Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Is it Illogical to Believe in God

I came across an interesting question on a Yahoo philosophy thread and thought I would respond...Hope you enjoy....

A being cannot be all powerful because they cannot create a rock which has the definition of being unliftable by that being. Which would imply that they cannot create something, or cannot lift something.

1st point: Are we right about what it means to be all powerful/omnipotent? Could an all powerful being create a rock they cannot lift and then proceed to lift it?

Assuming I am right about not being able to be all powerful:

One cannot be all knowing either. Because being all knowing would require the knowledge of knowing how to become all powerful, but that's not possible, so one cannot be all knowing:

2nd point: If something is impossible, can one know it? Does that fall inside the definition of knowing all things, even the impossible ones?

That's the end of the question, just one more bonus question for those who enjoy logic puzzles.

Can being all knowing be proven impossible because that would require the knowledge gained from experience of being eternally ignorant?

Thank you for your time and patience.

Update : I'm trying to generalize this a little more. Using my logic, assuming it is correct, can ANYTHING be all powerful, or omipotent if you prefer that term. And hence omniscient.

Update 2: Ok. I came here to discuss the logic, not what I am applying it to. If I wanted to talk about god, I'd be in the religious section, where I spend a part of my time anyways.

My Answer

The "flaw" in your logic is quite simple.  You are debating ideas/concepts that are not rooted in the Biblical revelation and nature of God. 

For example; If I was to tell you that cats are the worst pets and my "logic" for claiming that is due to their incessant barking my argument against cats would be invalid.  While it may be true that cats are a terrible pet, my argument against them is actually an inaccurate premise.  To appropriately argue against cats I have to actually address real facts about cats. 

To argue against the existence of God in this case(and I am assuming that you are addressing your concept of the Judeo-Christian view) you have to have a more complete understanding of what it is that this viewpoint contends is a true representation of God.  What you are contending in your "logical" question is not actually logical in the sense that you are interacting with a viewpoint of God that is not represented in scripture. 

Let me address why this particular argument is a flawed misrepresentation.

1)  You are beginning with the assumption that the Orthodox view of God is a deity who can "do" anything.  This leads you to then set up the impossible hypothesis.  A more contemporary and funnier example of this question would be, "Could Jesus heat up a burrito so hot he couldn't hold it??"

Why it's wrong: 

Scripture reveals constantly that there are "things" that God cannot do.  Specifically, He does not contradict Himself.  To put it simply, God is revealed in scripture as being Righteous.  (important to note, he doesn't ACT righteously, He is Himself righteous).  This means that His actions are at all times "Righteous".  It is IMPOSSIBLE for him to be Unrighteous.  This doesn't mean we always immediately grasp how a specific act we observe is Righteous.  But to logically argue against God(as you are attempting to do) requires recognizing what it is actually claimed about God.

To follow the Biblical logical understanding of God when addressing the "heavy boulder" question we have to first recognize that God(as described in the Bible) is "limited" in the sense that He will not act in contradiction to His nature.  Inherent in this understanding is that God is Himself logical, AND, the source for which logic is derived(you don't have to agree with this personally, but again, it is what God is actually described as, and that is the what you have tasked yourself with arguing against).  Therefore, if God is incapable of acting "illogically" creating silly hypotheticals that demand that He act against His nature and then using His inability to act against Himself as proof of His non-existence is an illogical position.

The only thing these sorts of questions reveal is that Truth and Logic are consistent and unbreakable. 

2)  You question the general concept of "all-knowing" and use your personal understanding/definition to undermine the possibility of a deity being all knowing.

Why it's wrong:

If there is someone/something that is all knowing we can also assume that you and I are not that person.  So, simply put, to try to conceptualize the idea of a being immeasurably beyond ourselves becomes a practice of the absurd. 

To be more specific towards your question we have to first go back to the original idea of God as described in Scripture and to also identify what we even mean by "knowledge".

If we are going to try to conceptualize God's knowledge we have to again deal with what it is we are actually interacting with.  The Biblical view of God details how God is not bound by time, space, existence in the same capacity we are.  He is described (to paraphrase) as being "outside" of time.  When we then take our limited and linear concept of acquiring knowledge and in some way try to apply a similar form of knowledge to the Biblical God we are going to be wildly off the mark. 

So while you and I experience knowledge as the ongoing process of "discovering" new truths and then also acquiring the appropriate knowledge required to accurately apply this new knowledge, this is not how the Biblical God is described.  Because of this linear and increasing process of seeking and acquiring knowledge that we experience, we have developed a notion that around every new corner we will discover new knowledge(we may not say so explicitly but we behave as if this is so).  This fundamental approach to knowledge develops within us a sense of with enough time and research we can always discover something new. 

In an indirect way you are applying and trying to retrofit this temporal idea of knowledge to the Biblical concept of God.  When we ask, can He have enough knowledge to know how to do something that is logically impossible(lifting an impossibly heavy boulder), we are assuming that there is no "end" to the process of acquiring knowledge.

Returning to point 1; God is Logic, and limited by His very nature.  It would be theologically and biblically incorrect to discuss God as learning new things.  Especially things that are inherently illogical.  This would be a direct contradiction to Himself. 

Let me use a silly analogy to illustrate the illogicalness(?) of this argument:
Could you plug an extension cord into itself and therefore provide yourself with unlimited and free energy?  Of course not.  Physics/electricity/nature are limited by their fundamental laws and realities.  No matter how much we study, and how many ways we learn to reconstruct the workings of the extension cord, we will never create a self-powering extension cord.

Knowledge, by definition, is limited to things that are actually knowable.  You can't "knowledge" your way into things that don't exist.  So could God, as described as being "all-knowing, have knowledge of things that contradict actual reality and Himself?  No, because logic dictates that knowledge is limited to things that are actually true.

Ultimately, while your questions are interesting, they are inherently illogical because they are arguing against an idea of God that is incomplete and not rooted in the description of God in the Bible.  If you are instead arguing; So, if someone said "this" kind of deity exists, here is why it is impossible....then your argument would be logical.  But you do not do that. 


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