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Philosopher who argued for God wins Templeton Prize

Templeton Prize winner Alvin Plantinga. Photo courtesy of the Templeton Price/John Harrison

(RNS) American scholar Alvin Plantinga, a pioneering advocate for theism, or belief in God, as a serious philosophical position within academic circles, was named the winner of the 2017 Templeton Prize.

Templeton Prize winner Alvin Plantinga. Photo courtesy of the Templeton Price/John Harrison

Plantinga, 84, a retired professor at the University of Notre Dame, won the award for revolutionizing “the way we think,” said Heather Templeton Dill, president of the John Templeton Foundation, which awards the annual prize.

“Alvin Plantinga recognized that not only did religious belief not conflict with serious philosophical work, but that it could make crucial contributions to addressing perennial problems in philosophy,” Dill said Tuesday (April 25) in an online announcement of this year’s award.

Because of Plantinga’s influence, it is no longer unusual for philosophy professors to bring their religious commitments to bear on their work, whether they be Buddhist, Jewish or Muslim, the Templeton Foundation’s statement said.

Until Plantinga, many philosophers viewed theistic belief as logically incompatible with the reality of evil.

Countering that, Plantinga, whose own religious tradition is Dutch Christian Reformed, argued that, “in a world with free creatures, God cannot determine their behavior, so even an omnipotent God might not be able to create a world where all creatures will always freely choose to do good,” the announcement said.

Plantinga’s landmark 1974 “God, Freedom, and Evil” is now almost universally recognized as having laid to rest the logical problem of evil against theism,” the foundation noted.

In a statement, Plantinga, who taught at the University of Notre Dame for 18 years until retiring in 2010, struck a modest note, saying that if his work played a role in transforming the field of philosophy, he “would be very pleased.”

“I hope the news of the prize will encourage young philosophers, especially those who bring Christian and theistic perspectives to bear on their work, towards greater creativity, integrity, and boldness,” Plantinga said.

The Templeton Prize, worth about $1.4 million, was established in 1972 by the late investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton. It is one of the world’s largest awarded to a single individual and “honors a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works,” according to the foundation, which is based in West Conshohocken, Pa.

Previous Templeton winners have included Mother Teresa, Aleksander Solzhenitsyn and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The 2016 Templeton laureate was Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth.

(Chris Herlinger is a New York-based correspondent)

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  • Philosopher who argued for God wins Templeton Prize: apparently there are benefits to being a theist.

  • Quoted: … “in a world with free creatures, God cannot determine their behavior, so even an omnipotent God might not be able to create a world where all creatures will always freely choose to do good” … 

    The word “omnipotent” means “the power to do anything.” As in, the ability to do any thing. To say there is something God cannot do (i.e. “not be able to create a world where all creatures will always freely choose to do good”) means — by definition! — that God cannot be omnipotent. It’s strange to see such a gigantic semantic “fail” coming from a supposedly brilliant academic and philosopher. 

  • If you have read C.S. Lewis, you would know that this idea is not new. The apostle Paul even tells us it is impossible for God to lie. Being omnipotent does not mean you can do anything. It does mean you can do anything possible, or anything that does not go against your nature. Plantinga is correct.

  • Re: “If you have read C.S. Lewis, you would know that this idea is not new.” 

    Nevertheless, it remains semantically incorrect. 

    Re: “Being omnipotent does not mean you can do anything.” 

    Actually, yes it does. Break the word into its constituent parts: “Omni” means “all” or “everyone, everything” and “potent” means “power, prowess, ability.” It doesn’t take rocket science to figure it out. 

    Re: “It does mean you can do anything possible, or anything that does not go against your nature.” 

    I have no idea what any of that means. Sounds as though you’re rationalizing ways to consider your deity “omnipotent” but not have to hold him/her/it accountable for stuff because his/her/its power over creation is absolute. It’s fine if you want to perform that dance, if it makes you feel better. It’s also fine that other people have done so before you. But … don’t expect me to be stupid enough to fall for it, because I’m not. I know what words mean. 

    Re: “Plantinga is correct.” 

    … only by pretending words mean something other than they mean. 

  • Pretty funny stuff.

    “in a world with free creatures, God cannot determine their behavior, so even an omnipotent God might not be able to create a world where all creatures will always freely choose to do good,”

    So omnipotence is limited. Got it.

  • “Until Plantinga, many philosophers viewed theistic belief as logically incompatible with the reality of evil.”

    A philosopher who accepts the “reality of evil” is a fool.

  • I read all of Lewis’s books when I was young, except for his one really first class book, “The allegory of Love”, which I simply did not have enough literary background to understand.

    Lewis, perhaps more than any other writer, very nearly convinced me to become a Christian when I was young, and I almost did. But eventually, the inherent contradictions of John 3:16 convinced me otherwise, and Lewis himself put the final nails in that coffin. If I recall correctly, he never really dealt with those contradictions about God’s “infinite” love– burn in hell if you don’t believe, or even if you didn’t get the memo. Surely omnipotence would allow for getting the message out to everyone. But it didn’t. And omniscience must have known that he wouldn’t. And Omni-love made no provision for that god’s own failures to get his message out. So omni-love sends people to burn in hell for his own failures of omnipotence and omniscience.

    i’m afraid that isn’t a very pretty picture,.

    I realized that most of his arguments were actually assumptions of the correctness of his arguments, when they were not out right straw man absurdities, such as “If my thoughts are all the random movements of atoms in my brain, then I have no reason to believe that my thoughts are all the random movement of atoms in my brain.” No one ever said that, and obviously, it isn’t true.

    As for your argument that “The apostle Paul even tells us it is impossible for God to lie.” That tells us a whole bunch of things, including that there are “rules” which god must follow, which tells us that there is something beyond this omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being. Though I can’t remember where in Lewis I found this– it’s been nearly fifty years– Lewis himself led me to the conclusion that I cannot assume that the being that talks to me and tells me he is god is in fact capital-G GOD– OR that he is telling me the truth. As for god not being able to lie, he told adam and eve that if they ate of the tree, they would surely die. But they didn’t. He said he would never destroy the world again, but the second coming of Christ will do precisely that.

    The biggest problem is the resurrection itself, and the promise attached thereto. I have been reliably informed by devout Christians that there was no other way for god to redeem the world except by sacrificing himself to himself. NO OTHER WAY!!! I think Lewis himself said that.

    But he is omnipotent! Again, pointing out that there are rules he must follow, so there must be something beyond that god that determines his behavior. Stephen Donaldson addressed those things in his Unbeliever books– he called it the arch of time. It would break and destroy everything if the rules weren’t followed.

    but even more to the point, the savior born of a virgin, the god who sacrifices himself to redeem mankind, is an old, old story. Odin hung himself on a tree to help mankind. It’s the same resurrection story, yet again. And the tree is yet another name for The Cross, as anyone familiar with medieval Christmas carols would know.

    so, plantinga may be correct, but he has presented no more evidence of that than any other theologian trying to reconcile his beliefs with the world in front of him.

  • The philosophical idea is that of logic and mutual exclusivity. Most people accept that even with unlimited power (which is the true definition etymologically of “omni-potent”), you can’t do things that contradict logically.

    It doesn’t matter how much power you have, nothing can make an object simultaneously “Blue” and “Not Blue”, because the definition of the latter directly contradicts the definition of the former.

    This is a basic philosophical premise, in fact, it is the thing philosophy is based on: pure logic. X cannot equal both Y and Not Y. Without these axioms logic itself is impossible and invalid, in which case any logical or philosophical argument must fail.

    With “omnipotent”, it linguistically means that the possessor of that quality bears an unlimited amount of power. MANY people, yourself included, presume this means that it is synonymous with “can do anything”, because you falsely assert having unlimited power means you can do anything, even breaking the laws of logic. However, this reasoning DOES NOT FOLLOW and, in fact, CANNOT follow, since logically following “has unlimited power” to the conclusion of “can break the laws of logic” cannot operate within the frame of logic.

    So I’d say this is ~your~ linguistic fail for asserting omnipotent means more than “unlimited power” and instead means “can do anything”.

    All this philosopher is doing is taking the basic logical axiom that things cannot exist in a self-contradictory state (IE, an object cannot be both Blue and Not-Blue), and then arguing that Free Will and Determinism are mutually exclusive, and therefore only one state, either “Everyone is free to choose” or “Everything is preordained” can be true of this universe at the same time.

    It’s a pretty simple philosophical reasoning built on sound logic, and in no way contradicts the real (and not imaginary) definition behind the term “omnipotent” to say that two mutually exclusive states cannot exist simultaneously.

    However I’d strictly say it suffers flaws in what it is trying to argue for, that it does not wholly provide an answer to the so-called “Problem of Evil”, in that not all things labeled “evil” in the world are caused by the free choices of intelligent beings.

    Personally, I still think the simplest answer to the problem of evil is much better than this philosopher’s answer: That the assertion in the premise of the Problem of Evil, that the “reality of evil” is a thing that exists, has not been proven rendering the otherwise sound logic of the Problem of Evil invalid until the assertions in its premise have been objectively proved. The whole Problem is built on a unproven presumption of “evil’s” existence, which, until proven, cannot be simply assumed true.

  • “Surely omnipotence would allow for getting the message out to everyone.”
    Rom. 1:19 “…that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

    The evidence according to the Bible is evident to everyone – even the heathen in ______________________.

    The issue is not what about those who have never heard. God can and will take care of them. The issue is this: what have YOU done with the evidence.

  • “I have no idea what any of that means.”

    Take a basic logic class then. Mutual exclusivity is a basic premise without which logic is impossible. Then maybe take a look at the etymology behind “omnipotent” to see its roots are “unlimited power”, not “can do anything”, and that those two definitions are NOT synonymous in the slightest, logically speaking.

  • Bravo!! Only “outhouse philosophers” may have been harmed at all, and they’re likely some of those whose writing we get to enjoy here!

  • God is omnipotent but He cannot lie. He is still omnipotent. In another analogy, a chess master can be said to be omnipotent in comparison to me. I am free to move any direction on the chess board that is open to me, but the chess master will always have response that will subvert my move.

  • “Omni-potence”.

    “Unlimited power”.

    Yep. By it’s etymological roots that’s a concept that is limited.

    It takes little energy or power to make an object blue.

    It takes little energy or power to make an object not-blue.

    It is, however, impossible, regardless of the amount of power you have to expend, to make an object simultaneously “blue” and “not-blue” as the two qualities are mutually exclusive, since one is defined by the absence of the other. NO amount of power can accomplish this. Unlimited power still has limited uses, logically speaking.

  • ” . . . it is no longer unusual for philosophy professors to bring their religious commitments to bear on their work, whether they be Buddhist, Jewish or Muslim, the Templeton Foundation’s statement said.”

    I’ve always admired how the John Templeton Foundation reinforces those “doing the Lord’s good work in the world.” I’m especially pleased that the foundation is now honoring philosophy professors who openly credit their faith’s strong influence on their thinking. Perhaps this movement can encourage other philosophy professors who aren’t Catholic, to be more forthcoming about their Christian faith influences their thinking, research and teaching–particularly at secular universities!

  • And apparently some pretty great minds agree with me.

    And it appears you have your own logic too.

  • You are welcome to your own opinions but you are not welcome to your own facts:
    Omnipotence Defined:
    Omnipotence is an attribute of God alone. It is the quality of having all power (Psalm 115:3). He can do all things that do not conflict with His holy nature. God has the power to do anything He wants to do. However, God cannot do that which is contrary to His nature. For example, God cannot lie (Titus 1:2).
    https://carm.org/dictionary-omnipotence

    “His Omnipotence means power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to do the intrinsically impossible. You may attribute miracles to him, but not nonsense. This is no limit to his power. If you choose to say ‘God can give a creature free will and at the same time withhold free will from it,’ you have not succeeded in saying anything about God: meaningless combinations of words do not suddenly acquire meaning simply because we prefix to them the two other words ‘God can.’… It is no more possible for God than for the weakest of his creatures to carry out both of two mutually exclusive alternatives; not because his power meets an obstacle, but because nonsense remains nonsense even when we talk it about God.” C. S. Lewis

  • Ben, many of the things you cite are merely teachings from human perspective, such as, the Second Coming of Christ to destroy all things. There is nothing in scripture that proposes that, unless you read it in a certain way.

    Even so, scripture states that God won’t destroy the world by flood again, not excluding other means.
    God didn’t say how long it would take Adam to die from eating from the tree.

    And the sacrifice of Christ is explained in many ways besides the “satisfaction” teaching (“God sacrificed himself to himself”), which was a product of a medieval mindset set in feudal power structure. So there is ANOTHER WAY of thinking about it, other than Lewis’s and other Christians’ understanding.

    But omnipotence can produce its own logic. The limitations placed on the power would be simply according the the actor’s will. For instance, if the Omnipotent One wanted to create beings of absolute free will, then interference with free will would not be logical. So the O.O. would be the only limit of self, in deference to the gift of will for the other. Therefore Omnipotence working with compassion and creativity can decide to humble Oneself to One’s creature and thus choose to limit oneself and still remain Omnipotent. Just as you may be able to do a range of things legally to someone under your authority, but may restrain yourself in favor of allowing the subordinate to flourish in a particular way. That is the basis of justice.

    Plus the power may operate in ways that we can’t comprehend, as Paul said, “God in his weakness (through the cross) is stronger than the strength of humanity.” After having said that God chooses the weak things of the world to confound the strong. So Omnipotence is able to turn power into a form that seems absent but in its presence become a greater power than we can conceive operate dimensionally different from what we may understand.

    Those who claim that there is no God and then proceed to define what a god might do if one existed seem to me to be making a completely illogical argument. It would be like me explaining to my friends what you would do to improve your situation. Not believing in God already sets one’s mind to a bias that would find ways to justify non-god. Just as so many try to justify God, without knowing fully how God would operate.

    Also, if we want to think with human logic, what would a God who desires to create self-willed beings do to irradicate evil? Immediately kill all who did wrong? Or make the results of evil acts null, thus eliminating evil in that there would be no adverse consequences? Or simply irradicate or prevent evil thought in the mind before it takes root, making God the “thought police of the universe”?

    If humans could do no wrong acts then how could they have free will? If there is only a choice to do good, then how is there freedom? (see the first amendment).

    Paul also proposes that God allowed humanity to disavow knowledge of God, decide as far as they wanted what evils to commit, and make their own gods–or none. He also proposed that such a journey for humanity landed them in bondage to disobedience, a place in which God is able to show them mercy.

    Just wondering.

  • Re: “You are welcome to your own opinions but you are not welcome to your own facts” 

    Yes, I agree. So why have you — and Paul and Lewis and whoever else’s name you throw at me — made up “facts” about what “omnipotent” means? 

    Re: “It is the quality of having all power (Psalm 115:3).” 

    Yes, “all power.” It means all power. All power there is to be had. All power

    Re: “He can do all things that do not conflict with His holy nature.” 

    An omnipotent being can change his/her/its own nature at any time, and thus do anything at all. Any time. Anywhere. Any way s/he/it wants. 

    Re: “His Omnipotence means power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to do the intrinsically impossible.'” 

    But anything is “possible” for an omnipotent deity. The word “impossible” quite literally cannot apply to such a being. To say something is “impossible” for an omnipotent being, is a non sequitur. A contradiction. It’s like saying 2=3, or that division by zero is possible. It just doesn’t compute. 

    Re: “C. S. Lewis” 

    Is there some reason you think telling me Lewis said this, is supposed to convince me it’s true? I know it’s not, because talking about “limited omnipotence” is a contradiction in terms. That Lewis — or Paul or anyone else — talked about it, cannot and will never magically change that. Your appeal to authority is noted, but dismissed as fallacious. 

  • Omnipotence is in relation what is logically possible. Just like God can’t create a square circle, Platinga argues that it’s illogical for a possible world where moral agents will always choose good.

  • Re: “Omnipotence is in relation what is logically possible.” 

    No, omnipotence is omnipotence. What is logically possible is logically possible. They’re not the same thing at all, and the one doesn’t constrain the other. 

    Re: “Just like God can’t create a square circle, Platinga argues that it’s illogical for a possible world where moral agents will always choose good.” 

    If God is truly “omnipotent,” then of course it’s possible! At the moment just prior to the act of Creation, your deity — being omnipotent — must (by virtue of his/her/its “omnipotence”) have been able to choose from an infinite array of potential universes to create. In turn, at least one of them … and maybe an uncountable number of others, for all we know … must have been one in which “moral agents will always choose good.” 

    Logic — predicated on what it means to be “omnipotent” — dictates this. Now, if one is willing to concede that the creator-deity isn’t actually “omnipotent,” this particular problem goes away. But I don’t know many Abrahamic theists who’re willing to explicitly admit their God’s power isn’t omnipotent. (People like Harold Kushner of When Bad Things Happen to Good People fame notwithstanding.) 

    What Platinga is doing is to define his deity as “omnipotent,” because he finds the idea of revering an “omnipotent” deity comforting, but then he changes the meaning of “omnipotent” so as to remove any unpleasant ramifications. 

    I know what his game is. I get it. I can see right through it. Unfortunately, he’s fooled a lot of his fellow theists into thinking his reasoning is valid logic … when in truth, it’s not. 

    I also get that he, and a lot of his fellow theists, are too caught up in the emotional comfort they get from thinking the deity they revere is “omnipotent,” to admit either that s/he/it isn’t actually “omnipotent” or that s/he/it wants his creations to live in a malevolent universe. Unfortunately, as a cynical, cold-hearted, godless agnostic heathen, I’m not subject to that emotional linkage, and am capable of seeing the ramifications of the Abrahamic religious tradition for what they are. 

  • So just so we’re clear, you think that, if God exists and is omnipotent, then God could create a square circle, create a rock God can’t lift (neglecting the fact God isn’t a being), and have an object simultaneously be all blue and not at all blue?

  • Re: “Mutual exclusivity is a basic premise without which logic is impossible.” 

    Nothing is “exclusive” to omnipotence. It means all power. Not just “some” power. To exclude anything from “omnipotence” is to make it something other than “omnipotence.” 

    You’d know this, if you’d taken a basic logic class, yourself. 

  • Yes, assuming there is an “omnipotent” creator-deity, I do think s/he/it could create all those things. The reason is, s/he/it created the reality in which we all live … a reality in which those things are impossible/absurd/etc. But, s/he/it could just as easily have created a different reality — one so alien to us that we couldn’t begin to imagine it — but in which all those things turn out to be possible. 

    Again, this is because of the meaning of the word “omnipotence,” which means all power, not just “some” power. 

    Is it absurd? Yes, but if so, it’s not my doing. I didn’t invent the idea of a deity. I didn’t invent the word “omnipotent.” I didn’t assign that description to that being. I did none of that — and refuse to be held responsible for it. I will, however, hold theists who say they worship an “omnipotent” deity responsible for what they say they believe in. 

    It’s theists who made up all this B.S. It’s clear — to me, at least — that theists invented the notion of “omnipotence” and slapped it on their super-powered almighty god-being, but didn’t think through the actual meaning of that until much later. But at that point, instead of just being mature about it and admitting they blew it, they’re doing a hilarious tap-dance around “omnipotence,” insisting laughably that it means something other than what it actually means. 

    Again, and to be clear, none of this is my doing. Not. One. Single. Tiny. Speck. Of. It. I do, however, know what words mean and what logic is. I will not stand for being told something that’s obviously illogical and being told to just accept the irrationality of it. It’s insulting to my intelligence. 

  • Philosophical debates often, if not always, hinge on strict (or at least strict-ish) definitions of words. It’s not a semantic fail. I understand what you’re saying…but I’m not sure you’re getting what Plantinga (and others…for centuries…) are saying: the philosophical definition is that an omnipotent creature is still constrained by logic. It’s that they have the power to do any THING, whereas I think you’re making a big point about saying ANY thing (as in, if you can string the words together, it’s real). Logical contradictions aren’t real things even in theory, ergo, even omnipotent creatures can’t do them. We can make verbal combinations of words that aren’t in any sort of way philosophically meaningful. We can speak of “round circles”…but they are logically incoherent and not “things” in any sort of epistemological or ontological sense.

  • Re: “Okay, and that is why you’d never be taken seriously in philosophy or religious studies.” 

    So in philosophy and religious studies, words don’t mean what they mean. Is that what you’re trying to tell me? Really!? And I’m supposed to buy into it, on your say-so and that of Plantinga? 

    Sorry, but no. Not happening. Not now, not ever. I know what “omnipotent” means. Clearly neither you nor Plantinga has any grasp of it, however. But … that’s not my problem. It’s yours, and his. I’m not the idiot the two of you would like me to have been. 

  • Re: “I understand what you’re saying…but I’m not sure you’re getting what Plantinga (and others…for centuries…) are saying…” 

    Another appeal to tradition, which is noted but dismissed as fallacious. And yes, I do get what they are saying. What I am saying is that they’re contradicting the definition of “omnipotent.” 

    Re: “It’s that they have the power to do any THING, whereas I think you’re making a big point about saying ANY thing (as in, if you can string the words together, it’s real).” 

    A distinction without a difference. “Any THING” is just as much “anything” as “ANY thing” is. 

    Re: “We can speak of “round circles”…but they are logically incoherent and not “things” in any sort of epistemological or ontological sense.” 

    Round squares “aren’t real things” because that’s how our reality is defined. A truly omnipotent being can transcend even the framework of that reality, because the power to change it is something a being with the power to do any thing (whether one chooses to call it “ANY thing” or “any THING”) must, by definition, have. 

    Again, don’t complain to me about the absurdity of it all. I didn’t come up with “omnipotence” and I didn’t slap it on my deity (not that I have one in the first place). All I’m doing is accepting the plain meaning of “omnipotent.” If you feel the need to swerve out of the way of its ramifications, that’s fine, but at least have the courage to admit that’s what you’re doing. Is that really too much to ask? 

  • “An omnipotent being can change his/her/its own nature at any time, and thus do anything at all. Any time. Anywhere. Any way s/he/it wants.”
    Really? And you know this how? Looks like you consider yourself an authority and will tell the rest of us how to use words.
    But I think you just made it up.
    I gave you accepted facts about how Christians use the word “omnipotent”. And I quoted C.S. Lewis who is one of the true Christian intellectuals of the mid 20th century. I think Christians across the theological spectrum would agree with both the definition and Lewis’ elaboration. And I don’t think they’d agree with you.

  • Re: “Really? And you know this how? Looks like you consider yourself an authority and will tell the rest of us how to use words.” 

    “Omnipotent” means “the power to do anything.” 

    Re: “But I think you just made it up.” 

    Sorry, nope. You can’t blame me for this debacle. I didn’t coin the word “omnipotent” and I didn’t stick it on my deity (because I don’t really have one). I never did either of those things. I do, however, expect those who have done so (i.e. mainly theists of the Abrahamic religious tradition) to own their claim and live by it instead of running around telling everyone else not to notice the laughable absurdities they’re pushing all over the place. 

    Re: “I gave you accepted facts about how Christians use the word “omnipotent”. 

    The only “fact” is that Christians are using the word “omnipotent” wrong. They think it means something other than what it means. And they expect me to not realize they’re using it wrong … which I will not do. I will not ignore their ridiculous crap which is in plain sight. “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” didn’t work in The Wizard of Oz, and it won’t work on me, either. 

    Re: “And I quoted C.S. Lewis who is one of the true Christian intellectuals of the mid 20th century.” 

    Lewis is the one who cooked up the “liar, lunatic, lord” trilemma … which, unfortunately for him and his supposed towering intellect, is brazenly fallacious. Call me unimpressed with Lewis. 

    Re: “I think Christians across the theological spectrum would agree with both the definition and Lewis’ elaboration.” 

    I’m sure they do. Nevertheless, he and they are using the word “omnipotent” wrong. 

    Re: “And I don’t think they’d agree with you.” 

    What makes you think I care? I know I’m right … because I’m following the definition of “omnipotent” … and they’re not. Veracity is on my side, so what other people think is irrelevant and of no account. 

  • Yes, they do. “Omnipotent” means something … unfortunately for Christians, it doesn’t mean what most of them think it means. They just make up crap about it so they can backpedal away from the ramifications of plunking an absolute quality on their deity without having to make any unattractive concessions about him/her/it. Too bad so sad for them, it doesn’t work, and I can see right through it all. 

  • Yes, I don’t take Christian theology — or any other kind of theology — seriously. It’s all just ambling around in meaningless metaphysics, anyway. 

    Still, I understand logic enough to know that “omnipotent” is an absolute quality. As such, it has ramifications … many of them, and a lot of those unintended. If Christians were mature about it, they’d concede that … maybe, just maybe! … the word “omnipotent” doesn’t actually apply to their deity, and they’ve been using it in error to speak of him/her/it for centuries. 

    But they’re not mature enough to do that. Oh no. They can’t admit they’ve overstated their deity’s nature! What they do, instead, is insist s/he/it is truly “omnipotent” after all … but “omnipotent” only in a certain way and to a certain degree. Sadly, though, as I said, since “omnipotent” is an absolute quality, there’s no “degree” of it. It’s not possible to be “partly” omnipotent, any more than it’s possible to be “partly” pregnant. It’s all or nothing — literally

  • Your comments are ridiculous b/c you’re saying everybody has to use language the way you do.

  • Again, I didn’t invent the word. I just use it. Christians misuse it. It’s not my fault that they do. And it’s not wrong for me to say so. 

  • You say they misuse it – but who made you Lord Protectorate over the English language.

  • What part of “none of this is my fault” are you not getting? Why are you being so dense? I never put a gun to Christians’ heads and made them claim their deity is “omnipotent” and has the power to do anything, when, in reality, they don’t think s/he/it truly has that power. They did that, of their own volition. They overstated his/her/its nature for centuries. All I’ve done is to point it out. 

    I get that you don’t want to hear that … but it’s true nevertheless. 

  • Neither is the Christians’ deity. Apparently. Too bad Christians can’t admit it, and are forced to cling to laughable, illogical tropes like Plantinga’s “limited omnipotence.”

  • PsiCop, I see that the argument against the “omnipotence” of God revolves around two points: 1. The meaning of the word ‘omnipotence’. 2. The reach of ‘logical possibility’. As for the meaning of a word, the dictionary meaning is only a starter that gives an overall picture of the ways in which a word can be used meaningfully. This means that the use of a word in contexts determines its meaning. What is the context of the word “omnipotence” in using it for the power of God? That would determine its actual meaning. Therefore, no word has meaning bereft of its actual context in which it is used. Here we may distinguish between the Philosophical and Theological or religious contexts. As no word can have a definite meaning if left hanging in the air without a context, the word ‘omnipotence’ has first to be placed in the appropriate context either Philosophical or Theological. As for ‘logical possibility’, not only the formal logic employed in Mathematics and the exact sciences may be considered, but also the fuzzy logic we daily use in our ordinary language that is also the foundation for the justification of formal logic.

  • What amazes me about humanity is that it is possible for substantial numbers of people to be well read, well informed, and capable of critical thought, yet we still fail to find concord on basic philosophical precepts. This is so even among the greatest philosophers, forget about those of us who are primarily weekend warriors. So we are reduced to endless arguments going in circles. I will therefore weigh in on Omnipotent in order to be consistent with the accustomed pattern: The ability to do anything which is not self contradictory (Such as God making a rock too big for Him to lift; {as if He would}), and at the same time having the omniscience to choose what He will or will not do on our behalf.

  • The whole thing about “context” is irrelevant here, since “omnipotence” is an absolute quality. An omnipotent God not only creates what s/he/it wants to create, but s/he/it also controls the framework of reality itself. Yes, certain things are “impossible” because that’s how our reality is framed. We can’t have square circles and we can’t divide by zero. We can’t break free of limits like that and are required to live within them. 

    But when you say an “omnipotent” deity is constrained by that same framework, you’re selling him/her/it short. You’re saying s/he/it is limited in that regard, just as we are. A truly “omnipotent” being, however, can’t be constrained … in any way. If the framework of reality prevents him/her/it from making such things, well, s/he/it can change that framework to make them possible. 

    People seem not to understand what I’m saying … purposely so. And I get why. Human beings invented their God and imagine him/her/it having to abide by the same sorts of limits they’re familiar with, themselves. But the quality of “omnipotence” transcends those — by definition. They can’t imagine that their deity can actually leave behind the very reality in which they live … so they run around saying God is incapable of doing so. 

    But when they do that, they break his/her/its “omnipotence” and relegate their God to the status of “a super-powered human being” rather than a truly “omnipotent” deity. Yet, most Christians won’t make this concession. They disingenuously dance all around the topic … which you and Plantinga and many others have done over the centuries. They refuse — illogically — to concede their God can’t actually be “omnipotent” as they imagine him/her/it. And they get their knickers in knots, moreover, when this ridiculous dance (of wanting to call their God “omnipotent” without expecting that s/he/it to actually be “omnipotent”) is pointed out to them. 

    I’ve said several times that none of this is my doing. And it’s not. I didn’t invent the Abrahamic deity; I didn’t coin the word “omnipotent”; and I didn’t assign that quality to him/her/it. All I’m doing — again, as I’ve said several times — is to point out the absurdity of this laughable dance. 

    The mature thing for Christians to do, at this point, is to say something like, “Yeah, for centuries we called our God ‘omnipotent,’ but when you get right down to it, that word doesn’t really apply to him/her/it. We overstated his/her/its nature, and we will stop doing so. Our God is simply a being with extraordinary supernatural power, but not truly ‘omnipotent’.” 

    I have no idea how or why this is so hard to do, but apparently it is. 

  • You’re missing the entire point. Throughout all scholarship i.e. theology, philosophy, literary criticism, etc., omnipotent does NOT mean that a being with this attribute can do everything including illogical possibilities such as making a square circle or what not. In no possible world would a circle with the attribute of “squareness” exist – or it’d be a square!

  • Re: “In no possible world would a circle with the attribute of ‘squareness’ exist – or it’d be a square!” 

    That’s true only if one limits “omnipotence” to “things I personally can manage to imagine.” But that isn’t really “omnipotence.” 

  • The blue thing can never be the red thing. Or else, it would be the red thing. This happens throughout all possible worlds. They are two distinct objects with specific attributes. Of course, you could change the name of the blue thing to “square”, but that doesn’t neglect what it is in reality and it’s phenomenality.

    EDIT: My picture disappeared, so here is a link to it:http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-C5KUSGF_wOw/VGDu7goiytI/AAAAAAAAFok/Lr1lt2YWuHE/s1600/8100-circle-and-square-shapes-song.jpg

  • Re: “Another appeal to tradition, which is noted but dismissed as fallacious. And yes, I do get what they are saying. What I am saying is that they’re contradicting the definition of “omnipotent.”
    ….
    Re: “Again, don’t complain to me about the absurdity of it all. I didn’t come up with “omnipotence” and I didn’t slap it on my deity (not that I have one in the first place). All I’m doing is accepting the plain meaning of “omnipotent.” If you feel the need to swerve out of the way of its ramifications, that’s fine, but at least have the courage to admit that’s what you’re doing. Is that really too much to ask?”

    I don’t actually think this is the fallacy of “appeal to tradition” to note, within the context of a philosophical argument how a word has been philosophically defined. In fact, you “appealed to a tradition” in trying to claim that you’re using the “plain meaning” of the word–you’re trying to argue the tradition of what the average person means when they say it. I’m not sure how you could rationally speak of language without in some, way, shape or form using the meaning “tradition” that the language has come from.

    You’re resting your entire argument on the “plain meaning” of omnipotent. That’s really curious, because in reality you’re not really refuting anything that Plantinga is saying. You’re choosing a particular definition of a word and then arguing from there. Nobody is questioning (or at least nobody should be) questioning the sheer logical validity of what I think your argument is:

    1) Omnipotent means “can do anything I can conceive of or say even if it’s illogical” (this is one of Peter Geach’s rejected definitions of Omnipotenece, fwiw)
    2) God is omnipotent
    3) I can conceive of an illogical-round-circle
    4) God can’t make a round circle
    Therefore:
    God is not omnipotent

    That’s literally the entire historical argument around omnipotence, usually contextualized in terms of a theodicy (where the existence of evil and the supposed goodness of God is involved as well). That’s been a perennially thorny philosophical issue, which is why Plantinga is seen as making such a significant contribution to philosophy.

    This argument that you’re making is logically valid…but that doesn’t make it *sound.* You’re saying that there are no other definitions to premise 1 because of the “plain meaning” of the word (I’ve never read an academic philosophical argument that hinges on hand-waving a definition as “plain meaning”). If premise 1 is flawed, the argument collapses. The other place that people often critique an argument like this is at premise 3 (see “infinitely heavy stone”) because you can’t make a logical argument while denying basic premises of logic. You can’t say “using the universe’s rules of logic, I can suspend those rules for a single premise, and then use that premise to prove my logical point.”

    I honestly think that the philosophical concept of omnipotence is really fascinating from a philosophical standpoint because…as this internet thread indicates…it’s pretty tricky to define.

  • Re: “That’s literally the entire historical argument around omnipotence, usually contextualized in terms of a theodicy (where the existence of evil and the supposed goodness of God is involved as well). That’s been a perennially thorny philosophical issue, which is why Plantinga is seen as making such a significant contribution to philosophy.” 

    Yes, and the reason theodicy is thorny is because it’s impossible to come up with one which doesn’t modify the deity’s qualities somehow (either making him less-than-all-powerful or less-than-benevolent). Again, that’s not my fault. I didn’t come up with a notion of the deity which led to “the problem of evil.” All I’m doing is pointing out the absurdities that result. 

    The absurdity comes from the claim of God’s omnipotence, which itself was the result of a childish game of “one-upmanship” among religions. Devotees of Enlil, for example, could brag their god is mighty because he flooded the world. Devotees of Enki could say he’s mightier because he helped save humanity from that flood. Devotees of Isis (the goddess, not the terror group) could say their deity was even greater because she raised another god (Osiris) from death. Deovtees of Zeus could say their god is even mightier because he defeated the progenitor of all other gods (Ouranos). 

    For a while the Hebrews played this game by saying, essentially, “Oh yeah? Well, whatever your gods did, ours actually did it! And YHWH did it better!” That only worked just so long, and they decided their YHWH was supreme because he was all-powerful. That, they hoped, would put an end to it. Sadly, they opened a can of worms when they did so … and their religious descendants have appropriately squirmed all over the place, since then. 

    I can think of fewer things that are more obviously childish than this.&nbsp

    Re: “I honestly think that the philosophical concept of omnipotence is really fascinating from a philosophical standpoint because…as this internet thread indicates…it’s pretty tricky to define.” 

    It’s particularly tricky when people keep defining it solely in terms of what they know and the framework of their own reality. They can’t conceive of an omnipotence transcends that framework, moving beyond it (and infinitely so, at that). Instead, they believe it’s constrained by the same reality they live within … and don’t realize that “the power to do anything” necessarily includes “the power to alter reality itself.” 

  • Ben, 0. Is the EMail address
    you’re giving for yourself -“ben in oakland” – a reference to
    the Oakland in CA or MI?

    1. The most useful approach I’ve bumped into my Christian walk, is to put
    things “on the shelf”. (One of the arguments I’ve put “on the shelf”
    is ‘what about all those people God killed
    in Noah’s flood. You have a good
    point, that it appears to contravene the Book
    of Revelation.) If, for example,
    if I run across a doctrine , say,
    Echatology, I just “put it on the shelf” – of course, opinions differ about when, if ever, it’s good to take a “treasure” off my
    shelf. This technique, tho’, has kept
    me from promulgating many heterodox ideas and ephemeral opinions.

    2.
    One of the things you mention that it might be useful *for you* to “put on the Shelf” is your rubric of the apparent contradiction between Him having
    to play by the rules and making the rules. (Have I got that right? If not, please set me
    straight!)

  • It’s one of the reasons I refer to myself as an it-doesn’t-matterist. The answers to ultimate questions ultimately don’t matter. It’s the same approach to putting it on the shelf. :0)

  • PsiCop, I understand your logical anguish in the failure of people in understanding the implications of “omnipotence” to which they seem to turn a deaf ear! So, I would grant your submission that an omnipotent God should not be bound by our logical rules including the principle of contradiction. However, if my admission strikes both ways, do not look for fig leaves to escape from scrutiny. God is omnipotent and is not bound by any rules we have devised through our logical investigations. As you have suggested, an omnipotent God is above all the structures and rules He may have created and therefore nothing is impossible to him. This is why we see in the Bible that our destiny is both predestined by God and is the result of the exercise of our free will. This apparently contradictory proposition does not apply to God as He is above all the rules and structures in the world, a possibility required by you for omnipotence.
    I had already indicated in my last post how the fuzzy logic involved in our daily use of language is necessary and therefore different sorts of uses of language in empirical sciences, philosophy, theology etc. cannot be brushed aside as short of logic. After all, fuzzy logic is used in computer language and the formal logic of Mathematics and the sciences is not full proof, for instance, when the scientists involved in the study of Quantum Mechanics are aghast at their inability to proceed further at the micro level of matter. As you are asking for the widening of our views for the relevance of an omnipotent God, I am asking you to widen your concept of logic itself that cannot ultimately escape the scrutiny by our ordinary language and the fuzzy logic involved in there.

  • Re: “This is why we see in the Bible that our destiny is both predestined by God and is the result of the exercise of our free will.” 

    Our “free will” has nothing to do with your deity’s omnipotence. 

    Re: “After all, fuzzy logic is used in computer language and … when the scientists involved in the study of Quantum Mechanics are aghast…” 

    That “fuzzy logic” is used sometimes, does not constitute a valid excuse for theists trumpeting that their deity is “omnipotent” in order to feel better about worshipping him/her/it, but then backing away from that claim once it becomes inconvenient for them. 

    Re: “As you are asking for the widening of our views for the relevance of an omnipotent God, I am asking you to widen your concept of logic itself that cannot ultimately escape the scrutiny by our ordinary language and the fuzzy logic involved in there.” 

    I have already done so. That is, I have “widened my views” about the subject of theology. What I’ve concluded is that, if the Abrahamic deity exists (and to be clear, that is an enormous “if”), s/he/it can only be malevolent in nature. Is that “wide” enough for you? 

  • Do you just not understand the concept of power/energy??

    An infinite amount of energy ~DOES NOT~ mean an infinite APPLICATION of that energy, which is something that should be ~blatantly obvious~ to anyone capable or willing to think about it for ten seconds.

    Let’s THINK about this, take the following as an example:

    -It takes a VERY LOW amount of energy to push a ball and make it move to the LEFT. We’ll call this amount of energy X.
    -It also takes a VERY LOW amount of energy to push a ball and make it move to the RIGHT. We’ll call this amount of energy Y.

    You’re with me so far, right?? I assume you agree with the above two facts, correct??

    Alright, so as an example, let’s say you, personally, have the energy it takes to move the ball to the left in addition to the amount of energy that it takes to move the ball to the right. So the amount of power YOU can use on the ball, we’ll call this Z, is equal to X + Y.

    Still following??

    And for the sake of the example, we’ll also say the ball is indestructible. If you have a problem with using that just for the sake of argument, we will instead simply say the ball is an atom, and thus cannot be divided without causing it to cease to exist.

    So here’s the thing. With the power that we’ve defined you to have in the above example, you have the ability to move the ball to the left, AND you have the ability to move the ball to the right. You have power sufficient to do BOTH THINGS.

    However, you do NOT have the ability to make the position of the ball move SIMULTANEOUSLY TO THE RIGHT ~AND~ THE LEFT.

    In fact, it does not matter HOW MUCH energy you personally have, you CAN’T do that simple feat. If we double the amount of power you have, you still can’t cause it to move in two opposing directions simultaneously. If we double it again and again and again, you still don’t have the energy required to do it.

    Finally, if we give you an INFINITE amount of energy, you STILL cannot perform this task!! You can’t make a singular, un-dividable object move in two different directions simultaneously, REGARDLESS of the amount of power you yourself possess.

    It is logically ~impossible~ to cause an object to exist in two self-contradictory states SIMULTANEOUSLY. It cannot be done, REGARDLESS of the amount of power you have to spend, whether four watts or four hundred quadrillion watts.

    But I think there’s a slightly BIGGER problem with your argument.

    You have just argued here that an All-Powerful being can make it so that self-contradictory states can exist within itself. If this is the case, ALL LOGIC COLLAPSES and becomes invalid!! Which then disproves the Problem of Evil.

    What do I mean?? Well if an omnipotent being CAN cause something to possess two contradictory states, well then this Omnipotent God COULD cause itself to be ~benevolent~ while ~simultaneously~causing~ (not just allowing, ~causing~) suffering and evil to exist!!

    Do you see why this whole argument collapses all arguments on this subject?? If omnipotence means NOTHING is contradictory, that means that God can SIMULTANEOUSLY be Benevolent AND Not Benevolent, WITHOUT ANY LOGICAL FAULT. Logic ceases to have all meaning. God could make himself Benevolent and do outright horrible things WITHOUT CEASING TO BE BENEVOLENT.

    If what you are saying is right, then all logic flies out the window and every argument you have is meaningless. The Problem of Evil evaporates, not because it has been solved, but because the logic behind it has been COMPLETELY VOIDED. The whole PREMISE of the Problem of Evil is a position that a world in which an omnipotent, benevolent god exists is contradictory to a world where evil exists, but if your assertion on omnipotence is TRUE, the omnipotent quality makes the state of contradiction ~possible~. If what you’re saying is true, a Omnipotent God who kills and butchers people in front of their family members daily just to cause them suffering can still be a loving caring god who wants the no one to ever suffer.

    Your attempt to argue against an argument against the Problem of Evil, hilariously enough, does away with the Problem of Evil!! If your (completely flawed and wrong) understanding of omnipotence is correct, a God can be Good and Evil simultaneously. The God is omnipotent, therefore he can just do it, regardless of the logical contradiction doing so would cause.

    “You’d know this, if you’d taken a basic logic class, yourself.’

    I took two, required for the degree I got. And since your entire point has nothing to do with ~logic~, persay, but your FAILED understanding of the definition of “power”, logic classes have nothing to do with your point. That’d require more of a physics class (if, and ONLY IF, your definition of power was correct. In fact, a physics class would just reinforce the idea you are wrong).

  • Re: “Do you just not understand the concept of power/energy??” 

    Do you just not understand “the power to do anything“? Do you not understand “omnipotence is not restrained by what humans can do, or imagine”?

    Re: “Still following??”

    I “followed” everything you said. But you analogized omnipotence with things you, yourself, can imagine (e.g. pushing a ball around). What you do not comprehend, however, or are purposely ignoring, is that omnipotence can’t be analogized like that, because it’s not constrained by what’s familiar to you. It’s not hemmed in by the reality you’re aware of. Omnipotence also includes the ability to alter that reality.

    Re: “If what you are saying is right, then all logic flies out the window and every argument you have is meaningless.”

    If you say so. I’ve explained that’s not the case … because you’re tripping on the fallacy of imagining omnipotence as being expressed only within terms of the reality you know. What you’re forgetting is that omnipotence isn’t limited only to that.

    Re: “The Problem of Evil evaporates, not because it has been solved, but because the logic behind it has been COMPLETELY VOIDED.”

    Actually, the only way to get the Problem of Evil to “evaporate” is to remove one of the assumptions made about the deity, and to decide that s/he/it is either not benevolent or not omnipotent. Clearly what you and Plantinga have done is the latter, since you’re positing that omnipotence has limits. Only you won’t admit this means your deity isn’t omnipotent. You still — irrationally — demand the word be applied to him/her/it, you’ve just altered its meaning, arbitrarily, to fit into your desire to make the Problem of Evil go away.

    Only it hasn’t, and neither you nor Plantinga is mature enough to admit it.

    Re: “And since your entire point has nothing to do with ~logic~, persay, but your FAILED understanding of the definition of ‘power’, logic classes have nothing to do with your point.”

    My understanding of “omnipotence” is not flawed. Yours, and Plantinga’s, is.

  • Re: “So omnipotence is limited. Got it.” 

    Yeah, so the Chrishuns have been telling me. They want to call their deity “omnipotent,” but don’t actually expect him to be “omnipotent.” They’re kind of weird that way. (And not only in that way, but in others too.) 

  • I know. Like he loves you so much that in his omnipotence, he fails to get the memo to you, well, you get to burn in hell.

  • Well, after all, what good is it to be omnipotent, if not the ability to consign countless souls to eternal perdition? It’s almost not worth it to be God, otherwise. 

  • PsiCop, 1. How is that you were able to involve the omnipotent deity in our free will when you wanted to attack his or her omnipotence and deny him or her the same privilege, when someone defends it? If you were to deny omnipotence under all options, no problem about free will would have been posed by you by questioning the possibility of safeguarding it.
    2. Fuzzy logic is not an excuse for defending the deity’s omnipotence, but for calling your attention to the limitations of formal logic employed in maths and sciences. The principles of formal logic are useful in their own restricted fields of knowledge and are not to sit in judgement over all possible fields of knowledge that is usually handled in Philosophy. Even according to the principles of formal logic, to believe in a deity that is not omnipotent is self-contradictory as omnipotence is part and parcel of the understanding of a deity worth its name.
    3. Widening your views on logic is the primary need. Widening your views on other subjects is welcome, provided it does not turn out to be a retrograde step as has happened in your theological views. It is strange that you are ready to grant omnipotence to a deity, if it is malevolent turning away your face from the good God portrayed in the New Testament. Is that the right way to widen your views on theology?

  • Re: “How is that you were able to involve the omnipotent deity in our free will ..” 

    I have no idea, I’m not the one who brought up “free will.” And I specifically said it has nothing to do with the deity’s omnipotence. So why are you lambasting me for it? 

    Re: “Fuzzy logic is not an excuse for defending the deity’s omnipotence, but for calling your attention to the limitations of formal logic employed in maths and sciences.” 

    So now “fuzzy logic” is a rationale for deciding that the “all” in “all-powerful” doesn’t really mean “all,” it just means “some”? 

    Re: “Widening your views on logic is the primary need.” 

    Yes, it’s important for Christians to widen their views of logic, and comprehend (finally) that the words they use have meaning. They especially need to comprehend the absolute nature of qualities like “omnipotence.” But they don’t. They routinely — and small-mindedly — imagine “omnipotence” operating only within the constraints of the reality they happen to know. They’re incapable of seeing that, by definition, it goes far beyond that. 

    Re “It is strange that you are ready to grant omnipotence to a deity, if it is malevolent turning away your face from the good God portrayed in the New Testament.” 

    It’s not “strange” at all. What I’ve done is, quite simply, to apply logic to the “Problem of Evil.” The only way to resolve it is either to concede that god is either less-than-omnipotent, or malevolent. Those are the only two choices that remain. The Christians who’ve responded here, following Plantinga, have dug their heels in on his supposed “omnipotence” and will not concede he’s not omnipotent. That leaves me with the only other choice, that the deity must be malevolent. 

    Hey, it’s not my problem. Really. It’s not. I didn’t invent the Abrahamic deity. I didn’t assign him qualities like omnipotence and benevolence. I didn’t create the circumstances which the Problem of Evil addresses. All I’m doing is pointing out the ridiculous dance of theodicy that Abrahamic worshippers are forced to engage in, simply because they won’t make any concessions about the nature of their god. 

    This all could be avoided if they were simply mature enough to say, “Yeah, we’ve been overstating our deity’s nature for centuries. We’ve used words like ‘omnipotent’ which, in hindsight, shouldn’t apply.” If they’d just do that, this entire discussion would be moot. 

    But they won’t. Because they’re engaged in a grand cosmic struggle against every other religion/deity, amounting to a schoolyard-style “my-god-can-beat-up-your-god” conflict. 

  • PsiCop, Let us try to avoid talking at cross purposes and focus on the issue at hand: How to understand “omnipotence” in God? You did not answer to my proposal that “omnipotence” is part of the concept of God just as God is Existence Itself to prove Whose Existence is meaningless since we cannot deny existence. Those who want to prove God’s existence consider Him or Her as just one of the items that exist in the world. Similarly, “omnipotence” is considered as more power than we know, but nothing unique to God that is a faulty thinking.
    Your reply to my last post did not address the question of logical implications I was trying to hint at in your understanding of the interplay between omnipotence and our free will. Instead, you went on explaining about how you were not responsible for introducing the topic etc. I was not blaming you in any way for your views on “omnipotence”. Rather, I was trying to invite your attention to the inconsistencies in logic you are labouring under. The same with the question of “fuzzy logic”. I was trying to say that we do talk about “omnipotence” before completely explaining it and it is quite legitimate to do so.
    If you are still unconvinced, consider the following. We have a clear picture of “omnipotence” in our minds and when it is actually applied, it turns out to be hazy. This is the case with all our expressions in language. The difference is between what is expressed and its form of expression. For example, the form of expression we use in set theory seems to have been designed for God who knows what we cannot know. He sees the whole of each of those infinite series and He sees into human consciousness. For us, these forms of expressions are meaningless and yet set theory is useful. My point is: If set theory is useful and valuable in spite of the meaninglessness of its expressions, so is “omnipotence” even if its expressions may be unclear. One should not be unfair in treating the same kind of expressions in language and their import differently.

  • Re: “You did not answer to my proposal that ‘omnipotence’ is part of the concept of God just as God is Existence Itself to prove Whose Existence is meaningless since we cannot deny existence.” 

    What makes omnipotence “part of the concept of God”? It’s a quality the Abrahamic deity’s worshippers have assigned him/her/it. You — and Plantinga and other theists — just keep insisting, over and over and over again, that your god is omnipotent. But that doesn’t actually make him/her/it omnipotent! (To think so is to fall for an argumentum ad nauseam … it’s well known that just repeating a canard incessantly cannot and will never magically make it come true.) As for that deity’s existence, that’s certainly up for debate. As an agnostic I do not accept his/her/its existence as a given. If anything, it’s impossible to prove. 

    Re: “Rather, I was trying to invite your attention to the inconsistencies in logic you are labouring under.” 

    “The inconsistencies in logic” are not of my own manufacture, and I am not “laboring” under them. They are the natural consequence of theists’ assertion that their deity is omnipotent. They are the ones who created those inconsistencies. All I’m doing is pointing them out. 

    Re: “We have a clear picture of “omnipotence” in our minds and when it is actually applied, it turns out to be hazy.” 

    Yes, there are tons of ramifications of applying absolute qualities (such as omnipotence) to things, and yes, sometimes those can introduce complications that weren’t intended. Which is why I’ve been saying — and did so several times, here — that it’s time for Abrahamic theists to give up the notion that their deity is “omnipotent” … in spite of centuries of claims that s/he/it is … and concede this principle is an overstatement of his/her/its nature. Generally, however, they’re not mature enough to do this. So they introduce any number of rationales and twists of logic in order to cling to the supposed omnipotence of their creator-god when, in fact, it’s not a viable quality. 

    Re: “For example, the form of expression we use in set theory seems to have been designed for God who knows what we cannot know. He sees the whole of each of those infinite series and He sees into human consciousness. For us, these forms of expressions are meaningless and yet set theory is useful.” 

    All of this sounds like pointless ambling intended to baffle me into falling for your argument. But I won’t. And you haven’t really addressed anything I’ve said. I’ve already explained myself many times here — but all you do is throw up the same kinds of interference I’ve already dismissed many times. 

    The bottom line is … what you’re doing (along with Plantinga and the many others who’ve woven theodicies over the centuries) is redefining “omnipotent” to mean “less than fully omnipotent” in order to explain why your supposedly-omnipotent deity (who’s also supposedly benevolent) is incapable of dealing with the Problem of Evil in a concrete way. It’s fine to say, “My deity would like to have wiped out evil, but is unable to do so.” What’s not fine is to make this assertion, but then continue to cling to the idea that s/he/it has the power to do anything. That latter point is contradicted by the former. 

    It just is. And it’s not my fault that it is. It’s time for theists to grow up already, for the first time in their lives, stop the ridiculous game of “my god can beat up your god” that they’ve been playing since ancient times, and just move on already … with logic at their side rather than fighting against it. 

  • PsiCop, 1. Your question “what makes omnipotence part of the concept of God?” may easily be answered by the fact that a god whose power is limited in any way is no god at all. The fault is in our understanding of the concept and not in the concept itself. Your argument about ‘argumentum ad nauseam’ is equally applicable to you. When you say that you are an agnostic and it is impossible to prove the existence of God, you are taking the role of an atheist, not agnostic who simply does not know anything about God’s existence. For this very reason, an agnostic is an epistemological disaster as one can claim not to know something if only it is possible to know it.
    2. You claim to point out logical inconsistencies created by the theists in response to the inconsistencies pointed out in your arguments. Does it mean that you have no stand of your own?
    3. You have again twisted what I mentioned about omnipotence and its expression as clear and hazy to elaborate on it without understanding it. I said that as a general condition of what is expressed and its form of expression in language, and not only for omnipotence, that you have ignored.
    4. As an example for the applicability of what is expressed and the form of its expression in all cases of use of language, I gave the example of set theory that you cannot deny. Your answer: “All of this sounds like pointless ambling intended to baffle me into falling for your argument. But I won’t”. That is up to you! You cannot deny set theory where what is expressed and the form of its expression confirm my point about ‘omnipotence’ regarding what is clearly expressed and hazy form of its expression. If you deny this, you have to deny set theory as well. Having seen this yourself, you are ambling into charade and breast-beating to spare you from the obvious. Mind you, set theory is only an example as it is characteristic of language concerning what is expressed and the form of its expression.
    5. Finally, your advice and admonition for the theists to grow up are equally applicable to you as well, as I find no reason to exempt you from this general requirement for mature people.

  • Re: “Your question ‘what makes omnipotence part of the concept of God?’ may easily be answered by the fact that a god whose power is limited in any way is no god at all.” 

    Lots of religions have had lots of gods that weren’t claimed to be “omnipotent.” It wasn’t until the Hebrews decided YHWH had to be “omnipotent” that “omnipotence” became associated with deities. But they only came up with that, as I’ve said several times, as a kind of ancient religious “one-upmanship.” 

    Re: “The fault is in our understanding of the concept and not in the concept itself.” 

    No, it’s not. I understand what “omnipotent” means. You’re trying to tell me it means something else. And I’m not stupid enough to buy it. 

    Re: “Your argument about ‘argumentum ad nauseam’ is equally applicable to you.” 

    I have to repeat myself because you keep forcing me to. I have to restate what I said, repeatedly, because you purposely misconstrue it and because you refuse, adamantly, to respond to it.

    Re: “When you say that you are an agnostic and it is impossible to prove the existence of God, you are taking the role of an atheist, not agnostic who simply does not know anything about God’s existence.” 

    No, there’s a difference between agnosticism and atheism. That’s why Huxley invented the word “agnostic,” because “atheist” didn’t apply to him. 

    Re: “For this very reason, an agnostic is an epistemological disaster as one can claim not to know something if only it is possible to know it.” 

    Actually, I don’t claim to personally “know” your deity at all — and have never once said I did. All I am doing is responding to the inherent illogic of believing in a deity whom one declares “omnipotent” (i.e. having the power to do anything but whom one also claims has limitations. None of this is my doing. It’s not my creation. I didn’t come up with this laughable and idiotic strain of raging illogic. The only thing I am doing, is to call it out for the hilarious absurdity it is. I’m also telling you that I am not stupid enough to fall for any of your rationales that (you think) explain it. 

    To be clear: You telling me your deity is “omnipotent” but that s/he/it has limitations nonetheless, and that I’m required to agree with that illogic, is insulting to my intelligence. For you to make this demand of me — repeatedly — and then berate me repeatedly for not swallowing it, is insulting. There’s just no other word for it. 

    Re: “You claim to point out logical inconsistencies created by the theists in response to the inconsistencies pointed out in your arguments. Does it mean that you have no stand of your own?” 

    My “stand” is that the total package assumed by Abrahamic worshippers — that their deity is omnipotent, omniscient, infinite, eternal as well as benevolent — is inherently illogic and obviously refuted by the universe we live in. Now, if Abrahamic worshippers wish to concede their deity doesn’t have all these qualities … that’s fine, and the essential illogic of the claimed package goes away, but after that point, they’re still faced with demonstrating the existence of their deity, using objective, verifiable, and compelling evidence — which none of them has managed to do in thousands of years. 

    Re: “You have again twisted what I mentioned about omnipotence and its expression as clear and hazy to elaborate on it without understanding it.” 

    What you’re doing is telling me that, even though “omnipotence” is “the power to do anything,” it still has limits, and you’re using this “haziness” principle to rationalize it. I’m not buying it, however. Either “omnipotence” is “the power to do anything,” or it’s not. Calling it “hazy” doesn’t help — no matter how many times you tell me it does. 

    Re: “You cannot deny set theory where what is expressed and the form of its expression confirm my point about …” 

    “Set theory” is irrelevant here. 

    Re: “If you deny this, you have to deny set theory as well.” 

    I deny set theory is even relevant to this discussion. It’s only relevant in the grand, unobstructed vault of your apologetics-soaked mind. You’re desperate to find more points to berate me about, and I still will not relent. Yes, I am saying that it’s contradictory to say “omnipotence,” which is “the power to do anything,” has limitations. I will say it forever and ever and ever and ever and ever. 

    Re: “Having seen this yourself, you are ambling into charade and breast-beating to spare you from the obvious.” 

    The question I have is, why is the illogic of your position — and no, it doesn’t matter how old this position is, nor who held it previously — not obvious to you? Why are you still telling me something which is absurd on its face? Why are you keeping up the charade? 

    Re: “Mind you, set theory is only an example …” 

    Not relevant. Not even a tiny bit relevant. I have no idea why you pulled it out of your backside or why you’re pounding me over the head with it, either. I’m not the one who denies the basic meaning of “omnipotent.” You are. Just grow up and own it already! 

    Re: “Finally, your advice and admonition for the theists to grow up are equally applicable to you as well, as I find no reason to exempt you from this general requirement for mature people.” 

    I was able to understand why my religionism was wrong, illogical, contradictory, and ridiculous. I was mature enough to understand this and accept it. Why aren’t other theists mature enough to do so? 

  • Religious/philosophical ‘answers’ are one of the ways we try to fill the void ‘Adam’ discovered when ‘Eve’ asked him “Why am I?”, the question of meaning that gave birth to humanity. Plantinga won his award for persistence in our ongoing self-destructive effort to fill the void. https://thelastwhy.ca/

  • PsiCop, 1. If you like to shift your base from Philosophical and logical arguments to Theology and Revelation, I am amenable for the same. If as a result of revelation, the Hebrews came up with the notion of ‘omnipotence’ it only means that was a revealed truth for them, which was absent in religions because of lack of revelation. However, for us even philosophically speaking, it is part and parcel of the very concept of ‘God’.
    2. If you understand what ‘omnipotent’ means, there is no disagreement over that point.
    3. Exactly. That is what I said that there is a difference between atheism and agnosticism that you seemed to mix up. Again, agreement!
    4. About the epistemological disaster that an agnostic is, you go on ranting beside the point and try to load on me what I never said about ‘omnipotence’ with limited power. On the contrary, what I said was that an omnipotent God has no limitations of power and he can do anything! You have again misunderstood the notion of “haziness” applied to the form of expression of omnipotence and not to omnipotence that is what is expressed, which is clear to you as you have said. The form of expression is not part of what is expressed and that is how even the Set Theory is useful in Mathematics in spite of its haziness. I applied the same principle to “omnipotence” and how people are trapped in the haziness of its forms of expression, although what is expressed is clear and applicable in practical life.
    5. Your surprise question why something so obvious is not accepted by me may be thrown back to you for the same reason. Just to say that something is irrelevant without giving any proof or reasons is logical enough for you, but not for me.
    6. Your strong belief that by growing out of your religion-ism you have grown mature is at last a saving grace for you as it is your belief that saves you!

  • Re: “However, for us even philosophically speaking, it is part and parcel of the very concept of ‘God’.” 

    Irrelevant. That you think “omnipotence” is part and parcel of the very concept of ‘God'” doesn’t mean others don’t require it of their deities. 

    Re: “If you understand what ‘omnipotent’ means, there is no disagreement over that point.” 

    I know what it means. You don’t. Or more precisely, you do know what it means, but because its meaning is inconvenient for you, you’re clinging to an alternative definition, but are expecting me to adopt it along with you. Which, sad to say, I’m not stupid enough to do. 

    Re: “About the epistemological disaster that an agnostic is ..” 

    That I’m agnostic is not relevant here. That you think agnosticism is an “epistemological disaster” is even more irrelevant. Saying that is just another attempt to disparage me … and due to its irrelevance, an indulgent one at that. Stop pushing “haziness” at me, and stop trying to inject “set theory” into this discussion, it’s also irrelevant. 

    Re: “Your surprise question why something so obvious is not accepted by me may be thrown back to you for the same reason.” 

    The reason I do not see things as you do, is because 1) I haven’t been hoodwinked by centuries of apologetics and religionistic sophistry; and 2) I’m not required to fall for your redefinition of “omnipotent.” 

    Re: “Your strong belief that by growing out of your religion-ism you have grown mature is at last a saving grace for you as it is your belief that saves you!” 

    Not unexpectedly, you completely missed my point. I left my beliefs behind not because I matured out of them. I left them behind because I had already matured, and was able to leave them behind once I understood how incredibly illogical and ridiculous they were. I could do so without damaging my self-image … which is something too many theists are incapable of. They cling desperately to their beliefs, and redefine words and reality to suit them, in order not to have to let go of them. Then they run around telling everyone else their own subjective distortions of reality are reality, and disparage anyone who insolently dares disagree with those distortions. 

    That, I’m afraid to say, is immaturity. 

  • PsiCop, 1. When you declare something as irrelevant, a constant refrain in your reply, I suppose that you are expected to give logical reasons for their irrelevance. Or, are you under the illusion that you have grown mature not only out of belief systems but also of all logical thinking, that you can label anything as irrelevant at your whims and fancies? Are you aware of the conditions of meaningfulness of words and statements used in language? If not, please consult the Analytic Philosophers for the same.
    2. Are you aware of the history of the ‘Principle of Verification’ initiated by the Logical Positivists of the Vienna Circle of the 1930s and how they were beaten back at their own game by eminent philosophers and scientists? This I say because you seem to be enamoured by the verification of whatever you want to accept as meaningful and true. Karl Popper, a prominent member of the Vienna Circle, who held similar views had to save his skin abandoning the principle of verification and trying to find refuge in the principle of falsifiability and that too restricted to the field of empirical sciences alone. Please don’t call him irrelevant.
    3. Since you are not sure of your own position, you seem to leapfrog from Philosophy to Theology and back to Logic and then scientific methods etc. That the scientific method is not ultimately self-sufficient is acknowledged by the Quantum Physicists themselves may be news to you! They see the limitations of Physics to explain even the physical world and are brooding over the possibilities in Metaphysics as an anchor for the foundations for Physical sciences.
    4. What is the relevance of these observations with regard to the concept of “omnipotence” that is our original point of contention? The relevance is explained thus: Since “omnipotence of God” is an expression in language, we are obliged to examine the conditions of meaningfulness of this expression and that is done in Philosophy with the strictest and sharpest razor of Logic. Analytic Philosophy, especially the Philosophy of Language, has taken up this task. We have to strictly follow their method of logical analysis to arrive at acceptable meanings of expressions. For this, one should not be too sensitive when preconceived ideas are called into question. After all, strict logic is no respecter of persons and goes straight into the rationality involved. Just to repeat “irrelevant” without assigning any logical reason is no shelter for refuge from the barrage of Reason as Logic does not suffer the irrational.

  • Re: “When you declare something as irrelevant, a constant refrain in your reply, I suppose that you are expected to give logical reasons for their irrelevance.” 

    Bzzzt! Wrong. When you introduce stuff into a discussion, it’s up to you to demonstrate relevance, not for me to disprove it. For instance, right now I could start talking about fluffy kittens, but it’d be pointless and diversionary, until I establish relevance. 

    Re: “This I say because you seem to be enamoured by the verification of whatever you want to accept as meaningful and true.” 

    You know, it’s really amazing how everything I say somehow provides you with fuel to disparage me somehow. You say I am “enamoured by the verification of whatever you want to accept as meaningful and true” as though it’s somehow unreasonable and a bad thing … a pathological obsession on my part. Well, if it makes you feel better to consider me obsessed with “verification” and to sneer at me about it, go right ahead. I plead guilty on that count. I do consider verification important. What I don’t accept is that there’s anything wrong with verification. So you can whine and snivel about it till the cows come home, but you can’t force me to stop viewing verification as important. 

    Oh, and this business about Karl Popper? Irrelevant, too. 

    Re: “That the scientific method is not ultimately self-sufficient is acknowledged by the Quantum Physicists themselves may be news to you!” 

    I’m fully aware of the uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics. But it doesn’t mean everything, all the time, everywhere, must necessarily be treated as “uncertain.” It’d be worth it for you to remember that the uncertainty principle only operates on minuscule particles and at minuscule distances — lower than the Planck length (1.616229(38)×10−35 m). Our lives take place on a scale vastly larger than that, and the objects we deal with in our daily lives are also vastly more massive. 

    So your appeal to Heisenberg is noted, but dismissed as … hold now, now! … irrelevant (due to the scale involved). 

    Re: “The relevance is explained thus: Since ‘omnipotence of God’ is an expression in language, we are obliged to examine the conditions of meaningfulness of this expression and that is done in Philosophy with the strictest and sharpest razor of Logic.” 

    “Omnipotence” means “the power to do anything.” Logic tells me that a natural consequence of a deity being “omnipotent” is that s/he/it can do anything s/he wants. Say whatever else you want, but this is undeniable. 

    Re: “After all, strict logic is no respecter of persons and goes straight into the rationality involved.” 

    Correct! I’ve often said, myself, that logic is a harsh taskmaster. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that claiming one’s deity is “omnipotent” but then asserting there are things s/he/it can’t do, is illogical on its face. 

  • PsiCop,1. There is no point in elaborating on ‘relevance’ and ‘irrelevance’ as we don’t seem to understand each other about the contexts involved. It would only be a waste of time and space, though according to the Relativity Theory of Albert Einstein, these are but mere illusions. However, we talk and behave as if space and time are real to us, although scientifically speaking they are mere illusions. Similar is the case in Indian Philosophy, where ourselves and the entire universe are mere illusions, the sole reality being the Absolute (God or Brahman). Likewise, the omnipotence of God does not strike as real in daily life, though theologically it is as real as anything can be. Here again, we see what we have been discussing about expressions in language, namely, the difference between what is expressed and the form of its expression, not only in Theology and Philosophy, but also in science!
    2. I did not want to dismiss the importance of ‘verification’, nor did I belittle in any way your interest in it. I only wanted to highlight the need of properly understanding it and how it can be used for our investigations. I urge you to consider what Ludwig Wittgenstein had to say on ‘verification’. “Asking whether and how a proposition can be verified is only a particular way of asking ‘How do you mean?’.The answer is a contribution to the grammar of the proposition”. (The Philosophical Investigations, para, 353).
    3. The point about Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and how it refers to the micro level of matter are not the most important points in Quantum Physics, but how the structure of reality is observer-dependent and how matter itself cannot be its own ultimate support. It is about fundamental information and relationships or as Max Planck and others have explicitly said, mind or intelligence or consciousness and interconnectedness.
    4. I am in agreement with you that “omnipotence” means the “power to do anything”, as we had discussed earlier about the possibility of different kinds of Logic in different systems. You may be attributing to me opinions from someone else.
    5. “Omnipotence” is under the scrutiny of Logic, not the formal one that is restricted to the use in Mathematics and empirical sciences, but under the Fuzzy Logic that takes care of many more items of our thinking than the formal Logic is capable of doing.

  • Re: “The point about Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and how it refers to the micro level of matter are not the most important points in Quantum Physics, but how the structure of reality is observer-dependent and how matter itself cannot be its own ultimate support.” 

    It’s very common for people trying to foist weird ideas on others, to use the uncertainty principle as apparent justification for those ideas. And while it’s real, as I said earlier, it manifests only on the tiniest conceivable scale. So I always dismiss it when it’s used this way. In this case, unless we’re talking about a universe which is smaller than the Planck radius, it makes no sense to use the uncertainty principle to rationalize whatever one wishes to say about the deity. S/he/it obviously acts on a vastly larger scale than that. 

    Re: “I am in agreement with you that ‘omnipotence’ means the ‘power to do anything’, as we had discussed earlier about the possibility of different kinds of Logic in different systems.” 

    It’s great that you agree with this definition, but why then do you repeatedly insist that your deity has limitations, in that there are things s/he/it “cannot” do?  To say s/he/it is “omnipotent,” and to say that “omnipotence” is “the power to do anything” ought — logically — to mean that “the deity has the power to anything.” This is a natural and simple syllogism. So what happened? Why does your deity not have “the power to do anything” even while you insist s/he/it is “omnipotent”? 

  • PsiCop, 1. You seem to insist on foisting upon me ideas about “omnipotence” received from others like omnipotence is not the power to do anything in spite of my insistence to the contrary. You will remember how we had discussed about different kinds of logic consequent upon the possibility of different kinds of worlds, where the kind of logic in one need not hold fast in another. This is in addition to the “fuzzy logic” apart from “the formal logic”, both of which hold together in our world and omnipotence has to be seen through the former and not the latter.
    2. As for Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle that it is in relation to the micro particles of matter is not contested by me and still you are defending it as if against my views. On the contrary, you are silent on other vital issues connected like the foundation of micro particles, the role of observer dependence and other related matters anguished over by even Heisenberg, Planck, Bohlm and others leading to a black hole, if one were to remain merely on the physical level.
    3. You are caught up merely in your forms of expression missing what is expressed with regard to the omnipotence of God Who is not bound by the confines and formal logic of of this world ignoring the fuzzy logic that is used by us everyday.

  • Re: “You will remember how we had discussed about different kinds of logic consequent upon the possibility of different kinds of worlds …” 

    None of that stuff is relevant. All that’s relevant, is 1) that “omnipotence” is “the power to do anything,” which you agreed with; 2) that Abrahamic theists say their deity is “omnipotent”; which 3) contradicts their insistence that there are things their deity cannot do. 

    Go ahead and blather on all you like about other kinds of logic. I only pay attention to the logic above. It’s all that’s relevant and it’s all I will discuss. Anything else is just a con job, intended to deflect my attention from the contradiction. I refuse, however, to divert my attention from it, and will continue pointing you to it. “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” didn’t work in The Wizard of Oz and it won’t work on me now. So stop trying already. I’m not as stupid as you think. 

    Re: “As for Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle that it is in relation to the micro particles of matter is not contested by me and still you are defending it as if against my views.” 

    I’m not “defending” it. I’m condemning the use of it in macro contexts. To do so is also a con job. Paranormalists, for instance, and some “New Age” types use it to sell their stinking B.S. As a rule I do not accept appeals to Heisenberg and dismiss them as con artistry. 

    Re: “You are caught up merely in your forms of expression missing what is expressed with regard to the omnipotence of God Who is not bound by the confines and formal logic of of this world ignoring the fuzzy logic that is used by us everyday.” 

    If your deity is not bound by logic and not comprehensible using it, then there is no point discussing anything about him/her/it. Not with me, nor anyone else. I understand why you’d say this: It frees you up to say anything you want about your God and many any claim at all about him/her/it without the burden of having to demonstrate its veracity (because, as you say s/he/it is “above” veracity). 

    It’s been nice trying to make sense of your deity. But clearly this discussion is over, because you’ve just slammed the door on it with your old “my-God-is-above-your-nasty-logic!” assertion — which I also have heard many times before, and likewise dismiss as part of an effort to sell me the Brooklyn Bridge. 

  • PsiCop, 1. If you don’t like Brooklyn bridge, why not try your luck at Eiffel Tower that is also on sale! Aside from jokes, what about having some clear ideas about the omnipotence of God and His very Existence. Why do you recoil at the mere mention of ‘God’, even as you refuse to have clear perceptions. After all, it all depends on perceptions. Remember the ‘observer dependence’ from quantum theory that is applicable to epistemology as such and not only to micro level of matter. If you don’t like micro level, let us go to the macro level.
    2. At macro level, the scientists give a rationalisation of the big bang theory with the help of the presence of dark energy and dark matter. The composition of the universe in terms of the share of matter, dark matter and dark energy each is 5, 27 and 68 percent respectively. The CP violation (parity symmetry) plays an important role in explaining the dominance of matter over antimatter.
    3. If you don’t like macro level of matter too, the only option is what is in between that is handled by our everyday ordinary language and what is expressed through it. You may set aside scientific language that is hemmed in by the formal logic you swear by and yet cannot make use of it in everyday life that is in between the macro and the micro.
    4.That being the case, how can you ever hope to understand the ‘omnipotence’ of God or the very concept of ‘God’? To understand ‘omnipotence’ of God, the very first requirement is to have a right understanding of the concept of ‘God’. In God, there is no difference between essence and existence so much so that God is said to be Necessary Being. God is not just one of the beings that needs to be proved to exist as there is no identity between essence and existence in all other beings.
    5. It would, therefore, be more correct to say that we and the entire Universe are in God rather than that God is in us or in the universe. We and the entire Universe are like fish in the ocean, and it is advisable for the fish not to jump out of the ocean to have a better view of the ocean. Here is a glimpse of what happens in the case of those who refuse to have right perceptions of reality.

  • Re: “… what about having some clear ideas about the omnipotence of God and His very Existence.” 

    Nothing I’ve said is unclear.  But I’m not sure what the point is of you continuing to discuss this with me. You’ve already said your deity is above logic entirely. So I wonder why it is you’re even still talking about this? 

    Re: “Why do you recoil at the mere mention of ‘God’ …” 

    I have no idea why you think I “recoil at the mere mention of ‘God’.” But, why are you even asking this? You’ve already said your deity is above logic entirely. So I wonder why it is you’re even still talking about this? 

    Re: “The composition of the universe in terms of the share of matter, dark matter and dark energy each is 5, 27 and 68 percent respectively. 

    OK, so you’ve gone from using an appeal to Heisenberg on me, to using an appeal to dark matter and energy, in an effort (you think!) to compel me to buy into your choplogic. Nope, not gonna work! Dark matter and energy are not relevant here. Neither explains why a deity who is “omnipotent,” which means (by your own admission) “the power to do anything,” somehow is unable to do some things. 

    Oh wait. You’ve already said your deity is above logic entirely. So I wonder why it is you’re even still talking about this? 

    Re: “That being the case, how can you ever hope to understand the ‘omnipotence’ of God or the very concept of ‘God’?” 

    Not my job. I originated neither concept. Those who did — or who hold onto them as though they did — bear the burden of making their views comprehensible. It’s not up to me to understand them; it’s up to them to make themselves understood. 

    But, since you’ve already said your deity is above logic entirely, I wonder why it is you’re even still talking about this? 

    Re: “It would, therefore, be more correct to say that we and the entire Universe are in God rather than that God is in us or in the universe.” 

    What difference does that make? In what way do you think that justifies your refusal to make sense of your deity and your claims about him/her/ it? Oh wait. You’ve already said your deity is above logic entirely. So that means you can pretty much say anything you want about your deity, and I have to swallow it, and stop being an insolent, cynical, godless agnostic heathen. Right? 

    Well … guess again. 

  • PsiCop, 1. When you have nothing in reply to specific questions, often bandied about by yourself, you seem to close your eyes and imagine that they are either irrelevant or beyond the particular kind of logic you entertain. We had already agreed that there are different kinds of logic like the formal one used in Maths and sciences and fuzzy logic that handles unlimited variables that are unable to be treated by the formal logic. A few examples:
    2. You introduced the question of verification for true knowledge and I called your attention to the innumerable problems connected with the Principle of Verification initiated by the Logical Positivists in the Vienna Circle due to which they themselves rejected it. Your response: irrelevant.
    3. You bragged about meaningfulness of statements according to which the omnipotence of God cannot be meaningful and I invited you to examine the conditions of meaningfulness of words and statements citing Analytic Philosophy and Philosophy of language and Ludwig Wittgenstein: your response: silence.
    4. When I brought in the case of Quantum Physics that faces problems of foundations for material reality, you repeat that it refers only to the micro level as if foundations could be based from above rather than at the bottom.
    5. I thought that you would be pleased with the macro level of material reality, i mentioned about dark matter and dark forces, which too doesn’t help the problem of the instability of material reality without reaching out of itself to something else. Your nonchalant reply: not relevant.
    5. To find a middle way, I suggested that what is between the two extremes of micro and macro levels, that is, our ordinary and everyday use of language as the reservoir of meaningfulness may be considered to talk about the omnipotence of God. Your arm-chair declaration: This means that your deity is beyond all logic.
    6. It is rue that I consider the formal logic used in Maths and the sciences are useful in matters pertaining to the Universe and nothing beyond them. When we talk about God and omnipotence etc. you cannot insist that He should be confined within this Universe created by Him. A deity confined to this Universe is a false deity and you are attacking the shadow instead of the real one. Fuzzy Logic is the right one for talking about God just as it is used in the algorithms of computer language. Would you deny logic to computer language? Human beings are able to use fuzzy logic a step ahead of computer language whereby the Existence and Omnipotence etc. of God can be meaningfully talked about.

  • Re: “When you have nothing in reply to specific questions …” 

    I won’t waste my time on your irrelevant bilge. Don’t like it? That’s fine. You don’t have to like it. But whining about it isn’t going to change anything. 

    Re: “You introduced the question of verification for true knowledge and I called your attention to the innumerable problems connected with the Principle of Verification initiated by the Logical Positivists in the Vienna Circle due to which they themselves rejected it. Your response: irrelevant. 

    Your response was “irrelevant” because it was a deflection. It was your way of claiming that requesting verification is unreasonable of me. I dismiss that out-of-hand. It’s a con-artists’ maneuver to tell people one is trying to convince of something, not to look for verification. 

    Re: “3. You bragged about meaningfulness of statements according to which the omnipotence of God cannot be meaningful and I invited you to examine the conditions of meaningfulness of words and statements citing Analytic Philosophy and Philosophy of language and Ludwig Wittgenstein: your response: silence.” 

    I have no idea what you’re talking about here. Let’s back the cart up and go over all this again. OK? 

    1. The Abrahamic deity’s theists claim he is “omnipotent.” You are one of them. 
    2. The word “omnipotent” means “the power to do anything,” a definition to which you agreed previously. 
    3. Ordinarily, these two premises generate the logical conclusion that the Abrahamic God has the power to do anything.
    4. But that God’s believers, including you, nonetheless insist there are things s/he/it cannot do.

    The contradiction here is blatant, not to mention brazen. What do your references to Wittgenstein and meaningfulness have to do with it? Nothing. They can’t justify it, and they can’t magically make it go away. You can’t either. 

    But wait, you already did try to make it go away! You told me, a couple replies back, that your Almighty is above my nasty, puny, stinking, festering, mere-mortal logic! 

    So I have to ask: Why are you even still here, railing against me? You just played what you obviously view as your final, unassailable trump card. You (in your own eyes) beat me utterly. Yet here you are, still kvetching and whining at me. Why? 

    Re: “I thought that you would be pleased with the macro level of material reality, i mentioned about dark matter and dark forces …” 

    Yeah that was a clever maneuver, but you ended up doing the same thing at the other end. What you fail to comprehend is that I’m still onto your game. Which — ultimately — is, “You’re trying to make sense of a deity whom we refuse to make sense of, ourselves, and we refuse to permit anyone else to, either, so I’m going to throw out befuddling concepts at you in an attempt to make it seem ‘scientific’ to stop trying to make sense of a deity that I demand you stop trying to make sense of, you insolent non-believer type!” 

    I mentioned you trying to sell me the Brooklyn Bridge. Your introduction of dark matter and energy are just one more of your efforts to do that. I am not falling for your swindle. What part of that do you not comprehend? 

    Also, I have to ask: Why are you even still here, railing against me? You just played what you obviously view as your final, unassailable trump card. You (in your own eyes) beat me utterly. Yet here you are, still kvetching and whining at me. Why? 

    Re: “When we talk about God and omnipotence etc. you cannot insist that He should be confined within this Universe created by Him.” 

    Unfortunately, that’s the only way we can comprehend your deity. And that is — assuming as you claim, that s/he/it created us — by his/her/its design, the only way we can do so. All I am doing — again, assuming as you claim, that s/he/it created us — is abiding by his/her/its own design. 

    I plan to continue using logic to review your claims about your deity. And you know what? There’s not a single thing you can do to stop me. If you don’t like it, I suggest you take it up with your deity … after all, s/he/it is the one who made me what I am, if your theism is to be believed. And assuming s/he/it is omnipotent, it’s a problem s/he/it could solve, in an instant. So go whine to him/her/it about it. Not me. 

  • PsiCop, 1. I never said that requesting verification was unreasonable of you. I only said that first you must understand what verification means for which I invited your attention to the history of the Principle of Verification. From there you would have understood that verification can mean either the meaningfulness of a statement or its truth or falsity. Your urgency to jump to the latter avoiding the former is thoroughly illogical. For, only a meaningful statement can either be true or be false. Is this fundamental lesson in Logic irrelevant to you and you claim to be a devotee of formal Logic that is in question here?
    2. You say that you have no idea of what is meant by meaningfulness of statements. Why are you then denying the meaningfulness of statements containing the “omnipotence of God”?.Oh, as an agnostic you have the licence to deny what is not known or what cannot be known. If only you were to see how self-defeating agnosticism is!
    3. You want to know what Wittgenstein has to do with meaningfulness of statements, a presumptuous question even Philosophers like Bertrand Russell, G. E. Moore, Alfred Whitehead, Gottloeb Frege, his own professors, would have shuddered to ask even to themselves. Of course, your unfamiliarity with Wittgenstein is a blessing in disguise to ask such questions and look around for approval. You don’t feel anything wrong with your insipid question probably because you have never heard of Wittgenstein’s “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus” and his “The Philosophical Investigations”. Yet, you are not behind anyone in pretending to be a logician!
    4. I do not think that clarifying ideas, which is the purpose of this discussion, is to defeat anyone.
    5. Your question “Why am I here, if I have had my final word?” is unsustainable, as you very well know, since you still persist in your pseudo-logic. Your pseudo-logic is something similar to this syllogism: Either it is raining or it does not. But, it is raining. Therefore, it does not rain.
    6. You have promised to continue with your logic and at the same you want me to withdraw and leave you alone. Why are you threatened? Is it because that I might use your own logic against you as I have given an instance at No. 5. above? Sure, greater things are coming if you persist in your pseudo-logic that is a twisted version of the formal logic scientists, philosophers and logicians use in Mathematics and the Sciences. Please stop your habit of “crying wolf” as soon as I point out the lacunae in your logic, identifying your pseudo-logic with the beautiful science of Logic itself.

  • Your response is just a whole lot more of the very same bellyaching you’ve spewed at me for days. Let’s back the cart up — again! — and go over the logic problem that’s been posed by Abrahamic religious tradition: 

    1. That tradition claims its deity is “omnipotent.” 
    2. “Omnipotence” is defined as “the power to do anything.” 
    3. Thus, one logically could conclude the Abrahamic God has the power to do anything … 
    4. … yet, strangely, Abrahamic worshippers insist there are some things their deity cannot do. 

    I’ve also said this logical contradiction is obvious and blatant. Yet, Abrahamic worshippers like yourself incessantly and repeatedly push back against anyone who, like me, points it out to them. They throw out any number of obfuscations and redefinitions that — they think! — magically makes this contradiction disappear. 

    Unfortunately for them, however, it won’t. It’s also unfortunate for those who’re trying to talk about it with them, because they just end up going in circles about it. 

    Here’s my challenge to you, if you’ll accept it: Just resolve the contradiction already. Don’t push back at me. Don’t make me the problem. I am not the problem here, and will not accept responsibility for it. I didn’t conjure the premises upon which the failed syllogism, above, is based. I’m not the one who keeps hurling irrelevant objections back at those who point out the contradiction (e.g. the uncertainty principle, dark matter and energy, whatever). 

    Either you can resolve it, or you can’t. If you can, then just do so already and stop using deflections. If you can’t, just admit you can’t. Most Abrahamic theists won’t do either of these. They prefer to think there’s something wrong with me and that I’m the only person in all of history who’s ever noticed this contradiction, therefore I’m the unreasonable one and should shut up and go away. I refuse to do that however. I am not wrong that there is a contradiction here, and will not stop saying so. I just won’t. 

    Lastly, I note you already have played the Abrahamic deity’s ultimate trump card: The assertion that your God is above my nasty, stinking, festering, putrid, mere-mortal logic and that I’m not permitted to apply it to him/her/it. I suspect you’re going to rely on some variant of that. If that’s the case, then obviously you don’t think a logical discussion of your deity is even possible, and your discussion with me here has been nothing but a pretense for you, a meaningless diversion that can’t go anywhere because your God and my logic can never meet. If that’s the case, I must ask why you’ve been wasting both our time. 

  • PsiCop, You want me to resolve the contradiction in the claim of Abrahamic religious tradition about God’s “omnipotence”. Yes, I was trying to do that by first setting right your pseudo-logic and the consequent pseudo-contradiction. But, you refuse to consider anything about logic, meaningfulness of words and statements etc. Your preferred style is to mix up everything: Logic, Philosophy, Theology and even Theodicy and throw empty challenges. Let us first have some clear ideas about them and proceed step by step for clarity of issues involved. Who is obfuscating the issues to be discussed and resolved but the one who refuses to clean the wounds and bandage them with antibiotic? Do you see any advantage in festering wounds over a clean and healthy skin? The end result would be conjecturing up a “Deus ex machina” hoping to attract the attention of others.
    2. The Abrahamic God is not above real Logic, Philosophy or Theology, which are other than your pseudo-logic and twisted notions of philosophy, theology and even of agnosticism and atheism etc.
    3. My reason for saying what I have said in no. 2 above is: Your refusal to come into the light so that one may see clearly without biased ideas. I have tried to clarify ideas on your own terms when you swore by “verification”. You know how much you were really interested in it when I showed how verification could either be for meaningfulness of a statement or for establishing its truth or falsity. If you cannot appreciate even this simple point in your own Logic, how can you ever understand the “omnipotence of God” even if an explanation were to be offered to you?
    4. The urgent need, therefore, is to get back to the drawing board. Let us have some perspicuous ideas so that things are seen as they are. The method to do the same is to look at reality without preconceived ideas (these are the glasses we wear) and see for ourselves how things are. If people substitute ‘thinking’ for ‘seeing’, the result is that they are bound to ‘corrupt’ reality and proclaim what they think as reality in spite of the facts being otherwise than they think. Kindly do something in this line for a clear picture of what is real as opposed to what one imagines. This is urgent and we can wait for thinking about buying the Brooklyn bridge or even the Eiffel Tower, now that there is a new French president!

  • Re: “es, I was trying to do that by first setting right your pseudo-logic and the consequent pseudo-contradiction.” 

    No you weren’t. You were bellyaching about me, instead. Despite being called out on this tactic, you’re still doing is, e.g. here: 

    “Your refusal to come into the light so that one may see clearly without biased ideas.” 

    I’m not the one who “refuses” to cogently address an obvious, logical contradiction. You are. You. Yes, that’s right … you! Not me. You! 

    Re: “The urgent need, therefore, is to get back to the drawing board.” 

    Let’s do that. Resolve this conundrum:

    1. The Abrahamic religious tradition’s followers say their deity is “omnipotent.” 
    2. “Omnipotence” is defined as “the power to do anything.”
    3. One can logically deduce, therefore, that the Abrahamic deity has the power to do anything;
    4. yet his/her/its followers insist there are things s/he/it cannot do.

    Get to it. Explain this contradiction. Or just admit you have no intention of doing so. 

    To be clear, I did not devise this conundrum, nor any of the premises upon which it’s built. I am not the reason why, over a couple millennia, the Abrahamic deity’s followers haven’t done so. I am not, now, getting in the way of you resolving it. So stop making me the problem here. I am not the problem. 

  • PsiCop, 1. The problem with you is that you cannot see properly because as a publicly professed agnostic, you are mired in contradiction. For, an agnostic is one who does not or cannot know anything about God. So, you are supposed to keep quiet about God to save the honour due to your profession. Instead, you seem to turn eloquent instructing others what or how God should be. Is there not a contradiction? You don’t notice it because it has become your habit to wallow in self-contradiction by using pseudo-logic.
    2. Will you follow this simple logical principle that one should not dare speak about things one knows nothing about? As a professed agnostic, you are supposed to shut up about God and turn to anything else where you may be logically tolerable. Since you have shut yourself out of God-talk by your own profession and choice, it would be only logical that you don’t pontificate anything about God. But, I am afraid that your pseudo-logic will not allow you to see what is perspicuous.
    3. You are finding solace in the fact that you have not devised the conundrum about the omnipotence of God, as if you were ever qualified even to talk about God by being an agnostic on your own admission. No wonder that you have to go around promoting your pseudo-logic to the detriment of the good name Logic has among ordinary people.
    4. “Getting back to the drawing- board” means to begin at the beginning and not midway with your pre-conceived and false notions. You have no patience to do that has been clear throughout from the way you run away from considering the requirements of “verification” you yourself swore allegiance to or about the conditions of meaningfulness of words and statements. How can you claim to be a philosopher or even a logician, if you refuse to take steps to clarify ideas philosophically or logically? You try to escape by silence or branding everything irrelevant that does not agree with your pseudo-logic etc. That is why I said you refuse to come out into the light being afraid that your real worth would be evident for all to see. Your preferred method is to take pot-shots intermittently and hide behind pseudo-logic similar to the tactics in guerrilla warfare.

  • Re: “The problem with you is that you cannot see properly because as a publicly professed agnostic, you are mired in contradiction.” 

    No I’m not. 

    Re: “So, you are supposed to keep quiet about God to save the honour due to your profession.” 

    So maybe you should keep quiet about agnosticism. Right? Oh wait … you’re not! Oh well then. I guess you can’t order me to be quiet about your God, then. 

    Re: “Instead, you seem to turn eloquent instructing others what or how God should be. Is there not a contradiction?” 

    The contradiction comes from theists who make claims about their deity but haven’t the cojones or maturity to ‘fess up to them once called out on them by others. Instead, they become whiney little snivelers who spew excuses and absurdity over them, then get their knickers in knots when others won’t knuckle under to any of it. 

    Re: “You are finding solace in the fact that you have not devised the conundrum about the omnipotence of God …” 

    Why do I have to keep reminding you that the problem here is not with me. It’s with you and the rest of you theists who’ve constructed a contradiction and then spew ridiculous garbage in response, and get your knickers in knots when others aren’t convinced by your laughable spew? 

    Re: “‘Getting back to the drawing- board’ means to begin at the beginning and not midway with your pre-conceived and false notions.” 

    I never lied when I said that you Abrahamic theists have trotted out a contradiction. You have. You’ve done it. Moreover, you’ve done if for over a couple millennia. Grow up and own it already, and stop blaming me for it. Stop acting as though the contradiction doesn’t exist — it does, you’re just not mature enough to admit it. 

  • PsiCop, 1. Our discussion on “omnipotence of God” seems to run in circles without any definite results. Why? I think that it is because of mixing up of Logic, Philosophy and Theology without any rhyme or reason. Can we agree that “omnipotence of God” being properly used in Theology, Logic and Philosophy should be considered as preparation for stepping into Theology in order to avoid unwanted controversies? Without a preparatory ground to stand on, using the words “omnipotence of God’ would only invite misunderstandings.
    2. As for Logic, the formal logic used in Mathematics and the Sciences is good for their use, but not everywhere like in our everyday use of language in communication as fuzzy logic is more appropriate here.
    3. As for Philosophy, communication of meaning is vitally important and the Philosophy of Language is most appropriate here where there is no role for Metaphysics that is the nightmare of agnostics and atheists.
    4. Any contradiction can occur only in systems and without clarity on systems used in discussion, no resolution of contradiction can be satisfactory. The reason is that the same system is the basis for any meaningful assertions one makes where the contradiction is said to occur.

  • Re: “Our discussion on ‘omnipotence of God’ seems to run in circles without any definite results. Why?” 

    Good question. You already agreed with me as to the definition of “omnipotent,” though, so there doesn’t appear to be any good reason why you’re still veering all over the place. 

    Re: “I think that it is because of mixing up of Logic, Philosophy and Theology without any rhyme or reason.” 

    Hmm. I smell a whiff of “but-you-CAN’T-use-your-nasty-stinking-mere-mortal-logic-on-my-God” somewhere in there. 

    Re: “As for Logic, the formal logic used in Mathematics and the Sciences is good for their use, but not everywhere like in our everyday use of language in communication as fuzzy logic is more appropriate here.” 

    Another of your appeals to “fuzzy logic.” Sorry, nope. I’m not going there. You can keep trying to push me there all day long, but it will never work. I’m not as stupid as you obviously think I am. 

    Oh, and that whiff of “but-you-CAN’T-use-your-nasty-stinking-mere-mortal-logic-on-my-God”? Yeah, it’s getting pretty pronounced. 

    Re: “As for Philosophy, communication of meaning is vitally important and the Philosophy of Language is most appropriate here where there is no role for Metaphysics that is the nightmare of agnostics and atheists.” 

    As an agnostic, I don’t consider metaphysics a “nightmare.” I consider it primitive thinking, and asinine, but no “nightmare.” 

    Re: “Any contradiction can occur only in systems and without clarity on systems used in discussion, no resolution of contradiction can be satisfactory.” 

    So is this why you won’t resolve your own contradiction? 

  • PsiCop, 1. As you suspect so many things about me and my motives, I really suspect that you are not in any way interested in the resolution of any contradiction, rather only to safeguard your indefensible position however illogical it is. You are not amenable to consider any point I have been offering as steps to the resolution of the so-called contradiction in “the omnipotence of God”. Your sole reason is that you are not stupid, which you have to show by the way you defend yourself against the many logical points supporting the omnipotence of God.
    2. You pick and choose one or two words from my arguments and go on elaborating on them ignoring the main points explained, a habit you are engaged in from the beginning of our discussions. I always thought that you will get to the relevant points sometime or other, but it never happens. Are you afraid of real Philosophy and Logic?
    3. I have to confess now that only the omnipotence of God can bring you to the right track at least for discussing right as Philosophers and Logicians do since you are right now in an incorrigible (humanly speaking) position of myopia, whereby a veil has been drawn across your thinking powers as happened to St. Paul before his conversion as Saul!
    4. God allows people with stubborn, though stupid, attitudes to thrive in them for sometime before bringing them to their heels, if chosen for greater things, as happened in the case of Jonas in the O. T. and St. Paul in the N. T.
    5. Nothing short of such a blow will awaken people with obstinate stupidity to see things as they are and no arguments will persuade them, because they close their eyes to all Logic and Philosophy.
    6. Good Luck for you to experience personally the omnipotence of God if you are destined to play any role in the overall plan of God. If not, no argument will open your eyes as you are unwilling to consider any of them!

  • Re: “As you suspect so many things about me and my motives, I really suspect that you are not in any way interested in the resolution of any contradiction, rather only to safeguard your indefensible position however illogical it is.” 

    Once again, you kvetch and moan about me instead of discussing the contradiction which is the topic I’ve been trying to address. Why is that? What are you afraid of? 

    Re: “You pick and choose one or two words from my arguments and go on elaborating on them ignoring the main points explained …” 

    That’s because the words people use matter. They reveal a lot. In your case, your repeated bellyaching about me is your way of evading dealing with the brazen contradiction I’ve been talking about since I started commenting here. 

    Re: “I have to confess now that only the omnipotence of God can bring you to the right track at least for discussing right as Philosophers and Logicians do since you are right now in an incorrigible (humanly speaking) position of myopia …” 

    Again, the whining and simpering about me, rather than facing head-on the contradiction at the heart of the Abrahamic religious tradition. To be clear, nothing about me is preventing you from discussing it. Stop blaming me for your own unwillingness to deal with it. 

    Re: “God allows people with stubborn, though stupid, attitudes to thrive in them …” 

    Yet more of your sniveling about how nasty and awful I am because I refuse to stop pointing out the contradiction at the heart of the Abrahamic religious tradition. 

    Please, by all means, keep it up. Keep living down to all my expectations of religious apologists. 

    Re: “Nothing short of such a blow will awaken people with obstinate stupidity …” 

    It is not “obstinate stupidity” to point out the following contradiction — which is obvious to anyone with even a barely-functioning brain: 

    1. Abrahamic theists say their God is “omnipotent”; 
    2. “Omnipotence” is “the power to do anything“; 
    3. Thus, one logically could conclude this God has the power to do anything; 
    4. Yet, Abrahamic theists militantly insist there are some things their God cannot do. 

    It’s not my “obstinate stupidity” that cooked up any of that. Rather, it’s the product of Abrahamic theists’ own “obstinate stupidity.” 

    Re: “If not, no argument will open your eyes as you are unwilling to consider any of them!” 

    That your illogical, irrational, and whiney so-called “argument” hasn’t worked on me — because I’m not the idiot you clearly thought I was — doesn’t mean no argument could compel me to change my mind. It just means you need to grow up and stop sniveling and crying at my horrific insolence. 

  • I was trying to reply to you, but RNS moderated them. I guess you “win” this discussion … via a blockade. Nice work, theists. Well done! I’m sure you must be so proud!

  • PsiCop, Thanks for conceding and complimenting theists for their work. I am off to other sites now and so ‘arrividerci’!

  • I never conceded anything. I only said that my attempt to respond had been blockaded. But thank you for living down to all my expectations of theists. Your petulant refusal to actually think through the ramifications of your own beliefs is reassuringly theistic behavior. 

  • If that is what it takes to get the Templeton Prize, then either they are deperate or their standards are pretty low. His arguments aren’t all that great.

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