The concept of divine omnipotence is the ultimate expression of male dominance as control. Divine omnipotence is the view that everything that happens in the world happens according to the will of a divinity, who is in control of everything that happens in the world. When someone dies or great suffering occurs, we are told, “everything happens for a purpose,” “it was meant to be,” or “everything happens according to the will of God—or Goddess.” In our recent book Goddess and God in the World, Judith Plaskow and I criticize and reject this view on both rational and moral grounds.
The doctrine of divine omnipotence is widely assumed, not only in Christian theologies, but in Islam and to a lesser extent in Judaism. Moreover, it is also to be found in western metaphysical and mystery traditions and in the many New Age and Goddess theologies based upon them. Thus we not only hear that whatever happens in the world must be “the will of God,” but increasingly that it must be the “will of the Goddess.” Traditional views of divine omnipotence create and fail to resolve the theological conundrums known as “the free will problem” and “the problem of evil.” Continue reading “Omnipotence: The Ultimate Homage to Male Dominance as Control by Carol P. Christ”
Indiana Republican candidate Richard Mourdock’s statement that pregnancies resulting from rape are “something God intended” not only shows an appalling lack of empathy and distain for the experiences of raped women, it also is bad theology.
The controversy ignited by Mourdock provides a good opportunity to discuss the theological mistake of “divine omnipotence” also known as the “zero fallacy.” Mourdock’s belief that God intends the pregnancies of raped women is rooted in the notion that “whatever happens” is the will of God.
The theological category of “divine omnipotence” means that God is all-powerful. It also means that God has all the power. From this it is said to follow that everything that happens must in some way be the will of God. Such views are held not only by many devout believers, but also by everyone else who asserts that “there must be a reason” when bad things happen.
The notion that a good God is responsible for all the events that occur in the world is rendered questionable by every bad thing that happens–particularly by bad things that happen to good people. This was the question of Job, and there has never been a satisfactory answer to it. If God can intervene to stop the innocent from being harmed, why does he not do so? God’s failure to stop rape suggests that either that God is not good, or that a good God chooses a really bad outcome, or that God is not the cause of everything that happens in the world.
Charles Hartshorne called the notion of divine omnipotence the “zero fallacy.” Continue reading “WHAT DOES “GOD INTEND”? by Carol P. Christ”
One test of a thealogy is whether it can help us “make sense” of our lives—even the senseless parts of them.
Recently a friend told me that the teen-aged daughter of a friend of hers had committed suicide. “What would your thealogy say to that?” she asked me. Here is what I might say to a friend who lost her daughter:
I am so sorry for your loss. This never should have happened.
I remember times when I wanted to commit suicide. My pain was intense and my mind was stuck. All I could think was: this hurts too much to go on, and it will never change, so I might as well die. I am so sorry if your daughter felt that way, because I know it is a horrible way to feel. I am sorry she was not able to understand that it could have–and probably would have–changed. Don’t blame her. Sometimes pain is so overwhelming you really cannot see beyond it. Don’t blame yourself either. I am certain you did everything you could think of to help her. I know that if you could have prevented her, you would have. It really was not your fault. I don’t blame you, and no one else should either.
I also want to tell you that what happened to your daughter was not the will of God. Goddess, like you, felt you daughter’s suffering and reached out to try to help her. Like you, She did not have a magic wand. All She could offer was love and understanding. Right now Goddess is feeling your feelings of anger and sorrow that Her love and compassion and yours were not enough to comfort your daughter. Please do not torture yourself further by asking how this could have been the will of God. It was not. It really was not. Continue reading “To a Friend, on the Loss of her Daughter by Carol P. Christ”