http://forums.carm.org/vbb/showthread.php?64842-Why-I-dont-believe-...

 

Hopefully you can read that.

 

I'm not sure how to respond. If anyone can help, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Views: 311

Tags: CARM, God, Richard Feynman, logic, omnipotence, positivism, science, scientism

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Comment by Matt VDB on August 18, 2011 at 3:50pm

Brandie,

 

I'm a little hazier on the unliftable stone paradox than I am on the circular triangle one, but I still feel it's just a gotcha. Theists simply point out that the paradox requires God to impose limits on what he can achieve, which to them, is the same as asking to turn a triangle circular. It's like asking whether or not he can destroy himself, though he's technically eternal.

Either way, I feel like the omnipotence paradox is by far the least persuasive one. I mean, suppose there really was an eternal being out there who had created the very fabric of time and space. Would we really be so pedantic as to say "K well can you kill yourself? No? then i'm not calling you omnipotent LOL". Surely that's just a tad on the silly side.

 

And I agree that he's tackling the Problem of Evil in a really strange way. The usual tactic is to attack the statement "If God is all-good, then God has a motive to stop bad things from happening." usually invoking things like the teacher argument or the "Earth is a test" argument, all of which are much more heavily flawed and also real issues that you could bother a creature with who claims to be all-good, as opposed to "Can you make unliftable stones?"

 

Kind regards,

 

Matt

Comment by Matt VDB on August 18, 2011 at 2:00pm

John, 

 

Fair points.

Personally I don't think every conversation needs to be done with one eye on converting the other. It's a valuable discussion to have nonetheless.

 

Nathan,

 

The problem is, "omni" means "all", not "all... except for...". If you start limiting the omnis, then they are no longer omnis. If God can only do what is not logically contradictory, then he is not omnipotent; he is only, at best, apparently omnipotent. To say God is omnipotent, but then say he can only do that which is logical, is inandof itself a contradiction. Either he can only do that which is logical, or he is omnipotent and, as such, is unconstrained by logic (in which case he can make square circle, rocks too heavy for him to lift, create being more powerful than himself, and even exceed infinity). It can't be both.

 

See, but that's just being silly.

First of all, as I said, they get to define their God and the attributes associated with him. You don't to say what you think the attributes should mean, just so you can arrive at logical contradictions. That's not the way it works.

Second, insisting that being able to do all that is possible, is somehow not omnipotence, because you think that an omnipotent creature should also be able to do that which is not possible (and how could that ever be possible?)... is semantics of a particularly sophistic variety.

Suppose I come up to you and I say "Hey Nathan, do you think you are a free man?" and you reply "Yes I do." and I say "Well if that's the case, you'll have no problem levitating yourself off the ground and fly a swift tour around the Earth. After all, freedom implies being unrestricted, and you're clearly being restricted by the laws of the nature. So since you're not able to do what I asked, you are clearly not free, and the correct way to describe yourself is in fact, a slave.". Would you tell me that I am (a) making perfect sense or (b) that I'm stretching the definition of freedom to ridiculous and unnecessary lengths?

 

I'm guessing the latter. Well the same is true here. Insisting that defining omnipotence as "doing all that is logically feasible" is restricting omnipotence to "omnipotence, but", is similar to insisting that deciding that freedom has nothing to do with being unlimited by the laws of nature, should really be "freedom, but".

I'll give you it again in an aphorism: defining omnipotence as the ability to do all that is logically consistent, is the only logically consistent definition of omnipotence.

 

P.S. Please ignore the fact that your freedom is also restricted in other ways and you probably wouldn't have agreed to being called a free man in the first place, since you are restricted by society by force of law as well. That's a limitation of the analogy, but has no impact.

 

Wanderer,

 

Interesting discussion indeed. So say that the theist then argues, yeah, god is unconstrained by logic, do he could make a square circle. Then where do you go from there?

 

In my experience, theists rarely say that. At least not the evidentialists à la William Lane Craig (the majority of apologists) that you tend to find around the internet. They tend to say -following Aristotle and the classic Neo-Platonism that Christianity incorporated- that God is a rational creature that has created a rational universe following rational laws.

 

Kind regards,

 

Matt

Comment by John Camilli on August 18, 2011 at 1:51pm
Dude, you are out of your depth in this debate. This person obviously understands the limitations of science. He's right that science is ultimately a belief set and that, in the end, it's up to the individual to decide what they believe in. He has chosen to believe in god, let it be. You don't need to win these arguments, you need to respoect his right to believe as he wants. You are believing as you want by ascribing to science. I can tell from his phraseology that he has studied science and philosophy, and after giving them a fair look, has decided to stay religious. It's alright, bro, it's alright.
Comment by Jedi Wanderer on August 18, 2011 at 1:27pm

I'll check this link out later. And yeah, I have no idea either, but like I said, I never really bothered much about this argument. It just seems like engaging in their ludicrousy from beginning to end.

 

Btw, hevenstone? Really? I didn't know there were any stones in heaven, any background on your curious (and somewhat unfortunate for an atheist) last name?

Comment by Nathan Hevenstone on August 18, 2011 at 11:38am

@Wanderer: honestly, no idea.

 

Anyways...

I've responded to him finally. I did note that I've been getting help, and linked here. I hope that doesn't end up being a bad idea...

 

Here's the link to my latest post:

http://forums.carm.org/vbb/showthread.php?64842-Why-I-dont-believe-...

 

Don't kill me... I have to keep it simple, otherwise I can't respond. I called red herring on his Feynman bit because it when I brought up Feynman, it had nothing to do with "scientism".

Comment by Jedi Wanderer on August 18, 2011 at 10:56am

Interesting discussion indeed. So say that the theist then argues, yeah, god is unconstrained by logic, do he could make a square circle. Then where do you go from there?

Comment by Nathan Hevenstone on August 18, 2011 at 9:47am

Thanks Matt.

 

A little bit. I don't disagree that there is a potentially valid argument in contrasting those omni-arguments. Philosophers do have plenty of concerns about whether such a creature could even theoretically exist. However, if instead of noting "concerns" about the idea in principle (which is usually all you need to dismiss theism as the most parsimonious explanation) you want to show that it is necessarily contradictory, then you're saddling yourself with a much larger burden of proof and one that I do not think can be sustained.

 

Furthermore, the reason I said you fucked up is because you brought up questions like "Can God create a square circle?". Your interlocutor was right to dismiss these concerns, because a square circle is a logical contradiction. So if you are going to demand that an omnipotent creature must be able to engage in logical contradictions, then the concept of omnipotence obviously becomes itself logically contradictory. So theists are right to restrict the definition of omnipotence to "the maximum amount of power that one could have without that power becoming logically contradictory". To insist that omnipotence extends to logically contradictory power as well, is obviously logically contradictory.

It's a little bit of a brain fry but I hope I was able to explain it. I think the fact that they "restrict" omnipotence to something logically feasible makes perfect sense. And besides, theists are the ones who tell us what kind of God they believe in -we can't define their God for them.

 

The problem is, "omni" means "all", not "all... except for...". If you start limiting the omnis, then they are no longer omnis. If God can only do what is not logically contradictory, then he is not omnipotent; he is only, at best, apparently omnipotent. To say God is omnipotent, but then say he can only do that which is logical, is inandof itself a contradiction. Either he can only do that which is logical, or he is omnipotent and, as such, is unconstrained by logic (in which case he can make square circle, rocks too heavy for him to lift, create being more powerful than himself, and even exceed infinity). It can't be both.

 

 

 

 

 

I certainly hope all of you decide to continue the discussion here. I'm enjoying it and would love for it to continue. It is certainly enlightening and helpful, so keep it going... please.

Comment by Matt VDB on August 18, 2011 at 3:51am

Hi Nathan,

 

Why? Why is not a problem? It seems like an obvious problem to me. The omnis are inherently illogically and are, in fact, one of the main reasons I stand about 99.9999...% sure that Yahweh does not exist (or, at the very least, is the least probable of all the god hypotheses postulated throughout human history). That the theist denies this (and then attempts to limit the omnis, which means they are no longer omnis) is just special pleading.

 

Or am I utterly confused about this?

 

A little bit. I don't disagree that there is a potentially valid argument in contrasting those omni-arguments. Philosophers do have plenty of concerns about whether such a creature could even theoretically exist. However, if instead of noting "concerns" about the idea in principle (which is usually all you need to dismiss theism as the most parsimonious explanation) you want to show that it is necessarily contradictory, then you're saddling yourself with a much larger burden of proof and one that I do not think can be sustained.

 

Furthermore, the reason I said you fucked up is because you brought up questions like "Can God create a square circle?". Your interlocutor was right to dismiss these concerns, because a square circle is a logical contradiction. So if you are going to demand that an omnipotent creature must be able to engage in logical contradictions, then the concept of omnipotence obviously becomes itself logically contradictory. So theists are right to restrict the definition of omnipotence to "the maximum amount of power that one could have without that power becoming logically contradictory". To insist that omnipotence extends to logically contradictory power as well, is obviously logically contradictory.

It's a little bit of a brain fry but I hope I was able to explain it. I think the fact that they "restrict" omnipotence to something logically feasible makes perfect sense. And besides, theists are the ones who tell us what kind of God they believe in -we can't define their God for them.

Comment by Jedi Wanderer on August 17, 2011 at 9:20pm

Lol, at so many things! Okay, first, hetero, check. Reasonably close in age? Check. Single? Nope (I think that goes for both of us). Ah well! And as Glen points out "as Wanderer indicates nobody really knows here on earth proper." Just wanted to put that up here again, being a main point I have been trying to make to Brandie that she has taken too far!

 

Which brings me to Nathan: So great that you actually want us to continue this dialogue here. Unfortunately we already took it private, though if Brandie is willing to post her last response to me I'd be more than willing to post my response to her response! lol Therein lies the reason I point out that I merely hold a healthy degree of skepticism, and am not, as Brandie wondered, among other things, if I might be a closet theist or hold some supernatural beliefs! Whew, let me assure you all I do not.

 

Umm, I would say you are only somewhat confused about the omni arguments, Nathan. There are so many reasons not to believe in a deity that even forgetting these arguments there is still PLENTY of reason to be at least 99.9999...% sure of their non-existence, but as far as they go... I dunno man, they (the omnis) certainly seem incoherent to me, but they are just so absurd already that arguing on these points only leads to still greater absurdity, so that very quickly nobody knows what the hell they're talking about anymore. Which is another good reason why they are incoherent, but if they managed to get this far, the theists will have no problem holding on to their absurdities no matter what. It's like going around in a very tight circle, it just gets everyone dizzy and it makes no sense from beginning to end. But maybe Brandie has got a better handle on these arguments. I just never really bothered with them.

 

As for telling your "friend" that you have asked for help, and linking to here, this seems entirely up to you. I have no problems with that, if you are asking permission. It may even be a good idea to get your dialogue moving along, or it might be a bad idea, though I can't say why. Let us know what you decide!

Comment by Nathan Hevenstone on August 17, 2011 at 8:56pm

Okay... first off... Brandie, Wanderer, Matt, and Glenn... please CONTINUE your discussion here. It's actually helping me. Granted, my eyes are crossed and my brain is exploding, but I'm learning! :D Your discussion has been both helpful and interesting even if I'm left feeling like a deer-in-headlights. So please don't stop. Keep it going.

 

There is a lot here to parse through, though, so I have to figure out where to start with the theist, and that is proving to be the hardest part. What do y'all suggest?

 

Also, Matt VDB, I have a direct question for you:

3) You fucked up on the omnipotence arguments. He's right: the paradox you think you're pointing out does not exist. Best to admit that and go on with the rest.

Why? Why is not a problem? It seems like an obvious problem to me. The omnis are inherently illogically and are, in fact, one of the main reasons I stand about 99.9999...% sure that Yahweh does not exist (or, at the very least, is the least probable of all the god hypotheses postulated throughout human history). That the theist denies this (and then attempts to limit the omnis, which means they are no longer omnis) is just special pleading.

 

Or am I utterly confused about this?

 

 

 

And finally, I try to be an honest person. I intend to note, when I reply to him, that we are treading into areas that I am unfamiliar with, so I asked for help. Should I do this, and if yes, would it be a good idea to link here, as my source of information?

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