John

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On logical inconsistencies in the concept of God
« on: October 07, 2010, 09:06:27 am »
Hello all, I have a question that's been annoying me lately. It has to do with the various atheistic arguments which try and show that logical contradictions exist in the concept of God. An example is the well-known "can God create a rock so heavy that he can't lift". In reply to this, I've heard Dr. Craig and others (at least as I understand) talk about the omnipotence of God in terms of logical possibilities; God's being omnipotent means He can do everything logically possible (e.g. God cannot create a square circle or a married bachelor). If this is the case though, does this not imply that God, himself, is in some way bound by the laws of logic? As though logic were something transcending even God.

   

   Thanks very much,

   John.

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hatsoff

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On logical inconsistencies in the concept of God
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2010, 08:33:35 am »
Logic is primarily about language.  So, to say that God is "bound" by the laws of logic is somewhat misleading.  It is more accurate to say that, in order to talk about God, we must use logic.

Consider the sentence (example 1):  Can God shibstrip the boom?  Well, can he or can't he?  The problem is, in order to answer that question, we need to have some idea of what is meant by the word shibstrip.  Otherwise it's just a nonsense question.

Now consider the sentence (example 2):  Can God create a square circle?  Before we answer this question, however, we must know, what is a square circle?  Unlike example (1), this example contains no nonsense words, and it is grammatically correct.  However, even though the grammar works out, the sentence is semantically incorrect.  In particular, the term "square circle" suggests a self-contradiction, which means any sentence using that term---including this example (2)---is incoherent.

Finally, consider the sentence (example 3):  Can God create a stone so big that he cannot lift it?  But what is a stone so big God cannot lift it?  If God is omnipotent, then he can lift any stone at all.  So, to refer to an unliftable stone results in a contradiction---for all stones are also liftable.  In example (2), the contradiction between square and circle was immediately apparent, but here in example (3) the contradiction is somewhat less obvious.  However, obvious or not, the contradiction is there, which means that this third example sentence is likewise incoherent.

In short, if a person is to ask whether or not God can create a stone so big that he cannot lift it, then he is just talking nonsense.  We might as well ask whether or not God can toad the wet sprocket!

I hope that helps.

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Cletus Nze

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On logical inconsistencies in the concept of God
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2011, 02:34:03 pm »
hatsoff wrote: Logic is primarily about language.  So, to say that God is "bound" by the laws of logic is somewhat misleading.  It is more accurate to say that, in order to talk about God, we must use logic.

Consider the sentence (example 1):  Can God shibstrip the boom?  Well, can he or can't he?  The problem is, in order to answer that question, we need to have some idea of what is meant by the word shibstrip.  Otherwise it's just a nonsense question.

Now consider the sentence (example 2):  Can God create a square circle?  Before we answer this question, however, we must know, what is a square circle?  Unlike example (1), this example contains no nonsense words, and it is grammatically correct.  However, even though the grammar works out, the sentence is semantically incorrect.  In particular, the term "square circle" suggests a self-contradiction, which means any sentence using that term---including this example (2)---is incoherent.

Finally, consider the sentence (example 3):  Can God create a stone so big that he cannot lift it?  But what is a stone so big God cannot lift it?  If God is omnipotent, then he can lift any stone at all.  So, to refer to an unliftable stone results in a contradiction---for all stones are also liftable.  In example (2), the contradiction between square and circle was immediately apparent, but here in example (3) the contradiction is somewhat less obvious.  However, obvious or not, the contradiction is there, which means that this third example sentence is likewise incoherent.

In short, if a person is to ask whether or not God can create a stone so big that he cannot lift it, then he is just talking nonsense.  We might as well ask whether or not God can toad the wet sprocket!

I hope that helps.


Excellent and comprehensive explanation!
Pursue Truth - with rigour and vigour!

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Paul Kelly

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On logical inconsistencies in the concept of God
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2011, 02:48:24 pm »
I don't know if I accept this argument, but there has been an argument for the possibility (and hence the coherence of) God provided by a philosopher named Robert Maydole.  If this argument works, then not only can we show that there has been no demonstrated contradiction in the concept of God, but that God cannot have any incoherence.  Here is the argument:

(A) "Maximal greatness" is a perfection
(B) If a property is a perfection, it's negation is not a perfection
(C) If a property Q is a necessary condition for a perfection P, Q is a perfection

(1) If a maximally great being does not exist, it's not possible that a maximally great being exists (from the definition of "maximal greatness")
(2) If it's not possible that a maximally great being exists, every being has the property of "not being maximally great".
(3) If every being has the property of "not being maximally great", the property of "not being maximally great" is a necessary condition.
(4) If a maximally great being does not exist, "not being maximally great" is a perfection (from 1,2,3 and C)
(6) The property of "not being maximally great" is not a perfection (from A and B)
(7) Therefore, it's possible that a maximally great being exists.  

And of course we could take this a step further and use this as jusitification for Plantinga's first premise in his ontological argument and so prove God exists.

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Cletus Nze

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On logical inconsistencies in the concept of God
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2011, 09:19:16 am »
forthelord wrote: I don't know if I accept this argument, but there has been an argument for the possibility (and hence the coherence of) God provided by a philosopher named Robert Maydole.  If this argument works, then not only can we show that there has been no demonstrated contradiction in the concept of God, but that God cannot have any incoherence.  Here is the argument:

(A) "Maximal greatness" is a perfection
(B) If a property is a perfection, it's negation is not a perfection
(C) If a property Q is a necessary condition for a perfection P, Q is a perfection

(1) If a maximally great being does not exist, it's not possible that a maximally great being exists (from the definition of "maximal greatness")
(2) If it's not possible that a maximally great being exists, every being has the property of "not being maximally great".
(3) If every being has the property of "not being maximally great", the property of "not being maximally great" is a necessary condition.
(4) If a maximally great being does not exist, "not being maximally great" is a perfection (from 1,2,3 and C)
(6) The property of "not being maximally great" is not a perfection (from A and B)
(7) Therefore, it's possible that a maximally great being exists.  

And of course we could take this a step further and use this as jusitification for Plantinga's first premise in his ontological argument and so prove God exists.


My only worry with regard to this argument is that it goes on a bit. The most powerful arguments are typified by brevity and simplicity. They leave very little or no room for misunderstanding and/or distortion.This keeps them very close to the realm of pure thought - of intuition and naturalness. The realm of the spiritual - the realm of genuine existence.

Complex arguments have the impetus in them divided to a degree that corresponds to their complexity. As such they are unable to exert great force on the mind but peter away into numerous directions long before they reach the seat of consciousness. Only with great effort can all their constituent parts be put together into a coherent whole to pictorially reveal what the argument is trying to communicate! Not many of any typical audience today are able for that.
Pursue Truth - with rigour and vigour!

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jayceeii

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Re: On logical inconsistencies in the concept of God
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2020, 08:17:00 am »
Hello all, I have a question that's been annoying me lately. It has to do with the various atheistic arguments which try and show that logical contradictions exist in the concept of God. An example is the well-known "can God create a rock so heavy that he can't lift". In reply to this, I've heard Dr. Craig and others (at least as I understand) talk about the omnipotence of God in terms of logical possibilities; God's being omnipotent means He can do everything logically possible (e.g. God cannot create a square circle or a married bachelor). If this is the case though, does this not imply that God, himself, is in some way bound by the laws of logic? As though logic were something transcending even God.
It isn’t possible to give a strong warning about Judgment, since as Jesus said no embodied entity knows the hour. The exact date of Judgment is irrelevant to the pure souls, who will just go on developing a planet in a sustainable way, as they would always do. However people looking around today might notice God has indeed created a stone too heavy for Him to lift, which is to say bringing many into the human situation until it becomes certain they will destroy the Earth.

You could further say that every human is always a stone too heavy for God to lift, as they fail to rise even to His most basic social standards expected of intelligent embodied entities. The Holy Spirit enters the human mind, as the Christians celebrate, but It is unable to bring purity there. The humans are better (and happier) than they were before, but no drink can quench desire’s thirst, and “better” is a relative term. Lizards do better than snails, but neither are good friends.