Conversations with Angie: Update on Alvin Plantinga
At this point, the conversation was dying down, and we had abandoned our agreement to keep unrelated stuff separate from conversation stuff. For that reason, I’m just going to cut out half of the following email.
I'm writing my research paper on Alvin Plantinga's solution to the deductive problem of evil. While studying it, I've come to the realization that I grossly oversimplified it when I explained it to you. In fact, I may have even misrepresented it. There's part of it I'm having a hard time understanding. You see, Plantinga (as well as most theists) understand omnipotence as the ability to do anything logically possible. So God could not, for example, create a four-sided triangle or a rock to heavy for an all powerful God to lift, because those entail contradictions and are not logically possible. But since they aren't logically possible, God's inability to do them doesn't diminish his omnipotence. God can do anything that power can do, because he is all powerful, and his inability to engage in logical absurdities has nothing to do with a lack of power. Anyway, one would think that if God can do all things logically possible, then God could actualize any possible world. But Plantinga argues that there are some possible worlds God can't actualize, because it would entail some kind of contradiction. At this point, I don't really understand that part. There's one part of it I understand. He says if there are possible worlds in which God does not exist, then God could not actualize those worlds, since it's impossible for God to both exist and not exist. But that isn't good enough for his argument. He needs to argue that there are possible worlds in which God exists that God could not actualize, and that's the part I don't understand. It goes into counterfactual propositions that describe possible worlds, and shows, using these counterfactuals, that there are some possible worlds it would be impossible for God to create. The nature of the counterfactuals makes it impossible. I'm just having a hard time following the argument. I think I may have to fudge through this part in my paper.
Your ole buddy,
Clarification on Plantinga's argument