The Paradox of the Stone is sound
Debate Rounds (4)
This would happen to be the second debate that I have created, so hopefully I will have the time to engage in some good religious discussion in this one. My topic is simple, and hopefully will result in deep discussion of logic and faith.
Resolved: The Paradox of the Stone is a sound argument against the existence of an all-powerful deity.
Lets use some definitions, shall we?
Paradox of the Stone: an argument that postulates that the existence of an all-powerful god is paradoxical, through using a metaphor depicting a large rock and asking god to create it to where he cannot lift it.
Sound: of and making logical sense, reasonably sure of correctness
All-Powerful: capable of any action, all-capable, omnipotent
The burden of proof, for this debate, will be upon me to present a defense for the argument. Of course my opponent's job is still to poke holes in the theory. But if I do a good enough job patching up the holes then I should be declared the winner.
The first round, as in accordance to the "meta" of the site, is acceptance only so that my opponent may state his greetings and acceptance to me. The last round shall be free of any sort of new argumentation that cannot be found previously, as that would be inherently unfair.
Let the academic discussion begin!
There are many answers that have been given to this question.
My favorit answer is that it's not even a question. The term "a rock god can't lift" has no meaning, it CANNOT exist.
The term "a rock god can't lift", is an internal contradiction, analogous to the term square circle.
There is no such thing as "a rock god can't lift", so you can't ask if he can create it.
Can god check mate with just a king? Is not a question, because there is no such thing as "check mate with just a king".
(I give credit to Prof. Dale Gottlieb for this answer.)
I'm a little perplexed by my opponent's acceptance round post. As I have understood the way debating works on this website, the first round generally consists of the words "I accept". While I, myself, do enjoy being particularly verbose at certain times, even I doubt my ability to stretch those two miniscule words into paragraphs and videos of response. Regardless, as per the rules I set forth in my first round. If my opponent were to want to use those arguments, he may reiterate them or simply reference them in the rounds to come, but they will simply be viewed as one overly-extended "I accept" message. With that being said, lets get started with the debate!
The Paradox of the Stone
The argument itself is simple, and I will outline it, then explain each part in detail and analyze it's validity, then respond to common objections (hue hue hue).
A) If God Exists, He Is Omnipotent
Pretty self-evident, especially since I specified to an all-powerful god within the context of the resolution. I won't expend much of my limited time here.
B) If God is Omnipotent, He can create a stone so large that even He could not lift it
This is pretty self-explanatory, but allow me to extrapolate.
If God is omnipotent, meaning capable of all things, it only follows that there is no such action that is impossible for him to do (insert multiple biblical verses where he parts oceans and moves mountains, etc.). This would be inclusive to the act of creating a stone so large that He would be unable to lift it. At least, hypotheticaly, that is true. But the point itself is fairly simple: if god can do anything, there's no reason to believe he couldn't do this thing.
This is where things devolve into the paradox of the argument. I will denote parts a and b to expand upon the different paths that the paradox takes, each refuting an all-powerful God.
A1) If God Creates a stone so large even He cannot lift, then there exists something that he cannot do.
Fairly simple. If he creates an object he cannot lift, then something exists that he cannot lift. That being the stone in this particular example, but let's not get bogged down by semantics here.
B1) If God cannot create a stone so large even He cannot lift, then there exists something he cannot do.
This, as well, is fairly straight-forward. If God cannot create a stone so large even He cannot lift, then there exists a task that even God cannot do. Logically consistent.
Grand Finale de Conclusions: If There exists a task God cannot do, then God cannot be omnipotent
Given that omnipotent means capable of all things, if God is not capable of all things, then that pretty much de-rails that train of thought, wouldn't you agree?
Conclusion Part Two: If God is not omni-potent, an omni-potent God cannot exist
This pretty much is confirmed from everything above.
Given that pretty much all of the points of the argument revolve around that single previous point being valid (that being the second point), the most common place to attack this argument is there. The most common attack is "Why would God care to?".
The problem with this response in relation to this resolution is that this point is highly irrelevant. The resolution is not whether God wants to or not, but rather does he have the potential to do it. My not wanting to do a triple-backflip does not preclude my ability to do a triple-backflip (although given the fact that I cannot remember the last time I excericized outside of lifting heavy things in my line of work, I doubt I could but that's only well beyond the actual point).
The second most-common response is that the entire existence of a "stone so large that God cannot lift it" is a logical contradiction, and thusly not something that one could ask God to do.
First of all, there is no logical contradiction. Much like it's unlikely that I can do a triple backflip, there are things that a non-omnipotent god cannot do or are unlikely for it to do.
But secondly, even if we take this response as true, then this only further bites into the paradox by saying that because there is no such thing as a rock God cannot lift, God cannot create a rock he CANNOT lift, thus giving an example of something he cannot do. This only further bites into the paradox, which turns the refutation against the attacker.
With the argument defended and common refutations against it de-bunked, I must strongly insist that the resolution presented herewithin was affirmed. I ask the voters to vote wisely and vote for the pro debater in this debate today. I now hand the floor over to my opponent, and await his reply.
The concept I am presenting is not a simple one, so I ask the reader to think deeply.
(Unless you are already familiar with the various approaches to the rock paradox.)
“ If God is Omnipotent, He can create a stone so large that even He could not lift it”
There cannot be such a thing as “a stone so large that even God could not lift it”.
It is a logical impossibility. This stone CANNOT logically exist. It is the equivalent of saying "a square circle".
“If God is omnipotent, meaning capable of all things, it only follows that there is no such action that is impossible for him to do (insert multiple biblical verses where he parts oceans and moves mountains, etc.). This would be inclusive to the act of creating a stone so large that He would be unable to lift it. At least, hypotheticaly, that is true. But the point itself is fairly simple: if god can do anything, there's no reason to believe he couldn't do this thing.”
“A stone god cannot lift”, is not a thing. & by the same reasoning, creating "it" is not an action.
“A1) If God Creates a stone so large even He cannot lift, then there exists something that he cannot do.”
This is logically unsound. It should read “then there would exist...”.
“B1) If God cannot create a stone so large even He cannot lift, then there exists something he cannot do.”
It is not a thing. It does not, & cannot, by definition, exist.
“Grand Finale de Conclusions: If There exists a task God cannot do, then God cannot be omnipotent”
This is logically unsound.
Consider the following counter examples:
1) God cannot improve.
2) God cannot create a square circle.
“Conclusion Part Two: If God is not omni-potent, an omni-potent God cannot exist”
Read that line again.
“the most common place to attack this argument is there. The most common attack is "Why would God care to?". “
Text book example of a strawman.
Who in the world makes that argument?
"The second most-common response is that the entire existence of a "stone so large that God cannot lift it" is a logical contradiction, and thusly not something that one could ask God to do."
I’m not sure where these ratings come from.
“First of all, there is no logical contradiction. Much like it's unlikely that I can do a triple backflip, there are things that a non-omnipotent god cannot do or are unlikely for it to do.”
What does likely have to do with anything?
We’re talking about things that CANNOT exist, like square circles.
They CANNOT exist because the term used to describe them is self contradictory.
The term is an oxymoron.
“But secondly, even if we take this response as true, then this only further bites into the paradox by saying that because there is no such thing as a rock God cannot lift, God cannot create a rock he CANNOT lift, thus giving an example of something he cannot do. This only further bites into the paradox, which turns the refutation against the attacker. “
If the phrase “a stone god can’t lift”, is an internal logical contradiction, then the phrase cannot be used in a sentence. If it is used in a sentence, than the sentence has no meaning.
It’s like saying “can god create qwerty?” “qwerty”, has no meaning, thus the question has no meaning, nothing comprehendable has been asked.
Here’s another example: Can god create a square circle, can he checkmate with just a king, etc.
Not all sentences that follow the rules of grammar make sense.
Noam Chomsky illustrates this with the sentence “colorless green ideas sleep furiously”.
This answer is attributed to the great philosopher C. S. Lewis. There are a variety of different answers given over the centuries.
The "paradox" is now more of a riddle, with various ways of being answered, than a serious theological problem.
The paradox even comes up in physics, the question of unstoppable force v.s. unmovable object.
Isaac Asimov showed based on Einstein's laws, that the question is self contradictory.
Many of the answers are similar, I’ll provide a sampling here:
1)Norman Geisler & Richard Swinburne:
The paradox assumes a wrong definition of omnipotence.
Omnipotence, does not mean that God can do anything at all but, rather, that he can do anything that's possible according to his nature. The distinction is important. God cannot perform logical absurdities; he can't, for instance, make 1+1=3. Likewise, God cannot make a being greater than himself because he is, by definition, the greatest possible being. God is limited in his actions to his nature. They bring evidence to this from the bible. For example Hebrews 6:18 says that it’s "impossible for God to lie." According to these theologians, this law is not a law above God that he assents to but, rather, logic is an eternal part of God's nature, like his omniscience or omnibenevolence. God obeys the laws of logic because God is eternally logical in the same way that God doesn't perform evil actions because God is eternally good.
2) Thomas Aquinas:
The paradox arises from a misunderstanding of omnipotence. Inherent contradictions and logical impossibilities do not fall under the omnipotence of God.
See more including my main answer from C.S. Luis at:
My opponent opens up by saying that the existence of such a stone is a logical impossibility. This only further bites back into the paradox as I already explained. He gives he example of it being like a square circle but a) gives no warrant for why it is such, just merely asserts that this true, b) it isn't like a square circle, since things exist that people cannot do. To say that the paradox is a square circle would be like me surviving a 50 foot drop unassisted is a square circle and cannot exist, which doesn't make sense, and c) even if this is true and it is a square circle it still links into the paradox since God can't create it, meaning he still bites into the paradox.
The rest of the responses to the paradox itself follow that basic line of logic, and so since my opponents gives no analysis as to refute any of my arguments that explain why he isn't correct or still losing even if he is, you prefer my paradox.
He then claims the first pre-empt is a strawman, but I never claimed my opponent made that claim I just picked out a possible place to attack it and outlined why that response isn't true. Obviously if he isn't making that response then it obviously wouldn't apply to the debate at hand.
He then says that because its a logical contradiction it cannot exist because it would have no meaning. However a) he's still not providing a warrant as to why its a logical contradiction and b) it still would link into the paradox.
My opponent then goes on to cite a few different people's argument without any sort of original analysis. I must ask that my opponent use his own work, or at least provide original analysis to expand upon other people's arguments. But to respond to the points about the paradox misinterpreting what omnipotence is, this is te ultimate example of cherry picking. It makes no logical sense to believe that god is omnipotent and capable of anything....up to a certain point. Omnipotent, by definition, is capable of ANYTHING, meaning that there is no limit to God's omnipotence. To claim there are things God "cannot logically do" is illogical.
So to recap:
1. My opponents sole argument against the paradox itself is that it's a logical contradiction and this doesn't apply to god. My opponent is not providing any warrant for why its a logical contradiction. He never explained how, even if he's right, how it doesn't link further back into the paradox, and he never answered back for why its bit a logical contradiction. As such, my arguments stand unrefuted. I must urge you to vote pro.
I didn't intend to be demeaning, if I have been, I apologize. ?-(
Perhaps I've gone to far with my game face. :D
But really pro has done a mighty fine job defending an indefensible resolution:p
Why a stone god can't lift cannot exist:
1) God with regard this debate, is defined as an all powerful being, that can do anything.
2) Thus if God exists, there is nothing that "God" can't do.
3) Thus if God exists, there is nothing that God cannot lift.
4) Thus if god exists there CANNOT exist a thing that god can't lift
5) Thus if god exists there cannot exist an object with the characteristic of being unliftable.
Such an "object" is impossible, & CANNOT exist, just like a square circle cannot exist
Thus if God exists, which is what the questioner is trying to disprove, there logically cannot be such a thing as "a stone god can't lift".
If there logically there cannot be such a thing, it makes no sense to try talking about "it".
What is this "it",? This it makes no sense.
Thus no coherent question was asked.
(To make things clearer:)
So now if we play it out:
"Can god create a stone he can't lift?"
"If so, there is some thing god can't do."
"something" that CANNOT exist, is not a "thing".
Thus lifting "it" is not a thing (i.e. action).
Thus no "thing" that god cannot lift has been mentioned.
(But really the 1st way is the correct way of saying it.
I'll illustrate with an analogy.
If "a" says "an unstoppable force exists", & "b" asks will it move an "unmovable object".
Technically you might be able to say "no", but the right way of answering would be, "there is no/cannot be such a thing as an unmovable object, thus no question has been asked, & if no question has been asked, no answer can be given."
a) Answering no would imply that such a thing exists / can exist.
b) If no question was asked, it doesn't make sense to give an answer. A question must precede an answer.
"a)" reminds me of the "have you stopped beating your wife?" question.
The stone question is a loaded question (i.e. a question which contains an unjustified assumption). Or more accurately, petitio principii / begging the question.
The question presumes that such an object can exist.)
Lets move onto some (hopefully) simpler answers:
2) Yes, he can create such a stone. but no such stone ever existed. So the fact that hypothetically God could create such a stone, does not create a weakness in his omnipotence, because there is no such stone. If there is no such stone, than there isn't anything that god can't lift. Such a stone simply doesn't exist. So until such a stone is created, god is omnipotent.
3) Not being able to create a stone you can't lift is not really a weakness in omnipotence, it's a result of omnipotence.
The problem is in the definition of omni potence.
Pro assumes that omnipotence means that god can do anything.
That is not necessarily true. (The word comes from from the Latin phraseOmni Potens/ all powerful). For example does the fact that god is infallible, take away from his omnipotence, since he cannot make a mistake. If you think about this it's obvious, the fact that god can't create a stone he can't lift is not really a negative attribute.
4) It is obvious that gods characteristics will exclude his ability to do certain things
For example, an all good god, could not do evil.
An all fair god cannot be unjust.
Even if we say god is also omnipotent, in the sense pro wants to use it (i.e. able to do anything). It obviously means within the context of his other traits. Omni potence is limited to things not excluded by his other characteristics.
So too within omnipotence itself, it's within the context of omnipotence i.e. he can do anything that's not excluded by being omnipotent.
5) Another way of answering is that saying god is omnipotent, obviously means that he is as omnipotent as a being can be.
How else would you describe him?
If you were describing a being that was all powerful would you say
"He can do anything except create a stone he can't lift"?
No. I don't think it's really necessary to say all that. He's as all powerful as beings can get.
6) There is a common saying, " you can do anything if you try/put your mind to it, etc., or, I can do whatever I want.
Obviously it's not meant literally everything, it means everything within reason. God can do anything a being can do, that's called all power, all powerful within reason.
7) Saint Augustine in his "city of god", said that omnipotence with respect to good means "A deity is able to do anything that it chooses to do". With such a translation, the whole question falls apart.
To quote his words (obviously translated):
"For He is called omnipotent on account of His doing what He wills, not on account of His suffering what He wills not; for if that should befall Him, He would by no means be omnipotent. Wherefore, He cannot do some things for the very reason that He is omnipotent."
(Perhaps this was the argument pro was referring to when he wrote:
"The most common attack is "Why would God care to?"".
This is obviously not what Augustine meant.)
That should be enough.
I thank pro for giving me the impetus to distal my thoughts & ans. to this riddle, &put them down on paper (er, screen).
I would like to spend more time on this, but I've already spent several hours, & I think what I wrote is clear enough, at least one of the answers.
Now, I'll turn it back to pro, & get started on my H.W. :(
Warabe forfeited this round.
unfortunately it seems that con was unavailable for the final round, if he or anyone else would like to debate this topic, just send me a challenge.
I'd like to thank pro for the debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Deadlykris 4 years ago
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