The Omnipotence paradox.

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RedleT's picture
@ Logic

@ Logic

You haven't distinguished what's absolutely possible and what's possible for us in certain circumstances.

It is not possible for you given your own nature to fly of your self, but suppose there is a God and He performed a miracle in which when you flapped your arms you would fly (think of Peter walking on water).

LogicFTW's picture
Definition of omnipotence so

Definition of omnipotence so far:
All Powerful.
Except: Only things that are possible... "All that one is able to do"... What one can do absolutely.

I cannot fly if flap my arms fast enough, but if I do so while riding a plane in the sky, (special circumstance,) I can fly, flapping my arms, (not a miracle via the power of god, but certainly some major outside assistance.) Even though the flapping of my arms has nothing to do with the fact I am currently flying.
I cant walk on water, but if I wait till water freezes enough, I can walk on water.

I am guessing these are special circumstances as well, not using "god/bible" examples.

I looked into your Summa quote further...

More rules added to omnipotent word definition! Yay?

-Omnipotent is an entity that can do all things possible in nature, and "farther than that". (Looks like Summa stepped well away from "all powerful")
-Can do all things that are possible "absolutely," or perhaps better defined, as he cannot do things that are absolutely impossible, but apparently can do everything else. (Looks like Summa contradicts his earlier statement, now omnipotent is: can do everything except things that are "absolutely" impossible.")
-I see also Summa starts throwing in the word "divine" in front of the word omnipotence, adding an adjective in the last paragraph of the copy paste you put. Once you toss an adjective in front of a word you are free to change the definition of the word all you like to suit your needs.

I personally see Summa put together a complex word salad to change the simple definition of omnipotence (based on Latin origins,) of "All powerful" to a different definition that: takes 612 words of dense loaded definition words to explain what "His omnipotence precisely consists." Simply to deal with the logical paradoxes of the word "all" while still trying to maintain god power cannot be challenged or superseded.

I think, you, I, and Summa say this "god" idea is not all omnipotent. Just this god idea now has a special kind of omnipotent definition that is now immune to absolute type paradoxes by explaining those away in terms of "absolutely possible/impossible." Looks likely a highly amended definition of the word omnipotent to fix the error in the original definition of the word.

Peripatetic's picture
that's a great article.

that's a great article.

"For such cannot come under the divine omnipotence, not because of any defect in the power of God, but because it has not the nature of a feasible or possible thing"

"whatever implies contradiction does not come within the scope of divine omnipotence, because it cannot have the aspect of possibility. Hence it is better to say that such things cannot be done, than that God cannot do them."

Muslim philosophers and theologians say the same thing, we do not say god can't do them but rather they do not come under the scope/realm/domain of power.

RedleT's picture


I am glad that some Muslim philosophers and theologians agree. But from my understanding that is not the teaching of the Quran and Islamic tradition although I am not an expert on such a matter. I pray that you will seek out the truth of who Muhammad was and concert to Catholism.

My best regards and respect.

Peripatetic's picture
it's not "Some" Muslim

it's not "Some" Muslim philosophers and theologians, it's almost every philosopher and theologian except Ibn Hazm. but The main doctrine in the Islamic tradition is that what is impossible in itself is not a thing at all to come under the scope of Power. so the deficiency would be in the affected side (the impossible thing) not in the affector side (god). And by the way In Arabic we do not use terms such as Omnipotent, all Powerful, has infinite/unlimited power. the word in Arabic that describes god having this attribute is simply 'Powerful'. And the Qur'an states that "God has Power over every thing". and i recommend that you read books about 'ilm al-kalam' which is the Islamic theology which i think it's way more Advanced, even in the topics it discusses, than theology in the west.

xenoview's picture
Sounds like your trying to

Sounds like your trying to say god has human limitations. If your god can't do it, then it's not all powerful.

Peripatetic's picture
logical impossibilities are

logical impossibilities are not things to come under the domain of power. they cannot be created, that's a negative proposition for the absence of the subject. logical impossibilities are not even instances of the subject 'Everything'.

so it's invalid to say that:
Everything can be created by god
logical impossibilities are not things
therefore, logical impossibilities can be created

logical impossibilities, by their nature, do not come under the scope of power. If they do, but god couldn't create them, that would be negative for the absence of the predicate, which would imply that God is not powerful. But that is not the case.

it's not the case that Logical impossibilities are impossible just because humans can not do them. you just want to put it that way in order to serve your idea.
Logical impossibilities, in themselves, their Nothingness is necessary for them, and what is necessary can not turn into possible/contingent.

xenoview's picture

Why are placing human limitations on your god? Are you saying your god cannot do a logical impossibility?

Peripatetic's picture
how come you're not asking me

how come you're not asking me to prove "my god" is real !!! that's weird. Anyway, How old are you? What Are you/have you studying/studied?

when i write an argument for god you'd just ignore it and reply asking me for one.
i write a comment telling you logical impossibilities are not human limitations and you just ignore that and reply asking me why am i putting human limitations on god. I'm really starting to like that :D

xenoview's picture
I'm 50 years old if you must

I'm 50 years old if you must know. Why how old did you think I was? I have not studied at any college. I read a lot of different subjects online. Google search is a good friend of mine. I know you can't prove your god is real, no human can prove a god is real. Religious books are not good evidence that a god is real. Religious books get alter by humans for political reasons, atlas the christian bible has in the past.

Peripatetic's picture
i did not think of any age, i

i did not think of any age, i was just curious to know.

"I know you can't prove your god is real, no human can prove a god is real"
No, you don't. i can assure you i can, In fact i think i did prove that there's a necessary being that is powerful, knowing, wise and willing that caused the universe to exist. and i don't remember that you had any objections other than just repeating that i can't prove "my god" is real.

Added: "Religious books are not good evidence that a god is real"
straw man right there. who said that?

xenoview's picture
You have to prove a god is

You have to prove a god is real. When you prove a god is real, then we have to figure out which god it is, because humans worship so many different gods.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Very often the problem with

Dumb Ox - Very often the problem with atheists and people in general is that they attack straw men and don't let the other side define what they mean


Caitlin - What I'm saying is God is more than omnipotent.

Caitlin - God knows everything that will happen

Caitlin - God is all powerful

Caitlin - God has all power plus more

Caitlin - ...God is all powerful...

Jon the Catholic - [God] does know everything

Peripatetic - [God] knows all possibilities

They tell us he is all powerful (or whatever, insert attribute here) until they are blue in the face; then when we accept that definition and start to use it, you accused us of not letting them define what they mean! Yikes!

Edit to add: be clear I'm not criticizing those person's I quoted saying it. Most of us have heard this stuff our entire lives and these statements from these theists are not controversial. I'm just pointing out that the definition we used; is WIDELY used by theists in this thread, this website, and around the world; not something made up by atheists. And yes, there are theists who are trying to back away from these definitions, and that is great for them. But don't try to blame those definitions on us (the atheists). These theists have painted themselves into this corner, we are just pointing out what they have done to themselves.

Peripatetic's picture
i did not use "he knows all

i did not use "he knows all possibilities" as a definition to 'powerful or all powerful'. i said that in a certain context.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Peripatetic - i did not use

Peripatetic - i did not use "he knows all possibilities" as a definition to 'powerful or all powerful'

Right! And that is exactly why I carefully included the caveat:

Nyarlathotep - They tell us he is all powerful (or whatever, insert attribute here)

But you just steam rolled ahead anyway, huh?

Randomhero1982's picture
So god cannot do what is not

So god cannot do what is not logical possible, and yet he can create the cosmos, the universe, earth and all life? Seriously? This is your argument!?

If you read some sections of various religious texts, all the offer is logical fallacies and extraordinary claims...

As I previously mentioned, the resurrection! Has it ever happened again with concrete evidence? Or Muhammad on his winged horse? There is not even a winged horse in the fossil record... but because it's faith it gets special treatment where it cannot be questioned?

Well I'm sorry, you can pray for me but I'll think for you... I'm happy to use critical thinking.

Apologies if this is a little blunt, I don't mean to offend but I'm a little agitated from the recent terror attacks.

I see so often "you atheists always want evidence/peer review"

It's because it works!

RedleT's picture
"So god cannot do what is not

"So god cannot do what is not logical possible, and yet he can create the cosmos, the universe, earth and all life? Seriously? This is your argument!?"

Not quite. That is my argument for why the thiest conception of an all powerful God is not logically incoherent. I haven't yet tried to prove that this is so

xenoview's picture
Dumb Ox

Dumb Ox
Do you have proof outside of the bible your god created anything? Do you have proof your god is real?

Randomhero1982's picture
What I find amusing is that

What I find amusing is that every theist I've heard on the matter of this specific paradox claims it has been rebuked conclusively... I'm hardly the epicentre of atheistic thinking and yet that assertion hasn't even held up on this post.

The point was, the paradox hasn't been conclusively disproved by theists.. so far we can say that it can be disproved by saying that a god can only do what is rationally logical.

Which is a premise i can accept, however... when you then pull up the extraordinary claims of religion, any religion for that matter... they make bold claims of extraordinary miracles and apparent historical facts that would need the suspension of the laws of nature.

Now, is this logical? Is this rational?

I'm not trying to disprove religion, you have a belief and you are entitled to it. But it would be nice if an theist could use some critical thinking and admit these claims are very much 'out there' so to speak!

And have little to no evidentiary proof.

RedleT's picture
Three things:

Three things:

1. I wouldn't say God can only not do things which are logically impossible; I would also say he cannot do what is evil. Basically what God can do comes from the fact that he is Being itself and Existence itself.

2. You have basically admitted that your paradox can be rationally explained but now you are moving the goal post by saying it's extradinary and unbelievable that miracles could happen. Well, if God is Being and Existence itself, then it's not. Furthermore, there is no logical inconsistency in saying that God could raise someone from the dead. So, you cannot a priori write it off. We would first have to go and figure out if there is or is not a God and what his nature is or examine individual miracles.

3. As a Catholic I know God is a Trinity through faith, but as a thinker, I know intellectually through reason that God exists. So, to disprove atheism, I don't need to show that a certain miracle is true, but only that there must be a God through reason (cosmological argument or others).

One last point, I find it kind of funny when atheists say theists have thoughts that are out there. Why? Because when I use a logical proof/syllogism to prove that God (at least a slice of His nature so to speed) exists, atheist try to refute me by saying something can come from absolutely nothing, or a thing can be prior to itself, or being can come from non being, or a thing can cause itself to exist and so forth.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Dumb Ox - I wouldn't say God

Dumb Ox - I wouldn't say God can only not do things which are logically impossible; I would also say he cannot do what is evil.


Dumb Ox - [God] must be all powerful

Get your story straight.

RedleT's picture
It is straight. You just don

It is straight. You just don't know it. Read some basic Thomistic philosophy on what evil is and what omnipotence is. When I say God is all powerful I mean he has power to do things insofar as those things have being. However, evil is the privation of good/being so God cannot do moral evil. Material evil is different but I digress. Trust me, my story isn't changing but it's a very long one which I haven't told and can't tell as well as others have.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Dumb Ox - evil is the

Dumb Ox - evil is the privation of good/being so God cannot do moral evil

So I have the power to do moral evil, but god does not; yet god is all powerful. What a wonderful example of theistic logic.

RedleT's picture
We are equivocating on what

We are equivocating on what power is. I would say you have a defect in your power which makes you able to commit moral evil or you lack a certain perfection which would make you unable to commit moral evil. Is it not a good thing to not be able to do evil? You need to learn more about my view point if you are going to be able to refute or challenge what I am saying. I would suggest reading Dr. Feser. I haven't read any of his books but they seem to be good. His blog is pretty solid. I have read some (only some) older Thomists and part of the Summa. Again, atheists have to resort to things that are "out there". "God doesn't have the perfection of being all powerful because he is all good and cannot act in a way in which there is not a due good which should be there." Doing evil doesn't make you powerful, it makes you a slave.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Dumb Ox - We are equivocating

Dumb Ox - We are equivocating on what power is

You are the one equivocating. You told us god was all powerful; and pretty much ever since they you have been placing limitations on him. Maybe you should look up the word "all". This is what happens when you invoke absolutes.

RedleT's picture
So you are more powerful if

So you are more powerful if you can commit evil? Isn't evil a defect, a lack of good?

Nyarlathotep's picture
Dumb Ox - So you are more

Dumb Ox - So you are more powerful if you can commit evil?

Oh I didn't say more powerful.

You told us god is all powerful. Then you started listing things that humans can do, that god can't.

Isn't evil a defect, a lack of good?

Before we dive into the mess of what is evil and what is good; you should probably fix that false dichotomy.

RedleT's picture
It's pretty much right. I

It's pretty much right. I could explain it more, but again, I would suggest reading thomistic philosophers on this question. And how is it a dichotomy?

Nyarlathotep's picture
Dumb Ox - how is it a

Dumb Ox - how is it a dichotomy

If evil is the "lack of good"; then anything that isn't good, is evil; a dichotomy.

RedleT's picture
Oh ok I see what you are

Oh ok I see what you are saying. In Themistocles philosophy everything is good in so far as it has being, obviously in different ways and degrees though. An apple is good, a chair is good, a person can be good, riding you bike can be good and so on. Also, evil is the lack of a good which should be there. For instance, a tail is good but no on me. For me, an arm or a leg is good to have but only two of each. Furthermore, in the concrete every action of humans is either morally good or evil. Only in the abstract can we say certain human actions are morally neutral.


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