1. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    21 May '05 01:264 edits
    http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/cando.html

    Can God really do anything? The Bible says both Yes and No. What are we to believe?

    The most interesting of the cited verses is:

    Mt.19:26
    "With God all things are possible."

    This refutes the typical "God can't make a square triangle because it's a logical impossibility" defense to a challenge of God's omnipotence.
    This verse claims that there are no impossible things, so a square triangle can't be an impossible thing.

    If square triangle is in fact a possibility, an omnipotent God should be able to construct it. He should also be able to make a rock so heavy that he can't lift it, for that object also is not an impossibility according to this verse.

    So, what say you all? Which column is correct?
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    21 May '05 01:51
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/cando.html

    Can God really do anything? The Bible says both Yes and No. What are we to believe?

    The most interesting of the cited verses is:

    Mt.19:26
    "With God all things are possible."

    This refutes the typical "God can't make a square triangle because it's a logical impossibility" ...[text shortened]... not an impossibility according to this verse.

    So, what say you all? Which column is correct?
    This is still thinking of "God" as some object in space, something external to us. This is the whole problem. Space/time is just a conceptual construct. The basis of philosophical/spiritual wisdom and the enlightenment process is to begin to grok that essential point.

    There are a bazillion threads in this forum about "God" as some supposed external entity. This is simply fundamentalist ignorance. Preoccupations about "God" as some entity who can "do" things, etc., are all stemming from the profound, foundational illusion generated by the ego-self, that being the assumption that separation is real, and therefore, God is something separate from us, and the universe is something separate from us.

    All the enlightened ones have seen through this basic illusion. Even Jesus says it, with "I and the Father are one". This was the basis of Buddha's teaching, that ultimate truth/reality is the very basis of our nature. Lao Tzu taught the same thing in different words, as did the Vedic masters, the Tibetan masters, etc. But this "truth" is not something supernatural, or special in form. It's simply consciousness itself, shorn of conceptual overlay.

    Relatively recent Western philosophers like Kant and Schopenhauer saw deeply into the issue of how we cannot truly "know" external reality owing to how we are limited by the sensory filters of our bodies. Eastern mystics have known this for thousands of years. So-called "external reality" is entirely a matter of perception and interpretation, and thus cannot be known in any universally agreed upon way. This applies to any notions of God as some "external" entity. Therefore what this "entity" can "do" in space/time is completely irrelevant, not that it would even be knowable.

    With respect, one must turn within to understand reality.
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    21 May '05 05:54
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    Mt.19:26
    "With God all things are possible."

    i think that the bible generally consistently puts forth the idea that god is omnipotent, in the usual definition of the word (ie, he can do anything that is logically possible), but the bible is often very sloppy/careless/imprecise/incompetent with its wording. i think this quote is a good example of that. there are some things that any being cannot possibly do, even in principle -- these are things which are logically impossible. for example, no it is not possible for a being to lift a rock that by definition he cannot lift, for you reach a logical inconsistency if the reverse holds. thus, such a quote as the one Scribs posted above could never, ever be literally true -- there are infinitely many cases one could think of where such a statement must be false. and i refuse to believe that the abilities of god somehow 'transcend' logic.

    which only shows us what we already know and what some people just don't seem to want to accept: the bible cannot possibly be literally true; it must in fact be literally errant in some cases, like the above quote demonstrates.

    therefore, i do not necessarily think this SAB section shows the bible to contradict itself per se (in the spirit of 'contradict'😉, but it demonstrates -- once again -- that the bible is literally errant, and you cannot logically argue otherwise without being wrong.

  4. London
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    21 May '05 08:31
    Originally posted by Metamorphosis
    Relatively recent Western philosophers like Kant and Schopenhauer saw deeply into the issue of how we cannot truly "know" external reality owing to how we are limited by the sensory filters of our bodies. Eastern mystics have known this for thousands of years. So-called "external reality" is entirely a matter of perception and interpretation, and t ...[text shortened]... "entity" can "do" in space/time is completely irrelevant, not that it would even be knowable.
    If external reality is essentially un-knowable, then why do Kantians and Schopenaurians live as though it were? After all, what's the point in going to the supermarket to buy milk and eggs if you're not even sure you're actually consuming them when you think you do?
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    21 May '05 08:34
    When Jesus curses the fig tree he also tells his disciples that anything is possible as long as you believe.
    If you believe, then you can tell a mountain to throw its self into the ocean and it will.
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    21 May '05 09:321 edit
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    If external reality is essentially un-knowable, then why do Kantians and Schopenaurians live as though it were? After all, what's the point in going to the supermarket to buy milk and eggs if you're not even sure you're actually consuming them when you think you do?
    You're conflating different orders of "reality". There is empirical reality, logical reality, and philosophic (or spiritual) reality.

    Empirical reality is concerned with external reality (from subatomic particle, to galaxy). Part of empirical reality in the human context is the functioning of the body. The body needs food to eat, therefore we eat.

    Logical reality is concerned with simple conceptual entities. One plus one = two. Total = All. Nothing = absence of anything. Etc.

    Philosophic or spiritual reality is concerned with matters of deeper realization via the cultivation of insight. The point behind Kant's reasoning (in the context cited above) is that bodily senses filter our experience of external reality, thus rendering external reality unknowable in any ultimate sense via the body and its sensory input -- as it is our senses that inform us about the external universe.

    Example -- light takes about 8 minutes to travel from the Sun to Earth. Therefore, when you look at a nice sunset, the Sun that you are seeing is not the Sun of present time reality. You are seeing the Sun as it appeared eight minutes in the past.

    Example -- A human, cat, and fruitfly all look at an apple. Each has completely different optic capacities. Therefore, all three will see something completely different. Which one sees the "real" apple -- the human, cat, or fruitfly? Ditto for auditory capacity, touch, smell, etc.

    Example -- The electromagnetic spectrum has one small portion that the human eye can properly process, called the "visible light" portion. We can't see X-ray, infrared, ultraviolet, radio waves, gamma waves, etc. And yet they are there. An entity that could see X-rays (for example) would see something completely different. We only perceive a tiny portion of the universe's energetic manifestations. Does that mean the rest of its manifestations are not there?

    Therefore, if you hold to God as an external entity in space and time, you can never fully hope to perceive him directly via this limited human form, and subsequently "know" his ultimate nature and capacities, including so-called powers. This is why spiritual/philosophic reality is concerned with insight, not external reality. But developing insight doesn't mean you stop buying milk or eggs.

    As the old Zen expression has it --

    Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water from the well.
    After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water from the well.

    Or as Christ put it, "render unto Caeser what is Caeser's, and to God what is God's." So developing spiritual insight doesn't mean we stop functioning in the world -- including paying taxes on the eggs we buy. It means rather we learn to recognize the inherent limitations of "knowing" external reality, and thus by extension, any external God.
  7. DonationAcolyte
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    21 May '05 14:14
    Originally posted by Metamorphosis
    This is still thinking of "God" as some object in space, something external to us. This is the whole problem. Space/time is just a conceptual construct. The basis of philosophical/spiritual wisdom and the enlightenment process is to begin to grok that essential point.

    There are a bazillion threads in this forum about "God" as some supposed exte ...[text shortened]... that it would even be knowable.

    With respect, one must turn within to understand reality.
    Without agreeing or disagreeing with what you said, there seem to be two different discussions going on here.

    Given that Scribbles is reading from the Sceptics' Annotated Bible, it looks like this thread was started as a literary exercise: 'Can God, as defined by Christians, do anything?' This is a similar question to 'Why does Lady Macbeth go insane?' - it doesn't presuppose that God actually exists in the 'real world', it's simply viewing him as a literary character.

    Whether or not one believes in God, and what form this belief takes, is another matter, and one which seems to be discussed endlessly on this forum without any progress being made.
  8. Standard memberColetti
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    21 May '05 17:212 edits
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/cando.html

    Can God really do anything? The Bible says both Yes and No. What are we to believe?

    The most interesting of the cited verses is:

    Mt.19:26
    "With God all things ...[text shortened]... to this verse.

    So, what say you all? Which column is correct?
    The context of the verses is helpful:
    Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?" But Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
    (Mat 19:24-26 ESV)

    It is perfectly acceptable to to say "with God all things are possible" and leave it at that because the whole point was to compare what God can do to what man can do for himself. If Christ had answered:
    - but all things which are logically possible, are possible for God -
    that would have been more accurate, but more confusing for his listeners. Logical possible things was not the issue on hand, the issue was can a rich man go to heaven.

    In regular language, we often leave out the disclaimers and details so that we do not take away from the things we are emphasizing. Christ was not dictating a legal contract here.
  9. Donationbbarr
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    21 May '05 21:50
    Originally posted by Metamorphosis
    Relatively recent Western philosophers like Kant and Schopenhauer saw deeply into the issue of how we cannot truly "know" external reality owing to how we are limited by the sensory filters of our bodies.
    This is a misconstrual of Kant. The Noumenal world (an sich reality, or the world of things as they are in and of themselves) was essentially unknowable, as far as Kant was concerned, but not the empirical world (the world as revealed to us by experience and the operation of our rational faculties). Further, he was not an empiricist, and did not think that knowledge of the empirical world can only through the senses (see his discussion of the synthetic a priori). Lastly, the empirical world appears to us as it does not merely because our sensory filters are the way they are, but because thought itself imposes a logical structure on the world. Indeed, laws of logic were for Kant merely the rules of thought. No mental activity that failed to accord with logical rules of inference can, from Kant's perspective, properly be called thought.
  10. Donationkirksey957
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    21 May '05 23:11
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/cando.html

    Can God really do anything? The Bible says both Yes and No. What are we to believe?

    The most interesting of the cited verses is:

    Mt.19:26
    "With God all things are possible."

    This refutes the typical "God can't make a square triangle because it's a logical impossibility" ...[text shortened]... not an impossibility according to this verse.

    So, what say you all? Which column is correct?
    My problem with this is that I cannot tell the difference between this God and Dan Quayles' grandmother who told him he could become anything he wanted.
  11. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    21 May '05 23:121 edit
    Originally posted by Acolyte


    Given that Scribbles is reading from the Sceptics' Annotated Bible, it looks like this thread was started as a literary exercise: 'Can God, as defined by Christians, do anything?' This is a similar question to 'Why does Lady Macbet ...[text shortened]... 'real world', it's simply viewing him as a literary character.
    That's right. The series of SAB studies that I present are intended to analyze the Bible as written, as well as the intent of its authors. These studies are not intended to analyze any implications for the real world that one might derive from the Bible.

    When I ask, Can God do Anything?, I want to know whether the authors of the Bible intended to depict a God that can do anything. I don't want to know whether such a God acutally exists, or whether any existing Gods can do anything.
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    22 May '05 01:204 edits
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    I want to know whether the authors of the Bible intended to depict a God that can do anything.
    it is my opinion that they intended to depict a god who is omnipotent -- as in he can do anything that is logically possible -- but they failed to do so in a literal sense because they used sloppy wording.

    if i read the bible literally when they say that 'with god all things are possible' i have no choice but to logically conclude that the god they refer to does not exist in the first place such that their premise that one can be 'with god' is false. this is the only way i see to reconcile the logical contradictions that would otherwise follow naturally.

    so in short, no i do not think they were trying to say that with god all things are possible. of course, that is exactly what they wrote. 🙄
  13. Standard memberColetti
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    22 May '05 04:58
    To asset that the verse means that to God all things are possible including the impossible is to make the same fallacious argument as the rock question. All things possible only makes sense if it does not mean the impossible. Things that are possible do no include the impossible.
  14. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    22 May '05 05:097 edits
    Originally posted by Coletti
    To asset that the verse means that to God all things are possible including the impossible is to make the same fallacious argument as the rock question. All things possible only makes sense if it does not mean the impossible. Things that are possible do no include the impossible.
    So, are you saying that the verse is a tautology, since it is refering to only possible things and calling them possible?
    Are you saying the verse really means, "With God, all possible things are possible?"

    It may as well read, "With Dr. Scribbles, all possible things are possible," under your interpretation. Either one makes the same empty claim.
    The same goes for "Without God, all possible things are possible."

    Surely the Bible offers more substance than mere formal truths, doesn't it?

  15. Subscriberno1marauder
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    22 May '05 05:31
    Originally posted by Coletti
    To asset that the verse means that to God all things are possible including the impossible is to make the same fallacious argument as the rock question. All things possible only makes sense if it does not mean the impossible. Things that are possible do no include the impossible.
    As DoctorScribbles points out, this post is gibberish. In case you missed it, this is Jesus talking (i.e. God of the Bible) and if he says "with God all things are possible", we must assume he meant it as he supposedly has inside knowledge. The verse means nothing is impossible according to Jesus (i.e. God) so there is nothing to exclude whether it would be logical to Coletti or not.
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