Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The 4 Omnis

Hi guys, welcome to Orygyn!

When monotheists describe their god, you will normally hear that this god is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and omnibenevolent. One of my favourite YouTubers, noelplum99, has made a number of videos recently focusing on omniscience. I won't link them all but I'll link the most recent 1 at the time of writing this post.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4kMzzXDTg0

These videos have motivated me to investigate all the "omnis". Let's start with omnipotence.

Omnipotence


God is meant to be omnipotent or all-powerful. There is nothing he cannot do. An objection which is common to all of the omnis is "how do you know this"? I'm not concerned about such arguments as I've yet to hear any evidence for any god, or even a coherent definition of a god. In terms of omnipotence, it is normally attacked as being impossible using the following question:

"Can God create a rock which he cannot lift?"


Notice that either answer betrays his omnipotence. If God can create such a rock, then there is at least 1 thing he cannot do (specifically lift the rock) but no doubt more as it implies that his physical strength is finite and that it is meaningful to talk of a god possessing physical strength (i.e. he has some form of material existence). If, however, God cannot create such a rock, this is 1 thing he cannot do and so he is also not omnipotent. Critics of this question suggest that a "no" answer does not betray God's omnipotence because if God can't create a rock which he can't lift, then in order to comply with the concept of omnipotence, God is capable of lifting a rock of infinite mass. Since it is logically impossible to create a rock of mass greater than infinity, this disqualifies the question from being a valid challenge to omnipotence. Allow me to explain why I disagree.

In 2008, near the very beginning of my YouTube channel, I posted a video in which I asked theists if God could violate the laws of logic (this video was deleted in the same year). The response was mixed reflecting the differing views among theists. Nevertheless, it is clear that some theists believe that God is capable of this feat. This presents a huge problem though. If God is able to violate the laws of logic, then God's attributes become incredibly bizarre:

Laws of Logic


1. Law of Identity: A is A.
2. Law of Non-Contradiction: "A is B" and "A is not B" cannot both be true.
3. Law of Excluded Middle: A is either B or not B, and not anywhere in between (half B, quarter B etc.).


If God can violate the laws of logic then he can create a rock which he cannot lift, and can't. He is both omnipotent and not omnipotent and everywhere in between. He exists, doesn't exist, half-exists etc. It becomes meaningless to discuss the issue as we are all right, wrong and everywhere in between at the same time. To selectively apply to God this ability to break the laws of logic to try and get around the problem demands explanation as to why he would only be able to, or would, break those laws when it is convenient for him.

To get around the problem, omnipotence would have to be defined as the ability to do all that is logically possible. However, this does put limits on God, and opens up the possibility for a discussion that there may be other things he cannot do. Since he has neither been properly defined, shown to exist, OR shown to be omnibenevolent, this is a perfectly valid discussion to have, but I'll leave that for another time.

Omniscience


God is claimed to be omniscient or all-knowing. There is nothing which he doesn't know. In his videos, noelplum99 references Donald Rumsfeld's "unknown unknowns" argument. The idea is this: what if god is a sub-god that thinks he knows everything, when in fact there is a realm that is inaccessible to him mentally or physically that is resided over by a greater god. I have a problem with this argument in that all I need to say is that the sub-god is not omniscient although the greater god still could be. I think the key to tackling omniscience is the same as with omnipotence. Take the rock question from before and replace "can" with  "does God know how to". If the answer is yes, there is only 1 possibility, to violate the laws of logic. If he can do that, he knows how to. If not, he doesn't, as knowing how to do it would make a truly omnipotent God able to do it. The 2nd omni has now become limited by that which is logically possible. The question could even be phrased as simply as "does God know something which it is logically impossible to know?" It has also become apparent that combining these 2 omnis has caused further difficulty.

Omnipresence


God is everywhere. Same problems and more:

"Does God exist where space itself does not (i.e. where it is logically impossible for anything to exist)?"
"If God exists everywhere, aren't you simply conflating God with existence itself? If he does, how is it meaningful to suggest that this entity appears to anyone when he is logically already there?"


Feel free to suggest more below.

Omnibenevolence


This is the worst of the 4. It doesn't even make logical sense as a concept. Theists suggest that God is an objective source of morality but this assertion has no basis. Good and bad are words that we humans invented to describe how we value a wide range of things and they mean nothing outside of that context. Even God must have some basis for his moral views and, make no mistake, they are still views. For those views to have the absolute authority demanded of them by that god's adherents, omniscience is an essential quality of that god. However, let's say that God is omniscient, satisfying this criteria, it still poses a problem. If God is omnibenevolent, then everything God does is good. This is a problem, as God does what he tells us not to do. For example, God floods the entire Earth killing all but 2 of every animal yet he tells us that we should not kill. He later "amends" this by making exceptions for homosexuals, rebellious children and people who work on the Sabbath. Changing the mind is a result of new information which God can't obtain as he already knows everything. Why not then state the exceptions from the beginning? And if it's OK for God to kill all but 2 humans (to make it simpler), surely we are immoral for not killing since an omnibenevolent God could only perform good actions (what happened to omnipotence)? And the double standard argument doesn't work either as the two standards: the one which God abides by, and the one we abide by, contradict each other. If God is omnibenevolent then the following is true:

"Killing is both moral and immoral."


This violates the laws of logic, specifically the law of non-contradiction. Based on God's actions, God cannot be omnibenevolent even if he knows everything.

I consider this blog post to simply be hammering nails into a coffin. Religion has not met the most basic challenges asked of us skeptics, such as a coherent definition and evidence, but all of its absurdity should be addressed.

8<{D-

4 comments:

  1. You are an idiot for this sacrilege you speak, how dare your idiotic logic sarcastically explain this.

    ReplyDelete
  2. i have a question. do you think that if chocolate is defined is sweet, and it can NEVER be sour, then does it mean that it's not sweet?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is a false cause logical fallacy: You presumed that a real or perceived relationship between things means that one is the cause of the other.

      If experts say that cars should only take gasoline, but never water, then does that mean that I can put lava, sugar, semen, blood, etc. into the gas tank?

      Delete