“A Fortunate Universe.”

Christian and agnostic physicists Luke Barnes and Geraint Lewis, respectively, on the fine-tuning of the universe:

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“Omnipotence Paradox” (Debunked)

The Question:


(Statue of Averroes who first discussed the paradox in the 12th century)

The Omnipotence Paradox is usually stated this way:
 

“Can an Omnipotent Being create a stone so heavy that it cannot lift it?” (1)

 

Answers:

1) It’s akin to asking, “can 2 + 2 not equal 4?” Of course God, being All-Powerful, could have made it not 4, but He chose it to be that way. Does it make Him less powerful for choosing one way rather than another? No. He might have been “able” to do something other than what He did, but He did do what was done. No matter which way it was done, we would be asking why it was done that particular way.

2) When Christians talk about God being "All Powerful," they really mean "Eternal in Power." So the question really is, "what does Eternal mean?" Though there are many aspects to it, the aspect most pertinent to the paradox is the aspect of continuity. In light of that definition, there is no problem.

3) The question also begs the question of what the “stone” (or whatever object) really is. If the question were similar to the 2 + 2, then it’s just a play on semantics. Though I believe that the stone argument is, in essence, a question of whether God (the Greatest Possible Being) could create a being “greater” than Himself. But a being greater than the Greatest is illogical (because a precondition of being Greatest presupposes that there is none greater).

4) It's a misrepresentation of privation. The paradox is about what is not, rather than what is. The argument tries to make the point that God is “less” of a being because He does not do things one way rather than another. Though the problem with this reasoning is that God is the “Greatest Possible Being.” Anything He does is the standard of perfection. Anything which is contrary to the way it is, is itself, a lack of perfection.

For example: For the rock analogy, it’s a vie against logic. Is God less powerful because He does not defy logic? No. Logic is the standard of perfection. Anything which is contrary to that standard is less powerful; which means the question is asked under false pretense. It’s like saying, “Can God be less powerful to be more powerful?” The question itself is illogical.
 
Quote:

        When I lay these questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of “No answer”. It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question. Like, “Peace, child; you don’t understand.”

        Can a mortal answer questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable. How many hours are there in a mile? Is yellow square or round? Probably half the questions we ask–half our great theological and metaphysical problems–are like that.

        And now that I come to think of it, there’s no practical problem before me at all. I know the two great commandments, and I’d better get on with them. (2)

. . .

 

Notes

(1) “Omnipotence Paradox.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 09 June 2012. Web. 08 Sept. 2012. .

(2) Lewis, C. S. A Grief Observed. New York: Phoenix, 1961. 65. Print.

Note: A variation of this is the omniscience paradox–namely, “Can God create something He cannot know?”
 

“Why Not Santa Claus?” (Answered)

 


. . .

“Well, what if I’m wrong, I mean… anybody could be wrong. We could all be wrong about the flying spaghetti monster and the pink unicorn and the flying teapot. You happen to have been brought up, I would presume, in the Christian faith. You know what it’s like not to believe in a particular faith because you’re not a Muslim, you’re not a Hindu. Why aren’t you a Hindu? Because you happen to have been brought up in America and not in India. If you were brought up in India, you’d be a Hindu. If you were brought up in Denmark in the time of the Vikings, you’d be believing in Wotan and Thor. If you were brought up in classical Greece you’d be believing in, in Zeus. If you were brought up in central Africa you’d be believing in the great Juju up the mountain. There’s no particular reason to pick on the Judeo-Christian god, in which by the sheerest accident you happen to have been brought up and, and ask me the question, ‘What if I’m wrong?’ What if you’re wrong about the great Juju at the bottom of the sea?” -Richard Dawkins [1]

. . .

Responses

– This argument commits the genetic fallacy. Just because a person is brought up in a culture where religion differs from others, that doesn’t mean it’s false. And even if the culture stumbled across objective truth by accident, it does not mean that it is false. [2][3]

– You can call “God” whatever you want (Zeus, Poseidon, Brahman, Mithra, etc.). It just depends on what Scriptural meaning you attack to the name you use. Early Christians called Jesus “Ἰησοῦ” but we both are referring to the same Person. The problem with calling God “Zeus…” is that you automatically attribute the commonly held beliefs about them; their limited power and all. You could attach the all the traits of the God of the Bible to the Hindu god Brahman (and remove all of Brahman’s traits), but you would really be talking about YHWH (the God of the Bible) the whole time.

– Likewise to the last point, the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus are said to have traits that are observably false and limited to certain conditions. Believing in a God that is unable to reach people groups based on their location is not believing in a God that is Omnipotent or Just. If He is Omnipotent, He can reach them. And if He is Just, He won’t wrongly judge the innocent.

In short, comparing God to a mythical creature avoids entertaining the ramifications of a plausible God while devaluing the traits of God which entails.

Relatedly, many atheists who suppose all of these beings to be a “delusion”, also say that their existence is unfalsifiable. Though to say that they are unfalsifiable means to say that they must be agnostic about them and have no real knowledge claim about them. But a “delusion” is an unreasonably fix, false belief. The built-in assumption is that it is false. This means that they do (at least implicitly) say that they have an affirmative argument for God’s non-existence.
 

. . .

On an unrelated but humorous note, here is a link to why Santa is not scientifically feasible and must be “magical”: http://www.mrsciguy.com/documents/Santa.doc

Enjoy!

. . .

 

References

[1] Eyedunno, and Richard Dawkins. “Richard Dawkins – “What If You’re Wrong?”” YouTube. C-SPAN2: Book Tv, 25 Nov. 2006. Web. 11 Dec. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mmskXXetcg >.

[2] In the context of the question by the girl from Liberty University, I can understand Dawkins’ response. The girl gave a short version of Pascal’s Wager (or at least the commonly misunderstood version). All that I am saying is that attacking an ideology on the grounds that it is rooted in a cultural upbringing commits the genetic fallacy.

[3] The genetic fallacy is a logical fallacy. [Quote: “The genetic fallacy is where an idea is argued to be false based on its origin rather than for logical reasons. ‘The claim comes from the National Enquirer, so it really can’t be true.’ Granted, it is perfectly relevant to point out that if a claim comes from a typically unreliable source (for example, a tabloid newspaper), then this casts doubt on its truthfulness. But it does not prove the claim to be wrong. If an unreliable paper claimed 2+2=4, the unreliability of the paper would not disprove the claim. Moreover, the source would have to already have been established as generally unreliable for this to be relevant. A claim should be evaluated on its merit, not on how it came to be. (Lisle, Jason. “The Ultimate Proof of Creation.” Logical Fallacies — Part I. Green Forest: Master Books, 2009. 119. Print.)]