Skip to main content
Select Source:

Omnipresence

Omnipresence


The divine attribute of omnipresence is the theological interpretation of God's hiddenness, whose presence in history is unlimited and transcends local space. Concepts like transcendence, immanence, agency, knowledge, indwelling, place, and spiritual substance are basic to omnipresence. God's omnipresence is an active presence, which means that creation and providence find their place within God's creative presence. Classical theology distinguishes omnipresence by virtue of power, knowledge, and being. Divine power fills everything and God's being is by nature wholly present in all things, therefore God's place is where the divine power and activity manifests itself as dynamic omnipresence. Divine presence by virtue of knowledge means that every entity is created in accordance with divine ideas and is thus mentally present to God.

After the demythologization of "heaven above," the question is how to imagine the relation between the divine sphere and the world of human experience. Is God's presence spatial or nonspatial? An answer to this question depends on the theory of space people handle. One can distinguish idealistic, realistic, and relational theories. An idealistic theory of space denies the independent existence of space, but holds that one's observing capacity arranges objects spatially. A realistic theory holds that space exists independently of the objects therein or of any observer. A relational theory claims that space is given with objects in their mutual relations, as the order of coexistent things.

Three theories interpret God's omnipresence by means of a realistic theory of space. Absolute monism imagines that God and created reality coincide (Baruch Spinoza: Deus sive natura ). Organic monism interprets the relation between God and the world as a psychosomatic unity, thus the world is God's body. God is both present in and all over the world and transcends the world at the same time (Grace Jantzen; process theology). Spatial dualism conceives God's omnipresence as extended in absolute space without coinciding with the created world. God is thought of as active everywhere and therefore God is also substantially present everywhere as an omnipresent non-material substance (no actio in distans, Isaac Newton).

Traditionally theologians have thought of God's active presence as the universal, nonspatial, sustaining principle that prevents disintegration (Anselm of Canterbury), or as the nonspatial, spiritual cause of the hierarchy of created causes (Thomas Aquinas). Because God is "simple" or nondivisible, God is, as a whole, in every place (Augustine). Although these theologians presuppose a realistic theory of space, their view appears to be compatible only with idealistic theory.

Given the scientific picture of the world, God's omnipresence is imagined as God's own space (Karl Barth). With reference to mathematical conceptuality in natural science one can picture three-dimensional space as a subspace of an infinitely higher dimensional space in which God exists (Karl Heim). Now omnipresence means that within God's own space of an infinite number of dimensions, God is present in every position in three-dimensional space. Thus, God is simultaneous with all objects in three-dimensional space, without being contained by this three-dimensional space or four-dimensional space-time (Luco van den Brom).


See also Augustine; God; Monism; Newton, Isaac; Thomas Aquinas


Bibliography

alexander, h. g., ed. the leibniz-clarke-correspondence. manchester, uk: manchester university press, 1956.

barth, karl. church dogmatics (ii. 1, section 31). edinburgh, uk: t&t clark, 1957.

fuerst, adrian. a historical study of the doctrine of the omnipresence of god in selected writings between 12201270. washington d.c.: catholic university of america press, 1951.

jantzen, grace m. god's world, god's body. london: darton, longman, and todd, 1984.

taliaferro, charles. consciousness and the mind of god. cambridge, uk: cambridge university press, 1994.

thomas aquinas. summa contra gentiles (iii. 68), trans. anton c. pegis; j. f. anderson; v. j. bourke; and c. j. o'neil et al. notre dame, ind.: notre dame university press, 1975.

thomas aquinas. summa theologiae (ia. 8), ed. timothy mcdermott. london: blackfriars, 1970.

van den brom, luco j. divine presence in the world: a critical analysis of the notion of divine omnipresence. kampen, netherlands: kok pharos; louvain, belgium: peeters, 1993.

van den brom, luco j. "as thy new horizons beckon: god's presence in the world." in understanding the attributes of god, eds. gijsbert van den brink and marcel sarot. frankfurt am main, germany: peter lang, 1999.

luco j. van den brom

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Omnipresence." Encyclopedia of Science and Religion. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Omnipresence." Encyclopedia of Science and Religion. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/omnipresence

"Omnipresence." Encyclopedia of Science and Religion. . Retrieved October 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/omnipresence

Omnipresence

476. Omnipresence (See also Ubiquity.)

  1. Allah supreme being and pervasive spirit of the universe. [Islam: Leach, 36]
  2. Big Brother all-seeing leader watches every move. [Br. Lit.: 1984]
  3. eye God sees all things in all places. [Christian Symbolism: O.T.: Proverbs 15:3]
  4. God transcendant over and immanent in the world. [Christianity and Judaism: NCE, 10981099]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Omnipresence." Allusions--Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Omnipresence." Allusions--Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/omnipresence

"Omnipresence." Allusions--Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. . Retrieved October 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/omnipresence

omnipresence

omnipresenceabeyance, conveyance, purveyance •creance • ambience •irradiance, radiance •expedience, obedience •audience •dalliance, mésalliance •salience •consilience, resilience •emollience • ebullience •convenience, lenience, provenience •impercipience, incipience, percipience •variance • experience •luxuriance, prurience •nescience • omniscience •insouciance • deviance •subservience • transience •alliance, appliance, compliance, defiance, misalliance, neuroscience, reliance, science •allowance •annoyance, clairvoyance, flamboyance •fluence, pursuance •perpetuance • affluence • effluence •mellifluence • confluence •congruence • issuance • continuance •disturbance •attendance, dependence, interdependence, resplendence, superintendence, tendance, transcendence •cadence •antecedence, credence, impedance •riddance • diffidence • confidence •accidence • precedence • dissidence •coincidence, incidence •evidence •improvidence, providence •residence •abidance, guidance, misguidance, subsidence •correspondence, despondence •accordance, concordance, discordance •avoidance, voidance •imprudence, jurisprudence, prudence •impudence • abundance • elegance •arrogance • extravagance •allegiance • indigence •counter-intelligence, intelligence •negligence • diligence • intransigence •exigence •divulgence, effulgence, indulgence, refulgence •convergence, divergence, emergence, insurgence, resurgence, submergence •significance •balance, counterbalance, imbalance, outbalance, valance •parlance • repellence • semblance •bivalence, covalence, surveillance, valence •sibilance • jubilance • vigilance •pestilence • silence • condolence •virulence • ambulance • crapulence •flatulence • feculence • petulance •opulence • fraudulence • corpulence •succulence, truculence •turbulence • violence • redolence •indolence • somnolence • excellence •insolence • nonchalance •benevolence, malevolence •ambivalence, equivalence •Clemence • vehemence •conformance, outperformance, performance •adamance • penance • ordinance •eminence • imminence •dominance, prominence •abstinence • maintenance •continence • countenance •sustenance •appurtenance, impertinence, pertinence •provenance • ordnance • repugnance •ordonnance • immanence •impermanence, permanence •assonance • dissonance • consonance •governance • resonance • threepence •halfpence • sixpence •comeuppance, tuppence, twopence •clarence, transparence •aberrance, deterrence, inherence, Terence •remembrance • entrance •Behrens, forbearance •fragrance • hindrance • recalcitrance •abhorrence, Florence, Lawrence, Lorentz •monstrance •concurrence, co-occurrence, occurrence, recurrence •encumbrance •adherence, appearance, clearance, coherence, interference, perseverance •assurance, durance, endurance, insurance •exuberance, protuberance •preponderance • transference •deference, preference, reference •difference • inference • conference •sufferance • circumference •belligerence • tolerance • ignorance •temperance • utterance • furtherance •irreverence, reverence, severance •deliverance • renascence • absence •acquiescence, adolescence, arborescence, coalescence, convalescence, deliquescence, effervescence, essence, evanescence, excrescence, florescence, fluorescence, incandescence, iridescence, juvenescence, luminescence, obsolescence, opalescence, phosphorescence, pubescence, putrescence, quiescence, quintessence, tumescence •obeisance, Renaissance •puissance •impuissance, reminiscence •beneficence, maleficence •magnificence, munificence •reconnaissance • concupiscence •reticence •licence, license •nonsense •nuisance, translucence •innocence • conversance • sentience •impatience, patience •conscience •repentance, sentence •acceptance • acquaintance •acquittance, admittance, intermittence, pittance, quittance, remittance •assistance, coexistence, consistence, distance, existence, insistence, outdistance, persistence, resistance, subsistence •instance • exorbitance •concomitance •impenitence, penitence •appetence •competence, omnicompetence •inheritance • capacitance • hesitance •Constance • importance • potence •conductance, inductance, reluctance •substance • circumstance •omnipotence • impotence •inadvertence • grievance •irrelevance, relevance •connivance, contrivance •observance • sequence • consequence •subsequence • eloquence •grandiloquence, magniloquence •brilliance • poignance •omnipresence, pleasance, presence •complaisance • malfeasance •incognizance, recognizance •usance • recusance

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"omnipresence." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"omnipresence." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/omnipresence

"omnipresence." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved October 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/omnipresence