A Conversation for How to Be a Philosopher

Can God create a stone he can't lift?

Post 21

thirstyhitchhiker

IF god exists and IF god is all powerful god can create a stone he can't lift because that's what god chooses to do,but god could also create a stone that is unliftable if that's what god chooses to do.the question is unanswerable not because we don't know the answer but because it doesn't have an answer due to the fact it isn't a question.IF god exists and has limited power it doesn't matter how big or heavy the rock is it depends on if god chooses to be able to lift it or not.thus the benefits of omnipotence.


Can God create a stone he can't lift?

Post 22

Wøñkø

if Omnipotent is All-powerful, and not infinitely-powerful, then it's possible that could cannot create a stone he can't because no such thing existed or could ever exist, and that would be outside of 'all'.
-not being christian or anything.


Can God create a stone he can't lift?

Post 23

thirstyhitchhiker

that's a very good point wonko.either way the question is irrelivant simply because ther isn't anyone to answer it.


Can God create a stone he can't lift?

Post 24

gareis

Wait...change of opinion.

Is God omnipotent? Where in the Bible does it say that? Where in the Koran? Where in the Torah or the Talmud?


Can God create a stone he can't lift?

Post 25

Sleeter

I think this is quite an interesting question.

If we assume for a second that God exists, created everything, and that God is all powerful then I believe that the answer is yes, God could create a rock so heavy he could not lift it, at the same time as being able to lift it...

Accepting that God created everything and is all powerful leads to the acceptance that God can create another universe, and as God is all powerful he can make it so that in that universe ability and inability could happily exist in relation to the same event at the same time, meaning therefore that God could make a rock that he could both not lift and lift.

Some may say that the fact that he could lift it would mean exactly that, he could lift it and so it is not so big that he can't. Which is fairly flimsy 4 dimentional thinking if you ask me. smiley - winkeye

--
Sleeter


Can God create a stone he can't lift?

Post 26

Wøñkø

uh.
ok.
that's beyond me.


Can God create a stone he can't lift?

Post 27

tality

It is a common thought in philosophical and religious circles that even God cannot do the logically impossible. Infact, the whole meaning of something being logically impossible means that, in any possible world (this is a philosophical thought tool which I shall explain in a moment) no set of circumstances could exist that would make it a possibility.

Possible world theory is mostly used simply as a thought experiment. It consists of imagining an infinite number of other worlds that differ from our world in some way. Some of these worlds are very close, others are very far from the reality we exist in.

The idea is basically that, being rational minds, anything we cannot logically conceive of happening in any of these possible worlds, is not in fact possible e.g. a square triangle. It does not matter what you change about the world, there can never be a square triangle.

Anything that we can conceive of happening, no matter how bizarre, is in fact possible if enough things were changed in our world. An example of a wacky idea that might represent this is that there is a possible world in which I am just a brain in a vat, being stimulated in such a way as to produce within me the illusion that there is an external world etc (this is the philosophical problem represented in the film The Matrix).

Having said this, it would seem to me impossible to imagine a world in which God can both lift and not lift a stone, this violates the logical law of excluded middle, which says either a) he can lift it, or b) he can't. There is no middle ground where he both can and cannot.

Thus any claim that God can both lift and not lift a stone seems irrational. Perhaps an acceptable answer to the problem is simply to make reference to logical impossibility. I do not think that just because God cannot do something that is logically impossible it limits his power.


Can God create a stone he can't lift?

Post 28

Otto Fisch ("One, you started coming over. Two, you started sleeping over. Three, you started taking over. Four, you told me it was over.")


I agree with Tality - very nice expression of the problem.


Can God create a stone he can't lift?

Post 29

Someguy

An attempt to explain....taking a trinitarian view
God is not bound to our physical laws per say, but can make himself bound by them under certain circumstances. To argue that God is bound to higher laws, and has therefore not created the laws to which we are bound is flawed to say the least. It implies that God is not in fact God, but there is someone above Him enforcing these laws upon Him. If one must argue that God exists, and that God created all, then one must also argue the He created the very laws by which we are bound.


Can god create a stone He can't lift?
With a trinitarian view, God exists as the Father, the Son and The holy Spirit. All three are God, but not all three are always bound by the same laws. Jesus was bound by the majority of the laws to which we as humans are bound, but was also granted exceptions to these laws in order to show God's greatness. So God could create a stone which He(as Jesus) could not lift. He could also then allow Himself(as Jesus) to lift it in order to show his own awesome power.

If you would like to be a little more technical and confusing, the arguement could go as such:

God creates a stone which He Himself cannot lift because He will not allow Himself to.
He then imbues the power to lift that stone upon a mortal.
It is then the mortal lifting the stone, but through Gods power.

Please, critique smiley - biggrin


Can God create a stone he can't lift?

Post 30

tality

When you invoke the choices of God, you cause a problem. If God COULD lift the stone, but CHOOSES to limit his ability, then he still could lift it if he chose to, as he could simply chose to no longer be limited. If this is the case, he has not limited his power in any way, and thus has not created a stone that he cannot lift. Therefore, through this argument, God still has the ability to lift the stone, BECAUSE he has a choice over whether to limit his ability or not.

The only way to answer this objection (to the argument from choice)and maintain that God does indeed create a stone that he CANNOT lift, is to say that once he has chosen to limit his ability, he cannot overcome that choice. For if he could simply decide to de-limit himself, and be able to lift the stone once more, then he was never really limited in the first place. Yet if you hold that God is bound by his own decision -i.e. he cannot choose to lift the stone once he has chosen to limit that ability, then there is a new limit on his power -that he cannot overcome his own decisions. So you have simply relocated the original problem, not solved it.

Now, to speak of the laws that bind God, is I believe, a better approach. Rather than go through complex possible world theory and involving LOGICAL POSSIBILITY in your decision on the subject, you could just claim that God is outside of the laws of logic.

Personally I do not assign to this strategy, as logic to me does not seem to be a physical law with binding force that needs to be applied by a higher being, but something that simply prevents contradiction. It makes no sense to me (not that this implies it has to be wrong) to employ this strategy, because it amounts to saying that God can fulfil a contradiction. In short, denying that God is subject to logic implies that he can create a stone that he both can and cannot lift... which takes us back to the start. The reason that this seems so absurd is that, once you begin to talk of the stone that God creates, you immediately think of the problem logically.

I ask, even if God himself is not subject to logic, surely the stone he creates is? If this is the case, there is a fact of the matter -either he can or he cannot lift that physical object.

This takes me back to my position (two posts above) that states that the fact that God cannot fulfil a logical contradiction does not limit his omnipotence.

I hope this is vaguely understandable, but I appreciate that some of it may be a little confusing!


Can God create a stone he can't lift?

Post 31

Wøñkø

suppose, though, that god can't lift thing.
or that god can't create things.


If:
It is impossible for a stone that God can't lift to exist, then obviously he can't create one, becuase he can't creat something that doesn't exist.


Can God create a stone he can't lift?

Post 32

Otto Fisch ("One, you started coming over. Two, you started sleeping over. Three, you started taking over. Four, you told me it was over.")


Remember that the purpose of posing the question is an attack on the notion of omnipotence - the ability to do *anything - that most people who believe in a God think that God has. The point of the argument is to show that there *must* be at least one thing that God cannot do - either he can't create a strone he can't lift, or he can create a stone that he cannot lift. Either way, there's at least one thing that God cannot do.

As Tality said, one response is just to say that God isn't bound by the laws of logic. Another response (and I think the best response) is just to say that there may be things that are logically impossible that God cannot do, but that God can do everything that is logically possible - which is still a lot!

Otto


Can God create a stone he can't lift?

Post 33

Someguy

Ah tality, what a nice post. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Just a few points smiley - smiley
To say that God must have logic as we do simply does not work, as God is not a being as we are. Even as we evolve, one persons logic can be far different from another persons.
For example, the very belief in God. Many people find it the only "logical" explanation for "life the universe and everything", whereas others will find "the big bang" and evolutionism to be the very reason we are here.
In either case, we cannot impose a universal logic on the inhabitants of the universe, so it makes it ultimately impossible to impose a universal logic upon a being who is said to be not existing within this universe.

"This takes me back to my position (two posts above) that states that the fact that God cannot fulfil a logical contradiction does not limit his omnipotence" - that is my favourite part. I agree completely (though I will still try to explain in another way), since we cannot allow ourselves to let a logical contradiction be fulfilled, we usually try to say "it can't be done".




Let me try to explain it this way then...
going on the post about the box being black and white...
If God were to be seen by all people as he creates a stone which he can and cannot lift:

God creates a stone. (No problems yet)

God lifts the stone. (At least that's what the people who believe he can do it see)

God fails to lift the stone. (All nay sayers see this)

If in fact there are people who believe neither can be done, they will see nothing.

And if there are people who believe both can be done, they will see both.

In this example, God has fullfilled both sides of the question.
The question is which do you believe possible (contradictory to "logic", or not). This is what you will see.
smiley - dontpanic


Can God create a stone he can't lift?

Post 34

Otto Fisch ("One, you started coming over. Two, you started sleeping over. Three, you started taking over. Four, you told me it was over.")


But what's true doesn't depend on what people see, surely? Where there is disagreement, sometimes this means that some people are right and some are wrong.

Either God has lifted the stone, or he hasn't. I'm not sure how people saying that they see different things helps...


Can God create a stone he can't lift?

Post 35

Wøñkø

it's al perception, if they think he lifted it then to them, he lifted it.
We don't know how fast time moves, for example, just how fast we see it as- those temporal lobes or whatever they're called make our perception speed up o slow down sometimes, so we know it isn't constant.


er


Can God create a stone he can't lift?

Post 36

Otto Fisch ("One, you started coming over. Two, you started sleeping over. Three, you started taking over. Four, you told me it was over.")


But if some people think that God lifted it, and some didn't, then either one set of people or the other are wrong. Just because I think I see something doesn't make it true. It certainly means that I think it's true, 'true-for-me' in some sense, but I have a false belief because it is not in accord how things really are.

I think that even if it's possible to find a way out of the problem by arguing that there's no such thing as objective reality (which I doubt), I think that such a concession causes far more problems than it solves.


Can God create a stone he can't lift?

Post 37

Someguy

"Posted By: Otto Fisch (Scout) (14 shirt) (taking action short of a strike...)



But if some people think that God lifted it, and some didn't, then either one set of people or the other are wrong. Just because I think I see something doesn't make it true. It certainly means that I think it's true, 'true-for-me' in some sense, but I have a false belief because it is not in accord how things really are.

I think that even if it's possible to find a way out of the problem by arguing that there's no such thing as objective reality (which I doubt), I think that such a concession causes far more problems than it solves."

You are assuming that there must always be someone who is wrong. Neither one can be proven correct or incorrect. As they say "seeing is believing"; if they said "seeing is proof", then we would have some problems with my previous arguement, I agree. But, they don't say that.
Both sides would see the other as incorrect, but neither would have any way of proving it to the other. Thus, "if it is not forbidden, it is permitted". Everyone who disagrees disagrees, no one can proove whether or not they are in the right or the wrong. Everyone must then assume that there must be some merit to the other sides arguement, whether or not they think it "logically plausible" for both sides to be correct.


Can God create a stone he can't lift?

Post 38

tality

Firstly, I agree with Otto on the believing/seeing and truth distinction. This is because I would like to claim that there is an objective reality, or fact of the matter. Thus I would be inclined to say that if people have contradictory beliefs, one set of people are just wrong. Thus if some people believe a proposition p, and another set believe not-p, one set of people is correct and the other set wrong. This is just the law of excluded middle (a logical law) reappearing.

To escape such a conclusion, and deny that logic applies to average persons in the universe, in the hope of answering the question about whether God can create a stone he can’t lift, requires a claim about reality itself. A philosopher called George Berkeley claimed that ideas (mental representations) are reality. This claim seems to be the most applicable claim about reality that might help Someguy in reaching the conclusion that, as people have different beliefs, they somehow avoid the laws of logic. The argument would go something like this.

Ideas are reality, thus if in the ideas of some people God can create a stone he can’t lift, for those people reality is that he can’t lift the stone. In the ideas of others, God cannot create a stone he can’t lift, and this, in turn is reality for them. (Just to note here that Berkeley’s notion of a world of ideas was not intended to answer this question, but his conception of reality, or something very similar seems to be a consequence of an argument that seeks the flouting of the laws of logic through simply different people believing different things). You see, you cannot just claim that for some people he can and for others he can’t if there is an objective reality, because, as Otto rightly said, some people will just be wrong. Thus, whether God can lift the stone or not becomes a subjective matter, and this means that on some level he can, and on some level he cannot. We’re ok so far.

However, it seems to me that you still do not escape the laws of logic. Even if you go this far, accept a Berkeley-esk view of reality and insist that this reality lies in ideas, all you actually show is that –and this is important –in one reality God can lift the stone, and in another reality he cannot. This is not contrary to the law of excluded middle because for EACH reality

p or not-p is upheld.

Thus in any reality, there is still a fact of the matter. I.e. in each reality, God either can or cannot create a stone that he cannot lift, but he can never do both. As you have made the question a subjective one, you have to remain in the different spheres of reality –what is real to each individual –as there is no longer any objective fact of the matter outside of these separate realities. This prevents you from saying that the true reality is that he both can and cannot create a stone he can’t lift.

Now, the claim that as people believe different things a universal logic is not applicable just seems to be incorrect following on from this argument. Although if the premise ‘logic cannot be applied consistently throughout the universe’ would certainly present some doubt over whether the laws of logic apply to God or not, the argument presented (see Someguy above) does not confirm this premise as true. Even if it did confirm the premise as true, the argument would not go on to validly claim that logic does not apply to God, but rather that it is uncertain whether logic applies to God.

Just because some people believe the explanation of the world to be one thing, and others another does not mean there is no universal logic. I would be inclined to say once again that there is a fact of the matter about how the world came to be. Some people (or possibly all people) are just wrong. The only way this argument could question logic itself is if contradictory beliefs about the creation of the world could somehow be true together, and I believe that the argument above –about how you would have to adopt a Berkeley-esk thesis to claim this –defeats the notion that contradictory notions could both be correct, and even if they were on some level, this level would not be sufficient to deny the laws of logic.

Also, Berkeley’s theory creates many problems which you would have to answer were you to adopt this view. Because it is wholly dependent on an entirely different view of the world it has trouble explaining how things exist when no-one is experiencing them, and also how we can ever be mistaken about something if the world is just a world of ideas.

Thus I conclude that, you cannot deny the laws of logic simply on the subjectivity of beliefs –even Berkeley himself does not wish to deny the laws of logic. If this is so, then the only way you could claim that God’s ability could be contrary to logic is if God himself is outside of the laws of logic. This is a different and interesting question, which I have addressed in a previous post.


Can God create a stone he can't lift?

Post 39

Otto Fisch ("One, you started coming over. Two, you started sleeping over. Three, you started taking over. Four, you told me it was over.")


Very elegant indeed smiley - ok

It never occured to me that Berkeley could be used in such a way...


Can God create a stone he can't lift?

Post 40

Someguy

The problem is thus, if you insist on questioning the omnipotence of a god, you must argue that the god itself exists. If the god exists and has created everything, then the god must be omnipotent. If the god created EVERYTHING, the god must therefore have created the laws of logic by which we live (Laws of logic being included in EVERYTHING). Therefore, this god must be outside of those laws in the same way that a computer programmer is outside of the laws of their program.

Our laws of logic state that we must be able to prove something for it to exist or be correct. If you can therefore not PROVE that a god exists, and a god does, then he must therefore be outside of our logical laws. If, however you could PROVE that there was a god, then that god must exist within our laws of logic.

Since we cannot prove whether or not a god exists, but we must argue that one does in order to answer this question, we must also therefore believe that that god exists outside of our logical laws(since we cannot otherwise prove it). If you can prove nothing, all you have is an opinion, and an opinion is neither correct nor incorrect unless it can otherwise be proven.

Beliefs are not always logical, I'm sure everyone can agree with that. So why is it that in attempting to explain belief in an illogical being, and it's abilities, we must always apply our laws of logic?


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