Can God the omnipotent restrict itself?

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God can do everything. But what about those things that he ruled out for himself? He can overcome any limitation set by others, but not one set by himself. It is indisputable that God’s ways are superior to our ways (Isaiah 55:9) and we will never nor can we fully understand God’s existence. But what is the boundary of thought? How much can we mortals understand with reason?

When we read or talk about omnipotency, multiple things come to our mind. You may think of someone omnipotent being able to move a mountain, create galaxies and resurrect the dead ones. The more scrutinizing mind might be perplexed about the full consequences of omnipotency. In fact, the word omnipotency itself is an oxymoron.

One trivial question is if God can remove itself from existence. The problem with answering such a question is that we don’t know exactly what God is. We can know him as a person, but we cannot imagine things like “what he is made of”. There are certain things outside of the universe that cannot be understood as long as you are inside the universe. So the best effort we can make is to consult his word. Jehovah is the source of life and is immortal as the king of eternity (Ps 36:9, 1 Ti 1:17). God cannot stop existing. There are properties of God that overtake the property of him being omnipotent. A prime example of this is found in Titus 1:2, where it says that God cannot lie.

Can God make 1+1 equal 3? Can he violate causality? There are fundamental rules of the universe that are necessary for it to function. They cannot be broken by definition! To break those rules, the creator would have to change the definition of what is the universe, but then it would no longer be the universe we know of. When God created the universe, he created fundamental rules that constitute it. This does not remove from him the ability to change the rules, but he cannot change the rules while keeping the universe as it is. An analogy might help understanding this. Imagine you creating a board game. You setup certain rules and those rules define the board game. If you change the rules of the game, it becomes a different game. If you change the rules in certain ways, it can have strange side effects. Let’s say the goal for players is to collect 10 points and they receive a point whenever they pick an even number from the deck of cards. You now change the rules, such that a player looses a point whenever he picks an ace. As a result, no player will ever win the game. Their score will never raise. What happens once their score has reached zero and they loose further points, is undefined. Laid out in these terms, the conclusion appears to be obvious. God does limit himself, such that the thing he created continues to exist. It is the natural consequence of certain rules. Rules that need certain conditions to not clash with other rules and lead to contradictions. Of course God can make 1+1 equal 3, but it would lead to an unimaginable structure, nothing like we humans have and will ever see. What God cannot do is make 1+1 equal 3 while also making the universe continue to exist the way we are familiar with. There seem to be logic rules that transcend our universe.

This does not speak against miracles in any way. Any change of rules that does not lead to a conflict is entirely possible. It is like the creator of a board game adding 12 points to the score of player B. No paradoxes araise by such a change.

There is yet another example to mention. In Genesis 2:19, God brings animals to Adam to see how he would call them. It implies that Jehovah did not know the names that Adam would give. What this tells us is that there are parts of human consciousness that cannot be predicted by anyone, not even by God, and hence are not computational.

What can God predict then? Can he predict anything related to such indeterministic human beings? How are prophecies made true? A follow-up article is going to dive into these questions.

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