Sunday, June 30, 2019

Jeff's Quips: Nr. 2

Jeff's Quip Nr. 2:

"Why say 'God forbid!' when something bad has already happened? Not even God can change the past!"



At 12:53 PM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

Can't He?

At 9:20 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I now remember why I'm not a philosopher. But here's a way to think about the issue. Consider two facts, F1 and F2, each of which is so simple that neither interacts with any other fact. God decides to secretly replace F1 with F2, such that no one ever notices the switch, and God performs this switch for every instance of F1.

Can God do this, such that F1 never existed?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:44 AM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

My take on God's omnipotence (keeping in mind that I'm not a literal theist, which makes all of this academic for me) is that it's omnipotence in the fullest sense: God can perform the logically contradictory, and when He does, it results in something the human mind simply can't fathom. I've debated with people who reject this stance by claiming that impossible or contradictory things are impossible/contradictory by their very nature, which is why God can't realize them. To me, this seems unfairly to shackle God.

Think about biblical miracles: they're an improbable suspension of physical law, but physical law still obtains despite the fact that physical law, in principle at least, is supposed to obtain everywhere. How does physical law obtain everywhere yet get suspended locally in the instance of a miracle? I see that as a contradiction, for if a physical law doesn't obtain everywhere in the universe, and at all times, it's not really a physical law. So I'd argue the Bible provides evidence that God is capable of defying logic. Logic is subordinate to God, not the other way around. Literal, corporeal resurrection (if that is, in fact, what the Bible is portraying in the Jesus story) is a deep violation of physical laws like thermodynamics. Nature's laws pertain to the physical, but they're apodictic because they're principles of physical behavior, not reifications of it, so the logical contradiction is occurring at the level of the apodictic.

To answer your question, then: yes. Because God is omnipotent, which means He can do anything, including the logically impossible, e.g., existing and not existing at the same time, creating a God who is just as powerful as He is, etc.—all that ridiculous stuff that philosophically minded theologians seem to reject in their zeal to shackle God in chains of logic.

Being steeped in Asian philo, which is shot through with nondualism, has eroded my respect for the principle of non-contradiction, I think.

At 12:57 AM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

Ah—one other thing. Regarding this:

"...each of which is so simple that neither interacts with any other fact."

Again, maybe thanks to the aforementioned Asian philo, I can't imagine how this is possible. The metaphysics in Asian religions normally posits that everything is connected in some way, however occult. We're basically living out the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game. Name two facts, and I'll find some way to connect them, even if the connection is that "Fact A and Fact B exist at X distance from each other" (assuming we're talking about brute physical facts, which I think would fit your "so simple" descriptor. Or maybe not...?) or that "I just thought of Facts A and B, so they are, at the very least, connected through me, i.e., through my having thought of them."

At 6:39 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I knew your position from reading your discussion with Bill Vallicella (and others). I think you're conflating paradox and contradiction. I can't get into a long discussion about this because I type very slowly (as you know), so I'm willing to leave this as a disagreement, i.e. as an agreement to disagree.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:41 AM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

Very well, but I think that whether I'm conflating paradox and contradiction depends on one's definition of these terms. A paradox can denote either an apparent or a real contradiction, so by one reading, a paradox is a contradiction. In any event, an actual, bona fide contradiction would be something like 1 + 1 = 3, and I'd submit that God alone is capable of making that a reality.

I use the mathematical example because math lies in the apodictic realm, and I was at pains, in my previous comment, to show how a miracle occurring in nature also lies at the apodictic level (because we're dealing with laws and principles), thus putting walking on water, resurrection, etc., at the same level of contradiction as 1 + 1 = 3.

Anyway, I'm no philosopher, either, so maybe agreeing to disagree is about the best we can manage.

At 3:07 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Or maybe we can sit down to some good coffee and talk about this long enough for you to see the light. (Just kidding.)

Jeffery Hodges

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