The Unperceiving Fruit of the Pseudo Intellectuals Has Ripened

‘We played the flute for you, yet you did not dance; we wailed in mourning, yet you did not weep.’

 

Update: Looks like an honest naturalist, materialist, atheist has beat me to the punch on this.

Bravo! Must Read!

 

It feels useless to “debate” the existence of God online. It seems that 95% of the non-believers’ arguments boil down to, if they are not outright, ad-hominem, argument from authority, question begging, fallacy after fallacy — but almost never an attempt on the non-believer’s part to actually reason for themselves. It is very strange since it would appear that, otherwise, such posters are often actually smart, well educated, intelligent people.

Perhaps this should be no surprise, however, since the “high intellectual debates” that top scientists, professors, and philosophers take part in to defend naturalism, materialism, and atheism, also show clear signs of an intellectual breakdown occurring in this area. There is, for whatever reason (sin???), a serious disconnect.

I think a large amount of the disconnect for the layman can be linked to what I see as the main fallacy advanced as arguments by atheists — the argument from authority.

Although within any particular argument there may be other fallacies advanced, it seems that most are assured, finally, in the fact that they are able to cite that so-and-so teaches such and such. And this indicates a big problem indeed: a vast number of people, even very smart people, are not willing or not able to think through these questions for themselves and come to coherent conclusions, one’s they are confident enough about to advance “in the heat of battle” and have them subjected to scrutiny.

Time and time again arguments for the existence and coherence of God, as well as for the incoherence for the non-existence of God and atheism, are just shut down without argument whatsoever. Again, for whatever reason, people are unwilling or unable to formulate and articulate their own reasoning for their position.

But, neither, I think, should this be surprising. For decades now our society has been inundated with the philosophy that materialism has been scientifically established, as if material can account for itself apart from a cause; that naturalism explains everything, from the cosmos to our brain functions. In short, no appeal to God is necessary to answer the big questions: Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?

What is very unfortunate, however, is that, because of this inundation, so many have simply shut-off from even contemplating these questions for themselves (I mean really contemplating them), as well as contemplating the far reaching implications of the materialistic, naturalistic answers they’ve already been spoon-fed.

This, I submit, is the ripened fruit that has come from the years of pseudo intellectualism advanced in the halls of “higher” education. Group think, at least in this area, has been deemed sufficient. The authorities have marked this ground out of bounds for any serious thought or contemplation by “normal” people.

How have they done this? I suspect a very big part has been accomplished quite easily enough. When we ship our kids off to college, professors have it as their aim quite often to ridicule any thought of God. Professors attack viciously those who show any belief in God, and in many cases dare Christians to defend themselves. And what kind of effect does this have on the bystanders? A quite profound one. After all, would a college professor be so aggressive toward religious belief without a good cause? Surely, they would think, the professors are simply being the leaders they are expected to be and using ruthless methods where need be. If God has been disproved, well, Christians should be ridiculed, shamed, and any other thing necessary to “help” them get over their delusion.

The only problem? Well, God has not been disproved; not even close. In fact, the “intellectuals” are often misled themselves. But the effect on the bystanders is on display everywhere it seems. Ridicule for any displayed belief in God is now the most common and “normal” reaction. Outright hostility toward religious belief hardly surprises anyone these days. In other words, what has been happening on college campuses for decades is now on our front lawns. And I suppose you can take that quite literally, too, since even our front lawns are subject to vandalism and lawsuits these days if there are any religious symbols displayed, even around Christmas for crying out loud!

It’s as if the whole notion of actually thinking about the question has been forgotten. It’s treated as a foregone conclusion by atheists nowadays that God has been disproven. Ask them to reason that out, however, and you’ll get some “facts” thrown at you — like the “fact” that there is no evidence for God — some ad-hominem attacks frequently, a sprinkling of Dawkins warmed over, and often enough vitriol directed at God, the ancient Jews, and the Bible. But when a believer actually engages these “arguments”, atheists don’t know where to begin to reason things through coherently using their own brains. Clearly, most have not seriously thought any of this out; not even the elementary things.

This is why I say the “unperceiving” fruit has ripened. The layman atheists have been content to adhere to arguments from authority for so long that they are in many cases just not able to perceive that the actual arguments for naturalism and materialism are self-refuting. In the end, all of the arguments cut off the branch they are trying to rest on. This may be a hard fact to bring oneself to consider, much less accept, for who would advance such arguments if they were not valid? But the question of the existence of God is one question where we ALL have a dog in the fight. It matters at the most personal level possible. It would be a great mistake to dismiss the emotional influences that otherwise upright people are swayed by in this debate.

A recent example of this came on a forum where the debate comes up often, but which threads are usually deleted by moderators. An obviously very smart and well educated fellow (“he” came across as a “fellow”, anyway) said that it was patently obvious that, since God didn’t exist and nature, produced from the Big Bang is all there was, that every event in the universe was predetermined by the events preceding them, all the way back to the initial bang. Well, I agree with him. IF God doesn’t exist, then, yes, all events can be explained by simple cause and effect. But, the topic (I don’t remember specifically) was about things we believed and why, and his argument was supposed to be taken as a disproof of the existence of God (which also makes it circular). Yes, it is an obvious and inevitable conclusion to think that all events in the universe are predetermined if naturalism is true, but that obviously includes our thoughts and “reasoning”. Yet, he was advocating this position as if he had real insight. But what insight can he claim to have if his own position is actually true? None! His “insight” was just the cause of certain particles of matter bouncing around in the right combination to produce the thoughts he had in his brain.

When I pointed this out to him, however, he cited the “authorities” who have written books on the matter, and it was therefore obviously correct, and that my “ass” (his word), on an internet forum, was in no way going to be able to refute it. Now, I still hold very strictly to my position, but it sure would have been nice to be able to actually dialogue with him and see if I may have overlooked something that would undermine my point. But he simply shut off and either would not, or could not, reason it out himself.

I’m reminded of the very well known classic, How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler. In it he said that, until you can take what you’ve read and put it in your own words, you don’t understand it. I’m strongly inclined to agree. And from the looks of it, many atheists don’t understand the arguments for their own declared position.

Now, I expect that last comment to be strongly taken issue with. But, what I said was that many atheists don’t UNDERSTAND the arguments! Not that they don’t confidently and very vocally boast in their position and belief in their arguments. There’s a big difference. It’s when they are challenged on those arguments that the lack of understanding and perception becomes evident.

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God’s Omnipotent Nature is Not Contradictory: A Belated Followup pt. II

This is the third post related to God’s omnipotence and contradiction. The previous post can be found here, God’s Omnipotent Nature is Not Contradictory: A Belated Followup. The first post can be found here, God’s Omnipotent Nature is Not Contradictory.

Should God’s omnipotence allow Him to also do the logically impossible?

Jam’s response was that it should, by virtue of the meaning of omnipotence (no lack in power).

Let’s go with that, then. Yes, God can do the logically impossible.

Then the argument becomes:

Can God create a rock that He cannot lift? Answer: Yes

God creates the rock that He cannot lift, and then attempts to lift it. He cannot.

Jam says, “Aha! God is not omnipotent, and therefore not God.”

I say, “What do you mean? Of course God can lift it.”

God then lifts the rock.

You protest that God could’t then create a rock He cannot lift.

“What do you mean? Of course He cannot lift it”, I say. And then God cannot lift the rock.

“Well, that is a contradiction! He cannot both be able and unable to lift the rock!”, you declare.

But you said that God’s omnipotence should allow Him to do the logically impossible.

You cannot protest against God for doing the logically impossible if you assert that He should be able to! If you ride the “God’s omnipotence should allow Him to do the logically impossible” taxi, then you have to pay the fair at the other end! Otherwise you commit the taxicab fallacy whereby you only hold to certain premises throughout the parts of your argument that are convenient for you. But logic doesn’t allow this.

So, either God can or cannot do the logically impossible. If He cannot, then I must explain why that does not conflict with God’s omnipotence, as much as it appears that it would.

So:

Should God’s omnipotence allow Him to also do the logically impossible?

I said, no.

Let’s go with that, then. God cannot do the logically impossible.

Then the argument becomes:

Can God create a rock that He cannot lift? Answer: No.

Jam says, “Why not? He should be able to if He is omnipotent.”

Let’s experiment:

God creates a rock. He can lift it.

God creates a bigger rock. He can lift it.

God creates bigger and bigger rocks, but can always lift them.

Where does this stop? Or, better: How could this stop?

It could only stop with God creating something more powerful than omnipotence. But here is the problem of definitions again. It isn’t in any way a lack of power of God to form bigger and bigger rocks. God can always make bigger rocks, and God can always lift them. Forever and ever and ever and ever . . . So, even if we say “No” in answer to the question, it doesn’t limit God’s power.

Can God create a rock He cannot lift? No.

Does the inability of God to create a rock He cannot lift limit His power? No.

At any rate, the bigger problem is the question itself. Again, it is really asking if something can be better than perfect. It is, by definition, a nonsensical question.

So then: Is it possible for there to be anything greater than perfection? No.

If Perfection cannot create something greater than itself, does It cease to be Perfection? No.

Is it even reasonable, then, to ask Perfection to be better than Itself? No.

The Conclusion of the Matter

Should an omnipotent being be able to do the logically impossible?

Jam says, “Yes”. (Though he consistently refused to directly answer this, it is implied in the dilemma proposed and the only position possible to be taken that would propose to do damage to the coherence of the idea of God’s omnipotence.)

But if he says yes, then he has no argument.

If an omnipotent being should be able to do the logically impossible, then the cat is out of the bag I’m afraid. God both can and cannot create a rock He cannot lift. He both can and cannot lift any rock He creates, for God’s omnipotence, according to Jam, allows Him to do the logically impossible. Therefore when he says “yes”, he loses the argument, for he has nothing left to argue.

If Jam would like to change his answer to “no”, then we are in agreement and he loses his argument.

The original challenge was: Can God create a rock that He cannot lift? But that implies that an omnipotent being should be able to do the logically impossible, i.e., create something better than the best, or something more powerful than the most powerful, or something more omnipotent than simply omnipotent, which is all clearly nonsense.

But, if we just grant, for the sake of argument, that omnipotence should include the ability to actually do the logically impossible, then we have no basis left to accuse God of not being omnipotent because He can do the logically impossible, i.e., create a rock that He is both able and not able to lift.

You say, “But it’s a contradiction that God is both able and unable to create a rock that He cannot lift.”

I say, “Well, yes, it is a contradiction, but we’ve already allowed Him that because of His omnipotence.”

God’s Omnipotent Nature is Not Contradictory: A Belated Followup

In my arguments earlier in God’s Omnipotent Nature is Not Contradictory I purposed to defend the idea that the Christian concept of God is indeed coherent, and non-contradictory. Before making any arguments, I made some initial points. They were:

1) God is not a material being. Christians tend to believe that He is more analogous to a mind. 2) God is omnipresent. He is present everywhere, and there is nowhere where He is not present, either within or without the universe. 3) God is omnipotent. He is all powerful. It is important to note that this doesn’t mean God is simply the “most powerful” being, but omnipotent, or, without limit in power. 4) Christians do not believe that God’s omnipotence makes it possible for Him to do the logically impossible. For instance, God cannot make a round square, or create a married bachelor. This is not a limit on God’s omnipotence, but rather a simple fact that a thing cannot be both A and non A at the same time and in the same way.

Jam immediately took issue with points 3 and 4. He said that he thought point 3 was fine by itself, but that 4 then immediately contradicted it. And while I agree that to many, at first blush, it would appear he is correct, indeed he is not.

Note that I did anticipate at point 4 that some may balk. I gave a short explanation of what a logical contradiction would be, and then a very brief remark why even an omnipotent being could not violate this rule of non-contradiction. I will now explain a little further.

The law of non-contradiction (LNC) is that a thing cannot be both A and not A at the same time and in the same way. If a ball is all green, it cannot also be all white. It may be of mixed color, and therefore all green and white, but it cannot be all purely white and all purely green at the same time.

A car cannot also be a bus at the same time and in the same way. It may be a car that is shaped like a bus, or use some bus parts, but then it would simply be a hybrid, and not strictly one or the other, and therefore would not violate the law of non-contradiction. A car may be converted into a bus, but it could never be both at the same time; strictly a car and strictly a bus.

Interestingly, however, sometimes a van may be a bus, and a limousine may be a van. How? Well, in different cultures they use different words to describe the same type of vehicle. In Japan where I’m living, a van is a bus. But if a Japanese person went to the U.S., a bus would be a van. It could be the exact same model of vehicle, but they are referred to differently in different parts of the world. So, even though what something is never actually changes, it can have different words to identify it.

To state this as a positive rather than a negative is to say, simply, a thing is what it is. This is referred to as the law of identity (LOI). If a thing is a mixture of two things, then it is a mixture of two things. That’s just what it is. A thing is never, and can never be, what it is not. A thing is what it is and never what it is not.

So, how does this affect God’s omnipotence? It doesn’t. If God is omnipotent He also cannot do the logically impossible. Why? Because no matter what God does, that will be what He does. It will be what He did and not not what He did. Even for God, then, the LOI (law of identity) will hold, and by extension also the LNC (law of non-contradiction). If He does A, then it means necessarily that He didn’t do B. Interestingly, the logically impossible really only comes down to definitions, i.e., what we call a certain thing, event, or action.

If God made something totally unique and sent it to earth, something of totally unique materials and shape for instance, we may not know what it was, but it would still be what it is. Eventually some name would be attached to the object and then people would refer to it by that name. The name that it is called by will never change the thing. Even if we called the object water, for example, it would still be unique and not become water as we now know it.

So, lets look at a logical contradiction like a square circle. A proper square cannot also be a proper circle. It may be a hybrid of the two, perhaps with slightly rounded corners, but it cannot properly be both. So, the question would be whether or not an omnipotent God could create such a thing.

Can God make a square circle? No. But let’s think about this for a moment.

Firstly, can we even rightly imagine what a square circle would look like? No. If you can, please draw one. But, no, we cannot. However, for the sake of argument, let’s say that God did send this “something” to earth like earlier and that it was, indeed, a square circle. We should now begin to see the problem. If we perceive it to be a square, we will call it a square. If we perceive it to be a circle, we will call it a circle. But, even if by God’s standard it really is a square circle, we wouldn’t be able to perceive it or call it a square circle. Technically speaking, we could of course call it anything we liked, for it would be something unique that we’ve never seen before. We may call it water as per above, or we may for some reason call it a duck, or for another reason call it a surzzalupe. But if we called it a square circle, it would be pure luck.

You see, the problem is with definitions of what things are. When something appears to us as unique, not quite like a circle, and not quite like a square, we would give it some other name. A square circle cannot be a square, and cannot be a circle. It must be something else. It must be what it is. We could name and begin to call anything we want a square circle, and from then on square circles would be coherent. But it could not be a proper square or a proper circle. To be neither a square or a circle it must be unique.

So in what is probably an utterly too long and unnecessary attempt to show what is obvious, the problem is simply a definition problem. A circle is a circle. A square is a square. And a square circle is, or would be anyway, yet a third thing, not properly a square and not properly a circle, for if it were then it wouldn’t be a square circle but one of the other things. So square circles are possible only if we make them possible by defining what one would be. When we say that God cannot make a square circle, then, it is because we haven’t defined what one is, and cannot even conceive of one because of the two mutually exclusive (contradictory) terms, and not because God isn’t powerful enough to make anything. And just to refocus a bit, this is all going back to the logical contradiction that is proposed in asking if God can create a rock that He cannot lift. The challenge itself is a logical contradiction, as it boils down to asking the logically absurd question of whether anything can be better than the best, or greater than the greatest, or more perfect than perfect.

This is the sense in which God cannot do what is logically impossible. It isn’t a power limiting problem for God, but a definition limitation on our behalf. A thing will always be what it is. It will either be this, or that, or something else, even if God is directly responsible for making or doing it. It is up to us to define things, just as Adam did in the beginning.

There will be yet another post to tie up one loose end, and to show how truly ridiculous the position is that suggests it’s a logical impossibility for God to be omnipotent.

Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus Video: A Response

From an email I sent to a special young lady

Thanks for sending me the link to the video. I was soooo curious what would cause you to post that you hated organized religion. I had a lot of different ideas, but just couldn’t resist asking.

I think the video is interesting. Very generally, I agree. Interestingly also, however, is that there are a lot of people who are disagreeing with him (Jefferson or Jeff), and I also generally agree with them! Doesn’t that sound strange?

Well, probably the biggest reason is that people are working from different definitions and concepts of “religion”. In fact, they had better be (especially Jefferson) since the Bible does talk about pure religion; “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” – (James 1:27). So, there most definitely is such a thing as good and pure religion. We know too, however, that a lot of what we call religion today is certainly not of that type. Clearly, that is what Jefferson is getting at.

A bit of story: I share my testimony probably a little differently than most people. I say I got saved when I was 4yrs old. I still remember the day very clearly, in Sunday school in a smallish Baptist church. Looking back and knowing what I know now, probably a lot of those people were the type of people that I would regard as “religious” today, and wasting time doing so much activity with so little effectiveness in the kingdom. But…I got saved there! They taught me about Jesus!

Nonetheless, I lived “religiously” growing up. I kept my Bible like a good little Christian, and never read it. But, I really believed in Jesus and was definitely saved. God spared my life a few times when I could have easily died. Finally, He did get my attention one day after I went through some tough times. God has performed some real miracles in my life. One day, while cleaning my barracks room in the Marine Corps, I moved my Bible to dust around it…and decided to flip it open and read a verse or two. Ha! I read a “verse or two” for a few months! I couldn’t put it down! It spoke so clearly to me it was crazy! All I did for a few months was work, eat, sleep, and read my Bible. Many days I skipped eating so I could read more. On the weekends I drove somewhere to be alone and slept in my car and just read and prayed.

Anyway, I asked God to give me some Christian friends, and the next day, at work, God kept speaking very clearly to me to go to BC street after work. BC means bars and clubs, and is where military guys would hang out at night. I didn’t want to frequent that place anymore, though, but God made it clear that I had to go. I did, and I miraculously met two missionaries and told them that God told me to go and meet them! They completely freaked out (as in they thought I was a nut…which is true, but beside the point 😉 ). Anyhow, they introduced me to their Christian friends, and so the night just after praying for Christian friends, I had a bunch! I ended up going to one of the missionary girls’ church…

And during worship service, Jesus stood in front of me. I couldn’t see Him physically, but somehow I could see Him. I told Him, “This is it Lord, I give myself to You.” And BAM! I got hit with (what I now know to be) the Holy Spirit! He entered through my head, rushed through my whole body, and this awesome sensation hovered around my feet. I was completely filled. The song we were singing had something about bowing down, and I wanted to do it sooo badly, but it was my first time at the church and didn’t know anyone except that missionary, so I didn’t; but not because I was afraid of kneeling in front of the people, but because I could feel something ready to burst from my belly if I did. Without knowing that there even was such a thing as speaking in tongues, I could feel it within me. I knew that if I knelt down I wouldn’t be able to stop it from coming out, loud and proud, as it were. So I didn’t kneel (I really wish I would have).

I call that experience being “born again”. So, I was saved at 4, but born again at 19.

Now, this also happened in a church, or, in the midst of “organized religion”. So, it is a little too broad a brush, I think, to say that one hates organized religion (and I’m not picking on you or anyone else who may say that…I’ve both said it and still do hate what often goes on in the name of religion). All that said, however, I grew over the years to become fed up with the “church” and “religion”. There was just so much garbage that it could potentially make anyone go insane. There are so many traditions that are just unbiblical. But I’ve also come to see this in a more balanced light.

It’s not that most churches are bad per se, but that they lack so much good. What they do, often, is somewhat good, but it just falls so short of what it could and probably should be. Interestingly, that is the very idea of the word for sin, to fall short. The Bible also says that it is sin to know what we should do but not actually do it. So, I don’t look at church or “organized religion” as necessarily bad, but just lacking so much good that it can be sickening.

I had an opportunity to go to and help out a new church several years ago where the pastor had, really, gotten rid of his religion. He really did. He got tired of the traditions and things and just left it all and started living “non-religiously”. It was great…for a while. But you know what? It didn’t last for very long. And I’ve come to learn something else. It can’t last! People will always have something that they believe in; a right way of doing things, and pursue that. What else can they do? It is inevitable, and necessary, and even good. If right and wrong exist objectively, then it is really our duty to find the best way, the right way, and live fully in it. But that is exactly how religion gets “religious” and “organized”. The young man in the video, Jefferson, has his own religion right now, and he had it even while making the video…and his religion is actually what made him make the video. But you know what else? That’s a good thing! And even though I can’t give a full and hearty Amen to the video, I applaud him for standing up for what he believes and putting something on the line.

I think I’ve come to see that the biggest problem for all of us is that we get stuck thinking “our way” is the only way. We need to get Romans 14 burned into our skulls.

There are other reasons I have for not being able to fully embrace the video, but maybe another time.

Please listen to the video below. It’s a favorite song from way back.

God Bless Ya Little Sista (and all else who may stumble along here),
Keep Lovin’ Jesus,
B.

Grounding Morality: The Atheist’s Problem

Note: Pasted from a post to “Liz” on Uncommon Descent.

Concerning the source of a binding morality, Liz said:

I’d say there are three related sources:

1.The fact that we are social animals and therefore interdependent.
2.The fact that we have “theory of mind” capacity, and can understand how the world is perceived from another person’s point of view (both literally – it probably starts with “shared gaze” capacity – and metaphorically).
3.Our language capacity, and with it, our capacity for “mental time travel” and thus the capacity to reify distant goals as they affect both others and ourselves, and thus make choices that are not solely determined by immediate personal reward.

In short, it evolved. But whether you agree with me that it evolved, or argue that it was implanted in us as a gift from God, it is undeniable that we have it, because every language has a word for “ought” AFAIK, and I know of no culture in which “duty” is an unknown concept.

– Emphasis mine, B.

But this is very problematic. First, Liz’s 1, 2, and 3 are not descriptions of source in the sense of where they came from ultimately, but only how we may realize their existence. It is simply giving an account of how we may come to realize them, or probably more accurately, how we can conceive that altruism (something that Liz said she thinks is another, perhaps better, term for morality) may be beneficial. But that seems in a roundabout way to imply one knows they are not “from above” and may potentially not actually be binding.

But, I don’t think we need to argue about that, for Liz also said, “in short, [morality] evolved”, and it seems that her three points are meant to be taken as a description of parts of that process, then.

But, if morality evolved, then it isn’t from a higher source. Even if Nature, somehow, evolved these rules apart from man, it still isn’t permissible to say that they are binding, for man is a part of Nature as much as (really, more than, being the only rational beings) anything else. So just as a man can tell Liz that she isn’t an authority over him, she being a mere co-human, a man can also say that Nature is no authority over him because he is co-Nature with Nature herself. In other words, I have the valid option of telling Nature to go take a flying leap.

But of course, Liz doesn’t believe in a teleological Nature anyway, so she would have further trouble in arguing that Nature “knows what’s best” for us. At any rate, her three points above make it sound like she is saying that these binding morals evolved from man (again, which is really the same as saying from Nature, man being part of that Nature).

So, she hasn’t shown a coherent way for these morals to be binding, for:

If man is the source of the moral law, then man governs the moral laws, and the moral laws do not govern man.

Now, the problem is what I emphasized above in quoting Liz, “it is undeniable that we have [a binding morality]”. Well, yes, it is. She has it, you have it, and both she and you know it’s binding. That isn’t the problem in itself. The problem is that when I say, “You have no grounding for your morals, to make them actually binding upon us rather than arbitrary.”, your inner “moral indignation” rises up and says, almost rightly, “Hey! I have binding morals just like you, you creep!”

But it’s only almost right. The reason isn’t that you don’t have the morals claimed, but that it is answering what wasn’t asked, or defending against what was never blamed.

Analogy:

Three Men Walking

One normal guy walks up. I ask him to jump. He does.

Another guy walks up. He is as normal as the first guy, with one exception. He is walking in the air. I ask him to jump. He tries, but cannot. He is not grounded.

A third guy walks up. He is as normal as the other two, with a different exception. He is walking on the ground, but says that he doesn’t believe in the ground. I ask him to jump. He does.

Now, when I and others say you (an atheist) have no grounding for a binding morality, you think we are claiming that you are the second “guy”. “But”, you say, “Look! I can jump just as well as you!”, and you can.

But I am not claiming you are the second guy at all. I’m claiming that you’re the third guy. You are grounded, and can jump as well as anyone. It’s not your grounding that’s the problem in the physical and practical sense, it’s your thinking about the ground that is wrong. Your thinking is irrational and incoherent on this point. You are denying the ground from which you can, still, jump.

You can jump from now until the cows come home, but until your thinking about the ground changes, you’ll never have correct understanding of an obvious fact.

You can, and do, have correct and binding morals, just as the third man can jump, but your thinking, also just like the third man, is simply incorrect.

God’s Omnipotent Nature is Not Contradictory

I’m not experienced at laying out these sorts of arguments formally, but I’d like to try to at least fake it in hopes of making it easier to respond to anything that others may need to.

Please keep in mind that I am here to defend the God of Christianity, the God traditionally believed in by Christians, to show that His existence does not violate logic by leading to contradictions due to His nature and attributes. Again, this is a defense of the Christian view and concept of God, to include those things that are peculiar to Christian doctrine and the Bible. Essentially, I am attempting to show that existence of the Christian God is NOT impossible, at least in regards to some arguments that have been advanced to try to show the contrary.

So, keeping that in mind:

I. What I Propose to Show

  • God’s attribute of omnipotence does not lead to logical contradictions
  • The attribute of omnipotence and the free-will of man is not contradictory
  • That the argument that God cannot be omnipotent because He couldn’t logically create a rock so big that He couldn’t lift it is, itself, illogical when applied consistently to the idea of a perfect God such as traditional Christians believe in
  • That the argument that God cannot be omnipotent because He couldn’t logically create a rock so big that He couldn’t lift it relies on an implication of God being less than omnipotent in order to prove that He is not omnipotent, and thus renders the argument circular by first implicitly asserting what it purports to show
  • That the only theoretically applicable question to ask that could possibly show that God cannot be omnipotent proposes a logically impossible idea and is incoherent

II. What I Do Not Presently Purpose to Show

  • The existence of God

 

Important notes about what is to follow:

First, even if successful in what I purpose to show, it does not follow that I have proved the existence of God. It is a separate question. That is why I state explicitly that I do not purpose to show the existence of God.

Preliminary points:

Some of the attributes and nature of God that Christians believe in that will be important to understand are, 1) God is not a material being. Christians tend to believe that He is more analogous to a mind. 2) God is omnipresent. He is present everywhere, and there is nowhere where He is not present, either within or without the universe. 3) God is omnipotent. He is all powerful. It is important to note that this doesn’t mean God is simply the “most powerful” being, but omnipotent, or, without limit in power. 4) Christians do not believe that God’s omnipotence makes it possible for Him to do the logically impossible. For instance, God cannot make a round square, or create a married bachelor. This is not a limit on God’s omnipotence, but rather a simple fact that a thing cannot be both A and non A at the same time and in the same way.

First Argument

For the moment, assuming that omnipotence is for no other reasons a contradiction, I will show that it does not contradict the Christian idea of free-will. While discussing with Jam earlier, I had mentioned that God does not always get His way when it comes to man, which He created. It was quickly pointed out that if God was omnipotent that this could not be.

My first explanation as to how it in fact is not contradictory was clumsy, and I missed the obvious important point, which interestingly enough, Jam did mention himself in a later post. I mentioned that a fighter of practically “omnipotent” superiority to his opponent could win his fight many ways, and that since he chose one way, or neither and simply forfeited, he was still “omnipotent”. But, Jam rightly pointed out that this wasn’t analogous because the superior fighter did, in fact, still get what he wanted by virtue of making the choice himself.

The problem was me misstating what I was really trying to convey. A better analogy would be that, say, I want my daughter to do the dishes. I want her to do them now. But, I also want to give her the chance to realize for herself that the dishes need to be done, and I decide to not ask her to do them. I really want her to do the dishes, and I really want them done right now, but I will not get what I want because I want also to give her a chance to show responsibility.

This is the sense in which God doesn’t get what He wants. He doesn’t want men to do evil things, but He also doesn’t want to take away man’s free-will by not allowing them to do them. When God said, for instance, to Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God really did not want Adam to do it. But, God knew, of course, that Adam would, and the text says it plainly. God didn’t continue on and say that if he ate from the forbidden tree that he would die, but when he ate from it he would die. This shows that God doesn’t always get what He wants, and that He also knew it from the beginning of creation. I have a pretty good idea of what my daughter will or will not do if I don’t specifically ask her, and though I could and would like to ensure that a thing is done, I often do not get what I want, and that because I have yet a higher want.

God has a higher want that man should be a free and morally responsible being, and therefore doesn’t get His lower wants – but that doesn’t mean His lower wants are not real. It is God’s omnipotent and sovereign choice to not get what He wants, and that is because He has higher wants.

Second Argument

Jam brought up the oft heard argument that, if God was truly omnipotent, He could create a rock that he couldn’t lift. Obviously, if God couldn’t create the rock, the argument goes, God isn’t omnipotent. If God can create the rock, He then is unable to actually lift it, which would render Him not omnipotent.

I was very surprised to see this as a serious argument. I had never taken it that seriously, probably at least partially since it was something that I’ve heard hundreds of times since I was a kid. Further, Jam has said in further posts, essentially, that this argument is irrefutable, and that I may win a Nobel Prize for refuting it. I was even more surprised at this.

At any rate, I don’t think this argument is good at all. First, as mentioned in my preliminary points, God is not a physical being. This should, I think, give one serious pause before taking the above argument as even applicable.

Let me ask a few questions. I’ll have to assume the answers of the reader, but I think you’ll see I am safe in doing so (at least for the first two).

Question 1: Is God able to lift the cup on my desk? Answer: Yes.

Question 2: Is God able to lift a mountain? Answer: Yes.

Question 3: Which is more difficult for God to lift, the cup or the mountain? Answer: Neither.

Omnipotence, as stated in the preliminary points, does not mean that God is simply the strongest among all creatures that can be thought of to have strength, but without limit in strength. There is no difference to an omnipotent being in the weight or the difficulty of a thing. To throw a galaxy would be as easy as to blow a feather off the edge of a table.

Now, if this only sounds like an assertion, let me ask you another question.

If God did lift the cup on my desk, how would He do it? Answer: He could do it any way He wanted. He could have Jesus show up and, in physical form, pick up the cup just like you or I normally would. Or, perhaps God is in a playful mood, and “lifts” the cup by lowering everything else in the universe a half meter. But, either would be equally easy for an omnipotent being.

If I had a best guess, however, I would say that God would just think the cup off the desk. Christians believe and teach an immaterial God. We believe that God spoke the universe into existence. I don’t believe that God’s speaking is the same (at least not always) as our speaking, i.e., physical voice traveling through the atmosphere. I think that God speaks, primarily, with His mind and thoughts. So which is harder to do? Lift a mountain or cup? Is one harder to think than the other? No.

This being the case, which should be, I think, obvious for what a non-physical and omnipotent being would be like, then there is no limit to His strength. There is no sliding scale where it is more or less difficult for God to do either this or that. I have for some years now had a list of Bible verses that I “don’t believe”. One of them is, Jeremiah 32:17 “Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee“. If God is truly omnipotent, then there is no room for the “too”. It is, in reality, that nothing is difficult for God, period! Nothing is harder or easier than another thing, and the point is simply mute.

Third Argument

Here I would like to supply another refutation of the argument that God cannot be omnipotent because He cannot create a rock that He cannot lift. This argument has the same basic foundation as the previous argument, that omnipotence really means a limitless strength that renders every act as easy or as hard as every other act. That being the case, the argument that God cannot create a rock that He cannot lift actually relies on the implication that God isn’t really omnipotent to begin with in order to “prove” that He isn’t omnipotent.

To say that the possibility even exists that there could be anything impossible for God to lift is just to say that God isn’t omnipotent, without limit in power, and there is really some scale of difficulty whereby some things are more difficult than others for God, and at some point something really could become too difficult. But this is what the argument is trying to show. So, this argument relies on an implicit assertion that God isn’t omnipotent in order to attempt to show that God isn’t omnipotent. It is thus a circular argument, assuming what it purports to show.

Fourth Argument

I think this argument may be difficult to convey, so please bear with me (and I’m getting kinda tired to boot). To be consistent with what the nature and attributes of God are for Christian believers, the one argument that is theoretically applicable, as opposed to the one raised by Jam above, would be something like this: Can God create a rock that is beyond omnipotence? Or, could God create anything beyond His ability to control or manipulate in some way? Or, perhaps, could God create anything beyond His ability to know, or place where He could be?

But a question like this gets at what is logically impossible and, therefore, incoherent. By definition, God is the perfect being. He is not simply the best being; but the Perfect One. If there were one greater, then that greater being would be God. This is the God that Christians believe in. That being the case, the questions above are really asking a silly question indeed. They are asking: Can there be anything greater than perfect? In order for God to create something better than Himself, or any one of His attributes, could only mean one thing; that He would have to become less than God. And, if that is the case, He would really be tasked with the job of recreating Himself.

Conclusion

For the question and challenges that Jam raised, and the proposed questions that I intimated, the teeth in them all rely on not understanding what the attributes and nature of God fully imply. Ultimately, therefore, they all fail to show that the idea of God’s omnipotence is, or leads to, a logical contradiction, and by extension, show that, at least in these regards discussed, the existence of a Christian idea of God is possible.

The Missing God

I didn’t used to like reading, but now I do. I read. I read the Bible, blogs, books, and many other things. I read about science. I read about atheism, naturalism, Darwinism, and it seems like a lot of other “isms”. One of the titles that often appear when one reads on such things is something like, “The God Delusion” or, “Is God Necessary”, or “No God Needed”.

Now it may be obvious, but I am interested in the debate about God’s existence. There was a time when I feared listening to what atheists had to say. I’m a Christian, and I was born again without high-flying intellectual arguments to support what I knew God was doing in my life. Later, when I caught wind of some of the things atheists would say, I was confident that they were wrong, but I frankly didn’t know how to answer them. One day, however, I took a dive into the deep end and listened to what leading atheists were really arguing. Boy, I was relieved!

I didn’t have answers for everything I heard, but I had enough. What I’ve come to find out, almost as a rule, is that if you listen to an atheist’s arguments for long enough, they will give you the answer themselves. And, if you listen to various top atheists, you will learn something else; they cannot agree on how to argue against the existence of God. Where one concedes one argument, another concedes yet another, and like dominoes, before you know it, they’re all lying flat. Eventually the vitriol bubbles over and, consequently, the often heard quip that, “if atheists don’t believe in God, why do they hate Him so much?” Before his conversion, C.S. Lewis, if I remember correctly, was quite put off by the idea that there should be a God in the universe, but was equally angry at God for not existing.

So with that quite long introduction to what I’d really like to talk about (being my first post it’s also a bit of an overall introduction to the blog as well), let me attempt to deal with one argument that comes up often, the missing God. Atheists are pretty confident in their assertions that, if God existed, certainly He would want people to know it and do something extraordinary to prove Himself. This argument is often couched in a more subtle form, I think, when atheists say simply that there just isn’t any evidence for God. But clearly the position is one and the same. They want some form of tangible evidence for God like we have for air, gravity, or magnetic forces.

This position has many weak points. Firstly, it should just be pointed out that perhaps, for reasons we cannot understand, God does not want to make Himself known in any more clear terms than a Book, the Holy Spirit, and Christians sharing their testimony. To take the position that He must want to make Himself known unmistakably by some sign or signs is not supportable. It is simply guesswork to say, “I don’t believe in God because if He did exist He would make it plain to me or everyone.” How could this be known if God didn’t want it known? It seems a pretty haughty position to say that God doesn’t exist because I know what He’d do if He did. Either way, haughty or not, it simply has no legs to stand on. But I’ll get back to this.

Further, there are many things that we accept as true, and scientific even, that we do not have direct tangible evidence for. I’ve already mentioned gravity and magnetic forces. We believe in them because of their effects, not because we can observe them directly. And if the universe was created by God, then everything! is an indirect measurement of, and evidence for, GOD! So saying that God would make Himself more plain or that we’d have more evidence if He existed has to presuppose the nonexistence of God. Needless to say, presupposing the nonexistence of God isn’t an argument against His existence at all.

Now these are a couple of reasons I’ve had for some time that show this particular position fails. But I write about it now because I had a thought this morning, while reading something an atheist said no-less, about what the Scriptures say on this matter. I’d bet that most atheists are familiar with this part of the Bible narrative as well, as it sits at the very root of our human nature and sin. I’ll quote the portion below.

 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? *
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. *
And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. *
 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. *
 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

Genesis 3:1~10

Now, back to my first point about not knowing what God would do in order to make Himself known. If you take note of the italicized in the quoted text, you see that God was not present with Adam and Eve. He was not there before, during, or immediately after they sinned (they had time to sew fig leaves and then also hide). This is very significant. This tells us that God is not unwilling to be left open to the charge of not being present! There was a time, even BEFORE Adam and Eve sinned and created a barrier between themselves and God (Isaiah 59:1,2), that God was not present and deemed it necessary to leave Adam and Eve to themselves. It also shows that the argument that God would certainly do more to prove His existence is false!

There are other implications of this fact of the Bible narrative as well, but for this discussion, and the integral atheist, it shows that one of the common arguments against God’s existence needs to be judged as the serpent was; without legs.