Q: People make assumptions because they are well rooted in the belief also that God is Omnipresent, which is false. With this idea in mind, they conjure up the notion of God being everywhere, so he should have been able to prevent this or that...
A: Yes. Simply quote one of those verses in which God says he is going to go down and check something out so as to see if it is so—such as the complaint made about Sodom.
“Then Jehovah said: “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is very heavy. I will go down to see whether they are acting according to the outcry that has reached me. And if not, I can get to know it.” (Genesis 18:20-21)
He wasn’t there. He didn’t know. I love the personification. So he is not omnipresent. And he is not omniscient.
The third member of this normal ‘trinity’ is omnipotent. Note how the chart has dropped ‘omnipresent’ to substitute ‘all-loving.’ That way the chartist can harp on anything that isn’t going well and blame it on God—as though God’s role is to bless the doings of a society founded on rebellion against him, or prevent the inevitable bad consequences of such rebellion from occurring.
Thus, every assumption skeptics make about God is wrong. No wonder their conclusions are so cock-eyed. Now, to be sure, those cock-eyed conclusions might remain even if they had begun with accurate assumptions—the pull away from God is far more rooted in emotion than in reason. The emotional pull is the urge to kick over the traces—to break free from anyone or anything that would tell you what to do. In their insistence upon pursuing the petty freedoms that this world has to offer, chafing at anyone who would seem to restrict them, they end up overlooking the substantial freedoms that spirituality offers.
What can you do with people like that? In the case of those who once believed in God and abandoned it for atheism, you could liken them to the fellow who loses millions in the stock market. Undeterred, he celebrates the $10K that he still has left, reasoning about the rest: “They were just paper gains, anyway.”
M. D. Craven—‘Master Driver’ Craven, he used to tell his employer, Greyhound Bus, for the had the Banger to Boston run for many years, and they would say, “Who gave you that title?” to which he would respond with, “Nobody did—I self-assumed it” (his real first name was Merrill, not Master), whose driving skills fell off precipitously in his older years, and who used to say when his car was on the fritz, “Tom, can I borrow your car?” and whom I just KNEW was going to wrap it around a tree, yet he had been so good to me that had he said: “Tom, can I borrow your car? I want to wrap it around a tree,” I would have felt obliged to hand him the keys—used to love the verse:
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool,” for the appeal from God to reconcile, with the benefit of relieving some heavy matters that might weigh upon one’s conscience. “Come now, and let us reason together,” I can still hear him say, quoting the words from the King James Version of the Bible.
But it is not actually a good rendering of the verse. If you ‘reason’ with God, it will mean that you will take notes. You will not be telling him how to run heaven. It will sort of be like reasoning with Ford about your new Mustang. You will take notes at their owner’s manual that you should run it ‘shiny side up and greasy side down.’ You won’t expect them to be enthralled at how you intend to do it just the reverse.
The New World Translation, which didn’t come upon the scene until the 1960’s, well after M. D. Craven’s hay day, and so he still spoke from the KJV, corrects this faux pas, as do most modern translations. It renders Isaiah 1:18 as: “Let us set matters straight between us.” That’s better. It is the same warm appeal, the same alleviating benefits, but absent any sense that we will be instructing God. He will hear us out, to be sure, but it is not as though he will be benefiting from the pointers we may offer him.
It is like the Zoom prayer the other day to close out a small group meeting, and the one saying it was just a little too obvious in disguising his own narrative to the group and prayer to God. He wove in, as evidence of the stressful times we live in as we try to adapt to Covid, his comment about the lines that stretched from (he named the far-apart streets) as people lined up for free masks. I said to my wife: “It’s as though he imagines Jehovah saying, “Oh, I didn’t know that. Backed up that far? Wow. Things are really getting tight down there.”
And the only reason I shoot down ‘omnipotent’ (all-powerful) is because if I don’t, some idiot will be sure to come along, patting himself on the back, with the question, “Can God make a mountain he can’t move?” Sigh...I suppose that he can’t do that.