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The Big Words

Posted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:43 pm
by Resha Caner
One thing that often frustrates me in religious discussions is the entailment people insist upon when using the "big" words ... for example discussions of theodicy and the relationships between words expressing infinity, perfection, and completeness.

So, pick any two of those concepts. I don't see how one entails the other, e.g. that completeness entails perfection or vice-versa.

I also frequently encounter conflated ideas, for example that if something is infinite it means it is all things.

So, I'm curious to hear from / discuss with others their understanding of some of the "big" words (words that use the "omni" prefix and related concepts). Pick your favorite.

Re: The Big Words

Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 11:04 am
by chaz wyman
Resha Caner wrote:One thing that often frustrates me in religious discussions is the entailment people insist upon when using the "big" words ... for example discussions of theodicy and the relationships between words expressing infinity, perfection, and completeness.

So, pick any two of those concepts. I don't see how one entails the other, e.g. that completeness entails perfection or vice-versa.

How can a thing be incomplete and perfect? Any examples?


I also frequently encounter conflated ideas, for example that if something is infinite it means it is all things.

It has two meanings. The Spinozan use means immeasurable, whilst the idiot theists insist on the impossible all things.

So, I'm curious to hear from / discuss with others their understanding of some of the "big" words (words that use the "omni" prefix and related concepts). Pick your favorite.
My take on the whole Pan-omni being hypothesis is that it is easy to unpack and show it as self contradictory. The omnipresent, omniscient, omni-benevolent, infinite being contradicts the existence of free-will and the presence of evil - both of which the god brigade also insist on.
Big words make them think they are clever and will impress some people. All their use does is demonstrate exactly that they are incapable of thinking.
I love it when they use the words and it makes them fair game for an unpacking session.

Re: The Big Words

Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 11:12 am
by marjoramblues
Resha: I don't see how one entails the other, e.g. that completeness entails perfection or vice-versa

Can you help me out here - where does it say that completeness entails perfection ?

Re: The Big Words

Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 11:57 am
by Mike Strand
I agree with chaz that the big words, such as those involving "omni" or "all" (as in "all-knowing"), lead to self-contradictions.

Belief in God often implies a definition of a Being who is all-loving, all-powerful, etc. In discussions with such believers, I often change this to "great love for humanity, and tremendous power and knowledge", and then argue that even this more limited definition implies universal salvation. Then I might point out to such believers that this is a reason for optimism and an egalitarian attitude, not only towards other kinds of religious believers, but also towards atheists -- since "everyone will be saved" is a reasonable deduction from the "God" they say they believe in.

Re: The Big Words

Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:49 pm
by Resha Caner
marjoramblues wrote:Can you help me out here - where does it say that completeness entails perfection ?
It's nothing that's been formalized, if that's what you're asking, but rather something I have encountered in theodicy discussions. Some take a rather extreme position on the immutability of God because they believe that change implies incompleteness and incompleteness implies imperfection.
chaz wyman wrote:How can a thing be incomplete and perfect? Any examples?
I'm not trying to generalize. Such things are often dependent upon subtle shifts in the conversation. As an example then, consider the set {1, 2, 3}. Someone might note that this set does not contain all integers, and is therefore incomplete. I could agree with that statement, but all I'm agreeing to is: incomplete = not all integers. I did not agree that "perfection" for a set would be defined as: perfection = all integers. It has happened, though, that people who tend toward black/white thinking insist that agreement to one statement entails the other.
chaz wyman wrote:It has two meanings. The Spinozan use means immeasurable, whilst the idiot theists insist on the impossible all things.
In colloquial terms, I would say infinity means "never ending." In terms of mathematics this means infinity is not a number ... or in nominalist terms I suppose one would say infinity is not an object. So, yes, as a consequence of the definition of infinity, it is not measurable.
chaz wyman wrote:My take on the whole Pan-omni being hypothesis is that it is easy to unpack and show it as self contradictory.
I didn't intend this to be a theodicy debate in and of itself. I was looking more to see if someone would challenge me that certain omni words do entail other extreme conditions. I'm always looking to check my logic for errors.

But your confidence on this issue seems a bit overdone. Not that it's a view I would support, but I don't think Open Theism has the problems you are used to "unpacking."

Re: The Big Words

Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 9:09 pm
by lennartack
chaz wyman wrote:The omnipresent, omniscient, omni-benevolent, infinite being contradicts the existence of free-will and the presence of evil - both of which the god brigade also insist on.
If God considers it a good thing for evil to exist, how is there a contradiction? Also, define free will. A fatalistic world does not necessarily conflict with it.

Re: The Big Words

Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 9:27 pm
by Resha Caner
Mike Strand wrote:I agree with chaz that the big words, such as those involving "omni" or "all" (as in "all-knowing"), lead to self-contradictions.

Belief in God often implies a definition of a Being who is all-loving, all-powerful, etc. In discussions with such believers, I often change this to "great love for humanity, and tremendous power and knowledge", and then argue that even this more limited definition implies universal salvation ...
While some people may be confused about their theology, that does not make the ideas - properly expressed - invalid.

I should first note that I take an attitude of "do not add." For example, the Bible does not use the term omnibenevolent, so I'm not going to bind myself to that word. If it becomes a convenient shorthand for our conversation, so be it, but I'm not going to start there. Therefore, I do not see the "great love" of God expressed in the Bible as entailing universal salvation.

Re: The Big Words

Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 11:35 pm
by chaz wyman
Resha Caner wrote:
Mike Strand wrote:I agree with chaz that the big words, such as those involving "omni" or "all" (as in "all-knowing"), lead to self-contradictions.

Belief in God often implies a definition of a Being who is all-loving, all-powerful, etc. In discussions with such believers, I often change this to "great love for humanity, and tremendous power and knowledge", and then argue that even this more limited definition implies universal salvation ...
While some people may be confused about their theology, that does not make the ideas - properly expressed - invalid.

No, it does make then invalid - logically. Give it a try!

I should first note that I take an attitude of "do not add." For example, the Bible does not use the term omnibenevolent, so I'm not going to bind myself to that word. If it becomes a convenient shorthand for our conversation, so be it, but I'm not going to start there. Therefore, I do not see the "great love" of God expressed in the Bible as entailing universal salvation.
God is Love is close enough to omni-benevolent. If God is Love and God created everything then you have to ask how and why Love created Evil.
As for Universal Salvation the bible says in some places all that is needed is faith for salvation, in others there are particular rules to follow. But were I to list all the contradictions I'd be here for a very long time.

Re: The Big Words

Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 11:39 pm
by chaz wyman
lennartack wrote:
chaz wyman wrote:The omnipresent, omniscient, omni-benevolent, infinite being contradicts the existence of free-will and the presence of evil - both of which the god brigade also insist on.
If God considers it a good thing for evil to exist, how is there a contradiction? Also, define free will. A fatalistic world does not necessarily conflict with it.
Free will denies omniscience.
If you are really free to choose a pathway, then God cannot know what that is.
If he is truly omniscient then he has to have known before you were created what you are going to do tomorrow.
So that in the act of his creation of you as a person, he knows what you are going to do tomorrow, by design. Thus he has designed you do act in a way that he has designed you to act. - that means you are predetermined and have no free will.

Its not hard to understand.

Re: The Big Words

Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 11:53 pm
by Resha Caner
chaz wyman wrote:God is Love is close enough to omni-benevolent ... As for Universal Salvation the bible says in some places all that is needed is faith for salvation, in others there are particular rules to follow. But were I to list all the contradictions I'd be here for a very long time.
chaz wyman wrote:Free will denies omniscience ... Its not hard to understand.
No drive by's please. If you really intend to "unpack" these words, it's going to take some time. And if the list is too long for you, maybe we should settle in on one word.

Re: The Big Words

Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:17 am
by marjoramblues
Resha: One thing that often frustrates me in religious discussions is the entailment people insist upon when using the "big" words... I don't see how one entails the other, e.g. that completeness entails perfection or vice-versa.

M: where does it say that completeness entails perfection ?

R: It's nothing that's been formalized, if that's what you're asking, but rather something I have encountered in theodicy discussions. Some take a rather extreme position on the immutability of God because they believe that change implies incompleteness and incompleteness implies imperfection.

...I didn't intend this to be a theodicy debate in and of itself. I was looking more to see if someone would challenge me that certain omni words do entail other extreme conditions. I'm always looking to check my logic for errors.


M: Thanks for the clarification. It will be interesting to see how the discussion develops. Since terms such as 'completeness' or 'perfection' can be used to describe both humans and any 'God', perhaps it might be useful to define them first ?

On the other hand, it seems that the 3 biggies of Omnibenevolence, Omnipotence and Omniscience are the concepts most commonly analysed in philosophy of religion ? The issues of the nature and existence of God - the essence of what it means to be God.

The concept of omniscience - all-knowing - appears to be central. Believers appear to understand their Perfect God as a being of supreme intellect. The assumption is that God knows all, but the more interesting question might be how does he know all - how might a 'God' be omni- anything ?

I'm not sure where logic comes into this - I think it has more to do with imagination.

Re: The Big Words

Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:48 am
by chaz wyman
Resha Caner wrote:
chaz wyman wrote:God is Love is close enough to omni-benevolent ... As for Universal Salvation the bible says in some places all that is needed is faith for salvation, in others there are particular rules to follow. But were I to list all the contradictions I'd be here for a very long time.
chaz wyman wrote:Free will denies omniscience ... Its not hard to understand.
No drive by's please. If you really intend to "unpack" these words, it's going to take some time. And if the list is too long for you, maybe we should settle in on one word.


What don't you understand about it?

God creates us all as individuals. With each act of creation he modifies a model of his own image. He knows all. As he creates you he knows what will be the events of each day of your life and how you will respond to those challenges and opportunities. This he knows even before you are born. That is what omniscience is. So he knows with each creation who will die a sinner and who will die a saint. In each act of creation he will know who will be saved. Anything less will diminish God. Anything less than that is a denial of omniscience. Thus there is no free-will. God' omniscience demands that each creation is an act of pre-determination. This is the doctrine of Calvin. Omniscience has to entail this knowledge. God is not stupid.

Rom.8:29-30
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate.... Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
Rom.9:11-22
For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth. .... For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? ... Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.
Eph.1:4-5
He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.

2 Th.2:11-12
God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned.
2 Tim.1:9
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.

Re: The Big Words

Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:50 am
by chaz wyman
marjoramblues wrote:Resha: One thing that often frustrates me in religious discussions is the entailment people insist upon when using the "big" words... I don't see how one entails the other, e.g. that completeness entails perfection or vice-versa.

M: where does it say that completeness entails perfection ?

R: It's nothing that's been formalized, if that's what you're asking, but rather something I have encountered in theodicy discussions. Some take a rather extreme position on the immutability of God because they believe that change implies incompleteness and incompleteness implies imperfection.

...I didn't intend this to be a theodicy debate in and of itself. I was looking more to see if someone would challenge me that certain omni words do entail other extreme conditions. I'm always looking to check my logic for errors.


M: Thanks for the clarification. It will be interesting to see how the discussion develops. Since terms such as 'completeness' or 'perfection' can be used to describe both humans and any 'God', perhaps it might be useful to define them first ?

On the other hand, it seems that the 3 biggies of Omnibenevolence, Omnipotence and Omniscience are the concepts most commonly analysed in philosophy of religion ? The issues of the nature and existence of God - the essence of what it means to be God.

The concept of omniscience - all-knowing - appears to be central. Believers appear to understand their Perfect God as a being of supreme intellect. The assumption is that God knows all, but the more interesting question might be how does he know all - how might a 'God' be omni- anything ?

I'm not sure where logic comes into this - I think it has more to do with imagination.
Of course its imagination. God is imaginary, obviously. That is how it is true that there are so many versions of the idea.
It's not rocket science.

Re: The Big Words

Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:06 pm
by Resha Caner
chaz wyman wrote:What don't you understand about it?
I understand your argument just fine. Never said I didn't.
chaz wyman wrote:This is the doctrine of Calvin.
And what binds me to the positions of Calvin? Or any of the other proclamations you have made? This is the part you seem to miss. There are many views on the nature of God's knowledge, power, love, etc. You have referenced one position, and then assume I must adopt that position. This is exactly the problem I refer to.

Amongst the many alternative positions is one called Open Theism. I mentioned it earlier, but you have not acknowledged if you noted that reference, if you know what the term means, or if you think it is bound by the same constraints as the view you express. Nor, as marjoramblues noted, have we really defined anything. So, we're not having much of a conversation yet.

Note: I'll be clear again that I am not an Open Theist, but only mention it because it is a view not constrained by the contradictions of omniscience that have been expressed.

Re: The Big Words

Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:51 pm
by lennartack
chaz wyman wrote: God creates us all as individuals. With each act of creation he modifies a model of his own image. He knows all. As he creates you he knows what will be the events of each day of your life and how you will respond to those challenges and opportunities. This he knows even before you are born. That is what omniscience is. So he knows with each creation who will die a sinner and who will die a saint. In each act of creation he will know who will be saved. Anything less will diminish God. Anything less than that is a denial of omniscience. Thus there is no free-will. God' omniscience demands that each creation is an act of pre-determination. This is the doctrine of Calvin. Omniscience has to entail this knowledge. God is not stupid.
You seem to think that free will means you're able to change the future. You can also define free will as the ability to make a choice. Call it a chemical process in your brain, if you will. It doesn't matter if someone else already knows what you're going to choose, your own perspective is only what counts. Even if the world is deterministic you can still make choices.

I already know you're not going to surrender to Khalid and convert to Islam. I also know that Khalid is not going to become an atheist after the discussions on this forum. It's determined by the current state of the universe. Does that mean you don't have the choice?