Can god make an object so big even he can't move it?

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.
philoreaderguy
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Can god make an object so big even he can't move it?

Post by philoreaderguy » March 29th, 2007, 2:45 pm

God is all powerful, right? That means that he can do anything, right? Well, can he make an object so big that even he can't move it?

Charybdis
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Can god make an object so big even he can't move it?

Post by Charybdis » April 6th, 2007, 1:29 am

Philoreaderguy,
God is all powerful, right? That means that he can do anything, right? Well, can he make an object so big that even he can't move it?
Yes. Which also means God can move the object that He can?t move, because, as you said, ?He can do anything?. Anything means ?anything?, right?

MyshiningOne
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Re: Can god make an object so big even he can't move it?

Post by MyshiningOne » April 6th, 2007, 9:13 pm

Charybdis wrote:Philoreaderguy,
God is all powerful, right? That means that he can do anything, right? Well, can he make an object so big that even he can't move it?
Yes. Which also means God can move the object that He can?t move, because, as you said, ?He can do anything?. Anything means ?anything?, right?
That's true. It's a weird thought, but it does
make sense. I think this idea would apply to His
creation. I think when He created humans, He created
monsters.
It's not what you know that makes
you smart, it's knowing what you don't know.

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pjkeeley
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Post by pjkeeley » April 10th, 2007, 9:06 am

It's a weird thought, but it does
make sense.
No, it blatantly doesn't.

How can you conclude that God can lift the stone if you've already concluded that he can't lift the stone? Your argument would be thus:

1. God can make a stone that he is unable to lift. [because he is all powerful]
2. God is able to lift the stone. [because he is all powerful]
Therefore,
3. God both is both able [from 2] and unable [from 1] to lift the stone.

Which would then make him both all-powerful and not all-powerful! That's dumb.

Charybdis
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Can god make an object so big even he can't move it?

Post by Charybdis » April 10th, 2007, 12:08 pm

pjkeeley,

No, it blatantly doesn't.

How can you conclude that God can lift the stone if you've already concluded that he can't lift the stone? Your argument would be thus:

1. God can make a stone that he is unable to lift.
[because he is all powerful]
2. God is able to lift the stone.
[because he is all powerful]
Therefore,
3. God both can and cannot lift the stone.

Which would then make him both all-powerful and not all-powerful! That's dumb.
No. You've misunderstood MyshiningOne's response. She understood the answer and saw through the original question.

Nevertheless, your point is well taken and I agree with you, it is dumb; that is to say, the original question is dumb. My answer merely inherited the dumbness.

Consider: The premise that God 'can do anything', whether implied or explicitly stated as in the original question, means that God can defy the laws of logic, which means he can do contradictory things, such as doing that which it is impossible for God to do - because these constitute one subset of 'things' God can do in the set of 'can do anything'. It was not specified that God 'can do anything that it's logically possible for God to do', but of course, specifying that would make the question self-refuting. The question depends on this hidden illogic. So, the question itself releases us from any requirement to impose logical boundaries upon God's omnipotence.

My answer therefore stands.

Just to be clear, the original question is based upon a contradiction that is contained in its false definition of omnipotence. Omnipotence is not the power to 'do anything', omnipotence means unlimited power. 'The power to do anything' is intrinsically contradictory. By definition, it includes doing things that can't be done, which is a contradiction. As soon as we remove the contradictory elements, the word 'anything' in the definition no longer applies, because now we can point to some things that are no longer within the scope of 'anything'. Thus, 'the power to do anything' is meaningless.

So, it's not a matter of God lacking any power, it's that 'the power to do anything', applied uncritically as it is in the topic question, does not make logical sense. You may as well ask if God can create square triangles. If such a thing is possible, then by definition of God's omnipotence, God can do it. But if God has that power, we can't conceive it - it's a meaningless concept to the human mind. So is the idea of someone moving a rock they can't move.

So this doesn't diminish the character of God's omnipotence, in fact, it does precisely the opposite. It demonstrates that God's omnipotence is greater than we are capable of understanding, that it's beyond human logic. That is the ONLY possible meaning of either a 'yes' or 'no' answer to the topic question. Asking if God can move an object that He can't move is akin to asking, is God more powerful than God? Like the original question, this too is utter nonsense.
Last edited by Charybdis on September 19th, 2007, 5:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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pjkeeley
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Post by pjkeeley » April 10th, 2007, 12:51 pm

?the power to do anything?, applied uncritically as it is in the topic question, does not make logical sense.
Quite right, because it includes things that can't be done. This seems to be the thrust of your argument and I agree with you on this.

But you go on to state:
As soon as we remove the contradictory elements, the word ?anything? in the definition no longer applies, because now we can point to some things that are no longer within the scope of ?anything?. Thus, ?the power to do anything? is meaningless.
You are saying (correct me if I'm wrong) that the question as originally stated is meaningless (because it is contradictory), but it's also meaningless when the contradictory elements are removed. Thus my conclusion would therefore be that nothing can be termed "all-powerful" since, as you say, the term is a contradiction if it includes things that can't be done. And, as you said, if you ignore the subset of things that cannot be done within the "anything" set of things, the word "anything" in the question becomes meaningless.
Omnipotence is not the power to ?do anything?, omnipotence means unlimited power.
Please explain to me the difference between these definitions as I can see none. From my point of view we both agree, omnipotence is illogical/meaningless.

Your response was good up until this bit:
this doesn?t diminish the character of God?s omnipotence, in fact, it does precisely the opposite. It demonstrates that God?s omnipotence is greater than we are capable of understanding, that it?s beyond human logic.
That's a huge cop-out! God's omnipotence appears to make no sense, therefore it must be "beyond human logic"? Obviously I can't debate you if it's beyond human logic. You're basically saying "I win, so there."

Charybdis
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Can god make an object so big even he can't move it?

Post by Charybdis » April 10th, 2007, 6:16 pm

pjkeeley,

Good responses and good thinking. Let's go through it then.
You are saying (correct me if I'm wrong) that the question as originally stated is meaningless (because it is contradictory), but it's also meaningless when the contradictory elements are removed.
Spot on. Correct. The question is meaningless.
Thus my conclusion would therefore be that nothing can be termed "all-powerful" since, as you say, the term is a contradiction if it includes things that can't be done. And, as you said, if you ignore the subset of things that cannot be done within the "anything" set of things, the word "anything" in the question becomes meaningless.
Not quite. I'm saying that the terms 'all-powerful' or omnipotent (let's stick with omnipotent for convenience) do not mean 'can do anything'. Neither by standard definition nor tradition do they mean that. 'Can do anything' is a misplaced colloquialism here that doesn't survive the most elementary logical analysis. If you (or I) decide to define omnipotent that way, then any understanding of it is immediately placed beyond our rational capacity. There simply is no point in such a definition because neither theist nor atheist can say anything more about it. Whichever side does this automatically removes himself from the discussion.
Please explain to me the difference between these definitions as I can see none. From my point of view we both agree, omnipotence is illogical/meaningless.
Yes, if you mean that we agree that the 'can do anything' definition of omnipotence is meaningless. Unlimited power simply means the power to do that which it is possible to do. The false 'can do anything' definition adds to that, which is of course illogical, but you've already noted that.
That's a huge cop-out! God's omnipotence appears to make no sense, therefore it must be "beyond human logic"? Obviously I can't debate you if it's beyond human logic. You're basically saying "I win, so there."
No. As stated above, it's not God's omnipotence that doesn't make sense, it's the 'can do anything' definition of God's omnipotence that makes no sense. And I see how my intent could be misinterpreted, I should have been more clear, but please read the final two sentences in the previous post - I hope you can see I'm not claiming to have decisively demonstrated omnipotence or any such thing, I'm just pointing out the logical meaning of an illogical question. What I stated - "that it's beyond human logic" - is what the question itself logically leads to. It has nothing to do with what I, personally, think. Neither you nor I can claim to have demonstrated anything about the possibility or impossibility of omnipotence on the basis of this question. As a theist, the question doesn't help me prove or disprove anything, other than the nonsensical nature of the question itself - it's just a logic game that goes around in circles.
Last edited by Charybdis on September 19th, 2007, 5:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

MyshiningOne
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Re: Can god make an object so big even he can't move it?

Post by MyshiningOne » April 11th, 2007, 12:29 am

Charybdis wrote:pjkeeley,

No, it blatantly doesn't.

How can you conclude that God can lift the stone if you've already concluded that he can't lift the stone? Your argument would be thus:

1. God can make a stone that he is unable to lift.
[because he is all powerful]
2. God is able to lift the stone.
[because he is all powerful]
Therefore,
3. God both can and cannot lift the stone.

Which would then make him both all-powerful and not all-powerful! That's dumb.
No. You?ve misunderstood MyshiningOne?s response. She understood the answer and saw through the original question.

Nevertheless, your point is well taken and I agree with you, it is dumb ? that is to say, the original question is dumb. My answer merely inherited the dumbness.

Consider: The premise that God ?can do anything?, whether implied or explicitly stated as in the original question, means that God can defy the laws of logic, which means he can do contradictory things, such as doing that which it is impossible for God to do ? because these constitute one subset of ?things? God can do in the set of ?can do anything?. It was not specified that God ?can do anything that it?s logically possible for God to do?, but of course, specifying that would make the question self-refuting. The question depends on this hidden illogic. So, the question itself releases us from any requirement to impose logical boundaries upon God?s omnipotence.

My answer therefore stands.

Just to be clear, the original question is based upon a contradiction that is contained in its false definition of omnipotence. Omnipotence is not the power to ?do anything?, omnipotence means unlimited power. ?The power to do anything? is intrinsically contradictory. By definition, it includes doing things that can?t be done, which is a contradiction. As soon as we remove the contradictory elements, the word ?anything? in the definition no longer applies, because now we can point to some things that are no longer within the scope of ?anything?. Thus, ?the power to do anything? is meaningless.

So, it?s not a matter of God lacking any power, it?s that ?the power to do anything?, applied uncritically as it is in the topic question, does not make logical sense. You may as well ask if God can create square triangles. If such a thing is possible, then by definition of God?s omnipotence, God can do it. But if God has that power, we can?t conceive it ? it?s a meaningless concept to the human mind. So is the idea of someone moving a rock they can?t move.

So this doesn?t diminish the character of God?s omnipotence, in fact, it does precisely the opposite. It demonstrates that God?s omnipotence is greater than we are capable of understanding, that it?s beyond human logic. That is the ONLY possible meaning of either a ?yes? or ?no? answer to the topic question. Asking if God can move an object that He can?t move is akin to asking, is God more powerful than God? Like the original question, this too is utter nonsense.
It's sort of like asking "Can God contradict
Himself?" If He is all powerful, then I guess He
can. If you think about the topic question in
oversimplified terms, then it is easy to say that
God can do everything because most people don't
say to themselves: "Gee, if God can do everything, then He must be able to do things He can't do."
But the question is nonsense to people like us
because we look to see the gaps in the question.
I guess we could say that God is more powerful than contradictory questions which would make the question itself meaningless. Also, the words "can" and
"can't" exist in our own minds. We use earthly
reasoning to describe the supernatural realm.
It may not even be a question as to what He
can and can't do since humans tend to use these
terms to question their own limited abilities.
If God can move something He can't move, then
it wouldn't be a question of whether He can do it or not. It's our own rational thinking that is
preventing us from comprehending this.
It's not what you know that makes
you smart, it's knowing what you don't know.

selfless
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Re: Can god make an object so big even he can't move it?

Post by selfless » April 12th, 2007, 12:30 am

philoreaderguy wrote:God is all powerful, right? That means that he can do anything, right? Well, can he make an object so big that even he can't move it?
Forgive my ignorance; but does the question not make assumptions regarding God being limited and thus not really being "all powerful"? What would an all powerful or omnipetent being need to do? Would they need to create or move an object? Would the "need" not imply a lack of power and thus not really all powerful? The questions creates a contradiction by requiring us to contemplate it within our limited mind.

This Koan like question creates a paradox because we associate or project our own limitations onto a something without limits. How can a limited being define what it means to be limitless without using the same limits that define themselves?

I would venture to say, I don't know what it means to be an all powerful God, so for me to guess would say more about me than God. So to be truthful, the answer is I don't know what an all powerful God "does"!

Charybdis
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Re: Can god make an object so big even he can't move it?

Post by Charybdis » April 12th, 2007, 2:57 pm

MyshiningOne wrote:
It's sort of like asking "Can God contradict
Himself?" If He is all powerful, then I guess He
can. If you think about the topic question in
oversimplified terms, then it is easy to say that
God can do everything because most people don't
say to themselves: "Gee, if God can do everything, then He must be able to do things He can't do."
But the question is nonsense to people like us
because we look to see the gaps in the question.
I guess we could say that God is more powerful than contradictory questions which would make the question itself meaningless. Also, the words "can" and
"can't" exist in our own minds. We use earthly
reasoning to describe the supernatural realm.
It may not even be a question as to what He
can and can't do since humans tend to use these
terms to question their own limited abilities.
If God can move something He can't move, then
it wouldn't be a question of whether He can do it or not. It's our own rational thinking that is
preventing us from comprehending this.
Yes, I like the way you put that, and sadly, I lack your facility for concision.

I do personally think that omnipotence is something we're unlikely to be able to understand, especially in isolation from the philosophical and theological underpinnings of classical tradition. The question could probably function as a type of Koan, or meditation, as selfless suggested above, but it has no rhetorical force.
Last edited by Charybdis on September 19th, 2007, 6:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Charybdis
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Re: Can god make an object so big even he can't move it?

Post by Charybdis » April 12th, 2007, 3:05 pm

selfless wrote:
Forgive my ignorance; but does the question not make assumptions regarding God being limited and thus not really being "all powerful"? What would an all powerful or omnipetent being need to do? Would they need to create or move an object? Would the "need" not imply a lack of power and thus not really all powerful? The questions creates a contradiction by requiring us to contemplate it within our limited mind.
Yes, that is precisely what it does, it presupposes its own conclusion and thus begs the question. However, if the presupposed premise in a circular argument is itself true then the argument still works. So I think it's more useful to focus on the premise's definitional fallacy.
selfless wrote: This Koan like question creates a paradox because we associate or project our own limitations onto a something without limits. How can a limited being define what it means to be limitless without using the same limits that define themselves?
Exactly, and nicely said. We are limited by the laws of logic so to offer a definition (such as 'power to do anything') that entails a contradiction is to fail to offer a definition at all. What we can do is offer a definition that 'points' to the referent without trying to impose our own intellective limitations upon it. 'Unlimited power' does not attempt to define the range or scope of omnipotence, or otherwise impose a positive measurement on it - per the tradition of the via negativa, or apophatic approach, as you probably know. (Odd that you mention Koans, I had thought of that comparison, but the 'question' somehow seemed less than that).
selfless wrote: I would venture to say, I don't know what it means to be an all powerful God, so for me to guess would say more about me than God. So to be truthful, the answer is I don't know what an all powerful God "does"!
Agreed. I don't know either, or rather, I don't know beyond what it is possible to know by reason. Under the traditional negative definition of omnipotence I can at least say that God can do that which it is possible for God to do, without simultaneously imposing limits. So the proper definition allows us to talk about omnipotence to some degree, within the boundaries of reason.
Last edited by Charybdis on September 19th, 2007, 6:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

DanteAzrael
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Post by DanteAzrael » April 17th, 2007, 10:07 pm

All I must say is this...

It's grand to see that God is contradictive of himself...since contradictions cannot exist reality. We have proven the non-existence of God. Way to go team. :D
When a man declares: "There are no blacks and whites [in morality]" he is making a psychological confession, and what he means is: "I am unwilling to be wholly good—and please don't regard me as wholly evil!" - Ayn Rand

philoreaderguy
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Post by philoreaderguy » April 20th, 2007, 11:05 am

DanteAzrael wrote:All I must say is this...

It's grand to see that God is contradictive of himself...since contradictions cannot exist reality. We have proven the non-existence of God. Way to go team. :D
Yes, that's what I think. I think the concept of omnipotence is contradictory and thus an omnipotent thing is inherently non-existent.

MyshiningOne
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Post by MyshiningOne » April 22nd, 2007, 12:13 am

philoreaderguy wrote:
DanteAzrael wrote:All I must say is this...

It's grand to see that God is contradictive of himself...since contradictions cannot exist reality. We have proven the non-existence of God. Way to go team. :D
Yes, that's what I think. I think the concept of omnipotence is contradictory and thus an omnipotent thing is inherently non-existent.
It makes me tired just thinking about it!
It's not what you know that makes
you smart, it's knowing what you don't know.

MyshiningOne
Posts: 203
Joined: March 7th, 2007, 9:51 pm

Post by MyshiningOne » April 22nd, 2007, 12:14 am

philoreaderguy wrote:
DanteAzrael wrote:All I must say is this...

It's grand to see that God is contradictive of himself...since contradictions cannot exist reality. We have proven the non-existence of God. Way to go team. :D
Yes, that's what I think. I think the concept of omnipotence is contradictory and thus an omnipotent thing is inherently non-existent.
It makes me tired just thinking about it!
It's not what you know that makes
you smart, it's knowing what you don't know.

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