Stress-testing the
mind of Christ

Where a recovering ex-atheist rams the Bible into other worldviews to see what breaks (note: Scripture cannot be broken)


presentations
Why you shouldn’t rely on YouTube for your understanding of the Trinity

If you think that God can be described in terms of “hyperdimensions”, and that this explains why the Trinity is beyond our ken, you need to read this article.

I have seen this video before, and had to speak out against it at a Bible study. You should only need to watch the first few minutes to see the monumental heterodoxy it is promoting.

Unfortunately, most people are so theologically and philosophically uninformed—or undiscerning—that even apologists like David Wood have been caught endorsing it (and its mate). David comments:

There’s certainly room for disagreement on certain points in the videos, but they’re a good introduction to more careful thinking about the nature of God.

The problem is, they are not a good introduction to careful thinking about the nature of God. The first video at least is an introduction to absolutely wrong thinking about the nature of God. It is disturbing that this video has not only garnered over 100,000 views, but nearly four times as many likes as dislikes.

I don’t say this to hate on anyone. It just concerns me very greatly. If you’re not sure what the problem with this video is, you owe it to yourself to develop your understanding of theology, because you can’t tell the difference right now between someone describing Yahweh, and someone describing a demiurge. As Wikipedia notes (correctly for a change),

Although a fashioner, the demiurge is not necessarily thought of as being the same as the creator figure in the familiar monotheistic sense, because both the demiurge itself plus the material from which the demiurge fashions the universe are considered either uncreated and eternal, or the product of some other being, depending on the system.

To explain why this video turns God into a demiurge, first we need to look at what it is arguing, and how that compares to Christian orthodoxy.

The video versus the Bible & common sense

Let me quote directly from the first few minutes so you can see I’m not misrepresenting or misunderstanding it:

If God is just a spirit, he would be no greater than the angels.

This is where your red alert klaxon should instantly start going off. Kirk to all hands—battlestations! This is the soften-up blow for the heterodox garbage that follows.

Look, let me just ask a simple question to show how ridiculous this is; to show how utterly unlike “careful thinking about the nature of God” this is:

Is it possible for one spirit to exist out of necessity and be the thing that gives all other spirits (or physical objects) existence in the first place? Duh, of course it is. That just is the Christian view of God. So in what sense is it then true that if God is “just” a spirit, he would be no greater than the angels, given that he is the kind of spirit that causes the angels to exist in the first place? The fallaciousness of this claim is so obvious that you don’t even need to have the faintest knowledge of Christianity to see it. You can just replace “spirit” with “created being” and it would still be false. Indeed, an angel is a greater created being than a man (Hebrews 2:7), even though an angel is “just spirit” while a man is not.

If you get past this sentence of the video without being, like, “Whaaaaat?” then you need to start assessing your thinking skills and theological knowledge extremely critically.

If God sees everything, then he must be everywhere at once.

In one sense this is a perfectly legitimate claim, if we understand “sees” to mean “knows” rather than something like actual eyesight. Indeed, it is good that the video links God’s omniscience with his omnipresence. The problem is that it doesn’t then link both of these with his omnipotence. Rather, you can see where it’s going, given its previous comment about God not being “just” a spirit. It is setting up to argue that God must be physically present at every point of space.

But this is simply not the Christian view of omnipresence. Rather, the God of the Bible is “in” every point of space because he upholds the existence of every point of space (Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17; Acts 17:28; Job 12:10; Daniel 5:23 etc). He can hardly maintain the universe in existence without maintaining every part of it, after all. Thus, God’s omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence are actually all the same thing. This is a rather important point to understand about God, and a fairly basic one—crack open even an entry-level book like Grudem’s Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know and you will find it among the very first things laid out.

For God to be omnipresent, he must be comprised of more than three spatial dimensions.

And there it is. The video goes on to quote Isaiah 40:28 as if it supports an “infinitely dimensional” God. Oddly, Isaiah 40:28 doesn’t mention dimensions at all—and if you failed to notice this, and indeed that Isaiah has nothing whatever to say that supports the argument being forwarded here, then let me again suggest, with the kind of “exposed” love of Proverbs 27:5, that you need to critically assess your ability to read and understand the Bible.

How this video turns God into a demiurge

Here’s the problem. The video says God’s omniscience and omnipresence are based upon his physical existence in space.

This raises a simple question: is God’s existence in space essential to his nature, or not? By “essential to his nature” I mean that it is fundamental to who and what God is, so that if you took it away he would no longer be God. There are only two answers: yes or no. Either one turns God into a demiurge.

1. God’s physical existence in space is not essential to his nature

If spatial existence is not essential to God’s nature, but rather something he “took on himself” when he created the world, then we are forced to conclude that God is not essentially omnipresent and omniscient. Here’s why:

  1. God cannot be omniscient and omnipresent without spatial existence (as per the video)
  2. Spatial existence is not essential to God’s nature
  3. Therefore, God cannot be omniscient and omnipresent as essential to his nature

Now, obviously a God who is not by nature all-knowing and all-present is not the Christian God at all. Those are defining characteristics of God. Without them, he is merely one being among many; even if he is the most powerful of them. He ends up looking like a demiurge, not the self-existent Yahweh.

2. God’s physical existence in space is essential to his nature

This leads to equally absurd consequences, because space is contingent; that is, it’s a created thing that might not have existed at all.

Now, you can bite the bullet here and say that no, Christian orthodoxy, the philosophy of ontology, and plain old common sense have just always been wrong about this; space is not contingent, it exists necessarily as a part of God. But not only does that seem ridiculous, but you also have to accept one of these two equally ridiculous conclusions:

i. God is the infinite spatial dimensions this video speaks of

But this view is the definition of panentheism (not pantheism; note the “en” after “pan”). Panentheism is the view that the universe is part of God—which it must be if God is the actual dimensions in which physical created matter exists. If you believe that, frankly, you aren’t a Christian. It’s just not a Christian position because it utterly eliminates the creator/creature distinction which is fundamental to Christian theology.

ii. God exists in these infinite spatial dimensions

But if God merely exists in them, their existence logically precedes his. He could not exist without them, which means that he relies on them for his existence in some way. You can immediately see how this is the opposite of a Christian view of God. It again reduces him to a kind of demiurge, utterly unlike the necessary, self-existent I AM of Christianity, who gives everything existence, but himself needs nothing.

TL;DR

What, you’re willing to spend 7 minutes watching a video, but you’re not willing to spend 6 minutes reading why believing that video means you hold to an anti-biblical understanding of God’s nature?

2 comments

  1. Mathetes

    It’s unfortunate, because I had previously seen their explanation of the ontological argument and really liked it. What makes it even worse is that I can’t find any good youtube channels for presuppositional apologetics.

    That aside, I wonder what you think of:

    1) Speaking of omnipresence, do you think there’s a teleological aspect to God’s omnipresence? That is, we are reminded of God everywhere we look because we see evidence of His design at all times. Not that God is “in” nature (as you mentioned), but we are always reminded of His presence, as in Psalm 139:7-8.

    2) Speaking of dimensions, what do you think of Craig’s idea that at the ascension, Jesus’ body was – maybe the word for it is ‘subsumed’ – into another (or maybe multiple) dimension(s). I can’t find the video, but he was answering a question about how Jesus (and I guess, Enoch and maybe Elijah) are physically “out there,” somewhere. If we had the technology, you could in theory see them wherever it is that they went to, unless other dimensions are taken into account.

    edit: ok, I think I found it:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNnuEU2XLz4

  2. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    1. I’m not sure I’d equate our seeing God everywhere with God’s omnipresence. I think those are coincidentally connected. But some people aren’t reminded of God no matter where they look.

    2. That’s one possible answer. Any answer is speculative, but this one does seem odd to me. I don’t have time to watch the video now, but if Craig is referring to the extra dimensions contained within the universe’s physical structure, that would be a mighty odd place to expect Jesus and Enoch to go. Those dimensions, as I recall, are “curled up” smaller than the Planck length, so it’s hard to see how he’d fit. On the other hand, if Craig is postulating some kind of alternate space like ours but disconnected from it, that’s more plausible.

    That said, it seems clear that heaven is a discarnate state. When we die, our bodies remain here and our spirits “go to” heaven; but since spirits are not extended in space, and have no sensory input, the language of location is analogical at best. God is “in” heaven in the sense that, when we die, we experience God directly. But God is not physical, and so to say that Jesus is “in” heaven seems to contradict the nature of the “place” itself. Presumably heaven is a shared mental state. It’s hard to make sense of Jesus and Enoch existing there physically.

    Of course, that raises the question of what happened to their bodies. Isn’t the point of their ascensions that they didn’t experience death? Possibly. But could it be more nuanced than that? Could it be more that they were not subject to the indignity of the failure and decay of their bodies? Their bodies were “put on hold” in some sense until the general resurrection. That suggests they were somehow destroyed if they don’t exist anywhere any more, which in turn suggests some kind of death. My feeling is we’re subtly misunderstanding the nature of death by saying that, and probably also not paying attention to how the Bible portrays the continuation of the body. For instance, people in the general resurrection will get their bodies back, but these won’t for the most part be comprised of the same matter; they will be created fresh, as it were…yet they are still the same bodies. This seems more sensible under a broadly Thomistic view, where the body is the effect of the soul, rather than a separate organism joined to the soul.

    But these are just off-the-cuff thoughts. I’d have to consider the topic further.

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