Free will and omnipotence:
The Atheist says there is no God. The agnostic says they don’t know whether there is a God. Strong agnostics think it is impossible to know for sure whether there is a God or not. One way to prove that a God like the Christian God does not exist would be to point out contradictions in the claims of his nature, showing that it is impossible that God exist. A recent attempt at this that I came across dealt with supposed contradiction between free will and God’s omnipotence.
One part of the objection says that if God is all powerful then he must have free will. Then they reasoned that God does not have free will since he is bound by his own nature. They say such a god is not free because he must do the things that he has predetermined to take place. God is also unchanging, which this person thinks is a contradiction to God’s ability to act freely. If God is unchanging this means he does not have the freedom to do things that would cause any development or change to his character.
The second objection is a little simpler. It says that if God is omnipotent then nobody else can have any power. If God is the only sovereign one, and his will is the only will to take place in the world then nobody else can do anything against his will. But people do things all the time that go against God’s will. Since it is apparent that God will does not always take place the skeptics may assume that such a God is not sovereign.
Those are some of the objections, now for my response. First, let me give the definition of what omnipotence is. Omnipotence is not the requirement to do whatever someone else expects you to do. Omnipotence is not the ability to do absurdities. Omnipotence does not necessitate doing the arbitrary. Omnipotence does not mean that whatever can be done will be done. Omnipotence is the ability to do whatever is possible. Omnipotence means having the ability to do the possibility, not necessarily doing the action to prove it. For instance, God has the ability to blow up the sun. God is not going to blow up the sun because it is not in his good plan- and aren’t we thankful. God following his plan and whatever he desires is true omnipotence. The short definition: God’s omnipotence means that he is able to do whatever he desires.
Can God sin? Could Jesus sin? If you ask me, the answer to both of these must be the same. And the answer is of course no. It doesn’t have to do with a lack of ability. It has to do with perfection of nature. God’s perfect nature forbids that sin takes place in him. I would say that not having the potential to sin is not a disability but ability in perfect form.
Is God less than sovereign because we have the power to do actions against his will? This is where we have to distinguish between the different kinds of God’s will. There are at least 3 different types of will; his decree, his permissive will, and his desire. Whatever God decrees will take place unless he has put a contingency upon the decree. For instance God says that if you turn to him you will be healed or blessed. God’s permissive will is more broad. God’s permissive will allows for sin and human free will, but not so much sin as to thwart what he has in mind to take place already. In the big picture, God’s ultimate desire is never compromised by human free will. However, on a smaller scale God’s desire does not take place because of human free will. For instance God was upset at the pre-flood world in Genesis Chapter 6. Also, Jesus was upset and weeping over Jerusalem because he desired to gather them in like a hen gathers chicks and the people were not willing.
To summarize, God has the ability to do anything and will do all that he desires. by desire I mean those things that he has set in his mind to take place. Omnipotence allows for human free will because our will is restricted to God’s permissive will. God is also free because he is able to do all the things that he desires and all the things that are consistent with his nature. Similarly, people are only able to do things consistent with their nature. Even though there are many things God can’t do such as sin, logical contradictions, the arbitrary, and all the things against his nature, we still consider him omnipotent. He is omnipotent because nothing outside of himself, in anyway, can hinder his actions.