Struggling With Omniscience?

[This is a “post rerun” from 2010. Occasionally, I like to rerun some of my earlier posts for my newer readers.]

Omnicience1As a Christian, I struggle sometimes wanting to know the “hows” of big God mysteries like omniscience and omnipresence. The other night while praying I caught myself thinking: If God is all knowing, then why am I telling Him what Hilma needs, or Jim, Joel, Charla, Diana, Susan . . . I pondered the idea of God’s universal knowledge. I believe by faith that He knows everything, but I wonder HOW does He know everything?

God led me to think of a crowded classroom. A teacher stands in front of the classroom. She points to a boy in the back of the room. “Ethan,” she says. “Do you know the answer?” As she stands there at the head of the class the teacher knows all of her students by name. At that very moment she knows all of their personalities and where they stand academically. She knows their educational needs and goals. It’s like that with God, I thought. Only bigger and better! We are students in His perpetual classroom.

At any given moment, God the Teacher stands before us at the head of the class. He knows each of us by name. He knows where we are in our training and what we need to reach our goals. God knows everything. There isn’t a question that He can’t answer. Yet sometimes instead of providing the answer He makes us work for it, knowing that in the process we learn to become more Christ-like.

all-knowingSo, if God is all knowing, why do we have to pray for our needs and the needs of others? The answer is because through praying, we connect with the Teacher. It’s like staying after class to tell Mrs. Stapinski that you can’t figure out a math problem. Mrs. Stapinski already knows that math isn’t your best subject, and she knows how to help you. But to receive her help, you might have to ask for it.

1 John 3:20 says: “For God is greater than our hearts and he knows everything.” Too often, I let logic lead my thinking, and I search for facts to add to my faith. My Teacher knows that, too. When I questioned the hows of His omniscience, He knew that I couldn’t possibly understand the big picture. It’s far too complicated for a human. So, He used a simple object lesson that I could understand.

Is God really omniscient? Yes. By faith I believe that He is.

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If a Tree Falls in a Forest—

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If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Eighteenth century philosopher, George Berkeley, pondered this question while exploring the theory of subjective idealism—the idea that physical objects don’t really exist unless they can be perceived by our senses.

Later, author and philosopher, William Fossett, added his thoughts:

“Tease apart the threads [of the natural world] and the pattern vanishes. The design is in how the cloth-maker arranges the threads: this way and that, as fashion dictates. [...]”

He goes on:

“To say something is meaningful is to say that that is how we arrange it so; how we comprehend it to be, and what is comprehended by you or I may not be by a cat, for example. If a tree falls in a park and there is no-one to hand, it is silent and invisible and nameless. And if we were to vanish, there would be no tree at all; any meaning would vanish along with us. Other than what the cats make of it all, of course. [Fossett, W. (1754) Natural States, R. & J. Dodsley, Pall Mall. London]“

Fossett could have stopped without adding his philosophic meandering. He had the answer: The design is in how the cloth-maker arranges the threads. God, the Cloth-Maker, does the arranging. Not us. And God exists even when we cannot perceive Him with our senses. And so does everything He creates.

rocks,jpegI spent time this week in Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine Forest. I hiked off the road a bit, and I came to a fallen, moss-covered tree surrounded by rocks half-buried in earth. God knows where those rocks came from. Maybe they were once the foundation of a rough-hewn settler’s cabin. God knows. I stood under the towering oak trees, their russet leaves framed by a cloudless blue sky. I stood in silence except for the occasional sound of acorns dropping from the trees. I said to God, “Thank You. Thank You for creating me with physical senses to savor the real beauty of Your creation. Thank You that I don’t struggle with philosophical questions about my existence, or Yours. I know, God! I know that You are real and that everything You make is real. I know that if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it—it does make a sound.”

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*NOTE: Any ads appearing in this post were not put there by me nor do I endorse them. WordPress sometimes posts ads in exchange for hosting this free blog.

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