Omnipotence vs. Ontological Argument: A paradox?

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Omnipotence vs. Ontological Argument: A paradox?

Postby sepia » Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:10 pm

Some people argued, that there are paradoxes between omnipotence and for example omniscience.

And while I was thinking about Ontological Arguments I discovered, that existence is also treated like an omni- whatsoever. It is said to be higher, than non existence; as if the greatest amount of a special property is actual/necessary existence. For example we could call this omnipresence, or highest form of likelyhood.

Then I thought that this might conflict with omnipotence:

1) A being with the ability to annihilate oneself is more powerful, than a being without this ability.

2) A necessarily existing being doesn't have this ability.

Therefor a necessarily existing being doesn't have the highest possible amount if power.

A possible objection might be, that the necessarity needs a (hidden???) logical incoherence in god's nonexistence. And since even an all powerful god has to obey the laws of logic, there is no contradiction.

However this shifts the problem to the dubious necessarity of god, which is unproven.

Secoundly I think, potence is not an intrinsic property, but depending in part on the inviroment. For example a very skillful charlatan can gain more power about people, when they are more credulous. Thus his power comes in part from properties of other people.

Similarely a god in a less strict metaphysical realm would be more powerful, because there are less metaphysical rules to obey.

So instead of believing, that there is a metaphysical prohibition of god's annihilation, in order to claim highest presence, a theist could also reject the idea of such a prohibition on order to claim highest potence.

What do you think?
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Re: Omnipotence vs. Ontological Argument: A paradox?

Postby EnlightenmentLiberal » Tue Jun 18, 2013 7:41 pm

Omnipotence itself is ill-defined. Some variants of it are itself internally inconsistent. E.G. can it make a rock it cannot lift? I'd need clear, precise, formal, and logically consistent definitions of the terms involved before I wander any further, and IMHO you cannot give such definitions.

Also, I hate arguments based on "necessary vs contingent". It's entirely bullshit. Every little bit of it. I haven't taken the time to try and analyze the argument, but somewhere they just jump to the conclusion that it is necessary. However, it hasn't been demonstrated to my satisfaction that the set of necessary things is non-empty. No one has demonstrated that this is a useful model for reality. I just don't get the argument at all. It's ridiculous in the extreme.
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Re: Omnipotence vs. Ontological Argument: A paradox?

Postby lucas11 » Fri Jun 21, 2013 2:59 pm

1) A being with the ability to annihilate oneself is more powerful, than a being without this ability.


I assume this means this refers to 2 beings which are exactly the same apart from the possession of this extra ability. If it doesn't then I disagree with the statement.

2) A necessarily existing being doesn't have this ability.


Why not? The being might have the power but just hasn't used it.

You make an interesting point about potence/power. There can be physical power (more strength) or mental power (more intelligence) and which is better depends on whether you want to move something heavy or pass an exam. There is the charalatan who has social power and probably lots of other types of power as well.
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Re: Omnipotence vs. Ontological Argument: A paradox?

Postby sepia » Fri Jun 21, 2013 3:41 pm

lucas11 wrote:I assume this means this refers to 2 beings which are exactly the same apart from the possession of this extra ability. If it doesn't then I disagree with the statement.

Yes, of course. I just didn't know how to phrase it in a short way.

lucas11 wrote:Why not?

A being annihilating itself would create a situation, in which it doesn't exist. Thus there are possible situations, in which the being doesn't exist and its existence depends indirectly on its will to suicide.

To be honest, here is a point, which is unclear to me: In order to annihiliate onself, one must exist. Thus it could still have existed in every possible continuum of situations (=world?). However if a necessary being needn't to be present in all possible situations of all possible continua of situations, then the conclusion of the ontological argument should be: "Therefor god exists or has existed."

Hm, this brings me to an other point: Why do arguments to prove god working in the past (e.g. Jesus, Fine Tuning, Kalam) end with "therefor god exists.". when god could have annihiliated himself?

The being might have the power but just hasn't used it.

If he is able to want it, then there are possible situations, in which he wants it. If he is unable to want it, he is unable to do it. So I see will in this case just as a condition for ability.
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Re: Omnipotence vs. Ontological Argument: A paradox?

Postby lucas11 » Thu Jun 27, 2013 7:10 pm

I don't agree with the idea of multiple universes, so will ignore the bits relating to that.

You raise another really good point - any argument proving that gods did something at some point in the distant past only prove that gods either exist or existed at some point.

If he is able to want it, then there are possible situations, in which he wants it. If he is unable to want it, he is unable to do it. So I see will in this case just as a condition for ability.


OK, then there are possible situations in which the neccessary being of my previous post will want to commit suicide and therefore do it. I still don't see the problem with this.

I have the ability to kill myself and there are possible situations in which I might want to exercise that ability but I am still alive. Why can there not be a necessary being with the power to kill itself and possible situations where it may want to do so, who has not done so up to now? I can't see anything paradoxical or logically inconsistent which demonstrates the impossibility of such an entity.
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Re: Omnipotence vs. Ontological Argument: A paradox?

Postby sepia » Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:54 pm

lucas11 wrote:You raise another really good point - any argument proving that gods did something at some point in the distant past only prove that gods either exist or existed at some point.

Thanks. I wonder, if someone believing in such a god would be theist or atheist. (S)he would believe, that there is no god, but still, that there was a god.

lucas11 wrote:Why can there not be a necessary being with the power to kill itself and possible situations where it may want to do so, who has not done so up to now?

The situations in which the being kills itself would be - as you explained - possible. Necessarity isn't just about situations that are or have been actual. It is also about all the possible situations, that didn't occur yet.
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Re: Omnipotence vs. Ontological Argument: A paradox?

Postby lucas11 » Sun Jun 30, 2013 12:14 am

OK, fair enough.

I don't really associate a necessity with all possible situations. I thought a necessary being was a non contingent being which was needed to account for the existence of all contingent beings, and possibly a being without which nothing would exist (therefore reality would cease to exist if it did). If you need to cover all possible situations then a necessary being is incompatible with omnipotence.
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