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Can a xlqp make a btzl?
January 13, 2006 2:46 PM   Subscribe

Can God make a rock so heavy that he could not lift it?
posted by brownpau (161 comments total)

 
How could you ever prove it?

More importantly, who cares?
posted by nevercalm at 2:56 PM on January 13, 2006


No.
posted by chasing at 2:58 PM on January 13, 2006


It's fun to take the piss out of Christians. We should do it more often.
posted by veedubya at 2:58 PM on January 13, 2006


Its really easy to prove Christians wrong. But you saying they are wrong doesn't matter to them.
posted by Suparnova at 2:59 PM on January 13, 2006


Yes. If god is omnipotent, he can create whatever the hell he wants. However, were he to create such a rock, he would voluntarily cease to be omnipotent.
posted by fred_ashmore at 3:00 PM on January 13, 2006


Yeah, this one's almost as silly as Anselm's ontological argument for the existence of god. How unsurprising to see some of those links just using it as a straw man of the, "atheists are so dumb because they think this disproves god", type. Fairly common religioid bullshit, that: beat a straw man because you can't deal with the serious atheist demolition tactics.
posted by Decani at 3:01 PM on January 13, 2006


Also, it depends on who you ask but god can't lift because god is not a physical being. But perhaps Jesus, being god incarnate would be doing the lifting.
posted by Suparnova at 3:01 PM on January 13, 2006


If God voluntarily ceased to be omnipotent, could he then return himself to omnipotence after not lifting the rock?

/boggles
posted by cyrusdogstar at 3:01 PM on January 13, 2006


Its really easy to prove Christians wrong.

but not zoroastrians. damn near impossible to prove them wrong. hindus, too.
posted by quonsar at 3:02 PM on January 13, 2006


It's fun to take the piss out of Christians.

The last link is from what appears to be a Jewish Q&A site.

Apparently we take the piss out of everyone these days.

"Best of the Web"?
posted by GuyZero at 3:02 PM on January 13, 2006


god can't lift because god is not a physical being

I dunno, apparently he likes wrestling.
posted by GuyZero at 3:04 PM on January 13, 2006


yeah, this will end well...
posted by blue_beetle at 3:05 PM on January 13, 2006


god can't lift because god is not a physical being

Yeah, but he can get a woman pregnant. No wait... that was the Holy Spirit, wasn't it? Hey, do you reckon the Holy Spirit can lift rocks?
posted by Decani at 3:06 PM on January 13, 2006


GuyZero, I'd averted my eyes by that point. Like when the weedy kid who wants to be in with the jocks pulls down the retarded kid's pants in the cafeteria. Anybody with any sense of decency is embarassed for the both of them.
posted by veedubya at 3:07 PM on January 13, 2006


I said, "it depends on who you ask". Jacob would say one thing and other authors of other books of the bible would say diffrent things.
posted by Suparnova at 3:07 PM on January 13, 2006


Oh and Decani, you know that means mary lost her virginity to jesus.
posted by Suparnova at 3:09 PM on January 13, 2006


the serious atheist demolition tactics

You mean other than the straw men that they usually resort to, too?
posted by JekPorkins at 3:12 PM on January 13, 2006


Can God make a cat that is so lazy even He cannot lift it?
posted by Melinika at 3:13 PM on January 13, 2006


"We are moved to tears by the size of this thing."
posted by Dr-Baa at 3:13 PM on January 13, 2006


Or at least according to Dan Savage (nsfw)
posted by Suparnova at 3:14 PM on January 13, 2006


do you reckon the Holy Spirit can lift rocks?

As long as you add enough water to the mix
posted by CynicalKnight at 3:15 PM on January 13, 2006


I ran across this pithy Émile Zola quote today: "Civilization will not attain to its perfection until the last stone from the last church falls on the last priest." I just thought I'd share.
posted by killdevil at 3:15 PM on January 13, 2006


I'm guessing Zola didn't care much for the 1st amendment.
posted by JekPorkins at 3:17 PM on January 13, 2006


Can you make a FPP so sucky that you can't post it?

SURVEY SAYS: nope.
posted by keswick at 3:18 PM on January 13, 2006


Could Jesus microwave a burrito so hot that he himself could not eat it?
posted by soda pop at 3:18 PM on January 13, 2006


and he died like everyone else will.
posted by quonsar at 3:19 PM on January 13, 2006


Didn't any of these people ever take a logic course? This is a fallacy.
posted by Crackerbelly at 3:20 PM on January 13, 2006


You know, I don't know any adult athiests who ask this question. It has always been, in my experience, a wise ass question you ask when you're 13 to piss off your religion teacher at Our Lady of the Perpetual Backache Junior High.

That being said, the answer to the question is pretty obvious: No, God cannot. He can create rocks of any weight he wants and He is able to lift those muthas. God is that strong.

On the other hand, Chuck Norris once passed a kidney stone that was so big that he almost couldn't lift it. He liked the feeling so much that he put it back in and passed it again. On top of a bunch of kittens.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:21 PM on January 13, 2006


Are we still on Chuck Norris jokes? It is 2006.
posted by TwelveTwo at 3:23 PM on January 13, 2006


You know who else makes Cuck Norris jokes? 13 year olds who go to Our Lady of the Perpetual Backache.
posted by Suparnova at 3:23 PM on January 13, 2006


Can you make a FPP so sucky that you can't post it?

SURVEY SAYS: nope.
posted by keswick


Seventeen times even!
posted by nofundy at 3:27 PM on January 13, 2006


Motörhead could.
posted by deusdiabolus at 3:27 PM on January 13, 2006


The more interesting question is whether or not the Holy Spirit could make a rock so large that God the Father and God the Son could not lift it together without the aid of artificial hand-holds or even a sling made of the skins of 40 oxen.

That would make a great Pay-Per-View version of the 700 Club, by golly.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:14 PM on January 13, 2006


could john wayne gacy kidnap an asshole so tight he couldn't fuck it?
posted by quonsar at 4:14 PM on January 13, 2006


You mean other than the straw men that they usually resort to, too?

Ooh, cool. Lazy, unsupported assertion. Another religioid favourite. Maybe we'll get the set.
posted by Decani at 4:17 PM on January 13, 2006


The heart of man is the stone God could not lift on His own. Love must be freely offered. Taken without free will, it ceases to be that which was created. The universe exists as a proof to this question.

/just sayin', says the Atheist
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:21 PM on January 13, 2006


“Motörhead could.”

Well, that’s really not fair. Lemmy is not only God, but Lemmy + God. So he’s got that goin’ for him.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:22 PM on January 13, 2006


God, being omnipotent, can do whatever the hell he wants to. Which means, tomorrow, he could decide the Scientologists have got a point, and adjust the universe accordingly to make them correct. Shit, He's changed his mind about things before.

Fear this.
posted by Jimbob at 4:23 PM on January 13, 2006


It's a stupid argument.

Of course the idea of an entirely omnipotent being results in all kinds of self-contradictions. But who cares?

An omnipotent being could certainly make a stone so heavy that the being couldn't lift it, omnipotently.

Then the being could lift that stone whenever it wanted, omnipotently.

Then, omnipotently, it could make it so this wasn't even contradictory, if it wanted.

And ... so what?

The fact that there's no evidence whatsoever for an omnipotent being in the first place makes the whole thing a silly logic puzzle without point.
posted by kyrademon at 4:24 PM on January 13, 2006


You have reached the phone of I, the Alpha and Omega, the one who brought the world from chaos, yadda yadda.

I'm omnipresent and omniscient, but I'm not here right now, please leave your name and number clearly after the beep, thanks for your prayers, they mean a lot to me, buhbye.

BEEP.
posted by eriko at 4:24 PM on January 13, 2006


Did God take Philosophy 101?
posted by xmutex at 4:25 PM on January 13, 2006


Hi, God, Margaret again. I think the Holy Spook is peeking in on me when I'm showering again. It's really annoying, he keeps steaming up the mirror.

Anyhow, thanks, and I hope that things are working out with your kid. My cousin's only got his dad, I know it can be tough.

Oh, yeah, number, sorry, 1-666-555-1212. Bye!
posted by eriko at 4:26 PM on January 13, 2006


The first time I ever heard this was on a George Carlin LP record. That's on a vinyl disc, folks. Played with a needle on this thing called a record player.
posted by fixedgear at 4:27 PM on January 13, 2006


Could God destroy himself? Did he?

Sadly (or not so sadly) we, mortal creatures without access to higher planes of existence or knowledge, will never know until we're dead which is such a sweet trick I'm almost envious.

Heaven awaits but you've gotta die before you get there, sucker!
posted by fenriq at 4:29 PM on January 13, 2006


God could make a stone that was too heavy for him to lift, then lift, then turn it into a squared circle, then think about it while also having no thoughts in his (incorporeal yet spacially located) head. For an encore God would do all of the things that are against his nature, simultaneously.

He is God, stop pretending you could understand him.
posted by oddman at 4:31 PM on January 13, 2006


At age nine I asked the nun in catechism class:

"If we are not allowed to eat for one hour before communion, is it still OK to eat a booger?" "Of course not," she says.

"Well then how about if I sniff that same booger into my throat and swirl it around in my mouth? Is that OK, because I didn't eat it, since it never left my body?"

"Do you want to see the principal again, young man?"
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:33 PM on January 13, 2006


Says Decani: Lazy, unsupported assertion. Another religioid favourite. Maybe we'll get the set.

Yes, only religious people make lazy unsupported assertions. That's why there are so few in this thread.

So here's the support: It is my observation that most, if not all, atheist arguments refuting the existence of God begin with that atheist's characterization of the nature of God, and then proceed to explain why those hypothetical characteristics are unlikely/impossible according to logic/science/whatever.

That's a straw man argument if ever there was one. I'm sure there are some atheists who not only reject a specific notion of God, but the very idea that there could possibly be anything in the universe or out of it that could in any way be considered divine or supreme. But I've never met those atheists, as far as I know. I've mostly met the ones who pretend I believe something I don't, and then tell me why they think it's wrong.
posted by JekPorkins at 4:36 PM on January 13, 2006


I "not only reject a specific notion of God, but the very idea that there could possibly be anything in the universe or out of it that could in any way be considered divine or supreme."

Nice to meetcha.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:38 PM on January 13, 2006


That being said, the answer to the question is pretty obvious: No, God cannot.

Um, the answer is pretty obvious, but I can tell you it's definately not no.

The answer is Yes, of course he can. And he can then simultaneously lift and not lift the rock at the same time, because the rules of logic are as mutable as the laws of physics to a God.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:41 PM on January 13, 2006


Honestly, the whole line of argument seems backwards.

No one has ever even remotely come close to giving me the slightest reason that I should believe a god exists.

Until that happens, I really don't see why the burden is on anyone to disprove it, you know?
posted by kyrademon at 4:43 PM on January 13, 2006


Guyzero, what is anti-Christian about the "last link" to which you refer?
posted by ParisParamus at 4:43 PM on January 13, 2006


If it exists, I must be able to understand it; if I cannot understand it, then it must not exist.
posted by Cranberry at 4:45 PM on January 13, 2006


Are we talking about the Christian god or the Muslim god? Or another flavor altogether? Because I'm certain my main god Zeus could do it with one hand tied behind his back. I dare you to prove he can't.
posted by birdherder at 4:47 PM on January 13, 2006


Could God write a song so catchy that He couldn't stop humming it for fucking weeks?
posted by palinode at 4:47 PM on January 13, 2006


I really don't see why the burden is on anyone to disprove it, you know?

It's not. You're right. Nobody can prove to another person that God exists, and nobody can prove to another person that God doesn't exist. There is no point to the debate.
posted by JekPorkins at 4:48 PM on January 13, 2006


Zeus could do it with one hand tied behind his back

Are you kidding? Zeus couldn't even keep the other gods in check.
posted by JekPorkins at 4:50 PM on January 13, 2006


Kyra, I've always thought that Pascal's Wager constitutes a pretty good reason to believe. Not that I do, personally.
posted by killdevil at 4:53 PM on January 13, 2006


Yes and no. Simultaneously. Such is the power of God.
posted by 31d1 at 4:53 PM on January 13, 2006


Many atheists were raised in a theistic manner, and as such, attended many years of Sunday school, catechism, confirmation classes, etc. And though we didn't all go on to theology school to debate the finer points of religion, we were exposed to most of the common dogmatic theories which comprise modern Christianity. Certainly, omnipotence was one of the qualities attributed to God by my Lutheran teachers, and as noted above, is inherently contradictory.

My point being simply, that Christianity requires a leap of faith that transcends rationality. Some are willing to make the leap, and others aren't. Debating such a common Christian tenet is certainly not a straw man tactic.
posted by malocchio at 4:56 PM on January 13, 2006


Yeah, killdevil, I think that Pascal's Wager combined with Wittgenstein's dictum that "what we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence" adds up to a pretty good theology.
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:58 PM on January 13, 2006


Killdevil, that's interesting. For anyone interested, unlike Christianity, Judaism isn't a "specific intent" faith: believing in God is not critical, provided you live as you should.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:02 PM on January 13, 2006


"Could God write a song so catchy that He couldn't stop humming it for fucking weeks?"

You betcha.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:06 PM on January 13, 2006


Suparnova: You know who else makes Cuck Norris jokes? 13 year olds who go to Our Lady of the Perpetual Backache.

Damn right we do. That was sort of the point.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:06 PM on January 13, 2006


malocchio: I believe the straw man argument arises when one assigns concrete meaning to the term "omnipotent." I don't think Christians know what they mean when they use the term, frankly, so to tell them they're wrong when they don't even know what they mean requires a straw man.
posted by JekPorkins at 5:07 PM on January 13, 2006


when one assigns concrete meaning to the term "omnipotent."

Holy moley, a word having a meaning. Can't have that now.
posted by boaz at 5:09 PM on January 13, 2006


I've never heard an atheist say such a stupid thing. In fact, I've never seen an atheist try to convert a Christian.

It is more like they (we) are trying to just defend ourselves and keep our own point of view.
posted by nickerbocker at 5:12 PM on January 13, 2006


He cannot make it rain, and not rain at the same time, this is a nonsense question.
posted by parallax7d at 5:13 PM on January 13, 2006


God, being omnipotent, can do whatever the hell he wants to. Which means, tomorrow, he could decide the Scientologists have got a point, and adjust the universe accordingly to make them correct. Shit, He's changed his mind about things before.


God does not change. I wrote a paper on that attribute of God ("The Immanence of God). (the times in the Bible where He is said to have changed His mind is only in the context of a human or humans changing their own behavior.)

So once He decided that Scientologists were bat crap crazy, He left it that way.
posted by konolia at 5:14 PM on January 13, 2006


Is there an easy way to flag every post as noise?
posted by parallax7d at 5:15 PM on January 13, 2006


somehow i feel this should have been on the ask mefi page...

now let's see what douglas adams has to say:

'I refuse to prove that I exist,' says God, `for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.' `But,' says Man, `The Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED.' `Oh dear,' says God, `I hadn't thought of that,' and promptly disappears in a puff of logic."

see, now all we have to do is prove the babelfish exists!
posted by NGnerd at 5:15 PM on January 13, 2006


He cannot make it rain, and not rain at the same time

But he can simultaneously be a unity and a trinity, and be fully human and fully divine simultaneously. If you're a Christian. It'd be a shame to waste real questions on a nonsense belief system.
posted by boaz at 5:17 PM on January 13, 2006


This question is dumb.

Does God have a belly-button? Now that's a fucking brain twister if you really think about it.
posted by bardic at 5:20 PM on January 13, 2006


WALTER TROUT IS GOD
posted by quonsar at 5:23 PM on January 13, 2006


Holy moley, a word having a meaning. Can't have that now.

I agree with what I think you're saying: That it's dumb for Christians to use a word when they don't really get the meaning of it. But that's just the way it is, as I've observed.

And it's the reason that I consider myself Christian (since I believe in Christ), but I don't think God is truly omnipotent.
posted by JekPorkins at 5:24 PM on January 13, 2006


Should we assume that JHVH's or Allah's, or Zoroasters Ominipotence merely approaches infinity? If we use that logic, we could argue that he/she both could, and couldn't make and both could and couldn't lift the rock. Zeno's paradox at work.

It is a stupid question. The better question could be, if supernatural penomenon of any kind exist, Why hasn't anybody won the James Randi Challenge?
posted by Megafly at 5:25 PM on January 13, 2006


that attribute of God ("The Immanence of God).

I don't know where you're going to college, but, uh, good luck. That attribute is actually the Immutability of God. The Immanence of God refers to his/her quality of existing everywhere.
posted by boaz at 5:25 PM on January 13, 2006


Chuck Norris could simultaneous create a rock so heavy he couldn't lift and lift it.
posted by substrate at 5:27 PM on January 13, 2006


i have a supernatural penomenon.
posted by quonsar at 5:28 PM on January 13, 2006


and he died like everyone else will.

and spin in his grave when he sees shit like this
posted by Jikido at 5:31 PM on January 13, 2006


The James Randi challenge ought to be beaten. He's just too cock sure.
posted by movilla at 5:32 PM on January 13, 2006



posted by quonsar at 5:33 PM on January 13, 2006


boaz, you're ruthless.
posted by darkstar at 5:44 PM on January 13, 2006


Konolia: God is all powerful, right? How can someone have true power without the ability to (a) make choices and change things (b) change themselves. If God has never "changed" anything, how has he ever excercised his infinite power? According to doctrine, God "changed" the natural order by creating the world. God "changed" the natural order of things by casting Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden. That may have been the result of a human decision, but hey, so is Scientology. Why would you leave God powerless to change things again?

(Oh, I know, you have a vested interest in the status quo)
posted by Jimbob at 5:56 PM on January 13, 2006


wow, jimbob, you're as smart as God!
posted by quonsar at 5:58 PM on January 13, 2006


*falls down and worships*
posted by quonsar at 5:59 PM on January 13, 2006


Only if he wanted to.
posted by SwingingJohnson1968 at 6:02 PM on January 13, 2006


(throws quonsar some mana)
posted by Jimbob at 6:03 PM on January 13, 2006


The action of lifting implies lifting against gravity of some sort. Ignoring situations where God is in freefall, let's assume that God is standing on Planet A of mass M. For all rocks from weight 0 to weight M, God is lifting the rock. For all rocks heavier than M, God is actually doing a handstand on the rock, and lifting up Planet A with his feet.
posted by philscience at 6:03 PM on January 13, 2006


don't know where you're going to college, but, uh, good luck. That attribute is actually the Immutability of God. The Immanence of God refers to his/her quality of existing everywhere.
posted by boaz at 8:25 PM EST on January 13 [!]


You're right, it was immutability.

And to think I got an A on the paper.

After awhile all those "incommunicable attributes" start to look alike. ;-)
posted by konolia at 6:03 PM on January 13, 2006


Jimbob, I never said God could not change things. I said He himself was unchangeable.
posted by konolia at 6:04 PM on January 13, 2006


Jimbob, Why are you worried about Konolia? He might as well be quoting the Leprachaun Times for all the nonsense he's spouting. C'mon. God? I'll have what he's having. A tall glass please.
posted by movilla at 6:06 PM on January 13, 2006


JekPorkins: I believe the straw man argument arises when one assigns concrete meaning to the term "omnipotent."

I was taught (in confirmation class) that the word meant all-powerful. I'm not quite sure what possible meaning the word could have other than that. But once again, I find that meaning to be problematical within the context.

As to whether all Christians ascribe that quality to God, I guess that could be a meaningful debate within Christianity. But there are certainly some (if not most) denominations that would accept that term as indisputable and most certainly applicable. Once they've accepted that point as rational, they have opened themselves to a debate which is (imho) beyond their realm.

But if you are arguing that a word has a meaning which is not readily apparent, then we are reaching into the realm of semantics, which to me is usually a dizzying descent into the absurd.
posted by malocchio at 6:07 PM on January 13, 2006


malocchio: I find your analysis to be thorough and convincing. Thanks!
posted by JekPorkins at 6:09 PM on January 13, 2006


I said He himself was unchangeable.

But what does this mean? What are the specifications within which God's nature exists? God Himself may be unchangable, but the universe He created can surely be changed by him, right? Once again, according to doctrine, this includes heaven and hell, for instance. Couldn't God "shut down" hell, should he feel it's a good idea at the time? He already mucked about with the system by casting Satan from heaven. Couldn't he "create" Nirvana for all those Buddhists, if he feels like it? And surely He gets to make the ultimate decision regarding who gets into heaven, on whatever criteria He decides to apply. This is all modifying the nature of the universe, not modifying the nature of God.

Jimbob, Why are you worried about Konolia?

Because it's so rare I get to have these kinds of debates on the nature of God :) I've decided I'm agnostic. There might be a god. If there is, by nature of being a god they must be omnipotent. Which by my logic means they can do whatever the hell they want to do with their universe, and there's no point in us trying to please them when they could change the rules any time they want to.
posted by Jimbob at 6:12 PM on January 13, 2006


fred_ashmore, you offer a theological answer to a philosophical problem. there are only two philosophical answers to the question of the rock.

either no, god cannot make the rock too heavy for him to lift, because such an ability runs counter to god's omnipotence, or yes, god can make the rock too heavy for him to lift, because the lack of such an ability runs counter to god's omnipotence.

philosophically, it is a paradox, because omnipotence is self contradictory. philosophically, god cannot be omnipotent because omnipotence is impossible.

theologically, of course, you were close. there is only one theological answer to the rock question: "yes", because god can do anything.

If your reality excludes impossibility, you believe in magic. If, on the other hand, you have ever seen and understood for yourself that some things must be and some things cannot, then you recognize the utility of the concept "impossible", and thus must inwardly discard "magic" as untruth. because what is magic's real meaning if not the doing of the impossible? A worldview that accepts the idea of proof must ultimately lose trust in the logically impossible, even without disproof.

the real question of the rock is, "can god do the impossible?" If I accept your idea that the question of the rock does not show up the impossibility of omnipotence, it begs the questions,

1) Can god create a rock so heavy that he cannot lift it while retaining omnipotence?
2) If god does cease to be omnipotent, is the no longer omnipotent entity still be god?
2a) If god ceases to be omnipotent, or ceases to exist entirely, what then would be the nature of the universe as described by the religion which posits god?
2b) If god ceases to be omnipotent, or ceases existing, then since god is everywhere, from the beginning of time to the end of time, was there ever a god at all?
3) what cyrusdogstar said: "could a non-omnipotent god become omnipotent again"?
3a) if yes, why can't people become omnipotent? remember, you have to show a distinguishing feature between people and god, since god's ability does not derive from omnipotence, he lost it. So you have to show either empirical or logical evidence that a non-omnipotent god could become omnipotent. You can't just wave your hands and say "because it's god!" otherwise, I can posit whatever I want "because it's X!" without proof.


Now, a theological answer to a philosophical question is less than satisfactory. But then a philosophical question about a theological concept isn't perfect either. both sides must accept the other's right to rhetorical existence. but neither side, (i'm looking at you, radical religious people) neither side has the absolute high ground. statements concerning god cannot be proven one way or the other. So no action can ever be necessitated on the basis of the existence of god, or the nonexistence of god. People can do whatever they want based on their own ideas about whether or not god exists, or what god means or is, EXCEPT force others to act in accord with their own conceptions. A man's right to swing his fist ends at his neighbor's nose.

It's Raining Florence Henderson: that thing about the heart of man is beautiful. is that from somewhere?

Suparnova, xmutex: lol

kyrademon an interesting perspective

oddman takes half credit with a correct theological answer. (ie yes)

philscience takes full credit with the rhetoric based answer. I see it so clearly now!

Sorry for the long post, i didn't take my brain medicines today, and this topic is ... yummy. and rainbowy.

Mord says that Omar says that we are all unicorns anyway.

posted by modernerd at 6:29 PM on January 13, 2006


God Man vs. Freshman Philosophy Major Man!
posted by dgaicun at 6:29 PM on January 13, 2006


JekPorkins: off the topic, but I've read several of your posts in the past week, and though I may disagree in many aspects, I have found them to be worthy of the highest praise I can offer in these sad days: they were both thoughtful and civil! I certainly hope you continue to contribute.
posted by malocchio at 6:32 PM on January 13, 2006


dgaicun, omfg, i laughed so hard i spit blood. i'm posting that to fark first chance i get. thank you.

lol my grammar was the suck.. "2) If god does cease to be omnipotent, is the no longer omnipotent entity still be god?"

that's what I get for writing a post so long i couldn't preview it.
*ducks*
posted by modernerd at 6:35 PM on January 13, 2006


Well Jimbob. I'm Irish Catholic, my parents are lay people in our parish and I can say I've got enough experience of what drives the 'faithful'.

God is a representation of a weak society that requires leadership and direction when it cannot decide its own fate. I'm not saying that religion is bad. A good social structure is a lasting legacy of most religions. It's just that it's all built on codswallop.
posted by movilla at 6:35 PM on January 13, 2006


Why are you worried about Konolia? He might as well be quoting the Leprachaun Times for all the nonsense he's spouting.

konolia has no penomenon. "he's" a girl.
posted by quonsar at 6:42 PM on January 13, 2006


Well, I don't know about God™, but J.R. "Bob" Dobbs only makes rocks He can't lift - not that He would ever try.
posted by dbiedny at 6:48 PM on January 13, 2006


Could God take a dump so big that he himself could not flush it?
posted by wakko at 6:50 PM on January 13, 2006


there's no point in us trying to please them when they could change the rules any time they want to.

And THAT is why the doctrine of immutability is so important.


Offtopic: Why on earth do so many people mistakenly think that"Konolia" could be a male username? Weird.
posted by konolia at 6:51 PM on January 13, 2006


Konolia is that bloke from the new 360 launch.
posted by Frasermoo at 6:56 PM on January 13, 2006


Offtopic: Why on earth do so many people mistakenly think that"Konolia" could be a male username?

Nothing personal but your name sounds like a sexual disease.
posted by movilla at 6:57 PM on January 13, 2006


God can't lie?

Man, I think that contradicts the omnipotence thing more than the whole rock conundrum. I don't think I can get behind an all-powerful being who can't even keep up with James Frey.

Is this really canonical? God can't even say "Slim Jims are delicious"? I'd do a Bible search for the verses that support this, but I wouldn't know where to start. The Book of Impediments?
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 6:57 PM on January 13, 2006


“It is my observation that most, if not all, atheist arguments refuting the existence of God begin with that atheist's characterization of the nature of God, and then proceed to explain why those hypothetical characteristics are unlikely/impossible according to logic/science/whatever.”
- posted by JekPorkins

I’d agree with that. Plus permutations.


“I "not only reject a specific notion of God, but the very idea that there could possibly be anything in the universe or out of it that could in any way be considered divine or supreme."” -posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson


It’s my observation that most, if not all, atheist arguments refuting the possibly be anything in the universe or out of it could in any way be considered divine or supreme begin with that atheist's characterization of the divine or supreme, and then proceed to explain why those hypothetical characteristics are unlikely/impossible according to logic/science/whatever.

“Debating such a common Christian tenet is certainly not a straw man tactic.” -posted by malocchio

Defining God by Christian tenets is.

As it happens there are things I do, see, believe in, etc., I treat as sacred. My relationship with my wife is sacred. As such I don’t break my vows to her - f’instance fidelity. I don’t cheat on my wife. Not because there is any sort of tangible thing preventing me to, but because I love her and this to me is a sacred thing.
I don’t consider it supernatural. But it is divine. It is transcendent. It gives my life meaning in a way that any biological, social or physical description cannot.

From there I see other things that present such meaning, and my interaction with them is sacred.

That this sacredness is falsified by folks looking to make a buck or whatever doesn’t mean that everything that uses those words “Divine” or “Sacred” is devoid of meaning or a sham.

The division between science and that which is sacred is similar to a division between science and beauty.
One can read, listen to, or view - whatever - whether natural or created and be enriched by it.
I don’t need some asshole sitting behind me telling me that Mozart is bullshit because the percieved harmony is derived from breath and catgut and the vibration of air molecules.

And in fact with atheists (and religious types as well) the only side of things they see is Mozart or no Mozart. Or Beethoven/no Beethoven.
Or “music,” if you’re lucky. Start talking Monet or Rodin or (yikes) André Breton and you lose people.

Science to my thinking delves into the workings of God/the universe. And in many ways can produce beautiful things from which we can derive meaning.

There is no reason why “God” can’t be one with the physical laws. The physical laws as a property of ‘God’.

For me, boiled down to that - it all depends on what one holds as sacred. The words are irrelevant. The definitions are irrelevant.

There’s an old Zen Story about a monk who is reincarnated as a fox because when he was asked whether the enlightened man is subject to the law of causation he answered: “The enlightened man is not subject to the law of causation.”

The fox found another monk and asked him the same question. The monk answered: “The enlightened man is one with the law of causation.”

Same difference.

The not clinging to the absolutes (of words, et.al) is similar to StickyCarpet’s post about Wittgenstein's dictum: "what we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence."

Or a slap in the face. Whatever.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:58 PM on January 13, 2006


there's no point in us trying to please them when they could change the rules any time they want to.

And THAT is why the doctrine of immutability is so important.


So why bother paying any attention to him at all?
posted by interrobang at 7:00 PM on January 13, 2006


...Pascal's Wager...

Bah. That's for pussies. Real men [sic] go with their gut and take their chances one way or another.

Omnipotence was actually the thing that settled my thinkign on the quesiton of God. I reasoned that there's no reason to suppose that an omnipotent god would have any interest in humans, so it made the most sense to act as though there was no interested god. Things get easier, that way -- you don't have to worry so much about pleasing the sky-father. (Though that "reason for living" part can get a little tough when you're still single and childless....)
posted by lodurr at 7:03 PM on January 13, 2006


Same difference that is as it concerns God - is God beyond causation (the whole rock/lift wordplay crap). God is causation.

But again - those are just words and poorly convey the experiential fact.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:05 PM on January 13, 2006


JekPorkins: off the topic, but I've read several of your posts in the past week, and though I may disagree in many aspects, I have found them to be worthy of the highest praise I can offer in these sad days: they were both thoughtful and civil! I certainly hope you continue to contribute.

This is true. Jek and I disagreed in another thread where we took it to email and he is both polite and sharp. The Christian team needs a few more ringers.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:07 PM on January 13, 2006


Jek Porkins stays on target.
posted by brownpau at 7:17 PM on January 13, 2006


The answer to the question, I think, is to basically bitch-slap the questioner.

In the Zen sense, that is, as an effort to make the questioner "awaken". Primarily because it poses a question derived from an incomplete understanding of the spiritual dimension in which God purportedly exists as a spiritual being.

Which, of course, we all suffer from (an incomplete understanding of what "God" really means, that is).
posted by darkstar at 7:31 PM on January 13, 2006


Or, failing a bitch slap, one could simply reply "Mu!"
posted by darkstar at 7:32 PM on January 13, 2006


The Riddle of Epicurus

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
posted by HiveMind at 7:36 PM on January 13, 2006


Nothing personal but your name sounds like a sexual disease.
posted by movilla at 9:57 PM EST on January 13


nothing personal but your name sounds like open source livestock.
posted by quonsar at 7:36 PM on January 13, 2006


Is this question a case of Russell's Paradox?
posted by grobstein at 7:38 PM on January 13, 2006


I said He himself was unchangeable.

I feel sorry for Mrs. God, then. I mean he's never going to stop leaving the seat up, for one thing.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:38 PM on January 13, 2006


Goddamn you Zen Buddhists with your "is, but isn't, and at the same time, both!" You make my head hurt, but in a good way, which inevitably leads to another round.

This one's for you!
posted by malocchio at 7:39 PM on January 13, 2006


Yes. If god is omnipotent, he can create whatever the hell he wants. However, were he to create such a rock, he would voluntarily cease to be omnipotent.

So He can't create the rock and remain omnipotent, thus there is something He cannot do, and He is not omnipotent

Quick, perform the special ritual to appease the invisible man in the sky!
posted by spazzm at 7:44 PM on January 13, 2006


Am I alone in being an athiest (well, devout agnostic) who enjoys pondering these questions just because of the exercise in alternative logic?

I believe I found an answer to this one. Three points, really. One, as has been pointed out, God is NOT described as absolutely all-powerful, as some have described. He has limits on Himself, such as being unable to sin.

Also important, going along with that, is that God is a creature of Will. Whereas His power is limited in a few very key areas, his WILL is absolutely limitless. Anything He wants to happen, does. And this is non-contradictory. God cannot sin, because God does not want to sin.

And the final thing to remember, as has also been stated, is that God is eternal and unchanging. So, one might say that God's inability to sin is evidence of lack of power, but it's actually not. God CANNOT sin, because God does not want to sin, and being eternal, will never want to sin. It is not a restriction, it is a choice.

Based on this, logic dictates a simple and elegant solution. God COULD, in fact, make a rock that He cannot move.

He must simply make a rock He does not WANT to move.

(and for an extra exercise to the reader, ask yourself where such a rock must logically be located - there's only one possible place in the cosmos - and whether, should we find it, that would be evidence of God's existance.)
posted by InnocentBystander at 7:44 PM on January 13, 2006


I said He himself was unchangeable.

This, by the way, is provably false. God tested Abraham. This indicates that he didn't know the extent of Abraham's faith. Therefore God learned something. To learn is to change: to change from someone who does not know something to one who does.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:50 PM on January 13, 2006


When the Feds shut down the Psychic Friends Network, did anybody go to work that day?
posted by swell at 8:03 PM on January 13, 2006


MetaFilter: Open source livestock.

Mu.
posted by loquacious at 8:13 PM on January 13, 2006


George, I believe the typical apologia would read like this: God knew the outcome (omniscient), but wanted to prove to Abraham the extent of Abraham's faith, which was beyond his (Abraham's) knowledge. Sometimes a teacher knows exactly where a student falters, although the student himself may not know.

My bilblical knowledge is somewhat rusty; there may be more to the Abraham story than I can recall.

It's off to the movies for me; cheers! to all.
posted by malocchio at 8:15 PM on January 13, 2006


George, I believe the typical apologia would read like this: God knew the outcome (omniscient), but wanted to prove to Abraham the extent of Abraham's faith, which was beyond his (Abraham's) knowledge. Sometimes a teacher knows exactly where a student falters, although the student himself may not know.

But, as an omniscient being, he already knew what they outcome would be.
posted by interrobang at 8:21 PM on January 13, 2006


God knew the outcome (omniscient),

If God is omniscient even to the extent of knowing the outcome of situations involving beings with (it says here) free will, then A) they don't have free will, and B) God is trapped in his own creation. If he is incapable of change then he is incapable of making a decision, for to decide to do one thing over another is to change. If he sees the future with exactitude and is cannot change his mind then he isn't omnipotent, he is impotent, for his past and his future are entirely fixed and there's nothing he or any of us can do about it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:30 PM on January 13, 2006


i suspect the real question is "can people devise a language that can describe the actions and attributes of god accurately?"

i suspect the answer is "no"
posted by pyramid termite at 8:47 PM on January 13, 2006


No, the question is this:

"Is there any point in trying to change the will of an unchangeable diety who's also predetermined your own behavior?"
posted by interrobang at 8:51 PM on January 13, 2006


You know, there are good reasons we have the word 'ineffable'.
posted by LooseFilter at 8:52 PM on January 13, 2006


...sorry, "deity".
posted by interrobang at 8:55 PM on January 13, 2006


Didn't John Lennon or Bowie say Rock was bigger than God? Does size matter?
posted by Peter H at 9:09 PM on January 13, 2006


It's called dialectal truth.
posted by Espoo2 at 9:12 PM on January 13, 2006


Why would God care what some freshman at a below average American institutution of average llearning think as regards to her muscular abilities???


The answer is MORE BEER.
posted by stirfry at 9:14 PM on January 13, 2006


modernerd: It's Raining Florence Henderson: that thing about the heart of man is beautiful. is that from somewhere?

Thank you. It's from me to you.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:37 PM on January 13, 2006


this thread has the best page title evar.
posted by quonsar at 9:46 PM on January 13, 2006


Didn't John Lennon or Bowie say Rock was bigger than God?

Lennon famously said in 1966 that the Beatles at the time were “more popular than Jesus.” They almost certainly have more gold records than Jesus, but that book of His, The New Testament, has sold a lot of copies over the years.
posted by LeLiLo at 9:48 PM on January 13, 2006


End of argument.

posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 9:50 PM on January 13, 2006


More beer == Mu?

That explains everything. I mean, everything.

Now there's philosophy and metaphysics I can drink to.
posted by loquacious at 10:31 PM on January 13, 2006


"Who is this 'God?' Come to me, God! I defy you! Come and kneel before Stalin!"
posted by Eideteker at 10:35 PM on January 13, 2006


Pyramid termite got it. I was going to say something like that if he didn't. Anyway, usually the answer I end up with in my metaphysical debates is

"hmm.. maybe."
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 10:49 PM on January 13, 2006


/||

whats up with that freaking picture indenting my comment? what the hell kind of formatting is that? is anyone else seeing this?
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 10:51 PM on January 13, 2006


Stalin is just trying to help!
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:04 PM on January 13, 2006


God don't need no instructions to know how to ROCK!!!

God's hot-blooded, go-ahead and check it and see...

I didn't read past the first two comments in this thread. It's got >100 comments, therefore much past that is useless. You know, like my comment.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:08 PM on January 13, 2006


BlackLeotardFront: That's the new signed-at-the-top comment feature. What you don't realize is that I made your first comment. Then you made the next, and the next. TwelveTwo made dirigibleman's comment, and he's making this comment for me.
posted by Eideteker at 11:34 PM on January 13, 2006


Can god make a species so stupidly self-absorbed they actually think about this crap?
posted by HTuttle at 12:14 AM on January 14, 2006


Given a large enough lever, that rock is toast.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:16 AM on January 14, 2006


HiveMind: Now that's what I'm talking about. I think I should go have a bumper sticker made up that says "God is Irrelevant."

Then other days I think I ought to go out and form a "Church of the Demiurge."

I remember reading about Epicurus in high school and being really astonished and impressed at the hatchet job that the Stoics managed to do on Epicureanism.
posted by lodurr at 7:54 AM on January 14, 2006


I reasoned that there's no reason to suppose that an omnipotent god would have any interest in humans,

I can't understand this either way: why or alternately, why not?

Some disike the idea of the 'exceptionalism' of human beings because there exist human beings which they don't like?
posted by scheptech at 10:53 AM on January 14, 2006


When God sneezes, what do the angels say?
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:12 PM on January 14, 2006


Referring to a response made to me waaaaaay earlier in this thread, I always thought Pascal's wager was such faulty logic as to be a little laughable. It starts with a false dichotomy (God/hell vs. NoGod/NoHell) and then comes to a conclusion based on that, while ignoring the literally infinite other possibilities that make the logic puzzle completely moot, for example:

- There is a god or gods, but not the one you chose to believe in based on this thought experiment, who will send you to hell for guessing wrong (actually, a quite common belief, so it's remarkable that it was simply ignored.)
- There is a god or gods who will send you to hell FOR BELIEVING IN GOD. Heck, it makes as much sense as going there for shellfish or homosexuality.
- Conversely but not identically, there is a heaven which you can only get to by NOT BELIEVING IN IT, like that one Choose Your Own Adventure Book where there was no way to get to the good ending by following the rules.

And so on and so on and so on.
posted by kyrademon at 12:34 PM on January 14, 2006


"And what if we picked the wrong religion? Every week, we're just making God madder and madder!" -- Homer Simpson
posted by boaz at 12:38 PM on January 14, 2006


Can omnipotence not be omnipotence? Then it's not omnipotence is it? Aha!
*goes on to remove the set of all sets from the set of all sets - gets trapped in an infinite loop*

I bet Capt. Kirk could make a computer asplode with this stuff.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:28 PM on January 14, 2006


kyrademon, I first had pascal's wager presented to me as being a bit of semi-serious snark. He was a man of, shall we say, prodigious appetites and (some would argue) a somewhat lazy moral character. If he could "deal" with that particular issue by making a logic-joke about it, maybe that was as good a way as any (for him) to do so. Rather than, you know, laying off teh booze and gambling.
posted by lodurr at 2:13 PM on January 14, 2006


Apropos of the Emile Zola quote earlier, you should all be aware of the Scottish equivalent. Tom Nairn once said "Scotland will only be free when the last Minister is strangled with the last copy of the Sunday Post". Quite.
posted by imperium at 1:18 PM on January 16, 2006


The question -- Can God create a rock so heavy he can't lift it -- it formed by a finite mind and posed to finite minds. God does not have to conform to the limitations of the finite mind. Physical creation is a manifestation of Universal Mind and therefore mutable -- everything's in play. And the easiest way for God to accomplish the goal of lifting the mongo rock is for him to adjust your mind to think that it was done.
posted by NotWeButOne at 8:19 AM on January 17, 2006


"And the easiest way for God to accomplish the goal of lifting the mongo rock is for him to adjust your mind to think that it was done."

Your argument is that God the Universal Mind performs cheap parlor tricks masquerading as miracles? So... David Blaine is God?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:36 AM on January 17, 2006


Dear Blaine I hope not.

It's been years since I read it, but I seem to recall Descartes dismissing the idea of a "trickster god" by arguing (essentially) that it didn't make sense for anything "godlike" to play tricks, and that therefore we must all agree that the idea was ludicrous. That was one of many points where I scribbled in the margins something like "um, no, I don't have to agree to that...."

Any arguments that are based on the inscrutability of God, AFAICS, have to ultimately founder on that same inscrutability. It makes no more sense to suppose that an inscrutable god is interested in us than to suppose that it isn't, and it makes a lot more practical sense -- for one thing, it's less work -- to assume that it doesn't. I take solace in the idea that "primitive" peoples the world over take the same attitude: Most peoples pray not to the big over-god, but to lesser gods that live in territories closer to our own. That's why the Romans prayed to their ancestors; that's why Catholics pray to their saints.

"Big Sky's too big to cry...."
posted by lodurr at 8:50 AM on January 17, 2006


"to assume that it doesn't" ==> "to assume that it isn't"
posted by lodurr at 8:51 AM on January 17, 2006


An omnipotent, omnipresent creator of the universe could not contradict his own universe, so would be subject to the laws of logic, in that he would essentially ground the laws of logic. Note that "contra-diction" is "talking against" - actual being cannot contradict itself. We can only make paradoxes in words.

The question is, then, can there be a rock which logically cannot be lifted? The answer is, if you made a rock the size of the entire universe, there would be nowhere to 'lift' it to - but then you have to figure out finite vs. infinite universes, which is a problem with or without "god".
posted by mdn at 9:10 AM on January 17, 2006


subject to the laws of logic

Why would God be subject to something that man invented?
posted by JekPorkins at 9:19 AM on January 17, 2006


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