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Have been reading discussions about omnipotence and omniscience and got lost in the arguments. To me it seems there is no consistent definition of omniscience or omnipotence.

But one thing struck me. Surely, if you are 'all powerful' and 'all knowing' you would be able to see multiple possible futures (allowing for free will) and change these as and when you wanted.

You would also know what you were going to do and when, which would mean an 'all powerful' being would exist outside our concept of time.

.......

  • "change your mind" or "change the future" ? – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Dec 14 '18 at 8:43
  • Omnipotence means "having unlimited power". Thus, an omnipotent Being will not change the future : the future will be exactly what he decided. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Dec 14 '18 at 8:45
  • Could you elaborate on what your exact question is? What do you mean by "change your mind", specifically in what sense would it contradict omnipotence? – Yechiam Weiss Dec 14 '18 at 13:14
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA but p having unlimited power over x does not entail that all the properties of x are determined by p – ChristopherE Dec 14 '18 at 15:03
  • I see the Dawkins tag. Is there a quote from Dawkins that motivates the question? There can be multiple answers to this. A logical answer requires that one starts with non-contradictory definitions of omniscience and omnipotence to see where they lead. Welcome to this SE! – Frank Hubeny Dec 14 '18 at 15:14
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The boring answer:

If you are omnipotent, by definition, you can be anything and exist wherever/whenever/however you want.

On the more longwinded side:

The question doesn't make much sense. When using any of the "omni-"s, you kind of have to accept that ordinary logic doesn't apply. Omnipotence especially, almost requires that it doesn't adhere to any logical rules or you run into problems like "Can God create a boulder he can't lift?"

An omnipotent beeing, by it's nature, can have any nature it desires, at the same time, or none at all. Concepts like time, position, existence, or causation only affect it in so far as it wants it to. It is defined by what it wants, not what it is (and even that it can change without stopping being omnipotent).

Or you can go the other way and simply say, as for as humans can comprehend it, there can be no true omnipotence, because there can be no paradoxes.

From a practical point of view

We have no idea of the mechanics of free will, nor of omnipotence, nor of omniscience, and only a limited understanding of time/space, thus we can make no assumptions about how they interact or what their requirements are.

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Folks have reached your conclusion way before you. This is a basic idea from early Christian thought. It is most often associated with St. Augustine. Catholic dogma is that God is necessarily eternal, in the sense of not being subject to time.

Then again, an omnipotent God can have His cake (His Cake?) and eat it, too. God can also choose to participate in time. He can even voluntarily be subject to it, in order to fully understand the limitations He has placed on others.

In fact by some notions of 'fully understanding', He would really need to do so -- which for C.S. Lewis and others, motivates the need for the central drama in Christianity. To directly experience the full range of human emotions in a first-person way, He might choose to live at one of the most annoying times in history, to be locally famous for a short time, and then to be mistaken for a criminal, betrayed by his followers, and killed in one of the more painful ways available, losing faith in His own power at the end.


Epilog: I tried to end it there, but I just couldn't. Let's dig around a bit in that last part. The very last words Jesus says in the Gospels while he is still human (well, just before "This is over.") is "O God! O God! Why have you forsaken me?" So this is where the canonical answer to your question jumps the shark, in a way that obviously scarred Kevin Smith as a child, and made him really funny.

So at this point, God has made a plan. He is going to become entirely human for 33 years, experiencing the true joys of free will and then die painfully, experiencing complete betrayal. He leaks enough of the plan ahead of time that he has to do it because he will be tempted to deviate and make it easy on himself when he has become human, selfish and weak. He has made himself just famous enough that this is all going to be passed down and recorded a century later and compared to the previews. He has played that out down to the last second, making only minor variations (pissing off some bankers, healing a woman by accident, fixing a severed ear here or there).

But no one can really monitor someone else's internal experience. If he wanted to cheat, right here, at the very end, and save himself the anguish of actual death, that could not be recorded. So at the very last moment, he changes his mind. (Maybe he will marry Mary M and run off and have some kids -- since I have already done one movie reference.) But then he finds out, evidently to his own surprise that he can't. His will is not done, so that His Will be done... He experiences actual powerlessness and feels betrayed by his own design. But that is really necessary, because he wants to have perfect first-perfect empathy on Judgment Day.

So the dogmatic answer is that God is omniscient and therefore eternal. But since God also temporarily had the human version of free will, he did experience what it was like to change his mind, and in fact to change his mind in one of those horrible situations where it was just too late and it didn't help, because he was so far down the rabbit hole that he could only despair of not having changed his mind sooner. Because that is really the worst.

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