Fallacy of "can God make a rock not even he can lift?"

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Reply Fri 20 Jun, 2008 08:34 am
First off, I just want to say this is the first subforum I've been browsing around in since I joined here, and I'm absolutely astounded by the intelligence of people here. I am honestly impressed. I have been to many forums and I haven't found anything with such high quality.

That being said, the highest mathematics course I've taken is trigonometry/algebra II. I also don't know if this has been said before. But I do have a grasp of basic logic to make the following assertion:

A common scenario is thus: can God make a rock not even he can lift?

There's two conclusions I've come to. One, ∞<x =/=. Nothing can exceed infinity by the very nature of infinity. Thus, this question is invalid because it uses illogic to try to come to a "logical" conclusion which obviously means the whole scenario is corrupt. However, the second simultaneous conclusion is that indeed, if there is a God, he has limitations. Personally I'm an atheist, but it's still something to consider.

Assuming reality is material.

Just thought this might interest some of you.
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Fri 20 Jun, 2008 06:23 pm
@Mephistopheles phil,
I'm glad you enjoy logic. It's really fun once you get used to it.

Thought it might be interesting to work up a propositional truth table.

http://i27.tinypic.com/2rr15b8.jpg


First, there are a few presuppositions that make the question itself faulty. Is God sexed and stuff like that. But putting that all aside, I agree that infinity is boundless. But I'm not quite sure I catch what you are getting at by assuming the nature of infinity then proving God cannot make a rock he cannot lift because of the fact that the problem is a paradox, which I take you have interpreted as illogical. Paradox's in logic almost always end up as tautologies in the end, and never reach a conclusion. But that does not mean they are negated. It's like pie (the number). Infinite, but not negated as it is used as a constant.

Does a paradox negate God's limitlessness because we cannot comprehend the nature of an infinite loop? Strikes of Xeno's paradox to me.

BTW, is it logical to be atheist?
 
Mephistopheles phil
 
Reply Fri 20 Jun, 2008 07:32 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
VideCorSpoon wrote:
I'm glad you enjoy logic. It's really fun once you get used to it.

Thought it might be interesting to work up a propositional truth table.

http://i27.tinypic.com/2rr15b8.jpg


First, there are a few presuppositions that make the question itself faulty. Is God sexed and stuff like that. But putting that all aside, I agree that infinity is boundless. But I'm not quite sure I catch what you are getting at by assuming the nature of infinity then proving God cannot make a rock he cannot lift because of the fact that the problem is a paradox, which I take you have interpreted as illogical. Paradox's in logic almost always end up as tautologies in the end, and never reach a conclusion. But that does not mean they are negated. It's like pie (the number). Infinite, but not negated as it is used as a constant.

Does a paradox negate God's limitlessness because we cannot comprehend the nature of an infinite loop? Strikes of Xeno's paradox to me.

BTW, is it logical to be atheist?


Very interesting table indeed! I hadn't considered splicing it down to its linguistic components and then extrapolating algorithms out of the components.

My interpretation of the equation is based on how I view the universe. I am a strict materialist. Thus, while God, if he exists, could probably exceed the logic of the equation because he's God and he created logic, that's just mental acrobatics.

I don't see what my religious beliefs or lack of them thereof have to do with this conversation.
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Fri 20 Jun, 2008 09:38 pm
@Mephistopheles phil,
How about this? God can't because God does not physically exist.
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Fri 20 Jun, 2008 09:40 pm
@Mephistopheles phil,
Mephistophales,

Logically, the chart shows that there are three instances of an invalid inference to the question. Line one would seem to be the most extreme instance of an answer to the question. If God were omnipotent in all ways (all true truth values) then the fact that he could not lift a rock he created would be false logically. Holiday,

We do not know for certain that god does not physically exist.
 
Mephistopheles phil
 
Reply Fri 20 Jun, 2008 10:15 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
VideCorSpoon wrote:
Mephistophales,

Logically, the chart shows that there are three instances of an invalid inference to the question. Line one would seem to be the most extreme instance of an answer to the question. If God were omnipotent in all ways (all true truth values) then the fact that he could not lift a rock he created would be false logically.


I believe you're overanalyzing this. My argument is indeed that the whole question of "can God create a rock even he cannot lift" is paradoxical, and yes, I do use it illogically to prove a point. I understand your concern that my statement that the God in the situation has limitations is in itself illogical for several reasons, not only because I already showed it's paradoxical but it would negate the whole concept of God. I suppose I can try to simplify my point: nothing can exceed infinity, and there are limitations to this universe. Nothing is limitless, pragmatically speaking.

As for my comment on atheism, I only mentioned it because I was speaking of God as if God existed in my mind. He doesn't.
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Fri 20 Jun, 2008 10:58 pm
@Mephistopheles phil,
But this is a logic sub forum thread. Can you overanalyze in logic?

For all intensive purposes...I'm working with your simplified point.

You basically say nothing can exceed infinity yet there are limitations to this universe. But nothing is limitless. There should be more to this statement, some sort of conclusion. Seems very Modus Tollens. It's correct to assume what you said, but you need more to complete your statement. Can you elaborate on what you are trying to conclude.
 
Zetetic11235
 
Reply Fri 20 Jun, 2008 11:12 pm
@Mephistopheles phil,
nothing can exceed infinity is sort of a fallacious way of viewing it, rather you must either take the object as finite or approaching infinity. God exceeding infinity is a silly sort of way to view it. i see it this way: There are two options, A or B. Either A; God is beyond human understanding and thus any human attempt to understand him is nonsensical, or B; God is understandable by humans implying that he holds no answers that we don't have access to.
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Sun 22 Jun, 2008 02:34 pm
@Zetetic11235,
I could accept those fundamentals hypothetically. I put it in terms of God being measurable or immeasurable.

If God is measurable, there is some implication that God can be defined in finite terms.

If God is immeasurable, then there is some implication that God cannot be defined.

But whether God is measurable or immeasurable is redundant in a sort of way. If we look at it from a logical perspective, "God" has definite connotations on any arguments regardless of the facts because of the sheer gravity of the word "God." It's not the fact of whether he exists or not, it's that God, or the word God, expressly implies an all encapsulating truth value, which is that anything God does is possible (or true).

It seems to me that even if we had a truth table with all the truth probabilities of a given statement, assertion of God and the value that term holds, negates any false value because we are coming to grips with an all powerful being in the first place.
 
nameless
 
Reply Sun 22 Jun, 2008 08:32 pm
@VideCorSpoon,



This is one of my favorite questions that comes up from time to time. Indeed, many atheists and skeptics have posed this question in an attempt to stump Christians and somehow disprove the omnipotence (and existence) of God. Maybe you've been there. What is so ironic about a question of this type is that rather than prove any sort of deficiency in the character or nature of God, this question actually shows a lack of clear thinking and logic on the part of the skeptic! In other words, the question itself is flawed and fallacious in several ways and, unfortunately, the person raising the question has not taken the time to truly think this problem through.

Problem #1: this question commits the fallacy known as a loaded question. Imagine if I were to ask you, "Have you stopped beating your spouse yet?" If you answer yes, that means you were beating your spouse but you have since stopped. And if you answer no, that means you're still beating them! Either way you answer the question, you automatically concede that you beat your spouse! This is a no win situation because the question itself starts with a false assumption and is therefore a "loaded" question. Likewise, the question "Can God make a rock so big He cannot life it?" also starts with a false assumption, i.e., that God is not omnipotent. If you answer "Yes" to the question, that means that God is not omnipotent since He can make the rock but isn't powerful enough to lift it. But if you answer "No," that also means that God is not omnipotent since He couldn't make a rock so big He cannot lift it! In other words, the question itself is dishonest, a pseudo-question, since it begs the question by assuming God is not omnipotent.

Problem #2: this question commits a categorical fallacy. The question itself is incoherent and meaningless. Suppose I were to ask you, "What does the color blue smell like?" or "How much does the number seven weigh?" These are category mistakes because colors don't smell and numbers don't weigh anything. They are logical impossibilities. In the same manner, asking the question "Can God make a rock so big He cannot lift it?" is essentially to ask "Can God's power defeat His own power?" This is nonsensical and a category error since the question is being incorrectly applied. Greg Koukl has stated, "The question is nonsense because it treats God as if He were two instead of one. The phrase 'stronger than' can only be used when two subjects are in view...Since God is only one...it makes no sense to ask if He is stronger than Himself."

Problem #3: this question commits a straw man fallacy. The goal of the skeptic who asks this question is to somehow undermine the Christian concept of an omnipotent God. It is thought that if it can be shown there are some things God cannot do, this would prove that God could not be omnipotent and thus could not exist as Christians have traditionally portrayed Him. However, this line of reasoning is attacking a distorted concept of Biblical omnipotence and is therefore guilty of the straw man fallacy.

So what does it mean then that God is omnipotent? Omnipotence doesn't mean that God can do anything. There are actually quite a few things that God cannot do. He cannot make squared circles. He cannot make a one-ended stick. He cannot sin. He cannot improve His morality. So God is limited in a sense. But not one of these "limitations" has to do with power, rather, they are logical contradictions. Also, notice that His "limitations" are not due to any defects in His character or power but rather they are the result of His perfection and rational nature! As Norman Geisler has stated, "He is only 'limited' by His unlimited perfection." To say that God is omnipotent then is to say that God can do anything so long as it is logically possible and consistent with His nature. God's omnipotence does not mean that He can do what is impossible but only that He can do whatever is actually possible.

Conclusion: So what then is the answer? Can God make a rock so big He cannot lift it? My comments above put aside, I still like the way one particular 7-year-old responded: "I can't give you a smart answer to a dumb question."

From me; Any and all 'qualities attributed to 'god', as in the Judeo/Xtian bible, are idolatry and vain. Man making a 'god' in his image. If you fill in the blank with anything, "God is_________", it is vain error.
 
Aristoddler
 
Reply Sun 22 Jun, 2008 10:01 pm
@nameless,
If god had doubts about himself, would he be an agnostic?

Nope.
And he could make a rock big enough, sure...but where would he put it?
It would have to be bigger than creation, and that would require him to make something bigger than that which he had already created...which is existence.

Therefore you would first have to determine how big existence is, before determining the size of the rock, and then you would no doubt come to the conclusion that god has limits.
Once you come to that conclusion, then you would prove that god is in actuality...fallible.
I believe that at that point the cosmos would cease to exist, so please stop thinking about it before you destroy us all.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 08:59 pm
@Aristoddler,
Quote:
If god had doubts about himself, would he be an agnostic?


Only if he is skeptical about his existence. Wink
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 09:43 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Which brings us back to the whole point that God is a big conundrum, created by people, and it's true nature is of the course of transcendence.
Figuring out God is about as useful as doing metaphysics; all we need is to know that God's meaning is within ourselves.
Also, to think of God as a separate being,.. does that imply God has a conscience, or does having a conscience defy the definition of God? Either way, the way we see God as perfect, all knowing, not learning, would imply it's non existence, because in a sense there is no causal force or meaning to drive its existence.
I thought God was a construct of what is moral. So God's divinity would be that of humanity's ingenuity ability, the creature of conscience.

Once again, you could argue that God's divinity is beyond the need for conscience, thus we would get back into the conundrum, the transcendence, but what is transcendent is irrelevant to humanity's morals, making an indifference to humanity's moral evolving.

We are only within our capacity as a society to spread the idea of a conscious God, when in fact divinity doesn't need a conscience, but that seems amoral to me; therefore that would question God's need to be a potential to humanity's reasoning.

Let's say God has a conscience, and it can make every action at it's best moral standpoint possible, (lets say this is also possible). If I were this I would rather be of the most minimal influence to conscious sentients as possible, and being God would give it the ability to have no influence (concretely), right? So God becomes irrelevant even here because it would choose to lack potential to humanity for the better. It's perfection would make humanity boring, depriving any meaning to our existence.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 10:04 pm
@Holiday20310401,
Interesting post, Holiday. Tomorrow when I have more time I'll try to make a more detailed response, but for now, would you mind elaborating on your use of "transcendence"?
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 10:07 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Yeah, sorry, lol. Just look at...
transcendent - Definitions from Dictionary.com

Notice the double entendre possibility.
 
scottik187
 
Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 10:08 pm
@Aristoddler,
Aristoddler wrote:
If god had doubts about himself, would he be an agnostic?

Nope.
And he could make a rock big enough, sure...but where would he put it?
It would have to be bigger than creation, and that would require him to make something bigger than that which he had already created...which is existence.



Why does the rock have to be bigger than creation? Can't its size be small, but its mass large?

Think of a Neutron star, small size, but very large mass.

Is it possible to create something that's mass is greater than creation, but its size is smaller? Yes. It could be the size of a basketball, yet it could be heavier than all creation. Something that size would be able to go anywhere. (As I re-read this it kind of made me think - God could never actually make something heavier than creation, he could only make creation/larger).

However then questions of gravitational pull come in - I'm no physicist so I won't go there.

Anyways - I've always had a problem with this question. It seems nonsensical to me.
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 10:19 pm
@scottik187,
Irrelevant because the idea is that God can lift any mass.
But honestly, it doesn't matter. Creating a rock that it can't lift is like creating a duplicate of itself, now that's just insane! What an indifference. If God had to be a moral perfection then what positive ethical outcome can be defined by such an action? None, its stupid. (Although if u can say otherwise plz tell me).
Therefore, it is impossible for God to create something so morally trifling.
People make this problem tricky, assuming that this question is the same as asking if a entity that has no limits can or can't make a rock that it can't lift, when in order for God to exist it must have some limits of some kind. I am stating the moral limits that people have created.
 
scottik187
 
Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 10:30 pm
@Holiday20310401,
That an interesting way to look at it.

So what your saying, is that because God is morally perfect, He would not be able to create the rock as it lacks moral significance?

I'm just trying to get what your saying here...
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 10:32 pm
@scottik187,
Yeah, thanks for summing it up, I can't ever seem to do that.
 
midas77
 
Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 11:23 pm
@nameless,
nameless wrote:
My comments above put aside, I still like the way one particular 7-year-old responded: "I can't give you a smart answer to a dumb question."


so why is it a logical nonsense? Because it provides a false assumption hence a false conclusion.

This fallacy assumes that an all powerful god can create something more powerful than itself. This can not be, because god by this assumption is the all powerful and if it can create something more powerfull than itself, it can not be all powerful. God in this assumption can be god and not god at the same time and at the same respect. Violates the basic Law of Non-Contradiction.

Second. It also assumes the inclusion of two mutually exclusive existent concepts, that of an unstopable being and an immovable being. This fallacy is actually a variant of another fallacy. "What will happen if an unstopable object collides with an immovable object." Unthinkable. One must choose between the two or assume that both be false.

Third. It is a trick question design for the foolish. Any sane atheist will not and should not use this argument as a proof of the non-existence of GOd
 
 

 
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