God is not omni-modal.

The various “omni” prefixes attached to divine X’s do not apply to the diverse modes of X. When we say God is omniscient we don’t mean he knows all things in all ways they can be known: he doesn’t know the color of blood by sensing it or my private thoughts by being me. When we say God is omnipotent we don’t mean that God has to lift stones with crowbars if I do.

One place to discover the value, uniqueness, and justification of creatures is their mode of operation. We don’t need creatures to have knowledge or power or goodness or whatever. But to know objects by hearing them or move them by interacting or be good by arriving at the right time are all ways of existing that would not be with divinity alone. The same applies when we try to bootstrap from our mode of action to God’s: if I conserved something in existence by thinking about it I would have to think one thing, then another, but this is for the same reason that I would have to physically interact (or sweat) if I wanted to move a sufficiently large rock.

I was reminded of this by reading Jimmy Akin’s Catholic defense of Parmenides. As someone who’s read both Jimmy and Parmenides with great profit I liked the series, but many of the arguments would not remain if we distinguish the way in which the universe is known by God from both the way it is known by us and the way in which the it exists in itself.


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