Thursday, October 18, 2018

Arguments from incoherence

There's a whole family of arguments against God's existence that try to show that there is an incoherence in the omni attributes of God. They all take basically the same form. They ask if God could do something and argue that if he can, then it violates one of his other attributes, or if he can't, then it violates his omnipotence. So either way, a God with all these omni's can't exist.

Here's a few examples:

If God exists, then he is both all powerful and perfectly good.
If God is capable of doing evil, then he is not perfectly good.
If God is not capable of doing evil, then he is not all powerful.
Therefore, God does not exist.

If God exists, then he is all powerful.
If God can create a rock so heavy that he can’t lift it, then he is not all powerful.
If God cannot create a rock so heavy that he can’t lift it, then he is not all powerful.
Therefore, God does not exist.

If God exists, then he is all knowing and all powerful.
If God can change his mind, then he is not all knowing.
If God cannot change his mind, then he is not all powerful.
Therefore, God does not exist.

If God exists, then he knows everything and can do everything.
If God can create information that he doesn’t know, then he is not all knowing.
If God cannot create information that he doesn’t know, then he is not all powerful.
Therefore, God does not exist.

I decided to write on these today because that last one has come up twice just in the last two days in my on line discussions which makes me wonder if there's a meme floating around out there, or some popular atheist out there said something that's gone viral or something. Anyway, I thought I'd address it.

All of these types of arguments are trivially easy to answer. The usual way of answering them is by pointing out that they all assume an incorrect definition of omnipotence, then correcting the definition. Sometimes this results in an argument over what the real meaning of omnipotence is. But it doesn't matter. All of these arguments fail no matter what definition of omnipotence you use. Here are the competing definitions of God's omnipotence:

1. God can do all things logically possible.
2. God can do anything whatsoever, including violate the laws of logic.

If (1) is true, then all the arguments fail because each of these arguments is asking whether God could actualize a logical contradictory state of affairs. A state of affairs in which God is omniscient but doesn't know everything is a contradiction, so God can't create information that an all knowing God doesn't know. A state of affairs in which God can do anything but can't lift a rock is a contradiction, so God can't create a rock that an all powerful God can't lift. If omnipotence doesn't include the ability to do logically impossible things, then God's inability to do these things doesn't count against his omnipotence.

If (2) is true, then all the arguments fail because because they remove any basis for saying there's anything God can't do. God could create a rock he can't lift and still be able to lift it. He could be all powerful even if he's not all powerful. He could create information he doesn't know and still know it. He could be all knowing even if he's not all knowing. He can be perfectly good even if he's evil. He can change his mind even if he doesn't change his mind. There is no state of affairs he couldn't actualize and still be omniscient, omnipotent, and wholly good.

So regardless of how you define omnipotence, these kinds of arguments from incoherence always fail.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home