Rafed English


Adapted from: "Three Topics in Theological Philosophy" by: "Dr. Ahmad Ahmadi"

In defining power, it can be said that one is powerful if he can act whenever he wants to and refrain from action. whenever he doesn't. Therefore, `powerful' is one who, firstly, has will (by virtue of this definition, power cannot be attributed to stones, plants, and, in short, all things devoid of will), and, secondly, the freedom to act or not to act, or both. Thirdly, his will only confirms either one of the two alternatives of action or inaction.

Therefore, the domain of will is more restricted than that of power. Fourthly, since will is always related to some action of which one who wills has some kind of knowledge­, because one cannot will to do something which is unknown to him‑it could, therefore, be said that knowledge and awareness precedes will.

Moreover, since will has been included in the definition of power, therefore, in accordance with this definition, every `powerful' being, in relation to what it wills, possesses knowledge of it as well.

Now, let us see how we can demonstrate the attribute of power in relation to God. In the proof of the existence of the Necessary Being, it is shown that the chain of possibilities and causes originates from the First Cause. The existence of all phenomena is ultimately derived from the First Cause and, therefore, they have, in some way or other, a pre‑existence in the First Cause. If the First Cause were totally devoid of them, that is, if It had no power over their creation, they could not have come into existence.

Therefore, the coming into existence of a thing is also a sign of the existence of the attribute of power in its creator. The more expansive the domain of creation is, the greater the power of the creator. Accordingly, the proof of the First Cause includes the demonstration of the attribute of power in the First Cause. If the First Cause were devoid of power, no effect could result from It, and thereby It could not have been the First Cause.

On the other hand, it is clearly evident from the proof of order in the universe that the Creator of order must have power‑in the sense as has already been mentioned; that is, power embracing knowledge and will. For, if He lacks knowledge, He cannot shape and arrange the ingredients of an orderly system in such a manner that a network of necessary relationships is established between the ingredients, and some kind of definite purpose is realized within that system.

Moreover, if His power is not accompanied by will (that is, inclina­tion which arises from freedom) but, like the force of gravity, is exer­cised automatically without exercise of will, it necessitates that the system be eternal (qadim) and not created (hadith); because, the First Cause as the fountainhead of power‑and, likewise, power itself, which is Its essential attribute‑is eternal; therefore, the universe, as the order arising from the First Cause, must also be eternal and without beginning. However, we have proved that the entire animate and inanimate worlds are incessantly in the process of creation.

This was a brief discussion about the meaning of power and affirmation of the attribute of power with respect to God. Now let us consider its scope and extent. According to philosophical proofs, Quranic testimony, all revealed Scriptures, and also according to the traditions of the blessed Household (Ahl al Bayt) of the Prophet (S), the power of God is infinite and absolute. That is, God is omnipotent; for Him nothing is impossible. The following statement is recurrently made by the Holy Quran:

    إِنَّ اللّهَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِير

Indeed God has power over everything.

The Quran also states:

    إِنَّمَا أَمْرُهُ إِذَا أَرَادَ شَيْئًا أَنْ يَقُولَ لَهُ كُنْ فَيَكُونُ

His command, when He intends [to create] anything, is only to say to it, Be', and it is. (36:82)

Here, very often, this question is asked: Does God have the power over any and every thing imaginable? Can God, possibly, make two plus two equal to five, or insert a bigger body into a smaller one without the bigger body becoming small or the smaller one becoming larger? Certain philosophers, such as Descartes, have maintained that the meaning of Divine omnipotence is that God's power encompasses everything and that nothing is impossible for Him. Therefore, they say, God can ordain that 2+2 should equal 5 or 7, and so bring about things which to us appear impossible. Of course, in the present world, He deems not to do such things, but if He wills to do so, He can. In order to answer the above question, and to examine the view of Descartes, the meaning of `impossible' in all its various senses must at first be examined; then it must be seen which of these meanings pertains to the power of God.


Share this article

Comments 0

Your comment

Comment description

Latest Post

Most Reviews