Sunday, October 11, 2009

Is anything possible with God?

Well, no. Anything that is possible is possible with God, unlike human ... beings. It isn't like God is being that involves no restriction on His being, well, being. God can't possibly create a rock that is too heavy for Him to lift, as an example. But He can create a rock that is too heavy for created beings to possibly lift, human technology and enginuity notwithstanding. That is the essence of God. He can do certain things, and he cannot do certain other things. We (human beings, created intelligent beings) can relate to this only as a limited being can relate to unlimited being. By calling God "unlimited," while asserting his "limitlessness" am I not contradicting myself? Well, in a sense, yes. In another sense (the God-sense), no. God is unlimited in his ability to do that which is possible to do. Human beings cannot ever achieve that level of possibility no matter what. We'll never be able to create a rock that is impossible for us to lift, in other words, if it were at all possible for us to "create" a rock in any event.

But, in the end, I'm simply inviting others to share their view or understanding of theology. Given that we have some very intelligent, very informed commenters here, I have nothing but intense interest in their particular views on this subject.

The floor is yours...


chiu_chunling said...

I think that God could create a rock that had a certain significant quality which would prevent Him from lifting it directly...but still retain the ability to lift it.

In fact, free will is such a quality, something that gives humanity enough moral "weight" that God cannot forcibly lift you to heaven, but can still save you...with your cooperation.

Now, if we carefully limit the definition of terms, we can probably come up with statements of things that we cannot imagine to be logically possible. For example, we could say that God could not make 1+1 equal to anything other than 2. Of course, He has already managed to cause that to come out to several billion and counting.

There is a certain appeal in thinking that we can use logic to find out what God can or cannot do. But in the end, human logic is merely a consequence of the type of associational leaps made by human minds. It can never be more valid than God designs it to be. If God states directly that, with Him, all things are possible, that statement has at least equal footing with logic itself, and thus intrinsically superior validity to any theorems derived by the workings of logic upon axioms which are not of Divine origin.

Which is all well and good, as far as it goes...but I'm still playing with logic. Yet the one thing we can know with any certainty about logic is that logic can never be both complete and consistent. Logic itself tells us this (though it is frequently forgotten), and whether or not the logic behind it is valid, logic stands convicted.

All true appreciation of the beauty of logic must take account of its inherent limitations. In that way, logic is very different from God, in that the appreciation of God requires that we realize our own limitations instead.

Terry Morris said...

I acknowledge the limitations of human logic (particularly my own understanding of it), but it is a useful tool for understanding who God is and who we are in relation to him.

Someone wrote once that "logic is such an inescapable tool that we (human beings) cannot not use it, so interwoven into the fabric of the rational universe is it." Or something like that. I'm almost positive that I've messed the actual quote up, but hopefully I've left the overarching message in tact. The idea being, of course, that no matter how hard we try we cannot possibly escape using logic in our thinking.

Anyway, very interesting comments, Chiu. Exactly what I was hoping for.

Call Me Mom said...

That is a fascinating illustration. God has created a rock so heavy He cannot lift it when He gave human beings free will. Of course, that equates volition with weight.

My own thinking has been along the lines that we are so lacking in real knowledge of the universe due to our limited ability to perceive what may be going on around us that such questions are not even relevant. That the answer may be as simple as 2+2=4, but that we don't have the ability to perceive 2 (or any of the other numbers or mathematical processes that could result in 4), so to get 4 is quite confusing. We can agree that 4 is indisputably correct, but we don't know how or why.

Thomas Farrell said...

You are assuming God exists. There is no proof there is a God. Only theories and beliefs

chiu_chunling said...

If there is proof of anything, there is proof of God.

For proof to even be possible, logic must be valid. And no possible source for the validity of logic can even be posited without defining something that has supernatural dominion over reasoning beings, is effectively omniscient and capable of perfect reason. You are free to claim that some being of less than total supremacy over the entirety of the universe could fulfill this role, I will not dispute that possibility, as I have discovered no practical means of determining the limits of God's powers, or even whether such limits exist.

However, a being with supernatural (that is, above and beyond the natural order) supremacy over all humans is at least a god, and if nothing greater than it exists, it deserves to be called God. If it were merely the servant of some greater being still, then that being would be God. Whether or not your reason is sufficiently powerful for you to acknowledge this point.

That is to say, yes, I am assuming that God treating logic as though it has any function other than to distract me from the immediate demands of instinct. To indulge in reasoning at all is to assume that reason is not a delusion, and if there is no God then reason can be nothing else.

But to say that no proof of God exists is thus effectively synonymous with claiming that no such thing as proof exists, as proof is a function of the logical relation between established facts (or accepted hypotheses) and certain conclusions.

No God means logic is a delusion, invalid logic means no proof exists. No proof at all means that no proof of God exists. It is a nicely circular argument you've accepted, but not a very logical one.

Call Me Mom said...

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."~Heb 11:1

"Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened."
~Rom 1:19-21

"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
Psalm 19:1

The complexity of the eye bears witness to a deliberate design as do fractals and string theory. The Jewish people are also God's witnesses.

In my opinion, Mr. Farrell, the burden of proof is on you.

Terry Morris said...

Well, if ever in the annals of human history someone discovered a "proof" that God does not and cannot exist, then I must be completely ignorant. Furthermore, if the great preponderance of the evidence that we can actually identify as evidence does not very strongly suggest that God does indeed exist, and in fact must (as in, he cannot not exist) exist, I must be reading the evidence all wrong. Which is entirely possible I suppose.

I think Washington had it pretty well right when he said that man would lose his reason in attempting to account for the great phenomena of nature without the existence of God.

Terry Morris said...

And Lawrence Auster touches on this subject yet again today. Fantastic timing! :-)

chiu_chunling said...

Ah...dangerous territory.

"In such a world, the laws of physics are seen to be derivative from more basic laws of morality, goodness, aesthetic value. It's not physics that's basic, it's the Good."

Are morality and aesthetics really fundamentally part of the same whole? In one sense they are, for both are centered on what is Good. But morality seeks to increase goodness (that is, the alignment of the individual to God). Aesthetics seeks merely to enjoy it. Moreover, my own aesthetics tend to enjoy the apotheosis of good, the high-water mark beyond which a given individual will not progress. In the case of one like Christ, this apotheosis corresponds to the ultimate model of goodness, perfect and inseparable alignment with God.

Much beauty can be found in individuals who are Christ-like even though they are not perfect. The connoisseur of souls looks for what is best in any given soul, rather than discarding all the variety and beauty which lies separate from one particular 'best' soul.

But that does not apply only to those human wisdom might term 'good'. There is no beauty quite like the imperishable glitter of divinity that shines from the fragments of a broken soul. A person who has chosen evil, and tried to reject God, but is crippled by bitter motes of truth embedded in the heart. The Greek understood that great tragedy has this characteristic, it is born of the hero's refusal to bow before divine edict.

To the moral, tragedy is only sad, though the personal love expressed through sorrow over such loss may increase one's understanding of divinity. To the aesthete, tragedy is beautiful. It exists to be enjoyed. This is not to be mistaken with some longing for justice, an unfair tragedy--the destruction of someone who wanted to submit to God but failed--is even better.

Most aesthetes follow the tragic pattern by rejecting morality, the attempt to be aligned to God, and thus rejecting God as well. The really earnest aesthete can achieve beauty that way, though most don't. Most particularly, it isn't something one can do on purpose, trying to be tragic is merely a subject for low comedy. We call them 'drama queens'.

Whatever I am, I am not good. Nor am I fit for tragedy. I am, perhaps, best described as a Jester, though my jokes are not usually funny to anyone else.