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,


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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?


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

Oh . . . so you're talking to me when you're talking to Chris?  I don't know where you got that name from.  Just call me AE.

To me, determinism is a consequence of causality.  With INANIMATE MATTER, the consequences of causality are mathematically deterministic.  This kind of clockwork predictability, however, does not apply to ANIMATE BEINGS.  Living beings -- particularly intelligent life (like us humans) -- are not as predictable.  The best predictions you can hope for, where humans are concerned, are ones that identify the SCOPE of possible (re)actions.

Humans have evolved to notice, comprehend, anticipate and use causality for their own purposes.  For instance, when IBM entered the PC market, I believed a future career with PCs had high potential if I were expert enough.  THAT is noticing, comprehending and anticipating causality.  Then I spent thousands of dollars on PC hardware and software and mastered them.  Once I felt ready, I read that a new PC networking company, called Novell, was starting up training for Certified Network Engineer (CNE) certification.  I believed the current trends would continue growing stronger, so I took the course and got certified.  I switched careers less than a month later.  THAT is using causality for my own purposes.

Using causality is commonly known as "planning" or "innovation" or "invention".  The repeated ability to plan for future goals and successfully realize them is demonstrable proof of self-determinism.  I maintain that self-determinism is the only form of free will that we humans have.

It's important to keep in mind that consciousness is not all in the brain: it's the interaction of the brain, our body's sensory apparatus and the world around us (causality).  Determinism, for inanimate matter, is a consequence of causality.  Self-determinism, for intelligent beings, is a consequence of causality.  The difference is the temporal advantage we derive from intelligent mental feedback. It empowers us to anticipate causality and (hopefully) meet the future prepared for what causality brings us.

Self-determinism is a FACT that we can ALL empirically prove with predictability rivaling that of causality.

By the way, Luka Rek, I agree with you.  The fatalism espoused by those who believe in ABSOLUTE (hard) determinism (i.e. there is no causal difference between inanimate matter and animate beings) is more aligned with religious thinking than with free thinking.

Something  find interesting about the Omnipotence Paradox is that it does NOT apply to religions with multiple Gods - only monotheistic religions.


The problem with monotheism is that it does not account for paradoxes like the one above. A god like our favorite Hebrew God has no excuses for not being in complete control of everything all the time.


In a Polytheistic religion (there are plenty to choose from), the worshipers are well aware that omnipotence just doesn't make sense. Why would a friendly god murder? Why would an evil god demand to be thought of as loving? That just doesn't make sense.



"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."

If the Pastafari prays to His Noodliness to smite thee, ought we to expect the sound of a whip-crack as the end of His noodley appendage exceeds the speed of sound when it strikes your knee cap and you crumple to the ground? Where, then, is faith? Where, then, is free will? We would then know for certain that His Noodliness exists. There would be no question that He exists. We would not be free to choose to believe in Him nor would we be free to choose not to believe in Him. There would be direct evidence of His existence--not only your shattered knee cap but also some bits of pasta on the knee of your pants.

If, on the other hand, the Pastafari prays to His Noodliness to smite thee and you, say, step in a chuck hole and your knee bends the wrong way and breaks and you crumple to the ground, then we being skeptics would not be able to directly attribute your breaking your  knee to His Noodliness intervening in response to the Pastafari's prayer. We would simply beileve it was a coincidence. The Pastafari believes His Noodliness answered his prayer. And free will is preserved.

What's really going to bake the Pastafari's noodle later on is, if the chuck hole formed "naturally" beforehand in anticipation of his prayer.

Luka, Jerry, and Atheist Exile

I am still reading through the discussions in the Free Will Group. I am also looking into Daniel Dennet's concept of Free will before I post a response regarding free will.

It is reasonable to believe determinism is reliable yet one can, and indeed ought to, remain skeptical regarding determinism.

We can say with confidence that causality is never violated in the verifiable universe, or more properly, all events are caused by the four fundamental forces of nature: gravity, electromagnetism, strong and weak nuclear forces. This statement can be falsified by simply providing evidence that demonstrates an effect without a cause. And if we consider Wheeler's Delayed Choice Experiment it may seem that the effect can preceed the cause yet we nonetheless still have a cause effect relationship and thus causality is still not violated. It would seem, then, that we can choose our reality and yet still not violate causality. What are we but macroscopic collections of microscopic quantum particles? I wonder both facetioulsy and seriuosly would I exist if there were no  other intelligent observers to observe me.

We might even wax philosophic about Laplace's Demon. To quote Laplace himself:

"We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future. An intellect which at a certain moment would know all forces that set nature in motion, and all positions of all items of which nature is composed, if this intellect were also vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in a single formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the tiniest atom; for such an intellect nothing would be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes."

That is, in a given instant, if we the know the exact position and momentum of every particle in the universe then we would know all cosmic events past, present, and future. Absolute Determinism.

Of course it is probably better to wax the car than wax philosophic since Absolute Determinism is at once refuted by the theories of Quantum Mechanics, for example, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle.

We may also consider Einstein's Theory of Realtivity which demonstrates that all event's, past, present, and future exist simultaneously, hence Einstein's statement, "the distinction between past, present and future is only an illusion, however persistent."
The future just as fixed as the past. What I do in the next second, the next minute, the next hour, the next day, the next ten years is determined the instant time began to exist. Time does not pass at all.

To which I reply: Eppur si muove! "And yet it moves!"

I understand that the Theory of Relativity has been tested in the laboratory numerous times and explains what we observe about the verifiable universe on a macroscopic scale (not the microscopic which is the magisterium of quantum mechanics), but everyday experience, my own personal observation, tells me that time passes.

Either I accept that my everyday experience is an illusion (if my everyday experience is an illusion, what else is an illusion? Down that path is tailspin into solipsism and nihilism), or I remain skeptical that Relativity is incomplete. That Relativity does not describe the microscopic, it is obvious that relativity is incomplete. There is a more complete theory yet to be discovered.

I can say that I BELIEVE in free will. Otherwise, I'am an automaton. If I'm an automaton, my ability to reason is called into question. Am I thinking, weighing the facts, or am I executing instructions--computer instructions as it were? How would I be able to know if my programming isn't faulty? Computers are able to execute faulty instructions and continue operating. I offer as evidence any product published by Microsoft. Applications and operating systems.

If someone tries to argue that free will does not exist he or she is admitting that he or  she is an automaton and thus makes his or her ability to reason questionable since there is no way for them to know whether their argument is the result of executing faulty instructions. Nothing they say regarding the matter (nor any other matter for that matter) can be trusted to be reliable. This person is declaring himself or herself non compos mentis, "not of sound mind."

Will evaluate other people's posts and reseacrch some Dennet so see different perspectives on free will


The logic behind your argument of someone claiming that he is an automaton is faulty. Why would an automaton be more faulty than a being with free will? When you investigate free will somehow the notion of AI always creeps in and the difference between hard and soft AI and whether they can be realized become as important as the original question. We all know that language needs two dimensions: syntax and meaning. Computer language does not contain meaning per-se, but can generate meaning after a certain amount of complexity has been achieved. Likewise, humans can be completely deterministic beings yet, with the level of complexity skyrocketing, it is not weird that our deterministic nature cannot be so easily conceived nor verified and that we understand ourselves through meaning not generated by pure "data and instructions". But the meaning may not be an aspect differentiated from syntax but can be the result of a high level of complexity of data and instructions. This question would be resolved if scientists created an AI which would be able to pass as a human being.

You mention thinking, but surely you must think in a certain way, must obey certain "laws" of thinking like logic and the like? You mention weighing facts, but what criteria do you use when weighing them? Aren`t those criteria a part of your program code? Wouldn`t being free mean you do not have criteria at all? But how would you then weigh facts and think?

Just so it doesn`t seem like I just love to criticize, I enjoyed your post. I also like that you are reading into Dennett because he is one of my favorite philosophers.



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