Immortality of the soul and God's omnipotence

The Catholic Church teaches that God made all human souls immortal, which is why sinners aren’t annihilated at their death. Does this mean that God, in his omnipotence, cannot destroy a soul?

In other words, here is the syllogism:
A. God is omnipotent.
B. God created human souls and made them immortal.
C. An immortal entity cannot be killed by its very definition.
D. God cannot defy logic.
E. God cannot kill a soul.
F. Therefore, God’s omnipotence is compromised.

What is also illogical is that he created something that did not always exist and made it indestructible and therefore unable to return to its state of inexistence. This means that:

  1. Created souls are timeless like God himself.
  2. God managed to make himself less potent by virtue of creating an indestructible entity. (a paradox)

I’m really curious to know the objections to this. I personally always thought it made more sense that souls were in fact destructible. It would seem like God being able to create an immortal creature equates to God being able to create another God, which is a famous logical contradiction often used by theists who want to explain that having to abide to logical consistency does not negate omnipotence.

One refutation I can think of is that God purposely and irreversibly reduced his potency by making us immortal out of selfless love and dedication. Another is that God can turn an immortal entity into a mortal one, but that then renders immortality arbitrary. It would also mean that He could render Himself immortal, which is a paradox.

God is not illogical.

Destroying that which He created in His image would go against logic.

We tend to limit what our life is to the period we are “alive” in our flesh, when in reality our real life is that of our soul.
God anihilating our soul would be our equivalent of murder, although some may say ah but is not an innocent soul, it is guilty of atrocious sins maybe.
But let’s compare that to our Church teaching on the death penalty.
What is the requirement to be able to allow the state to exact human life?
It is more to protect society from further evil and NOT trying to exact revenge from the prisoner.
What danger would an evil soul represent for GOD?
None!
Would the Saints in Heaven or the remaining living humans be affected by God’s obbliterating an evil soul?
Well perhaps the only “affected” by such an action would be God Himself, since a limit would be imposed on His limitless love.
Then it would be limitless no more, would it not?

Back to the original premise. God is NOT illogical.

Regarding ©, Human souls are not really “defined” to be immortal; (B) would be closer to “God created human souls which are immortal.” Human intellectual operations are immaterial, so the human soul is immaterial. It follows not that it is a logical contradiction for a soul to go out of existence, but that the human soul (being immaterial) cannot be destroyed by material means. That says nothing of whether God could destroy a human soul.

God would not even “need” to destroy a human soul. Catholics believe that God sustains everything (including that which is immaterial) in existence at every moment. For a soul to go out of existence, God would just have to stop sustaining it. This is all counterfactual, though, since God, having willed a human to exist, would not change His will (since He is immutable) and stop sustaining the soul.

So it would be “contradictory” for a human soul to go out of existence, but it is not a logical contradiction derived from the definition of “immortal,” since when we say that a soul is immortal, we are not quite saying that it is exists necessarily, just that it cannot be destroyed materially.

God could annihilate a soul if he wanted to. Souls are immortal in the sense that they do not undergo dissolution through natural causes, not in the sense of being necessary beings which by definition cannot cease to exist.

Also souls are not timeless, at least not in the same sense that God is timeless. God is outside of time in the sense of being completely immutable. Human souls are not immutable.

Once those points are clear I think everything else here falls into place.

God Bless!:thumbsup:

Matter and spirit are sustained by God who is infinite so they accidentally appear infinite but in essence they are finite . God can not contradict Himself by creating something finite and not being able to will it out of existence. God is infallible.God is the I Am Who Am, His very nature is Existence. We are drawn out of nothing, and our nature is matter and form, nature and existence all elements of created entities. Existence was given to us.it is not our nature complete dependency is.:thumbsup:

Regarding your comment on logic: God is not bound by logic as to an external force limiting His actions. However, God being infinite perfection will not do anything irrational, just as He will not do anything evil. To do so would violate His nature.

The main problem with the OP’s logic is point C. It fails to distinguish between different senses in which something could be “immortal.” Also both points 1 and 2 are baseless. They are a variation on the “rock too heavy for God to lift” false paradox, and are based on the erroneous assumption that God cannot destroy an immortal soul.

Souls, even if immortal, are not their own essential cause. God is being itself. So since God, created all being and is his own essence, as opposed to souls, God can do whatever with souls. And souls aren’t destroyed. They just suffer everlastingly apart from God.

This is what happens when you run Platonist theory with Aristotelian.

Yes, God is bound by the laws of logic. Can God make 2 equal 1? Can he violate the law non-contradiction? I think no.
As for the argument in the OP, I think the key here is that since God created us in eternity in which there is only one “moment”, destruction in eternity is logically impossible.

Aelred Minor did not say that God is not bound by the laws of logic, full stop. He said, “God is not bound by the laws of logic as to an external force limiting His actions.” The laws of logic are not entities in an abstract Platonic third realm. They are generalizations (even if exact generalizations*) about the nature of reality. They do not act on or bind God, since they don’t act on or bind anything; they are not over and above God.

I would say that laws of nature (and laws of logic) are the laws of natures (including, in some cases, God’s nature), ie. they are consequent of that which exists. As for making 2 equal 1 - it is hard to say. God is an intellect, but does God need numbers? He does not need to go through processes of reasoning, nor does He need to generalize His specific knowledge (which is what mathematics do). It seems like numbers like 1 and 2 are beings of reason, which are of instrumental use to man and not contingent on divine fiat.

*One would have to draw the line as to what the laws of logic are, exactly. The axioms of modal logic do not seem to be as law-like as the principle of non-contradiction or the validity of modus ponens.

It seems simple that if we consider the annihilation of a soul to be an evil act; God will not do anything that is evil, ergo God would never destroy a soul.

I definitely see annihilation as far less evil than eternal torment in hell. More so would be just not creating a soul that is eventually going to wind up in hell in the first place. Jesus himself said of Judas that it would be better for him had he not been born.

Ah, I see.

I don’t see why God wouldn’t change His will. Also, it would seem that this means that a soul couldn’t have* come *into existence. Everything God sustains must have always existed with Him.

Okay, perhaps “immortal” is just a bit misleading.

They weren’t meant to follow each other; they were merely two independent premises.

God wouldn’t change His will because God doesn’t change at all (following from any of the classical demonstrations and divine simplicity). God is eternal and wills from eternity. I guess one way of think about this would be that God has no essential dependence on time. So it is not really a claim that God does not act on the universe various ways (ie. bringing one soul into existence at some time, another into existence at another) throughout time, but that His doing so was willed from outside of time. As such, His willing a soul to exist and be annihilated would be impossible.

No worries. I wouldn’t say it’s misleading. “Immortal” is definitely something I would predicate of the human soul. But there are some terms that, when divorced from their derivations, are taken to have other, more colloquial meanings. God’s omnipotence (and, I suppose, many of his other attributes) is a good example; it’s sometimes thought that omnipotence entails that if I can think of an act X, then God must be able to do X. But we learn of God’s omnipotence by reasoning that God is the first mover of any causal chain. God eminently contains the power to perform any action that is not vacuous, then; but what is sometimes proposed (creating a rock too large to be moved, even by Him, or creating a married bachelor) may just be vacuous. Hence, the oft-repeated caveat that omnipotence does not entail the logically impossible.

[quote=polytropos]I would say that laws of nature (and laws of logic) are the laws of natures (including, in some cases, God’s nature), ie. they are consequent of that which exists.
[/quote]

They are not consequences of that which exists. They govern that which exists; how could they arise from it?

answers to B God gave human souls existence and immortality. He didn’t make them immortal in their nature. The idea of creation and immortality are contradictory. Creation is finite, immortality is infinite

C True, God alone is immortal because existence is His nature, I Am who Am He can’t be annihilated. He gives existence to creation and sustains it by His Omnipotence.

D God is truth, correct reasoning (true logic) is consistent with objective truth. Their is erroneous logic (subjective truth) God can not contradict Himself. He is the Author of rationality which has truth as the object of its’ appetency
E By His Omniscience He would never create a soul to annihilate it. He is infallible.
F A soul is not immortal. in its nature but God sustains i
its existence by His Omnipotence. The soul is at once finite and apparentally, seemingly, and accidentally immortal at the same time. God gives us , (not makes us) shares with us His immortality because as stated by others His love.Therefore His omnipotence is not compromised

What do you mean by “govern”? My point is that what exists is primary and that “laws” (whether of nature or of logic) are generalizations (possibly exact) of the way that what exists acts.

Agreed.

a
answers to A,B,C,D,E,F of original post.
A true
B God gave souls existence and immortality, He didnt make the soul immortal in its nature. (existing independently forever) He sustains it by His Omnipotence. Creation will always be finite not infinite.D God is truth, correct reasoning (true logic) is consistant with objective truth. There is erroneous logic. God is the author of rationality which (according to St. Thomas Quinas) has truth as the object of its appetency. God can,t defy true logic .
E
By His Omniscience He would never create a soul and then destroy it. God is not self contradictory, His is infallible.
C True God alone is immortal because Existence is His nature, I Am who Am. He gives existence and immortality to finite creature who remain finite by His Omnipotence.out of Love (He Is Love)
F Therefore Gods, Omnipotence is not compromised . Immortality is accidental to human nature. Complete dependency on God is essential . Forgive me for a lack of computer compentency. I tried very hard. God Bless you.and thanks:thumbsup:

I have read so far only the post #1 of this thread.

As far as I know in Catholicism God can destroy anything He had made.

So, better you talk about some other paradox for example, as God is all merciful why is there hell taught in Catholicism.

Or the paradox repeated time and again by atheists, “Can God create a rock so heavy He cannot carry it?”

KingCoil

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.