AskDefine | Define omnipresent

Dictionary Definition

omnipresent adj : being present everywhere at once [syn: ubiquitous]

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English

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Adjective

  1. Being everywhere simultaneously

Synonyms

Translations

being everywhere

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Extensive Definition

Omnipresence is the ability to be present in every place at any, and/or every, time; unbounded or universal presence. It is related to the concept of ubiquity, the ability to be everywhere at a certain point in time.
This characteristic is most commonly used in a religious context, as most doctrines bestow the trait of omnipresence unto a superior, usually a deity commonly referred to as God by monotheists. This idea differs from Pantheism.
Brahmanism, and other religions that derive from it, incorporate the theory of transcendental omnipresence which differs greatly from the traditional meaning of the word. This theory defines a universal and fundamental substance, which is the source of all physical existence.
Some argue that omnipresence is a derived characteristic: an omniscient and omnipotent deity knows every thing and can be and act every where, simultaneously. Others propound a deity as having the "Three O's", including omnipresence as a unique characteristic of the deity. Most Christian denominations — following theology standardized by the Nicene Creed —explain the concept of omnipresence in the form of the Trinity, by having a single deity made up of three omnipresent 'substances' or 'persons'.

Historical origins

Many ancient people, such as Babylon, Greece and Rome did not worship an omnipresent being, while most paleolithic cultures followed polytheistic practices. A form of omnipresent deities arise from a worldview that do not share ideas with mono-local deity cultures: Some omnipresent religions see the whole of Existence as a manifestation of the deity. There are two predominant viewpoints here: pantheism, deity is the summation of Existence; and panentheism, deity is an emergent property of Existence. The first is closest to the Native Americans' worldview, the latter resembles the Vedic outlook.
Judeo-Christian beliefs constitute a third opinion on omnipresence. To both the Jewish and Christian religions, God is omnipresent. However, the major difference between these monothesitic religions and other religious systems is that God is still transcendant to His creation and yet immanent in relating to creation. God is not immersed in the substance of creation, even though he is able to interact with it as he chooses. He cannot be excluded from any location or object in creation.(Thomas C Oden "The Living God: Systematic Theology Vol 1'' pg 67). God's presence is continuous throughout all of creation, though it may not be revealed in the same way at the same time every where to people. At times, he may be actively present in a situation, while he may not reveal that he is present in another circumstance in some other area. The Bible reveals that God can be both present to a person in a manifest manner (Psalm 46:1, Isaiah 57:15) as well as being present in every situation in all of creation at any given time (Psalm 33:13-14). Specifically, Oden states (pg. 68-69) that the Bible shows that God can be present in every aspect of human life:
  • God is naturally present in every aspect of the natural order, in every level of causality, every fleeting moment and momentous event of natural history...(Psalm 8:3, Isaiah 40:12, Nahum 1:3)
  • God is actively present in a different way in every event in history as provident guide of human affairs (Psalm 48:7)
  • God is in a special way attentively present to those who call upon his name, intercede for others, who adore God, who petition, who pray earnestly for forgiveness (Gospel of Matthew 18:19, Book of Acts 17:27)
  • God is judicially present in moral awareness, through conscience (Psalm 48:1-2, Epistle to the Romans 1:20)
  • God is bodily present in the incarnation of his Son, Jesus Christ (Gospel of John 1:14, Colossians 2:9)
  • God is mystically present in the Eucharist, and through the means of grace in the church, the body of Christ (Ephesians 2:12, John 6:56)
  • God is sacredly present and becomes known in special places where God chooses to meet us, places that become set apart by the faithful remembering community (1 Corinthians 11:23-29) where it may be said: "Truly the Lord is in this place" (Genesis 28:16, Matthew 18:20)"
In the Judeo-Christian religions, God is omnipresent in a way that He is able to interact with his creation however he chooses, and is not the very essence of his creation.

Major issue

While the majority of Christians consider their deity omnipresent, some find difficulty pondering the absoluteness of their deity's omnipresence because Hell is both a place and is also the absolute separation from God ("The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels, In flaming fire taking Vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the Presence of the Lord, and from the Glory of his Power" (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)), presenting a paradox. Can a deity be both omnipresent and absent from Hell?
In trying to rectify such paradoxes, Christian apologists of the Middle Ages found even more paradoxes, the most important being Associated Consent; how a deity that was omnipresent could simultaneously be wholly good; as they would of necessity be part of what is evil as well, such as Hell.
[From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, cited below]
Another view simply states that God's wrath is fully present in hell. http://www.ovrlnd.com/Teaching/omnipresence_hell.html
One view describes hell as not a place, but the psychical torment of a deity-hating soul finding itself in an afterlife where the deity's omnipresence is more clearly perceived than when the soul was bound within a body.

Noteworthy exceptions

Changes in religious demographics globally and through history have essentially replaced personal localised deities with religion based on omnipresent deities. However not all modern religions ascribe omnipresent attributes to their deity, for example:
  • Islam — Belief in an omnipresent Allah (the deity in Islam) was arguably lost in the mid-800s because of the positioning of its apologists in their philosophical dissertations in opposition to the Christian Trinity. However, this is probably a misconception because theologians see that deity as being "not part of the universe" (i.e: not bound by space or time) and also as nearer to the person than his jugular vein. An excerpt from Islamic concept of God article is like this:
God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient, while at the same time above and outside of all creation. He is said to be "in Heaven" (Qur'an 67:16) and "in the heavens and the earth" (Qur'an 66:3), but also said to be "nearer to him [man] than his jugular vein" (Qur'an 50:16); He constantly watches all that goes on in the world, and knows all things.
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — While Christianity almost universally ascribes omnipresence to both Jesus Christ (Son) and God (Father) as laid out at the First Council of Nicaea (325 CE), when the doctrine of the Trinity was first formalized in the Nicene Creed, the LDS philosophy is that the Father and Son have, while perfected and glorified, very corporeal, and thus localized, bodies. They reside in the Celestial Kingdom. In keeping with ancient Judeo-Christian philosophies, the Holy Spirit is, however, non-corporeal and thus, while also localized, has an omnipresent effect on all life (in accordance with Colossians 1:17). In short, it is a mechanism for the same things that a Trinity would accomplish through physical non-locality.
omnipresent in German: Allgegenwart
omnipresent in French: Ubiquité
omnipresent in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Omnipresentia
omnipresent in Japanese: ユビキタス
omnipresent in Korean: 유비쿼터스
omnipresent in Polish: Omniprezencja

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