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I honestly hope that Vox’s book is doing well (it sounds like it is), but I thought I’d bring up another section from his book that I strongly disagree with. From Chapter 15:
. . . for in considering the Contradiction of Divine Characteristics argument, we were forced to draw a distinct line between capacity and action, the confusion of which is also the root of a much more serious theological error. Interestingly, this theological error is committed by Christians as readily as atheists, perhaps even more often, as they trust in God’s plan for their lives instead of making use of their God-given intelligence and free will.
There are a variety of phrases that contain the same inherent implication about a certain view of God. Many evangelical Christians refer to “God’s perfect plan” for their lives. This concept is reinforced with children’s songs such as “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” . . .
These various evangelicals have an unexpected ally in Sam Harris, who declares it to be an obvious truth that “if God exists, he is the most prolific abortionist of all” due to the fact that 20 percent of all known pregnancies miscarry, and then asserts that those who believe in God should be obliged to present evidence for his existence in light of “the relentless destruction of innocent human beings that we witness in the world each day.”
What the evangelical and the atheist have in common here is a belief that because God is omnipotent, omniscient, and compassionate, he is somehow responsible for these events, although Harris would qualify that with the necessary “if he exists.” And in fairness, it must be pointed out that when Harris cites Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Asian tsunami as God’s failure to protect humanity, he is really doing rather better than the “perfect plan” evangelical who would assert that these tragedies were sent by God for some ineffable higher purpose intended to benefit humanity.
This belief in an all-acting God, who not only guides the grand course of events but actually micromanages them, is the result of the same confusion between capacity and action that we saw in the Contradiction of Divine Characteristics. . .
(I borrow from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology)
From Job 37
10 By the breath of God ice is given,
and the broad waters are frozen fast.
11 He loads the thick cloud with moisture;
the clouds scatter his lightning.
12 They turn around and around by his guidance,
to accomplish all that he commands them
on the face of the habitable world.
From Psalm 135
6 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.
The always-trustworthy Elihu and the psalmist also have this “confusion between capacity and action” because they do not say that God can cause lightning and wind, but that it is he who does it. It’s too bad Vox wasn’t there to point out their error as they were speaking/writing these things.
Leaving sarcasm behind, I will note that these passages do not state outright that God is acting perfectly when he chooses for a hurricane to happen, but I think it wise to assume that it is perfect. If Vox disagrees, he can take it up with God when he meets him.
Indubitably, Vox (and others) will think I’m reading these passages wrong (as is typically done by
everyone who disagrees with him only all omniderigists) and that there are other ways of reading it. I’m all ears.
And I issue another challenge: show me a omniderigist who doesn’t “make use of their God-given intelligence and free will.”
One more thing: I think Bnonn has a point:
I’m not sure why Vox feels the need to invent confusing new words when existing ones have sufficed for centuries. What is wrong with exhaustive determination, or just plain old determinism?