A Dialogue Between Oculus and Socratistus Concerning God's Ability to Have Sense Experiences
Chris Lake, 1998

Oculus:  Socratistus, wait!  Allow me to walk with you.  I wish to speak with you.
Socratistus:  Hello, Oculus.  On what subject in particular did you wish to speak?
Oculus:  A philosophical subject, Socratistus.  Advocus and I were just today having lunch.  At a nearby table, there was a mother and her misbehaving child.  The child was playing with his food and his mother told him to behave because God was watching him.
Soc:  And you wish to discuss the morality of playing with one's food?  I personally think that a meal should be entertaining as well as nutritious.  Whenever I eat toast, I like to-
Oculus:  Actually, Socratistus, that is not the matter I wish to discuss.  If I may continue. . .
Soc:  I am sorry to interrupt, Oculus.  By all means, continue with your story.
Oculus:  Thank you, Socratistus.  I thought nothing of the mother's remark, until Advocus said to me, "I think it is a shame how people lie to their children."  "Lie?  How is it a lie?" I asked, "God sees all things both immense and minuscule.  Surely he even sees that child playing with his food."  Upon further discussion, I found that what Advocus meant was that God has no sense perception at all.  When I inquired as to the source of this belief, he said that a prior conversation with you had led him to this contention.  That is why I wanted to speak with you.
Soc:  I see now:  You wish to discover why I hold that God is unable to have sense experiences.
Oculus:  That is precisely what I want to know, Socratistus.  Now tell me, how is it that such a powerful being as God could lack the ability to sense- an ability that even his lowliest creatures possess to a certain degree?  Surely God is omnipotent, thus he can do anything he pleases.  He is also omniscient, therefore he senses all things.  By saying that he lacks the ability to have sense experiences, you seem to be robbing him of his omniscience, which is a necessary part of his essence.
Soc:  Tell me this, Oculus, does God know all things?  By this I mean, are all things in the universe known to the mind of God?
Oculus:  Of course.
Soc:  Then does God know of that tree?
Oculus:  Yes, most certainly.
Soc:  And was there ever a time when God did not know of that tree?
Oculus:  Yes.
Soc:  Explain this.
Oculus:  A tree is finite; it's existence has a beginning and an end.  There was a time before that tree was created by God.  God could not have had knowledge of that tree at that time because one cannot have knowledge of something that is non-existent.
Soc:  But does God know not only all things of the present but all things of the past and future as well?  If he is omniscient, certainly this is the case.
Oculus:  Yes, I believe so.  So you are saying that God would know of the tree before there was a tree there because God knows not only all that is, but all that will be?
Soc:  Yes, and if God always knew of the tree, he could not have come by this knowledge through sense experience because sense experience implies that at some point God acquired knowledge of the tree.
Oculus:  Your argument does seem to have logic and I do agree that God has knowledge of all things past, present and future.  However, I still believe that in addition to knowing all of these things, he can also sense them.  God is perfect and can do all things, certainly he must be able to sense.
Soc:  I agree that it is part of God's nature that he is perfect, but being perfect does not mean being able to do everything.  We humans have been given the ability to sense by God because we do not know all things and must acquire knowledge through experience.  God does not need to experience things because he is the source of everything.
Oculus:  Your points seem valid, but I still am not convinced.  I cannot believe God to be incapable of experiencing sense perceptions.
Soc:  Consider this, then:  If God has sensory experiences, as you contend that he does, then from where do these experiences originate?  Is there something beyond God that can imprint sensory impressions on the mind of God?
Oculus:  Of course not.  I have already agreed that God knows all there is to know and that there can be nothing new to him, but I still hold that he can have sense experiences.
Soc:  If God knows all things, then he does not need sense experiences.  If something is unnecessary for God to have, then we should not include it in our idea of God.  God is a perfect being and would not have superfluous qualities.
Oculus:  Could not you also apply this same argument to the very existence of God?  If you should not incorporate anything into your philosophy that is not necessary, then wouldn't God himself seem unnecessary in this same light?
Soc:  But, Oculus, we are not arguing the existence of God, but rather his nature.  Are you attempting to confuse me by changing the subject?
Oculus:  Certainly not, Socratistus!  I was simply pointing out a flaw in your claim of necessity.  But if it this causes our discourse to become confused, I shall attack your contention from a different angle:  Does it not say in the Bible that God has sense experiences?  Are there not many places in the Bible in which it states that God sees his creation and hears his people's prayers?
Soc:  You take the Bible too literally, Oculus.  Human beings are only capable of having a minimal understanding of God.  God is represented in the Bible as "seeing" and "hearing" metaphorically.  If God actually had sense experiences in the same way that we do, then he would have to have sense organs.  Now, are you saying that God has physical eyes?  A nose?  Where about in the universe can God's ears be found?
Oculus:  I do not contend that God has a physical pair of ears.  Nor do I believe him to have human eyes or a nose or corporeal fingers with which to touch.  The way God experiences things is very different than the way mankind does, but he still does experience things.
Soc:  How do you mean he experiences things differently?
Oculus:  I don't know.  You yourself said that human beings are incapable of having but a minimal understanding of God's nature.  I am no more than a human being, Socratistus.
Soc:  So then, you are arguing in favor of something you cannot define?  In this way, I could argue that God has a Restandospiel.
Oculus:  What is a Restandospiel?
Soc:  I don't know what a Restandospiel is.  I am only a human being and Restandospiels are beyond the comprehension of man.  I do, however, contend that God has one.  Do you find my argument ridiculous, Oculus?
Oculus:  If you are going to mock me, perhaps I should go.  I wish to have a serious discussion, not listen to your sarcastic jests.
Soc:  Perhaps I am a bit sarcastic, but I am making a valid point.  If you are not going to define what you think of as sense experience, then how can I be expected to discuss it with you?  I think of sense experience in terms of hearing, seeing, touch, taste and smell.  If your idea of sense experience is completely different from this, then define it otherwise I cannot understand what you say.
Oculus:  I suppose my idea of sense experience is not different from yours.  I imagine God as being able to see and hear and feel and taste and smell as a human does.
Soc:  Do you not see that this is unnecessary since God already knows all and does not need to experience or learn?
Oculus:  I admit, that does seem logical and I cannot think of any specific way in which to oppose your view. . .  Wait!  If this is true and God knows everything that will happen, what does that say about the concept of free will?  If God knows everything that I am going to do for the rest of my life, can it be said that I have free will?
Soc:  It is true that because God knows everything, he knows the outcome of every decision you shall ever make.  This does not, however, mean that the decisions aren't made by you.  It simply means that God knows what you are going to choose.  Do you understand or shall I try to make myself clearer?
Oculus:  I think I understand you, Socratistus, but I am rather confused by our discourse.  I should like to think about what we have said today and see if I can find a way to more clearly express what I mean to say and more clearly understand your arguments.  Shall we meet again tomorrow?
Soc:  That is an excellent idea.  I shall meet you tomorrow afternoon where we met today and we shall take another walk.
Oculus:  Tomorrow then.  Good-bye, Socratistus.
Soc:  Good day, Oculus.
Advocus:  That was brilliant, Socrasticus!
Soc:  Did you hear our entire conversation?
Adv:  I heard most of it, and I was quite impressed.  I was most amazed by the way you refrained from laughter throughout the whole discourse.  I was so amused, I almost revealed my hiding place.
Soc:  Did you enjoy the jest about the Restandospiel?
Adv:  Yes!  How did you come up with that?
Soc:  Divine inspiration, I suppose.  Now I believe we had a wager.
Adv:  Yes, and here are your winnings.  Money well spent, indeed!