We Believe that everything is possible to God, but is it philosophically possible to say? Can our God be bad? Never. Can he do evil (unless we hold on to the principle of St. Thomas that evil is the privation of good)? No. Can he be nothing? No. Can he be created? No. Can there be someone equal to God? No. Or at least, can he lie (because he is truth himself) ? no. … That means there are certain things (which goes against the very nature of God) which are somehow impossible to God. Am I right? I am sorry if it is only a foolish question, because I am just a beginner in the field of Philosophy, but I hope for a satisfactory answer.
Matthew 19:26 NIV
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Christ wasn’t making a philosophical statement. The context had to do with the rich young man, and Christ’s following assertion that it would be harder for a rich man to get into heaven than for a (literal) camel to pass through the eye of a (literal) needle. The disciples then asked, “Then who can be saved?” to which Christ replied that “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”
The context had to do with salvation - not a philosophical discussion on whether God could make a stone bigger than Himself, or some other frivolous question.
I’ll put it this way - when we front up to the God that the writer of Hebrews described as “a consuming fire”, on trial for our eternal life, the last thing on our mind is going to be playing trivial pursuit.
Or in another sense, considering the final outcome of heaven or hell, how important are these sorts of philosophical questions?
The way I see these sorts of philosophical time wasters is a bit like a soldier on the front line hiding in a pill box, and a bloke carrying a flame thrower is getting closer and closer, and they can’t stopn him. The soldiers turns to his mates and says, “See the bloke with the flame thrower? I wonder if he’s any good at playing marbles?”
So any philosophy is time-wasting ? We should only worry about our behavior and tremble in fear of not going to heaven ?
paradoxes happens in our mind only,becase we are limited
In the particular case of asking if all things are possible with God, and then pondering trivial questions like “Can God lift a stone bigger than He is?” or “Can God go against His own nature?”, then I think it’s time wasting.
The first question and other questions like it are illogical, and in the second we depend on Revelation anyway, just as we do with God’s self relevation as a Trinity; His promise of judgement; the world of angels and demons; miracles; the Resurrection - you can argue all day about these things using philosophy and prove or disprove none of them.
I’ll put it this way - I had the peculiar experience of having my father appear in my room on the very night he died. He started with an apology for 25 years of deliberate cruelty; we argued and conversed, and at the end he gave this absolutely terrifying scream and then disappeared. As far as I’m concerned he’s in hell. I know for a fact there’s life after death and judgement to boot. I still remember the terrible departing scream just over 34 years later.
Yet Bertrand Russell, possibly the 20th century’s most visible philosopher was cynical about God and judgement. For all his learning, I can tell you from personal experience, he was dead wrong. So what good did all his philosophical learning do him in the end? He’d have stood right where my father did, who finished his formal education in grade seven, facing something all his training had told him to ignore. And too late.
When God wanted to send a message using Mary at Fatima in 1917, who did He send it to? The leaders of the West in charge of the slaughter on the Western Front? Llloyd George? Georges Clemenceau? Woodrow Wilson? Kaiser Wilhelm III? Hindenburg? Lord Kitchener?
No. He used three, poor, barely literate children in a backwoods village named after a woman who had the same name as Mohammed’s daughter of all people.
1 Corinthians 1:20 NIV
Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
Matthew 11:25 NIV
At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.
Philosophy has its uses, but I don’t think it’s much use when it comes to trivial pursuit in the case of the Completely Other.
My friend, you have misunderstood omnipotence. God is omnipotent, but let’s clarify. First, can you concieve of a four-sided triangle? If yes, that’s incredible, if no, that’s correct thinking. A triangle is three-sided, and to say it is both three-sided and four-sided at the same time, and in the same sense, is to say there is a contradiction in its nature, as if it refutes itself. It cannot exist in this way. It is necessary for a triangle to have three sides in order for it to exist as a triangle.
Think now to God. Omnipotence is the ability to do, or cause, or effect anything that is possible. To ask if God can make a four-sided triangle should first be preceded by the question of whether, or not, a four-sided triangle can even exist - the answer of which is no. Such questions are broken in themselves.
Now, transfer that principle of the triangle having three sides as necessary to exist over to some of these questions you’re asking.
Can God be nothing? Well, if God trancends time and is eternal, when would He not exist? If being God means being eternal, how could God ever not exist? If God is God, won’t He alsways be God? You see? It is necessary for God to always exist in order to truly be God. No infringement on omnipotence here, He is just doing what is possible only for God and no one else.
Can God be bad? Do evil? Well, if God is God, who would judge Him? Are there any moral standards that are higher than Him that He must appeal to? You see? God could not be God if He wasn’t the ultimate stadard for morality. Who else but God alone could do that?
Can there be someone equal to God? Yes, and no. If God and God were in a competition, Who would win? Neither. They’re both equal in their ability. Let’s say my fist is an unstoppable force, and the punching bag is an immovable object. You cannot have these two seperate entities existing at the same time. It’s in the very nature of my fist to be unstoppable, but if the punching bag is immovable it will stop my fist. Therefore, it is not possible for two seperate Gods to exist. However, if you are a Christian, you know that God is a community of Persons, Each having the divine essence in its fulness with no division among Them, distinct only in Their particular personhood. They are not at odds with one another, but are Each in absolute harmony with the other Two. In this way, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirity are each fully divine, and of the same divine essence. Also, if to be God is to be the eternal first cause, when would this other God begin to exist? And wouldn’t being created mean that you are definitley not God?
Basically, it is only good sense to say that some things just aren’t possible. Thank God this is true. It means that things can make sense.
Hope this helps. Praise God!
no, theres nothing impossible to Him.
these things you mention are logical impossibilities on a human scale. they are not actual things, and they do not exist, and so, they cannot come into being.
it would be like asking him to do something and not do it at the same time. it is a measure of the foolishness of humans to ask God to do something that one thinks might be impossible for him to do. there is nothing impossible for him but logical contradictions do exist only in the human mind and are not things that exist in reality so one would not expect to see them.
Getting into philosophy although interesting is seeking wisdom of the world and takes your focus away from Gods word. One tiny speck of all of Gods creation hopes to understand God who created the lot? Man is wasting his time.
“The Kingdom is at Hand.” Investigate the full meaning of that. There’s a life’s work that will lead to amazing riches in your life. Good luck and God bless.
Your line of thinking is correct. God cannot violate Divine Order. One aspect of Divine Order means that God does not have contradictory features…some of which you’ve pointed out. Some of Divine Order is made known to us in Scripture as “the Law” of God.
Yes…God “cannot do” contradiction…but God also “chooses not to do” alot of things that would violate His Divine Order. For example, God “chooses” not to contaminate His Perfection with petty deceptions. God made us free…as He is also free.
The way I see it, the wisest philosophers believed in a higher power and the greatest sophists did not.
Wisdom only came to me after I believed in God. Without God all my philosophies were foolish, like the idea that a purposeless life has value. Maybe, subjectively it can but objectively it cannot. If you believe subjectivity changes reality all you have done is made yourself your own god.
The word “philosophy” means lover of wisdom. God is the first philosopher and is a special friend of those who walk in her disciplines. Why in the world would you come on a philosophy board and discourage that?
I have noticed that there are some Catholics who actually fear inquiry here. If we stumble into heresy…brother or sister…point it out with love and patience. I for one will gladly take Catholic correction on issues that have been resolved from “the chair”.
This is actually a fine answer.
Bob, my question to you is: It appears that God does not interfere with free will (at least, that’s how it APPEARS, we really don’t know, do we?) Does He not because he cannot, will not, because it “breaks the mold” whereof creation is made, “invades” the laws He put into place? If He knows before hand what will occur; and if what will occur is horrendous, harmful, destructive; and He chooses not to intervene, does He co-create the awful event(s) or does He allow it because of the nature of Nature? I think this is the one thing that I struggle with the most. I am interested in your particular feedback.
Yes, God can not deceive or be deceived.
Do you mean something like:
It is impossible for God to commit sin?
This. No there is not.
In the old testiment when God identified himself to Moses, he said, “I am who am”.
There is therefore no such thing as foreknowledge in God, from his viewpoint it is only present knowledge. He said “I am…” and every event, choice, is present to him including all “pre” and “post” knowledge of us we might have. Tho I understand this about God, I can not fathom it, because it is beyond by mental capacity to grasp it, just as it is beyond my capacity to fathom heaven or the Trinity. It is beyond our weak intellect to grasp the infinite expansive mind of God. We have limits which he dosen’t.
For example, Jimmy Stwart played in a christmas movie called “It’s a Wonderful Life”, in which he was about to jump off a bridge. But an angel showed him how many people would be harmed if he did that. Then the movie showed the impact of his death on community, family and friends to Jimmy.
This is really not removed from the reality of God. It is easy for the infinite God to do that to each and every person, cow, and bird, and every creature that lived. It would be simplar for God to do that than it would be for me to yawn in the morning. Our major dislocation in our thoughts about God is his inability. There is nothing he can’t do and is a “breeze” for him to do. The only limit God has every had is what we think he can do or not do.
It is easier for him to create a hundred trillion universes like our own exponentially by another hundred trillion, then exponentially by another hundred trillion, than for me to take one simple breath. And this could be multiplied by another trillion trillion.
Now the objection comes, well then why are we where we are at? Obviously because he comprehends something that we can’t with our small intelligence. We sometimes let our intelligence get in the way of our intelligence.
Just something to think about.
Aquinas discussion here is very useful. The analysis of power in the reply to Objection 2 is particularly useful: to say that A has the power to F is to say that A would F if A decided to F. So I have the power to eat lunch because if I decide to eat lunch I know that I’ll be able to go downstairs and get it. Likewise, says Aquinas, if God were to decide to lie, he would be able to. But he can’t lie, not because he doesn’t have the power, but because his will is so good that he necessarily will never decide to lie.
Is philosophy a time wasting thing? Can we pursue in our times studies in the sacred Theology without philosophical Knowledge. Do you think that those Church Doctors who had done the philosophical works for explaining the revealed truth were wasting the time?
It is God who gave us intellligence and it is our duty to make use of it to understand God. Revelation and Reasoning are two sources of Knowledge. Faith which is far from reasoning can’t be understood or accepted by everyone. That is why the Church fathers like Sts. Thomas Aquinas, Albert the Great, Boneventure,… made use of philosophy. Inorder to understand the importance of Reason(philosophy) along with the Revelation, please read the beginning part of Summa Theologiae of Aquinas.