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How do we know there's a God? What is he like?

Is God Omniscient or Omnignorant?

Postby Hermit Thrush » Fri Nov 23, 2018 12:54 pm

I have a question. I am not a Bible scholar. I have not read it.

It seems to me that in the Bible stories, God shows He is not omniscient.

I mean, for example:

God creates Adam alone and does not create Eve until He sees that Adam is lonely. He couldn't predict that?

God created the Garden for Adam to live in forever and evicts him a short time later.

God puts a tree of knowledge in the Garden not knowing A&E would eat its fruit.

God doesn't think to tell Cain about the commandment against murder.

In all the stories I know, God is reactive, never proactive.

Are there any stories where it is clear (not by a stretch) that God has foresight or is capable of planning ahead?

I know there are assertions in the Bible that God is omniscient. They do not count. I am looking for actions not words.

It has to be the Yahweh god, not the Jesus god, please. They are two different gods to me.

Thanks for your help.
Hermit Thrush
 

Re: Is God Omniscient or Omnignorant?

Postby jimwalton » Sat Dec 08, 2018 3:16 am

Thanks for your question. Glad to talk. The first thing you need to realize is that all of the Bible comments about all of the Bible. We don't take any meaning from just one section. All of it has to be considered. You admit to not being a Bible scholar (which most people are not, so you're in abundant company); you admit to not having read the Bible (dangerous, then, to draw a deep conclusion [God is not omniscient] from a superficial reading of only a small part of the text). Rather than make a request ("explain this to me") you draw a conclusion ("God is not omniscient"). The question might have been a better approach.

With regard to your question, it's not true that God is only reactive and never proactive. You haven't read enough to read all the parts where God is proactive. But it is true that God is reactive. We consider it a value that God is responsive to human behavior rather than aloof and uncaring.

> Adam is lonely

The idea that man is alone does not imply that he is lonely. The text is not loneliness vs. companionship or about his psychological need for a partner. Nor can we just assume he needs a sexual partner (that would be quite inappropriate with Adam considering the animals. That isn't under discussion here, and he wouldn't be looking to the animals to resolve this). Instead, God has a job for Adam to do (rule the earth and subdue it, Gn. 1.28), and the task is too large for him to do on his own. He need an ally, and the only appropriate one would be someone who is Adam's equal: a woman who is of the same "stuff".

And of course predicted this. Gn. 1.26 explains that the male and female together are the image of God, and 1.28 expects both of them to rule together. Genesis 2, then, is just explaining how the two of them together, as equals, will function as God's co-regents on the earth. It's not good for Adam to be alone.

> God created the Garden for Adam to live in forever and evicts him a short time later.

Adam's loss isn't the Garden, in particular, but the loss of the presence of God. Adam and Eve are evicted because they have chosen to reject God as the center of order and wisdom, and instead make themselves that center (for which they were not qualified or capable). What they lose in the process is a relationship with God and access to his presence. Adam could not live forever unless he was in relationship with the eternal God.

> God puts a tree of knowledge in the Garden not knowing A&E would eat its fruit.

The fruit (of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil) is the ability to decide. The ancients' worldview centered around order and wisdom. The gods were believed to be the center of both. "Knowledge of good and evil" in the ancient world is a legal idiom for the ability to formulate and articulate a judicial decision (Gn. 24.50; 31.24, 29; Dt. 1.39; 1 Ki. 3.9; 22.18). In 2 Sam. 14.17 the phrase means to listen to a case with discernment so as to make a good judgment. In 2 Sam. 19.35; 1 Ki. 3.9; Isa. 7.15-16 it refers to the human capability to be discriminating. Knowing good and evil is a characteristic of God (3.22), but not of children (Dt. 1.39; Isa. 7.15-16), the infirm elderly (2 Sam. 19.35), or the inexperienced (1 Ki. 3.9). By this we know that Adam & Eve weren't ignorant or that God wasn't expecting anything of them of which they weren't capable.

Word studies suggest that this tree is associated with mature wisdom (Gn. 3.6; 1 Kings 3.9). What is forbidden to humans is the ability to decide for themselves what is in their best interests and what is not. These were things they needed to look to God for. God is not trying to keep anything from them. They are capable of making the right choice, God guides them in the right choice and warns them of the consequences of the wrong choice (making themselves the center of order and wisdom, and rejecting God).

God knew they would make a mistake. That's why He proactively put a plan into action before they were in the Garden to provide a way for them to be redeemed and still have life.

> God doesn't think to tell Cain about the commandment against murder.

God did warn Cain that what he was about to do was wrong (Gn. 4.6-7). He let Cain know that he was angry was excessive and for the wrong reasons. He gave fair warning of the destructiveness of what Cain was about to do.

You'll also notice that Cain spurned being called to account (4.9). You'll also notice that God doesn't kill Cain (capital punishment), which is the punishment for murder under the law (the commandment not to murder that comes later). Abel's blood cries out from the ground (v. 10), and Cain is driven from the ground (v. 11). In other words, he is banished, not executed.

So in these stories we see that God is both proactive and reactive. He proactively assigns both the man and woman together to be vice-regents to take care of the earth, and then in chapter 2 makes it explicit that they are equals together in the task. He proactively informs them of the consequences of rebelling against God, and then reacts when they do. He proactively warns Cain not to do anything violent, and then reacts when he does.

> Are there any stories where it is clear (not by a stretch) that God has foresight or is capable of planning ahead?

Sure, there are plenty. The story of Abraham that starts in chapter 12. So also in the story of Jacob. Also the story of Moses (Exodus), choosing Moses and then executing the plan of extraction from Egypt. Later in 1 Samuel he chooses David to follow Saul as king long before there are any problems with Saul. There are many more.

> It has to be the Yahweh god, not the Jesus god, please. They are two different gods to me.

Since you haven't read much of the Bible—just so you know, Jesus says that he and YHWH are the same God. We can talk about that more if you want. The New Testament is clear that they are not two different gods.


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