Seidensticker Folly #20: An Evolving God in the OT?

Seidensticker Folly #20: An Evolving God in the OT? September 18, 2018

God’s Omnipotence, Omniscience, & Omnipresence in Early Bible Books & Ancient Jewish Understanding

Atheist and anti-theist Bob Seidensticker runs the influential Cross Examined blog. He asked me there, on 8-11-18“I’ve got 1000+ posts here attacking your worldview. You just going to let that stand? Or could you present a helpful new perspective that I’ve ignored on one or two of those posts?” He also made a general statement on 6-22-17“In this blog, I’ve responded to many Christian arguments . . . Christians’ arguments are easy to refute . . . I’ve heard the good stuff, and it’s not very good.” He added in the combox“If I’ve misunderstood the Christian position or Christian arguments, point that out. Show me where I’ve mischaracterized them.” I’m always one to oblige people’s wishes if I am able, so I decided to do a series of posts in reply.

It’s also been said, “be careful what you wish for.”  If Bob responds to this post, and makes me aware of it, his reply will be added to the end along with my counter-reply. If you don’t see that at the end, rest assured that he either hasn’t replied, or didn’t inform me that he did. But don’t hold your breath. On 8-24-18 Bob wrote (after having virtually begged to dialogue with me back in May) that my alleged “disinterest in the truth reflects poorly” on me. What are we to make, then, of his utter “disinterest” in defending his opinions against serious critique?

Bob’s words will be in blue. To find these posts, word-search “Seidensticker” on my atheist page or in my sidebar search (near the top).

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In his article, “Response to ‘Nine Not-so-Good Reasons To Be an Atheist’ “ (8-13-18), Bob opined:

The Bible evolved over time. In the early years, the Bible’s religion was polytheistic [I decisively refuted that in my last post!]. Yahweh was similar to the Greek and Roman gods, only gradually becoming omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.

This is a false and ignorant claim. In order to refute it (similar to my last paper), we need only find indications from earlier Old Testament  books (I will be using the RSV) of God’s omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence: thus showing that these traits were not ones that merely slowly (“gradually”) evolved over time. 

 

Omniscience (all-knowing)

Job 11:6-9 [Bob calls it “one of the Bible’s oldest books”] and that he would tell you the secrets of wisdom! For he is manifold in understanding. . . . [7] “Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty? [8] It is higher than heaven — what can you do? Deeper than Sheol — what can you know? [9] Its measure is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.

Job 34:21-22  For his eyes are upon the ways of a man, and he sees all his steps. [22] There is no gloom or deep darkness where evildoers may hide themselves.

Job 36:4  . . . one who is perfect in knowledge is with you.

Job 37:16 . . . him who is perfect in knowledge,

Psalm 44:21 would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart.

Psalm 139:1-4, 6  O LORD, thou hast searched me and known me! [2] Thou knowest when I sit down and when I rise up; thou discernest my thoughts from afar. [3] Thou searchest out my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. [4] Even before a word is on my tongue, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. . . . [6] Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it.

Psalm 139:16  Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance; in thy book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Psalm 147:5 . . . his understanding is beyond measure.

Proverbs 15:11 Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the LORD, how much more the hearts of men!

1 Kings 8:39 . . . each whose heart thou knowest, according to all his ways (for thou, thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men); (cf. 2 Chr 6:30)

1 Chronicles 28:9 . . . the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every plan and thought.  . . .

[for much more, see International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “Omniscience”]

 

Omnipotence (the power to do all that is logically possible)

“Almighty” or “God Almighty” appears 48 times in the Old Testament (excluding the deuterocanonical books): 45 of them in the earlier books (seven times in Genesis and Exodus).

Genesis 18:14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? . . .

Job 5:9-13 who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number: [10] he gives rain upon the earth and sends waters upon the fields; [11] he sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety. [12] He frustrates the devices of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success. [13] He takes the wise in their own craftiness; and the schemes of the wily are brought to a quick end.

Job 9:4-10 He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength — who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded? — [5] he who removes mountains, and they know it not, when he overturns them in his anger; [6] who shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble; [7] who commands the sun, and it does not rise; who seals up the stars; [8] who alone stretched out the heavens, and trampled the waves of the sea; [9] who made the Bear and Orion, the Plei’ades and the chambers of the south; [10] who does great things beyond understanding, and marvelous things without number.

Job 11:10  . . . who can hinder him?

Job 38:12 [God speaking] Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place [?]

Job 42:2 I know that thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of thine can be thwarted.

Psalm 33:9-10 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood forth. [10] The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nought; he frustrates the plans of the peoples.

Psalm 115:3 Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases.

Psalm 135:6-7 Whatever the LORD pleases he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. [7] He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightnings for the rain and brings forth the wind from his storehouses.

Psalm 147:4-5 He determines the number of the stars, . . . [5] . . . abundant in power . . .

Nehemiah 9:6 . . . Thou art the LORD, thou alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and thou preservest all of them; . . .

[for much more, see International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “Omnipotence”]

 

Omnipresence (present everywhere)

Job 28:24 For he looks to the ends of the earth, and sees everything under the heavens.

Psalm 139:7-8 Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? [8] If I ascend to heaven, thou art there! If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there!

Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the LORD are in every place, . . .

1 Kings 8:27 But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain thee . . .

2 Chronicles 2:6 But who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him? . . .

2 Chronicles 16:9 For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, . . .

[for much more, see International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “Omnipresence”]

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Photo credit: image by Schueler-Design (June 2018) [PixabayCC0 Creative Commons license]

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