The Raving Theist

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Brown-Nosing God

April 15, 2003 | 3 Comments

Most modern theologians, even the Catholic ones, don’t claim that God can do anything. He can’t do things that are logically impossible or inconceivable, such as making a square circle, or making 1 + 1 = 7, or making something exist and not exist at the same time, or making a rock so big He couldn’t lift it, and then lifting it. Usually the debate centers over whether God can violate or change the laws of nature — turn an acorn into an elephant, or change the speed of light to 10 miles an hour — but those are feats which don’t involve logical contradictions.

So why do the more fundamentalist religions, and, I’ve found, laymen in general, insist that anything means anything in some completely crazy impossible way? I think it stems from a compulsion to “glorify” God. There’s this notion that God would be insulted if one didn’t go to extremes in flattering Him, even though no normal person would feel complimented by the insinuation that she could accomplish illogical objectives. It’s really just brown-nosing, hoping for a pat on the head for saying that God can do something that one is incapable of even articulating. And attempts to criticize this sort of nonsense are generally brushed off with admonitions that “you can’t limit God” or that “God is beyond logic.”

It’s funny what happens, though, when one first brings up the identical questions in a non-theological context. Ask a godidiot “Does 1 + 1 = 7″ or “are circles square,” and he’ll vigorously deny it. Even if you rephrase the questions slightly — for example, could 1 + 1 =7″ or “could a circle also be a square?”


3 Responses to “Brown-Nosing God”

  1. anton
    April 15th, 2003 @ 2:53 pm

    “Usually the debate centers over… feats which don’t involve logical contradictions.”

    The problem I see with theism is that it supposedly explains where the universe came from – ie god created it out of nothing. But how can you get something out of nothing? And because the universe is everything that exists, how could anything, including god, exist prior to and separate from it?

    Theists say ‘ah, but god can do anything'; modern physicists shrug and say ‘somehow, don’t ask’ thus legitimizing the claims of theists.

    Both are wrong.

  2. Zach
    April 16th, 2003 @ 12:50 pm

    It’s funny that you should ask if 1 + 1 could equal 7. Actually, it all depends on what base you are using while doing that equation, along if you are using the standard rules. Math is the universal language because it is consistently the same when taught in other countries. Nice post, I have had my share of these conversations before.

    I remember this little exchange I had with a former English teacher regarding my creative side:


  3. The Raving Atheist
    November 12th, 2005 @ 9:41 pm

    Good God

    As I noted here, most theologians exclude from the notion of God’s omnipotence the ability to do logically impossible or inconceivable things such as making a square circle, making 1 + 1 = 7, making something exist and not exist simultaneously, or ma…

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