Monday, September 10, 2007

A point in Omnipotence vs Omniscience

In Dawkins' The God Delusion there is an argument showing why omniscience and omnipotence are mutually incompatible. Roughly it goes like this :
If God is omniscient he must be knowing what he is going to do at some point of time (say one year later) in the future. Then he is powerless against changing it. Hence He cannot be omnipotent
As we understand, defining omnipotence and omniscience is a troublesome task at best. And to give it a concrete unambiguous meaning seems impossible. We have tried various tacks of trying to define both the things, none of which works. Ultimately these concepts are ill defined and logically contradictory. Hence they cannot be used to form unambiguously meaningful sentences. So the above proof stands invalid. We are not saying that omnipotence and omniscience are mutually compatible. Just that it doesn't make sense to ask this question. In this respect it is like many english questions which are grammatically correct but meaningless to answer. like - what is the shape of red color ? flaw : shape is not defined for color.

In fact as we have seen here, if at all omniscience and omnipotence should be expected to go hand in hand. But again it is meaningless to explore this thing further.


Daniel said...

Although your semantic argument is appreciated, I'm not convinced it nullifies the contradiction.

Even if the specific definitions of omnipotence and omniscience are ambigous to you, the labels don't matter as much as the contradictory characteristics that religious people, namely Chrstians believe.

Regardless the words you assign them, God is apparenly in a state of unlimited power, and at the same time also in a state of infinite knowledge.

So it seems clear that God is caught in a contradiction of his own free will. If he knows what he will do, then how at the same time can he have the power to change it?

TJ said...

I suppose the easy answer would be that such a being could conceivably know what they will do, but simply also know that they do NOT want it changed...thereby simply avoiding the conflict.

In a world where such a being could exist, it could know what it will want, and therefore, also know it will not need to change it, as there would be no new information to base a change upon.

Therefore, wanting to change it is not going to happen, as, if it did want to change it, it already knew it was going to - and would have chosen the outcome anyway, etc.

Or you could argue that an all knowing entity would know how to overcome problems that stump mere mortals, so it could make a rock so heavy it could not pick it up, and yet, ALSO be able to pick it up, etc.

I don't believe in God or gods, etc...albeit I like to keep an open mind about the arguments, as weaker arguments are the one's that are attacked as representative of an atheists "flawed" reasoning, etc.

I do have some irrational beliefs I cannot logically support, such as being a Raider's Fan, but I'm not a missionary about it.


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harrison2012 said...

if a god is omnipotent then everything is how he wants it thus he wouldnt want to change it and he knows how he wants it.

Terry said...

Dawkin's argument contains a fatal error that renders it an invalid criticism.

It contains category error. By direct implication, He who is omniscient is omnipotent. In that He possesses all-knowledge and contained in this knowledge, is the knowledge of where all forms of power exist and also the knowledge of how to possess it. Omnipotent is an extension of omniscience. These things are qualities that are attributed to God, like love and kindness. And they can be understood in their relation to one another. For example: Someone who is kind is loving by extension (implication), because in the description of love is the quality of kindness, so they are an extension of one another. This is also true regarding omniscience and omnipotent. It is irrational to try to contend one against the other when they are extensions of one another. I.e. Can you separate love and kindness, and then opposed them against one another? No. Where there is no love, there is no kindness. And thus omniscience is omnipotence, and omnipotent is omniscience. They are the same thing in nature. If God is all powerful, and there are many forms of power, such as the power to possess all knowledge. There is no contradiction in these attributes (omniscience and omnipotence), only the misconception of their definition, and their relation to one another.