Friday, November 13, 2009

God as Man is Absurd

god, omnipotence, omniscience, jesus, trinity, bible, christianity,

The humanity of Jesus, when combined with his supposedly also being god , was always a problem for me in my believing days. How can one be human in the truest sense of that word, and also be god? To be human is to have both a defined beginning and a defined ending. To be human is to be nonomniscient, to be nonomnipotent. This is the essence of humanity.

We, all of us, will end someday. As someone famously said, "On a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero." This is the essence of humanity. Do what you must, what you wish, what you dream, now, because 2 seconds from now is no guarantee.

We can only know a very little bit of what there is to know. Therefore, words like "believe", "trust" and "faith". I can never truly know how those I believe love me really feel, therefore I believe that they love me, rather than know. I trust that they are telling me the truth, I have faith in their good intentions towards me.

We can only affect a small portion of the world, as well, leading to words such as "attempt" and "try". I can try my best to make the world a better place, I can attempt to feed the hungry, but I can't end hatred or hunger. It is this attempt in the face of impossible odds that defines greatness, but only the greatness of the limited, not the greatness of the omnipotent.

God, on the other hand, as imagined by the Christians*, doesn't believe anything, he knows. God does not trust or have faith, and thus is entirely inhuman. God also doesn't try or attempt anything, he simply does. And is unutterably inhuman. Forget the rock so big he can't lift it, how does an eternal being, with neither beginning nor end, understand the plight, the struggles and dreams, of the truly limited?

In this context, God as man is nonsensical. Even the concept of a portion of God** trapped in human flesh makes no sense. It's still God. It's still omnipotent, omniscient, eternal. It's still absolute inhumanity in a human shell.

*God as imagined by Jews isn't quite the same, or perhaps as imagined by the ancient Israelites. Read Genesis. God wandered through the Garden of Eden wondering where Adam and Eve had gotten to. That's not omnipotence.

**The closest I got to understanding the Trinity was that Jesus represented a small portion of God in a human body, but that doesn't make any sense either. How can something eternal be apportioned?


  1. Read Genesis. God wandered through the Garden of Eden wondering where Adam and Eve had gotten to. That's not omnipotence.

    Technically that's an example of not omniscience.

    If you want to see god as not omnipotent, look at the Tower of Babel story. God sees people trying to reach up to heaven and says, "If they make it to heaven they'll become like us."* And they decide they can't have that, so, boom, language barrier.

    Either way, you really have to work hard to get from the Jewish got to the omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent Christian god. And, really, that omnibenevolence thing is the biggest stretch...

    *Not a typo. That's the same "us" and the "us" in the whole, "Let us make a creature in our own image," thing from the creation story.

  2. « Forget the rock so big he can't lift it, how does an eternal being, with neither beginning nor end, understand the plight, the struggles and dreams, of the truly limited? »

    Well, if I were to play Devil’s Advocate, I’d argue that, seeing as he truly is unlimited in his abilities and knowledge and he can do and know absolutely anything, no matter how far-fetched or strange, he can then (somehow) truly “know” what it is like to be severely limited. Because, him being unable to know would violate both him being omnipotent (he can’t know) and him being omniscient (he can’t know). Takes a heck of a logical leap, but you see what I’m getting at.

    Not that it makes any bloody sense in the real world, of course. But then, little in religion ever does.

  3. Oh, I see your point, Joe-ay, but it's a logical conundrum in the same way as rock-so-big-he-can't-lift-it, though a bit more sophisticated.

    I can see how Christian philosophers ended up thinking about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.

  4. Actually, the notion of Jesus as a sort of avatar of God didn't bother so much. (At least, not in and of itself. The biblical accounts handle it inconsistently, but that's another issue.) I just thought of Jesus as God's Player Character.

    What really bothered me was the idea of Jesus as The Man Who Never Sinned. As I was taught, it was this perfection that made him a worthy sacrifice for the rest of our sins. But if you've never sinned - never really screwed something up; never felt that panicky falling-away sensation; never felt a deep, gnawing regret - how Human can you really be? Humans are imperfect creatures; to be perfect is, more or less by definition, to be inhuman.

    Which I suppose brings us back to your original point.

  5. Don't forget -

    "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?"

    or in English:

    "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"

    Attributed to Jesus in Matthew. How can he forsake himself?

  6. Please stop calling me that. It’s weird.

    Reminds me of a Simpsons quote: (from memory)

    Hey, Flanders! If Jesus can do anything, could he microwave a burrito so hot that even he couldn’t eat it?

    *Is flustered, walks away*

  7. Hey, Flanders! If Jesus can do anything, could he microwave a burrito so hot that even he couldn’t eat it?

    I thought that came up when Homer and Otto were smoking marijuana...

    "How come they're called fingers when I've never seen them fing. Oh. There they go."

  8. Hey PF, thanks for visiting my blog recently. I sincerely hope you are feeling better and on the mend.

    Please don't take this as sarcasm on my part when I say that I find your challenges (perhaps that's not the right word, but can't think of anything better) with the issue of God, quite interesting. You are very good at pointing out the inconsistencies between Holy Writ, and human behavior (you know--when avowed Christians behave in a manner inconsistent with their professions of faith, or when their interpretation of Holy Writ is inconsistent with logic). I also notice you spend a fair amount of time grappling with the issues of the Justice of God, versus His mercy, and how to reconcile the two.

    I'm curious, do you really want answers to your questions, or have you irrevocably made up your mind?


  9. Let me debunk this, as a Christian that believes the Catholic church and all of its offspring have gone way far astray. God is God. Christ is Christ. The Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit. And they are all individuals. The Catholic church created the notion that they are one-in-the-same, and I believe they made a mockery out of deity by doing so, citing one scripture that calls them "one" but ignoring scriptures that say when we marry we become "one." It just means unified. It doesn't mean we have one body together. I'm anti-trinitarian, but I'm by all means a Christian. I just have a more logical view about it, and I go to scripture as the ultimate test of doctrine, and you are right to question what you hear over the pulpit and test it- any religion that says otherwise is probably hiding something. Look for religions that tell you to test them, then decipher their truthfulness for yourself.

  10. These questions are as old as Christianity itself.
    Look up Christology , a field of theology that deals just with the things you mention.
    I cannot guarantee it will not be mind bendingly boring.
    You might encounter some heretics getting burned at the stake at various points.
    Which might make it exciting.

  11. Alternately, one could say that you are asking a question which has been (quite unavoidably) tainted by human perspective. You see, simply because WE only know things by learning them, it doesn't follow that GOD only knows things the same way. For example, babies know how to see and cry as soon as they're born even though they have never done it before. It's genetic: part of their code has been programmed to allow for these behaviors. A christian might argue that GOD exists with all knowledge already in his head, even of things he's never experienced.

  12. @ the Anonymous anti-trinitarian: I doubt you're still reading this, but just in case you are... if God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are all individuals, then do prayers addressed to Jesus violate the first commandment? If not, why not?


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