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Posts: 7,516
Reply with quote  #196 
In general you are reasoning, soundly or otherwise, from grounds I don't accept, rendering further discussion pointless. But let's have some anyway. Firstly, I follow the argument about omnipotence, that it does not have to mean the ability to do anything, but can be more usefully taken as being the ability to do anything that is possible. And if extended to omniscience, that would now mean not knowing everything, but knowing everything that is knowable.

The latter would remove the Uncertainty Principle objection. In summary, this holds that the more precisely you know the position of a subatomic particle, the less precisely you know its momentum, and vice versa. The difficulty is nothing to do with measuring techniques but is a fundamental property of matter at this level, arising from wave mechanics; subatomic particles having the confusing habit, among many others even more distressing to ordinary understanding, of being waves and particles both, at one and the same time.

God would have the same problem as the humble physicist in his lab. But if we dismiss the information as not knowable (that is, the momentum information is not knowable if you know the position, and vice versa again), the possibility of omniscience is unaffected. What is also unaffected is the paradox that would be created by being both omniscient and omnipotent. This still applies even with the revised definitions, which please assume in what follows. Briefly, if you're omniscient you know everything that was, everything that is and everything that will be. If you're omnipotent, you can do anything. But if you know everything that will be, you also know what you will do. And you cannot do anything other than that. If you can, you don't know what it will be, therefore are not omniscient. But if you can't, not only are you not omnipotent, you are in fact impotent.

I'd assumed you were already familiar with this, which is why I didn't set it out before. If you respond, please don't make it just 'God is outside of time'. That's a mere buzzphrase, which explains nothing and answers nothing. What else? I do accept that there is an objective standard of good, and not just for the sake of argument either, I believe this to be true. I don't see how that leads to evil not actually existing, though. Observation will tell you that it does, and I don't care if reason can be used to prove that it doesn't.

I was interested by the argument that God cannot create something as good as Himself, because then it would be another God. Leaving aside the question that God if He existed would surely have more attributes than perfect goodness alone, making it perfectly possible to distinguish between God and other things as good as Him, and leaving aside the thorny (not to mention utterly incomprehensible) doctrine of the Trinity to which you presumably subscribe, it's a good thing you're not a Catholic, as otherwise you'd be somewhat handicapped in making this argument. Since 1854 Catholic doctrine has held that God did create someone as good as Himself. Mary.

Posts: 1,852
Reply with quote  #197 
Well, the arguments rely on a certain metaphysical framework, but I think it is defensible.

I'm afraid I can't agree about God and time. The classical theist position is God is outside time, and this means for God past, present, and future are an ever present now. Classical theism holds God immutable. His will is eternal and changeless. I don't see how the paradox holds. God changing his will would introduce change into God's essence, which would undermine God's immutability and power.

Evil exists in a sense. Classical theists, in general, don't argue evil is illusion. They do argue it is privation, in the end a lack of good, rather than a positive entity in its own right.

There has sometimes been debate about God's attributes amongst classical theists - many Sunni Muslim theologians have seen them as in some sense separate from his essence - but most hold to divine simplicity and therefore they are simply different conceptualisations of his absolutely simple essence. I don't think Catholic doctrine on Mary is strictly relevant.
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