God Cannot be Omniscient or Omnipotent

Uploaded by deathray32 on 15.05.2012

In our last conversation, we discussed Plantinga's Free Will Defense to the Problem of Evil,
and you dismissed it in your usual cavalier fashion. However, you made a mistake in failing
to distinguish the logical and evidential problems of evil. Most philosophers accept
that Plantinga has solved the logical problem once and for all. In so far as anyone is still
working on the Problem of Evil, they're focusing on the evidential problem.
Well, if I'm wrong, I'll admit it. But I should point out that if you use any free will-based
theodicy, you're backing away from the assumption that God is omni-benevolent. He is only benevolent
up to a point. He looks for a trade-off between benevolence and humans having free will. So,
as far as I'm concerned, a 3-O god is still logically inconsistent.
But you're ignoring the possibility that God gives us free will in pursuit of a greater
good which more than offsets the suffering that results from our exercise of free will.
Thus it's perfectly compatible with omni-benevolence.
That's what I call an epicycle - an ad hoc untestable argument put forward purely to
rescue the classical theological concept of God. I'm sorry, but it doesn't impress me.
If there is some mysterious greater good to contend with, God could simply have created
the universe without that greater good being a factor, so there was no need for anyone
to suffer.
Anyway, where in the bible does it say that God gives people free will? What scriptural
support is there for this assertion, and does it outweigh the many passages in the bible
which state explicitly that God is in control of everything that happens, and pre-ordains
who goes to heaven or hell, in other words, that humans do not have free will?
I'll have to get back to you on that.
That was a trick question. Nowhere in the bible does it state that God gives humans
free will, except for a brief aside in Ecclesiasticus which could possibly be interpreted this way.
But Ecclesiasticus isn't even canonical for Jews or Protestants.
I'll have to check that. Free will is a bedrock component of most traditions of Protestant
theology so it would be astounding if what you said were true.
It's all pretty academic anyway. I can argue on strict scientific grounds that God cannot
be either omniscient or omnipotent.
How do you propose to do that?
Well, the evolution of the universe over time is in a fundamental sense unpredictable. Perhaps
you've heard of the Butterfly Effect?
A butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon rain forest causes a tornado in Texas. It
sounds rather fanciful.
Admittedly it's fanciful, but think of it this way. Imagine two scenarios which are
identical except that in one scenario the butterfly flaps its wings at a certain instant,
and in the other, the butterfly doesn't flap its wings at that instant. The two scenarios
evolve differently due to this tiny difference in initial conditions. The difference amplifies
exponentially due to the nonlinear feedback in the system, with the result that in one
scenario a tornado occurs, and in the other, there is no tornado. This is what scientists
call sensitive dependence on initial conditions.
Now, the point is that at the instant the butterfly flaps its wings, there is no way
to know that a tornado will result. In another scenario, the flap of the butterfly's wings
might actually prevent a tornado that would otherwise have occurred. There's just no way
to predict the behavior of the system with any accuracy more than a few days ahead of
time, because the slightest rounding error will amplify exponentially until it overwhelms
the predicted solution, making it radically different from the actual behavior.
But God is infinitely more powerful than all the computers that humans have created.
It's not a question of throwing more computing power at the problem. If you used all the
computers on earth to predict the weather, you might gain an extra day of accuracy. Double
the number of computers, and you might gain an extra few hours. Double it again, and you
might gain a few minutes. But there is a fundamental mathematical restriction on how far in advance
you can predict the weather, and even God is subject to this restriction, because the
atmosphere is a nonlinear chaotic system. This means there are limits to God's knowledge
- he can't be omniscient.
Okay, not that I agree with you, but I see your point. What about omnipotence?
Lack of omnipotence follows logically from lack of omniscience. Suppose God wanted to
cause or avert a tornado a week from today. He wouldn't know how to do it, because he
wouldn't know which butterfly might become a causal factor by flapping or not flapping
its wings. And the atmosphere is not the only nonlinear chaotic system. The solar system
is also chaotic. During its early history, there may have been hundreds of Mars-sized
planets which were constantly colliding. It would have been impossible to predict in advance
that the earth would have a large moon which stabilizes its rotation and gives us seasons,
that it would have oceans due to bombardment by icy comets, that the dinosaurs would be
wiped out by an asteroid collision 65 million years ago, and so on. So if God was planning
since before the Big Bang that the earth would eventually support human life, it's a fantastic
coincidence that his plans actually came to fruition.
Once again you show your narrow, limited understanding of God. Obviously he isn't bound by petty
scientific restrictions. He exists beyond space and time, and sees the whole history
of the universe at a glance.
You're just making assertions, and I'm not sure they're even meaningful, let alone true.
How can a conscious being exist outside of time? Consciousness is by definition a temporal
sequence of brain states. If there is no time, there is no change in brain states and therefore
no consciousness. The only kind of thing I can imagine existing outside of time and space
is an abstract concept such as a mathematical theorem, not a conscious being with which
one can have a personal relationship.
There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Scientists don't get away with making unsupported assertions. They have to back up all of their
claims with evidence. Apparently theologians win by default, if they can avoid the more
glaring contradictions and logical impossibilities. Why the double standard?
Being on the side of the angels has its privileges. Toodle pip, dear girl.