7 Reasons Omnipotence Leads to Atheism

May 15th, 2023 / 4 Comments


The experience of evil leads millions to unbelief and most believers to bewilderment. Worshipping God as omnipotent implicates the Almighty as either causing or permitting horrendous events and unnecessary suffering. An omnipotent God is guilty.

In my book, The Death of Omnipotence and Birth of Amipotence, I explore why believing God is omnipotent makes the problem of evil unsolvable. The problem of pointless pain is the number one reason atheists cite for their unbelief. But belief in omnipotence leads to other reasons people stop believing God exists.

Political Tyranny

Belief in omnipotence implies that God appoints and upholds political leaders and policies. A God capable of control could replace tyrants and erase tyranny singlehandedly. Yet political oppression persists. If we follow the logic of omnipotence, we should presume this oppression is God’s will. Although worshiping God as their true Leader inspires some to resist, few believers realize they can follow a Divine Leader but reject omnipotence.

Errant Bible

Omnipotence also supports the false claim that the Bible is inerrant. A loving God would apparently want a crystal-clear revelation of what’s necessary for salvation. The Almighty could also guarantee the writing and safekeeping of that revelation. So it’s not surprising when Fundamentalists insist the Bible is inerrant, despite it being far from error-free. They simply follow the logic of omnipotence and then try to explain away scriptural inconsistencies. They also declare, “The Bible clearly says,” assuming God guarantees their interpretations as valid. Omnipotence supports believing the Bible is infallible and unambiguous.


Omnipotence is necessary for the traditional view of hell. It requires God having controlling power to send people against their will to conscious torment and everlastingly keep them there. Only an all-powerful God can detain the damned in misery forever. Because belief in hell so obviously conflicts with the claim that God loves everyone, the absurdity leads many to reject faith altogether.[1]


Or take evolution and the billions-of-years-old universe. I have yet to meet a young-earth creationist who denies omnipotence. Of course, one can embrace science in general and evolution in particular while also believing God is all-powerful. But an instant and flawless creation aligns with omnipotence better than a long evolutionary process, with its dead-ends, disorder, ugliness, and mass extinctions. Those who endorse evolutionary creation or theistic evolution are wise to reject omnipotence.

Queer Issues

Omnipotence is assumed by those who think God alone decides gender and sexual orientation. An all-powerful God could create clear binaries. The old saw “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” rests on the assumption an almighty Creator singlehandedly decided human nature. Yet the bodies and desires of LGBTQIA+ people attest to nonbinaries and non-heteronormativity. Giving up omnipotence makes it easier to account for gender and sexual diversity, because it means creaturely agency, chance, environment, genetics, experiences, and more contribute to our becoming who we are.

Hidden God

I conclude with a final obstacle created when believers worship God as omnipotent: the absence of profound religious experiences for certain people. Although some worshippers testify to intense encounters with the divine, others do not. God is hidden. One would think a loving God would want dramatic experiences for all who seek them, and an omnipotent God could guarantee they occur. It’s understandable, therefore, why those who are frustrated by their lack of religious experiences come to doubt God exists at all.[2]

Worshipping God as omnipotent generates immense harm and, for some, unbelief.

Evil without Omnipotence

In The Death of Omnipotence and Birth of Amipotence, I lay out 6 ideas that together solve the problem of evil. Each denies that God is omnipotent. A God whose love is uncontrolling is not culpable for evil, because this God does not cause evil nor can this God stop it singlehandedly.

Politics without Omnipotence

If God exists but is not omnipotent, we don’t need to believe God installs or supports all political leaders and policies. The God who is not all-powerful cannot singlehandedly overthrow tyrants and eliminate systemic tyranny. God cares about social arrangements and leaders, and God influences political processes by calling us to do what, given the circumstances, promotes the common good. But those calls can be ignored or misunderstood. And rejecting omnipotence fits our urge to resist rulers and systems that oppress.

An Errant Bible without Omnipotence

The Bible makes better sense if God exists but is not omnipotent. We can believe it contains eternal truths without thinking God revealed those truths in an inerrant and crystal-clear way.[i] An uncontrolling God of love always communicates but cannot do so unambiguously nor guarantee infallible texts. Our interpretations of scripture will also vary, partly because God can’t control our interpreting work. In other words, theories of biblical inspiration and interpretation that reject omnipotence better fit the Bible and our diverse interpretations.[ii]

No Omnipotence; No Hell

The logic of hell crumbles if we believe God is loving but not omnipotent. A loving God would not send anyone to eternal conscious torment, and a God who cannot control could not send anyone. Whatever conditions we encounter after death are not decided by God singlehandedly. Our future in this life and the next rests, in part, upon what we decide in response to a loving God and other creaturely decisions.

Science Makes Better Sense if God is Not Omnipotent

If God exists but is not omnipotent, leading theories of science make more sense. A God who cannot control did not create a young earth and cannot singlehandedly determine the evolutionary process. This God can’t control brains and bodies nor manipulate cells and celestials. The nonomnipotent God cannot guarantee perfect design nor avert evolutionary dead-ends. We need not blame animal suffering, disorder, or ugliness upon the loving God who cannot control creatures or creation.[iii] The influence and guidance of an active and loving God, however, is evident in the design and purpose we do find.

Queer Matters Make Sense if God is Not Omnipotent

Gender and sexual diversity make better sense if God is not omnipotent. The variations in the bodies and desires of both LGBTQIA+ and straight and cisgender people fit a theology that says God works alongside creaturely agency, chance, environment, genetics, histories, and more. This God wants multifarious beauty and pluriform love.[iv] Let a thousand, healthy flowers bloom.

An NonOmnipotent God Self-Reveals in Uncontrolling Ways

If God exists but is not omnipotent, we better account for why some people enjoy profound religious experiences and others never do. A loving God does not voluntarily hide.[v] This God self-reveals—given the factors and actors at play—and invites all to transformative encounters. Some may not be aware of these invitations, some may be constitutionally blocked from them, and others may choose to avoid them. Still others may seek metaphysically impossible experiences, and they should not be surprised that the impossible is impossible. Because God is not omnipotent, there is no guarantee everyone will enjoy dramatic encounters with God they crave.

An omnipotent God does not exist; we have reasons to think an uncontrolling God does.

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Ben Thomas

I love it Jay. I confess I haven’t read your new book yet, so this question might be answered within it. Could we say God is Omnipotent, but in the loving act of creation and for the purpose of loving that creation, he has set his omnipotence aside? Coming from the “emptying” described in Phil 2. Just thinking out loud. Thanks for the post.

Bob Solomon

Loved your book on inclusion and looking forward to your sermon on the 21st at Nampa FUMC!


THanks, Bob. It was good to talk with you!


Great question, Ben. I’m making a stronger claim that what I think you’re suggesting. Your proposal seems to say God is essentially omnipotence but voluntarily sets aside this power. My claim denies that God is ever or essentially omnipotent.

Thanks again for your good question!

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