Can God create a rock so big...

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

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  1. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    You have brought the "actor" back into the picture, but it is the object in itself that is self-contradictory. It is the unliftable object.

    For an object to be logically meaningful, it must have a limited mass and volume. You have confirmed that the "rock" has a limited mass by using the phrase "just enough".

    The force required to lift any object is that which is greater than the "weight" of the object. (Weight is measured in units of force. If an object has a weight of X, then the force to lift it is any force greater than X.

    No, it is not a fact that I am missing. It is clear to me that an "unliftable" object is logically self-contradictory. This is not a matter of physically possibility, but by the very meaning of something being a physical object. Can you see what I am saying? It's not sufficient to say " ... no philosopher of religion [at least that I know of] has argued such."

    Consider what I wrote and try to understand what I'm saying:
    1. Do you agree that an object, to be logically meaningful, must have at least mass and volume?
    2. And do you agree that, by definition, the force required to lift that object is any force greater than the weight of the object?

    (Mass and weight are technically two different things having different fundamental units, but a weight can be determined for any given mass, and weight is not fixed for any given mass - weight on the moon for a given mass is less then the same mass on Earth.)

    P.S. I may be read as being patronizing - that is not my intention. I just think that if careful consideration is given to what makes a object logically meaningful - that it must have mass and volume - then it is a matter of simple definition that it can be "lifted" by any force greater than it's weight. So an unliftable object is self-contradictory.

    P.P.S. Brain Bosse - this would be a great topic for the Christian Logic Discussion Forum - don't ya think? :think: We should get a thread going on the subject there too. :cool:
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2007
  2. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

    This thread................:deadhorse: Big Time! Yawn! Blah Blah! Just my:2cents:
     
  3. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    Do you want the change back on your :2cents:?
    :p
     
  4. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

    Chuckle.........only if you think my :2cents: is worth one cent!:)
     
  5. shackleton

    shackleton Puritan Board Junior

    I am actually enjoying this a immensely. Even though I am not able to contribute any weight to the conversation, I am learning a lot just by reading. I hope all my stupid comments did not deter to much from the discussion.
     
  6. Brian Bosse

    Brian Bosse "The Brain"

    Hello Caleb,

    To bring context to our discussion, here is the essence of your argument:

    Premise 1: If God can create a rock that He cannot lift, then it is not the case that God is in absolute control of all creation.
    Premise 2: God is in absolute control of all creation.
    Conclusion: It is not the case that God can create a rock that He cannot lift.

    You are trying to clarify what you mean by premise 2. More specifically you are trying to explain what it means for God to be in absolute control of all creation. You have stated that God does not have the same level of control over human beings that a puppet master has over his puppet; yet, God still has absolute control.

    Problem One

    You say God’s control over the rapist can be said to be absolute because it is metaphysically possible for God to stop the rapist. Seemingly, if it were not metaphysically possible for God to stop the rapist, then He would not have absolute control. The problem with this is that there are many situations where it is metaphysically possible for someone to stop a rapist, and yet it would not be appropriate to say that they have absolute control.

    Problem Two

    Your use of the term ‘absolute’ seems inappropriate. Since it is possible for the puppet master to “stop” the puppet, then God’s control over the rapist is in some sense less than the puppet master’s control over the puppet. It does not seem appropriate to call God’s control to be absolute when it is less than the puppet master’s control over the puppet.

    Problem Three

    It seems that it is metaphysically possible for God to control me like a puppet. So, why is this disqualified? Are any of the rapist’s actions independent of God? If not, then what is the difference between a puppet dependent upon the puppet master and the rapist dependent upon God? If you say, that we make choices as rational beings, then are our choices independent of God? If not, then what is the difference?

    Definition: ‘X’ is metaphysically possible if and only if ‘X’ exists in a logically possible world.

    I am not sure if this helps matters at all. You now have to define what constitutes a logically possible world. Plus, you are trying to define what it means for God to have absolute control. It is not clear how possible world semantics will help you to do this.

    Here is the argument you are making…

    Premise 1: If God creates a rock that He cannot lift, then God’s attributes will change.
    Premise 2: It is not the case that God’s attributes can change.
    Conclusion: It is not the case that God creates a rock that He cannot lift.

    This does not move the argument forward at all. Why are God’s attributes affected by His creating a rock He cannot lift? Is absolute control over creation an attribute of God? I think the argument has sputtered at this point. I think you should go back to the term “absolute control” and define it.

    Sincerely,

    Brian
     
  7. Brian Bosse

    Brian Bosse "The Brain"

    Hello Civbert,

    First off, I like your approach, but there are some problems. Weight is a function of a number of things - one which is mass and another being gravity. Volume really does not have anything to do with it.

    An object is not defined by mass and volume. I would want to say that angels are objects, and these do not have weight or volume. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

    Lastly, there are many reasons why person 'A' cannot pick up object 'X' that really do not have anything to do with weight. For instance, the object might be chained down. Of course, this problem presupposes weight being the issue, and then I think your approach could be fruitful. Just remember that weight is a function of mass and gravity.

    Brian
     
  8. Brian Bosse

    Brian Bosse "The Brain"

    Hello Brian

    I see the point you are trying to make, but I think my definition still works. Using your illustration, it is not as simple as you make it. For instance, for me to be able to actually eat a french fry there are numerous things that must come before hand.

    1. There must be potatoes.
    2. There must be a cook who knows how to make french fries.
    3. There must be a grease frier.
    4. There must be power for the grease frier.
    5. There must be appropriate weather to grow the potatoe.

    I could go on and on and on and on. Believe me that this list will go to the tens of thousands. Also, it will probably terminate at God. That is to say, God is a precondition for me being able to eat a french fry. The point is that my wanting (willing) to eat a French fry does not mean I can do it. There have been numberous times I have wanted something to eat, but could not have it. So, as interesting as your example is at first blush, it misses the mark because it misses the complexity involved in any want that we have.

    Now, you may say that I missed the point of the concerning the french fries being presented to her. Even then, the person cannot have a singluar desire. That person, in order to eat what is presented to her, must also have the means to do so. Once again, I could come up with a huge list of things needed prior to her actually being able to eat the fry. Again, the point is that things are never as simple as they seem. Really, we are talking about indepedence here. Maybe my definition would be better stated as...

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

    Sincerely,

    Brian
     
  9. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    I agree, and weight is not an essential component of the kind of object that is being described by the question. A rock in outer space would have almost no weight. Weight is a function of mass, the mass of another object, the distance between them, the gravitational constant, etc. There is a lot assumed by the question.

    The question is about a rock - a physical object. Spiritual objects are not physical objects. The question involves a rock, and weight is implied so it's near another mass.

    Yes, the weight of the rock is part of the issue, but who is doing the lifting is not the problem except indirectly. The question implies that a rock that can not be lifted by any magnitude of force is meaningful. Do you agree?
    1. The rock is a physical object.
    2. It can not be lifted by any magnitude force.
    One may object that the question specifically says it can not be lifted by God. But we also agree that no omnipotent being can lift it. And an omnipotent being means "all powerful" and so the question implies that no magnitude of force can lift the rock. So the rock implied by the question is self-contradictory because an object so massive no force can lift it is self-contradictory.

    The lesson of the question is that nothing can cause an contradiction to exist in reality. Nor can any action be logically performed on a self-contradictory object.
     
  10. shackleton

    shackleton Puritan Board Junior

    What I have learned from this discussion.
    One of God's attributes is his omnipotence.
    What is the definition of omnipotence?
    A) God can do anything that is possible.
    More specifically,
    B) God can do anything that is logically possible.
    God as God is not going to do something that is logicallyimpossible; i.e make a square a circle. The fact that he cannot do this does not at all reflect on God or his omnipotence because a change of this kind is not possible.

    God is a logical being. Logic is not something he is subject to, it is a part of who he is, so everything he does is going to be founded upon logic. God in his omniscience, which is founded upon logic, came up with a plan. God, as omnipotent is capable of bringing his plan to fruition. Whether or not it is logically possible is irrelevant because God as a logical being would not devise a plan that defied logic.
    Therefore, God as omnipotent can fulfill his decrees, but at the same time is not performing a task that is logically impossible. (It would be contrary to his nature).
    Please bear with my comments, I am still in the learning process and I don't possess all the knowedge of everyone else. Writing this out helps me think. :)
     
  11. Cheshire Cat

    Cheshire Cat Puritan Board Sophomore

    Brian, as far as problem 1 & 2 go, I did say this:
    As for Problem 3, I’m going to drop the whole puppet thing. I don’t know why I put that in there in the first place.
    For what it's worth, *control* is the important word. At this point it must be questioned whether there is a difference in control with the rock scenario as compared to God’s control over creation. God determines and upholds all of creation. So if God determined that he would create a rock and then not lift it, then in that sense he “can’t lift that rock”, because according to his will he wouldn’t. I think this is an example of God’s control over creation--his will if you will ;). But the rock scenario seems to be saying more than that. And if it isn’t, then I don’t see a problem.
    Where does this put me? Pretty much I’m saying that God's biblical control (determination and upholding of creation, etc.) is what defines omnipotence, not just the ability to do anything. Why? I have argued that elsewhere in this thread. But as far as this particular problem is concerned, I could just fall back on Savage’s answer to the problem, which I agree with.
    He wouldn’t be omnipotent if that were the case. I can fall back on Savage’s argument for this claim.

    Has my argument changed a lot throughout this thread? Of course it has! I will drop and add things left and right as long as I think I am getting closer to the truth. :).
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2007
  12. Cheshire Cat

    Cheshire Cat Puritan Board Sophomore

    Its all good shackleton, but I don't think I would define Omnipotence as the ability to do anything logically possible. Is it logically possible for God to commit an evil act? If not so, what law of logic does it violate? I know this may seem confusing because I initially agreed with that definition, but my argument has changed much in this thread.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2007
  13. shackleton

    shackleton Puritan Board Junior

    By logically impossible I mean that, God as a logical being would not violate his being by doing what was logically impossible. By this I mean that it would be a contradiction, when taking into account God's attributes, for him to create a rock of that size. It would not enter into his mind because it would constitute a contradiction, and God would not contradict himself.
    This seems like more of a riddle than a question. The quest is not to find an answer, but to change the way one thinks. I wonder how a person steeped in Eastern Philosophy would answer this question. We are all coming at it from the western mindset.
    Caleb, you could read the book "God and Evil" by Gordon Clark it is good at answering the question of God and evil.
     
  14. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    As usually, it depends on how you define "evil". If evil is a violation of God's law, then God cannot do evil. God's law is applicable to men only. God can not make laws restricting himself.

    We can also say that God's actions are good because God does them. So God can not do evil.

    Evil is defined in terms of God, his commands, his will. So it is logically impossible for God to commit evil acts.
     
  15. cih1355

    cih1355 Puritan Board Junior

    Thomas Morris in his book, Our Idea of God, says that "a being is omnipotent if it has every power which it is logically possible to possess." If there is a special, discrete power to sin, then the definition of omnipotence can be defined more precisely by saying, "God has every power it is logically possible for a being perfect in every other respect to possess."

    I have heard of two different ways one can answer the question, "Is it logically possible for God to commit an evil act?" One way of responding to this question would be to deny that there is a special, discrete power to sin. Thomas Morris advocates this view and I have summarized it in post #59.

    Another way to answer that question would be to say that God by definition is holy. If God were to commit an evil act, then He would be unholy. God cannot be holy and unholy at the same time because that would be a logically contradiction.
     
  16. Cheshire Cat

    Cheshire Cat Puritan Board Sophomore

  17. CalvinandHodges

    CalvinandHodges Puritan Board Junior

    No - God cannot make a rock that He cannot lift.

    There are many things that God cannot do: He cannot lie, He cannot steal, He cannot commit false worship, etc...

    The question is setting one of God's attributes against God Himself, and that is not logical.

    Blessings,

    CH
     
  18. Brian Bosse

    Brian Bosse "The Brain"

    Hello Everyone,

    Question: Can God create a rock so heavy He cannot lift it?

    I have yet to give my analysis of the issues raised with this question. There will be two main sections: (1) Consequences of a ‘yes’ answer; and (2) an Establishment of a ‘no’ answer.

    Answer: Yes

    There is lurking in the background a question regarding whether or nor the concept of ‘omnipotence’ is coherent. The skeptic will argue that it is not coherent, and as such any god who is considered omnipotent cannot exist. It is presumed that an omnipotent being can lift any rock. It is also presumed that an omnipotent being can create anything.

    (1) If ‘x’ is an omnipotent being, then ‘x’ can lift all rocks.
    (1-CP) If ‘x’cannot lift some rock, then ‘x’ is not an omnipotent being.

    (1-CP) is the contraposition of (1). That is to say, it is an immediate inference from (1), and as such is true if (1) is true.

    (2) If ‘x’ is an omnipotent being, then ‘x’ can create a rock that ‘x’ cannot lift.
    (3) If ‘x’ can create a rock that ‘x’ cannot lift, then ‘x’ cannot lift some rock.

    So, if we take as true that God is omnipotent, then from (2) and (3) God can create a rock that He cannot lift. This means God cannot lift some rock. If God cannot lift some rock, then from (1-CP) God is not an omnipotent being. So, from this we have the following:

    Conclusion: If God is an omnipotent being, then God is not an omnipotent being.

    By force of logic this leads to the conclusion that God is not an omnipotent being. Essentially, this is how the argument would look:

    Given: O → ¬O – (If God is an omnipotent being, then God is not an omnipotent being.)
    Step 1: O → O – (Law of Identity)
    Step 2: O → (O ∧ ¬O) – (Law of Absorption)
    Step 3: ¬(O ∧ ¬O) – (Law of non-Contradiction)
    Step 4: ¬O – (Modus Tollens)

    So, what we have proved is that there cannot be a god who is omnipotent given (1), (2) and (3). (1) and (3) are true, and as such the Christian who wants to overcome this objection must deny (2) in some manner.

    Answer: No

    To begin, we assert that God necessarily has absolute control over all creation. If God can create a rock too heavy too lift, then God can create an object that He does not have absolute control over. Therefore, God cannot create such a rock (because He necessarily has absolute control over all creation). Does this mean God is not omnipotent? Since I am denying (2), I need to define ‘omnipotence’ in such a way that it precludes (2). Here is one attempt:

    Definition: Person ‘x’ is omnipotent if and only if person ‘x’ is completely self-sufficient in doing whatever person ‘x’ wills.

    This definition is helpful on a number of points, the main one being that this precludes all things God would not will to do. If God were able to create a rock so heavy that He could not lift it, then God would change – He would no longer exercise complete control over creation. However, it is God’s nature and hence His will to exercise such control (and it His nature and will that He does not change). Therefore, God does not will to create a rock too heavy to lift. Since God does not will to create a rock too heavy to lift, then His inability to do so does not impact His being omnipotent.

    Conclusion

    What have we accomplished here? Well, with our definition for 'omnipotence' coupled with both God necessarily having absolute control over creation and God being immutable, we have created a situation by which we can answer ‘no’ to the skeptic’s question and still maintain God’s omnipotence. It should be noted that those who hold to some form of libertarian free will cannot use this argument. LFW asserts that there is something God created over which He does not have absolute control. The person holding to LFW must come up with a different defense.

    Sincerely,

    Brian
     
  19. Cheshire Cat

    Cheshire Cat Puritan Board Sophomore

    I like the new definition; especially the self-sufficient part. Of course I agree with the argument, although I need to read more literature on the subject. One of my motivations for the control part of that argument was that it would exlude libertarians from using it. I think libertarians could just use Savage's argument though. Do you agree with Savages argument Brian?
     
  20. Brian Bosse

    Brian Bosse "The Brain"

    Hello Caleb,

    The answer is ‘no,’ which I will explain in a moment. Let me restate the Skeptic's argument as laid out by Brian quoting Savage...

    (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 omnipotent being, then ‘x’ can perform any task.
    (6) Therefore, ‘x’ is not omnipotent.

    This proof is valid, and as such the only way to overcome the argument is to argue that one or more of the premises are false. Savage takes issue with premise 3, which completely misses the mark. In my previous post I argued that premise 5 was false. However, there is another premise that is false that I missed. It is premise (2). (2) only follows if ‘x’ actually creates the stone too heavy for ‘x’ to lift. If ‘x’ does not create the stone, then it is not the case that there is a stone which ‘x’ cannot lift. So, (2) is false making the argument unsound (even though it is still valid). We could revise (2) to be…

    (2R) If ‘x’ can create a stone which ‘x’ cannot lift, then “if ‘x’ creates a stone which ‘x’ cannot lift, then there is one task ‘x’ cannot perform.”

    I think (2R) is true, but this messes up the whole argument. It is no longer valid. So, the argument is overcome. But, this is not how Savage chose to deal with the argument. He said…

    This is to completely miss the point. He needs to be arguing against the truth of (3) and not whether or not "If 'x' can create a stone, then 'x' can lift it" limits the power of 'x'. In other words, whether or not "If 'x' can create a stone, then x can lift it" limits the power of 'x', it is irrelevant to the proof he is trying to refute. He has not provided a reason why (3) is false. Here is what (3) essentially asserts: If 'x' cannot perform task 't', then there is one task 'x' cannot perform. This seems obviously true. As such, Savage misses the key point – especially when one considers the arguments against steps (2) and (5), which in mind are devastating.

    Sincerely,

    Brian
    P.S. It certainly is possible I missed Savage's point. If so, please explain it to me.
     
  21. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    P.P.S. Can someone provide a link to Savage's argument, or a citation of it's source?
     
  22. BrianLanier

    BrianLanier Puritan Board Freshman

    u2u me with your email if you want a copy.

    Brian
     
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