Great response to such a common challenge. I hope your listeners will remember this as they talk to others around them so they won’t feel as though they are constantly trapped in conversations. Keep up the good work!
Dear Toby , As always a interesting podcast . I am not sure if I have come to terms with a logical God as you refer . Perhaps He is perfectly logical in His own infinite way , but I don’t think He is bound to our own finite logic (e.g. the Trinity) . In fact I am inclined to believe that He is somewhat mysterious who desires a relationship with us – hence our concisious (sp?) . I understand that a mystery doesn’t mean confusion or that it is necessarily illogical (I am trying my best not to be guilty of the fallacy of equivocation) but as for me God has done some illogical things to my finite reasoning . As for the question that was posed to you “Can God create a rock so heavy that He could not lift?” I thought you made several excellent points (creation process vs. strength process)I hope that I will remember “the fallacy of equivocation” . Take care , David
Hey brother Dave, I actually think you might be equivocating between what is logical (or illogical) and what is a mystery. Logic is stuff like the law of non-contradiction, the law of the excluded middle, and the law of identity; whereas a mystery is something we don’t understand. If God’s “infinite” logic is different from our “finite” logic – well, infinite and finite have nothing in common, and since God embodies each of His attributes 100%, if God’s logic is infinite, then we have no way of understanding God, since He would necessarily be 100% illogical (God doesn’t have “parts”, so it can’t be the case where part of Him is logical and part illogical). Further, since infinite logic and finite logic are diametrically opposite, God, in His “infinite” logic, would have no way of understanding what you’re trying to say, since what you’re saying would be considered only “finitely” logical. I would have to disagree that God has a different logic than we have; rather, I would argue that there is one universal logic. The Trinity isn’t an example of something that we would consider illogical. Rather, it is a mystery. While we don’t necessarily understand it, that doesn’t mean it isn’t logically true…just like scientists aren’t sure exactly why we sleep…but I’m sure that we can all agree that there is nothing illogical about sleep.
Peace, bro…thanks for listening! In His mercy,
Dear Toby , Thank you for taking the time to reply . I really appreciate it . I will think about what you said . Take care , David
It was sheer chance that I happened to come upon your podcast here, but I listened carefully and have thought thoroughly about your argument against the quoted statement. However, I think you are mistaken about this being a case of equivocation simply due to the fact that you are not correctly reading through the logic of the statement. First you claim that if we substitute “power” into the statement then it has not changed the meaning, but then you make your own distinction about the differing meanings of “power” to fuel this argument of equivocation, but this is borderline circular logic. Let me properly run through the logic required…
Assumption: god is omnipotent.
Claim: Can god create a rock too heavy to lift?
Suppose god cannot create a rock…
This, without the need for the rest of
the claim is already a contradiction.
Suppose god CAN create a rock that is
too heavy to lift.
Now we are at the next contradiction.
Since all pathways of the claim end in a contradiction, this means that our assumption is false. Therefore, god is not omnipotent.
Now you are saying that there is a difference in the power of capability and the power of strength, however, the quote is referring to god’s omnipotence, which is why I phrased the logic as such, and the definition of omnipotence is all-powerful or unlimited power. Now regardless of whether the claim uses too different meanings of “power”, unlimited power refers to all possible types, and if god is omnipotent then he/she/it would possess the capability for all powers. This is the true implication of the quote.
With all due respect, I think we differ on what it means to be omnipotent. The Christian understanding is the ability to do all things which are logically possible. For example, being omniscient does not enable God to both exist and not exist because this is a logical impossibility. By changing the definitions (equivocating) mid-argument, this argument creates a logical impossibility – God can create a rock of any size, can lift a rock of any size, and thus it is logically contradictory to assert that He can create a rock too large for Him to lift – and the argument is thus invalid. Try plugging it into a truth table 🙂
There is nothing invalid about the argument. Suppose I was to build myself a boat. Could I lift that boat? Probably not. But according to you, this feat is outside the realm of god’s logic, which makes humans more god-like than what you are trying to perceive. I realize the need for you to all of the sudden alter the definition of “omnipotence” to suit your needs. It is a clever way weasel out of the paradoxes (or so you thought), but this creates a new problem: what would be the point of worshiping a god who is not all-powerful?
I take it you did not plug the argument into a truth table. If you did, you would see that it’s an illogical statement/question/argument.
Now, you’ve changed your argument, because you never claimed that you could lift any boat. If you were able to lift all boats, regardless of size, weight, etc., then regardless of how large the boat you build is, you would be able to lift it. Thus the boat example works if you were to assert that you were capable of lifting a boat of any size, weight, etc.
Your definition of “omnipotence” entails logical impossibility…if God is only omnipotent if He can do all things – regardless of logic – then it would be possible for Him to be both omnipotent and non-omnipotent simultaneously.
Honestly, if you can’t see how ridiculous your argument is, we’re both just wasting our time here 🙂
I didn’t realize that the Christian tradition included the clause “logically possible” in relation to omnipotent. This is such an open-ended term that you can really argue anything you want, and justify it. Sorry, but I’m not buying.
If you didn’t realize that the Christian tradition included such a clause, maybe you should be reading more Aquinas…?
This has gotten downright comical – one atheist who doesn’t appear to even know what a truth table is tries to get help from a second atheist, who claims to be a “logic guru.” Their claim: that an omnipotent God should be able to be both omnipotent and not omnipotent in the same sense and at the same time in order to be classified as omnipotent. Certainly, this is not something a true logic guru would be claiming. A true logic guru would look at a statement like that and realize immediately that it was an impossibility.
By definition of “omnipotence”, guys, certain things are necessarily ruled out…such as non-omnipotence. But seriously, that’s almost comical that you guys would think that omnipotence means having the ability to both be and not be, to possess omnipotence and not possess omnipotence…yeah, simultaneously. Comical.
Truly, “the fool has said in his heart, ‘there is no God'” (Psalm 14:1). Hey, I didn’t say it first…I’m just reflecting on how true it is.
But seriously, with reasoning skills that poor, it’s no wonder you guys are atheists!
One final thought to close out this conversation (because honestly, I’m willing to converse with atheists who are seeking truth, but that’s not the case with either of these two). The only time something is logically impossible is when the law of non-contradiction is violated. There is no contradiction in asserting that there is a God who has the ability to do anything that is logically possible. Can He create a circular square? No, because that’s a logical impossibility. But can He create a gigantic rock? Yes, because there’s nothing self-contradictory or illogical about a gigantic rock. The problem with the question, “can God create a rock too heavy for Him to lift” is the same problem we would have if we asked “where is the bachelor’s wife?” It’s a logically senseless question because it necessariy involves violating the law of non-contradiction.
Secondly, you’re arguing that YOUR DEFINITION of omnipotence is logically contradictory. Indeed it is. But the Christian definition – that God can do anything that is logically possible – is not logically contradictory. You can use whatever word you want, be it “omnipotence” or “bean soup”…the fact remains that there is nothing logically contradictory in asserting that God is capable of doing anything that is logically possible.
TheAtheist: I would be happy to discuss stuff like this with you, but you will need to get yourself acquainted with the laws of argumentation (trying to trump your opponent’s definition doesn’t win arguments, sorry). Further, a “truth tree” isn’t the same as a “truth table.” I would suggest that you familiarize yourself with those as well (a course in logic should teach you all about it).
Anyway, better luck elsewhere, guys!
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