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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I do believe that many theists do gain 'strength' from prayer, but not because some guy-in-the-sky is listening and either does or does not take heart. When one prays, he or she is basically communicating with themselves, both consciousness and subconscious.  It's a motivator in some sense, a plea in others, a confession of one's errors in life, etc.

 Inotherwords, prayer is, in essence, taking one's own counsel.  Theists believe they're talking to a son of god who is sitting 'at the right hand' of god the designated father (planner) with the holy spirit (the inspirer)seated at the father's left side....all in the 'throne room' theater. It's imagery that's used as a crutch to inspire..to create an alternate reality.

 Little do they recognize that each individual does take counsel with him/herself. We acknowledge mistakes and virtues to ourself.  It's a feedback. That's all it is, but it's a very important part of one's conscious being.

my favourite argument in this one:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cO1a1Ek-HD0

Excellent!

Of course, "God works in mysterious ways. Surely this imperfection serves its purpose in the grand scheme of things." is a typical answer you would get from those theists who are even open enough to listen to and look at this video.

 

Still, a perfect example of the improbability of Creationism

I have heard the expression : The lord works in mysterious ways, his blunders to perform.
boom! Dawkins owns again.
you're right, it doesn't, but i still thought that was awesome.
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. Not bad my immature mind thought -- I can live with that. And it's the only sermon I ever remembered as my maturing mind continued to dissect the incomprehensibility of theistic thought.

Like all paradoxes it falls short due to either deliberate confusion and/or problems of definition. To begin with if an omnipotent being can limit its own powers it may cease to become omnipotent if it does so, but is nonetheless omnipotent beforehand. Secondly, omnipotence is in relation to external factors not against the omnipotent being itself, a bit like saying if the strongest man in the world cannot beat himself up he cannot be the strongest and if he does then he is still not the strongest. Where's the fallacy? The strongest man is only stronger against external things ie other people, not against himself.

This could be an interesting sophists discussion :)

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.

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