Monday, September 6, 2004

For every action there is an equal and opposite...

overused scientific truism.[1]

Reasonably enough, I was showering today pondering the omnipresence of God. The conundrum of omnipresence is that God is neither limited to any one place nor is forbidden from any place. He is present in every location -- wherever there is being, God is[2] -- and He is fully present at every location -- there are not some parts of God here and other parts there. Wherever God is He fully is God. The conundrum is how he can exist where all things are without actually crowding them out. How can two objects occupy the same space at the same time? Multidimensional hypotheses aren't too helpful since God is present in every dimension and therefore crowds things out omni-dimensionally (so to speak). God is as close to you as He is to angels as He is to alternate worlds.

I'll spare you the rest of the metaphysical twists and turns I took while I scrub-a-dub-dubbed and just give you the analogy: God's omnipresence is like gravity.[3] Just as gravity is truly present wherever any two objects are, so too is God truly present wherever any being is.[4] Just as all things exist in the field of gravity, so too all beings relate to Him at a deep ontic level -- that is, all things draw their being from Him who is pure being. Just as gravity pervades all things, and all constellations of things, without detracting from their distinct existences, neither does God crowd out all things engulfed in His benevolent omnipresence.

Speaking of benign omnipresence, one of the things unfortunately lost in these kinds of discussions is the completeness of God. Initially, it's much easier to discuss one of God's attributes in isolation from the rest; but it's ultimately a metaphysical and spiritual dead end. For metaphysical accuracy, we must realize that God's omnipresence is interwoven with His omniscience which is interwoven with His eternality which is etc. ad infinitum. For spiritually fruitfulness, we must also realize (to limit ourselves to the attribute emphasized in this post) that God's benevolence is wrapped up with His omnipresence. God's omnipresence is no dry philosophical idea. God is everywhere and God is love; hence, it is the basis for the idea that love is, quite literally, everywhere.

[1] I am past my bedtime, so I have no intention of making this an extensive post. I just want to get the idea out for now.

[2] I'm not sure if this squares with the idea of Hell as the total absence of God, but I don't think it’s a conflict since God's absence from the damned is a moral and relational privation, rather than a strictly metaphysical isolation.

[3] Obviously, we'd need to reverse the nomic order here since gravity depends on the existence of objects, whereas objects depend on God, but I think the analogy offers some helpful insight into a riddle I have no illusions of having “solved.”

[4] It does little harm to the analogy that the force of gravity can weaken or strengthen based on the size and relative distances of objects. In every case, gravity is fully gravitational, even if there are weaker or stronger fields of gravity manifested by different objects. God is fully present everywhere, even though He can choose to intensify or cloak His presence (i.e., profound religious epiphanies, numinous encounters, sublimity, etc. or "the dark night of the soul").

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