"True" omnipotence invalidates theodicy

RobbyPants
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"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. 


Vastet
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Well said. That was a good

Well said. That was a good read.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


RobbyPants
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There's also a pretty good

There's also a pretty good SMBC that basically makes the same point. You have to give up one of the omni-aspects of God to try to get theodicy. The trick, is pretending that you didn't do that.


Atheistextremist
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Good thinking

 

 

Robby. 


danatemporary
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the angelic hosts sided with the Devil

RobbyPants wrote:

There's also a pretty good SMBC that basically makes the same point. You have to give up one of the omni-aspects of God to try to get theodicy. The trick, is pretending that you didn't do that.

   This is curious the last visitor made the statement of (I am quoting) "Please understand.  I am NOT dealing in probabilities.  I am making the claim that the Christian GOD does absolutely exist and that it can be LOGICALLY proven by the impossibility of the contrary"

  I think he left before he even begun. A shame, I wanted to hear what he was going to offer.

 >How would this massive revolt affect the ominpotence of the god or one of the other omni-aspects mentioned here ?

 Thanks to the Bible, there a biography to examine (NOT failing to mention in passing the profound syncretism which is only shed light upon by examining neighboring cultures' 'type' gods), by what is written in the texts. Are there other examples that could be considered utterly irreconcilable, if not alarming ? I always found it interesting to wonder about the Angels, described in the texts, it used to be perplexing to me, when I was much younger. I am honestly curious about what others think, Christians included. According to the Bible, the last book (that should have never been included) it states in Rev. 12 one third of the stars in the sky were cast to the earth, by the Dragon's tail. This has be interpreted all over to mean, an entire one third of the angelic hosts sided with the Devil in an insurrection against the Holy God! I am suggesting regarding this comment, it is hard to understand what it would be like to be "All-knowing", the back drop of the War in the Heavens ..is not suggesting you have to be a big fan of what goes on, by any means. Supposedly, An attempt to establish another authority by the act of revolt and rebellion. Oh, this is meaning countless angels gave G-d the two fingered salute, said effectively F***-you, we reject You, they made clear. And I aint working for you anymore !!  A thornier issue is Ominscience. Why suggest this ? If the god were Omnipresence but in no way Ominscient. Then this War in Heaven could take place. If He knew everything in advance in a unlimited pure Ominscient way, the War would not need to take place at all. You see, it merely would end up a costumed farce. Why bother, at all ?  Note I could remind any, Hell was originally set up for the Devil and his angels as it very explicit in at least 3-4 locations in the New Testament, two Gospel references, and in other writings. The insurrectionists  were out numbered  by what two to one?  Just cast the whole lott (of them) the insurrectionists into the bowels of Hell to remain for whatever length of time they are there. Rebels defeated, they all go home. Order finally restored. Btw, In completely human terms, If I were a leader and such a large number of subjects having revolted, my natural inclination would be to course correct. Learn from my errors, being sure to best as I could avoid similar mistakes, so the past mistakes weren't repeated, setting the stage for this happening all over again. Best case. Then free will would be central to the argument as to which of the legs were a bit longer than the other two. Rob's link. It still doesnt speak well of the whole idea of Ominscient ALMIGHTY, to keep this whole drama in place and the need for a War in the Heavens, and all according to the pages of the sacred book(s). (?) Although, It ultimately comes down to "why" choose not to act, (or not act "immediately")?. You cannot be sure it is logically impossible. Only if, Sometimes a fatal error is committed in defining things into an indescribable abstraction. It becomes completely unrelatable to a disgustingly nth degree.

 How would this massive revolt affect the ominpotence of the god or one of the other omni-aspects mentioned here ? In fairness, Are there any limiting factors to take into consideration, or no ?

F i n

 


ManuAndres44
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 I think basically all

 I think basically all these details are resolved by the contradictions in themselves. It's not possible to have a omnipotent god and the evil everwhere at the same time. Also it's not possible to have an omniscient god and the human free will on the same scenario. On the example of the previous post, if this god already knew that the devil would make a revolution, he'd have done something before to stop it or to change the future. But he never did such a thing. Then, if he didn't anything you only have two possibilities: he didn't know or he couldn't do anything. Hence, if he didn't know he isn't omniscient; if he couldn't do anything, he's not omnipotent. Thus, all these stories lead you to a big contradiction that makes you conclude that this god cannot exist. 

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