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Christianity's Inescapable Paradox


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Guest Escaped From Catholicism

This interesting paradox springs from merely two premises that, in my view, nearly all Christians hold to be valid.

 

Premise One: God is omnipotent; that is, God is all-powerful (a being than which no more powerful can be conceived).

 

Premise Two: Sin accurately can be defined as “acts which violate the will of God.” In short, God hates sin, and sinful acts, by definition, represent violation of God’s will.

 

The paradox takes the form of the following question: Can God’s will be violated by man?

 

If one answers Yes, then God is not all-powerful—not a being than which no more powerful can be conceived. Indeed, I can conceive of a being which possesses all of God’s qualities but, above and beyond those, also possesses the power to ensure its will never is violated. If the answer is Yes, then God is not omnipotent after all.

 

If one answers No, then sin does not exist. If humans cannot violate the will of God, then all human behaviors are executions of God’s will. Every behavior I have displayed—and all behaviors everyone ever will display—are simply the carrying out of God’s will—never violations of it. For, as indicated by the answer, God’s will cannot be violated by mere humans (or anybody).

 

This is a paradox from which I can envisage no escape.

 

Your thoughts?

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It doesn't work. I can conceive of a God who is all powerful, who possesses the power to ensure its will is never violated, but allows it to be anyways. I have the power to mow the lawn, just because I don't do it doesn't mean that I can't.

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I'm not christian but that's what they would say

 

"God COULD stop sin because he's all powerful, but he chooses to give us free will. Just because he doesn't completely annihilate sin doesn't mean he can't."

 

Of course, this answer is bullshit because it means god isn't good. He prefers to make people burn forever rather than "turn them into robots without free will" (which is what they were to begin with anyway). Besides, he violates man's free will on numerous occasions, for example by hardening pharao's heart.

 

Let's just be happy this guy is fictional!

 

 

Here's another paradox: God is all powerful. He is also all knowing, which means that he knows everything he will do in advance, which means he can't change his mind because that would mean he didn't know in advance what he was gonna do, but this also means he's not all powerful.

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It doesn't work. I can conceive of a God who is all powerful, who possesses the power to ensure its will is never violated, but allows it to be anyways. I have the power to mow the lawn, just because I don't do it doesn't mean that I can't.

 

How does 'allowing' your own will to be violated make you more powerful?

 

Remember, all we're talking about here is power, nothing else.

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You said that if you answered yes then that would mean that God is not all powerful, which is not the case.

 

One can have the power to do something, and choose not to do it.

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You said that if you answered yes then that would mean that God is not all powerful, which is not the case.

 

One can have the power to do something, and choose not to do it.

 

 

Still, though, I can conceive of a more powerful being than God. I can conceive of a being whose will CANNOT be violated. Such, in my mind, is more powerful than a being whose will possibly can be violated if the being so allows.

 

A being who cannot die is "more immortal" than a being who cannot die unless he allows somebody to kill him.

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I have to agree. Moreover, the existence of a god, of the sort of nature as the Xian god, is impossible.

 

An all-good god would not permit evil to exist, for to allow evil to continue would be to endanger his innocent creations. An all-powerful god would have the power to end evil, and an all-knowing god would know how to end evil, as well as create a world in which all sentient beings could live fulfilling lives and reach their potentials without the dangers of evil and "sin."

 

Such a god, an all-powerful and all-good and all-knowing god, would have a moral responsibility to end evil. Especially if evil, in the form of "sin," is a danger to the eternal souls of sentient beings. The danger of Hell, in Xian and islamic mythology, makes it all the more imperative that the gods of these respective religions end evil.

 

Evil exists, therefore either a god exists which cannot or does not care to end it, or no god exists at all. The type of god posited by the Abrahamic cults, and all religions similar to them, cannot possibly be real.

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You said that if you answered yes then that would mean that God is not all powerful, which is not the case.

 

One can have the power to do something, and choose not to do it.

 

 

Still, though, I can conceive of a more powerful being than God. I can conceive of a being whose will CANNOT be violated. Such, in my mind, is more powerful than a being whose will possibly can be violated if the being so allows.

 

A being who cannot die is "more immortal" than a being who cannot die unless he allows somebody to kill him.

 

Your being is more limited because his will cannot be affected by his own whims. The Christian God can, or not if that is his choosing. Simple.

 

 

A being who cannot die does not have the choice of death therefore it is less powerful then a being who has the choice.

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I have to agree. Moreover, the existence of a god, of the sort of nature as the Xian god, is impossible.

 

An all-good god would not permit evil to exist, for to allow evil to continue would be to endanger his innocent creations. An all-powerful god would have the power to end evil, and an all-knowing god would know how to end evil, as well as create a world in which all sentient beings could live fulfilling lives and reach their potentials without the dangers of evil and "sin."

 

Such a god, an all-powerful and all-good and all-knowing god, would have a moral responsibility to end evil. Especially if evil, in the form of "sin," is a danger to the eternal souls of sentient beings. The danger of Hell, in Xian and islamic mythology, makes it all the more imperative that the gods of these respective religions end evil.

 

Evil exists, therefore either a god exists which cannot or does not care to end it, or no god exists at all. The type of god posited by the Abrahamic cults, and all religions similar to them, cannot possibly be real.

 

 

eh, the only way the Christian God works is if the end justifies the means. I've argued with Christians over this, saying that I can conceive of a better way but if I do not have the opportunity to test it out then I do not know if my better way would work.

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, I can conceive of a being which possesses all of God’s qualities but, above and beyond those, also possesses the power to ensure its will never is violated.

 

Yeah, tell Anselm to stuff that one up his crotch.

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eh, the only way the Christian God works is if the end justifies the means.

 

I'd almost agree, but the Xian god is supposed to be all-good. A god like that cannot think that the end justifies the means. Its disposition towards altruism would override such a malevolent attitude.

 

I've argued with Christians over this, saying that I can conceive of a better way but if I do not have the opportunity to test it out then I do not know if my better way would work.

 

You don't need to test it out to prove it makes more sense. Some things are just obvious. If you can conceive of something better than a supposedly all-knowing god can, then clearly said god either isn't all-knowing or doesn't exist.

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It doesn't work. I can conceive of a God who is all powerful, who possesses the power to ensure its will is never violated, but allows it to be anyways. I have the power to mow the lawn, just because I don't do it doesn't mean that I can't.

 

You miss the point, an omnipotent, omnicient being could create a system where the lawn doesn't even need mowed in the first place. Or, would not create the lawn. Or, fill in the blank. The posibilities are endless for this creature.

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Your being is more limited because his will cannot be affected by his own whims. The Christian God can, or not if that is his choosing. Simple.

 

I'm trying to wrap my mind around how a god who can both allow his will to be violated and then be ultimately offended by those who would violate it is indeed more powerful than a god whose will cannot be violated in the first place.

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eh, the only way the Christian God works is if the end justifies the means.

 

I'd almost agree, but the Xian god is supposed to be all-good. A god like that cannot think that the end justifies the means. Its disposition towards altruism would override such a malevolent attitude.

 

In my opinion an omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent being should be able to come up with a better way that doesn't involve such pain and suffering. And he shouldn't send his son to further spread that notion of suffering for salvation making it seem like a good thing...

 

But that's just me.

 

Who knows though, maybe it is the only way. You're wrong though, you do need to test it out even if you think it makes more sense you do not know. Armchair anthropology never really worked...it's like with scientific theories, you can dream up whatever you want but until it gets taken for a test run you'll never really know how it will work out. There are always unexpected variables.

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eh, the only way the Christian God works is if the end justifies the means. I've argued with Christians over this, saying that I can conceive of a better way but if I do not have the opportunity to test it out then I do not know if my better way would work.

 

But then I see you got it, so why am I debating you? :HaHa:

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Your being is more limited because his will cannot be affected by his own whims. The Christian God can, or not if that is his choosing. Simple.

 

I'm trying to wrap my mind around how a god who can both allow his will to be violated and then be ultimately offended by those who would violate it is indeed more powerful than a god whose will cannot be violated in the first place.

 

Because he doesn't have to allow it to be violated, he has the choice. He could say that he chooses not to let it be violated and it would be done.

 

A God who doesn't have the choice is less powerful.

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Who knows though, maybe it is the only way.

 

That's the xian error though, that there is only one way. There can not be only one way by definition. This is a god without limits. One way is a limit that xians place on their limitless god.

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Your being is more limited because his will cannot be affected by his own whims. The Christian God can, or not, if that is his choosing. Simple.

 

Let's start with my 'unsubvertable' God definition here. How can an omnipotent entity--an entity which, by definition, gets anything and everything it wants in all respects--be limited? It's not possible, since omnipotence is essentially the antithesis of limitation.

 

The being than which nothing more powerful can be conceived cannot have its will violated, ever. Surely, it can change its will on a whim but, in all respects, it always gets what it wants. That about sums up power, in my eyes.

 

Isn't your God definition internally inconsistent, by the way? You say that God is omnipotent and can force everybody to accept its will, but sometimes doesn't choose that. So then, in those times, God's will is to enable some people to violate his will? Can that will be violated?

 

 

A being who cannot die does not have the choice of death therefore it is less powerful then a being who has the choice.

 

This is just an analogy. It's not about power in this case; it's about immortality. Somebody who CANNOT die is more immortal. [Check back to my original, unedited phrasing.]

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A God who doesn't have the choice is less powerful.

 

I got that, but then you are limiting him by saying he has no choice but to be offended.

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In my opinion an omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent being should be able to come up with a better way that doesn't involve such pain and suffering. And he shouldn't send his son to further spread that notion of suffering for salvation making it seem like a good thing...

 

But that's just me.

 

Me, too :)

 

Who knows though, maybe it is the only way. You're wrong though, you do need to test it out even if you think it makes more sense you do not know. Armchair anthropology never really worked...it's like with scientific theories, you can dream up whatever you want but until it gets taken for a test run you'll never really know how it will work out. There are always unexpected variables.

 

I'm not wrong - if I, a lumpen human utterly without anything resembling omniscience or omnipotence, can conceive of a world free of evil wherein all beings can realize their full potential without evil or suffering of any sort, then a god with those attributes surely can. It's just logical - and it would be impossible to test out, since no such god can be found to pitch the idea to.

 

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if an all-good, all-powerful, all-good god exists that it would erase evil and make the universe a paradise, as it wouldn't be logical for it not to.

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How can an Omniscient God have a choice? He can only act according to either the future has to be, or what is the absolutely only way to act. He would know beforehand which choice he has to make, so he has no choice. It's like playing chess and you already know the moves you have to make to win, since you also would know with absolute certainty what your opponent would move. There's no options in full and absolute knowledge.

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It's like playing chess and you already know the moves you have to make to win, since you also would know with absolute certainty what your opponent would move. There's no options in full and absolute knowledge.

 

Hmm... I'm not sure this is true. Is there only one way to win at chess? Is there a best way to win at chess? Is there a right way to create art? Is there only one way to express love, hate, etc...?

 

On the other hand, an omniscient god would necessarily know the choices it would make before hand, therefore nullifying its ability to make choices. It really becomes a nonsensical concept at this point.

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True. There's many ways of winning a chess game, but if you know your opponent and know what moves he will make, will you have an option to make a move in a sequence for a chess game that you're not playing? God doesn't have an opponent that would surprise him in any form or way. Every move nature, devil, human, angel, supernatural or whatever, will act exactly how he know it will act and respond. It's like playing a chess game with some of those early computer games, you knew how to trick it, so if you wanted to win, you knew what the computer would do and you could win each time with the right opening moves. So the game is fixed from start.

 

You only get different games of chess when your opponent got a chance of surprising you by chosing one out of many different opening strategies, but if you already know which one he/she will always use, then the options in the game is immediately limited, and eventually limited to a set sequence of events. It's like the chaos of the system is collapsing to only one outcome and the order is that it is set to only one.

 

-edit-

 

In high school I played with a guy that was competing on national level. He was of course far better than me, but of some reason he loved playing with me, not because I outsmarted him, but because I would do surprise moves. All his opponents followed the standard steps and templates they memorized, but I would come up with new ways. I changed strategies in mid play and such, and I actually (to my own surprise) did win a couple of times. But the point is that "surprise" doesn't exist for someone that is in full, 100% control of everything, and know every outcome.

 

--edit--

 

And also, that's how Kasparov beat Deep Blue (first version), he could start to anticipate the computers moves. But that was until IBM changed the algorithm to alternate strategies in mid game and surprise Kasparov.

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But the point is that "surprise" doesn't exist for someone that is in full, 100% control of everything, and know every outcome.

 

I agree, and it's at this point that the xian god becomes so evil. Xians say he gives them a choice in regards to hell or salvation, but he knew the choice we would all make before he created us. The very act of creating a creature who will be necessarily tortured for an eternity is the most evil act I can imagine.

 

For that matter, why even test humans when he knows the outcome anyway? Why not just create only those humans who will choose him if given the choice? Testing is an unnecessary, redundant process when the outcome is already known.

 

And, if god knows all choices we will make before hand, he also knows every factor that led to those choices. He in fact engineered those factors, which include outside influence, the inner workings of the individuals thinking patterns, etc... So free will is just not possible when an omnicient, omnipotent creator exists in the universe.

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Yup.

 

After I wrote my previous post, I was thinking about how it would be if I wrote a computer program that played Tic-Tac-Toe, and to guarantee my win each time I played, I would make sure the game played it my way. Then I would know what move the computer would do, and since I'm decided in winning, I will of course make the moves to win.

 

The only option I really do have is, to break away from my ego and self-adoration and actually try to lose.

 

Consider this, if I would write a computer program that would be a challenge for me when playing, I would have to make the program more "advanced" than me. I have to draw from the complexity of nature and make a program that do random decisions that I can not anticipate. This means that for the Devil to even be the slightest challenge for God, God would have had to create the Devil with random number algorithms that not even God could forsee. Meaning, he would have to base the algorithms on a "nature" or "physical laws" outside of himself, which doesn't exist (according to the definition of God), so God never has a challenge...

 

God must be bored to death!

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