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,

 

"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.

"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?"


Let me see if I can break this down.

1. I do not believe that free will exists.

2. If I do not believe that free will exists, I was compelled by the laws of physics (my programming if you prefer) to not believe that free will exists (I had no choice in the matter).

3. The stuff that my software runs on is my brain matter, or "wetware" if you prefer.

4. Wetware is subject to damage by injury and various pathologies for example, cancerous tumors, stroke, Alzeimer's disease, schizophrenia and so on.

5. Some damage or pathologies can warp and even drastically alter one's perception of reality or ability to think coherently, thus my software will be FUBAR (software is faulty).

6. It is possible that I am actually in a straight-jacket in a padded room, suffering from a delusion so complete as to believe I am married, I have a job, I play golf, go on holiday, and have a passtime of discussing free will on the Think Athiest forum. The belief that free will does not exist arises from a brian injury or pathology and is therefore faulty.

OR...

1. I do not believe that free will exists.

2. If I do not believe that free will exists, I was compelled by the laws of physics (my programming if you prefer) to not believe that free will exists (I had no choice in the matter).

3. The stuff that my software runs on is my brain matter, or "wetware" if you prefer.

4. Wetware in humans have a broad range of "intelligence quotients" from intellectually disabled to genius but on average from IQ 90 to IQ 110.

5. Even with an average intelligence I am able to understand most theories of science, for example, Relativity and Quantum Mechanics at the very least as explained to me by authorities on the subjects.

6. Theories can be politicised like Global Warming. Business can hire scientists to provide data that demonstrates that global warming is not caused by human actitivity. Environmentalists can hire scientists to provide data that demonstrates that global warming is caused by human activity. Mathematics can be fudged. Einstein introduced the Cosmological constant into his General Theory of Relativity in 1917 to force his equations to demonstrate a static universe (The Steady State Theory) rather than an expanding Universe. Even though the Cosmological constant has been corrected to demonstrate an expanding universe, Relativity is nonetheless an incomplete theory since it does not explain the microscopic world of quantum mecahnics and belief that free will does not exist arises from the determinism of Relativity (which is incomplete and contradicted by the Uncertainty Principle of quantum mechanics)

Until Realtivity and QM are resolved by a better theory, the alleged "Theory of Everything," the belief the free will does not exist is just that, a belief--so too is the belief in free will. I must therefore "weigh the facts," remain skeptical, withold provisional assent.


"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."

...

"This question would be resolved if scientists created an AI which would be able to pass as a human being."


I very much doubt that Artificial Intelligence, that is, a conscious computer will be developed in the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, computers are deterministic devices. Even the randomize function is "pseudo random." You might think that the developement of quantum computers will promise conscious computers, but quantum computers can't do anything that conventional computers can't do. Quantum computers will do what conventional computers can only much, much faster.


"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?


Take a look at the wikipedia page on epistemology. When have a number tools that we can use to arrive at conclusions, math, science, reason and so on. And I suppose each can be simulated on a computer, but all have flaws that would suffer from the halting/endless loop problem. For example, the Liar's Paradox would cause an endless loop deciding between true and false. By thinking and weighing the facts I mean when one tool fails we can fall back on another tool.

Luka,

 

To contunue...

 

Every formal system such as mathematics, logic, etc. has it's limitations--the Liar's Paradox from the perspective of philosophy, or the halting problem/endless loop from the perspective of computer and information sciences, or Gödel's incompleteness in mathematics. It would seem then that we must exercise our free will to "weigh the facts." I think J.P. Moreland articulates it better than I can:

 

"Acts of deliberation presuppose that the rational process is ‘up to me’ and is not determined prior to or during the process. The conclusion is drawn freely. My act of deliberation itself contributes by way of exercises of active power to what outcome is reached. Acts of deliberation presuppose that there is more than one possible conclusion one could reach, but if determinism is true, there is only one outcome possible, and it was fixed prior to the act of deliberation by forces outside the agent’s control. In deliberation, we not only weigh evidence, we also weight evidence – freely assign it certain importance in the rational process. Moreover we stand at the end of deliberative processes as intellectually responsible rational agents. Our conclusions are ones we or anyone in relevantly similar circumstances ought to draw. On the reasonable assumption that ought implies can, then genuine epistemic responsibility requires free will."

I did not reply to your first reply because I found it too confusing. I do understand all of it but I do not understand where you are going with this. The fact is that even if absolute determinism is a state of things we cannot really live by it. Morality presumes free choice and so does deliberation. But just because we cannot conceive of not being free, that does not mean that is not the case. Since you invoked the Godel`s theorem of incompleteness, let me use it in its most simplified form to illustrate my point. The GTI states that the axioms (basic claims which are taken for granted) of a system can only be confirmed by invoking evidence from outside the system. In the case of determinism (which I assume to hold for the whole universe), we are a part of the universe and, since we are part of the said system, we cannot hope to find evidence with which to confirm the very fundamental laws of that system (including determinism). Practically speaking, our subjective stance can never conform to the idea of determinacy, but neither can it act according to the fact that time does not exist. We are trying to objectify everything, but we cannot be objective in analyzing things of which we are a part. Time, free will, etc. are qualities of our subjective experience, and necessary ones at that. But that still does not say anything about them really being the state of things. Whether we should even consider talking about it if it doesn`t affect our everyday view of things is a very plausible argument. But not because it is not so, but because it very well may be that we can never know those things.

Here`s a mind-bender. Can God choose not to be free? If he can, then he is not free. If he can`t, he is not free. Therefore, God is deterministic. If God created everything, how could something deterministic create something which is not?

"Can God choose not to be free? If he can, then he is not free. If he can`t, he is not free."

Could not this be linked to the notion of rationality? As in: God's general behavior is rational and a subject of free will. He has the ability for irrational behavior but (occationally) choose to avoid it due to free will. He will be deterministic if he always choose the most rational choice because reason is predictable. God can therefore choose to be not free, but it's an irrational choice.

(The only assumption required for the conclusion is an overweight of rational vs irrational behavior.)

---

In any event, it doesn't matter too much since it appears God has retired after a flurry of activity around 6k years ago. ;)

"Can God choose not to be free? If he can, then he is not free. If he can`t, he is not free."

 

Well, if he can choose not to be free, then he can have the choice but not exercise it, no?

Can God make another God even more Godly than Himself?

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