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Thread: What About Omnipotence?

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    What About Omnipotence?

    I don't know where the question originated but it seems to have achieved axiomatic status. I've seen it used to rebut the idea that God is omnipotent. Could he create an object so heavy even he couldn't move it? If he could create such an object, then there is an object he can't move, there is something he cannot do and therefore is not omnipotent. If he can't create such an object, than that, too, is something he cannot do and is therefore not omnipotent. I was curious to see if anyone had any rubuttals. I have no dog in this fight, I was just curious.
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    I think omnipotence is just a fancy word :D

    Sadly, that's the only conclusion I can draw at the moment DX Interesting topic though, I'll be watching it to see others' opinions.

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    This is a topic we debated in my college religion course. In my opinion the notion that there is an omnipotent force out there that has power and control beyond and above anything else seems highly unlikely. Even in the Christian Bible there are many instances where God displays characteristics or actions that show he is less then omnipotent and even my Professor who was a Protestant Minister had to agree (for example if the Christian God is in fact omnipotent why wouldn't he just destroy the "Devil" and end the reign of supposed terror that being causes the world? Another one being the question that if God is omnipotent why must he wait for a certain time to usher in the judgement that is supposed to happen if he has complete control over everything?).

    To me omnipotence is a human concept alone due to the fact that worshiping something that is all powerful and having faith that whichever power that may be is on your side gives people comfort. In the natural world everything has limits whether it is a rainstorm or a massive star so I do not see why this would not include whatever unexplained "mystic" forces are out there as well. Science has pretty much proven that energy cannot either be created or destroyed in the universe that we live in so the only true way for a being to be omnipotent is if it had complete manipulation over all the energy and any single event that happens in this universe and I just do not see such a power existing that fits that description.
    Last edited by Mythra; May 29th, 2011 at 10:13 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Valnorran View Post
    I don't know where the question originated but it seems to have achieved axiomatic status. I've seen it used to rebut the idea that God is omnipotent. Could he create an object so heavy even he couldn't move it? If he could create such an object, then there is an object he can't move, there is something he cannot do and therefore is not omnipotent. If he can't create such an object, than that, too, is something he cannot do and is therefore not omnipotent. I was curious to see if anyone had any rubuttals. I have no dog in this fight, I was just curious.
    The only thing that I could think of as a good rebuttal is this: Omnipotence doesn't include the ability to perform logically impossible tasks. This would include things like creating a Square Circle or a married Bachelor. Asking an omnipotent being if he/she/it could create a rock like the one described is illogical in the same vein as a square circle. Since there is no such thing as an infinitely massive rock or a square circle the question is absurd.

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    Logical inconsistencies are easily solved by assuming omnipotence implies omniscience, and omniscience includes Heisenberg. This is the Schrodinger's cat paradox, that the cat is both alive and dead until the box is opened and the quantum state collapses. For a human observer, the rock either does, or does not rise, but since God's perspective is not limited to the 4D universe we can observe, it can do both.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robertus_ View Post
    The only thing that I could think of as a good rebuttal is this: Omnipotence doesn't include the ability to perform logically impossible tasks. This would include things like creating a Square Circle or a married Bachelor. Asking an omnipotent being if he/she/it could create a rock like the one described is illogical in the same vein as a square circle. Since there is no such thing as an infinitely massive rock or a square circle the question is absurd.
    This is pretty much what I was going to say. If someone had infinite power, then they could accomplish tasks that they could not do, because being infinitely powerful allows you to perform tasks that are direct contradictions, otherwise it would not be infinite power.
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    The rock question is simply illogical. Though i do have a question about how one could consider "god" omnipotent at all. If he/she created "everything" (as they state) then by definition he/she would have had to create "nothing," since nothing is still something and most therefore be included in "everything." So...by that logic, God created "nothing" and can therefore do anything? I create more by simply breathing, so i guess I trump omnipotence lol!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daecon View Post
    Logical inconsistencies are easily solved by assuming omnipotence implies omniscience, and omniscience includes Heisenberg. This is the Schrodinger's cat paradox, that the cat is both alive and dead until the box is opened and the quantum state collapses. For a human observer, the rock either does, or does not rise, but since God's perspective is not limited to the 4D universe we can observe, it can do both.
    Agreed - except for me the cat is always alive because I like cats!

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    The concept of Omnipotence has always struck me as similar to the school yard game, "My dad can beat up your dad." Each child proclaims the strength of their dad with ever more impressive theoretical demonstrations of the strength of an individual man. What began as a very honest attempt to describe the strongest person in a child's understanding becomes an outrageous exaggeration of abilities that no mere man can possess.
    This, I believe, is the same force behind the concept of omnipotence. Two or more cultures or theological minds get into a debate on the merits of their individual gods. "My God makes the grass grow that feeds the cattle that drives the economy."
    "My God makes the sun shine that feeds the grass!"
    "My God makes the day and night!"
    When a large portion of a cultural identity is based upon the abilities or power of a god, and that culture begins to expand and colonize or dominate other cultures and their gods, then the need to make their god more powerful then oppositions god is logically necessary to justify the actions of that culture. Thus the same school yard circumstance is created, two cultures bickering over which god is stronger...

    As for the concept of Omnipotence removed from cultural/psychological/sociological significance, I do not believe in it, nor do I believe any god need be omnipotent to deserve honor/worship or to be able to assist in human affairs. I have a difficult time with the power dynamic between God and Worshiper. Many people seem to think that only the mighty need be worshiped. I find fault in this, for the touch of a butterfly at a certain moment can be as significant for an individual as the destruction a tornado might produce. Why do spiritual entities require raw power over finesse and timing?

    IMO the power of a god has nothing to do with its value to a culture or individual.

    Omnipotence is a concept developed by the human mind that is not necessarily manifest in God like entities.

    As for creation and gods. Observing the creations of man on earth we see that they are sometimes significantly smaller then their creator, and sometimes they are significantly larger. The designer of a bridge could not possibly create the structure himself, and yet he is attributed with its creation. Nor could the architect lift or move many of the objects used in its creation. Instead, the architect uses assistance, an economy to source raw materials and create parts for the overall structure. He draws upon a work force and machines to assist in the construction process. He relies on overseers to observe the easier construction projects, like mixing the concrete or welding, but he might be present and directing the placement of key supports or important features.

    Omnipotence is unnecessary in polytheism, after all it takes a pantheon to create a universe.

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