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Logic: How is this question different from the Omnipotence paradox?

  1. Jul 27, 2010 #1
    We're all too familiar with the version of the Omnipotence paradox, the so-called paradox of the stone :

    Can God create a rock so heavy that even he cannot lift it? ............ (1)

    ... which has been discussed ad nauseam in philosophy classes and on the web.

    Now, how about this version:

    Can God will his own non-existence? ........................................... (2)

    How is question (#2) different from question (#1) ?

    Can we make a sound argument for (#2)? Is it even possible?

    Does the version (#2) avoid to do the the logically impossible?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 27, 2010 #2
    Some aspects of nature are illogical, yet possible. (Human) common sense is largely over-rated and often naive.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2010
  4. Jul 28, 2010 #3
    As long as God's existence is not logically necessary (as defined in modal logic), the answer is yes. But most theists will probably answer in the negative to the above, which negates the paradox (as far as I can tell).
  5. Jul 28, 2010 #4


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    Such as?

    This is a non sequitur. Logic and (human) common sense are two completely different things.
  6. Jul 28, 2010 #5

    Relative spacetime, entanglement, time passing at different rates in different inertial frames, GR's general covariance, blackholes, SQUID experiments, self-awareness, freewill, dark matter, etc. etc.

    What's your point?

    Where did i say they were not different? Did you read my post(esp. in light of the question i was replying to)?
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2010
  7. Jul 28, 2010 #6
    I don't see how these phenomena are illogical. Logic is a connective between axioms or observations and statements that preserve the truth value of the original axioms/observations. With the proper axioms, most of these phenomena and their logically connected phenomena are studied in depth.
    In short, they do not violate logic; they violate previous axioms/observations that were not true (ie., the previous generation of "common sense" in physics), and as such revealed the correct axioms and/or new expected observations, derived logically.
    If, in fact, any of these phenomena that have not yet yielded to being embedded in a logical structure pointed to illogic, the scientific method would have to be abandoned, as it depends on logical connection between true statements and predictions.
  8. Jul 28, 2010 #7


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    None of these things are illogical (i.e., entail an internal inconsistency within some logical framework). Some of them may be ill-defined (eg: self-awareness, freewill) but that's a different matter.

    My point is to obtain further elucidation for your claim. Is it really inconceivable to you that someone reading a broad assertion such as the one you made might want to know what exactly you have in mind?

    Yes, I read your post. It wasn't particularly long and hard to read. Your statement about the naivete of (human) common sense is still a non sequitur.

    I recommend we try to keep discussion limited to the questions raised by Ben, and not let it drift too far afield.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2010
  9. Jul 28, 2010 #8
    Logic depends on the viewpoint you choose, from materialistic viewpoint there is a paradox, from idealistic there is not.

    God creates a rock no one can destroy -> He is now a Demi-God, because he depends on this rock
    God wills his own non-existence -> He cease to exist

    God's will creates a rock no one can destroy -> He is still God, because he still depends only on his will, and not the rock, thus he's will can destroy it
    God's will brings him to non-existence -> He cease to exist for as long as he wants

    In other words, idealism is beyond logic, God is beyond idealism.

    "I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves." - Einstein
  10. Jul 28, 2010 #9
    Question 1 relies on omnipotence.
    Question 2 relies on omnipresense.

    Both may, or may not be aspects of a defined god.
    Depends on how you define god. If god is simply 'the creator', then suicide is prefectly possible. If god is something more eternal and pervasive then you would have a logical contradiction. Bear in mind, most formulations of god run into logical contradiction, largely because we are trying to conceptualize something that by definition defies limits...
    Neither is logically impossible, given the right premises....

    Question 1 contrasts an omnipotent god with an anthropomorphic god.
    Question 2 contrasts a omnipotent god with an eternal god.

    The reason these examples are a good intro to questions in philosophy is because they force the student to examine their premises... their definitions of things, more closely than they might otherwise.
  11. Jul 29, 2010 #10

    Umm, ok. Let me make a statement that may ellucidate my point further - given the deep conceptual problems in physics, there is no guarantee whatsoever that the universe will yield to human logic. The deep internal workings of the universe MAY forever remain in the twilight zone(the universe as a whole is beyond logic).

    Our logic hinges on the ideas of causality and dynamism, if those 2 assumptions don't hold till the end - foundational science(as we know it) is a hopeless endeavor.

    It's been assumed for centuries that the universe behaved logically and consistently, but the last century gives also support to the view that the universe might simply be illogical. If this is the case(it's quite possible!), the internal logic that the OP ascribes to God, may aslo be part of a 'defective' and incomplete logic(i.e. ours).
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2010
  12. Jul 29, 2010 #11
    Yes, but the stone argument is not logic, but common sense too. As are most theological arguments, pro or con, as there is no logical definition of 'a god' at hand to play logic over.
  13. Jul 29, 2010 #12


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    It is one thing to say that there is "no logical definition of 'a god' at hand", but that does not prevent the contruction of a logical argument involving a god. A more pertinent objection would be if you were saying that there can be no logical definition of a god to be used for this argument. Or is that what you are saying?
  14. Jul 29, 2010 #13
    I can define:

    [tex]\forall x : agod(x)[/itex]

    That seems to be a logical definition of 'a god', quite formal I dare say, and from that we can prove that assuming:

    [tex]\exists x : x = x[/itex]


    [tex]\exists x : agod(x)[/tex]

    There, a god exists, logical like Principia Mathematica.

    What I'm trying to illustrate is that definitions work the other way around. Saying 'there can be no logical definition of a god' isn't really logical in nature, you can't play logic over a thing until you defined it, so you can never prove that a thing can't be defined, you need to define it for that namely. (Look up on 'defining definability').

    To illustrate it, this logic is completely isomorphic with:

    [tex]\forall x : cow(x)[/itex]

    What I name this predicates hardly matters, what's important is how I close over them. To illustrate it with programming, what you call your variables isn't relevant, as long as you use the names consistently, 'descriptive variable' names, in logic, as they are in programming, are merely to make things easier on the human reader, as long as define the relationships between your variables in the same way, what you name them isn't relevant.
  15. Jul 29, 2010 #14
    Thanks to all of you for your insights.

    We cannot use, here, the known rational arguments for why God does not and cannot exist.

    In this exercise, we suppose that God exists, and He merely wills his non-existence.

    Yes, we need to define God, and try to figure out whether 'willing its non-existence' makes any sense?

    We could define God as one unit, the most fundamental unit that exists, which has 2 properties: it is infinite and eternal. And, that unit causes and connects things we all commonly experience.

    Modern physics (Relativity and Quantum theory) confirms this unity of reality, the basic oneness of the universe.

    If that fundamental unit disappears or ceases to exist, then what?

    Collapse of universe(s)?

    Am I on the right track, here?
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2010
  16. Jul 29, 2010 #15


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    You lost me, but then, I'm not a philosopher.
  17. Jul 29, 2010 #16
    Just my thoughts...

    That God could will his own non-existence is totally nonsensical and does not allude to an attribute necessary for omnipotence.
    A capacity for self-destruction actually alludes to non-omnipotence, in my opinion.
  18. Jul 29, 2010 #17
    If He cannot will it, then he's not omnipotent ... same argument used in (#1), i.e. if he cannot lift the rock, then ...
  19. Jul 29, 2010 #18
    Put another way, to consider a lack of capacity to be an indicator of non-omnipotence is illogical in this context.
    For example, assuming God has zero sexual desire for humans or animals, does this "lack of sexual desire" degrade the omnipotence of GOD? No, of course not.
    Omnipotence is ALWAYS coupled with WISDOM.
  20. Jul 29, 2010 #19
    The point where this debate stops being logical is 'to be able to'.

    How do we define if someone is 'able to do' something? Some philosophers would indeed say that we do all we were able to do. Like, if I didn't get up to make a sandwich, then I wasn't able to do so at that moment.

    Provided we take this definition, then for God to be omnipotent, he does all at every time.

    Provided we take a loser, and logically harder to formalize definition, as in, one could still do a thing one doesn't do, we can just say he could lift up the stone, even though he doesn't do it.
  21. Jul 29, 2010 #20
    On page 1 of this thread, I posted...

    But, I'm not clear on what physicists are saying about this unit of reality

    Could anyone clarify what physicists are talking about?
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