Instigator / Pro
Points: 49

The Omnipotence Paradox is a flawed argument for the Atheist trying to "disprove" God or the unreasonableness of faith

Finished

The voting period has ended

After 7 votes the winner is ...
GuitarSlinger
Debate details
Publication date
Last update
Category
Religion
Time for argument
Two days
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
Two weeks
Point system
Four points
Rating mode
Rated
Characters per argument
10,000
Contender / Con
Points: 22
Description
The argument goes something like this:
To be omnipotent is to be able to do anything. If God can do anything, he ought to be able to create a stone so heavy that even he cannot lift it. However, this creates a paradox: if God cannot lift the stone, he is not almighty; if God cannot make the stone, he is not almighty. From this, it becomes clear the God cannot be omnipotent, since omnipotence is logically impossible given the paradox. Therefore, God does not exist.
My contention is that this argument is flawed, illogical, and does not disprove God's existence, nor does it disprove His omnipotence, but rather it does nothing but highlight the arguer's misunderstanding of what it means to be "omnipotent" from a Theological/Christian perspective.
Round 1
Published:
The paradox is often used by the “Arguer” as a way to “disprove” God.  “God should be able to do absolutely anything, if he is Omnipotent.  If there is something He can’t do, then it means it’s “not God”.   But this argument operates on the notion that an “Omnipotent” should be able to create or do absolutely ANYTHING, even things that are “logically absurd”, such as creating “married bachelors”, “Square circles”, “one-ended sticks”, “triangles with 2 sides”, and yes, even “creating a rock so heaven even He can’t lift it.”
 
These things (one-ended sticks, square circles, and yes, an Omnipotent Being creating a rock so heavy even He can’t lift it) are not possible not because the Omnipotent Being doesn’t have sufficient power to make it be, but rather because they are logical contradictions.  A triangle, by definition, has 3 sides and 3 angles, so having a “2-sided triangle” is a logical contradiction. That’s like asking “Can an Infinite Being, a being without limits, impose limits on Himself?”  The very definition of an infinite being eliminates that possibility.  Or put another way—can an All-Powerful being do something that limits His power.  The very idea of an All-Power being with power that is limited is illogical- Beign All-Powerful rules out the possibility of being limited.  Or put another way, there are some things an Omnipotent can’t do precisely because he is Omnipotent.  You’re basically asking if a Being of unlimited power can produce something to limit Him. But His unlimited power, by definition, rules out that possibility. An unlimited being cannot create limits for Himself.
 
The Christian understanding of Omnipotence is not that an Omnipotent Being should be able to do absolutely anything, but rather those things that are logically possible.  It’s worth noting that “Defying logic” and “Defying physics” are two different things.  One might argue “You Christians think God can walk on water- that defies logic!”  To that I would argue, no, it defies physics, not logic.  Making a square circle defies logic.  As a Christian, when we say “God can do the impossible”, we don’t mean that God can do the “logically impossible” (i.e. make married bachelors, square circles, etc). 
 
A rock (stone) by definition is made of matter and is of a finite size.  An Infinite Being, by definition, is not finite.  So in order for a rock to be too Heavy for an infinite Being, it would need to be of infinite size (and weight for that matter).  But, by definition, this is not a rock.
 
In short, the “Stone Too Heavy to Lift” Paradox does not “prove” Omnipotence is not possible, and thus God is not possible, but rather simply illustrates that the Christian’s idea of God doesn’t meet the Arguer’s idea/concept of what it means to be Omnipotent (God). 

Published:
My opponent's argument is that God can only do logically possible things, and so the Omnipotence Paradox doesn't apply to him. However, both of these statements are false. The God described in the Bible is truly omnipotent, and there are many verses that prove that. Here are some of those verses below:

But Jesus beheld [them], and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. | Matthew 19:26 KJV

For with God nothing shall be impossible. | Luke 1:37 KJV

Behold, I [am] the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me? | Jeremiah 32:37 KJV
And since the Bible is the word of God, that means God is telling us that everything is possible with him. God is telling us that nothing is too hard for him. Therefore, my opponent is denying his own religion and commiting blasphemy by challenging God's own definition of himself. Blasphemy is a serious crime and according to his own beliefs, my blasphemous opponent is going to Hell for eternity. Checkmate, Christians.

But on a serious note, you cannot just change your religion's definition of God to win an debate. The Christian God is defined as an omnipotent being with absolutely unlimited powers. There is not a single Bible verse that states God can only do things that are logically possible. If these Bible verses existed, my opponent would have cited them in his R1 argument. But he did not, because those verses do not exist and never have.


Round 2
Published:
Eh, Checkmate?  Not so fast, Comrade. You’ve barely moved a pawn. 
 
I agree, the God described in the Bible is truly “omnipotent.”  Where we disagree is you believe “omnipotent” means being able to do absolutely everything, including those things which are logically impossible (can God make a married bachelor? No, then not God!), contradictory (can God make 2 + 2 equal 4 and not equal to 4 at the same time?  No?  Then not God!), or which go against His Nature.  I, on the other hand, believe that “omnipotent” doesn’t necessarily mean being able to do absolutely everything.  I believe, and which is the subject of the debate, is that the atheist, who, in this instance happens to actually go by the name  “TheAtheist”, has a misunderstanding of what it means to be “omnipotent” from a Christian perspective.  Most reputable Theologians adhere to the notion that at there are indeed some things God can’t do (they would against His nature, which warrants a much deeper discussion).  Certainly within the Catholic faith, doctrine and Church teaching uphold that there are indeed some things which God cannot do.
 
My opponents cites passages from the Bible, and uses this same Bible to lay the foundation for his claim that the Christian believes God is an omnipotent being, one that has absolutely unlimited powers.  This is the heart of the Paradox.  The arguer believes that if “omnipotent” means “unlimited powers”, God is believe to be “unlimited”.  If the arguer could somehow cleverly devise a scenario that would appear to “limit” God, this “proves” God is not omnipotent, and therefore proves God doesn’t exist.  To which I respond, “No, no no.”  The Christian faith (mine in particular) believes there are some things God can not due by virtue of the fact that he IS omnipotent. 
 
The Bible, as with all texts written by a human hand (the Bible was inspired by God, but written by humans) must be taken into context.  I truly believe that the Bible is the Word of God—written by humans over the course of time and inspired by God.  At the same time, I believe that the Bible passages must be taken into context (who wrote them, when did they write them, who was the targeted audience at the time of writing, etc) in order to be properly understoof. 
 
The early Biblical writers employed, as do writers of our own age, literary techniques in their writings.  How can you be sure that when the writers of the Bible say (imply) that “God is Omnipotent,” they mean (imply) that He can truly do EVERYTHING, even those things which are contradictory?  How can you be so sure that when you read a text from the Bible, your understanding of it is the exact same understanding of the writer who wrote it (or God who inspired it, for that matter)?   This argument is based on an assumption that YOU interpret something (a text) exactly the way it was intended.  My challenge to you is this—how are you so sure YOUR understanding of texts that describe God as having, as you put it, “Absolutely unlimited powers” is the correct understanding?  Keep in mind, I’m asking you this because you (not me) were the one that brought the Bible into the discussion as a basis for your position.  I did not (at least not yet anyway). 
 
Just to give you an example of what I’m talking about—and these are examples, not “Strawmen”—I’m using these as examples to illustrate my point.  Writers in the 80’s and 90’s would often describe Michael Jordan (and sports stars today) as being “impossible to stop” and “he could do no wrong during the game.”  Now, does that truly mean he could not be stopped—AT ALL?   No.  Certainly some men stopped him and kept him from scoring, but they employed a literary technique to underscore how great he played.  Biblical writers did the same thing.  How can you be so sure when they say “For with God nothing shall be impossible” that they also mean God can do that which is contradictory or logically impossible?
 
You say that God tells us everything is possible with him.  Yep, he does.  Where we differ is you believe this means ABSOLUTELY  everything, even those things that are logically impossible or contradictory (e.g make triangles with just 2 sides and angles, etc) whereas I say God can only do the logically possible.  God also tells us, in that same Bible, that there are indeed things He cannot do (see below). 
 
You say the Christian God is defined as having absolutely unlimited powers.  WRONG.  The Bible does in fact put limits on what God can’t do.  Interesting—you seem to presume the reason I didn’t put these in R1 was because these passages didn’t exist.  There are passages in the Bible that state there are indeed certain things God cannot do:
a.        Impossible for God to lie
Hebrews 6:17-18 “So when God wanted to give the heirs of his promise an even clearer demonstration of the immutability of his purpose, he intervened with an oath, so that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to hold fast to the hope that lies before us.”
Romans 3:4 “God must be true…”
b.       He can not deny himself
2         Timothy 2:13 – “he can not deny Himself.” 
 
This refutes your statements that Bible says (unequivocally) that the God is omnipotent by your definition/understanding of “omnipotent”.  I say, no—the Bible does indeed place limits on what God can do (he can’t lie, he can’t “not be true” , he can’t deny himself).
 
I agree --  the Bible doesn’t say outright that God can only do the things that are logically possible.  However, the Bible is silent about a myriad of things.  The Bible is curiously silent about putting your neighbor’s arm in a meat grinder.  However, we can use other passages, teachings, and context to infer that the Bible would not condone the putting of your neighbor’s arm in a meat grinder.  Likewise, one can infer (from other passages, teachings, context) that there are some things God cannot do.  So, the fact that the Bible doesn’t say X, doesn’t mean X is not true. 
 
Finally, just as you state that the Bible states nowhere that God can only do the logically possible, I can likewise state that neither does the Bible state that God has absolutely unlimited powers and is able to do the logically impossible.  You cite a few passages that you believe “prove” that the Christian God should be able to do EVERYTHING, including the logically impossible.  However, I just showed you some passages where the Bible does indeed put limits on what God can do (he can’t lie, deny himself, etc), underscoring the notion that the Christian idea of omnipotence does not include being able to do the logically impossible, the contradictory, or the absurd.
 
Because I have characters, let’s recap.  The crux/formula of the “Stone Paradox” essentially goes like this. 
 
A.      The arguer defines “Omnipotence” as being able to do absolutely everything, without having any limits.  The arguer may not outright define it as such, but it becomes evident as the Paradox plays on that this what they believe.  The arguer immediately assumes that his definition of Omnipotence is in 100% alignment with how the Christian defines “omnipotence”.
B.      The arguer then devises (or borrows) a contradictory scenario, which is illogical, in the form of “If God is Omnipotent, can He create a stone so heavy that not even He can lift it?”.  Other similar, often funny, scenarios might take the shape of “Can God create a Square that has 5 sides?”, “Can God beat Himself up in a fist-fight?” “Can God devise a problem that not even He can solve?”, etc.
C.      When the Christian answers “No”, the arguer then counters “See!  There IS something God can’t do (be it create a stone so heavy, make 2 sided triangle, etc).  You’ve just put a limit on God.   God is not omnipotent, therefore, God doesn’t exist!”.  The arguer then claims victory, often punctuating the exchange with a clever statement, such as “Checkmate.” 
 
However, the problem is with the initial understanding of “Omnipotence”. 

Forfeited
Round 3
Published:
Forfeiting this round so TheAtheist can publish his argument originally intended for R2.  
Forfeited
Added:
For starters, Ragnar's link makes no mention of Proof that Jesus is Joseph's blood son. I read Genesis 12:1-3, here's what it states inthe link:
Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed"
Not sure how you can make the leap and say that this proves the Messiah would be a blood relative of Abraham and thus Jesus is the blood son of Joseph.
Instigator
#73
Added:
Alright, let the record show I"ve been blocked by Ragnar. Guess I need to tone down the sarcasm. He provided a comment on a debate I was having,a comment which goes against what my faith and Christianity teach. So naturally, rather than be silent, I'm going to challenge that comment.
I do not believe (a) that Jesus was the "blood son" of Joseph, nor do I believe Matthew "proves" Jesus was the blood son of Joseph. Perhaps you took offense to my sarcasm (theological bombshell), if so, i apologize.
Matthew states lineage and nowhere does it state or imply that (a) Mary and JOseph had sex or (b) Jesus is the biological (blood son) of Joseph.
Matthew specifies the lineage of multiple generations from Abraham to "Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah."
Not sure how you can make leap to say this proves He was the blood son of Joseph.
I can trace my brother's genealogy likewise:
From my great-great-great grandfather down to Robert (my dad) the father of Michael (my brother), the husband of Melissa. Of her was born Ian.
Can you definitively say "Ian" is the blood son of Michael? Yes? No?
For those itching to know, Ian was adopted and is not blood related to Michael. Michael still calls Ian "my son" and Ian calls Michael "my Father", but there is no blood relationship.
I've been now blocked by RationalMadman and Ragnar, both of whom made comments which go against my faith or what it teaches. When I challenged them on
it, they seem to take offense.
Instigator
#72
Added:
--> @GuitarSlinger
Nice job trolling, I actually fell for it.
In case you're being serious that you're not familar with the conversation you were taking part in, I'll give a refresher before blocking you for trolling:
See previous post: "He was required to be in order to be the messiah (well any male path descendant of Abraham would do). That's why the book of Matthew spent so long at the start proving he was the blood son of Joseph." ... That you're "very familiar with the story, so no need to recite the lineage" but are now obtusely denying it, is why I'm calling you out for trolling.
That you claim didn't see Genesis 12:1-3 (or various others within the link stipulating whose bloodline the messiah had to come from), either speaks of your trolling mastery or your reading comprehension; out of respect for you I am assuming the former.
#71
Added:
--> @Ragnar
If you are referrring to the blueletterbible link you provided, I did.
I could not find anywhere where it says that Jesus was the blood son (biological) of Joseph.
Instigator
#70
Added:
--> @GuitarSlinger
See previous posts in conversation.
#69
Added:
--> @Ragnar
Mary and Joseph had sex and Jesus was conceived as a result? really? What are you basing this off of? What writings or teachings? You realize this is a Theological bombshell that has the potential to crush close to 2000 years of Christianity?
Seriously-- what texts / resources did you use?
Instigator
#68
Added:
--> @Christen
First, you're confusing my use of the term "move" when it comes to "change"—you’re equating it to physical moving. Don't confuse the two. When I'm using the term "moving" I'm not talking changing locations, i'm talking/referencing to a change in state.
Second, if you're omni-present, there is no need to change locations. You're already at that location....but you're also at your current location. and the other location etc. I know it's hard to understand. But imagine it like this. A simple, albeit imperfect analogy: if you were Omni-present, you could be in Phoenix Arizona, Tacoma, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and L.A. all at the same time. But humans are imperfect and are bound by the laws of physics. A human being isn’t omnipresent. So someone like say, Steve Miller, has to take a Big Ol’ Jet Airliner and go from Phoenix Arizona all the way to Tacoma, Philadelphia, Atlanta, L.A. So God is not “stuck”. God has no “need” to move around.
Third, actually yes—“unmovable” is actually another attribute of God’s Nature (he’s Omni-Present, remember?). If you move point A to point X, that implies that you were not in Point X, which goes against the idea of “omnipresent.
Fourth, no offense, but I’m putting my money on God in your hypothetical pickup game with the Almighty. I haven’t seen you play, but God, being all-power could certainly win if he wanted to, and lose if he wanted to.
This is all so very hard to understand, I know. But trying to understand God and his ways is very challenging. It’s sort of like a 6 year old learning basic Math trying to understand Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.
Instigator
#67
Added:
--> @GuitarSlinger
Fine. In that case, how about I use something, that is both physically and logically possible, as my example: moving.
Moving is both physically and logically possible, and is defined as changing positions/locations.
However, you yourself said this:
- When an something "changes", it moves from one state to another. It, essentially, becomes either "better" or "worse".
- To be "perfect" is indeed as "good as can possibly be" as you state
- So, if something that is "perfect" changes, then 1 of 2 things happen:
a) It becomes "less perfect" (worse)
b) it becomes "more perfect" (becomes better). But this, again makes no sense. If something is as good as possible, it can't become better (more perfect) because it is already, by definition "as good as can possibly be"-- there is no "getting any better".
- It follows that if something is perfect (all perfect), then it can't possibly change. If it changes then (a) it loses the perfection it had or (b) it gets better (which means/implies it wasn't "perfect' in the first place).
Also, I'm pretty sure that the Christian believes that God is "omnipresent" (which means to be literally everywhere) in addition to being "omnipotent". However, to be everywhere means that you cannot leave any one location and move to another, as being omnipotent would mean that you are already in the "perfect" location.
So that means God can't move at all; he's stuck, even though we can move around. I also highly doubt that moving would be against his nature too, so you couldn't simply say that it's just against his nature.
That means that God can't beat me in a game of basketball, soccer, or any other sport that requires some kind of movement, even though I'm a crappy basketball player.
That means God can't beat me in a race.
Take that.
Seriously though, this was a lame debate. Was hoping TheAtheist wouldn't forfeit 2 rounds in a row. Oh well.
#66
Added:
--> @GuitarSlinger
Basically Joseph and Mary had sex, Jesus was one of the children that resulted; hence why Joseph's lineage matters.
As for prophecies about Jesus' parentage, I did a little Googling for you rather than trying to do it justice myself: https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_234.cfm
#65
Added:
--> @Ragnar
Perhaps you can clarify then, what exactly do you mean by "blood son"? How did you define it in your thesis?
To me "blood son" has a very specific connotation a blood relative, a biological relative. I have intercourse with my wife, and she conceives, a bears a son. This son is my blood relative, my blood son. However, I can also adopt a child that has different biological parents. I can raise this child as my own and call him my son. I don't think though this would be called my "blood son".
So i'm curious, what do you mean by "blood son", and how exactly does Matthew prove Jesus is the "blood son of Joseph". I'm very familiar with the story, so no need to recite the lineage.
Also, I"m curious as to where it says in order to be the Messiah he had to be the "blood son" of Joseph (or blood relative of Abraham).
Instigator
#64
Added:
--> @GuitarSlinger
He was required to be in order to be the messiah (well any male path descendant of Abraham would do). That's why the book of Matthew spent so long at the start proving he was the blood son of Joseph.
#63
Added:
--> @Ragnar
Ok. NOw i'm really curious. "Christ being Joseph's son by blood". Explain that to me. How is Christ Joseph's son by blood?"
Instigator
#62
Added:
--> @GuitarSlinger
It being a full forfeit I only skimmed it to provide light feedback.
At university I actually wrote a paper about an example of God being truly omnipotent, which was the paradox of Christ being Joseph's son by blood.
#61
Added:
--> @TheRealNihilist
While the prevoius 2 concerns are why I wont' accept, I do have additional questions (these additional questions are not preventing me from accepting, they are just questions I have):
1. Do you think the Bible, in particular, the New Testament, represents the sum total of everything Jesus said, did and taught? Or do you think that there were some things that he said, did, or taught that were not written down in the NT? And if so, do you think it's possible that these unwritten sayings, actions, teachings could have very well survived and been handed down through the generations?
2. Is there particular sect/denomination of Christianity you are interested in covering in this debate. The various sects have different believes and practices. Or are you planning on proving that ALL denominations are bad?
Instigator
#60
Added:
--> @TheRealNihilist
I'm not willing to accept the debate as it's written, here is why:
- Christianity is not a faith that is just solely focused on the NT. One must also include the OT (Jesus and others in NT make reference to it). Plus it was "Christianity" after all that developed the canon of the Bible in the first place, which includes the OT.
- I refuse to use the KJV. Here's why: The King James version, when looked at from the history of Christianity, is a relatively new version-- having first been published in the early's 1600's, some 1570 years or so after Christ's death and roughly 1100 years after the canon of the Bible was first incorporated. The KJV is basically a product of the Protestant Reformation
Those are the big two issues preventing me from accepting the debate outright (more to come in next comment)
Instigator
#59
#7
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
Con FF the majority of the debate, that's poor conduct!
#6
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
Full forfeit
#5
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
FF because R1 with forfeits means FF in the CoC.
#4
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
Convincing arguments goes to pro because con failed to respond to any of pro's rebuttals effectively conceding the debate.
Conduct goes to pro because Con forfeited most rounds.
#3
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
Forfeit from Con, although Con had some interesting points if he wanted to continue. Unfortunately, he never took the time to attempt to defend them from Pro. Pro was more convincing for me, kudos to him; albeit, he had little competition unfortunately.
#2
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
67% Forfeiture.
I would have been tempted to award conduct for the R1 insults of blasphemy for initiating this debate... It could have been a somewhat valid claim later by lowering God to the standard of Michael Jordan,
This was a disagreement over if Christians define God as omnipotent anyways, and maybe should have just been a debate on if Christians define God as omnipotent or not, since pro clearly does not (well at least not without a healthy dose of moving the goalpost).
#1
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
2/3 forfeit, neither side convinced me