Monday, October 03, 2005

The impossibilities of God

There is no proof of God, everything that God apparently does can be explained through science, and everything that God does that cannot be explained through science is told in a book that was written by a bunch of murdering fanatics centuries ago. Even what we know as the basis of the Christian religion can be easily disproven. A prime example is God's omnipotence.

God is omnipotent, right?

The definition of Omnipotent as defined by Dictionary.com and Wikipedia:
Having unlimited or universal power, authority, or force; all-powerful. - Dictionary.com

Omnipotence
(literally, "all power") is power with no limits or inexhaustible, in other words, unlimited power. Monotheistic religions generally attribute omnipotence only to God. Theists hold that examples of God's omnipotence include Creation and miracles. - Wikipedia
There are a few big problems with omnipotence, mainly the fact that it is impossible.

To be omnipotent, a God
  • must be able to do anything
  • must know everything
  • must not be 'good' or 'evil'
  • must be worthy of our worship

There are some things that are just impossible. I'm being totally serious here. It is impossible to add two plus two to get five, it is impossible to create a rock so heavy that the creator himself cannot lift it, and it is most definitely impossible to lick your elbow (believe me, I've tried).


If God knows everything, he knows the future. More specifically, he knows his future. If he knows his future, then he knows what he will do next, and cannot change it, meaning he has no free will, meaning that he is not omnipotent.


I think the matter of good and evil has been said best by David Hume:

If the evil in the world is intended by god he is not good. If it violates his intentions he is not almighty. God can't be both almighty and good. There are many objections to this, but none that holds since god is ultimately responsible for the existence of evil. Besides, if only god can create he must have created evil.
Many might say that Satan created evil, but if Satan can create, who's to say that he didn't create the universe? And if he created evil, God didn't create it, meaning God didn't create everything.
Oh, and another thing God did not create: himself.


From my readings of the Bible, I have found a lot of stuff about God. Much of it is good, but there is also a good quantity of bad stuff. One example is Job. I won't go into detail, but the Book of Job is essentially the story of the greatest servant God has ever seen, and how God, through peer pressure from Satan, competely destroys Jobs life to prove that his faith was as good as it was.
Another example is how God keeps on asking people for foreskins. What's with that?
I, at least, am convinced that this God is not a God worth worshipping (and it doesn't matter if the good outweighs the bad, because God cannot do bad, but he did, you see?).

But if there is a god worth worshipping out there, he, she, or it has not yet made contact. If it is a god that is worth worshipping, then it would be worshipped, therefore it would contact us to inform us of it's worshipability. But it has not, and so is not worthy of worship. If, on the other hand, it cannot contact us, then it is not worth worship either.


I conclude this anti-proof with a simple test:

If God is out there, then pray to him, and ask him to give you proof of his existence immediately. If he does not, then he either does not exist or doesn't want to reveal himself. If he doesn't want to reveal himself to you, then he is not worth your worship. If he does give you proof, then you should email me at aeger.kingdomofheathen@gmail.com, and tell me about it. If I don't believe you, it means that God couldn't foresee that I wouldn't, and so cannot tell the future, and so cannot do everything, and so is not worthy of my worship. Try it.

Thank you for your time.

13 Comments:

At 10/04/2005 10:43 AM, Blogger Advocate of the Browns said...

Thank you for putting into writing, what i have been trying to tell my dad for a year. Great post.

Can god heat a burrito so hot that He himself could not eat it? think about that simplified version of the post.

 
At 10/04/2005 6:27 PM, Blogger El Penguino said...

i guess that god is probably either a non physical thing or a unconcious force, or maybe he cant do everythere and has limitations, only theyre much higher than ours, maybe we cant comprehend what could would be if he was all those things, afterall we are just the next best thing after monkies i dunno, im not a philosipher

 
At 10/08/2005 1:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay first of all, the theory of creating a stone so heavy that even God himself could not lift is impossible. Because no matter how big the stone, God would still be able to lift it. Secindly, licking your elbow is not impossible. However, 78% of the human population cannot do it. Thirdly, God creates future, which means that he knows his future, because he MADE it. Therefore, he has unlimited free will. Fourth, Satan did not create evil. It was always there, Satan just helps it to be done more. Fifth, God tested Job to prove his faith, and Job was such a religious person that he went through all these tests and his faith in God actually INCREASED. Ever read that part of the Bible?

A thouroughly non-atheist

 
At 10/08/2005 3:17 PM, Blogger Aeger said...

Actually, Job's faith was thoroughly crushed becuase of his oppresion by God, though I admit it was reinstated when he got his property back. The evangelical atheist (who credits all of his sources, which I have checked) wrote about Job (http://evangelicalatheist.com/2005/
08/21/god-is-a-dick-part-viii-job/)

And yes, actually, I have read that part of the Bible, and much of the rest of it as well.

Regarding the stone theory: You've just proved God's inexistence right there. God can do anything, so he could lift the stone, but that means that can't create a stone so big that he himself can't lift it, meaning that he can't do everything.

And even though I trust you, could I please see where you found the statistics for the elbow thing (even though it holds no relevance at all to the case in point, and was just added for comedic relief)?

 
At 11/07/2005 4:29 PM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

I know of one person in the entire history of philosophy who defines omnipotence the way you do, and that's Rene Descartes. He believed God could create contradictions, so he would have no problem with God making a rock too big for even God to move, and then God could move it.

Most people define omnipotence as being able to do anything possible. Also, you need to distinguish between being able to do something in some absolute sense and being able to do something given some fact. Every argument I've seen against the notion of omnipotence fails on one or both of those counts.

As for freedom, you're working with a definition of freedom that 90% of philosophers wouldn't accept. Most philosophers are compatibilists about freedom. It also assumes God's actions are in time and God's thoughts are ordered temporally, which most theists have denied until recent years.

The problem of evil has a large literature, most of which you haven't even touched the surface of. There are strong responses to your way of framing the problem, which I think should be read rather than summarized. If you haven't read Alvin Plantinga on the problem of evil, you're hopelessly out of date. The discussion at this point begins where his work left off.

As for your last issue, it only takes knowing a little about what the Bible actually says (see Hosea, for instance) to have encountered the standard Christian response. Any being who would be so manipulated by such a snide and arrogant prayer is not worthy of worship. A being worthy of worship would simply ignore someone who prayed such a prayer with the expectation of such a result.

 
At 11/08/2005 2:29 AM, Blogger LBBP said...

Aeger, As you probably know I do not support the theist worldview. And, Jeremy's view of atheists seems so condescending that the last thing I want to do is agree with him. However, I have to admit that there are some actual scientific possibilities for some of the apparent paradoxes of omnipotence that you raise. One example of this is the concept of multi-dimensional existence as derived from string theory, which postulates not 4 dimensions (3 spatial and 1 time) but rather 10, 11, or 26 depending on the version of the theory. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_theory) There is a classic novel, "Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions", that tells a satirical account of life in a two dimensional world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flatland) and how a three dimensional being interacting with a two dimensional world would appear to have God like powers.

Consider living in a two dimension spatial world. You would be able to move left or right, forward or backward, and any combination of those, but you would not be able to move up or down. A three dimensional being interacting with a two dimensional world would appear to be able to disappear (by moving up or down out of the two dimensional plane) then reappear somewhere else by again moving in line with the two dimensional world. They would also be able to see "inside" two dimensional beings or objects and other "powers". From the three dimensional beings vantage point, the two dimensional creatures would appear like drawings on a sheet of paper. What would be hidden from them inside a closed shape would be easily seen by the three dimensional being.

The two dimensional beings would not be able to truly understand the concept of what the third dimension would be like. They might be able to mathematically predict a third dimension but their mind would not truly be able to conceptualize it. For us "higher" dimensions would not be something that we can visualize. Our brains are just not wired for it, and any interaction we have with other dimensions would seem like amazing or "supernatural" powers.

None of these "powers" would really be "God like" or "supernatural" but they would appear that way to us Flatlanders. "God" could then really just be a practical joker (or several) existing on some dimension above or outside of our 4. Such a being would be able to move through space and time in ways that would be "beyond our understanding" a.k.a. "mysterious ways". Sound familiar?

BTW, I have fixed the spelling error on your link. (Finally)

 
At 11/08/2005 11:15 AM, Anonymous Mia said...

I have not read this post yet, but just one thing to point out - Wikipedia is an incredibly unreliable source. Anybody can go and change the definition of anything to whatever they want. It doesn't look like that is the case with your definitions, but for future reference - use wikipedia for a broad understanding of concepts, and other more reliable sources for real definitions.

And I disagree with your definition of omnipotence - the very fact that God can do everything means that he is incapable of not being able to do something (or rather that God can do anything except not be able to do something), but I'll get into that more later.
~Mia
Oh, and from reading the comments - Anonymous: a bit condescending and thoroughly unconvincing (I like the whole "we have no free will" thing. Very creepy), but I too am curious about your elbow-licking statistic. Everywhere I've heard it's impossible, but I would like to know your source!

 
At 11/09/2005 2:26 PM, Blogger UberKuh said...

I would just like to point out that it does not matter how you free (to logic) or restrict (to illogic) omnipotence, because each definition eventually leads to a disproof of an omnipotent being's existence via incompatible properties.

 
At 11/13/2005 3:11 PM, Anonymous Mia said...

How your "anti-proof" does not disprove the existence of God:

Wow. I should do research on these things all of the time instead of just coming up with my own arguments without anybody else's to back mine up. I was just looking for a definition for omnipotence and I found a bunch of places arguing that rock thing.

Before giving my definition, let me argue your points against your definition. You say that, under your definition, God must be 4 things. However your definition only addresses the first. Knowing everything, being neither good nor bad, and being worthy of our worship are not parts of omnipotence. Yes, they are parts of theism (well, I think most theists believe that God is good - not quite sure what you mean there), but not of omnipotence as you put it. You do not link any of these back to your definition.

Dictionay.com and Wikipedia (already discussed this earlier) are not necessarily what theists believe when they think of omnipotence. Omnipotence as defined by the first Vatican Council (a member of a religion, therefore defining the way the word is meant to be used in a religious context is as follows: "God has the power to execute all that He may wish, that is all that is real and possible. God’s power is identical with God’s essence." It is impossible to be able to both do something and not do something; therefore under this definition, your rock argument falls. You are having God both be able to lift all rocks, but make something that he cannot lift, which is impossible, and thus unnecessary for being omnipotent. Websites to look at for further attacks on this argument: http://www.saintaquinas.com/omnipotence.html and http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/billramey/omni.htm and http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/rock.html There are a lot more. Just google "omnipotence" and "definition" if you are curious and a lot pop up.

Well, omniscience is a lot more boring, apparently, because nothing really good came up. I guess I'll use the general definition of "all-knowing" and use an interpretation of it. You say that to be omniscient, God must know the future, and if he knows his future, he cannot change it and is therefore not omnipotent because he cannot do something. I disagree that he must know the future. He must know what would happen if an event would occur. For example, he must know what would happen if he takes course of action A, course of action B, and so forth. Therefore he can choose the best action - meaning he has free will and your omnipotence argument is irrelevant. It is the same thing with our futures. He knows what will happen if we choose to do something, and he knows what will happen if we do not. This is all-knowing, knowing these causes and effects.

Being neither good nor bad. What makes you say theists believe this? I think what you’re trying to say is that God is omnibenevolent. Therefore, you were asking why God would create evil. (Very interesting post about this here: http://pixnaps.blogspot.com/2005/01/natural-evil.html#c110609860864258263). Okay. God has given us free will. So we can make whatever decisions we want. This could have started so the first people were only making decisions between one good thing and another. But then bad decisions began to work their way in. Starting with the not harmful but still not bad things, and then leading up to worse, harmful things, creating evil. Then, God believed that eliminating our free will and this evil would have been more evil then leaving it in. So he tries to keep the balance. Not everything had to be “created.” Some things can create themselves (such as evil in this example).

To exist, God does not have to be worthy of our worship. Also, to be worthy of our worship, he does not have to contact us to inform us that he should be worshipped. Maybe he is worthy of our worship, but does not actually want to be worshipped. Or he wants to be worshipped but believes making himself known will have some other harmful effect (because he is possibly omniscient and knows the consequences of those actions). He also does not have to actually be worshipped to be worthy of it (silent hero). Also, not everything in the Bible is supposed to be taken as true. Partially because there are many different religions, each with their own bibles, so you cannot say one religion’s idea of God cannot exist because of something occurring in another’s bible, and partially because the Bible was written to give us an idea of how to live our lives, not to give an exact account of God’s life.
~Mia

 
At 11/13/2005 4:10 PM, Blogger Enil Edam said...

Mia, you really did your research. It's quite impressive.

There are interesting interpretations of theism. For example, many Jews that I know don't believe that God is omnipotent. They say that God must work within the laws of Nature. And those laws may have been in existance before God was.

In any case, I agree with Mia's opinion on omniscience. Omniscience is not so much that God knows how the world will play out, but God knows what possiblities are within the realm of choice.

The fundimental difference between the atheists, theists and agnostics is where we base our knowledge.

Some of us are more willing to put faith in our ideas without having hard evidence (scientific or otherwise). But clearly, we can't use ambiguous definitions as an argument for the omnipotence or omniscience of God.

 
At 9/28/2006 6:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone is saying that there cannot be omnipotence on the grounds of incopatible principles or something like that. The fact that something is omnipotent makes it possible for that being to change the definition of omnipotence whenever they wanted to. Also they could create contradictions, or, since they are all powerful, they could decide that they could not be able to do something after changing the definition of omnipotence. Another thing, if God can do anything then he can create a stone so HEAVY that he cannot lift it but still be able to lift it. I hate how everyone is saying big, because a stone could be as large as our universe but have the smallest density ever, thereby decreasing it's weight to a level that we could lift it by. Finally if you can dislocate your shoulder than you can lick your elbow, or if you have an extremely long tongue or have no tissue connecting it to the bottom of your mouth. Also any other form of phisical mutation could make it possible to lick your elbow.

 
At 12/18/2006 9:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

in order to effectively create any real arguments for or against this case you must first adresse the initial basic premis that realy sets apart the christian worldview, and the non christian worldview. simply put, the christian worldview begins and is completely influenced by the premise of there is a God. period. the non christian worldview begins and is completely influenced by the basic premise of there is no God. period. once you identify where you stnad on these issues you can begin to make an effective arguement, but first lets address the idea of not having a God.

if there is not a God then life, nature, the entire universe, everything was created by mere chance, on a supreme accident that happened to make everything happen perfectly. that befor there was anything, a bunch of nothing began to swirl around and just exploded into the universe and all of its properties just suddenly existed. that of course poses the question of, where did the nothingness that made the explosion come from? because with your scientific mind you must surely know that there has never been a recorded incident of pure nothing just exploding. or is there. if you could happen to find one please let the rest of the world know because im sure its a first. but even if you dont beleive that was created by the big bang and that it was "just in existence", where did it come from. there has to be something that created it. if you scientists are putting a time limit on the sun and an age on the earth it means that there must have been something that created it, or there must have been an instance where everything began. which if you beleive the second then you are in yourself worshiping the earth and all of its self contained greatness. if your want to use your own definitions and options and the process of logical elimination then obviosly there is a major flaw in your basic premise of where life came from which breaks down the building blocks of your theory, because as we all know your cant build something from the top up.

but that aside, your deffinition of omnipotence is putting a logical limit on an illogical term. to refer to ibbp's earlier comment, you are putting a 4 dimensional box around a multiple dimensional being. while you may see it as an inescapable trap that make things not possible for an even "allpowerful" being, your are placing God inside of time and space, which he is not. a concept that is hard for the human mind to grasp, so we try to explain it away with science and say that god is not real and that he must be inside of it. you can see a similar pattern of putting limits on what we dont understand in the idea of forever. it is fairly simple for us to imagine forever in the future, so we dont ever put a date on when things will end because we understand it, but when we begin to think about forever in the past, a litteral forever that has no begining and no end, we cannot comprehend, therefor we try to put a time frame on the begining and say that it started at this point. you could also look at the past, simply because people could not see the wind, and didnt understand why it happened or where it came from, did that mean that there was no wind? simple ignorance and incromprehension are no grounds for the disqualification of an idea. so if you want to try and define God why dont you come on over and play in our little world for a while, argue with the rules of what he realy is, no what you want him to not be, or better yet, why dont you ask him yourself and actualy listen and see if he answers? and remember, if he realy is God, then he just might have some idea of what hes doing when he doesnt answer right when you want him to.


on the christian side of things. if you start with the view of: there is an omnipotent, omniscient God, then you understand that God is outside of time and space, that he is perfect and doesnt NEED us, but created us because he loved us befor time began and desired a relationship with us. he also loves us so much that he has given us the freewill to make our own decisions, and that when evil was introduced into the world, it was not becauses God wanted us to suffer, but because we chose to disobey him, and because of that we have to live with the consequences of being inherantly evil. but because he sent his perfect son to the earth to live a perfect life and die for what we have done wrong, we are able to throw away that inheritence of evil and begin a life, of good, and obedience to the one person that truly understands life, and has actualy fully enjoy it without negative consequences, Jesus Christ.

 
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