Is God All Powerful?

This entry is part 7 of 57 in the series Mysteries

Question Seven

Is God All Powerful?

The common view among believers is that God is indeed all-powerful. If he wanted to establish a paradise on earth he could will it done in an instant, or if he wanted the entire earth to disappear he could make it vanish in the snap of a finger.

This belief creates a problem for skeptics as they say that if there is a God he must be one mean guy. If he has all power then why does he allow wars and not extend a hand to those suffering and in need, especially innocent little children? Rather than believe in a mean God, they generally believe in no God at all, as a world ruled by chance seems to make more sense to them.

Believers counter that all this suffering is part of some divine plan to allow us free will and teach us lessons but even they have a problem when loved ones have to endure great pain or grief.

It indeed appears that a piece of the puzzle is missing for no explanation so far satisfies the soul.

The missing piece of he puzzle is this.

God is not all-powerful.  There, I’ve said it.  This is a blasphemous statement for some believers but food for thought for others, as it explains a lot.

But, if this statement is true why would so many think otherwise?  Is it because the omnipotence of God is taught in the Bible?

Actually, it is not.  The Bible says that God is powerful, but nowhere does it say he is all-powerful and omnipotent.

So, if this doctrine did not come from the Bible, where did it come from?

The answer is quite simple. Just put yourself in the position of one of those who first formulated this and other doctrines on the attributes of God.

You have a responsibility to teach the people the truth about God and you are not clear on the idea yourself.  You study all the holy writings for answers to your questions. You wonder, is God all-powerful, omniscient, perfect, etc.?  He seems to be but the scriptures do not give many details about such things.

You are now faced with a decision about the presentation of your teachings. “Should I teach that God is all-powerful or merely powerful?”

You think about it a minute and consider the results if you are wrong.  If you diminish God in any way and it turns out that he is all-powerful then he may be offended and punish you.  On the other hand, if you present God as being even greater than he is then he is not likely to be offended. Who’s going to punish anyone for assuming good things about them?

Therefore, you consider that the safe route is to assume the best and the highest possible things about God in all you present.  You tell the people he is indeed all-powerful, omniscient, perfect, etc.

It’s a win win for you.  If you are correct God will be pleased and if you are wrong he will not be offended.

This approach to teaching about God has influenced  most teachers down through time.  After all, it is human nature to take the safe route, and this most of us do pretty consistently.

Let us be brave souls though and discern the true reality, for it is also written somewhere that God hates a coward

If we want to know the power of God we must look at two things.

(1) Ourselves.  As we said earlier we are reflections of God or made “in his image” as the Bible says. Therefore, if we want to understand the power of God we must look to ourselves. It turns out we human beings are capable of doing some powerful things.  We have harnessed atomic energy, built great structures and are generating computing power that will soon equal the human brain itself.

When humans are united the Bible says that “nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” Gen 11:6

So we can accomplish anything we imagine to do but we do not consider ourselves as being all-powerful.

Why?

Because many of our goals take an enormous amount of time. We have desired an efficient form of central heating for thousands of years but only achieved it recently.  We have also desired peace on earth for thousands of years, and have made some progress, but the goal is still far away.  Yet we know in our hearts that it will come one day.

Like us, God can accomplish whatever he sets out to do, but he is not all-powerful to the extent that he can just snap his fingers and make everything work perfectly in an instant.

(2) Reality

The scripture says: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” Psalms 19:1

If indeed the universe, the galaxy, the earth and all things therein are the handywork of God, then that is what we must observe to understand his use of power.

The Hubble telescope has looked back in time about 13 billion years and this has allowed us to see what the early universe looked like just shortly after creation.  What we see are galaxies that do not have the form and beauty as nearby galaxies whose light doesn’t take so long to reach us.

This tells us that, over a very long period of time, billions of years, the universe has been increasing in refinement, perfection and beauty.  In other words, God just didn’t snap his fingers and make perfect creation in an instant. He has an idea of how he wants the universe to end up and he’s been working at perfecting it for over 13 billion years.

The same idea applies to the earth. 4 billion years ago this place looked like a living hell. There were volcanoes spewing hot lava all over, the surface was too hot for water and the atmosphere was poisonous to life. Then over a long period of time this creation has turned into a very beautiful planet.

What does this knowledge tell us about the power of God?  It tells us that the Intelligence we call God is indeed powerful for the creation of the universe was a very powerful thing to do.  On the other hand, this intelligence is not all powerful, for it has taken him a long time to get it right and he’s still working on it.

Conclusion:  the Intelligence we call God is indeed powerful and can accomplish any work he wishes if given enough time.  On the other hand, he is not all powerful in that he cannot instantly make his creations perfect any more than we can.  Just like it takes time and thought for us humans to build a house it takes God time and thought to get his universe completed to his satisfaction.

The Bible tells us that God worked for six periods of time to manifest his creation.  If he had all power he wouldn’t have had to work at it until the work was good, but could have just snapped his fingers and made a perfected universe appear.

To understand that God is powerful, but not all powerful should be encouraging, not discouraging.  Why?  Because it brings us closer to pure truth and the truth always empowers and makes us free.

 

Copyright by J J Dewey 2014

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