Prayer and an omnipotent and infinitely wise God

If only we could be certain that put it in proper perspective it would be clear that this was Yahweh speaking for Himself and not someone claiming that this was what Yahweh said in a vision . . . I mean other than Isaiah 1:1 that is,
The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
Isaiah 1:1, NIV

And yet, Bible passages like some of the ones @Czarcasm quoted in Post #23 seem to be saying that we should pray for things (I don’t know whether or not that counts as “transactional” the way the word is being used in this thread).

And a couple of them (Romans 8:26; Matthew 6:8) pretty much say that we should pray for things even though God already knows better than we do what we need.

Good point, but the fact that multiple prophets said the same thing increases the level of certainty.

Yes, the level of certainty that multiple prophets said the same thing.

Good point, it’s true: to a lot of believers, it IS specifically asking for Heaven to change something the way I want. It is their life experience. “I prayed and things went better”. We can say that’s not how any of this works until we’re blue in the face and they’ll continue do it this way.

Also getting down to the materialistic plane, let’s face it, a lot of the various attributions of majesty and of requiring 24/7 praise and flattery are really a transposition of what some kings in the river valleys 6 thousand years ago wanted for themselves. Man made gods in his image and likeness.

Which, fair enough, I can think of one off the bat: per what I observe of the universe there is no perceivable reason I or my world should even exist. So if there’s a supreme creator who is an actual person, “hey, nice — way to go, you rock, Dude” is not entirely out of place.

But as said above, The Perfectly Complete All Being does not need constant kowtowing and will not be made to feel better by it.

(And we know it was the High Priests who grew sated on cuts of meat from sacrifices…)

The two points, alone, aren’t in contradiction.

Imagine a man who collects dolls. He completely controls the environment that the dolls live in and can - should he chose - control everything that they do. In his fantasies, he wishes that the dolls would come to life and worship him, tell him that he is wonderful, and beg to trade him for favors. And, perhaps, if ever one of them does sufficiently stroke his ego then, yes, maybe he will grant a favor.

Basically, God is a creep.

It’s once you add in a third point, “God is good.” That you come to a conundrum.

None of those snippets look like transactional prayers to me. Others may have different opinions. I’m open to discussion if someone wants to do a more in-depth contextual analysis of any particular verses.

How about this analogy: In the military, it is expected that one addresses ones superior officers with a respectful “Yes! Sir!” or equivalent. Why is this insisted upon? Yes, I’m sure there are plenty of jerks who love the attention, but if I’m not mistaken, the main reason is to reinforce the concept of the chain of command. Everyone must know their place and act accordingly, or bad stuff will ensue.

Similarly, we praise God, not because He needs the praise, but to remind ourselves of our place in the big picture. Too many people (in my opinion) claim to believe in an omnipotent and infinitely wise God, but then they add various conditions, like “provided He allows that” or “provided He doesn’t insist on that”. Such people don’t realize that they imagine themselves to be wiser than the God that they claim to believe in.

Oh, I only claim to be wiser and smarter than the human putzes who every so often come around telling me that they were appointed by God to put me “in my place.”

Given that God by definition is infinitely superior to me, whyvwpuld I even bother questioning my place vs. Him.

Not at the same time. Animal sacrifice ceased in 70 CE, and it was a few centuries later that the “eternal punishment” idea came along (and of course that’s a Christian thing, so has nothing to do with the actual Bible).

First off, we’re not specifically discussing Christianity. And I’m not hand-waving anyone’s existence away by pointing out that their theology has some logical inconsistencies. Although the OP has already corrected me once, it seems that this thread is clearly about theology rather than sociology.

I agree with the first part, but not the second.

In the scenario of an omnimax God, free will makes no sense. Actually, personally, I don’t free will ever actually makes any sense – I don’t think it’s even a coherent concept – but, for the sake of this thread, it’s sufficient to agree it doesn’t make sense in this one context.

But…that makes prayer potentially as important as anything else.
If we’re going to have God performing actions during the evolution of the universe, linked in some way to the state of the universe, then the fact that your prayer was always destined to happen does not preclude that it is also the thing required for God to perform her next action.

Of course, technically this is not an argument for prayer per se; it doesn’t give a logical reason for even a believer to go pray – you were always going to do whatever you did.
It’s purely a support for retrospectively believing that your prayers have been effective.

Umm, no. A truly omniscient god would know the consequences of all possible choices, as well as the consequences of all truly random quantum events. So there is no predestination - or rather, everything that is possible is already inside the eternal database of such an omniscient god, so everything is predestined, even things that are freely chosen, and even events which contradict each other.

I don’t understand why you started that post with “Umm, no”.
What part of it do you think is inconsistent with what I said?

Well, if all choices are foreseen, then nothing about freewill is made incoherent by an omnimax god.

I don’t particularly agree with the concept of freewill, but the existence of an omniscient god doesn’t rule it out. If such a god were omniscient, then she would know what would occur in a universe entirely determined by the freewill of its inhabitants, as well as what would occur in a universe where everything was predetermined.


And living outside of time (whatever that means) she/he/it will know which path we eventually take because she/he/it has already seen it happen.

Ah, I see.

I’m afraid I have to bow out of that particular part of the discussion. Because, my reason for agreeing with the premise that free will doesn’t make sense with an omnimax God was simply that I don’t think it makes sense in any context. Free will is an invisible, pink, square circle.

I don’t have an argument for why it is specifically a problem for an omnimax God.

Suppose my time machine acquired a copy of tomorrow’s newspaper, which contains an article about some decision you are going to make later on today. Let’s also say that the paper is infallible and unchangeable, unlike the pictures in Back To The Future.

Some people would say that you don’t really have free will any more, because the choice is predestined. I KNOW what you’re going to choose, and it is impossible for you to choose something else, and therefore it’s a done deal, go to bed, game over.

That perspective is logical to a certain extent, but I respectfully disagree.

To me, one must consider cause-and-effect. Which is the cause, and which is the effect? In my view, even with the newspaper in my hand, you still have free will, and the newspaper is simply reporting on the choice that you will make soon. You are the cause, and the newspaper is the effect.

To say that the newspaper is the cause, and your lack of free will is the effect, is logical, I suppose, but I don’t feel that way, and I can’t imagine any way to prove either side. In fact, even if such a time machine and newspaper would actually exist, I don’t know how one or the other could be proven. It’s more philosophy than science, I think.

(Of course, if I went and showed the article to you before you made the choice, then all bets are off, because there would be so much second-guessing going on.)

It would be particularly paradoxical if the fact that you had shown me the article actually made me chose the opposite course of action.

That is why I don’t really accept Novikov self-consistency; humans are contrary beasts, and if anyone obtained reliable information about the future, you can bet your last euro that they would try to change it.