How Does One Use the Term Omnipotent and Other Similar Terms?

Robert A. Herrmann, Ph. D.
28 April 2010. Last revision 3 FEB 2016.

Nowhere in the Bible is it implied that "God created everything." Indeed, relative to modern mathematical analysis, the sentence has no logical "truth" value unless the term "everything" is qualified. Further, if the term is not qualified, then, applying specific rational rules this notion can lead to a logical regress. This is an unlimited mode of thinking from which one can't escape. Such regresses have been know for thousands of years. It must be true; the intelligential ability of human beings is devolving. God tells us that He is not created. And to differentiate Him from others, this means His attributes are not created. God states that to properly understand who He is, one must simply state that "He exists." (As he says "I am.") Hence, His attributes exist and nothing more needs to be stated about the entire attribute collection. What can be stated is that He restricts His attributes in various ways so that we can have some knowledge as to how they, in restricted form, behave.

(In the following, I have, at times, employed a GGU-model theological interpretation. Further, please disregard all the material that appears in older versions of this article dated prior to this revision date.) My dictionary states that omnipotent means "having unlimited power or authority; all-powerful." This actually has little descriptive meaning for the God concept since such words as "power" and "unlimited" need definitions relative to this concept. To descriptively define "unlimited power" one needs to define "limited power." For the human being, this leads to a finite list relative to our experiences. These are restrictions. The God concept is not so restricted. It is some-how-or-other more then this. But, as has been demonstrated relative to the mathematical notion of the infinite, human linguistics and intelligence cannot fully describe this concept relative to God.

Many alter the "unlimited" notion by replacing it with a type of "all" notion. But, once again how do we describe such an unrestricted "all" notion relative to our restricted experiences? In mathematical logic, for the "all" to have any truth-value it is restricted to a set-theoretic domain. You will discover that the many atheistic attempts to establish that the God concept is irrational are mostly faulty in that they do not apply the unrestricted notion of God but rather restrict His actions. There is a difference between a concept and the ability of a language to express the concept. Our languages have been shown to be inadequate to fully express what many believe is the entire content of some concepts.

Example of a Logical Problems Associated with the "All" Concept
(1) "If God has all authority and God applies His authority in all cases, then God applies His authority to deny Himself all authority."

First one needs to define "authority." I guess for God it might be "(1) the power or right to give commands. . . . (3) power or influence resulting from knowledge." So, substitute one of these definitions for the term "authority." Then what do we have? "If God has all power and God applies His power in all cases, then God applies His power to deny Himself His all power."

The first and last "all" relative to God is an unrestricted concept. But "to not allow something" places a restriction upon His actions. It is an action, an application of His power that would be allowed by the "all." Hence, assuming "God has all power and God applies His power in all cases" is semantically true, upon writing the statement "God applies His power to deny Himself His all power" one has applied a member, the denying action, to the intuitive "all" category itself and, as often occurs, a meaningless contradiction is produced. Then we have the assumption that God applies His power is "all" cases. Is this a fact? Does the Bible state that there are actions God does not take? Do we have complete knowledge as to these? So, the actual rational difficulty seems to be the our comprehension of an unrestricted "all" since all of our experiences are relative to various restrictions. Logical problems associated with natural human languages have been well-known for thousands of years. By now, I should think, such errors would be common knowledge.

Attempting to Answer What are Assumed Meaningful Questions?
(2) "Can God create a stone that He cannot move?"

Obviously, this question is poorly stated since the physical notions of a "stone" and "to move" are only relative to a list of physical entities and physical processes that influence the entities behavior. Do we have any actual knowledge as to what the verb "to move" means outside of this physical environment? Further, a higher-language and a higher-intelligence are mathematically predicted. These model two important Divine attributes as attested to by Biblical statements. Although the higher-language contains statements that are meaningful to a higher-intelligence, in almost all cases, no biological entity within our universe can comprehend their content. Hence, it is certainly possible that an individual can correctly state a question. It can have an answer, but it requires a higher-language and high-intelligence to express and comprehend the answer. Paul (1 Corinthians 13:12) implies that this problem will be eliminated at a later time. This is not the case for statement (2).

A correctly composed question would be "Can God create a stone that He cannot physically move relative to any other created physical entity." The answer is yes. At a certain point during the development of our universe, an appropriate event sequence could alter the entire physical universe and transform it into a stone. Since all created physical processes that remain active are interior to this stone, then the processes cannot move the stone relative to any other created physical entity. Indeed, no physical entities exist exterior to the stone. Recall that the realization of any portion of an event sequence is not accomplished by application of any physical process. The GGU-model processes that God created in order to create a physical universe are not labeled as physical processes.

Question (2) was actually purposed in the following form. "Can God create a stone that He cannot lift." Since "lift" involves but one "physical process" related to gravity, I chose to make it more general and describe the action relative to all other physical processes. Of course, such questions are purposed in attempts to show that the concept of God having all power or authority leads to specific types of logical error. If this were the case, such a theological concept must be in error as viewed from classical logic. I repeat the fact that there existence millions of meaningless statements in the sense of classical logic. What statements such as (1) and (2) simply show is that the descriptive power of any human language is limited. If one follows the proper rules for writing statements that refer to God's attributes, then such logical errors can be avoided.

Establishing that Unqualified "Everything" and "All" Type Statements are Meaningless.

As mentioned above, other statements one sees use the notion of God and the "all" type word "everything." Once again, technically, such a term must be qualified in some manner for the statement to be logically meaningful relative to the "true" or "false" concept. The Bible does qualify such an "all" statement in the beginning by indicating that there is a list of entities that God creates. "And God said, Let there be light" etc. It may be called "the work to be done" list. God is very aware of our inability to completely comprehend His attributes and the Bible does not make these errors.

If humankind would not stray from Biblical statements by adding their own faulty descriptions, then none of these perplexing logical problems will occur.

(3) If God creates everything, then who or what creates God?

(3)' Who or what creates God?

(The following nine paragraphs may be of interest to many since they appear to be "scholarly" in character, but as pointed out just before the section on the "Omni" concept they are not very significant.) Again, one needs to ask what does the "everything" include? In the "everything" list, is God a member of the list or is He not a member? The thrust of such an "everything" or "all" statement is that there is a list for the "everything" and the list includes God. Further, (3) has no meaning if it is assumed that God does not exist. Necessarily, I assume that God exists.

So, first let A be a qualified class, a list. The members of A are any entities that have meaningful descriptions in a human language. This is the only qualification used for members of A. As is now shown, this is not a properly qualified list. Members of A are certainly members of a more general not qualified "everything" class. There is a relation between God and the entities He creates. The relation simply indicates that God creates members of the list. This is a meaningful description. Let P(x,y) be a predicate that represents this relation. Thus P(x,y) is interpreted as "x creates y." The phrase, "God creates everything" implies that, at least, God creates each member of A.

Creates "everything" certainly means that the relational combination of language elements that comprises such a relation represented by P(x,y) is created by God. Such a description and representation are meaningful to mathematicians and philosophers. Hence, they are members of A. Let G denote God. Either G is a member of A or not. Suppose that G is a member of A. Thus, P(G,G) holds. That is, God is self-created. Is this notion a logical problem? Thus, P(G,P(x,y)) holds. Under the notion of self-creation, one has that P(G,P(G,G)). But, in terms of relations, P(x,P(x,y)) has a meaningful description and is thus a member of A.

Continuing this logical argument, where the entities described are members of A, one gets . . . P(G,P(G,P(G,G))) . . . P(G,G). This is a potentially infinite collection of potentially infinitely long representative statements that have no resolutions. What this means is that using formalizable scientific (i.e. classical) logic, then the conclusion of these "deductions," if any, cannot be expressed in any human language or in human thought using ordinary logic. Thus, depending upon ones definition, this potentially infinite or infinite regression means that to have a humanly understood logical answer to (3), we must assume that God is not self-created.

Now consider what happens if G is not in A. Call this list B. Then the "everything" has a describable entity removed. But this is our only choice at the moment. Under this restriction, the phrase "God creates everything" now holds, at least, for the set B of describable "everythings." Now one can ask the question, who or what created God?

In order to make the analysis very simple, the Bible states in 1 Tim. 2.5, and many times elsewhere, that there is only one entity with God attributes. In this case, the attribute in question is the creator attribute relative to A. Hence, there is only one "creator." This Biblical statement implies that W = "The who or what " of "Who or what created God?" does not exist since its been shown that, to have logical meaning, God is not self-created.

Not applying the Biblical statement, direct logical errors occur, relative to A, in assuming that there is something W, not God, that creates God. The creator concept implies that for something meaningfully describable to exist, it must be in A and be created by God. Suppose "W creates God." Then "W creates God" is a meaningful description about this W. So, W is in A. Hence, God creates W. We know that W is not G. Hence, to create W, G must first exist and to create G, W must first exist. This is not a temporal first, since time is not necessarily created as yet, but a sequential first. Hence, you have that W exists sequentially prior to G and G exists prior to W. Hence, we have a contradiction. This can be avoided by stating that W does not exist. In which case, the answer to (3)' is nothing creates God.

A third argument, but not as strong as the Biblical statement, can be made using logical implications. Assume that there is a W(0) that creates G. Then by implication this notion needs to be applied to W(0) as well. This yields that there is a W(1) that creates W(0) that creates G. This logically leads to another logical regress . . . W(3) creates W(2) creates W(1) creates W(0) creates G.

To avoid these logical problems, from the viewpoint of human comprehension, one simply uses the Biblical descriptions for God's attributes and does not add to them. The Bible and what appears above imply that

God is not created, He is not self-created, but He exists.

Have I wasted space by writing these various paragraphs after statement (3)? Yes, if one simply asks. "Define creates?" Then the term "everything" might be better understood. Once again we cannot properly described the "everything" that is associated with the term "creates." The Bible tells us some of what God creates. It states that we will know more fully only after perfection comes. So, don't keep adding statements that deny that we presently lack appropriate knowledge.

For another example, the notion of "time" is presented without this requirement. First, individuals do not define the string of symbols "time." If they don't, I do not read any further. This saves me a great deal of effort. If individuals would think about a definition that makes rational sense, they might discover how our comprehension of such a notion is highly physical in character. Even if we use only the sequence of events idea. If I state that one even "follows" another, is it really possible for me to suppress the feeling that "time has passed" between these two events? Some of us actually have an example as to how mentally strange such an event pattern is even though a sequence of events has occurred and what we need to accept this as a fact.

There is a form of anesthesia from which one awakes that contradicts our experience with the clock on the wall. There is no memory of having going to sleep or having awakened. There is no sense of "time having lapsed" although the clock states it has. Fortunately, we don't usually think very much about how this experience contradicts our other "sleep" experiences and we accept that there has, indeed, been a passage of measurable time between events.

The "Omni" Concepts.
(1) Omnipotence. God is all powerful, which includes complete power over all things.

(2) Omniscience. God has all knowledge (via His thoughts).

(3) Omnipresence. God is present everywhere. Or, God transcends space and time.

For (1) to have meaning, the term "powerful" requires a definition. The most basic definition is that it signifies that an entity can perform "actions." Hence, define "powerful" in (1) as meaning that God has the ability to perform actions to accomplish goals, to satisfy certain purposes or other actions related to consequences He considers as appropriate. What does the word "things" mean when the "all" is applied. In reference to God, what does "complete" mean? Without these definitions (1) has no mean.

Statement (1) also exhibits logical problems if one wishes to apply it within a rational argument. By definition, logical arguments are restricted to an expressible language. In our case this is denoted by L. To have a modern technical truth-value for these omni-statements, the "all" and "every" and other simular words need to vary over a defined set of language elements. These statements refer to God and not us. The language He uses is a higher-language *L.

Suppose that A is a collection of *L statements each of which describes an action God allows Himself to perform. Let K be the collection of *L statements each of which describes aspects of knowledge God allows Himself.

Consider two of the standard atheists arguments that the omni-statements are contradictory. They need to apply the common notion of what contradictory means.

(A1) If God knew the future with certainty, then He cannot change it. In this case, He cannot be omnipotent. (A2) If God can change the future, then He cannot have exact knowledge. It's hard to believe that these are considered intelligent arguments. First, consider (1). What does the phrase "know the future" mean? God creates. What he creates exists within His mind. A simple assumption is that what God has mental created is complete. As the participator model shows, any allowed variations exist as part of this complete creation. These creations can yield, as He desires, specific realities. All of this is "certain." His Spirit exists and all else that exists is created by Him. The phrase "He cannot change it" has no meaning for such a creation concept. God does whatever He desires. All allowable alterations He creates and, hence, what He creates is fixed. The word "cannot" has no meaning relative to this absolute mode of creation.

For (2), the phrase "God can change the future" also has no meaning. It is the phrase "can change" that has no meaning for His complete creation. This notion is not applicable to the created "future." The created future is complete and exact. The "change it" notion is not applicable to such a complete creation.

However, none of these atheistic approaches is revehent to the actual "omni" concept.

For omnipotence and the concept of "all," can we completely list, in any meaningful way, those entities which God controls? If we could, then what is the "size" of this list? Since to have the Biblical God at all, we must have a God who can perform non-physical actions and obtain non-physical results for non-physical purposes. Relative to language, *L is God's language and it represents His thoughts. It has been shown that such a size, if characterizable at all, falls into the category of the generic infinite as discussed in Section 4 of this archived paper. This concept cannot be fully described in any comprehensible human language.

Omniscience falls into the same category as omnipotence. The collection of entities to which this notion applies cannot be fully described in any comprehensible human language. Omnipresence is totally relevant to His immaterial Spirit and it is rather absurd to place any described form of confinement upon this concept. One attribute is that it is a generic infinite entity. It has numerously many other Biblical described attributes as well. A major one is that is behaves like a generic infinite mind. Thus, in all cases, the scientific, restricted, notion of "all" should not be applied to these "omni" concepts.

These three terms express vague generic notions, where we do not have actual words or images that can fully express what we intuitively "feel." No matter what transpires, God's actions are sufficient. No matter what transpires, God's knowledge is sufficient. No matter what transpires, God's Spirit is present. I can neither describe nor comprehend in a complete way what the phrase "No matter what transpires" totally means. But, I do have a "feeling" that it is absolute in character.

Using various conclusions from my General Intelligence Design (GID) model, we are not a higher-intelligence. As mentioned, we can ask questions and they can have answers, but it requires a higher-language and higher-intelligence to properly answer them. We are promised that we will, at least, share some aspects of this language and His higher-intelligence, when we are with Him. And, we "shall know fully."

Although I disagree with how he has stated his axioms, Gödel presented a formal proof for the necessity of God. He uses modal logic rather than classical logic.


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