Can God create a rock so big...

Discussion in 'Defending the Faith' started by Greg, Jul 9, 2007.

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  1. shackleton

    shackleton Puritan Board Junior

    I was responding to this. If it is a philosphical debate then I was adding my two cents worth, and there is no need to start another thread. I am just as interested as the next guy to sit around and ponder these types of questions. I was trying to ascertain whether or not God uses logic, or whether God is subject to logic or if logic is so much a part of God's being that it is simply something that pervades from everything that He does. This has become a question of logic in order to answer the original post, so I am not detering from the original thread. Earlier it was stated that God is omnopotent enough to do what ever is logically possible. I was also responding to that. :D
    I have Gordon Clark's book on the Logos of God but have as yet not read it. It is on my list to read by the end of the summer.
     
  2. Cheshire Cat

    Cheshire Cat Puritan Board Sophomore

    Well, I apologize if I came off as harsh in my above post. I think the correct position is that logic is a part of God's nature. I haven't read much of Clark at all, so I can't help you there.
     
  3. Brian Bosse

    Brian Bosse "The Brain"

    Hello Caleb,

    Your argument is valid. In fact, I really enjoyed it. It was very thoughtful. Essentially, you are arguing that premises B and C are inconsistent with D. Your step 4 says as much. Step 4 (or any implication for that matter) is an argument in and of itself from the antecedent to the consequent using an unstated premise. Here is what I mean by this. Consider this implication:

    If you believe, then you will be saved.

    The antecedent is “you believe” and the consequent is “you will be saved.” There is a missing premise that gets us from the antecedent to the consequent, namely, “all who believe will be saved.” It goes something like this…

    Premise 1: You believe.
    Premise 2: All who believe will be saved.
    Conclusion: You will be saved.

    Without this premise or something like it, the implication is false. Can you flesh out the implied argument for the implication in step 4?

    Sincerely,

    Brian
     
  4. puritan lad

    puritan lad Puritan Board Freshman

    "Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases." (Psalms 115:3)
     
  5. Cheshire Cat

    Cheshire Cat Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thank you for the helpful comments Brian.

    So, the step that needs support is 4: If God can create a rock that he can’t lift, then it is not the case that God is in ‘absolute’ control of all creation as he determines and upholds it, etc.

    C: God can (or has for the sake of argument) create(d) a rock that he can’t lift.
    D: God is in ‘absolute’ control of all creation as he determines and upholds it, etc.
    Let ‘E’: All objects (e.g. a rock) that God cannot lift are objects that are not under God’s absolute control.

    P1: C
    P2: E
    C: ~D

    Here is another little background argument:

    A: Rocks that God can create
    B: Rocks that God cannot lift
    C: Objects that are not under God’s absolute control.

    Some A are B
    All B are C
    Some A are C

    Why ‘All B are C’? I think this is self-evident. The created rock cannot be controlled by God (at least in an ‘absolute’ way) if he cannot lift it.

    I believe this is an IAI-4 argument form and is thus valid.

    What say thee Brian? :).
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2007
  6. Brian Bosse

    Brian Bosse "The Brain"

    Hello Caleb,

    OK, a little Aristotelian Categorical Syllogistic argumentation, eh? Good job. I will continue playing the Devil's advocate. All of this rests on the assumption: God has absolute control over all creation. How far are you willing to go with this? For instance, does God have absolute control over the rapist in the very act of rape? Does God have absolute control over me? If not, then it is not the case that God has absolute control over all of creation. This would undermine the argument. If God does have absolute control, then in what sense is God in absolute control over my evil choices? :wow:

    Brian
     
  7. BrianLanier

    BrianLanier Puritan Board Freshman

    I would argue that they are not contradictory. Here is the argument by Savage (see above post for reference):

    "(1) Either x can create a stone which x cannot lift, or x cannot create a stone which x cannot lift.
    (2) If x can create a stone which x cannot lift, then, necessarily, there is at least one task which x cannot perform (namely, lift the stone in question).
    (3) If x cannot create a stone which x cannot lift, then, necessarily, there is at least one task which x cannot perform (namely, create the stone in question).
    (4) Hence, there is at least one task which x cannot perform.
    (5) If x is an omnipotient being, then x can perform any task.
    (6) Therefore, x is not omnipotent.

    Since x is any being, this argument proves that the existence of an omnipotent being, God or any other, is logically impossible. . . . ince it does not contain the word "God," no critic can maintain that [the argument] assumes God is omnipotent. For the same reason, the point that "a stone which God cannot lift" is self-contradictory is simply irrelevant."

    He argues that (3) (the second horn of the dilemma) is misleading. The statement, "'x cannot create a stone which x cannot lift' can only mean 'If x can create a stone, then x can lift it'. It is obvious that [this] statement does not entail that x is limited in power."


    They are not obviously contradictory, but this is does not seem to be a problem. They are only contradictory if we assume that God exists and that God is omnipotent is a necessary truth. But if we assume those propositions in order to arrive at the contradiction, then we are guilty of begging the question, since the point of the argument is to establish that the existence of an omnipotent being is logically impossible.

    Brian
     
  8. BrianLanier

    BrianLanier Puritan Board Freshman

    This does nothing to solve the problem--it just begs the question. This only works if we assume God exists and (A) and (D) are necessary truths. But isn't the point of the paradox to show how these will not go together?
     
  9. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    Hi Brian L. Great post.

    Nicely put. That does lay it out clearly.


    But here he is wrong. The point that the stone is a self-contradiction is the secret to this false paradox. You can put any self-contradictory object in it's place and the "paradox" appears: Can God create a round square? You see, as long as the object of God's omnipotence is itself a contradiction, it seems like an insoluble paradox. But the problem is not in the meaning of "omnipotence". I can also substitute any other predicate for "omnipotence" and the paradox remains. In fact, I can change the subject to anything and the paradox is still there: Can Anthony the musical draw a round square? No? Does the prove I am not musical? No. It is because a round square is a self contradiction.

    Try it.

    Can (insert adjective) (insert subject) (insert verb) (insert self contradictory object).

    Can a homeless cat produce a soundless bang. No. Ergo, a homeless cat is a paradox?

    What is sneaky about the question of the omnipotent being is it appears the the meaning of omnipotent is the cause of the paradox - but any subject no matter what adjective you attach to it will suffer from the same problem.


    What I think the question demonstrates is that the logically impossible is logically impossible. A stone so massive it can not be lifted by any power is a contradiction - and is logically impossible. Saying God is omnipotent does make contradictions into non-contradictions.

    Can an omniscient cow know A and not-A (at the same time and manner)? No? Then an omniscient cow does not know something? Therefore omniscient is a contradiction? No, A and not-A are a contradiction.

    I need to go to bed now so I don't have time to clean this up, but please think about it. It really does not matter what the subject of the question is, or what attributes it has - it can never cause, create, bring about, etc, anything that is a self-contradiction because the self-contradiction is meaningless in itself. Omnipotent, omniscient, omni(whatever) can not meaningfully do the meaningless. So not even omnipotent beings can do what is logically impossible (no more than the homeless cat can).

    This works every time. What do you think?
     
  10. BrianLanier

    BrianLanier Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi Anthony,

    There is nothing obviously self-contradictory in the way Savage laid out the argument. If you think there is--please show it.

    He did the right thing by substituting x in the argument for God. Now we can ask the question about any being.

    "Can x make something x cannot lift?" is not a self-contradictory statement. Now let's substitue x for Anthony: Can Anthony make a boat so big or heavy that Anthony cannot lift it? Again there is nothing self-contradictory in the statement it the no-matter what is substitued for x the logic will be the same.

    For your analog to work, namely, "Can Anthony the musical draw a round square?", you would have to show how "x creating something so heavy that x cannot lift" is a self-contradictory task. But obviously it is not.

    As I said above the only the "self-contradictory" (George Mavrodes has probably the best example) refutation can work is if you assume that God exists and God-is-omnipotent is a necessary truth--but again, that is the point of the arguement, to show how omnipotence is logically impossible.

    If I have time later, I'll spell out in detail how he "solves" the problem (I alluded to it earlier in a post above), which I think he does a *great* job.

     
  11. Cheshire Cat

    Cheshire Cat Puritan Board Sophomore

    Haha, a wrong Brian responded to my post as well! j/k. Anyways,

    Sigh. The "problem" is an *internal critique*, so of course we assume the biblical view of God. I think you missed the main point of my argument anyway.
     
  12. Cheshire Cat

    Cheshire Cat Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thanks. Good question. If absolute control entails that you are like a physical puppet that God controls, I don’t think God has absolute control (because I don't think that is the biblical view of God). I am a compatibilist with respect to free will btw. God has absolute control over the rapist in that it is *metaphysically possible for God to stop the rapist*. (But, God allows evil in this world for a morally sufficient reason. I take that by faith, and anyway, I think it is beyond our epistemic faculties to even comprehend...). As far as creating an object (like a rock) that God can’t lift, that would put Him into a situation where it is metaphysically *impossible* for God to control such an object. I think this is the relevant distinction between the rock example and the rapist.

    One could also argue from second causes, but I do think there is a sense in which God is "responsible", but not blaimworthy, for our sin. I have to study Calvinism more. Only last year did I embrace the doctrines of grace, and I have much more to learn. But, I think all calvinists have this problem.

    Edit: I guess one could say that if God foreordained that he *wouldn't* lift a stone that he created then he "couldn't", but I don't think that is the way 'couldn't lift' is being used in the argument. This is also a relevant difference between the rapist and the rock. R & R distinction :).
     
  13. BrianLanier

    BrianLanier Puritan Board Freshman

    No, the "problem" is with the notion of omnipotence qua omnipotence (this could be for God or anyone else). So the argument could be (as the one by Savage was) formed *neutral* to the questions of 1) whether God exists, and 2) whether God-is-omnipotent is a necessary truth. It doesn't *have* to be an "internal (using Van Tillian language) critique" of the biblical view of God.

    I don't think I missed the the main point of your argument, it's just that other philosophers have constructed better arguments (this is not meant with any offense or rudeness) that don't beg the question and still conclude *affirming* God's omnipotence.
     
  14. No Longer A Libertine

    No Longer A Libertine Puritan Board Senior

    This question always boiled down to what the undertone really meant.

    "Can God make a rock so heavy He can't lift it?"
    After a quick pagan translation:

    "Is God an idiot?"

    The answer is simply "no, he is not".
     
  15. shackleton

    shackleton Puritan Board Junior

    This is good. It shows that the answer does nothing to reflect upon God and his attributes. The person who asks this is trying create a situation which proves that God is limited.
    If God can create a rock soo big he cannot lift it, he is limited.
    If God cannot create a rock soo big he cannot lift it, he is limited.
    This argument is asked to create doubt, but when logically it can be proved that it has nothing to do with God it proves irrelevant. The fact that God cannot do something that is logically impossible does not reflect upon him at all.
    Ultimately, why would God need to create a rock that big? He is not David Copperfield.
     
  16. Brian Bosse

    Brian Bosse "The Brain"

    Hello Brian,

    OK. Keep in mind that we have already defined omnipotence to be…

    Definition: Person A is omnipotent if and only if person A can do what he wills.

    That is to say, the context of all of this is now in light of the above definition for omnipotence. If you use a different definition, then you are no longer addressing the issue in light of the context.

    Whoops. This proposition is using a different definition for ‘omnipotence’.

    The Christian position is that God exists, and that God is omnipotent (as defined above). So, it seems you are saying that the following propositions are contradictory…

    (1) ‘X’ is a rock.
    (2) ‘X’ is too heavy for God to lift.

    So, can you explicitly show these two propositions are contradictory given that God exists and is omnipotent (as defined above)? This is the question.

    Brian
     
  17. Brian Bosse

    Brian Bosse "The Brain"

    Hello Caleb,

    You are on the right track; so, don’t let the rabbit trail that has been introduced sidetrack you.

    Fair enough. So, playing the role of a thoughtful atheist, I would point out that your use of “absolute control” is either mis-defined or at best ill-defined. That is to say, before we can move the argument forward we need to decide what it means for God to have absolute control over creation.

    OK, you are making a distinction between something being metaphysically possible and metaphysically impossible. You have given an example of each, but they are not exact parallels. Can you define metaphysical possibility?

    Sincerely,

    Brian
     
  18. Cheshire Cat

    Cheshire Cat Puritan Board Sophomore

    Of course the "problem" is about omnipotence, but the "problem" for the Christian is cashed out in terms of an internal critique. Hence Brian Bosse's initial reductio. Omnipotence is said to be an attribute of the Christian God, so if the atheist (or anybody for that matter) is defining it a certain way, then that argument directly relates to the Christian God.

    Besides, lets analyze the proposition that 'An omnipotent being is a being that can perform any task'. How about the ability to strip oneself of the attritbute of omnipotence? How about the ability to somehow make oneself less powerful (which is what my argument is partly attacking if you haven't noticed yet)? Omnipotence is somewhat like a parabola. When one has the ability to do too many things, like make oneself less powerful, make oneself cease to exist, create logical impossibilities, etc, one is not as powerful.

    You have yet to show that my argument begs the question.

    p.s. internal critique is not just Van Tilian language.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2007
  19. shackleton

    shackleton Puritan Board Junior

    It is interesting you should bring this up. This an argument used by Norman Geisler. God in his omnipotence, limits it for the sack of man and his free will.
     
  20. Cheshire Cat

    Cheshire Cat Puritan Board Sophomore

    I'm pretty sure Geisler's a libertarian. Brian Bosse, I'll have to think about your post. I'm still in the process of waking up!
     
  21. Cheshire Cat

    Cheshire Cat Puritan Board Sophomore

    In my defense, I initially put ‘’ around the word ‘(absolute)’. But you are correct, a better word is in order. Let’s call it *possibility* control. I will explain this below.
    Keep in mind I have read only about 5 pages describing modal logic…With that in mind, here is my definition.
    Metaphysical possibility: having the capability of existing in a logically possible world.
    According to the Christian, The Christian God exists in all possible worlds. This includes all of God’s attributes, which includes his control over creation. There is a possible world in which the rapist doesn’t exist, or at least God has stopped the rapist from committing the crime. *But*, the ability to create an object/rock God cannot lift hits at the heart of his attributes, and thus the Christian God himself. Thus in order for it to be the case for God to be able to create a rock which he cannot lift, this would affect all possible worlds, for it would change God’s attributes. But God cannot change, for the Christian God (with all his attributes) exists in all possible worlds. Thus the ‘rock scenario’ is a metaphysical impossibility. God has possibility control over the rapist, but not over the rock.

    I am arguing that the rock scenario violates the creator/creature distinction, giving more “power” to the creation so to speak than the biblical view does.
     
  22. shackleton

    shackleton Puritan Board Junior

    He still uses this as an argument against "Calvinistic" sovereignty in his book
    "Chosen but Free":D
     
  23. BrianLanier

    BrianLanier Puritan Board Freshman

    I don't think this definition is entirely sufficient. I believe you also alluded to this when you said that the question would then be: "Can God will to create..." If person A is omnipotent iff person A can do what he will is true then a person would be omnipotent iff she only had a singular desire (will) and that of eating french fries when they are presented before her. I think a better def. would be that God possess all logically possible powers which is also *different* then saying that God can do anything logically possible (which BTW, was used by Caleb, and therefore not entirely outside the "light of the context").

    Again, see above.

    I am *not* arguing that the propositions *are* in fact contradictory. I am saying that they are *not* contradictory, especially when you subsititue x for God.

    But, as I said earlier, this is not a problem for Christians, because the argument, as given by Savage above, just parses out to say that "if x can create a stone, then x can lift it" from "if x cannot create a stone which x cannot lift".

    I am at work and don't have much time (or resourses)--and won't until I finish a final paper for school this weekend! I would really like to interact with you (and Caleb and Anthony) more when I get time. I really don't like these "drive-by" responses. Please forgive me.

    Brian
     
  24. shackleton

    shackleton Puritan Board Junior

    This sounds like Molinism. Where God chooses from the best of all possible worlds, but there is a world were everything that is possible happens. In sovereingnty, God decrees, based on logic, then acts to fulfill these decrees. Somehow the rapist fits in to the plan of God, but God is not responsible for the act of rape.
     
  25. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    An un-liftable object or an object of infinite mass is implied by the question, and both are incoherent by definition of object.

    Think about this: what are the minimum attributes of an object? What makes an object an object? 1) Volume. 2) Mass.

    For any given mass, there is a definable force that can lift that mass.

    What am I missing?
     
  26. Cheshire Cat

    Cheshire Cat Puritan Board Sophomore

    Naw, it is just possible worlds semantics. Molinism uses modal logic, but I'm not employing molinism.
     
  27. BrianLanier

    BrianLanier Puritan Board Freshman

    No one is saying that the object has to be of infinite mass, just enough so that God cannot lift it--in other words, there is no predefined "weight" assumed in the argument. Again, think outside the physically impossible and into the logically possible.

    It seems that you're missing the fact that there is nothing *self-contradictory* about the such an object. (This is probably best illustrated by the fact that no philosopher of religion [at least that I know of] has argued such.)
     
  28. cih1355

    cih1355 Puritan Board Junior

    If God were capable of doing evil, would this involve a logical contradiction? Would sinning be a logical contradiction for God, but not for sinners?

    What do you think of the idea that there is no discrete power to sin? Thomas Morris in his book, Our Idea of God, says, "There are many powers necessary for sinning in various ways, but there is no single, distinct power to sin exercised in addition to all other powers exercised on any and every occasion of the intentional doing of evil." Morris goes on the give the example of a person wrongfully punching another person and this action would be sin. A person has the power to wrongfully punch another person, but there is no additional power to sin. If a person wrongfully punches another person, does that mean he has two powers- the power to wrongfully punch another person and another power called "the power to sin"? Morris answers, "No".
     
  29. Cheshire Cat

    Cheshire Cat Puritan Board Sophomore

    OK, in this post I will lay out where I agree with Brian Lanier.

    I agree with this.

    Besides premise 3, another premise to attack is #5, which has been repeatedly done in this thread.

    Earlier I said that I agreed with Civbert’s definition that Omnipotence is the ability to do whatever is logically possible.

    Now I would have to ask myself, is it logically possible for God to commit an evil act?

    Perhaps Brian Lanier is correct when he says that a better definition of omnipotence would be that God possesses all logically possible powers. Can you elaborate on this definition Brian?

    My response would be to say that God cannot create any object that would diminish his omnipotence. Another way of saying this would be that If God were able to create a rock that he couldn’t lift, then he wouldn’t be as powerful as he would be if he couldn’t. If he was able, then he would have less control over creation, etc.

    Edit, of course with this change of mine my original reply that the rock scenerio is logically impossible is not a sound argument. I'm okay with that though, because the main point of my argument stays intact.
     
  30. Cheshire Cat

    Cheshire Cat Puritan Board Sophomore

    In this post I will lay out where I disagree with Brian Lanier.

    There is no problem in assuming that God is omnipotent. It is called an internal critique. Specifically this is a case of Reductio Ad Absurdum if we insert ‘God’ in the place of X. It would not be a case of begging the question.
     
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