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Sunday, April 19, 2009

On Omnipotence and Omniscience, Or a Response to The Prophecy I &II


Well, sure. This is pretty fluffy too. But what the hey- fluffy is good, right?

I just watched the movies The Prophecy and the Prophecy II, and aside from strengthening my conviction that Christopher Walken is the creepiest guy ever (in a good way, mind you), these movies got me asking some questions. Here is a brief synopsis of the movie(s) if you are unfamiliar with them.

1. If God is omnipotent and omniscient, how could a "war in heaven" ever happen, unless God wanted it to happen? Sure, yeah- the movies are 100% made up bunk, but there are people who believe that "Lucifer" was an angel who was cast out of heaven because he fomented an uprising against God. So the question stands.

2. Are angels corporeal beings? Beings of spirit?

3.Why would God "need" angels to do anything for God? Re: omnipotence and omniscience.

4. If angels have no "souls", but obviously have a measure of free will, what is a "soul" anyway?

5.When an angel "dies", where does it go?

6. Where did angels get the reputation of being "good"? If they do God's bidding, they are really just neutral actors. The one recorded instance of an angel acting on his own will gives us a version of the "creation of Hell" story.

The movies, of course, never really answer any of these questions. Nothing else answers them very clearly, either. All of these questions could be as easily applied to other religious ideas. Omnipotence and omniscience are particularly problematic- really, you could substitute about anything unsavory for "war in heaven" and really have the same outcome. Why is there war,famine, plague, teabaggers (sorry-had to put that in there), etc? If God knows/controls all, why the bad stuff? A lot of people answer with the old, "God's will is inscrutable" stuff, but that holds no water with me. I could almost buy it if it wasn't for this nagging conscience thing we have that makes us see things as "good" or "bad" instead of all just "God's will". Why make us like that? Why make us agonize over things, when we just as easily could have been programmed to respond with indifference? Unless, of course, God isn't benevolent, but is omnipotent and omniscient...

That's the answer I always arrive at. If I believe God exists, and is omniscient and omnipotent, I also have to believe God is malevolent, or best-case, neutral. Otherwise, I've got to conclude there is no God, or that God has limits, and can't make all of the bad stuff go away. Which isn't really what the movies were trying to get at, I suspect, but nevertheless, they make a good case for one of these answers.

The whole thing is such a house of cards. Of course, it doesn't help that I am skeptical by nature, but sheesh. How could anyone be all right with these internal contradictions? It was hard enough just suspending disbelief long enough to watch the movies. I can't imagine how hard it would be to suspend disbelief long enough to live by this stuff.

2 comments:

Christina said...

Welcome back and your very second post (not your very first post, but the very second post) reminds me of Good Omens: the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

Read it. You will love it, I think.

Or Small Gods by Pratchett.

Or American Gods by Gaiman

Lots of god books from two atheists, huh? LOL

Lena said...

Let me second the recommendation for Good Omens.

A very devout, argumentantive Catholic I know basically admitted he didn't believe that God was ENTIRELY omnipotent, that basically, the world was already has good as it could possibly be.

As to the war in heaven in the movies and various stories, I always thought that it was intentional. There is a war, and it's all planned out, and god plans to win... using people, angels, whatever, as tools. The suffering doesn't matter, because we're about as real compared to God as characters in the movie are compared to us.

Note: I'm fairly atheistic, but the above is the best sense I can make of the story.