free will, he wouldn’t really be omnipotent. Omnipotence means power to do anything anytime, including things that defy our logic although not Logic itself since God created Logic to begin with. But because we cannot imagine a God so powerful, voluntarily providing us with seemingly unlimited freedom, we think God is not omnipotent. When in fact he is.

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Good point. And in the long run, G-d does have control over how these choices will play out, even if He does not exercise control in the short run? Still, there are certainly ways that we can affect our own lives and those of others that G-d may not have chosen to happen albeit for good reasons.

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