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Divine Omnipresence


To say that God is omnipresent is to say that he is everywhere, present at all points in space. It is somewhat unclear how we are supposed to understand this idea, given that God is disembodied.

It is simple to understand statements about the location of physical objects. ďThe Eiffel Tower is in ParisĒ clearly tells us that a particular lump of matter, the Eiffel Tower, is located at a particular point in space, Paris. This is simple to understand.

God, though, is not a physical being. The idea that he has any location at all is therefore mysterious, let alone the idea that he is everywhere. Far from being omnipresent, it seems, Godís disembodiment must mean that he is nowhere.

There may, however, be some way of making sense of divine omnipresence. We too are arguably non-physical beings in part. Our beliefs and desires, for example, arguably do not have a physical location. We are happy to speak of people being in particular places, however, even if we think of them as non-physical beings.

The way that do this is by associating people with bodies. We identify our bodies, which give us our location, in terms of our spheres of influence. Whatever matter our minds can directly influence is a part of our body; we are wherever our body is because of the powers that we have over our bodies.

We can treat Godís location in precisely the same way. Godís location, like ours, can be understood in terms of his sphere of influence. Godís sphere of influence, though, unlike ours, is not limited to one specific hunk of organic matter; God can directly influence any part of the universe. Godís location, therefore, unlike ours, is not limited to any specific part of the universe; he is everywhere; he is omnipresent.



From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.