"True" omnipotence invalidates theodicy
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01-10-2013, 07:36 AM
"True" omnipotence invalidates theodicy
So, I was posting on another forum and got into a debate about omnipotence being logically impossible. The other poster responded that an all powerful god could even violate the laws of logic without it being a problem. I then pointed out to him that all of the current approaches to resolve theodicy (reconciling a world ruled by an all knowing, all powerful, all good god with the existence of suffering and evil) rely on some level of limits to God's power. As soon as he posits a god that can violate logic, he only leaves room for a god that is a monster.

Here was my response:



OtherPoster Wrote:
RobbyPants Wrote:That, and true omnipotence is logically impossible.
This statement intrigues me. Assuming a being who invented and thus can circumvent the laws of physics and logic, what makes omnipotence impossible? Are you talking about old, "can God create a rock he can't lift" trick? If so, that one's easy to get around. The answer is yes, but it has no implication for omnipotence. Create a universe which is entirely filled with a rock. In such a universe, the word "lift" has no meaning. Or create a universe without gravity. Or create a large universe that contains only one object, It can't be lifted, since it's the only thing producing gravity. Of course, when you're the being giving meaning to the words "physics," "gravity" and "lift," you can redefine them at will.
Well, it is true that you can simply posit something that can make contradictions that aren't contradictions because of [insert reason we can't possible understand]. So, the idea is he can have his cake and eat it too, without resorting to simply cloning his cake. This makes no sense to us, but it would be possible under "true" omnipotence*. Thus, God can satisfy A and !A at the same time and everything is fine. This would be enough to get around the "rock so heavy he can't lift" problem (or the unbreakable promise problem, or any other similar idea); however, it also completely and utterly invalidates all apologetics pertaining to theodicy and the problem of evil, so there's that to consider**. Most Christians would rather have their god be really powerful, yet limited in minor ways, than to have him be a malicious monster.


* For simplicity, I'll use the phrase "true" omnipotence to refer to the assumption that God is so powerful that he can violate the rules of logic. I understand that this would be tautologically true, but I just want to keep terms straight for purposes of discussion.


** The most common defenses you're going to run into regarding the problem of evil are free will, "you have to know dark to know light", and the "best of all worlds" defense. I'll look at all three, if we assume God is powerful enough to violate logic without it being a contradiction.

Free will: The idea here is that having free will is more important than living in a world without evil or suffering. Thus, we're beholden to our own decisions, as well as the decisions of others, but this is super important because of [mysterious ways]. The problem is, if God can satisfy A and !A, then he can give us free will in such a way that we always make Good decisions, and the problem would resolve itself, yet he doesn't. Thus, he allows us to do evil for no good reason. Epicurus hit this nail on the head 2,300 years ago.

You have to know light to know dark: The idea here is that in order to appreciate heaven, we have to be allowed to know something worse than it first. If God were "truly" omnipotent, this would be unnecessary, ergo, we suffer simply because he wants us to.

Best of all possible worlds: The idea is that God is somehow limited by [something], and he's doing the best he can. So, we have Tay Sachs in this world, because somehow, the world would be a worse place without it; it's just we can't understand why this is because we're simple mortals, and it doesn't make sense. Now, this entire premise relies on an assumption that God isn't all powerful, and we're rejecting that notion under "true" omnipotence, so this means that stuff like Tay Sachs exists because God wants it to, and no other reason.

So, the take home message here is if God is that powerful, than all suffering that happens on this world happens solely because he wants it to, and for no other purpose. If literally everything, including logic, is under his dominion, than nothing happens that he doesn't want to happen. So, a six-month-old gets Tay Sachs? God wanted it. It didn't happen because it needed to. It wasn't because it was out of God's hands or he didn't know about it; it happened because he wanted it to happen.

2,300 years ago, Epicurus covered this by looking at the four possible combinations of God being able and/or willing to deal with evil in the world. Most critics complain that this is an oversimplification, and use the above methods to counter it. As soon as you say that God is so powerful that he can do anything, you take the whole Able-axis out of the equation, leaving you with the Willing-axis. This leaves two results:
Not willing: He is malevolent.
Willing: Whence cometh evil?

This is why most modern apologetics don't posit that God has that much power, and tend to cut him a bit of slack.



Of course, many people will apply one of the above defenses and say that they still believe God is all powerful. I think this is sort of like Orwellian double-think, where someone apparently wholly embraces the dissonance between their two contradictory beliefs.
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01-10-2013, 08:36 AM
RE: "True" omnipotence invalidates theodicy
(01-10-2013 07:36 AM)RobbyPants Wrote:  So, I was posting on another forum and got into a debate about omnipotence being logically impossible. The other poster responded that an all powerful god could even violate the laws of logic without it being a problem. I then pointed out to him that all of the current approaches to resolve theodicy (reconciling a world ruled by an all knowing, all powerful, all good god with the existence of suffering and evil) rely on some level of limits to God's power. As soon as he posits a god that can violate logic, he only leaves room for a god that is a monster.

Here was my response:



OtherPoster Wrote:This statement intrigues me. Assuming a being who invented and thus can circumvent the laws of physics and logic, what makes omnipotence impossible? Are you talking about old, "can God create a rock he can't lift" trick? If so, that one's easy to get around. The answer is yes, but it has no implication for omnipotence. Create a universe which is entirely filled with a rock. In such a universe, the word "lift" has no meaning. Or create a universe without gravity. Or create a large universe that contains only one object, It can't be lifted, since it's the only thing producing gravity. Of course, when you're the being giving meaning to the words "physics," "gravity" and "lift," you can redefine them at will.
Well, it is true that you can simply posit something that can make contradictions that aren't contradictions because of [insert reason we can't possible understand]. So, the idea is he can have his cake and eat it too, without resorting to simply cloning his cake. This makes no sense to us, but it would be possible under "true" omnipotence*. Thus, God can satisfy A and !A at the same time and everything is fine. This would be enough to get around the "rock so heavy he can't lift" problem (or the unbreakable promise problem, or any other similar idea); however, it also completely and utterly invalidates all apologetics pertaining to theodicy and the problem of evil, so there's that to consider**. Most Christians would rather have their god be really powerful, yet limited in minor ways, than to have him be a malicious monster.


* For simplicity, I'll use the phrase "true" omnipotence to refer to the assumption that God is so powerful that he can violate the rules of logic. I understand that this would be tautologically true, but I just want to keep terms straight for purposes of discussion.


** The most common defenses you're going to run into regarding the problem of evil are free will, "you have to know dark to know light", and the "best of all worlds" defense. I'll look at all three, if we assume God is powerful enough to violate logic without it being a contradiction.

Free will: The idea here is that having free will is more important than living in a world without evil or suffering. Thus, we're beholden to our own decisions, as well as the decisions of others, but this is super important because of [mysterious ways]. The problem is, if God can satisfy A and !A, then he can give us free will in such a way that we always make Good decisions, and the problem would resolve itself, yet he doesn't. Thus, he allows us to do evil for no good reason. Epicurus hit this nail on the head 2,300 years ago.

You have to know light to know dark: The idea here is that in order to appreciate heaven, we have to be allowed to know something worse than it first. If God were "truly" omnipotent, this would be unnecessary, ergo, we suffer simply because he wants us to.

Best of all possible worlds: The idea is that God is somehow limited by [something], and he's doing the best he can. So, we have Tay Sachs in this world, because somehow, the world would be a worse place without it; it's just we can't understand why this is because we're simple mortals, and it doesn't make sense. Now, this entire premise relies on an assumption that God isn't all powerful, and we're rejecting that notion under "true" omnipotence, so this means that stuff like Tay Sachs exists because God wants it to, and no other reason.

So, the take home message here is if God is that powerful, than all suffering that happens on this world happens solely because he wants it to, and for no other purpose. If literally everything, including logic, is under his dominion, than nothing happens that he doesn't want to happen. So, a six-month-old gets Tay Sachs? God wanted it. It didn't happen because it needed to. It wasn't because it was out of God's hands or he didn't know about it; it happened because he wanted it to happen.

2,300 years ago, Epicurus covered this by looking at the four possible combinations of God being able and/or willing to deal with evil in the world. Most critics complain that this is an oversimplification, and use the above methods to counter it. As soon as you say that God is so powerful that he can do anything, you take the whole Able-axis out of the equation, leaving you with the Willing-axis. This leaves two results:
Not willing: He is malevolent.
Willing: Whence cometh evil?

This is why most modern apologetics don't posit that God has that much power, and tend to cut him a bit of slack.



Of course, many people will apply one of the above defenses and say that they still believe God is all powerful. I think this is sort of like Orwellian double-think, where someone apparently wholly embraces the dissonance between their two contradictory beliefs.

Is there a reasonable alternative here? For example, what if a hypothetical god chooses to not exercise power? You have powers and privileges you might suspend for altruistic or other reasons. Why is it necessary that an omnipotent being use all of its power, always or at all times?

The Caesars could execute a gladiator or give them the thumbs up. Oskar Schindler points this out to Ralph Fiennes's character in Schindler's List, that great power is actually enhanced in not using it...

Please don't label my thoughts a tautology based on evil or suffering (or for that matter, the presence of "good"). I'm simply asking if it is a must for an omnipotent being to show 100% of his power in action to all, especially since the word omnipotence means can do anything--doesn't it also mean not forced to do anything? Omnipotence = can do or not [/i]do anything.

Thank you.
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01-10-2013, 08:56 AM
RE: "True" omnipotence invalidates theodicy
(01-10-2013 08:36 AM)PleaseJesus Wrote:  Is there a reasonable alternative here? For example, what if a hypothetical god chooses to not exercise power? You have powers and privileges you might suspend for altruistic or other reasons. Why is it necessary that an omnipotent being use all of its power, always or at all times?

...

I'm simply asking if it is a must for an omnipotent being to show 100% of his power in action to all, especially since the word omnipotence means can do anything--doesn't it also mean not forced to do anything? Omnipotence = can do or not [/i]do anything.
Well, the purpose of this thread was to illustrate that a god with no limits would invalidate any approach of theodicy that gives limits to God. This is, tautologically true.

So, for sake of discussion, if God has no limitations and is all good, why do we have Tay Sachs? The best you can argue is that he didn't create it, but just allowed it, and that he's not morally obligated to do anything about it. Even if that's the case, that seems to point more to depraved indifference than omnibenevolence.

Remember: you can solve theodicy by either removing the omnipotence or omnibenevolence from God. Either one works. It's just that a lot of people remove one of these aspects to solve the problem, then still claim that God still totally has that aspect.
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01-10-2013, 09:57 AM
RE: "True" omnipotence invalidates theodicy
But to be omnipotent god wouldn't be "all good". And to be omnipotent, he could cause cruel suffering if he wanted to do so. Is this a thread about omnipotence or about suffering... or both somehow? I'm asking if a hypothetical all-powerful god has to do everything in its power to still hold power. Usually, weaker people exercise power where truly stronger people use power in last-resort scenarios only.
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01-10-2013, 11:27 AM
RE: "True" omnipotence invalidates theodicy
(01-10-2013 07:36 AM)RobbyPants Wrote:  So, I was posting on another forum and got into a debate about omnipotence being logically impossible. The other poster responded that an all powerful god could even violate the laws of logic without it being a problem. I then pointed out to him that all of the current approaches to resolve theodicy (reconciling a world ruled by an all knowing, all powerful, all good god with the existence of suffering and evil) rely on some level of limits to God's power. As soon as he posits a god that can violate logic, he only leaves room for a god that is a monster.

I'll preface this with a note that I appreciate that what follows can be something of a mindf*ck (it was for me as a student). The "laws of logic" that you refer to are the laws of classical logic however there are non-classical logics that tolerate contradiction. Also they actually have practical applications, e.g. in geographic information systems. If we mere mortals can create things that violate the law of noncontradiction then that ability cannot be denied a notionally omnipotent being.

Also, I don't agree that "all of the current approaches to resolve theodicy (reconciling a world ruled by an all knowing, all powerful, all good god with the existence of suffering and evil) rely on some level of limits to God's power". From memory those philosophers and theologians from the reformed tradition accept that there is suffering, that it is unjust but that all will be made good in the afterlife and subsequent to the Second Coming. The omnipotence and omnibenevolence of their God is preserved because--they argue--He could eliminate all suffering but chooses not to and things will be made good for eternity and that is what ultimately matters. So yes Tay–Sachs disease is bad and its existence is unjust but justice, fairness and goodness will eventually prevail. The argument that you are reciting only works if you direct it against an abstract theism--a strawman in effect. Intellectual integrity requires that you address a belief in the context of its worldview and not in isolation. An important idea from the Reformed Tradition is the noetic effect of sin. This idea impinges on the very notion of theodicy.

Of course I'm not convinced by this argument--else I'd be Christian--but the considerations I have outlined provide flesh on the skeleton you were fighting and the result is not defeated by the conventional objections you presented.
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01-10-2013, 08:57 PM
RE: "True" omnipotence invalidates theodicy
Omnipotence is a form of infinity. So is omniscience. Infinities don't compute, they create paradoxes. A god could not be omnipotent and omniscient at the same time. If god was omniscient, the future would be laid out in front of him lime a road and he would know every twist and turn of every possible future outcomes that would have to happen as he envisions. Which would mean that the omnipotent god would be left with nothing to do because if he did change anything it would mean the omniscient god didn't foresee it and therefore he was not omniscient. The whole thing is just childishly silly.
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01-10-2013, 09:59 PM
RE: "True" omnipotence invalidates theodicy
(01-10-2013 08:57 PM)iDoubter Wrote:  Omnipotence is a form of infinity. So is omniscience. Infinities don't compute, they create paradoxes. A god could not be omnipotent and omniscient at the same time. If god was omniscient, the future would be laid out in front of him lime a road and he would know every twist and turn of every possible future outcomes that would have to happen as he envisions. Which would mean that the omnipotent god would be left with nothing to do because if he did change anything it would mean the omniscient god didn't foresee it and therefore he was not omniscient. The whole thing is just childishly silly.


This can be more simply stated as a question.

If god already knows exactly what he is going to do in the future (omniscience), does he have the power to do otherwise (omnipotence)?

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02-10-2013, 01:59 AM
RE: "True" omnipotence invalidates theodicy
(01-10-2013 08:57 PM)iDoubter Wrote:  Omnipotence is a form of infinity. So is omniscience. Infinities don't compute, they create paradoxes. A god could not be omnipotent and omniscient at the same time. If god was omniscient, the future would be laid out in front of him lime a road and he would know every twist and turn of every possible future outcomes that would have to happen as he envisions.

Complete foreknowledge of any intended action would not eliminate a want/need of action. How would it do so? I conjecture that the hypothetically omniscient being would be cognisant of all potential outcomes but it would still seek to actualise some of those. I can't see how omniscient foresight would eliminate volition; if anything it would enhance it in that would guarantee effective volition.

A thought experiment illustrates my point. If I had a vision of tomorrow's lotto numbers, if I sought to be wealthy then I would act on the knowledge provided by my vision. There is no contradiction in my seeing the lotto numbers and acting on the information to alter my future.

Quote:Which would mean that the omnipotent god would be left with nothing to do because if he did change anything it would mean the omniscient god didn't foresee it and therefore he was not omniscient. The whole thing is just childishly silly.

I can't make any sense of that. Omniscience would presumably be experienced as knowledge of all potentialities and their outcomes. Actualising a potential via a specific choice of action would yield the anticipated outcome. The actualisation of the anticipated change would not cause any contradiction that I can see.
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02-10-2013, 02:13 AM
RE: "True" omnipotence invalidates theodicy
(01-10-2013 09:59 PM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  This can be more simply stated as a question.

If god already knows exactly what he is going to do in the future (omniscience), does he have the power to do otherwise (omnipotence)?

No that isn't a sound question. The relation of foreknowledge to action would presumably be the same for persons human and divine. If the hypothetical god possessed contra-causal freewill it would be the same as if a human person possesed that; it would manifest as a "menu" of possibility dissociated from all antecdent influences. The salient difference would be that the human person--not having omniscience--would experience a temporal horizon, i.e. (s)he would only be able to anticipate future outcomes in a probabilitic fashion and would eventually reach the horizon beyond which it becomes near impossible to anticipate an outcome. The divine being with omnicience would have en extended "menu" and a comprehensive mapping of actions to outcomes and no temporal horizon. You appear to be conflating a question of epistemology with one of ontology.
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02-10-2013, 02:23 AM
RE: "True" omnipotence invalidates theodicy
(01-10-2013 07:36 AM)RobbyPants Wrote:  So, I was posting on another forum and got into a debate about omnipotence being logically impossible. The other poster responded that an all powerful god could even violate the laws of logic without it being a problem. I then pointed out to him that all of the current approaches to resolve theodicy (reconciling a world ruled by an all knowing, all powerful, all good god with the existence of suffering and evil) rely on some level of limits to God's power. As soon as he posits a god that can violate logic, he only leaves room for a god that is a monster.

you are confusing too many different facts that yourself know in truth that is why u cant see the mean which exist too

shit exist, by reversing facts

that is god

then u can understand how he could expect from that an omnipotence statu, shit living is of course freak

while omniscience is meant to erase the prints of omnipotence wills, it is the way of freak shit, suggesting constant being smwhere else that he doesnt care about at all

he means the present for him only he doesnt even think anything and he cant

that is why conscious is rejected, wat future when the minimum logics in nature known are fighted, crap shit only
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