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The 'Trinity' of Religious Contradiction

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by Ceridwen018, May 24, 2004.

  1. Mr Spinkles

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    teapot, I won't argue with you over symantics. You and I essentially agree...God can't do 'anything' He wants to.

    And I disagree about the goblins. There are and have always been killings and persecutions in the name of beliefs which are 'beyond our comprehension'. The religious conflicts of history are certainly beyond MY comprehension.....
     
  2. Ceridwen018

    Ceridwen018 Well-Known Member

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    teapot,

    Just because a large number of people believe in something, doesn't make it true. Just because people die for something, doesn't make it true. It's nice to say that, as to ward off the idea that they have died in vain, but convenience doesn't warrant validity. This is a huge world with billions of people-- I am sure that *somewhere* there is some weird cult who worships closet dwelling goblins. Just because it consists of more than one person, and just because they are organized, doesn't make you take them any more seriously, does it?

    I think you are right when you say that we are confused about the definition of 'all-powerfulness'. Could you enlighten us?
     
  3. Orthodox

    Orthodox Born again apostate

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    Hello all,

    Concerning that post containing the christian confounding question posted:

    "can God create a rock that is too heavy for Him to lift? Whether the answer is 'yes' or 'no', either way God is not all-powerful!"

    I think I have the answer to this. I am paraphrasing from many different authors much cleverer than I. In particular Norman Geisler's Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics.

    The argument already put forward is that

    1. An all powerful being can do anything.
    2. An all powerful being can make a stone so heavy he cannot lift it.
    3. Hence, an all powerful being cannot do anything.

    Firstly, no theologian I have yet read believes premises 1 without reservation.
    what they do believe is that
    1. God can do anything that is possible
    2. It is not possible to make a stone so heavy that it cannot be moved.
    3. Therefore it is not possible for God to make a stone so heavy that he cannot move it.

    God cannot contadict his own nature. Hebrews 6:18 says "It is impossible for God to lie". He can't make a square a circle, or make two mountains without a valley inbetween. He cannot deny the law of noncontradiction.

    Further more, god can't do the impossible. Like not will to create what he has willed to create. Neither can God force free creatures to do something against their own will. For if it is forced they are not free, and if it is free they are not forced.

    It is impossible to make a stone so heavy it cannot be moved. What an omnipotent being can make he can also move. If he brought it into existance he could take it out of existance and put it back in where ever he wanted to move it to.

    On another note, about that whole trinity -
    1. God is all powerful
    2. evil exists in the world
    3. god doesn't want evil.

    This is better known as the Epicurean dilemma.
    which states (in this particular part of it)
    "God is either all good or all powerful".
    by the way I think Rabbi Kutcher (something like that) wrote a bestseller on this thing.

    the christian answer to this dilemma is
    1. god cannot do what is actually impossible
    2. it is actually impossible to destroy evil without destroying free choice
    3. but free choice is nessesary to a moral universe
    4. therefore god cannot destroy evil without destroying this good moral universe.

    Where hate is not possible neither is love, where blasphemy is not possible neither is worship. To destroy all evil god would have to destroy all good as well. Even though evil cannot be destroyed without destroying free choice (and goodness) it can be overcome!

    the second part of the christian answer to the dilemma continues that
    1. god is all good and desires to defeat evil
    2. god is all powerful and is able to defeat evil
    3. evil is not yet defeated
    4. therefore, it will one day be defeated. (both when Jesus destroyed its power on the cross and when he throws Satan into hell)

    I believe god will in the end choose to separate those who choose good (and ask forgivness for their own bad) and those who choose bad. They will go to heaven or hell. The good people (well, forgiven people anyway) will no longer be frustrated by the bad and the bad no longer frustrated by the proddings of good.

    Looking forward to your reply.
     
  4. Ceridwen018

    Ceridwen018 Well-Known Member

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    Hi Orthodox!

    Glad to have you on the Forums.

    That is some good stuff! I think it will spur many interesting ideas. I am also very interested to hear what others have to say, but for now, here's my take:

    The info that you provided really portrays god in a different light, I think. Most people, even Christians it seems, view god as being able to do not only everything possible, but everything impossible as well (although, once he does something impossible I suppose it would become possible, but we won't get too technical here :). The argument is that, for instance, god created circles, squares, and the opposition between them. Therefore, he could alter his own rules and make a circular square. God is credited with having invented good and evil (well, maybe not evil, but that doesn't make sense, in my opinion), free-will and force. As well as creating those concepts, he also created the laws which they were to function under, and like the example above, he should be able to alter his own creations.

    What you have presented here, is that god has his own boundaries and laws which he must follow. He can create, meddle, and destroy all he wants, as long as his ways fall in line with the rules. One may ask, "Was there someone before god, a sort of alpha god, who created these rules?", or "Are god's rules the rules of science?" Either way, I'm thinking that this new concept suggests an undeniable finity to god. Hmmm...
     
  5. Paraprakrti

    Paraprakrti Custom User

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    Evil means "ignorant of God". Evil being in the world just means that there is an abundance of ignorance. God is transcendental and ultimately indifferent to the existence of ignorance/evil. But God observes that we are suffering, and so He has asked us to come back to His association. Although God doesn't want evil in the world, (because we don't want to suffer), He does not impose on our minute independence.
    We have made choices that have resulted in our current condition, it will be our choice when we transcend them. God's power is displayed in our ability to accept or reject Him. This world was made out of ignorance of God. There is no divine necessity for God to manifest a material universe. That is a false idea. God has made this world because *we* desired it. God's desire was to fulfill our desires. Evil is just the ignorance of God played out in the illusion that we are both creators and enjoyers of all we survey. Therefore, it was our ignorance of God that led us to our desires in God's creating this universe.
     
  6. Mr Spinkles

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    Therefore, He is not *all powerful* (just very very powerful). Think about it this way: who or what (besides God) determines what is possible for God? Is there something out there (i.e. the laws of logic/nature) more powerful than He is? If so, these laws limit God's power, so He is not all powerful. The Trinity stands.


    Therefore, God is not all powerful, so the Trinity stands....unless we change the definition of "all-powerful" to "the ability to do anything that He has the ability to do". Of course, this latter definition doesn't tell us anything.

    An omnipotent God can change anything He creates (as you stated, He can move any rock He creates) so He could change His creatures into only partially free creatures and make them do whatever He wants, and let them make some decisions for themselves. In fact, an omnipotent being would not be bound by the illusion of linear time, so He could simply go back in time and make any necessary changes there as well (scientists do think it may be possible to go back in time).

    Really? Then the question is, did God create logic? If so, He can "move it" wherever He likes, according to your response to the rock analogy. So anything that may be illogical (like for example, destroying evil without encroaching on our free will) is only illogical because God wills it to be so. Therefore, God is not all good, because if He wants us to both be free and for evil not to exist, He could change logic (which He created) and make it possible to destory evil without encroaching on free will. The Trinity stands.

    A possible problem with my argument in that last paragraph is "what if God didn't create logic?". In that case, there would be something else in the universe (logic) that is outside of God and limits His power--therefore, God is not all powerful. Either way, the Trinity stands.

    Already, I see we are in agreement....God is not all powerful, so the Trinity stands. Christians (and indeed theists of all religions) may have a problem with this statement though, as it becomes more and more clear in this modern age that various miracles in their mythology are impossible (i.e. the virgin birth, Mohommad's splitting of the Moon, etc).

    Could you please explain this one further? If God limited our choices only to the extent that we cannot commit evil, we would still have free choice, remember. Even if God did not allow us to commit evil, we could still choose our favorite color, what movies to watch, where to live and what career to follow.

    At any rate, here's a loophole in #3 (quoted above)--earlier you said God cannot go against His nature. You also said it is not God's nature to be evil (lie, etc). So, it is impossible for God to be evil. This means that God has no free choice, and therefore He cannot be moral.

    But God, by nature, does not hate (He is purely loving), and you said God cannot go against His nature....therefore by your logic, since hate is not possible in God, neither is love.

    If #1 and #2 were correct at this very moment, evil would be defeated at this very moment--not later. Perhaps #1 should be revised to say "god desires to defeat evil sometime in the future". If God does not want to destroy evil now, He is not *all* good, because He still wills/allows temporary evil. The Trinity stands.

    Great arguments, and well written as well!
     
  7. Ceridwen018

    Ceridwen018 Well-Known Member

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    "Already, I see we are in agreement....God is not all powerful, so the Trinity stands. Christians (and indeed theists of all religions) may have a problem with this statement though, as it becomes more and more clear in this modern age that various miracles in their mythology are impossible (i.e. the virgin birth, Mohommad's splitting of the Moon, etc)."

    This is a fabulous point and I'm surprised I didn't think of it myself. There are countless things in the bible, etc. which we cannot explain and understand. To us, they seem to be miracles, aka, something which is impossible by natural science. Like when god stopped the sun so Joshua would have more time to defeat the 'whoever's'-- that seems like a pretty impossible thing to do without throwing the entire solar system off it's axis.

    "At any rate, here's a loophole in #3 (quoted above)--earlier you said God cannot go against His nature. You also said it is not God's nature to be evil (lie, etc). So, it is impossible for God to be evil. This means that God has no free choice, and therefore He cannot be moral."

    Booyah. 8)
     
  8. Orthodox

    Orthodox Born again apostate

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    Hello Mr Spinkles and Ceridwen,

    Thanks for the replies! It has been very challenging finding answers to your astute contentions but I believe I may have stumbled accross some.
    Here we go....

    I will attempt to answer contentions 1 and 2 at the same time to avoid repetition.

    What we do agree on is that whatever omnipotent or all-powerful means it cannot be that God can literally do anything. He cannot give a circle flat sides and still have it be a circle. He cannot will something to existance and nonexistance at the same time. He Can destroy everything if he wills it, and he can restore everything if he wills it. But he cannot both destory and restore at the same time. To do that you would need to have two parts of an infinite thing working against each other giving their power boundaries and hence making them finite and unable to do what they first intended. So it is impossible for God to be divided (in motive or direction - please don't confuse this with the Holy Trinity) against himself. Now I will try to show how this demonstrates a infinite nature of God rather than a finite one.

    One of you contended that if we believe that "it is impossible for God to lie" (as is said in Hebrews) then we must accept that God is finite and not all-powerful. This is correct provided we look at a lie as a nessesary opposite of Truth. By nessesary I mean something that cannot not exist. This cannot be. Truth is a Nessesary thing while a lie is only contingent of it (by contingent I mean relient upon). Truth is infinite while a lie is finite. Truth cannot not exist and a lie can be nonexistent. Even if nothing existed it would be nessesarily true that nothing existed. But if nothing existed it would not be nessesary for a lie to exist, nothing would exist all the same. So when the Bible states that "it is impossible for God to lie" what it is saying is that it is impossible for God, the Infinite, to be finite. Does this make God not all-powerful? All this means is that, God being all-powerful, cannot become anything less by breaking himself apart because he is the Nessesarily infinite thing required for there to be the contingent finite things which he would break into.To round things up, God cannot do everything because he is all-powerful and being all-powerful he cannot be not all-powerful at the same time. Onto the next contention...

     
  9. Paraprakrti

    Paraprakrti Custom User

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    That is fine, God cannot tell a lie. Because whatever God says is truth. A lie just means that the words spoken are separate from the entity speaking. God, being absolute, is non-different from His words. Therefore, no matter what God is saying is truth.
    I disagree that God cannot make a square-circle. God can do anything and everything. It is just that you may not have the capacity to perceive a square-circle.


    If it is a question of ability, then God CAN. But whether He does or not is another thing.


    I understand the paradox with this. And I understand the difficulty that leads to accepting that God lacks the power to limit Himself. But still my answer is that God can create a rock too heavy for Him to lift, and yet He will lift it. God is both the smallest of the smallest and the largest of the largest. God is forever aloof in what would seem to us as compromising situations. You either accept this or you do not... then you move on.




    1. Nothing is actually impossible for God.
    2. Evil is not an entity itself, but rather, a lack thereof. Therefore, it is not a matter of destroying it as it is so much a matter of filling the void. And yes, free choice is a factor that God does not interfere with. This does not mean that He is incapable of doing so.
    3. How is free choice necessary to a moral universe?
    4. This universe is made out of the ignorant desires of the infinitesimal living entities (us). I am sure this may be up for debate seeing that it is not specifically a Christian philosophy. But understand that God has nothing to gain, therefore we cannot intelligently conclude that this world was made purely out of God's desire. Truth be told, God's desire was to please our desires. God will destroy this universe when the time comes.


    This is under the false conception that these opposite factors are qualities in themselves. Evil is a lack of good, it is not an opposing force.
    Also, what then is your take of heaven, in which there is no evil, but only good? I agree that evil cannot be "destroyed" without destroying free choice because evil itself is not an entity. And if that 'void of goodness' is filled, there is still free choice because God does not fill it but to those who have chosen for Him to.
    I think perhaps you are thinking of good and evil from a relative materialistic perspective. In an absolute viewpoint, Good is being conscious of God, and evil is the lack of God-consciousness. In a materialistic sense one cannot be rid of evil without ridding oneself of good, this duality always persists in the material energy. But, in an absolute sense, there is a "Goodness" that transcends relative good and evil.


    This is good. I think the factor of why God, desiring to "defeat evil", is waiting to do so is because He is acting for our desires. He does not fill our ignorance with knowledge unless we are willing to accept it. God does not desire for us to be ignorant of Him because He knows that only in His association will we be happy. But many of us do not accept, therefore there is evil.
     
  10. Ceridwen018

    Ceridwen018 Well-Known Member

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    Orthodox,

    Or perhaps they do mean that the bearer of such titles can do anything, and god just doesn't fit the bill.

    Like good and evil, I believe that truth and lie cannot exist without each other as they are opposites and they define each other. Without lie, you do not have truth-- only reality.

    Phew! I got a little cross-eyed reading this! ould you elab a little on what you mean here?

    So the bible would have us believe, although logic would state otherwise.

    Well, it seems that god does need us then. He seems like a young mother who hangs around at her child's first day of daycare so the kid will see her leaving and cry out to her. Why does the mother do this? Because she can't adapt to the idea that her child is developing independent tendencies, and would have a breakdown herself if the child were to not cry for her.

    This is a contradiction. If god is above natural laws, then why can't he make a circular square or two colors into one? Both of these concepts are ruled by natural law. Even logic itself could be said to be a form of natural law.

    Making a separate set of rules which allow for illogical events is the same as simply changing what is logical in the first place, only with one added step.

    Rocks and unicorns and their differences are both determined by natural law. If god is above natural law, I don't see what the problem is.

    A virgin birth would most certainly be analogous with the combination of two colors into one, as it is the combination of two opposing concepts: virginity and conception.

    Lack of sin and evil does not warrant a lack of choice, nor does it warrant the presence of perfection. Why do we have to have morality to have free will?

    This doesn't really answer the question though. If morality cannot exist without evil, then god is not moral. Likewise, if good cannot exist without evil, then god cannot be good. Explain that.

    Hate is an immature and faulted emotion no matter what it is directed towards. Perhaps god should stop hating evil so much and just get rid of it.

    No apparent conflict, it would seem, but perhaps there is an underlying conflict of interests. You have a logical reason for waiting until spring. Also, your choice to wait helps and harms only yourself, no one else. God cannot claim either of these explanations.
     
  11. Ceridwen018

    Ceridwen018 Well-Known Member

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    Paraprakrti,

    If what you say is true, about your definition of the all-powerfullness of god, then the trinity stands stronger than ever. If god is so powerful that he can do illogical and non-understandable things, then how do you explain the trinity?
     
  12. Alaric

    Alaric Active Member

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    Big NO to this. 'Squares' and 'circles' are names given by us to certain specific shapes, and they are defined by certain characteristics. A square must have four equal sides at right angles to each other - anything else is not a square, by definition. It would be like saying that God could stop 'blue' being a colour - it has no meaning. Just something important to understand.
     
  13. Mr Spinkles

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    Here is the original "trinity" that this thread is about:
    1)God is all powerful
    2)Evil exists
    3)God does not want any evil to exist.

    It is illogical to say that these three things are simultaneously true.

    Most of the theists on this thread have only been agreeing with what we have said all along, but in different words. For example, Orthodox agrees with Ceridwen and I that God is not all-powerful as long as the definition of all powerful is "the ability to do anything". We agree! :mrgreen:
     
  14. Muscular Beaver

    Muscular Beaver New Member

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    Well hello everybody, my name is Musclar Beaver, the strongest of all dam dwelling animals. Lets get down to business.

    I've just been reading the posts here, and tis' rather interesting. Here's my reckoning of things: Orthodox is slowly grinding down his opposition and Paraprakrti is getting more alien by the minute.

    Here's another thing, God follows rules. But the first thing all ye peoples say is that "who made those rules?" and "is there an Alpha God", bah what a load of poo. Here's a scenario: Man is bored, man creates transport instrument, man calls it bicycle, man tries to ride it, man falls off (many times), man thinks of a particular way to ride it, man perfects his bike riding ability using his WAY aka rules. Dammit, God set up things for himself, otherwise things would be stupid. C'mon chums, we all do it every day, it's only logical.

    There's my bit for now.
    MB.
     
  15. Ceridwen018

    Ceridwen018 Well-Known Member

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    MB,

    An interesting analogy to be sure, however, god seems to have a particular advantage over a man with a bike, being that he is supposedly all-powerful. The difference? Well, if man were all-powerful, he would be able to alter the law of gravity in such a way that he would not fall.

    We have two situations here. Either god creates rules for his creation, or he creates a creation to fit his pre-created rules. Either way, he has control over every aspect...at least he should.

    Altering creation inside of a set of rules is not the issue. The problems begin when we speculate about god altering the rules for his creations. If god cannot alter the rules, then he is limited, and therefore not all-powerful.
     
  16. Mr Spinkles

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    Exactly....and if He CAN alter the rules, but does not, then He is not all good, because we are experiencing evil and suffering right now and He is willing/allowing it to happen (even if it is temporary) despite the fact that He could use His almighty power to stop evil without disrupting anything else that is good.

    You could find a way around this, of course, if you claim that we only perceive things to be evil, and in 'reality' evil does not exist (though I would argue that even the perception of evil/suffering constitutes evil/suffering in its own right). Either way, the trinity stands. 8)
     
  17. tumble_weed

    tumble_weed Member

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    wow...some really good arguments...!

    I suppose I really have no rebuttle for anything yet since the last two people posting have been Mr_Spinkles and Ceridwen...hmph

    but however I do believe in the contradiction...the main problem is that God is supposed to be all powerful and good...the problem arrises when God allows bad things to happen although he has the power to stop these bad/evil things from occuring

    If Good/evil is only perception...then why does God even allow us to percieve evil?...then that still brings back the point that we do not have free will

    so maybe then it is easier to concider that the easiest solution is often the most correct...If you just think that God is not present then we have the simplest colution to the problem...we have Good and Evil but there is no conflict
     
  18. SpiritualSon

    SpiritualSon Member

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    Now as it is a law of the Divine Providence that man should act from freedom according to reason, that is, from the two faculties liberty and rationality; and as it is also a law of the Divine Providence that what he does should appear to him as from himself and consequently as his own; and further as it is a law that evils must be permitted in order that man may be led out of them.

    It follows that man can abuse these faculties and from freedom according to reason confirm whatever he pleases. For he can make whatever he will to be reasonable whether it is reasonable in itself or not.

    Therefore some say, What is truth? Can I not make true whatever I will? Does not also the world do so? Whoever does this does it by reasoning.

    Take the greatest falsity and tell a clever dialectician to prove it, and he will do so. For example, tell him to prove that man is a beast; or that the soul is like a small spider in its web, governing the body as the spider governs by means of its threads; or tell him that religion is nothing but a restraining bond, and he will prove any one of these propositions until it appears to be true. What is easier? For he does not know what an appearance is, or what a falsity is which from blind faith is assumed as a truth.

    Hence it is that a man cannot see this truth, namely, that the Divine Providence is in the most individual things of the understanding and of the will, or what is the same, in the most individual things of the thoughts and of the affections in every man, whether wicked or good.

    He becomes confused principally by supposing that in this case evils also would be from the Lord,but, nevertheless, it will be seen in what now follows that there is not a particle of evil from the Lord, but that evil is from man, through his confirming in himself the appearance that he thinks, wills, speaks and acts from himself. In order that these things may be clearly seen they will be demonstrated in the following order:

    1.The Divine Providence, not only with the good but also with the wicked, is universal in things most individual, and yet it is not in men's evils.

    2. The wicked are continually leading themselves into evils, but the Lord is continually leading them away from evils.

    3. The wicked cannot be wholly withdrawn by the Lord from evil and led in good so long as they believe their own intelligence to be everything and the Divine Providence nothing.

    4. The Lord governs hell by means of opposites; and the wicked who are in the world he governs in hell as to their interiors, but not as to their exteriors.

    Harry
     
  19. Paraprakrti

    Paraprakrti Custom User

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    New trinity:

    1) God is all powerful
    2) Evil is a lack of quality, not a thing itself.
    3) God is transcendental and indifferent from the existence of the lack of quality, evil.

    God's desires are for us to be happy. We have chosen to try and be happy in this world, but we continually suffer. Although their is suffering, God does not interfere with our desires. Instead, He taps us on the shoulder every now and then to try and get us to give up materialistic life and return to His association. God knows this will make us happy. So in this sense, God wants us to transcend evil, but His desire is for us to desire the same. If we desire something inferior to our spiritual nature, then God gives us that. You cannot force someone to be happy. That is why God does not force people to give up materialistic life; therefore He does not force us out of the evil we obliviously seek pleasure in.

    I hope this is clear.
     
  20. Paraprakrti

    Paraprakrti Custom User

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    Yes, there is no meaning in us trying to conceive of such things.
     
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