I promised some people I’d post a quick note on why a personal god (ANY personal god, and if you don’t know what that means – look it up first) is in defiance of the very definition of a god that it is most often attached to, so here it is.
A god is, allegedly, a supernatural being that is omniscient (all knowing), omnipresent (everywhere at all times), omnipotent (capable of everything) and, some claim, omnibenevolent (all-loving). Here’s why a personal god fails the definition:
1. Omnipresent god can only remain omnipresent as long as it remains a part of every single particle in the universe. The only type of a god to fit this definition could be the energy field of the universe or something similarly non-divine. In this case, attaching the label ‘god’ to such an energy field would be completely unnecessary. A personal god, however, fails to be omnipresent on several grounds:
a) It is limited by physical boundaries of its manifestation. An omnipresent god cannot have ANY boundaries.
b) It is limited by its specific spacial and formal (meaning form) characteristics, whichever it may be. Again, this defies omnipresence.
c) It is often claimed that a god is an external presence to some niches, such as hell, souls of the sinners/non-believers, etc etc. Any time an omnipresent god is said to not be present in one single atom of the universe, let alone a whole human being or an entire hell or what have you, its omnipresence is voided.
2. Omnipotence of a personal god is also self-contradictory:
a) A personal god has a specific form and manifestation. This fact prevents that god from having any other form and manifestation at the same time. By this merit, the god is then unable to have the experience of every other possible manifestation of itself that it currently is not. For example, if a god is a man, it is incapable of experiencing womanhood. It is equally incapable of experiencing animal-hood, plant-hood, rock-hood etc.
b) If a god is capable of experiencing every particle in the universe, then it cannot ever be personal. Neither can it take upon any form at all and remain omnipotent. A ‘holy spirit’ type of a god is just as much in violation of the omnipotence claim, as it fails to simultaneously be able to be every rock, star and particle in the universe.
3. Omniscience of a personal god:
a) A god limited in its boundaries cannot possibly KNOW of the experiences outside of its boundaries or different in characteristic to its current form. The only kind of god capable of that would, again, have to be some sort of a unified energy field, not manifesting itself in any specific limited form.
4. Benevolence issue:
a) Any personality trait or characteristic of a god (whether good or bad one – yes, this includes playing favorites with human beings (out of all things and species in the universe, for some reason…)) refutes its claims to being a god. A god by possessing any specific ‘personality’, even if it consisted of a single ‘personality’ trait, like love, cannot be god, for it lacks by definition the experience of having and being every other personality trait that exists and thus is neither omniscient nor omnipotent. The only type of a god, if one were to exist, would have to be fully impartial and indifferent – as in, completely NEUTRAL – to fit the definition of a ‘god’.
Special pleading and other nonsense:
There is NO amount of exception-clause adding that can exempt a personal deity from the failure to live up to its own definition. A few of the most favorite exemptions made for ‘god’ are:
1. On omniscience: god can choose not to know something. Fine, it’s god’s choice, but it only says the same thing: god doesn’t know something. Whether or not this lack of knowing is god’s choice doesn’t change the fact that it’s lack of knowing to begin with, and thus god can never claim omniscience on those grounds.
2. Claim to choice not to know something is claim to personal preference, which violates the necessary impartiality of a true deity premise.
3. On omnipotence: god chooses not to do something. God by definition actually MUST do EVERYTHING, always. Everything that ever happens MUST be god’s doing, or it stops being god. Now if god chooses to NOT do something, it’s preference-playing yet again.
4. Omnipotence is paradoxical: if a god wanted to create another supernatural being separate from itself, could it do so? Or ANY being or place separate from itself, in fact (some believers, for example, claim god created a hell – a place where it is not present – for evil angels and forces that are not part of itself)? No – it could only do so in violation of both its omnipresence and omniscience and would thus no longer be a god. The only conceivable omnipotent god can be that which IS the laws that govern the universe. In that case, however, it would simply be laws governing universe – not a personal deity.
And just a few other points along the same lines:
Better yet, a more in-depth exploration of the theme can be found here:
Finally, some people like to jump to “god does not have to obey to the rules of the universe” and/or “god exists OUTSIDE of the laws of the universe… Below is a very good discussion on why god disobeying his own laws is a whack, even if one were to exist. However, both these claims violate the ‘god’ definition just the same:
A god that does not obey some laws therefore is excluded from the experience of obeying these laws – POOF! Omniscience is gone…
A god that exists outside of the laws of the universe is, therefore, NOT present in those laws. Leaving aside the fact that the laws governing the universe are pretty much the entire deal of what and why anything is the way it is in the universe, god cannot be OUTSIDE of something and remain omnipresent…
So without any specific further case-studying needed, there is no instance and scenario under which a god can be personal. In fact, the only type of a being fitting the definition of a ‘god’ (an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient being) would inevitably have to be the following: the sum total of laws governing the universe and the total mass-energy of the universe. In other words – nothing personal.