Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Illogicality of Omnipotence

  1. Mar 1, 2007 #1
    Here is an extremely brief (and rather simple) argumentation against the logicality of omnipotence.

    Please offer constructive criticism. Thanks...

    I assert that omnipotence, devoid of qualifications, is illogical. If a being can do everything, then there is nothing it cannot do. Therefore, it cannot do nothing; hence making the being not omnipotent. If it is replied that ‘nothing’ is not something in itself, but it is merely a lack of something, then a question arises: Is it possible for such a being to do something to a lack of something? The answer is, obviously, no; for it is inconceivable to do something to non-existence. Consequently, even an “omnipotent” being is still bound by some logical necessities. These binding laws, then, make an “omnipotent” being not actually omnipotent—that is, absolutely and infinitely powerful.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 1, 2007 #2
    Problem is with your statement if say God were to uncreate everything and then make it so that reality existed all at once and forever simultaneously, in other words he refashioned time to be multi phasic, then he could both do nothing and something at the same time.

    Another good thing to throw in is the classic, if an omnipotent being created an unliftable object paradox.

    Omniscience is equally untenable because of issues with free will, ie how can an all knowing God have given us free will, surely it is an illusion as God knows all from the start to the end of creation?There for our path is predestined, this question was first proposed by Jewish and Islamic theologians in the early part of the first millenium, no one has satisfactorily answered it yet. You may like to note though that in the early part of the bible, God was not omniscient in the same fashion as later, otherwise he would not have given mankind 100 years to save themselves from the flood, religious progression for you I suppose.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2007
  4. Mar 1, 2007 #3
    I do believe in God although I don't recognize him as an omnipotent being. Personally my belief God is that force/law/necessity which maintains the balance between karma and effect. God is why it cannot happen any other way.

    Therefore I believe that an omnipotent being is ridiculous.
     
  5. Mar 1, 2007 #4
    My problem with my line of reasoning is specifically this:

    If a being can do everything, then there is nothing it cannot do. Therefore, it cannot do nothing; hence making the being not omnipotent.

    Is this logically sound? It appears, upon further thought, to be a mere play on words. Is this substantive in any way?
     
  6. Mar 1, 2007 #5
    This is merely a play on words and is meaningless. If we take the meaning of "do nothing" as taking no action then such a being, as well as ourselves, can "do nothing"

    Your putting human constrictions and limitation on a nonhuman being. We cannot know that an omnipotent being cannot literally do nothing so your assumption does not hold and your logic is faulty, IMO.
     
  7. Mar 1, 2007 #6
    It is a play on words. Not really substantive as Royce said.

    But anyway a being of omnipotence can do nothing and anything, it's his choice. And of course if your omnipotent who says reality has to have rules that we could comprehend, you could just make it so that you existed in a MWI type situation, where every possible reality is played out in an infinite series of parallel universes, in that case you could indeed do everything and nothing all simultaneously, from your perspective, so that every infinite choice or inaction would lead to an infinite possibility of inaction and choice infinitely, then you could make that all happen at once, who says infinity is a limit on omnipotence, especially if your making the fundamental laws of everything up as you go along, in fact you could make it so that at any time you were in an infinity of universes contained in an infinity of multiverses, where very conceivable infinite law of nature existed infinitely in inifinite combinations, so that you could view everything infinitely and the result of every MWI reality in every possible infinite series of universes within your multiverses, and of course each multiverses individual universes would have infinite dimensions too all of which you could watch simultaneously.

    You get the picture, determining omnipotence in terms of our own reality, forgoes the idea that other realities may have different rules, which we couldn't possibly begin to understand. A bit like the rules of cricket :smile:

    If you say given our reality then the unliftable object is a pretty good example of a paradox.
     
  8. Mar 1, 2007 #7
    Knowing or having knowledge of the future or of all time is not the same as predestined.

    While an omnipotent and omniscient being would know what we will choose he does not force us to choose.

    We are linear, sequential being who can only act in the present, now, and have no knowledge of the future and only limited memories of the past. Free will simply means the we have a real choice between alternatives and are not compelled to make one choice over another.

    God may know what we will choose, but we are free to choose whatever we want and suffer or enjoy the consequences of that choice; whereas, we lesser beings do not know which we will choose until we make the decision.

    There is also the belief, by various prophets, such a Edgar Casey, that the future is not carved in granite and is changeable by the decisions that we make.

    There is no way that we mere humans can get our minds around this paradox. It is comparing apples and oranges and our logic does not apply just as our linear language cannot apply to omnipotence and omniscience.
     
  9. Mar 1, 2007 #8
    I can certainly agree that the definition of omnipotence needs to have some qualifications. For example, when most people talk about omnipotence, we assume that it does not include the ability to fail. So if you're saying that we should redefine omnipotence so as to exclude the ability to fail at any particular task, then I'd agree with you.
     
  10. Mar 1, 2007 #9
    By definition omnipotence can have no qualifications, caveats or limitations. Omnipotent means all powerful, the ability to do anything and everything, even the supposedly impossible and illogical which includes to fail.
     
  11. Mar 1, 2007 #10
    Well that's really a semantic argument. Perhaps the linguist would argue that omnipotence includes the ability to do anything. But it's quite obvious that in common speech, we mean to exclude the ability for an omnipotent being to fail. So rather than ask everyone who talks about omnipotent beings to add this qualification, it would be easier to understand that it is implicit.
     
  12. Mar 2, 2007 #11
    No the omniscient being knows exactly what we will chose from our birth to our deaths, God exists outside of time and knows everything, we however don't. Thus our free will is merely an illusion.

    Look I've heard all this before the fact is if you accept God's omniscience as being unconditional there is no free will, it's perhaps the most famous theological conundrum in history, and if you think you are going to come up with an answer to a puzzle that has remained unassailable for 1500 years or so, I'm sure you are going to be either humbled or win some sort of prize for philosophical/theological break through.

    There is no way we can get our minds round this paradox because it's nonsense. Don't you just hate it when someone religious says "ahhhhhhhhh but you cannot know it is ineffible, God moves in mysterious ways ahhhhhhhhhhhhh", such a cop out, if I was a philosophy professor I'd give a big fat F for an answer as trite as that :smile:.

    I'd just rather believe that the Old Testament God was the more accurately represented God, a God who was all knowing but could not exactly determine the future. In other words some philosophically illiterate religious leader changed God's attributes without realising the huge theological puzzle it would create, probably a big fat stupidity from the Nicene council, although in all honesty I suspect it pre-dates that and arose around the time of the first Christians.

    And also the physics answer, this quite simply redresses the balance: there is no future it does not exist; Brilliant! Theologically it's horrible, admitting that although God may perfectly know the natural laws of the universe and so be practically infallible, he does not know the ultimate future any more than we do, he just is a monumentally good guesser - given he knows everything - it does restore free will but it destroys the recently ascribed (ie since about xAD attributes of God.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2007
  13. Mar 2, 2007 #12
    It is only a paradox or contradiction if we insist on attempting to apply our temporal sequentially linear language and logic to an atemporal non sequential phenomenon. It doesn't work and can't work.

    This, IMO, is why so many metaphysical questions have no real, logical answers, why they lead to paradoxes.

    If one believes or is convinced that there is a God, that he is logical and reasonable, that the universe is intelligently designed and that order rather than chaos rules (any or all of the above), then there can be no paradoxes, no contradictions. Any apparent paradox or contradiction must then be the misapplication of our language and logic. Just a Euclidean geometry does not apply to curved surfaces or space, our linear language and logic do not apply to an atemporal, omnipotent, omniscient being, God.

    Here we have a being that exists in the eternal moment that knows all and sees all from the eternal past, present and eternal future which is all one moment, NOW, to him/she/it.

    We are also told that God gives us and we apparently experience Freewill, an apparent contradiction. Again knowledge or knowing is not the same as predestination. This is where the paradox lies, not in the apparent contradiction. We assume that knowing our entire lives, what we will choose and do is the same as predestination. This is not a valid assumption and this is why it leads to a contradiction.

    IMO and others, the sequential time that we experience is an illusion not freewill. Yet since this is all that we can know and experience, our minds, language and logic run up against paradoxes and contradictions every time we try to think or speak about such things, why General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics and Dynamics is such an enigma to most of us. It is forever outside of human experience.
     
  14. Mar 3, 2007 #13
    By definition, Omnipotent means all-powerful. Therefore, there can’t be anything in this being’s reality that could be termed “nothing”, as that would imply that it cannot be affected by an external power.

    In an infinite universe, with infinite determinism there is no room for "nothing" to exist. Therefore, if there were an omnipotent being (which I personally believe to be the collective consciousness: energy in its entirety), it could only afford itself the illusion of doing nothing; while still maintaining omnipotent status.


    Hope that made sense! :tongue:
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2007
  15. Mar 3, 2007 #14
    I prefer Occam's Razor in this case or the physics answer, the future doesn't exist.

    Simple and it doesn't require a lot of arm waving and speculation.

    Time is an illusion, x is a paradox because of y, etc, etc. It's a good job scientists aren't as resigned to the ineffability of the laws of nature as you seem to be. Forever outside human experience? That's a pretty bold statement isn't it?
     
  16. Mar 3, 2007 #15

    -Job-

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Can an omnipotent being perform a logically impossible task? That seems to be the question since, from what i've seen, arguments against omnipotence try to generate a logical contradiction, such as "can god create an immovable object?".
     
  17. Mar 6, 2007 #16
    Ultimately, as my previous post says, I think you're right.

    It seems to me that doing "nothing" is nonsensical. "To do" already carries the implication of something. When one says I'm going to do "nothing", that "nothing" becomes something, because he/she is doing it. It might seem to be a semantic problem, or just sophistry. But I think doing "nothing" is substantively meaningless because "nothing" cannot, by definition, become the object of doing.

    And one need not necessarily take "doing nothing" as meaning "taking no action." Beings such as ourselves, as you brought up, cannot "do nothing." If I don't visibly take any action, as you say, I'm still sitting (or lying down or standing), breathing, thinking, etc.


    I actually think you're putting human abilities (wrongly, might I add) on the discussed being by saying that it can "do nothing."

    Regardless, you may have a point. It might not be the task of deductive logic to prove that a supreme being can or cannot do "nothing". However, I still hold that nothingness cannot be "done" by any being - it's just not logically conceivable.

    Now, ironically, not even I am convinced by my explanation. But if it does hold water, then would it not be right to say that omnipotence (in the strict sense of being able to do anything and everything ad infinitum) is impossible?
     
  18. Mar 7, 2007 #17
    That a being of omnipotence can choose to "do nothing" merits the same answer as my previous post. I'm not saying that "doing nothing" necessarily undermines its omnipotence; but that it is logically inconceivable to "do nothing."

    Again, there is the issue of nothingness. It needs to be defined; I simply cannot wrap my mind around "doing nothing."

    As regards the Many World Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, as far as my elementary knowledge of the field goes, I can't see it as a justification or a vindication of a truly omnipotent being. First of all, the possibility of multiple worlds with varying laws is based on evidence from our universe; this is just an extrapolation. Secondly, MWI is an extension of a field which arose because of logical inconsistencies and problems that physicists intuitively recognized. To understand what I mean, think of the two slits experiment. The photon was shown to interfere with itself, traveling through both slits at once. This was obviously contradictory, counter-intuitive, and perplexing. What I'm getting at here, in short, is that a theory of multiple, parallel universes where there are no unitary laws (no logic) is a product of logical thought adhering to laws such as the non-contradiction one. If the foundations of a theory claiming the nonexistence of no universal laws is a universal law, then how credible can that theory be?

    Here, I have a problem with the free and exaggerated use of infinity. I've yet to see that infinity is more than a finite conception of the mind. It is commonly said against infinity that infinity minus infinity produces a mathematically self-contradictory answer. To paraphrase a great mathematician of the 20th century, Hilbert, infinity doesn't have a real existence and is merely an idea. All that you've said, to me, are logical impossibilities, or at least simple speculation.

    I'm repeating myself here, but you are using "our own" reality just to come up with your assessment or, perhaps more accurately, assertion. You're using reason, our logical norms, to determine that other realities might exist which can allow for a truly omnipotent being.

    Also, if a being is absolutely omnipotent, it must be so in all realities, in all systems of logic. If it fails in the reality of this universe (assuming there are more, for the sake of argument), then it cannot be deemed as definitionally and strictly omnipotent.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2007
  19. Mar 7, 2007 #18

    baywax

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Anyone tried moving the universe lately?
     
  20. Mar 14, 2007 #19
    -Well, the thing is that we don't know if God exist or not.
    -What we know is that there is a probability that such entity exist.
    -No matter how small the probability is, the probability still exist.
    -In other words, it might look like that God does not exist at all but such entity might exist.
    -So the existence could be true or false.

    No matter how you prove one side, you can always come up with something that supports the other side.

    Same goes for the Bible. Although those were the teachings of God, you can find flaws that God is not that 'perfect' as he should be.
    -Rather than destroying towns, humans and civilizations who were against God or morally wrong, why not to explain to them himself that he was right and they were wrong? He sure could do that since he is the Omnipotent one.
    -If God knew what would happen, why would he still put tests on humans?
    -If God was before us, what was before him?
    -Why does we have to believe in him in order to live in eternity? Doesn't it sound more like a threat rather than a consolation?
    -And so on....

    I don't know which side of God you believe so it is hard to prove it all wrong. But if you read history, you will most likely find that people where first polytheist and then monotheist which implies that people did believe in something unreal before and it is not rare that it will bound to happen again except that there is only one omnipotent.

    So when does the issue about God rises? I think that it is when we think about the purpose of life and the universe. Therefore, we think of a beginning and a end. But as awkward as it might sound, i believe that the purpose is not there, you gives the purpose to it. If the miracle won't happen by coincidence, make the miracle happen.

    I am not saying that you should quit your religion. I don't want to be blamed if you can't go to heavens because of your change of mind. Just accept the fact that God might and might not exist.

    You decide in what you believe.

    P.S. Even though if God does not exist as a entity, it still exist as an abstract. So at the end if God did exist as a entity, those who didn't believe in him go to hell. But if God did not exist, people who said that God did not exist were wrong because it existed as a fictional concept.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2007
  21. Mar 26, 2007 #20
    To cshum00

    First of all, there are only two states of being. Either God does exist or He doesn't. So the probability is either 0 or 1. If you have other numbers to through in there, I'd love to see how you calculated them. You sort of said this yourself.


    [/QUOTE]Same goes for the Bible. Although those were the teachings of God, you can find flaws that God is not that 'perfect' as he should be.[/QUOTE]

    The Judeo-Christian God is the definition or perfect, so how could He not be Himself?

    [/QUOTE]-Rather than destroying towns, humans and civilizations who were against God or morally wrong, why not to explain to them himself that he was right and they were wrong? He sure could do that since he is the Omnipotent one.[/QUOTE]

    When you were little, how many times did your parents say, "Because I said so"? God says the same thing. He's GOD, there is no reason why He should have to explain all the details to us. We couldn't even wrap our mind around it if He did.

    [/QUOTE]-If God knew what would happen, why would he still put tests on humans?[/QUOTE]

    God knew what would happen and did it anyway because good would come of it. God gave us free will because He wanted us to CHOOSE to trust him. He didn't want us to be simple tools. Just as you'd prefer someone who chose to be with you rather than someone who HAD to be with you. Or how you'd prefer a job that you really had to compete for, instead of a job you received by being the only applicant.

    [/QUOTE]-If God was before us, what was before him?[/QUOTE]

    You're putting human limitions on a non-human entity. Time is a dimension just as height, length, and width. Just as God has no height, length, and width, he also has no time.

    [/QUOTE]-Why does we have to believe in him in order to live in eternity? Doesn't it sound more like a threat rather than a consolation?[/QUOTE]

    According to the Christian perspective, everyone lives for eternity, it just depends where. As far as Christianity being accused for being elitist, because that's probably the first thought that comes to mind...

    If God gave us two ways to live heaven, we'd want three. If He gave us four ways to get to heaven, we'd want 6, and so on...

    In his book Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton says "A man is a fool who complains that he cannot enter Eden by five gates at once. "


    Also, you can look at EVERY religion throughout the world, and at some point they also draw the line and claim their way is the only way.










    I don't know which side of God you believe so it is hard to prove it all wrong. But if you read history, you will most likely find that people where first polytheist and then monotheist which implies that people did believe in something unreal before and it is not rare that it will bound to happen again except that there is only one omnipotent.

    So when does the issue about God rises? I think that it is when we think about the purpose of life and the universe. Therefore, we think of a beginning and a end. But as awkward as it might sound, i believe that the purpose is not there, you gives the purpose to it. If the miracle won't happen by coincidence, make the miracle happen.

    I am not saying that you should quit your religion. I don't want to be blamed if you can't go to heavens because of your change of mind. Just accept the fact that God might and might not exist.

    You decide in what you believe.

    P.S. Even though if God does not exist as a entity, it still exist as an abstract. So at the end if God did exist as a entity, those who didn't believe in him go to hell. But if God did not exist, people who said that God did not exist were wrong because it existed as a fictional concept.[/QUOTE]
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Illogicality of Omnipotence
  1. Omnipotence (Replies: 82)

  2. Illogical fear (Replies: 20)

Loading...