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God’s Diminishing Power

In the beginning … God walked in the Garden of Eden like an ordinary supernatural Joe. He dropped by Abraham’s for a cup of coffee and a chat. He didn’t know what was up in Sodom and Gomorrah and had to send out angelic scouts for reconnaissance: “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me” (Gen. 18:20–21).

But, like Stalin gradually collecting titles, God has now become omniscient and omnipotent. He’s gone from needing six days to shape a world from Play-Doh and sprinkle tiny stars in the dome of heaven to creating 100 billion galaxies, each with 100 billion stars.

That’s 6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg of universe.

And yet, oddly, his biblical demonstrations of power faded with time. From creating the universe, he’s weakened such that appearing in a grilled cheese sandwich is about as much as he can pull off today. He has the fiery reputation of the Wizard of Oz but is now just the man behind the curtain.

Even God’s punishments became wimpier. A global flood, with millions dead is pretty badass. Personally smiting Sodom and Gomorrah is impressive, though that’s a big step down in magnitude.

And it’s downhill from there—God simply orders the destruction of Canaanite cities, and to punish Israel and Judah, he allows Assyria and then Babylon to invade. As Jesus, he doesn’t kick much more butt than cursing a fig tree, and today he simply stands by to let bad things happen.

Maybe God’s power diminishes as the universe’s dark energy increases?

Photo credit: Why There is no God

About Bob Seidensticker
  • Orbital Teapot

    To Bob S,

    I must admit that this one is hilarious.

  • machintelligence

    I am rather fond of Dan Dennett’s take on this. He likens YAHWEH of the old testament to a mighty mountain, like Mt. Everest. But in the face of slow grinding down by thousands of years of skeptical criticism, all we are left with is the little hill of “the ground of all being.” Now the fog has rolled in so that no-one even agrees what God really is, and miracles are just statistical anomalies plus burnt toast and plumbing leaks.
    I like your blog and will continue reading it (there goes some more of my spare time.)

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Thanks for the Dan Dennett summary. I hadn’t heard that.

      • machintelligence

        You can find it in his talk from the AAI 2007 speech
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvJZQwy9dvE&feature=related
        I hope that I have not put too many words in his mouth.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Thanks for the link. I always appreciate a summary (even if imperfect) rather than nothing more than “Here’s a link–go check it out.”

  • Daniel O

    For an atheist, you do take the bible literally. What is up with that?

    • Bob Seidensticker

      I’m trying to treat it fairly, taking it at face value. I have no desire to make it any prettier than it actually is, so I let it speak for itself.

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