The Instigator
subjectname
Con (against)
Losing
1 Points
The Contender
Geogeer
Pro (for)
Winning
3 Points

Is it necessary for God to be infinitely powerful?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Geogeer
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/30/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,184 times Debate No: 58387
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (20)
Votes (2)

 

subjectname

Con

This is my first debate, so just trying to keep it lite and casual, get my toes wet, and hopefully be able to vote on debates at some point (instead of sniping at people's arguments from the comments section. So anyway...

3 rounds, 4000 characters, 1st round will be my opening argument and yours, 2nd will be rebuttal and new/other arguments, 3rd will be rebuttal and conclusion (no newer arguments).

I've observed that a lot of these "omnipotence paradoxes" seem to depend on the premise that God is infinitely powerful. If we replace this premise with the premise that God is simply incredibly / ridiculously powerful, I contend that the paradox evaporates.

My question is; does God absolutely have to be infinitely powerful, or is mind numbingly mega-powerful just as good? I will take Con as in, it is not necessary for God to be infinitely powerful.

Pro should demonstrate why God must be infinitely powerful; Bible quotes will be strongly considered, but will not be considered iron-clad proof in and of themselves. If Bible quotes are used, they should build the case that according to the Bible it's necessary for God to be infinitely powerful. Bottom line though, Pro argument can not just boil down to a bare assertion, as in "God is infinitely powerful because if he wasn't, he wouldn't be God." Circular reasoning and all that.

So, definitions:

God : the deity that is worshiped especially by Christians, Jews, and Muslims as the one who created and rules the universe

Infinitely powerful: having unlimited power

Necessary: absolutely needed : required

My case is simple. The universe may be expanding in all directions, faster all the time, but the total mass and energy contained in the universe is finite. So by extension, it would take a finite (not infinite) amount of energy (power) to bring the universe into existence.

So lets say A x B = P where A is the (finite) power required to create the universe, B is a number equal to 100 times per second for 100 quadrillion years, which makes P equal to enough power to recreate the universe 100 times a second for the next 100 quadrillion years.

Now P would be a truly astronomic level of power, but it is still finite power. So a being or God with power level of P would have complete power over our universe without even tapping into a millionth of a percent of his total available power, and yet his power still would not be completely unlimited (but he'd also conveniently dodge those "infinite power" paradoxes). I argue that if God theoretically has the power to run our universe plus 100 other universes every second, he has much much more than enough, and therefore "infinite" power is unnecessary. I'm even OK with "All Powerful" because it is possible to to have complete and total power over a given system (the universe, for example) without needing truly infinite power.

So please explain or demonstrate why it is necessary for God to be infinitely powerful. BOP is shared because I don't know who it should go on. (probably on Pro since "infinite power" is a bigger claim than "finite power") I appreciate sound reasoning. Convince me and I'll concede. Hopefully I don't mess this up.
Geogeer

Pro

I wish to thank Con for this debate. It is one that I have never before considered and will do my best to establish.


Argument

What do we mean by omnipotent. By saying that God is omnipotent means that he has the power to implement whatever he desires. If god was not omnipotent that would mean that there is something that He could wish to do that He would be incapable of. If He could not do something, then He cannot be by definition perfect.

If God is imperfect then He cannot be omniscient, because He cannot know the effects of something that He could not do. If God is not omniscient and omnipotent, then He is not necessarily unchangeable. And if God can change then He cannot have the attributes of perfection, because only perfection cannot be improved upon.

Thus, if God is not perfect then he cannot contain the various attributes of perfection such as perfect love or perfect justice. If God is not perfect love nor able to exercise perfect justice, then such things do not actually exist because it then becomes conceivable that we, his creations, could theoretically be more loving or more just than God. If this were true then you arrive at a paradox. We have love and justice because we are made in the image of God. If God's love and justice are flawed then so is our own love and justice. Our attributes, instead of being a reflection of the perfect love and justice of God, would only be a reflection of the imperfect. If our attributes are a reflection of the imperfect then we cannot know if there is true love or justice because what we receive from the one who created us are of a finite, and thus possibly flawed, nature. This makes any "love" to be suspect, and makes any application of justice immoral because they are both based on a flawed or incomplete attributes to begin with.

Finally an "imperfect God" cannot exist in eternity. A finite God would ultimately be an evil God. If God is not perfect and infinite, then God is not completely self sufficient. This is because God would then have limits. Imagine having a library of 10 books that you love. Now you are locked in the library for a day. Not a problem. You might read 1 book, maybe 2 if you read fast. Now imagine being stuck there for a week, a year, a century, a millennia. You would become would come to hate those books instead of loving those books. That is because you, existing as a being of potential, have reached a limit. This would happen to any intelligent being of potential once their potential has exhausted their limits.

In this sense God would not be the perfect God of the Bible, but rather like the imperfect gods of the Greeks and Romans. Ultimately, this would lead to the logical conclusion that God is evil. If God is not perfect, it is immoral for Him to send anyone to hell, because he cannot be assured that His justice is perfect. So let's say that God lets everyone into heaven. Even then God would have to be acknowledged as evil. This is because after a certain period of time in his presence we would cease to be satisfied. Ultimately, like in the library example, we would become bored with eternity, because our potential would never be fully realized. For God to create people knowing that there is no choice for them but to be subjected to an eternity of torment, through no fault of their own, is the very opposite of love and justice.

As such God cannot be a finite being of potential, but must be one of the infinite or the "actual". If God is omnipotent, it is possible for Him to be omniscient and omnipresent. If these are true, then the remainder of His attributes will also be perfect in nature and thus His love and justice would be perfect. His infinite nature would never be exhausted and would lead to eternal joy for those who are in His presence.


Conclusion

I have shown the necessity for God to be infinitely powerful in order for him to be considered God. For, if he is not without limits, all of creation would ultimately be evil otherwise.
Debate Round No. 1
subjectname

Con

Hello, and thank you Pro also for taking up the challenge, hopefully I can make it worth your efforts.
I'm a little inexperienced with this, so I pretty much gave up my entire argument in round 1. So I will rebut some of your points best I can, and go from there.

"By saying that God is omnipotent means that he has the power to implement whatever he desires."

Agreed

"If god was not omnipotent that would mean that there is something that He could wish to do that He would be incapable of. If He could not do something, then He cannot be by definition perfect."

I see this as debatable, because as being (assumed to be) perfect already, he should never find himself in a state of wanting or wishing for anything. Having a want of something, or to be wishing for something would imply that he doesn"t already have all of his needs and desires already fulfilled, which in turn would imply that he"s in a state of imperfection.

Is it not possible that there is nothing left all of existence could offer God which he does not already have? And if God does already have everything he could ever wish for, (which he should, otherwise he"d be less than perfect), doesn"t the question of whether he can wish for something he can"t have become moot? And if God already has everything he could possibly want or need, and so would not wish or want for more, what difference does it make if his power is truly infinite as opposed just "complete?"

At this point, I would like to point out that I deliberately avoided asking if it is necessary for God to be Omnipotent, and instead asked if it is necessary for God to be infinitely powerful. The only instance where I used Omnipotent is in reference to "omnipotence paradoxes."

I did not do this as a cheap semantic trick, but because there is, I believe, a subtle distinction.

From Merriam Webster:
Omnipotent:
1 often capitalized : almighty 1
2 having virtually unlimited authority or influence
And from almighty 1 from omnipotent definition 1:
1 al"mighty adjective
: having complete power
: having a great deal of power or importance
1 often capitalized : having absolute power over all

Point being that I don"t see any issues with God being Omnipotent per se, because as can be seen in all of the definitions above, none of them necessarily imply needing infinite power. Even the most strong of these definitions, "having complete power," and "having absolute power over all" ...both do imply "absolute," "complete" power, but again, I don"t see an issue with this because "absolute," "all," and "complete" don"t necessarily require an infinite and unlimited amount of power.

For some examples of this: Consider a glass that is filled with water; it can be completely and absolutely full without needing an infinite amount of water. Apply this to a God that has absolute complete and total power over the universe. The universe is ultimately finite, so in my view, the power needed to control all possible aspects of the universe absolutely is also finite. So having absolute and complete power over all possible aspects of the universe does not require God to have infinite power.

Even the words "absolute," and "complete" imply perfection and completeness. If something is complete and perfect, it doesn"t need improvement or addition. With that in mind, I see it as objectively worse to say it is necessary for God to have infinite power, then to simply he's Omnipotent (literally "all power"). The former implies that no matter how much power he has, it's not enough, he could still use a little bit more; the latter implies that his power is already absolute and complete, and needs nothing more added.

My conclusions are; A perfect God wouldn't need/wish for anything else, even with finite but complete power; my question is about infinite power; I'm fine with Omnipotence (having complete/all possible power) Thank you again.
Geogeer

Pro

My thanks to Con for his previous argument.

Rebuttal

Con's argument appears to be that God can be perfect without being infinite argued in 2 different manners.


1) If God has everything he wants or needs he is perfect.

2) Omnipotent does not necessarily mean unlimited power.

Both of these arguments imply a limited perfectness, like as my opponent suggested a full glass of water perfectly full but of finite nature. The problem with this analogy is that a glass of water is an inanimate object. I am of the opinion that my previous argument holds against these arguments.

The premise is that God has everything he wants or needs he is perfect, and yet we know from our own existence that we seek that which we do not have. If God is not all powerful then he has limitations just like us. If he has limitations he cannot be in an eternal state of completeness within himself because what can an infinite mind contemplate for all of time except for the infinite itself. Now this leads to one of two conclusions. God's nature is infinite and thus infinitely powerful and intelligent, or God's intellect is finite. If God's intellect is finite we return to my argument from last round whereby God must be fundamentally evil.

If God's intellect is not infinite then he cannot be guaranteed that his morality is perfect. If his morality is not perfect, it is both possible that someone could act more morally than him. Additionally, God would be intrinsically immoral to judge any of us is he cannot be guaranteed to have perfect morality.

This reasoning applies to both arguments. Any limitations on God's power to implement as much of anything that possibly could be would ultimately mean that God's intellect could not be perfect if God were to be fully self-sufficient. If God is not fully self sufficient then he needs to make us in order to create things to help satisfy himself. Ultimately nothing that he could create would truly satisfy and by creating us as immortal beings as well, he would condemn us to never being able to be eternally satisfied.

This turns God into a ginormous child trying to amuse himself with a spiritual magnifying glass and puts us in the place of the ants.


Argument Recap

I will quickly recap my argument from Round 1 as I do not believe that Con has actually proved it to be logically in error.

- If God is not infinitely powerful, he cannot be infinitely intelligent.
- If not infinite in these attributes he cannot be unchangeable because limitation imply the possibility for growth and change.
- If not unchangeable then knowable perfect love and justice do not exist.
- This make the application of any love or justice false as we cannot know if they are in-line with true love and justice or not.

- Additionally, if God is not infinite he cannot be fully self sufficient, because God would have limits.
- If God has limits he cannot be assured that his love and justice are perfect.
- If his love and justice are not perfect it would be immoral to condemn people to hell.
- If he admitted us all to heaven, where we would live forever in his presence, we would eventually exhaust the nature of God. If we could exhaust his nature we would be in an eternal torment of boredom. Ultimately we would come to hate everything and everyone because instead of them all leading us to something more, we would all be in an eternal state limitation to our mind. Thus heaven would be just as much of a torment as hell.


Conclusion

The infinite power of God is logically necessary for a perfectly loving and just God to exist. Without these attributes God would be infinitely evil to create other eternal beings to share in an eternal limited existence.
Debate Round No. 2
subjectname

Con

Thanks again to Pro for his time and energy.

I am getting ready to go on vacation, so due to my own poor planning I will be unable to attempt a proper defense and rebuttal.

Con did bring up some very important questions which are definitely worth exploring, such as, if God was already perfect, why did he feel the need make people? Why create the universe for that matter? If he was already perfect and had no wants, wishes, or needs, why do anything at all? That is of course the subject of a different debate altogether.

My opponent does make a convincing case, and unfortunately again, I won't be able to properly address all of it. For God's infinite morality, I feel this goes back to the Euthyphro dilemma, which asks, is something good because it's good, or is it good because God says it's good? If God never said murder was wrong, would it be OK? If we say that "good" simply is in God's essential nature, the question simply becomes, can God control his own essential nature? Either way, again I would extend my arguments on complete and perfect power to perfect morality and goodness. If God is perfectly good, his goodness is always right, never flawed, and will never falter...He doesn't need an infinite source of goodness to tap into to make sure he's always got a little bit extra coming in.

"If God is not infinitely powerful, he cannot be infinitely intelligent."
Infinite intelligence again doesn't make sense to me logically. If you have perfect knowledge of all possible things already, there's nothing that exists that you aren't 100% intelligent about. Similar to how all things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made. To say otherwise would imply that some source external to God is constantly creating an infinite number of new things for God to learn about. Same thing with morality, if God's morality is perfect, it doesn't need to improve. If his morality must be infinite, this implies that God must constantly be becoming more moral. If he ever becomes more moral, this means he wasn't perfectly moral in that previous state.

"If God has limits he cannot be assured that his love and justice are perfect."
Again, perfection does not need to be constantly improved upon. If his love and justice are perfect, there's no need to insist on"room to grow." To say God's love and justice need to be unlimited implies that they may not currently be perfect, or that they constantly need to improve and expand to remain perfect. I don't find this to be a logical conclusion.

Conclusion

This may really boil down to saying the same thing in two different ways. Pro contends (in my understanding) that perfection is necessarily a limit, because if for example, God is already perfectly good, there is no possibility to get better, therefore God is being limited. My contention is, perfection does mean exactly that, God being perfectly good means there is no possible way to improve on God's goodness. Omni-Benevolent means God has ALL of the benevolence that exists. Perfect Justice means his level of Justice by definition can not be improved upon.

Which extends also to power, if he is Omnipotent, having literally all possible power from every conceivable source, then nothing could possibly exist that could add to his power. If it could, this again would imply a source of power external to God which actually has the ability to add to God's current power. I would also add that God, having all possible power, could never "lose" power or have it diminished in any way either, because energy as we know it is never created or destroyed. There is no action or "will" he could undertake which would result in a net loss of his power.

Thank you again Pro, I apologize that I will likely forfeit the final round (vacation). You've made great arguments and I appreciate it. If anyone thinks I made my case, throw me a bone, otherwise if Pro wins he definitely earned it.

Thank you.
Geogeer

Pro

Rebuttal

Con begins the final round with questioning what is good. This actually confirms what I've been arguing. Good is good because it is in accordance with God's perfect and unchanging will. For something to be truly good it must be in alignment with a perfect unchanging standard of "Good". Only an unlimited omniscient mind can be guaranteed knowledge of "Good." Thus, if one does not have infinite power, one's knowledge is likewise limited and thus "Good" would be unknown and one could not be truly "Good".

Con's next argues from his inability to understand God's infinite intelligence. Con actually points out the argument I've been making. The only thing worthy of an infinite intelligence is the infinite nature of God. Thus it is necessary that God be limitless in nature. As previously argued, an infinite mind contemplating something enormous, but not infinite cannot be satisfied. Thus God could never be internally satisfied. This means that his creation of us is an act of evil because over the eons of eternity we would eventually become dissatisfied with the limitations of God. That which seemed beautiful at first would become average and eventually hated because God has given us an internal desire for the infinite, but is only able to provide the finite. To do this with billions upon billions of people would be an incredible act of cruelty and not consistent with the "Good."

Con's final argument is that if God's love and justice are perfect, there is no need to insist on "room to grow". This is a true statement, however Con follows this up with the concept that perfect need not be unlimited. This is not true. Let's assume that a judge perfectly judges someone guilty based on all the information available. You'd say that is just. However, if there was additional information not in the judge's purview at the time of the trial that proved the person's innocence then the judge would have judged perfectly, but unjustly. If this scenario resulted in an eternity in hell, this would be the greatest evil. Thus a limited "perfection" is obviously not sufficient for God, and an infinite perfection is ultimately required. To have this infinite perfection requires infinite power to enact anything that the infinite will and mind requires.

In Con's conclusion he seems to actually argue my point of the infiniteness of God. This leaves me perplexed as I have been the one arguing for the infinite nature of God whereas Con framed his closing argument stating that I am arguing for a limited nature of God. Yet the very resolution being debated is the infinite power of God - to which Con is arguing against. This all comes as very confusing conclusion and is not consistent with Con's previous arguments.

I will once again clarify my stance in my conclusion.


Conclusion

I will restate my argument again:

- If God is not infinitely powerful, he cannot be infinitely intelligent.
- If God is not infinitely powerful and intelligent he cannot be unchangeable because limitation implies the possibility for growth and change.
- If not unchangeable, then a knowable perfect love and justice do not exist.
- The application of any love or justice would be false as we cannot know true love and justice or not.

- Additionally, if God is not infinite he cannot be self sufficient, because God would have limits.
- If God has limits his love and justice may have flaws and thus not perfect.
- If his love and justice are not perfect it would be immoral to condemn people to hell.
- If he admitted us all to heaven, we would eventually exhaust the nature of God.
- If we could exhaust his nature, we would be in an eternal torment of boredom. Ultimately we would come to hate everything and everyone because instead of them all leading us to something more, we would all be in an eternal state limitation to our mind. Heaven would then be an eternal torment like hell.


Thanks to Con for the entertaining debate and to any readers who have made it to the end.
Debate Round No. 3
20 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by subjectname 2 years ago
subjectname
Well this was definitely a learning experience. For instance, I have learned that even if my opponent's slippery slope / argument from adverse consequences issues are plain to see by the voters, they will likely punish me for not calling him or her on it . Opponent did not demonstrate why it is necessary for God to be infinitely powerful, only basically said if he weren't, that would be bad (argument from adverse consequences fallacy). All that being said though, thanks for the experience.
Posted by Geogeer 2 years ago
Geogeer
Thanks to ShadowKingStudios for taking the time to vote. If you could just explain one thing for me, why the loss of the conduct point? I'm kinda perplexed on that one... Anyways thanks for voting.
Posted by Geogeer 2 years ago
Geogeer
Just reading subject name and envisage I think that I know why you guys aren't sure about my argument. I work from theology back into philosophy. Since I know that the theology is supported by philosophy, and I know the theology, I reverse engineer the philosophy / logic out of it.

A little bit bass-akwards, but what can I say - it seems to work. :-)
Posted by subjectname 2 years ago
subjectname
Yeah, it is interesting how two people can be so clear on a subject but from two very nuanced perspectives. Even when it may really in the end be saying a similar thing two different way. One sees completeness as being inherently limiting. The other sees completeness as just that; nothing needs to be added to completeness. I break it down to a simplistic mental diagram. Imagine a circle which contains absolutely all knowledge; around this first circle, draw another circle which represents God. Absolutely all knowledge is contained within God, and there is none external to him. So there is no possible way for there to exist something he doesn't know, or hasn't found out. He is not a judge who may become aware of new information later. Couldn't happen. Heh ok I'll stop :)
Posted by Geogeer 2 years ago
Geogeer
@frozen_eclipse - thanks for the effort. Debates like this make everybody's head spin and eyes cross... Including the debaters!
Posted by frozen_eclipse 2 years ago
frozen_eclipse
I wanted to vote on this , but there are too many distortions that bother me...i couldn't read past round 2..lol
Posted by Geogeer 2 years ago
Geogeer
In retrospect it would've been clearer if I had started at the beginning and worked to the resolution instead of starting at the resolution and working backwards.
Posted by Geogeer 2 years ago
Geogeer
Hey no problem. I figured something like this would be work. Thank goodness it was limited to 4K! More would've been brutal.
Posted by subjectname 2 years ago
subjectname
Yes at times it did feel like either a slippery slope or an argument from adverse consequences, or a bit of both. I feel that Pro is almost arguing a Godel's incompleteness theorem for God, in that any theory of math can not be both complete and consistent; alternately, the system can not demonstrate it's own consistency. In other words, it seems to be the implication that without infinity, God could never perfectly demonstrate his own consistency or perfect goodness. Adverse consequence. I just got back from vacation so I will just chill for the time being. Goegeer thanks for all the time you put in.
Posted by Geogeer 2 years ago
Geogeer
Sorry I meant that there are some debates that can be very tough to objectively vote on. I realize that I interconnect MANY different aspects to arrive at my conclusion. That makes it far less straight forward than my typical debating style... Best of luck on untangling the spaghetti! :-)
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by ShadowKingStudios 2 years ago
ShadowKingStudios
subjectnameGeogeerTied
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Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro used deductive reasoning. This method prevents you from being logically cornered into an impracticality. Con was unable to imbalance Pro's reasoning.
Vote Placed by frozen_eclipse 2 years ago
frozen_eclipse
subjectnameGeogeerTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I wanted to vote on this , but there are too many distortions that bother me...i couldn't read past round 2..lol