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Who Is God and What Are His Characteristics

Aug 15, 2008
The topic of God is one of the most controversial and, for many people, important of our time. Whether or not one believes in God, nobody can deny the immense power that the subject has over the world. The idea of God has lead people to drastically change their lives, help other humans, and try to change the world for the better. It has also lead to the deaths and suffering of millions upon millions of people.

What exactly is God? The word God is usually associated with the chief monotheistic religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Polytheistic religions usually do not refer to any single entity as just God, as they have many Gods, and either give them unique names or give them a descriptive title, such as Sun God or Earth God. These demigods often have more human characteristics than the all powerful, more mystic, monotheistic God. Four descriptive words cover the essence of God: omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, and omnibenevolence.

Omnipotence means having unlimited power, which would be required of a being that can create something as unfathomably huge as the universe. In regards to this property, there is a certain paradox that is quite well known and has triggered a lot of debate. The omnipotence paradox is summed up by the phrase, Could God create a stone so heavy that he himself could not lift it? If God creates a stone of such mass that he cannot move it, then he is not all powerful, but if he cannot create a stone that heavy, then he is not omnipotent. Therefore, there are questions as to what omnipotence really means, and what an omnipotent being can do. For the sake of religion, it is simply defined as God being able to do whatever he wants when he wants.

Omniscience is defined as knowing everything. For God to completely know everything, he would have to know for infinite time the fates of all humans, and this belief is called predestination. It is contrasting to free will, as if one was truly free, they could decide their own fate, and God would not be able to know it. Those that are not comfortable with the idea of predestination choose to believe that God is inherently omniscient. Meaning that he can choose whatever he wants to know, but does not actually know everything at once.

Omnipresence is being everywhere at once, which is an important concept for believers of God. After all, it is quite comforting to believe that there is a powerful being surrounding you at all times. Technically, if something is omnipotent and omniscient, they would inherently be omnipresent. The monotheistic God is one of the only deities believed to be omnipresent, as most of the polytheistic gods have a set place where they stay.

Finally, the less heard of the "Three Os", omnibenevolence, means being all good, and always choosing good over evil. While some people describe the monotheistic God as possessing omnibenevolence, most people would not agree with the description upon further deduction, as the stories of God describe him as doing what we would consider evil acts, such as killing humans.

Of course, one could say that because God is omniscient, he knows who to kill that would make the world a better place. Every characteristic of God is linked and constantly debated, and nobody will ever know the true properties of God, or even if he is real or not.
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