Omnipotence and other Theological Mistakes

By Charles Hartshorne

Subjects: Ethics
Paperback : 9780873957717, 158 pages, June 1984
Hardcover : 9780873957700, 158 pages, June 1984

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Table of contents


1. Six Common Mistakes about God


The Mistakes Briefly Presented
What Went Wrong in Classical Theism
Two Meanings of "God is Perfect and Unchanging"
Two Meanings of "All-Powerful"
Two Meanings of "All-Knowing"
God's Love as Divine Sympathy, Feeling of Others' Feelings
Two Meanings of "Immortality"
Revelation, "Infallible" as from God, "Fallible" as Humanly Received
The Principle of Dual Transcendence


2. The Physical and Spiritual


Materialism and Dualism in Greek and Medieval Thought
Plato's World Soul: The Mind-Body Analogy for God
Male Bias in Theology
Creation from Nothing, Magic, and the Tyrant Conception of God
Mind or Soul as Creative of Its Body
Psychicalism and the Universality of Love


3. Creation through Evolution


Evolution and Belief in God
Evolution, Chance, and Natural Law
Darwin's Mistake
Chance, Freedom, and the Tyrant Idea of God
God Takes Chances with Free Creatures
The Religious Opposition to Evolution
God "Makes Things Make Themselves"
Creation Neither Out of Nothing Nor Out of Matter
Value and Sympathy as the Keys to Power: The Final Mystery
Psychicalism and Evolution
The Perils of a High Level of Mind and Freedom
An Ornithologist who Opposed Evolution


4. Equal Love for Self and Other, All-Love for the All-Loving


The Moral Argument against Heaven and Hell
Abortion and the Nonabsoluteness of Personal Identity
Identity, Nonidentity, and the Primacy of Love
Self-identity as Attribute of God
The Present Condition of Humankind
A Requirement for Ethical Judgments
Religion and Philosophy
Is God Selfish?
Divine Love as the Meaning of Life
Why There is Human Wickedness
Nuclear Arms
God and the Universe Once More


Index of Persons

Subject Index


This book presents Hartshorne's philosophical theology briefly, simply, and vividly.

Throughout the centuries some of the world's most brilliant philosophers and theologians have held and perpetuated six beliefs that give the word God a meaning untrue to its import in sacred writings or in active religious devotion:

God is absolutely perfect and therefore unchangeable,
2. omnipotence,
3. omniscience,
4. God's unsympathetic goodness,
5. immortality as a career after death, and
6. revelation as infalliable.

Charles Hartshorne deals with these six theological mistakes from the standpoint of his process theology.

Hartshorne says, "The book is unacademic in so far as I am capable of being that. " Only a master like Hartshorne could present such sophisticated ideas so simply. This book offers an option for religious belief not heretofore available to lay people.


"Hartshorne speaks with not just conviction, but passion. He cares, and that caring comes through loud and clear. By and large Hartshorne is a very abstract thinker, but this book has a very concrete concern with practical issues of importance to all thinking persons—abortion, environment, love, creationism and fundamentalism as negative forces in our society, nuclear arms, how to read the Bible, birds and animals in their relation to humans, etc. — Donald W. Sherburne