What God Cannot Do – Part 6

I did not especially want to get into a discussion about Jesus, the incarnation, the trinity, etc. However, my claim that God cannot suffer or be harmed leads naturally to objections like this one from Lincoln:God can be hurt. In fact Christianity is based off the fact that God can not only be hurt, but he can die. Jesus, who is God, sacrificed himself for us. This is an act of heroism.His reasoning goes like this:1. Jesus suffered.2. Jesus was harmed.Therefore:3. Jesus could suffer and be … [Read more...]

Demographic implosion

There is a common worry particularly among right-wingers, both religious and secular—that secular postindustrial populations are aging and reproducing below the replacement level. This, apparently, is going to lead to all sorts of disasters (doomed social insurance systems etc.), or, alternatively, is symptomatic of cultural disaster (a society in demographic decline has lost the will to exist etc.). And that's even before the Europe-is-going-to-be-all-Muslim paranoia kicks in.Well, secularists h … [Read more...]

What God Cannot Do – Part 5

Could God be a hero? I don't think so. Based on recent discussion of this question, I can formulate an argument for the claim that God is not capable of being a hero:1. Only a being who can suffer or be harmed can be a hero.2. A person who is eternally omnipotent, eternally omniscient, and eternally perfectly free is not capable of suffering or of being harmed.3. Something is God if and only if it is a person who is eternally omnipotent, eternally omniscient, and eternally perfectly … [Read more...]

What God Cannot Do – Part 4

Swinburne takes the word 'God' to be loosely tied to a list of criteria or descriptions, similar to how he takes the words 'person' and 'bodiless' to be criterially defined concepts. Among the criteria or descriptions used to denote or identify an individual as 'God', if there is such an individual, is the criterion that this being is eternally omnipotent. Such an understanding of the word 'God' and the sentence 'God exists' may well correctly represent the meaning of the word 'God' in the … [Read more...]

Secularism and positive rights

I was flipping through Stephen Holmes and Cass Sunstein's The Cost of Rights, which points out that the distinction between positive and negative rights is dubious, or at least not very sharp. This is because assertion of a negative right—a right not to be interfered with by others or the state—is empty without the demand that this right be enforced. This demand involves significant burdens on the public treasury, so in that sense it is a demand for a positive right—that the state or others … [Read more...]

I’m (In)famous!

My "retirement" notice posted on SO last Sept. 1 got MUCH more attention than I expected--or wanted. Religion Dispatches has an article about the announcement and the subsequent brouhaha:http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/atheologies/3853/a_philosopher_of_religion_calls_it_quits/#lettersSeveral letters were written and a couple of questions were raised that I would like to address: 1) Q: If I no longer respect the "case for theism" sufficiently to devote professional activity (teaching, … [Read more...]

Say What???

For connoisseurs of theological gibberish, check this out (by Paul Wallace, in Religion Dispatches, from last Dec. 14):http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/atheologies/3820/way_beyond_atheism:_god_does_not_(not)_exist/I was particularly impressed by these two paragraphs:The third level is the most difficult but the most important. This is second-order negation, or the inversion of the inversion. Here we would say, “God is not a fire, but God is not a not-fire either,” and “God is not love, b … [Read more...]

What God Cannot Do – Part 3

In Chapter 6 of Our Idea of God (1991), Thomas Morris provides a brief but helpful explanation of different types of necessity in relation to divine attributes.Morris explains three different types or levels of necessity. Let's use claims about the divine attribute of omnipotence as examples of the three types of necessity. I think this might help with further discussion about the paradox of the stone and the divine attribute of omnipotence.de dicto necessity(1) Necessarily, God is … [Read more...]