Notices
Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: The constraints of logical consistency upon God.

  1. #1 The constraints of logical consistency upon God. 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Salt Lake City, UTAH, USA
    Posts
    3,112
    The monotheistic Judeo-christian-islamic concept of God is that He is all powerful - omnipotent. This is often thought to mean that God can do anything. But most agree that this is not the case and will explain that God cannot do things which are logical contradictions and even fundamentalist Christians put out brochures entitled "5 things that God cannot do". So I think we can easily think up examples of things that God cannot do like set before us two apples which are also three apples. I think we could agree that God cannot make a plane figure that is both a circle and a square at the same time. God cannot do these things because the definitions of the words in these contradict each other. But these are not a coherent limitation upon God because these things are not even coherent things to do -- they acutally make no sense.

    We do however have reason to be cautious because our understanding of logic may not be all that perfect or complete. The realities of quantum physics brought us face to face with this in a rather startling way in modern times. Thus the reality is that although we may be confident that God is constrained by the limits of logical consistency, we may not necessarily be entirely confident about what these limitations are exactly. I think the consequence of this that theists will immediately think of and agree with is that things that seem logically contradictory to us (like being both three persons and only one God, for example) may not actually be logically contradictory at all. BUT there is another possible consequence that is not so often contemplated and that is that things which we have no reason to see as logically contradictory may actually be so.

    When I observe the things that children say, this latter type of consequence becomes quite apparent. Not having learned the limitations of logic they may indeed not see that things are logically contradictory when they are. They may in their immaturity make demands that are impossible to meet for this reason and I am led to wonder how many demands we make of God are like this as well?

    Now a related question for the consideration of the religious in particular is this: is there any reason to expect that the correct understanding of what is logically possible as God understands it is something that we can fully comprehend at this time? Assuming for now that scientists are correct about quantum physics, is that something do you think that could have been explained successfully to the followers of Jesus? I don't think so. But if that is the case then the whole and complete truth was beyond their comprehension and therefore we can conclude that what was explained to them was limited by their ability to understand (John 3:12 and Matt 13:10-13).

    Furthermore, I would expect that there were things explained to them in this manner: 1+1 = 2 because daddy says so, which means they must take daddy's word for things when the explanations were beyond them. But just because a child cannot understand something doesn't mean that he never will and just because people 2000 years ago could not understand something that does not mean that we cannot understand it now. But what do we say to someone that refuses to go beyond the simple explanation that was given to them as a child or to people that refuse to go beyond the simple explanation of something that was given two thousand years ago? Perhaps we can argue that if it worked for people 2000 years ago then it will work now as well. But the same is true if a person clings to the admonition that they never stick anything into electric sockets. They will still be safe from electricution just as when they were a toddler, but I doubt that we can admire their intellegence for not being willing to get beyond this truth appropriate for toddlers to understand better than this.


    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

    I now have a blog too: http://astahost.blogspot.com/
    Reply With Quote  
     

  2.  
     

  3. #2  
    Forum Professor Obviously's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Norway
    Posts
    1,415
    I think the reason why logical consistency seems so distant when it comes to the concept of God is because of the vagueness in its definition. It is, after all, the presumption that something we cannot understand exist.

    Now, it's not an unreasonable presumption, but the problem is that there follows other presumptions with it, like for example: God can't be understood by scientific means, God has an intricate part in existence as the creator, the initial causer, God is everything, God is non-material/physical or otherwise not part of the physical world, God is beyond our understanding (not restrained by our logic) and et cetera.

    For me, there's no reason to believe in any particular part(s) of the concept of God. I find them all to be logically unsound, but mostly because I follow the principle of Ockam's Razor; espacially so when it comes to God.

    It is merely a matter of faith, and logic doesn't seem to fit in there, IMHO.


    Reply With Quote  
     

  4. #3  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Salt Lake City, UTAH, USA
    Posts
    3,112
    Quote Originally Posted by Obviously
    It is merely a matter of faith, and logic doesn't seem to fit in there, IMHO.
    Well besides disagreeing utterly, I think this is exactly the kind of no-man's land attitude that exacerbates the problem of fanatical religions. It is just plain nonsense because the fact is that all knowledge is ultimately based on faith in something. Absolute proof is a fantasy and certainty is a delusion. Therefore we put our faith in things at least provisionally in order to get on with the living of our lives. What we put our faith in is a matter of choice and the freedom to make such choices is the most important freedom there is.

    It is NOT "merely a matter of faith". There is blind faith and there is rational faith. Your comment suggests that if a person believes in God then it is pointless for that person to value logic or scientific inquiry. It is a ridiculous attitude that flies in direct opposition to the course of human history. Frankly it is an innane justification for the same kind of fascist "with me or against me" sort of approach to truth that the blind faith fundamentalists adhere to. It is a one-dimensional black-and-white approach to reality that is suitable only for the simple-minded.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

    I now have a blog too: http://astahost.blogspot.com/
    Reply With Quote  
     

  5. #4  
    Forum Isotope
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Transient
    Posts
    2,914
    I wouldn't say that it's a matter of faith. I'd say it's a matter of decision. You take the evidence or scenario infront of you, examine it, study it, do what ever you like to it, and then, through whatever logical process you have decide on how to deal with it. Faith in something is more a style of logic than a necessity to be logical and make a decision. I have no "faith" in math, in that I do not believe math to have some ruling over me nor bearing on my life. But I will study a problem posed to me and use the tools at my disposal as I see them apply. Faith is not a necessity of life, only a tool through which we can make a decision.




    That's how I feel, atleast.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
    -Plato

    Reply With Quote  
     

  6. #5  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Salt Lake City, UTAH, USA
    Posts
    3,112
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathamatition
    I wouldn't say that it's a matter of faith. I'd say it's a matter of decision. You take the evidence or scenario infront of you, examine it, study it, do what ever you like to it, and then, through whatever logical process you have decide on how to deal with it. Faith in something is more a style of logic than a necessity to be logical and make a decision. I have no "faith" in math, in that I do not believe math to have some ruling over me nor bearing on my life. But I will study a problem posed to me and use the tools at my disposal as I see them apply. Faith is not a necessity of life, only a tool through which we can make a decision.
    I quite agree with most of this. Faith is indeed just as much a scientific tool as reason is, and making decisions is indeed the very heart of it. Faith is not a different sort of logic, but perhaps by "faith" you mean religion, in which case we can certainly say that the methodology as well as the premises are different. But the most important point I am making is that regardless, we can still hold religion to the same standards of logic and thus hold up rational religious rhetoric as better than irrational religious rhetoric.

    But mathematics is very nearly an exception to what I said. At the very least the statement that "proof is a fantasy" doesn't really fit because proof really is the heart of the science of mathematics, isn't it? Nevertheless, the irony is that one of the things we can prove, is that it is impossible to prove that a formal system like mathematics is even consistent. Consistency especially in mathematics is a minimum condition for something to even be meaningful and thus the result of Godel's proof is that even in mathematics some sort of faith is required, beyond even the simple suggestion that adopting some of the axioms we do might also be called a use of faith.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

    I now have a blog too: http://astahost.blogspot.com/
    Reply With Quote  
     

  7. #6  
    Forum Isotope
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Transient
    Posts
    2,914
    when I say faith, I don't mean religion, really. This is a very hard concept for me to explain, as it is opinion. To me, 'Faith', is the component of, for lack of a more appropriate term, 'trust'. Where you take something, and put faith that it is right, accurate, or however you want to deem it to be the way you believe it should work. Trust, still, isn't quite right. I take 'Faith' to be the way we view what is appropriate or not, the over arching ideal that this is the right idea, no matter what someone else says. I may have the wrong word, but this is where I stand on the idea of Faith in something. It is to put weight to it, regardless of how it would be otherwise viewed. Not, though often, necessarily in a religous nor spiritual sense. I feel, that, one could come to a decision, indiferently, without the need to put weight of decision on one view or another, whether justified or not, but to see all views as equal and create his solution or decision without the bias of one held to 'more' important than the other views.

    On the count of religion being rational, I completely agree. And to that end, I feel that logic, reason, and all other tools belonging to a person capable of cognitive behavior can aply said tools to whatever belief system they hold. Irrational people believe irrational things and put more weight on absolutism to fulfill their irrationality. A wise christian will challenge the things they are told, and question authority on the matter. But also, that same christian can assertain that the view they hold is rational, through a logical process, and be perfectly sound. Having a broad basis for belief is what makes it rational, especially in a religous sense, since the idea of proof is taken out of the equation by way of Faith (trust that He is right without needing evidence). But a good christian demends evidence that atleast IMPLIES that the Bible is not a fairytale, but is truly inspired by God.

    Even though I lost my faith in God, I still understand what the idea behind Him is. It is not irrational to believ in God, it is irrational to trust every bit of yourself to God simply because you are told to do so, with no evidence implying that God really is at work in this world.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
    -Plato

    Reply With Quote  
     

Bookmarks
Bookmarks
Posting Permissions
  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •