I just came across this on Wikipedia, and I am still reeling in astonishment. It's called the 'Omnipotence Paradox.' Just thought I'd throw it on here to give you guys some quick and easy ammo against theists. I'll give you the scientific idea, then the example (aka 'Paradox of the Stone').
If a being can perform such actions, then it can limit it's own ability to perform such actions. By this arguement, it cannot perform all actions, yet, on the other hand if it cannot limit it's own actions, then that is something it cannot do, and therefore, is not omnipotent.
And now for the easy version:

Could god create a stone so heavy that even he could not lift it? If so, he would then cease to be omnipotent. If not, he was not omnipotent to begin with.

Thank you for your time and patience. Another win for the Rationalists brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Atheist,

Maggie

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Luka,

 

Thank you for the link to the economist article.

 

Be careful of confirmation bias. Let me draw your attention to the last two paragraphs of the article:

 

 

"This is, of course, but a single result—and supporters of inflation do not propose to give up without a fight. Amir Hajian, a physicist at Princeton, for example, says he is concerned about distortions in the WMAP data caused by the satellite spending more time mapping some parts of the sky than others. Then there is the little matter of how the masslessness comes about.

Dr Guth, meanwhile, claims that a handful of papers are published every year pointing to inconsistencies between the microwave background data and inflation, and that none has withstood the test of time. Moreover, even if the circles do hold up, they may have a cause different from the one proposed by Dr Penrose. Nevertheless, when a strange theory makes a strange prediction and that prediction proves correct, it behoves science to investigate carefully."

 

Sorry, my skepticism is showing.

 

So, you can't really say that the universe has existed forever. All you can really say is that th universe is 13.7 billion years old since that is all we really know at this time. And, of course, we don't really know of any other universes--only our universe; the verifiable universe.

It is okay to show your skepticism because I am a skeptic as well. That is why I try to provide all possible solutions to a problem, whether they be more or less plausible. I do realize the things written at the end of the article but to only talk about what we know would be simply stating the facts. Before any theory can be confirmed there has to be evidence. Before any evidence can be found, the theory in question must make a prediction which will either be right or wrong. Before the theory can make a prediction it needs to assume certain things for which it has no evidence in order to see if that assumption leads to useful results. So, while the nature (or singularity) of this universe remains unexplained, there is no reason to refuse to acknowledge alternate theories as viable on the account of them having less evidence or being counter-intuitive.

Take the example of the theory of evolution. It is the only viable theory and the alternative has no real scientific evidence. But if a theory arises which gives a true prediction which the theory of evolution cannot give, then you must not discriminate against that theory on the ground that it has much less evidence. If the theory withstands the test of time, great. If not, not. But don`t be afraid to engage in discourse which involves theories of as yet insufficiently determined validity because that is the way theories are developed and new predictions made, which in turn provides for more opportunities for the verification or the falsification of the theory in question.

I don`t think that we, as laymen in that field, can even dream of making a useful prediction, but should that stop us from even discussing viable theories?

Jerry,

 

"When I was about 10 years old the Methodist ministers sermon was "why does god allow the horrible events that happen?" His answer was, "because if god disallowed the evil that man does -- it would be at the cost of mans free will". So, in the ministers eyes, there can be an omnipotent being able but not willing to take away our freedom of choice!!! We can't have it both ways. We either have choice or a world determined by god."

 

Sorry, my skepticism is showing.

 

Alvin Plantinga:

 

"A world containing creatures who are significantly free (and freely perform more good than evil actions) is more valuable, all else being equal, than a world containing no free creatures at all. Now God can create free creatures, but He can't cause or determine them to do only what is right. For if He does so, then they aren't significantly free after all; they do not do what is right freely. To create creatures capable of moral good, therefore, He must create creatures capable of moral evil; and He can't give these creatures the freedom to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so. As it turned out, sadly enough, some of the free creatures God created went wrong in the exercise of their freedom; this is the source of moral evil. The fact that free creatures sometimes go wrong, however, counts neither against God's omnipotence nor against His goodness; for He could have forestalled the occurrence of moral evil only by removing the possibility of moral good."

 

Do you not believe in free will?

Isn`t that deism? The way I see it, if god is something else than the physical laws governing our universe then whatever he does is disrupting the determinism of the universe. By that token only god is really free. But if you believe that we have free will, what does that mean? Does that mean that we can choose different actions when in the same situation? But there are no two situations which are exactly the same because either our environment is different or we are. If, on the other hand, the notion of free will is true then god cannot fulfill any prayers because that would mean he would intervene and destroy our free will.

Jeffrey,

 

"I don't think this works,

So assuming god can create the heaviest thing in the in the universe and lift it, the only thing that he could not lift would be a infinitely heavy rock. But he can not create or lift a infinitely heavy rock because it is not logically possible for it to exist. It would be like asking God to draw a round circle, God can't because it is not logically possible for it to exist. So the rock is logically impossible not God for this reason."

 

 

I discussed something similar in a previous post, but thank you for bringing it up again.

 

BAMF! RIGHT THERE! Win.
luka,
"Isn`t that deism?"
Deism would describe the belief of Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, Antony Flew, etc. but I think Plantinga meant this for a more general audience.
"The way I see it, if god is something else than the physical laws governing our universe then whatever he does is disrupting the determinism of the universe."
But is the universe deterministic? Wheeler's Delayed Choice experiment has been verified in the laboratory:
"But if you believe that we have free will, what does that mean? Does that mean that we can choose different actions when in the same situation?"
Given the above links, it appears we choose our reality.
"on the other hand, the notion of free will is true then god cannot fulfill any prayers because that would mean he would intervene and destroy our free will."
If we are able to choose our reality and if the Flying Spagetti Monster is something else than the physical laws governing our universe and the Flying Spagetti Monster chose to intervene and answer our prayers (or choose not to) how would that destroy our free will?

If I physically attacked a Pastafarian and he, in response, started praying for me to break my knees in order to escape, and The Great Flying Spaghetti Monster gave a helping noodle to the poor guy by breaking them, he would directly intervene in what would otherwise be the purpose for which the person doing the action (me) decided to do that particular action. When I choose an action, I accept any physical consequence following from that action, as long as that consequence is realized through the accepted physical laws of our universe. Since The Flying Spaghetti Monster is not subject to those laws he is influencing the consequences of my action in such a way as to endanger my free will.

Will get back to you on other things you wrote about as soon as I read the articles you posted

Ok, I think I got it. So the photon can "choose" to act in two ways, but the "choice" the photon makes is dependent on the "choice" the experimenter makes - whether to turn on or off the second beam splitter. This only shows that the observed data is influenced by the observer, that is, that in cases where we are dealing with matter that is on a sufficiently small scale, the matter (physical matter) cannot be isolated in such a way as to be both observable and unaffected by observation. In my opinion, however, this is not enough to support the thesis that we have free will. On the contrary, it shows how every action we take influences and is influenced by something. You do not (nor cannot) prove by this that the person making a choice could have made a different choice because he/she simply didn`t. Is there really a difference when I say, for example: We have no choice. or What we choose is already determined. So, while it does seem that we choose our own reality, it does not follow that we could have chosen another one. Therefore determinism is not refuted by this. This is not a good thing because it seems that determinism is equally irrefutable as, say, an existence of a god.

If I misread the article do tell me but don`t be too harsh because I really am not at good terms with physics (especially advanced one)

We don't have free will in the way most people think of free will. I maintain that “free will” is an awful term to express the independent agency humans possess to define purpose for themselves and pursue it. Our choices aren’t free in a libertarian sense: they’re free within the constraints of our experience; our identity.  Perhaps Arthur Schopenhauer summed it up best: "Man can do what he wills but he can not will what he wills."  We can do, in the present, whatever our experience has prepared us for.

 

Experience represents the past.  Experience -- what we've learned -- is all we know.  I believe it's virtually impossible to think or act outside our experience.  Even inspiration comes from experience. Where the rubber meets the road is in the present.  This is where our human brains interact with the world around us to form the conceptual continuity of identity: our consciousness.  Experience influences us so much because it was once formed in the present and layered into our identity just as the present will be.  THAT is the self in self-determinism.

Don’t get me wrong . . . causality rules.  We might think we’re in control until that earthquake or tsunami or car accident or economic crash or newborn baby changes our lives.  Causality is the ultimate big dog.  The unfortunate among us will be pursuing successful plans or enjoying the fruits of their labors when causality rears its ugly head and wipes out their achievements.  We can make choices to maximize security but we can never be sure we’re secure.

But how do you explain the fact that, despite the pervasiveness of causality, we can still map out our own futures and achieve our plans (if they’re any good)?  How do you explain how we, for the most part, hack our own paths into the future?

Feedback.

Mental feedback is the key.  Without it, we could not have memories or analyze problems or learn or make plans.  Without it, we could not understand causality or anticipate it.  Intelligence and consciousness itself hinge on mental feedback.  Mental feedback gives us a temporal advantage over causality by allowing us to anticipate it and plan for the future accordingly.  THAT is the determinism in “self-determinism”.

It lacks the flourish and romanticism of unbridled libertarian free will but self-determinism has its own beauty revealed in the paradox of free agency in a clockwork universe. Causality determines the scope of our abilities and actions and we use those abilities and actions to hack our own paths into the future.  And we're good at it.  We're getting cocky. But we’re not masters of the universe . . . just expressions of it.

Not bad Chris. I'm a bit of a more basic thinker than you. To me we are only free to the extent we are aware. As for the matter of free will vs determinism -- what is important is not if there is "free will" or not but that we believe we have free will -- and thus are always in an IF-THEN choice situation. I would be willing to bet that if people of both beliefs were implicitly scrutinized (without their awareness) that the "free willers" are more proactive in their lives than are the "determiners".
That does not follow. The determinism Atheist Exile (I guess he`s called Chris) talks about has absolutely no impact on the level of proactiveness of people. There is a research which proves your point, but the problem is that people misunderstand determinism in such a way as to influence their approach to things. They, indeed, tend to be less active and less moral. But what I am saying is that in acting in such a way they misunderstand the concept of determinism in its implications for the way we live our lives. If determinism is the case of things, it was the case even before you knew it was. Why then would you start acting differently after accepting determinism as a fact? Understanding determinism does not imply the change in behavior - misunderstanding does

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