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Featured On God's Sovereignty

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by Meow Mix, Sep 28, 2017.

  1. Tmac

    Tmac Active Member

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    I suppose God, by definition could do anything were it to choose but I have a hard time thinking about God thinking/choosing, period. There is nothing but you, what is there to think about.
    Now the God we are talking about is one we have created, so we are basically talking about ourselves but projecting it. So I ask myself did choose to be who I am, I think so but I don't have enough (imagine that) data to confirm, at the same time I've never made a mistake, I made the proper choice with the data I possessed. I do know that if I didn't have sovereignty over my life it wouldn't be my life.

    Omniscience can be thought of in two ways, one is that one posses all the answers and the other is you know the answer when the question is asked.


    I have a question for you, as you said this is a re-post, if the first post didn't satisfy you what are you hoping to find this time?
     
  2. Kemosloby

    Kemosloby Well-Known Member
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    People would get bored without the element of danger, it keeps us coming back for more.
     
  3. David T

    David T Well-Known Member
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    I didn't replace, I simply slid the slide on the string to show the fret does not exist.
     
  4. Ponder This

    Ponder This Well-Known Member

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    I'm having a bit of trouble trying to follow the argument here. Is the argument that God must have properties before He chooses to embody those properties or is the argument that those properties must exist prior to the existence of God?

    The first case doesn't make sense, so why wouldn't we assume that God doesn't need to have properties before He chooses to embody those properties?

    In the second case, how can we say properties exist prior to existence of something that has those properties? If we say those properties existed before God existed, then in what way did those properties exist? Does it even make sense to talk about properties existing when nothing exists that has those properties?

    So I don't follow the argument against self-sovereignty:
    "The question immediately arises -- where would those properties have come from?"
    Doesn't this show the entire argument against self-sovereignty doesn't hold up?
     
  5. Tumah

    Tumah Veteran Member

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    That obviously couldn't apply to the Being who precedes all other existences. There can't be differentiation when there is only one thing. There was nothing else for G-d to not be with which to contrasts G-d's being. So when we say G-d exists, we must mean that G-d's existence is unlike any other existence.
     
  6. Meow Mix

    Meow Mix Well-Known Member

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    The argument isn't to say that it's a bad thing if God has immutable, unchosen attributes: just that they are as such. That the aseity intuition is wrong if God exists. The only real point behind it is because it's interesting and because it pre-empts some arguments which assume God's aseity, such as the Transcendental Argument for the (existence of) God," i.e. TAG.
     
  7. Meow Mix

    Meow Mix Well-Known Member

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    The argument is that in order for God to *choose* properties, God must already have properties to make such a choice (for instance, knowledge of what properties are available to choose from and power to instantiate such a change). This pre-empts the notion that God could have chosen to be God, because it requires being God to change God: in other words, God must have had no choice other than to be God; God couldn't have instead chosen to be a horse or a basketball.

    It challenges the intuitions of aseity and sovereignty by demonstrating God can't possibly have both aseity and perfect sovereignty. It doesn't mean a lot beyond that: this is not an argument for the non-existence of God. God can exist just fine in the face of the paradox if we simply agree God isn't perfectly a se and/or isn't perfectly sovereign. What it does do is it pre-empts the use of some arguments for the existence of God -- most notably the TAG (Transcendental Argument for [the existence of] God.)
     
  8. Meow Mix

    Meow Mix Well-Known Member

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    A problem here is that it still doesn't work: in order to be anything (to exist), God has to have had limits even if only God existed. For instance, if God was in any way different from being a basketball, *that is a limit,* which means there has to have been logical identity. If I were to ask, "when only God existed, did a basketball exist?" and you answer "no," then you are explicitly agreeing that God must have had properties.
     
  9. Tumah

    Tumah Veteran Member

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    I don't think that's true. Going back to apophatic reference, we can say that the reason why G-d is not a basketball is because a basketball has properties whereas G-d doesn't. Something which lacks property can't be similar to something that has properties.
    If you want to argue that lack of property is a property, I guess I'd have to agree, although that doesn't seem very coherent.
     
  10. Ponder This

    Ponder This Well-Known Member

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    Is this a temporal paradox? How do we make sense of "already having" properties and "could have chosen"? Is there some reason that God and His properties must arise sequentially? I guess I don't see a problem with God arising spontaneously and simultaneously with the properties He has chosen. I don't understand the need to assign a temporal index on the order in which God and His properties arose.

    Is this like the question of which came first, the chicken or the egg? It can't be a chicken unless it hatched from an egg and it can't be an egg unless it was laid by a chicken? In that case, I understand why it's considered a paradox, but I don't understand why the temporal logic of the chicken and the egg applies to God. Why can't He arise spontaneously and simultaneously with His properties that He has chosen? He is not like the chicken or the egg which is subject to temporal cause and effect.
     
  11. Grandliseur

    Grandliseur Well-Known Member

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    Googled: "In its "positive" meaning, it affirms that God is completely self-sufficient, having within Himself the sufficient reason for His own existence."

    Well, as I understand things, God aseity is positive. That he chose to create was not dependent upon his being of positive aseity.
    My belief in God may be using logic at times, however, due to the fact that my prayers - specific ones - have been answered in the past, my belief that God exists is based on personal experience - which of course many will reject. That is not my problem, though.
     
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  12. Meow Mix

    Meow Mix Well-Known Member

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    This reminds me of the via negativa/apophatic approaches of the Middle Ages of describing God by what God is not (though I know divine simplicity has earlier roots). I think there are several good reasons to reject simplicity and to reject pure apophatic approach (two different things, but with similar counterpoints and rebuttals):

    1) Regarding the via negativa, describing something solely by what that thing is not has two problems.
    a) If you never say what something is, you can't even get to say the thing exists (if you do, then you're getting around to assigning it properties)
    b) Negation is still a limitation: not being a basketball is still an instantiation of logical identity, specifically excluded middle: A v ¬A ("A or not-A").

    2) Combine this with criticisms of simplicity.
    c) Reasonably we should be able to be univocal with things we refer to: we can only do this with properties. If we can't do this with God, then it means that we run into absurdities, some unintuitive, some analytical: we couldn't say that God has the property of being "the referent of the reference 'God'," which is absurd. We couldn't say God has logical self-identity, which is absurd. We couldn't say God has the property of existence even, as mentioned above (Kant fans will say "existence is a predicate," not incorrectly; but Kant only means it isn't an essential property)
    d) There are surely some properties which you would assign God: for instance, is God a person? That's a property. Is God powerful? That's a property. Is God wise or knowledgeable? That's a property.
    e) Classical simplicity has it that God is identical with God's properties (to get around the idea that God "has" or "possesses" properties). However this must be pointed out as being absurd: if God is identical with God's properties, then those properties must be identical with each other (if a = b and b = c, then a = c). I'm not sure if you're arguing this far into simplicity, but there it is anyway, just in case.

    I think it's inescapable that if God exists at all that God must have properties, because to exist is to exist as something -- and to be something is to be that thing rather than something else, and that entails having properties (limitation) demarcating what that thing is from what that thing is not.
     
  13. Meow Mix

    Meow Mix Well-Known Member

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    This isn't temporal at all: one of the assumptions here is that God is eternal. However, there is still a sequential element to this. You say, "I don't see a problem with God arising spontaneously and simultaneously with the properties He has chosen." Let's ignore the "arising spontaneously" part since most theists would reject that God began to exist, and that's not what I'm meaning to argue. Let's focus on the "simultaneously with the properties He has chosen." The problem here is that choosing properties requires already having properties. To be capable of making a choice, you must have properties of knowledge (to know what choices are available) and power (to instantiate your choice): this is to say that there can never be a time where God would be able to choose His own properties without already having had properties with which to choose. That means God couldn't ultimately have chosen God's properties. God could arguably choose His properties once He already has properties, but the point of the argument is to say "the properties God must have already had in order to make any sort of choice were beyond God's control."

    As above, it requires properties to make a choice, so it's putting the cart before the horse to say that God could have ultimately chosen His "initial" properties.

    This isn't something that damages theism -- this isn't an argument that God does not exist. It's perfectly acceptable for a theist to say "okay, God didn't ultimately choose His own properties; He had no choice but to be God. So what?" and that's basically the end of it. It just shows that the starting intuitions -- aseity and sovereignty -- must be amended or rejected. The MAIN point an atheist would make this argument for is to pre-empt some arguments for the existence of God which rely on those intuitions, such as the Transcendental Argument for God (TAG).
     
  14. Tumah

    Tumah Veteran Member

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    I don't have a problem with saying that G-d doesn't exist. I feel like we covered this, but again. We're talking about an existence that precedes the creation of existence. We don't have a word for that but don't mistake limits of language with limits to possibility. That is a limit of the human language: we have no word to describe a being who is, but does not exist in the classical sense. So instead we say that G-d exists, but His existence is unlike any other existence.


    I don't think the law of excluded middle is applicable to G-d who existed before any thing. I would think that you need at least two things to exist in principle for that so as to draw the distinction between one and the other. Before the creation, there was nothing to say that G-d was not it.

    We don't say any of these things. These are all properties of our existence and G-d is unlike our existence. Yes, that means we will run into absurdities as you'll say in the following. But that is a natural outcome of not being bound by the nature on which our logic is bound. Understanding G-d's nature is impossible to be understood. That's all you're ultimately what you're saying.

    I would not assign any of these properties to G-d except metaphorically.

    This is the position of Maimonides, a famous Jewish scholar among Jews. And that's exactly the point that he's trying to make: G-d doesn't have multiple properties. They are all just one thing: G-d's being. Whereas for a human the property of our existence is separate from the property of our intelligence, for G-d, they are one and the same. He's not saying that these are two separate properties in one. He's saying that it's one property where all other properties are undifferentiated within it. A=c is exactly it.

    I think that this is not true of G-d simply because these statements are only true within the universe G-d created and G-d precedes this. Yes, as I mentioned above, that means we will run into things we can't understand because they are outside the bounds of our logic. That is reasonable as well, since G-d created reason and it did not precede Him either.
     
  15. Ponder This

    Ponder This Well-Known Member

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    These are temporal notions. So this may be why I find the argument confusing. Can you phrase the argument without introducing a sequential order of events? It seems the notion of "choosing" involves a point in time before a choice was made and a point in time after that choice was made.

    The argument appears to be saying that God has to have certain properties before He can make choices. So I guess my question in response to that would be: Can't He change those properties that He supposedly had to have that enabled Him to make choices? And if He can change those properties that supposedly make Him not sovereign, then is He really not sovereign? After all, by choosing not to change those properties He is choosing to have those properties (even if He supposedly had to have those properties to begin with - that is to say sequentially or temporally before hand).

    And if there is no sequential or temporal order to events, then there is no paradox.
     
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