User:PatternOfPersona/The logic of power
(For a simpler and shorter essay on Omnipotence by this author, see http://www.conservapedia.com/Essay:_Omnipotence,_and_the_logic_of_power)
In thinking about omnipotence, some people find compelling the sense that omnipotence must include "power" over "logic". In other words, these people feel that a definition of 'all power' which does not include "power over logic" is arbitrarily limited or cut short. I'll call these people's definition of omnipotence 'irrational omnipotence'.
Some other people, in thinking about omnipotence, find compelling the sense that omnipotence does not have anything to do with having "power" over "logic". In other words, this second group of people feel that 'irrational omnipotence' is a mistaken definition of omnipotence; who find most sensible that the power and logic of omnipotence are not mutually exclusive. I'll call these people's definition of omnipotence 'rational omnipotence'.
A third group of people find both these views of omnipotence equally compelling, who thus fail to get a stable sense of omnipotence, and who thus feel that omnipotence is an inherent, or unsolveable, paradox. This definition of omnipotence is what I'll call 'paradoxical omnipotence'.
So, there are three mutually conflicting intuitions about the nature of the notion of omnipotence.
Now, there is no such thing as a groundless, or unfounded, intuition. That's what makes intuition, as such, possible: some genuine knowledge resides obscurely deep within us, and, when a particular subject is in our conscious minds, at least some of the pertinent 'deep' knowledge becomes activated. It is what drives us to a particular sense about that subject.
Now, there are a variety of more-or-less correct intuitions, or frames of reference, about any given subject. For example, one can picture a house from above, from below, from the side, from a few yards away, from a hundred yards, etc.. But, there also are a variety of mutually contrary intuitions about any given subject. For example, is a given house a home, or is it merely a building? If no one lives there, then it is merely a building. But, how could you know whether anyone lives there, judging merely by the fact that it is a house? You really can't. But, if you were used to seeing only empty houses, and only rarely finding any house that people lived in, then you could intuit (mistakenly) that a house, as such, is not a home; that houses can exist for no reason; that there need be no builder in order for houses to exist. In short, you notion of houses, though founded on something that's real, would be too abstract.
So, all three definitions of omnipotence are founded on something real. And, those real things are called 'power' and 'logic'. But, all three intuitions about omnipotence are mutually exclusive. Moreover, all three intuitions together are the total scope of the 'naive', or initial, notion of omnipotence. So, there must be some way to determine which definition, or intuition, of omnipotence is correct.
Now, the first group of people mentioned above, who hold to the 'irrational omnipotence' definition of omnipotence, is divided into two mutually contrary camps. One camp rejects the idea that there can actually be genuine omnipotence; that a truly omnipotent being cannot exist since, by their definition of omnipotence, omnipotence is impossible, and that any "lesser omnipotence" ('rational omnipotence') is not genuinely or meaningfully omnipotent. The other camp is determined to believe that there is, or at least can be, an 'irrationally omnipotent' being.
For the third group mentioned, who intuit that omnipotence it an inherent paradox, is divided into three camps. One camp rejects the idea that there can actually be genuine omnipotence, in that "omnipotence is an inherent paradox". A second camp is determined to believe that there is, or can be, an "omnipotent" being. A third camp is determined to believe that no one can ever know whether there is or isn't, can or can't, be an "omnipotent" being.
But, unlike the first and third groups of people mentioned, the second group (who hold to a 'rational omnipotence' definition) is not divided into pro and con. In fact, the only divisions that can be distinguish in this second group are those between any two of a host of mere tents each of which has a particular view of how omnipotence relates to other things, such as knowledge and local presence. Furthermore, it is my opinion that a far higher percentage of this camp can see how the other five camps view omnipotence as they do than the percentage of all those five camps combined that can see why this camp would claim that its own view of omnipotence is non-arbitrary. In the minds of many in those five camps, the definition of omnipotence which is espoused by this second group seems to be analogous to defining an infinite set as an arbitrarily finite set.
There is a fourth group of people who, like this second group, is not divided into any camps of pro and con. But, this fourth group does not matter here, because it is made up of people whose minds find the subject of omnipotence too obscure to bother with.
Now, in regard to the sense that omnipotence must be 'irrational power', what is the reason for this sense? Let's break it down four-by: What is the sense of 'power' that is being intuited here? And, what is the sense of 'logic' that is being intuited? In other words, the problem of understanding one's own definition of omnipotence (whatever that definition may be) is at least somewhat like playing a game of 'twenty questions'. This is a game of making 'yes' or 'no' queries in an attempt to find the object-in-mind within twenty queries. The game is generally most efficiently played by 'dividing the world in half' with each query (called binary or disjunctive query), such that whether the answer is 'yes' or 'no', the remaining objects within which to query are no less than half the previous total of objects. The reason this binary query is the most efficient general method to play the game is because a naïve random attempt at identifying the actual object-in-mind will, if wrong, leave still a huge number of objects that must be queried. The only way to improve upon the binary query is by being so familiar with the person being queried so as either to know that that person will habitually have certain kinds of objects in mind, or to read that person's subtle responses beyond 'yes' or 'no' like a book.
On a side note, why do we have twenty digits rather than thirty or ten? Why is the age-of-full-culpability marked at twenty years? (Numbers 14:29) (see also Exodus 30:14, Genesis 31:38, Genesis 31:41, Genesis 32:14, Genesis 37:28, Exodus 26:18, Exodus 27:10) In binary or disjunctive terms, the following equation is mathematically correct. 7+7+6=1. (7(+/-)7(+/-)6=1).
But, back to the subject of omnipotence and to the binary query. By virtue of its "omnipotence", is an 'irrationally omnipotent' being mentally unsound? Yes, or no? For example, does as omnipotent being know that it cannot exist? Does an omnipotent being have trouble accepting that it does exist? Does it know that it can (or, alternatively, cannot) change logic? In finding that it can’t change logic, does it feel deflated? In knowing that it can, does it ever dare? Does it know that it has any power at all? Does it even know what power is? More to the point, do the people who think that 'irrational omnipotence' is what omnipotence must be know what power is?
But, even in all this, it seems to me that most people for all possible positions on the nature of omnipotence tackle the abstract problem either by leaving it virtually as abstract as they found it, or by making it even more abstract. It’s like they have a job of fixing an unstably performing computer, and they either use a hammer on it or they focus on such a limited subset of overly-tiny parts that they generally fail to see the whole machine. Even when they do see the whole, their eyes already are so nearsighted that they usually don’t realize that they are looking at the whole. Sometimes, they don’t realize that there is such a thing as a whole of it. Other times, they think that the entire matter is whatever they see under their magnifying glass or microscope.
Omnipotence by comparison: Infinite power vs. finite power
The World English Dictionary defines 'power' as ability or capacity to do something. It defines 'agency' as action, power, or operation. But, capacity implies a capacitor, agency implies an agent. So, power is not most fundamentally the capacity to do something; rather, power is a doer, even prior to the doing. Power is not most fundamentally agency, but an agent. So, power is not so much the 'ability to create something', but that which is able to create. In short, power is not so much an effect, but a cause.
Now, there are different kinds of power; there are a variety of agents. Gravity is a kind of agent which keeps things from flying apart. Muscles are a kind of agent which allows mobility against gravity. And, knowledge is a kind of agent which, when possessed by growing minds, produces more knowledge.
So, you and I are powers, agents. And, we each are a variety of agents. But, we are not omnipotent, and for very understandable reasons:
A human agent: needs sleep; can get tired by working and running; can fail to perform well, if at all, by lack of adequate kind and amount of food and water; can drown in, or even be nutritionally depleted by, water; can accidentally stub it's toe or fall off a cliff; and, can misconceive details of such essential things as gravity, logic, and justice. In short, a human is an agent which is subject to compromise, that is, to a failure to cohere.
Furthermore, a human agent is made up of agencies each of which is subject to a failure to cohere, whether by each other or by non-human agents. For example, a healthy human can use one of its own good hands to cause each finger of the other hand to fail to cohere as an optimally useful human hand. That same human can then use the solid agency of a boulder against which to smash its remaining good hand into a similar state of dis-coherence.
Finally, human agency is subject to compromise directly or indirectly by other humans; and by natural events of non-human agents such as falling rocks, lightning, and angry mother bears.
What all this means is that a human is not omnipotent. In other words, all agents with which humans are mutually present are in some ways more able, more powerful, than humans. This is how humans have a notion of omnipotence in the first place: by positive comparison to their own limited-and-vulnerable agency.
In fact, for human agents to be mutually present with agents that are in some ways more able than humans is how it is possible for humans to make things that are, in some ways, more powerful than humans. A hammer can pound things that a human hand cannot. A motorcycle can go faster than a human can run. A form manipulation machine (that is, a symbol computing machine, or ‘computer’) can process data in certain ways better than can humans process data in those ways. Even the means by which a human is able to make a concrete rock too heavy for the human to lift is by using other, already-existing agents, such as burnt lime, water, and air.
A human can make a motorcycle capable of such acceleration that the human is left on its butt on the road when it turns the bike's throttle all the way up. In other words, a speed bike is a product of human agency, by a coordinated accumulation of the already-existing non-human agents which make up the bike. But, since the human is not omnipotent to begin with, nor even when combined with the speed bike, the bike is dissociable from the human's power by the bike's own power.
So, to say that a human is not able to do a certain thing is not to say what a human is able to do. When a huge boulder falls down on a human from a high cliff, the fact that the human is thereby killed does not mean that a human has the "power" to be killed, but rather that the human lacks the power to prevent being killed. And, while a human does have the power to smash its own head into relative incoherence against a brick wall, the human agency which is doing the actual work is not the head, but the still-relatively-coherent and self-mobile parts of the human body.
So, to say that an entity is 'able' to fail to cohere is like saying that you or I are 'able' to become disabled. Such an 'ability' is not strictly an ability, but a vulnerability. After all, it is strictly an ability not to be as vulnerable to discohere as is some other thing vulnerable to discohere. I'm far more able than is, say, a roll of toilet paper to cohere when dumped into a raging river.
So, why do some people think that omnipotence must include the 'power' either to compromise or exceed its own power? Why do they think that 'all-power' means being even more coherence-challenged than is anything else, by being "able", say, to cause everything, including itself, to cease to exist? Why not pose it as already being "able", like a roll of toilet paper, to fall apart when it is thrown in a river? Wouldn't that only add to its total set of abilities? Why leave out anything which may in any way be thought of as an ability? "All-powerful" means “absolutely” every last "ability", right?
But, the reason people never define omnipotence as including direct disabilities like this is because even atheists who claim that the irrational version of omnipotence is the genuine definition of omnipotence do not take for granted that omnipotence is initially in a state of irrational dissociation to itself...that is, to logic. On the contrary, such atheists take for granted that omnipotence is initially in a state of rational power, so that it is imagined able to "do absolutely anything" only after that initial state. In other words, even these atheists do not actually believe what they believe that they believe, which is precisely why they reject their attempted definition of omnipotence as (logically impossible) nonsense.
The trouble is that people who define omnipotence as irrational agency pose even the perfect abstraction called 'logic' as an actual agent to omnipotence---like water to toilet paper---which is capable of causing omnipotence to discohere. The motive of atheists for posing logic as an agent, is, of course, because atheists presume that the human power of rational thought is potentially the greatest power that there can be. But, it should be immediately obvious that logic, in the sense of being an agent unto itself, does not exist; that there is no such thing as logic. So, logic poses no constraint on omnipotence. Because, if it did, then omnipotence would already be "able" to fall apart when thrown in a river.
From atoms to humans, to corporations and nations, to entire planets and star systems, synthetic entities are those the functional integrity of which is subject to a failure to cohere. Furthermore, at least most of these synthetic entities actually are originally products of their constituent entities, by way of some kinds of more basic entities/powers. But, unless we wish to admit an infinite regress of powers, of causes, then there must be at least one entity the power---the functional integrity---of which is not subject to a failure to cohere.
There must be at least one entity that is not a product of other entities, and which causes to exist all synthetic entities. In short, there must be one kind of entity which is properly omnipotent, otherwise, in line with Murphy's Law, there is no such thing as something that cannot and will not 'go wrong'.
But, the nature of a non-synthetic entity which is at once sentient, loving, and all-powerful, is that it is not subject to dis-cohere, nor does it have any need to be so in order to accomplish its purposes for all which it has created. Such an entity is the very essence of mind, love, power, existence, and logic, and whose creatures are individually and collectively coherent only to the extent, and in the manner, that they abide the coherence of that one entity. Those creatures cannot practice, upon themselves and upon each other, a denial of that entity's ideality without their suffering dis-coherence, which ultimately is self-annihilation.
Many atheists reject the idea of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent God 'because', they argue, 'if such a God existed, then that God surely would have created a world in which evil is impossible.' But, this argument is arbitrary, and for the following reasons. If there necessarily is Something, and especially if that Something is a living being (power-authority, mind-truth, spirit-love), then there necessarily are constructive consequences to any living-and-growing creature for acting in order to (in accord with) that Something. Living creatures that have been made capable of growing in power, wisdom, and love are defined as having been made in such a way as to allow them to experience their own fully-ordered, constructive, consequences, and in terminal, (that is, distinct) stages. And, being able to experience their own constructive consequences is what allows such living creatures the option to act contrary to that Something (that is, to act from arrogance) and thus to experience the unpleasant, and otherwise disordering, consequences of their disordered acts. Only that Something is properly omnipotent, which entails that all growing creatures, living or non-living, necessarily are subject to discohere.
To think it sensible to ask why there is something rather than nothing is often with the presupposition that the nature of everything that does or may exist is random and, or, dissociable, and, or trivial. Everything in the physical world as we find it seems to be subject not to exist, but this is because their existence as we find them is synthetic: they can be caused not to exist as coherences, by being caused to dis-cohere.
Our own existence, whether as individuals or as a global population, is subject not to exist, and logically to have had a beginning prior to which there were no humans, nor even anything like humans. It's as if we are asking how nothing became something, or what keeps everything altogether from ceasing to exist. Whatever it is, it must be a power beyond our comprehension as synthetic, and terminally rational, entities.
Therefore, to think coherent the question of whether an omnipotent agent can create a rock too heavy for that agent to lift is to presuppose that actual power is dissociable from actual agents---that is, from actual power. It's strictly nonsense, though there is a certain sense in which it can seem to make sense: by a cluelessly narrow view to the absolute abstraction of agency.
If logic required that the definition of omnipotence includes the condition that omnipotence is subject to compromise, then logic would be requiring that omnipotence is a sensible category of power which nevertheless cannot pertain inherently to any sensible category of power. Which would mean that logic is incoherent. Fortunately for us, the only incoherence is our beliefs as to what logic requires. We are the things which discohere, omnipotence does not.
So, what has happened to the 'omnipotence' once the 'omnipotent agent' uses it's 'omnipotence' to create a rock which is too heavy for that agent to lift? The answer is that this notion of omnipotence assumes that omnipotence is defined as a power which essentially is no different from non-omnipotent agency: made up of mutually dissociable agencies, and the cohered whole of which thus is not infinite in power.
You can't disassemble pure infinity into a finite number of finite sets, nor even take a finite set from it, because any part of it is infinite lest the whole be not infinite. A third of infinity is still infinity; so, any seemingly finite part taken from it is not actually finite, but infinite. By contrast, each of the agents that make up a human agent are not omnipotent. Therefore, a human agent is not omnipotent: 0+0=0.
Similar to pure infinity, an infinite regress of ever smaller parts of a finite-sized thing means that any positive part of it is infinitely divisible, even though any part is finite in over-all size relative to any other part.
So, to think to have defined omnipotence as including a vulnerability to discohere is like thinking to have defined infinity not by comparison to finitude, but as a finitude. The natural conclusion of this intellectual failure to cohere regarding the notion of infinity would be that infinity is an 'incoherent concept', logically impossible, and thus that it cannot exist.
Of course, what cannot exist is an incoherent definition, because such a 'definition' is not an actual definition at all: it does not remain within it's own mutually contrary bounds. Like defining love as 'love-and-hate.' Or, like saying that two oranges and two apples equal three fruit and twelve Joker cards.
Therefore, by comparison to non-omnipotent agents, an omnipotent agent is: 1) not subject to discohere; 2) can make other agents either with, or without, using other agents; and, 3) has infinite degree of power.
Logically, sensibly, an entity's power is defined in terms of that entity's ability over obstacles to its nature. The nature of a for-profit power utility company is to distribute electrical power at a profit to itself. Obstacles to that nature would include competing power companies; the sun and weather which deteriorate the physical plant of the distribution grid; overhead costs of machinery and vehicles used to maintain and extend the grid; individuals' efforts to live independently of, reduce their dependence on, or otherwise lower their consumption of power from, the grid; utility workers unions, wages of employees, etc.. It is not thought of as an ability on the part of a utility company to be subject to a net annual loss of revenue, much less actually to suffer such loss.
But, a utility company is not a perfect model of metaphysical omnipotence. For example, the love of a loving agent finds that hate is an obstacle. But, unless that agent is omnipotent (non-synthetic), then that agent will find hate to be an obstacle to that agent in every way: that agent risks every kind of discoherence when faced with hate. But, to a loving, omnipotent agent, hate does not pose a risk of causing that omnipotent agent to discohere, including that omnipotent agent's love. In other words, the love which an omnipotent agent has is a love which necessarily is a perfect love.
So, both love and selfish hate are causes, because they both have effects. But, to say that they both have effects does not mean that they are powerful over everything. Nor does it mean that they are equally powerful. Because it depends on whose love we are talking about. It depends on which of the two most fundamental kinds of power is the real power: constructive power, or destructive power. So, omnipotence cannot be both kinds. God cannot be hate if God is Love.
Infinite velocity and infinite acceleration, vs finite velocity and finite acceleration
At a rate of one mile per hour, a mile is traversed in one hour. But, it's a toutology, not an entailment. So, it cannot be converted into terms of infinite rate of speed. In other words, it is not analogous to saying that "at infinite miles per hour, an infinite length is traversed in one infinite amount of time", much less to saying that "at infinite miles per hour, a mile is traversed in one infinite amount of time".
Now, infinite velocity and infinite acceleration are indistinguishable from one another. They also are measurably equal to infinite bigness:
Given an infinitely big space, either infinite rate of sustained speed or infinite rate of increasing speed will not only traverse all points in that space, but will do so instantaneously (can't be traversed otherwise). If this does not seem to the reader to be the case, then there is one thing I know of that may help resolve this disagreement: imagine that a finite space suddenly expands at an infinite rate. What I see in that image is that the space will instantaneously become infinitely big. But, if someone still does not agree, or is not sure, it is no matter: it is a virtually worthless concern (at least to me) in the grand scheme of things. I really couldn't care less if I had no notions of these things at all. I just like the sound of crickets in the night before falling asleep around a fading camp fire.
But, to continue this sometimes all-too vexing subject: Infinite speed makes no distinction between a finite space and an infinite space in terms of the time it takes it to traverse the space: no time at all.
This all is quite unlike finite rates given any finite positive space. For example, given a rate of one cubic mile of expansion of explosion per hour, any positive finite space will require some span of time to traverse. This is not in the least due to the size of the space being a particular finite size between negative and infinite, but simply because the rate of travel is less than infinite. In other words, any positive finite space can be traversed by any positive finite rate, but the positive time taken varies depending on the finite rate.
Therefore, finite things can vary from each other, while an infinite thing is invariable both to itself and to variant finite things.
Velocity and omnipresence
Infinite velocity of travel between any two points in positive space means occupation of the destination point at the zero-time instant at which the travel begins: both points are occupied simultaneously. Furthermore, if there is any positive space between the origination point and the destination point, then all points in that line of positive space are simultaneously occupied at the zero-time instant at which the travel begins.
This allows that travel at infinite velocity can be equivalent to simultaneous occupation of all points in positive space for all instants of positive time. In other words, infinite velocity allows omnipresence of any (or all) zero-points of positive space at any (or all) zero-time instants throughout all of positive time.
But, there is some doubt in creatures’ minds as to whether omnipresence-of-all-of-space-and-time could be logically indistinct from infinite velocity. Firstly, because the only thing that might seem able to travel at infinite velocity without catastrophic displacement of the intervening positive matter is that which has either or both zero-size and zero mass. I’ll call such a massless/sizeless thing a ‘zero-body’, or ZB for short.
Secondly, at 'face value', a ZB has merely instantaneous access to all points in space. That is, it can be pictured that a ZB would have the option to be omnipresent in all of space, but would not necessarily be present in all, or even in any, of space. But, is this picture entirely coherent?
For example, would a ZB have to wait for a positive time to pass before the ZB could occupy a given point in the future? While this question suggests that a ZB is beholden to positive time, it nevertheless also suggests that there is a ‘problem’ with our normal, terminal understanding of time. Because, assuming that positive time is founded on a zero-time instant, then, from the point-of-view of a ZB’s ability with respect to positive time, the future need not be waited for in order for a ZB to occupy it simultaneously with the present. In short, in terms of a ZB, the future is already the present. After all, from whence does the future time come, if not from the present? Whether now, now, now, and now; or now…now…now and…now, the present is always there.
So, does a ZB occupy the past? I mean, does it currently occupy the past? Because, if it doesn’t, then what holds the past together? Where did the past go? The answer, to my mind, is that it didn’t go anywhere. We did.
Positive time is past/future (just like positive space is here/there). And, past/future can exist at all only if there is a present. The question is, what is present? I mean, if only the present is present, then does only existence exist? Of course they don't. Something exists as such, and that something is not the empty existence of 'existence'. When we say 'existence', we say it reference to something, not in reference to nothing. Presence is not a positive thing. A positive thing is a positive thing. In short, we immediately know something, and that something is not a 'nothing'.
But, we are limited, in that we have a beginning, a past, and a future. This is because our internal conditions are synthetic, meaning that our internal conditions change. And, it is this change that gives us a sense of a passage of time. My opinion is that this change, is, in fact, time, and that the present is a ‘place’ of zero spacetime that never changes because it merely is a ‘doorway’, and that the door is Christ. What exists on the other side is God-transcendent. So, we are limited because we exist in terms of other limited things; and, they, in turn, are limited because they, too, exist in terms of yet other limited things. But, all limited things exist in terms of the present. In terms, that is, of the ‘ex nihilo’.
So, a ZB in positive space must also be a ZB in positive time, since a ZB can occupy any and all points in positive space at the same…present.
No positive body can be omnipresent without displacement of all other positive bodies. This is why the idea of omnipresence itself is so counterintuitive to a terminal positive logic regarding synthetic presence (analogous to the error of assuming that infinite velocity can be analogous to finite velocity, an error which I pointed out the beginning of the previous section). It’s also why omnipresence and transcendence may at first seem mutually incompatible (materially contradictory). But, displacement of positive bodies is not at issue for the omnipresence of a zero-body. Which means that God's transcendence and omnipresence not only need not be deduced to be incompatible, but need not be deduced to be distinct from one another.
So, to say that God-transcendent does something does not necessarily entail a material contradiction to his transcendence. This is because God’s transcendence and omnipresence can be deduced to be one and the same thing; He need not do anything in order to be both. In other words, he need never do anything in order both to be God and to be present. In short, to say that God does things can well mean simply that God causes things to be done.
Time, or, the Department of Physical Redundancy Department
Before and after is only in terms of actual before and after. And, there is no concrete sense, or reality, of either before or after except by a genuine before and after OF something AND something else. But, the moment is not distinct from itself; the moment never goes anywhere. For, if it goes, then to where does it go, and from whence comes a new moment?
Is time a huge circle assembled of a thousand empty moments, and we trapped in a tiny room through which one moment-sized side of the circle passes, and we merely filling each moment with things from inside the room, like miners in a mine loading each rail car in turn? Is this all analogous to the mechanics of time? If it is, then do those things with which we fill each moment in turn stay in the room as each moment in which we placed them passes to the outside? Or, are those things brushed off instead into some place outside the room?
Or, is time an endless line of empty moments ready to be filled, passing through the room, and each of which never meets any other moments beside its two immediate neighbors? According to many thinkers, time surely is not redundantly circular; for, even the galaxies are not mere circles, the planets’ courses are elliptical, and even Earth is an imperfect sphere. What is time but what changes? Does an empty moment change, and why do we need an endless supply of them when one will do?
How redundant, and complex, are these images of time. Like the olden models of the heavens which pictured Earth, or even Sol, at the center, in every sense, of every subset of bodies in the cosmos. It already is sure that variable permutation of a certainly variable material world is all that is necessary for time to be what we sense it to be. By what else, instead, shall we justify our sense of time? Or, even, is our sense of time miraculous, inexplicable, a magic power which has no sense to us for how it gives us a sense of time?
The moment never changes its immediacy. So, it can be imagined that the moment does not pass and a new moment appear, but rather that what passes are variable states within us. This is the most empirically and logically simple definition of time. And, if this is what time, and the moment, are, and, if we imagine all changes ceasing, then the image is of a lack of sequentiality, a genuine lack of before-and-after, for which it is true that nothing ever happened in the first place, and thus that a resetting of the conditions of any event-point in the ‘original’ sequence will truly be the first time that that event occurs.
For, without change, there is no before and after. And, it is even by internal changes and internal stases that a body knows of itself as to whether the body is rotating, accelerating, both rotating and accelerating, or remaining still. Is the law of motion the law of time? If so, then this is the simplest image, the elegant image. This is the paring away of every physically intuited entity which is unnecessary for picturing a ‘mechanics’ of time.
Our sense of the passage of time as a framework of ‘flow’ within which events merely occur is not necessarily imagined to be the nature of time. In fact, our sense of the passage of time is easily imagined to be a function merely of the fact that our own internal conditions are continually changing, and continually being seen by us in reference to other changing and non-changing things.
In fact, it is by a continual recalibration of our sense of time, by experiencing certain external events that we have little choice but to sense as regular and invariable, that our fragile internal sense of time does not go always awry, does not ever shift to great extremes and wear us down like coffee for a driven and singleminded man.
So, now, to the other subject, addressed from a frame of reference which is more informed. Or, perhaps, more confused, according to that which people may take liberties to entertain in place of the preceding.
Is time travel possible? Some say it is. And, some of those do not believe there is a God, much less a God with power to cause past events to never have occurred. But, in mind of the preceding remarks in regard to time, I ask questions.
Can God make time repeat? Can God make an event that already has occurred to never have occurred? I answer that, if time is merely events, then, yes, God can make time repeat, and God can make an event which has already occurred to never have occurred. God created the initial conditions, so God can recreate the initial conditions, by stopping the current conditions, and resetting the initial conditions.
This makes sensible, and coherent, every purportedly ‘impossible’ power of omnipotence over the world.
And, then, how miraculous, indeed, it would be if matter were infinitely particulated, thus infinitely divisible, thus infinitely…practical for reaching ever further into an…infinite(ly expanding) cosmos filled with…globes…for which it is not…logically impossible…to make habitable.
Infinite lifting power vs infinite weight
Given an infinite amount of weight, can an infinitely strong man lift the weight?
It's analogous to a man who can lift a maximum of three hundred pounds being faced with the task of lifting three hundred pounds. The answer there is obvious.
But, it gets more interesting:
How fast can that second man lift that three hundred pounds? It depends. But, one thing is invariable there: he cannot lift it at infinite rate of speed. (more on that later)
So, if the first man can lift an infinite weight, how fast can he get that infinite weight, say, above his head? I'll let you think about that for a while.
The Logic of God vs the Logic of Fallen Man
In logically considering the geo-chronic Point, it can be noted that this Point has no geometric or chronological extension. It is purely there, as if without actually depending on either positive space or positive time for its own existence. In fact, both geometric and chronological points are indistinguishable from each other: neither of them actually possesses the properties of their respective referents.
Since this Point has no true referent, but rather all things are in reference to it, then there are not many Points, but One.
My #1 key question is this: Did God create the cosmos to be of the sort that has in mind primarily fallen man’s own power-mad direction-of-mind? Or, by contrast, did God create the cosmos primarily in mind of an unfallen original humanity—a humanity to which, by open accounts, was given the genuine option to live forever in an Edenic reality?
A second question, obscurely implied in the first, is whether mankind was originally ultimately tasked to spread throughout the cosmos. That is, once mankind had completed the original explicit task of making the entire Earth into an edenic environment filled with unfallen families, would that completion have proved that mankind was fit to expand out into the rest of the cosmos? What was God's ultimate plan, and has that plan ever changed? Did God abolish it as impossible, since mankind fell? There is every implication in the Bible that God has never changed it.
All this implies that physics may well be infinitely deep, thus providing an endless life of endless discovery and practical application. In fact, every past attempt at a Complete Theory of physics has proved faulty, and the question is for what motive did anyone ever wish to have such a Theory? Surely, not so they could live forever...(I jest), in perfect health, and with no more toil.
So, here is my #1 key question in somewhat better words, as Logical Option A vs Logical Option B:
Logical Option A: Did God make physics to be of such a sort as to primarily satisfy fallen man’s desire for dominion over every evil thing he experiences of the physical world, including death, and the curse upon the ground? (Who of us, as fallen people living under the curse, wouldn’t want such power?)
Logical Option B: Or, 'instead', did God make physics to be endlessly deep so as to be a genuine option to an original unfallen mankind of an endless life of ever-increasing practical dominion at home, and to an ever-more-powerful expansion throughout an endless cosmos?
Ahha!!! If Option B is the case, then it also thwarts fallen man’s greedy wishes to be his own master, his own creator. Because, if physics really is limited in depth, then so is the means by which we are alive and thus the means by which we die. And, thus, the means of eternal life.
If Logical Option B is the case, then God wins both ways. In other words, He simply cannot lose. The physical world need not contain its own physical cause; infinite regress of synthetic forces need not mean that there is no ultimate causal agent.
Who has power over infinity expect the One who has infinite power? But, it has been thought by some that being raised from dust and rot is logically impossible: that a man who is truly very dead cannot be made alive again, ever. But, the cause of that limited view has lead to the conviction that life is such a thing as not only to have originated from dust, and by the power of dust, but which, with enough mastery of physics, can be created anew. Humans' worship of technology is shown everywhere in science fiction. Contact with alien life is typically a pretext for having some access to a gloriously far-advanced technology.
But, is there really not a 'little man in the radio'? Is it not possible to make a mindless, feeling-less robot that is functionally indistinguishable from a real-life human being? Or, is there only a projected wish for there to be a 'little man in the radio'? A Blade Runner, and a host of other glorious fictions.
Because, if we can picture it as a possibility, as a coherent potential, then there is some motive to put everything else of value at risk to make that picture into reality. Even if we have to face the wholly admitted possibility of annihilation of all life on Earth, the gamble is so intoxicating because of the imagined reward: to be our own, ultimate, gods.
And, it is this very intoxicant that, in a subtle way, ever motivates anyone to imagine that omnipotence is properly defined as being 'superior to', and dissociated from, truth; including the truth, or logic, of power.
The Logic of Omnipotence vs. The 'omnipotence of thought'
It is an indisputable fact that everyone in this world lives with some unpleasant physical and psychic struggle. This struggle is largely why we ‘intuit’ that omnipotence must be a kind of ultimate 'warrior' or 'strong man'. Anything that we can at all paint into a picture of being in opposition to such 'power' is so easily thought to actually be in opposition to it. Even the truth of God's love, according to some Christians, is not allowed to take precedence over God's "power", "because", as they say in so many words, "atheists otherwise possess the greater power which is the logical consistency of limiting God’s omnipotence to the logic of power.".
One possible motive for so misconstruing both God’s love and God’s power is that we face a real either/or problem in knowing that some people use the notion of love to justify things that we believe are in error. But, whatever the motive, the fact is that in thinking of God’s power as being so directly and dissociably in contrast both to God’s love and to God's power, we are implicitly defining God’s power not essentially as creative and constructive power, but as destructive power. What, in God’s name, would motivate any theist to so define the object of their worship???
For many Christians, everything is vague and more vague, and they don't care so long as...
"God's power is above even the truth of power. God can make Himself even more omnipotent than He already is. He would never do so, of course, since He doesn't need to be more powerful than simply having the option to do anything logically absurd that we can picture (turning truth into error, including turning omnibenevolence into loving absolutely all things no matter how good or bad). But, He must have such power lest some arrogant people get away with thinking that God Supreme does not exist since (their) logic [seems to] prove that true omnipotence cannot exist."
So, the discoherence of the mind of fallen man is nowhere more demonstrated than in thinking about what omnipotence must include. Things as we find them in the familiar concrete world can be taken apart. Even our thoughts can be disassembled. But, is synthetic rationalism, or logical positivism, the way we must think of ultimate realities? Is even the non-synthetic ‘ultimate reality’ a mere collection of dissociable parts?
Does the act of admitting that something exists reflect "the existence" of an empty thing called "existence" which exists apart from what already exists? And, then, does that "apartness" exist apart from both the things and their "existence"? Does a question precede itself? Is a thing exceeded by its "thing"-ness?
We can mentally abstract the various ‘parts’ of God’s being, such as power, omnipresence, and mind. And, we can put each ‘part’ in a separate mental jar. But, does our ability to abstract these things, and then to put these abstractions in separate mental jars, reflect the nature of these ‘parts’ and of the nature of their connections to each other? Is God’s power merely a compliment to a supposed need on His part to one-up mankind's foolishness on man's own terms? Does God need to defend His own ontological viability from discoherent views of Him just because some people sincerely hold these views while other people feel threatened by these same views? Is that a justified reason to assert that God is, or even can be, a discoherence between 'power' and 'love'? Who but a fool would convert from atheism to Christianity based on that view of God? We may as well baptize the entire world at the point of a sword and call it good: the great commission more-than-fulfilled except for all the actual work of genuine discipling.
The initial part of a discoherent attempt at conceiving omnipotence may be a more-or-less vague sense that our own unstable 'sense of logic' means that logic (that is, reality) itself is, in some sense, unstable. This is the vague application of the sense that our minds are merely perceiving things directly, including the objects called truth and power. Truth then seems to be an object which exists like a synthetic thing, like, say, an apple, which can become rotten, or be cut into pieces, or be observed to have distinct parts any one of which will remain what it is even when severed from the other parts.
We already have so little sense of the mechanics of our thoughts. So, when we have any sense of its instability, we are not immune to misinterpreting this as instability on the part of transcendent truth and power. Omnipotence, actually believed to be able to compromise itself, since one feels insecure in face either of attacks on its 'limitations', or of arguments against the very 'omnipotence' which they so rightly reject as logically impossible. You can't get any higher than incoherent, so that can seem the best option. It's an easy escape. And, it's easy to defend, since you don't have to know anything in order to defend it. But, it would be far, far better not even to get into such contentions, even if you're already convinced that such 'power' is the sort which God has. God knows about this sense of insecurity. And, it doesn't scare Him at all, because He knows a lot more than any fool can ever learn.
But, some people, who too much love their own power of rational thought, and who are very skeptical of claims to the existence of an omnipotent power which is a knowing agent, are prone to defining omnipotence in diametric contrast to knowledge, including the knowledge that some ideas which are possible to have are nevertheless absurd (such as an 'omnipotent spoon').
So, there is a certain set of presuppositions upon which 'irrational omnipotence' can indeed seem to be the definition which an ‘intuited’ sense of “the truth of things” requires that omnipotence be. But, it is the depth at which these presuppositions reside in the psyche of a given person that determines how far the definition must be explicitly disassembled before the person can even begin to get a sense that adversarial 'irrational omnipotence' just might be a logical and psychic mistake.
For myself, I'm so often prone to deeply feel every last permutation of these presuppositions as implicitly presented by a given argument, which is what drives me to explore the subject ad nauseum. It goes like this: I somehow come upon an argument in favor of 'oppositional omnipotence' which I had not seen before. Next, I go about the drawn-out process of countering that argument to my own most personal psychic relief. Then, I go about trying to convince people that I've found every dent possible in the 'oppositional omnipotence' view of omnipotence. But, in looking for people to whom I may show my handiwork, I eventually run into arguments in favor of 'oppositional omnipotence' which I had not seen before. So, I'm back to the drawing board every time. The only benefit in it all to me is that I get a better and better machine. What's not any benefit in it to me is that it's always the same amount of struggle, no matter how much I've refined it. Insult, elation, application, frustration, and, finally, a span of contented indifference.
“Can an omnipotent being make itself even more powerful than it already is? If it can't, then it is not omnipotent.” The sheer absurdity of such logic is like what we might enjoy in an episode of The Three Stooges. But, in real life, sincerely posed by someone who is no Stooge??? How can such logic be taken seriously in the first place, by the person who thinks thereby to have proved that omnipotence is impossible? It's like misassembling a bicycle, and, then, when the result does not work as expected, concluding that a bicycle is not logically possible.
Can an omnipotent being have a discoherent mind, such that the being fails to realize when it is making a fool of itself? If it can't, then is it still omnipotent? What does power have to do with mind, with knowledge, with sentience? Can my motorcycle be omnipotent? If it can't, then why can't it?
What about a roll of toilet paper? What would it mean for such a trivial object to be omnipotent? And, how non-trivially could it roll away from you?
What about a speck of dirt? No 'little man' in there. It's just dirt. So, if it were omnipotent, would it be an 'omnipotent being'? Could it rev it's powerful internal combustion engine and accelerate away from you at an infinite rate while laughing itself sick at your expense?
What, indeed, does having a mind have to do with being omnipotent? Can a mindless object as rightly be imagined to be omnipotent as can a sentient one? And, can abstract pictures of foolishly contrived challenges to our native sense of the notion of omnipotence prove that that notion is foolish? How realistic are such abstractions anyway?
And, what is the nature of a synthetic mind such that an omniscient-and-omnipotent Creator cannot read every one of that mind's subjectively mistaken details like a neon sign---cannot imagine what it is like to be foolish-without-realizing-it? If you were omnipotent, would you even then think it was right to remove the natural consequences to a non-omnipotent being's foolishness, especially if you knew that doing so would prevent him having even the chance to get it right? What does omnipotence have to do with free will, or even with love? If your answer is, 'Nothing', then I can only hope for your sake that you're right. Because, I'm quite certain that such an answer is wrong.
On being consistent
The deepest possible dispute is that between theism-and-omnipotence on one hand, and atheism on the other. This dispute makes at least as much use of non-grounded logic as any other kind of dispute.
Non-grounded computing, or non-grounded logic, is the rational function of attempting to establish a truly common, or inviolably stable, understanding of every critical term in a dispute, paradox, or other disagreement, by attempting to disallow anything which is not pre-specified. But, the actual process of non-grounded logic is more familiarly understood to philosophers of cognitive development as 'equilibration', a matter by which, ideally, by the time a human reaches full cognitive maturity, he will have mastered the skills of abstraction without having become in the least self-deluded by those skills (that is, by his own imperfectly coherent mind reflected in itself).
But, in the fallen world, when non-grounded logic is invoked, the natural assumption is that ignorance, rational blockage, or both, is at issue. For example, the best (and the best worst) lawyers make use of non-grounded logic as a way to defend their clients, by arguing that their clients are/were ignorant of implicit terms in an original condition at dispute, such as a written contract, an unwritten domestic relationship, or the rights and ambiguities of real property.
As suggested by that natural assumption, the allowance of ignorance or rational blockage in lawful trial is based on the fact that everyone has experienced intellectual disability, whether temporary or enduring, coordinate or paradoxical, ill motivated or without any direct origin in motive. So, non-grounded logic is a justified logic, because it originates as a mediator of the disputes arising from the disharmonious variation between human agents, and even within a human agent. Mathematical logic, and programmable computing, however powerful, merely are proceeds of non-grounded logic.
So, for the fallen world of theists-and-atheists, and of competing varieties within each, metaphysical omnipotence becomes the ultimate subject of non-grounded, or mathematical, logic. This assertion is justified by the fact that prior to experience of disharmony, a human has no sense that his or her own rational power is made up of dissociable parts (that is, synthetic). Common law trials in human society are the initial attempt, on the part of lawful judges, to keep firmly in mind the distinction between the domestic intuition and the open-minded rational function: the disinterested frame of mind.
So, in the fallen world, non-grounded logic is first refined in common law trial. Only afterward is it adopted, and further refined, by mathematical philosophy, and, from there, by endeavors in artificial computing. It is through this last endeavor that general human rational function, that is, common sense, was found to be far more synthetic than was suspected by all prior philosophical endeavors.
By way of analogy to the highly complex synthetic nature of common sense, take you best five-course meal, atomize it into a homogenous mass, and feed it to an infant who has ever only tasted milk, and the infant will fail to distinguish the flavor of potatoes, green leaf lettuce, or vanilla, from the flavor of the vinegar in the steak sauce, or the cream in the fondue. In other words, the infant will have a sense that his faculty of perceiving the flavor of that highly complex mass is a kind of 'omnipotent' faculty, in that it "quite simply has no internal variations" or multiple details.
But, if, as this child grows, he has too few memorable experiences of the non-omnipotence of his own various faculties, then, when his friend suddenly asserts, contrary to his own perception, that a certain photo in a newspaper "looks just like so-and-so", the child will sense, at best, that his friend’s visual perception is on-the-fritz, or, at worst, that his friend is "crazy", or "in denial of the obvious fact that it looks nothing like so-and-so.".
Now, this child both is ignorant by lack of well-noted experience, and rationally blocked by his subjective reaction to the kind of deep disharmony, or disparity to "reality", which he assumes exists in his friend’s assertion. But, contrary to dictatorial propensities, including the supposed ideality of having everyone be exactly like oneself, the most important factor for such a domestic dispute is not the fact that the visio-facial perception is an internally variable frame of reference. Rather, a basically disharmonious world is one in which it is not possible for any individual mere human to obtain every experience required for an ever-flawless rational faculty.
This means that the ability never to fall short of a perfectly righteous-rational life in this world is an ability which only one being possesses. For the rest of us, non-grounded logic is a key tool to the continuation of civil society. And, that’s why non-grounded logic is so readily invoked in the deepest possible dispute in the world, even by the side(s) in that dispute which have got the matter wrong. To wit:
There is a profound inconsistency in how we tend to think of the three main 'attributes' of God: omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence. For omnipotence, we so easily think of it as having "power" over "absolutely" everything, including over the truth (the logic) of power and number. For example, "omnipotence can exceed its own power, and can make 2+2=5". But, while we can easily pose omniscience as impossible in terms of genuine truth or knowledge, we rarely go so far as to think of omniscience as including "knowing", say, that 2+2=5. And, we never think of omnibenevolence as being the love of "absolutely" everything no matter how good or evil, rational or irrational.
But, if omnipotence must include power to do the logically impossible, then omniscience must include knowledge of how to do it, and omni-benevolence must include loving such insanity just as surely as it means loving the contrary. This is the only consistent view when omnipotence is defined as an 'all-power' in an irrational sense of "all".
Inconsistency never happens without a cause, even if only by mere accident. But, the cause of this kind of inconsistency is no accident; In fact, it is the result of an entirely unwholesome, if somewhat obscured, motive: Selfishness, and selfishly defensive hatred. As mentioned at the beginning of the last section of this essay, it sometimes happens that even Christians, in wishing to defend their theism from skeptics, misconceive God’s omnipotence as ultimately irrational or destructive "power". Such a misconception, on the part even of theists, is essentially the ignorantly bragging one-upmanship which some children foolishly engage in with some adversarial peer. Except, in the case of God's omnipotence, there is only one explicit object at issue, one side in favor of the object, and another side opposed. So, selfish hate is why omnipotence is far more prone to being misconceived than is omniscience. And, selfish hate is especially why omnipotence is far more prone to being misconceived than is omnibenevolence.
Of all three things, power, knowledge, and love, only the basic nature of love is strictly obvious to us. We have an immediate access to a stable, if not also 'naive', sense of love. But, we have some difficulty being sure of what we think we know, and we can barely imagine the depths of power. But, we never imagine that omnibenevolence can be construed as approving of, and looking kindly on, "absolutely everything" no matter how bad or good, because our intuition regarding the basic nature of love seems virtually always correct, on-target, and coherent.
Now, the power to do "absolutely anything", whether logically possible or logically impossible, may be termed 'anti-qualified power'. This term refers to the fact that, in the face of such "absolute power", nothing at all can have necessary qualities, including power, existence, sequentiality and simultaneity (in the context of sequences), cause, effect, logical hierarchy, quantity, contradiction, the principle of the excluded middle, infinity, finitude, ultimacy, ideality, sense, nonsense, greater, lesser, etc.). In other words, whatever qualities, or characteristics, that may ever be enumerated, this power can reshape, destroy, or even ignore those qualities.
Again, if anti-qualified power is the logically or rationally necessary conception of omnipotence, then anti-qualified knowledge must be the rationally necessary conception of omniscience. For example, if omnipotence includes the power to make 2-and-2 equal 5, then omniscience includes the knowledge that 2-and-2 can, in fact, equal 5. In other words, if omnipotence includes the power to reject 'identifying with' anything, including with itself as both perfectly abstract and perfectly concrete (and perfectly neither), then anti-qualified knowledge already recognizes both nothing and everything (and everything else that’s beyond, or irrespective of, everything).
But, omniscience is not so readily thought to be anti-qualified, which is why omnipotence (and how it can be misconstrued in paradoxical combination with omniscience or omnibenevolence) is the favorite whipping boy of atheists. Even less so does it occur to us that omni-benevolence even can be construed as anti-qualified. So, there is a spectrum here: our view of omnipotence is so easily skewed, our view of omniscience is somewhat less easily skewed, and our view of omni-benevolence is virtually never skewed. The question is why there is this spectrum in our abstraction of these things. At least part of the answer is that each of these three things presents a different degree of abstractness to our sensibilities.
We can go even more abstract, by thinking of "existence" as a property unto itself, and which thus is superior to whatever necessarily exists. Likewise, we can think of the "necessity" of whatever necessarily exists is superior to that thing. But, then, is that "existence" superior, equal, or inferior, to that "necessity"? Is the "is" in the statement, "that thing is real" more fundamental than the thing itself? Only when a fool says to himself, “I am a fool” does his existence precede his foolishness (otherwise, he may as well say: “I am a fool, therefore I exist”).
But, back to The Most Difficult Combination of Abstracted Non-abstractness: omnipotence.
Power is most simply thought of as agency: the power to bring about, or else change, a state of affairs. But, this is merely an abstraction of power; it is not the complete, or fool-proof, definition of power. Which is why it fools some people into being certain that omnipotence is anti-qualified.
So, a better term for anti-qualified omnipotence might be anti-qualified, or pure, agency. Pure agency has not only all consistent powers, but all inconsistent ‘powers’ as well: for any given initial state of affairs, pure agency has the capacity to change it. But, by the nature of pure agency as a rationally consistent category (that is, by definition), to construe omnipotence as anti-qualified means that it must include not only the power to create a rock too heavy for it to lift, but the power to create a rock too heavy for it to lift which it nevertheless can lift. This is because ‘a rock which omnipotence cannot lift’ is a state of affairs, albeit a contradictory one, and a contradiction is not quite nothing: it’s a foolish act by a contingent entity.
So, the contradiction of every primary reality is implicitly included in the construal of omnipotence as anti-qualified: It can create a rock which, for any and no cause, and for any or no cause, it then cannot lift, and then it can lift it for any and no cause (because, say, the sky is blue). It can even create a rock which is so unremarkable that it then cannot lift the rock---and cannot fail to smell the rock so strongly that it (a third entity known only as 'it', analogous to 'The Doctor' of Doctor Who fame) passes out. In fact, since anti-qualified agency must include the power to create, post-hence, a situation in which every enumerable contradiction, and every nonsense, exists, anti-qualified agency must obtain without any initial condition upon itself, including existence, non-existence, every excluded middle point between existence and non-existence, and everything beyond both existence and non-existence. Which means that no task whatever means anything to it at all.
So, anyone who is convinced that omnipotence necessarily is anti-qualified is most profoundly on a subtle trek toward the most pathetic possible act of self-annihilation by the worship of rational thought above the greatest possible thing about which a rational thought may be taken. 'Omnipotence' must be able to twist anyone's mind into the most violent pretzels in trying to keep track of what all an 'omnipotence' can do. For example, by retroactively creating a logic by which these very people are convinced that such an 'omnipotent' being cannot exist, since, after all, such people know very well that love is better than tyranny.
To think of logic as if it were a thing in itself is a kind of deification of logic, and thus of one’s own power of intuition and of rational thought. Whence the feeling that logic is something either which makes omnipotence logically impossible, or which actually limits the power of the Most High God. But, whatever it is that necessarily exists is not limited by its own necessity, as if God's power is actually limited by the fact that God cannot either cause Himself (and presumably His power) to cease to exist or to become even more powerful still. One is not sensible to think of God's necessity as being something which exists distinct from God, as if it were the sugar in the cookie recipe.
In the end, human rational thought is a power only over that which humans truly have dominion, namely the synthetic material world which, like human rational thought itself, thereby is subject to discohere, though, unlike for human thought, originally for wholesome purposes. But, the bullet was created before the bullet proof vest, the sword before the shield. So, too, when some of the mechanics of thought (that is, some logic) is first used as a weapon for direct destruction, it does, in fact, inflict damage. An irrational definition of omnipotence cannot increase anyone's positive knowledge. Thankfully, defending a rational omnipotence can. Both genuine knowledge and genuine love are genuine kinds of power. It's by these kinds of powers, together with other kinds, that the whole cosmos is created and sustained.
True power is never empty of purpose, and the purpose is not anything which fallen man, left to himself, tends to imagine. Every good in the world is an inheritance of true power, though many people fail to know it. And, they fail to know it because most of it is just...mundanely humble, raw, and unscripted. It is a certain kind of power, a certain kind of coherence or consistency, to die for an entire world when that world does not know it; when the only acts of heroism recognized are those told by the people who witnessed the whole thing only to eventually be mocked and killed themselves.
The Beginning and the End
Never mind that the word ‘power’ appears in the dictionary. The abstract thing itself is a most generalized sense of ‘able to originate, authorize, or cause’. So, when we use the word ‘power’ we most basically mean the capacity to effect, or change, a given state of affairs.
But, wait! Even this is not quite right! Power is a capacity only if there is a capacitor.
So, in slightly more concrete terms, power is an agent.
Ok, now we have it straight. Sort of.
Here’s the problem: We have a strong motive to think of power in primitive adversarial terms. This is at least partly because we live lives of often unpleasant struggle. We feel a need to tame our less-than-perfectly-hospitable environment as much as practically possible. So, we tend to sense that power is essentially the capacity to effectively oppose, manipulate, disassemble, destroy, or ignore anything which, in any sense, may be thought to ‘resist’. But, as shown above, power is not most essentially defined in adversarial terms at all.
Now, that’s more like it. Now we’re getting somewhere.
Not only is power not defined essentially in adversarial terms, but the definition of power as an agent does not say what any kind of agent has the power to do. "Agency" is a generalization, a symbol so empty that it is not so truly handled as many think they handle it. And, so, the same for "an agent".
Which is partly why we so easily interpret the statement that 'God became a man' to refer necessarily to something which we know to be a logical impossibility. In other words, we so easily fall into assuming that the two subjects are functionally equal and mutually exclusive. But, they are mutually exclusive only if 'human' is taken, in effect, to be the active subject: 'man became God' (the dog quite directly and totally became a tree, a horse became a saddle with no leftover parts, a tomato became merely its flavor on your tongue). The resultant picture is analogous to saying that infinity was replaced by a finitude such that the initial infinity no longer exists. But, this is not the necessary interpretation of the statement. In fact, since 'God' is presupposed as the transcendent, and thus as the primary, subject, then 'man' must be a wholly subordinate, inactive subject in that statement: Infinity has added to itself a finitude; A heifer became red; A wooden door in a mile-wide wall in total darkness has become a light-emitting gold.
So, if the only sense you had of power was that it was agency, then you wouldn’t be able to know, say, that a bird cannot not pick worms out of an abstract philosophy-of-mind problem. So, you would think that the following syllogism represents the ontology, the non-abstracted nature, of power:
Birds can pick worms out of things. Abstract philosophy-of-mind problems are things. Therefore, birds can pick worms out of abstract philosophy-of-mind problems.
You would take for granted that any kind of agent could effect any imaginable thing in any imaginable way, no matter how absurdly impossible may be that imagined effect. A tornado, you would think, could blow 2+2 up into 5. A hammer could pound the thousand 'dents' out of what you would think is the ‘faulty’ reasoning in my essay about omnipotence. A car could run over the moon and flatten it.
So, a most critical question is why some people sincerely believe that omnipotence is irrational power? What does it mean to ask, ‘Can an omnipotent being hide outside of an inside-out?? An 'inside-out what?
Remove omnipotence from the equation and see what is meant: Can an unremarkable thing hide outside of an inside-out?
Take it down one more: Can a cow kick a suppose over an empty?
And one more: Is this overly? Can you nevertheless? Has there ever been a? What has?
What we are dealing with here is the ideas themselves that are being prompted in our heads by words, by symbols. Does an omni-procrastinator ever stop accomplishing things? Does an omni-accomplisher ever get anything done? Some people can't readily distinguish between words and ideas, between thoughts and symbols. But, for people who can, I wish them to see that this is what is going on. Recall what I said at the end of the Introduction: people think that the entire matter is whatever they see under their magnifying glass or microscope.
Because, the key to all this is that knowledge and love are kinds of power. Knowledge and love have the capacity to change the world, by effecting individual lives---even when most of those who are effected do not trace the effect back to its source. Knowledge is power even when the knower forgets. Love is power even when the lover dies. In some cases, especially when he dies.
Conclusion: The logic of INclusion
They say that power is agency: the ability to effect a state of affairs. But, to say that agency is the most meaningful definition of power doesn't say anything that we don't already know. In fact, it says much less. This is because our concept of agency is actually a generalization from actual kinds of powers. We abstract this generalization similar to how we abstract generalizations of math. Whether we add two pair of shoes, or one pair of shoes and one of socks, there’s a particular sense that stays the same: four items. Likewise, whether we observe a hammer as it strikes a nail, or the nail as it goes into the wood, the most singular sense is always the same: something brings something about. Simple agency.
The nature of ambiguity is in the context of having a deeper knowledge of the objects involved. The face-value of any expression, say, ‘birds can pick worms out of things’, is a limited, or non-exhaustive, expression about the various objects represented (actual birds, actual worms, and the abstractions of ‘things’, ‘pick’, ‘out’, ‘of’, and ‘can’). Only by having a deeper, or more meaningful, knowledge of its objects can a person know that the normal usage of the words in such a statement makes the statement ambiguous (even the meaning of the word-form, ‘pick’, which in itself can mean a farmer’s tool, an object for cleaning teeth, or the act of selection, is not expressly defined by the statement, but is left to be inferred by the total statement-form). It’s this ambiguity that allows the construction of absurd syllogisms.
Consider this syllogism: ‘A bird can pick worms out of things. Math problems are things. Therefore, a bird can pick worms out of math problems.’
All words and statements are abstractions of knowledge. In other words, natural language is inherently ambiguous. But, natural language can normally well afford to be inherently ambiguous, because natural language is the natural language of entities which have common sense in face of the general task of learning more about the world and about concepts. We normally don’t think about the fact that the word ‘things’, when used in the statement, ‘birds can pick worms out of things’, can alternately be used to express both concrete and abstract things. Only in disputes, say, as to the facts involved in apparent agreements between people (or between premises) does the inherent ambiguity of natural language become a problem.
An example of the problem of natural language would be if, while one person has sufficient common sense to see the direct absurdity of the above syllogism, a second person had only enough common sense to feel that the respective face-values of the premises were their exhaustive meanings. This second person, while sensibly denying that birds can pick worms out of math problems, nevertheless would have a shallow kind of ‘certainty’ that the conclusion is simply, but paradoxically, the conceptual reality.
By some accounts, logic requires that omnipotence be defined as including the power to do the logically impossible. In other words, according to such accounts, it is logically incoherent to think that omnipotence includes only the power to do the logically possible, that such a power is not genuinely or meaningfully omnipotent.
But, suppose we accept that omnipotence does include the power to do the logically impossible. Then, in order to be consistent with that definition of omnipotence, we must allow that, from an omnipotent being’s own point of view, nothing can have any necessary qualities to begin with (including power, all-power, impotence, omni-impotence, existence, locality, sequentiality, simultaneity, cause-and-effect, logical hierarchy, quantity, contradiction, the principle of excluded middle, infinity, finitude, ultimacy, ideality, sense, nonsense, greater, lesser, etc.).
Naturally, in order to have an objection to a given position, one first must have a position of one's own, even if only implicitly. And, in order to have a valid objection to a given position, one's own position must be coherent. If one holds the initial position that the logically necessary conception of omnipotence includes the power to overrule logic, and if one then concludes that this omnipotence is incoherent and thus impossible, then one is allowing---no, stating---that one’s initial position is incoherent.
So, while such a power can, by definition, create a rock that it then cannot lift, every quality of that rock task, including the result that that power is unable to lift the rock, is meaningless to that power. Such a power cannot care about what, from its own point of view, are just so many petty problems of logical consistency and reality, because, for such a power, there already is no such thing as a logical contradiction. If such a power is posited to exist, then, to be consistent with that position, one also must posit that this power is meaningless even to itself (power). So, if it is to be required that this power create a rock too heavy for it to lift, then that rock’s very quality of being too heavy for it to lift is indistinguishable from any other outcome (cause-and-effect). In shorter, there is no outcome as far as this ‘absolute’ power is concerned (sequentiality). When all this is pushed far enough, it can be seen that this conception of omnipotence dissolves into a Great Big Precisely Nothing.
It is possible to arbitrarily posit a power that can do only the logically impossible. We naturally find that such a power’s tasks are meaningless. If such tasks are meaningless, then what makes them meaningful when we posit yet another power able to accomplish such tasks?
Let’s posit a power that can do everything that’s logically impossible and only some things that are logically possible. Does even that definition of that power cause the logically impossible tasks to be meaningful? No. So, how, then, does positing a power that can do both everything that’s logically possible and everything that’s logically impossible cause the logically impossible tasks to be meaningful? The answer is that it doesn’t. Such tasks are inherently meaningless, which is precisely why it is most naturally taken for granted that such a power cannot exist. The only sense in which logically impossible tasks are meaningful is in the sense that we can imagine them to be meaningful. And, the reason we can so imagine them is because they are comprised of various meaningful things, such as birds and worms and math problems.
An irrationally ‘absolute’ notion of omnipotence is merely the means by which logically impossible tasks are most naturally initially imagined to be meaningful. But, if such a notion of omnipotence is meaningful as such, then such a power cannot be proved not to exist. But, it is proved not to exist, by observing that the meaningless (illogical, irrational) half of its powers are meaningless. There is no such power as the power to do the logically impossible. In other words, such a power is logically impossible.
Some powers are greater than others, so there must be a power that’s greater than all other powers. The general powers of an adult are greater than those of an infant. The power of a new Ferrari is greater than the power of a new VW Bug. A huge tornado is more powerful than a little ‘dust devil’. Sacrificial love is more powerful for the sake of a child than is either hate or indifference.
The abstraction of agency certainly is coherent. It represents the nature of power. But, it does so only as a non-detailed, fully-generalized tautology. So, we would be mistaken to believe that it best represents the nature of power such that we need know nothing more about power in order to reason sensibly about it no matter what kinds or degrees of power are at issue. So, if we imagine that simple agency is the total essence of any kind of power, then we further would have to imagine that any kind of power has every kind of power over every imaginable thing in every imaginable way. A bird could pick worms out of math problems, and if it didn’t find enough worms, then it could make 2+2 equal five.
It's natural to have an initial notion of power. Initial notions are free for the having. No one can prevent you from having them. All anyone can do is prevent you from knowing you have them. But, to develop actual definitions, actual concepts, of actual powers is another matter. While the simplest definition of power is simple agency, actual powers have actual properties beyond the fact that they are agents. So, the simplest concept of power cannot identify any actual kind of power to begin with. It can't tell you, for instance, that hammers cannot pound two-and-two into five. You then had better have more sense than a senseless computing machine, because if all you knew about power was how a simple dictionary defines it, then you’ll end up in jail after flunking math class.
The reason humans sometimes have the tendency to think so synthetically about such deep philosophical ideas is because the human mind is not specialized toward such ideas, but rather toward synthetic, empirically perceived entities which are otherwise known as ‘physical’ entities---the physical world. In other words, the simple living of human life depends far more sensibly on interaction with the macro-physical environment than with any ‘ethereal’ entities like abstracted concepts and ultimate causes. Even air and microbes, which are members of the familiar physical world, are less ‘real’ to the human perceptions than are sticks and stones, people, swamps, and alligators. But, it is very interesting to note that the one physical thing that we take most for granted is also the most invisible and insensible as far as knowing what, if anything, it is made of: gravity.
Similar to having an initial notion of power, it is entirely natural to have an initial notion of the most meaningful greatest scope and degree of power. But, to develop an actual definition of such power is another matter. If we're too careful in the wrong way, we'll end up playing tricks on ourselves without knowing it. We'll end up with a wrong impression of what an all-encompassing power must mean. And, then, we may wonder if such a power is logically possible. We may even conclude that it isn't possible---which would be too bad, because what use is a conclusive ignorance in a subject about which we've bothered to enquire?
So, there is an initial difficulty in the problem of identifying, not to mention availing ourselves of, the greatest scope and degree of existing power. This difficulty is exemplified by the article, Omnipotence and the Vicious Circle Principle, by Majid Amini, in Forum Philosophicum International Journal for Philosophy. Amini seems unaware that there are two concepts of power. And, he is using the wrong one for the job. The article is preoccupied with showing that the greatest scope and degree of power cannot be coherently defined. So, Amini ignores the task of even partially defining the greatest scope and degree of logically possible power.
...One might get the impression that he denies that an entity of the greatest scope and degree of possible power can possibly exist.
So, by some accounts, omnipotence is the power to do anything that may be presented by, and to, the synthetic, but nevertheless creative mind: omnipotence not only can lift all possible rocks, it can create impossible ones which it cannot lift. It has power not only to create the physical universe from nothing, it can create math from nothing such that it can cause 2+2 to equal 5. It can turn birds into abstract erroneous math equations, or create a separate omnipotence which is transferred to my motorbike.
But, if omnipotence is supposed to include the power to defy logic, then, from the point of view of an omnipotent being, its omnipotence is inherent neither to that being nor to its omnipotence. It’s like me and my bike, which is a race bike. If I throttle it to its maximum acceleration, it could easily get away from me, treating me to the famous ‘all-you-can-eat asphalt buffet’.
...And, unless I push it to its limits out in the open, it could crash into whatever ends up in its unruly way, possibly wrecking it.
All this is to say that, according to some people, logic requires that omnipotence be conceived as something which logic then denies can exist. It’s as if logic not only is a thing unto itself, but is a kind of glue that holds everything else together and makes things to be what they are, the law of identity. But, if logic requires something which logic then denies, then logic is a paradoxical standard which only idiots are spared from seeing as such: a ‘sausage factory’ of the mind.
...Eventually, the sausage factory is miniaturized and given control of a race bike.
...Which brings me to the story of an unnamed man who sought to identify the nature of elephants. This particular man had no knowledge of elephants, and what’s more, he was predisposed to think that they did not exist. In fact, he had never even seen one before. So, when he finally saw one, he noted the huge ears, but rejected the ears as having nothing to do with an elephant.
...He noticed the trunk next, but rejected it, too, as having nothing to do with an elephant.
...He continued this way until he had rejected the entire elephant as having nothing to do with an elephant.
...Naturally, he concluded that elephants do not exist.
Unfortunately, it was a wild bull elephant, which charged him and knocked him down.
He survived, but he only added to his already great knowledge of elephants...
...by intuiting that they are inherently dangerous and aggressive.
But, there is another, worse, point of view on such elephants than to conclude that they do not exist, and that’s to assert that they are far more dangerous than can ever be imagined precisely because they exist. This is the point of view of those whom I’ll call elephant worshipers, meaning that they so adore elephants that the more dangerous their favorite elephant is, the better. They want their elephant to both have and eat the cake of everyone who doesn’t worship their elephant. They so despise all errors of human arrogance that they have no room left to give benefit-of-the-doubt even to the human faculty of rational consistency as such. What these elephant worshipers say is that God has a logic which is perfectly illogical from any human’s point of view for the simple fact that other humans can reason incorrectly but in such a way as to unsettle the fallible minds of these elephant worshipers. My mad elephant is bigger, and madder, than your mad elephant.
So, these people wish to define God's will-and-mind as being impossible even to seem to humans to be challenged by the human rational faculty. For example, Farrington, whose article, Problems Arising From An Inconsistent View Of God, was published in Heythrop Journal, misidentifies logic by proposing a seemingly theo-centric 'metalogic' which allows God's power, but not God's current will-and-mind, to 'do everything' which can be proposed as possible for everyone else. For Farrington, this 'do everything' includes deliberate suicide, but not initial accidental death or initial accidental illogic. It includes taking good for evil, not by mistake, but by changing good into evil, justice for the oppressed into injustice for anyone, despite how it effects the oppressed.
Farrington grants that God is, at least initially, perfect in Knowledge, Beneficience, etc., and he wishes to preserve God's perfect goodness as something with which he can identify. But, then, he contrarily reasons that both God's own 'logic' and God's own power must be anti-rational lest humans become proud of their own rational faculties. Such contrary reasoning presupposes that God's own ontology must be defined, at least fractionally, in view of a contingency such as human pride. As if the integrity of God's very being needs to be protected from human pride-of-mind. As if God recognizes such ‘devotion’ not as an insult, but as true love for God. Try loving your sweet little grandma that way and see how far you get.
She could only hope to get alzheimer's then.
Despite his seeming denial that ‘elephants’ exist, Amini rightly rejects this anti-logic defense of omnipotence because such arguments clearly have virtually nothing preventing them from being fully abominable in both pure and applied senses.
So, for God to be above logic, or vice versa, logic would have to be a thing in, and of, itself (its own, and exclusive, set). But, just like presence, or existence, or quantity, logic is merely an abstraction from, or observation about, actual things. Numbers don't exist prior to things, else numbers would be more concrete (Platonically) even than things which are not purely number.
There once was a hunter who was out to prove that a certain large carnivore did not exist. And, he was very clever, the hunter was. So, just in case the animal really did exist, the hunter wore things on his feet that made huge tracks like what he was convinced the animal must make. This would prevent the animal from detecting him by his own boot tracks. So, off he went, looking for signs of the animal. Soon, he saw his own tracks, but mistook them for those of the animal. Finally, when he found that the tracks led nowhere, he concluded that the animal did not exist. Yet, he continued to believe that the tracks had been made by the animal. So, he was even more convinced that he knew what sort of tracks the animal made. He was so proud of his accomplishment that he brought other hunters to see the tracks, telling them that these were the tracks to look for since they did, in fact, lead to nowhere. Some of the hunters believed him. The others insisted the animal was invisible, so that, of course, it could not be found...
...but, they all knew that it was a carnivore.
It certainly is possible to attempt to define the principle object, say, an elephant, by a process of binary elimination: a huge, flappy ear is certainly not an elephant. But, such an attempt necessarily fails to identify with any empirically testable dimension of the principle object. The result of such an investigation, while logically necessary within the terms of the investigation, begs the question of why, by what motive, such a tack is taken in the first place. That question is one of history, in terms both of one's own person and of a past, and otherwise surrounding, humanity. And, while the purely human answer to the question has a pessimistic ring, namely that the human experience begs for a satisfaction which is not, in itself, guaranteed, the other logically possible answer is surprising in every dimension: love is an actual kind of power, and by no means a feeble one. God has the power to take on an instance of humanity, like a white heifer can take on red, and to suffer and die as an expression of supreme substitution for the natural ultimate consequences of our arrogances, that is, of our self-serving superstitions.
A popular question on omnipotence is whether an omnipotent being can create a rock too heavy for that omnipotent being to lift. Like most questions ever asked on omnipotence, this question poses omnipotence as more-or-less of an abstraction. So, this question is not particularly revealing about the nature of power, of logic, or of what all is included in either power or logic. For example, in juxtaposing power and logic, the question obscures the fact that logic, or knowledge, is a kind of power.
But, a popular intuition about omnipotence is that the logic of inclusion requires that omnipotence be able even to exceed itself by being able to create a rock too heavy for it to lift. After all, not being able to create such a rock can seem to be a shortfall of ability. Even humans, who most certainly are not omnipotent, do, in fact, have this "ability".
This popular intuition about omnipotence maintains that if one’s notion of omnipotence excludes logic from the things over which omnipotence has power, then one’s notion of omnipotence is arbitrarily "limited", since, according to this intuition, logic requires that logic be included in the things over which omnipotence has power. Any notion of omnipotence which lets logic alone is, according to this intuition, implicitly letting logic, that is, knowledge or truth or consistency, have the greater power.
But, this a perfectly specious notion of the logic of inclusion. In fact, it is the exact opposite of the general logic of inclusion. It is like thinking to identify what an elephant is by including in the set of ‘what is not itself an elephant’ every last part of an elephant. You end up with no elephant, because the method of identification is by a combination of the logic of 'all-or-nothing' and the logic of 'each detail alone'. It’s a 'failing to see the forest for the trees' method, and to such a 'powerful' degree, that you end up with neither forest nor trees. One would never use such abstractionistic "logic" to identify what any kind of power is, because there is no such thing as "any kind of power is not any kind of power".
So, the intuition that logic requires that logic be included in the things over which omnipotence has power is an intuition which is nothing more than an ignorantly narrow-minded, over-generalized application to omnipotence of the otherwise legitimate function of the human ability to abstract logics from real, qualitative things. Such an intuition is not based on any genuine knowledge of real things. Nevertheless, that intuition occasionally does bring certain real things to bear in order to strengthen itself against the more natural, and thus opposing, intuition.
Now, there are three kinds, or levels, of logic: essential, linguistic, and mathematic. In other words, these are truth-and-fact; semantic possibility; and pure abstraction.
The logic which is truths-and-facts is the fact that there are things in themselves, whatever things there are (this implies that truth-and-fact is generally distinct from, but nevertheless necessarily the subject of, language, including the static-visual form of language known as ‘writing’). The logic which is semantic possibility is the fact that any form, in whatever medium (auditory, visual, etc.), can be used to denote any truth or fact whatever (language). The logic which is pure abstraction is the fact that any given truth or fact, and any given set of truths or facts, can discretely be denoted by forms and thereby efficiently manipulated and applied. (Two examples of abstract logic are counting numbers, 1,2,3,4..., and the stoplights that control traffic at roadway intersections).
It is from a conflation of these last two kinds of logic that the irrational intuition on omnipotence arises. This intuition, then, can, at first, seem to allow even that omnipotence can exist in an inanimate or non-sentient object, such as a paper towel, a motorcycle, or a copy machine.
But, in order for an inanimate object to do anything to begin with, it must be caused to move by some other agency. This suggests that there is something obscure in every possible intuition on omnipotence. A question like ‘Can an omnipotent paper towel be used to soak up the speck of dirt on the top of the milk without automatically soaking up all the milk in the glass?’ cannot rationally be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, for the simple reason that the question in fact ‘’presents’’ a quality for omnipotence which the question ‘’does not establish’’ as being included, in fact, in omnipotence: lack of sentience.
Mr. Smith, have you, or have you not, stopped plotting to do evil? It has not yet been established whether Mr. Smith has been so plotting at all to begin with. And, if Mr. Smith is innocent of the presupposed charge, then one hopes he has the sense to know that the question cannot be revealingly answered in the simple manner which its form requires. The judge is a fool, who has a love of pointing fingers, whose ‘little knowledge’ of the logic of trial is powerful only to fools and idiots, but whose judgments are dangerous to every denizen of Earth.
Here are a few more such odd questions on omnipotence: ‘Can an omnipotent motorcycle be turned off after it is turned on?’ ‘Will an omnipotent motorcycle automatically allow its rider to remain on it no matter how fast it accelerates?’ ‘Does an omnipotent copy machine automatically and instantaneously copy everything in existence after it is turned on, and, is it already on?’
Trying to determine how best to answer these odd kinds of questions seems to run up against a kind of paradox. But, the sense of paradox remains only if it is simply submitted to at its face value---like a ready-and-waiting automobile assembly line suddenly facing a million random parts from a junkyard having been flung into the air above it. A savage man with no knowledge of cars can imagine he can assemble a car from those parts, since he has seen real working cars on TV. Or, if he knows of all the parts that are required, he can misassemble them while thinking that he has assembled them correctly.
But, if this is a savage man who is determined to believe that a working car is an impossible object, such that he would convince his peers to believe the same, then he easily may fall to every method of proving that his belief is correct. And, at the very same time as he takes up this task, some of his pro-car peers fall to defining such misassembled cars as the real thing since they believe what they see on TV.
A hidden problem in the popular rock question has to do with the fact that omnipotence is naturally presupposed to imply having a sense of things, that an omnipotent agent is a knowing agent, and thereby capable of interacting fully with all other agents. So, a question to be asked of that rock question is, ‘What does an omnipotent agent know to be the correct answer to the question?’ So, the truest question on omnipotence is not of what it ‘can’ or ‘cannot’ do, but to what extent it can be coherently conceived in the first place; its abstraction assembled, constructively, in our minds one logical bit at a time. Just like a car. Because, there clearly is nothing incompatible between power as such and knowledge as such, much less between power and love. After all, both knowledge and love are kinds of power.
All of this shows that even the rock question on omnipotence presupposes that the initial---or natural---condition of omnipotence is coherent. This is the true logic of inclusion. Every genuine, concrete kind of power is included in omnipotence. Otherwise, you end up with no omnipotence except pure, irrational, agency: the invisible pink elephant of the man who is intoxicated on his own omnipotent power of "rational" thought.
So, only superstition and arrogance can make a mere man think he can prove that the naive, childlike, notion of omnipotence is superstition. Because, an omnipotent agent necessarily is a knowing agent. Otherwise, its power would not be genuinely omnipotent, as any child knows. Knowledge gives growing living beings the power to learn, and to avoid error. Knowledge enables any kind of living beings to do things in, and with, their worlds. And, knowledge is what living beings have even when they are not doing anything, which is how they can do variable things rather than everything all at once, and how they are not paralyzed from doing anything. Knowledge is life. Logos is the Creator.
(One more section left to go, later. ...In progress, see Research just above list of contents)