I’ve become increasingly frustrated with people’s insistence that words can mean whatever they want them to mean, and whatever is convenient for them to mean. Words are meant for one thing: communication. Once everyone personalizes words and definitions, we lose that ability. If “to you” a chair is what the rest of us consider a table, you’re going to lose us when you start telling about setting the chair for dinner.
Even more frustrating is when people, or Bibles, make absolute claims about their deity. If you tell me your god is perfect, omnipotent, omnipresent, all-knowing, all-powerful, merciful, and all-loving, I fully expect him to live up to the literal implications of those words… and because you tell me they are absolutely true.
If “God” is omnipresent, he is everywhere. Yes, everywhere. You cannot rationalize away the horror of Hell by claiming it’s merely the place where “God’s” present has vacated the premises. Yes, it’s hard to imagine than a merciful and all-loving god would create a place like Hell, so instead of facing the reality that he may not be those things, a new definition of omnipresent is constructed. Somehow “omnipresent” can actually exclude one very special place in the cosmos: Hell. God is everywhere… except there. But that’s not really omnipresent, is it? Apparently, to some, it is… but the word has lost its meaning altogether.
If “God” is perfect, then his creation should be perfect… yes, even when given free-will. I think when we simply blurt out that everything “God” made is perfect, we forget what that implies. Humans would have perfectly understood that remaining in “God’s” grace would be the best choice; that “rebelling” would only hurt them. They would have perfectly trusted “God”, andperfectly behaved. Threats would have been unnecessary because they would have been able to perfectly think-through disobeying and the consequences. The only way our free-will would have tripped us up is if we did not have perfect understanding… and apparently, we didn’t. We hadn’t yet had a bite of the fruit of Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. So, without that essential knowledge, we were not “perfect”, and to insist we were–despite a clear lack of perfect motives, thought-processes, and critical thinking–undermines the meaning of the word.
So, we’ve established that “God” is not literally everywhere, and did not literally create a perfect universe (because, even if people were the only thing wrong, that one blemish means the whole is not perfect). What other absolutes does “God” fail to live up to?
Well, he’s not all-powerful. And do you know why? Because nothing can be all-powerful. There’s the so-called omnipotence paradox: “Could an omnipotent being create a stone so heavy that even he could not lift it?” Some Christians scoff at this paradox, but the reality is that it’s very telling. This is actually just one simple thing an allegedly all-powerful god cannot do, and that actually does invalidate the claim he can do anything he wants. He can’t. This paradox may sound silly and childish, but it’s true… and makes the idea of all-powerfulness silly and childish. And I’m sure we could think of many other paradoxes that “God” could not overcome. If even “God” cannot crawl into the definition of “all-powerful” or “omnipotent”, why use such useless words? It would serve theists much better if they just said that their god was “very powerful” or even “the most powerful”. But they don’t.
Also, an all-knowing, all-loving, and merciful god would probably forgo creating humankind altogether, rather than insist that the bloody drama on this planet play out to the bitter end. If we’re now admitting “God” is not all-powerful, but trying to make the case that he’s at leastmerciful, the fact we exist at all speaks against that idea. Sometimes, we mercifully put suffering creatures out of their misery. If we knew their existence would only be one, long, unending sequence of horror (even with a couple good days), we might just decide not to bring them into existence at all. Even if you make the argument that there’s Heaven after death to look forward to, we all know not everyone makes it in (and so, we’re not really all loved, either). A god who knows our fate, but chooses to let us suffer through it, is not merciful or loving in any meaningful or remotely literal way. A merciful, loving god could not possibly know what might happen were he to create us.
Just about every absolute claim made about “God”, absolutely fails. Why bother speaking in absolutes if there are so many damn exceptions, rationalizations, and excuses? The fact that there are so many apologist apologizing for the failings and failure of their god to clearly communicate, speaks volumes.
Words have specific meaning so they can convey specific ideas. If your god does not live up to the literal definition of his supposed characteristics, stop singing his praises. You’ve been conned.
My worldview does not suffer from glaring inconsistencies or contradictions. I do not need apologists to explain away flaws in my logic. If someone points out a real problem, I can alter my opinion to reflect reality rather than concocting elaborate dance routines to remain at my preformed conclusion. It’s not about insisting I’m right, but actually finding the truth. Sure, sometimes it’s elusive, but I want truth… and I need words to have meaning. Communication is important. If what you mean by “perfect” is not what I mean by “perfect”, we’ve failed.
Guest post by Cara Coleen