Wednesday, August 13, 2014
God does not have super powers
This is probably a pretty elementary post for my readership. I thought it might help stimulate discussion. this is motivated by a post on CARM that asked "could Jesus beat up a T Rex." O those guys are getting into some pretty heavy stuff over there. The OP beings "even though Jesus has super powers..."
It's important not to think of God in terms of superman. All our knowledge and understanding of reality is based upon metaphor and correlations. We can' have causal connections without them, without causes we can't predicts the result of our actions. It would be total crippling to rid ourselves of all causal thinking.
Linking God with superman is just a correlation,an analogy, but for that reason it teaches us to limit God. Superman is just a man, even though he can do stuff we can't do. he's not analogs to God becuase he's not limitless and he's not the basis of reality.
Big man in Sky
one of the major problems in the way atheists (and fundamentalists) think about God is limiting him to the power range and conceptual range of a big man in the sky. We need to be conceiving of God in different ways and creating new associations and images so that we can elevate our thinking about God beyond that of a comic book character.
God is not a big man in the sky. He's eternal, he has no origin, no begging, there's no origin story of how he got his powers. there's always an origin story for supermen. Superman get's powers from the yellow sun of the earth (Krypton had a red sun).
God's powers are limitless. we could measure much superman can do. He can turn earth around in it's orbit but he drag away the whole solar system. God can. God can do it all. The only conceivable limit on god is one chooses to be limited by such as human free will, or logical necessity (he can't do contradictory things that dont' make sense).
We tend to associate God with human motivations and human thinking. The OT does this because it wants us to relate to god. We can't relate to the ground of being, or the basis of reality. We can't feel that the ground of being loves us so the Bible images god as a big man, a mother bear, a women suckling a child. In the Hebrew system of poetry and imagery these are supposed to be compounded to stack up to something beyond the range suggested by any one image. There are many passages, usually overlooked, that say things "my thoughts are not your thoughts." Or "God is not like a man he doesn't need anything."
We should be willing to conceive of God in new ways and in ways that don't link him with magnified humanity. We can't lose sight of the relations that OT uses to enable us to feel closer to God.
Nothing wrong with comparing God to a mother nursing a child, as long as we can associate god with transcendent things as well; the laws of physics or Hegelian dialectic.
big man in sky