Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Veritas

The Law of Identity and God

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Definitely yes. God cannot be defined. If God has an identity, he becomes an object, one out of many, and therefore not God.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does the Law of Identity contradict the existence of God?

Yes, the attributes God supposedly has contradict themselves and reality over and over again. And that in turn directly contradicts the Law of Identity. It's because of the Law of Identity that we know that there are no contradictions.

For instance, like Epicuros pointed out around 300BC, an omnipotent and benevolent God wouldn't allow evil to exist. Then there is the question of whether an omnipotent being can create a rock he himself cannot lift. And so on and so forth. The deeper you go into any religion, the longer the list of contradictions grows. There's the Trinity of God, the "thou shalt not kill!" commandment coupled with the numerous instances of God ordering people to be killed, etc. I'm sure people are going to give you many more of these in the thread.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With the permission of the Moderators, I'd like to propose that this thread be used to discuss Negative Arguments AGAINST The Existence of God (particularly logical ones - since that is the title and the question of the OP) and NOT Positive Arguments FOR the Existence of God since that is dealt with in another thread. There are many variants of logical arguments against Theism out there, and I'd love to be able to address them somewhat individually if given the chance. However, if the Mods don't like this idea or see it as inappropriate for the forum/thread in any way, I defer to their judgement. :)

By means of introduction and in order to make it clear that I don't represent official Objectivist views:

I'm a Theist who values MUCH of Objectivist thought and who believes that Theism is much more rationally compatible with bulk of Objectivism than is Atheism (that Atheism is illogical and therefore logically incompatible with Objectivism or any rational worldview).

A few logical arguments against Theism have been submitted above, but I'll wait just a while after posting this to respond, in order to give the Mods a chance to consider my proposal...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Definitely yes. God cannot be defined. If God has an identity, he becomes an object, one out of many, and therefore not God.

I don't understand. The claim for a theist would be the God is one out of many. Why would him being something distinct from everything else make him not God? Also, how do you justify the claim that God can't be defined? Wouldn't it be more accurate to say you simply don't know how he can be defined instead of the assertion that He can't be defined?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does the Law of Identity contradict the existence of God?

Only for certain values of "God", the ones that specify God is omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, or is in any other manner an actual manifestation of an infinity. According to the Law of Identity "to be" means to be finite.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As Veritas says, the law of identity only contradicts the existence of some versions of God. It doesn't even contradict the God of most of the Bible (to turn fundamentalists on their head, if one takes Genesis literally, the God therein could be considered a powerful but limited being who created the solar system and the life therein - but has identity, attributes and limits. He even comes down to chat with Adam in the cool of the evening, like any other bloke. If I keep this up I could start a religious war :-D ).

The curious thing about monotheism, especially in its Abrahamic (Judeo-Christian-Islamic) forms, is as time has gone by its God has become increasingly powerful, increasingly invisible, and increasingly limitless. However even the God of Christianity doesn't necessarily violate the law of identity: he doesn't actually have to be "infinite" in any way. Really, barring God via the law of identity only applies to certain theological constructs of an extremely abstracted God - taking the "my God is bigger than your God" to ridiculous extremes. I'm not sure you actually find that God in the Bible, and if you do, such passages can be explained away by the same mechanisms other idiocies and contradictions are explained away.

Personally I am hesitant about trying to monster-bar the concept of God via metaphysics: because it is too easy to get around it and say "well that doesn't apply to my version of God". "You can't have an infinite God? Really? Oh, that's OK, he isn't actually infinite, just really really big." (I have followed this train of thought in more detail in On Gods and Spaticons).

This is not to defend religion: just to suggest the battle should stick to more certain terrain, namely epistemology: the fatal weakness of religion is that in fact (if not in the minds of its adherents), there is no valid objective evidence for any of it, which makes the whole thing an arbitrary claim and therefore not worthy of any consideration, whatsoever.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does God contradict something else other than the law of identity?

Just one: the primacy of existence.

The claim that God created everything is not only a(nother) logical contradiction, it also contradicts something even more fundamental than Logic: that consciousness is a part of existence.

The antithesis of that is that consciousness is the source of existence.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally I am hesitant about trying to monster-bar the concept of God via metaphysics

And you're right. I am only aiming to prove specific claims about the concept wrong in this way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Only for certain values of "God", the ones that specify God is omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, or is in any other manner an actual manifestation of an infinity. According to the Law of Identity "to be" means to be finite.

There's a difference between "finite" and "specific". It is logically possible for something to be "infinite" in a certain respect. You are assuming that "infinite" means "without differentiation from anything else", but even the broadest understanding of an infinite thing would be differentiated from all other non-infinite things. I think you may be confusing epistemology (how we define something) with metaphysics (the way it is in itself).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just one: the primacy of existence.

The claim that God created everything is not only a(nother) logical contradiction, it also contradicts something even more fundamental than Logic: that consciousness is a part of existence.

The antithesis of that is that consciousness is the source of existence.

What if God transformed some part of the Universe into something else the same way as someone can transform wood into a wooden table?

Making/creating a table doesn't mean you have to create wood from nothing, right?

Edited by Dániel Boros

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just one: the primacy of existence.

The claim that God created everything is not only a(nother) logical contradiction, it also contradicts something even more fundamental than Logic: that consciousness is a part of existence.

The antithesis of that is that consciousness is the source of existence.

I believe the claim is that God (who EXISTS) created everything else in existence. There is nothing illogical or "Primacy of Consciousness" about a conscious EXISTENT creating another existent.

Your "Primacy of Consciousness" argument would only work against a God who is "Pure Consciousness" and who does not EXIST. I doubt many serious Theists propose a "non-existent consciousness" as "God".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What if God transformed some part of the Universe into something else the same way as someone can transform wood into a wooden table?

Making/creating a table doesn't mean you have to create wood from nothing, right?

Right. What religion is this from?

I believe the claim is that God (who EXISTS) created everything else in existence. There is nothing illogical or "Primacy of Consciousness" about a conscious EXISTENT creating another existent.

Your "Primacy of Consciousness" argument would only work against a God who is "Pure Consciousness" and who does not EXIST. I doubt many serious Theists propose a "non-existent consciousness" as "God".

Colossians 1:17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (King James version)

And he is The One who is before all, and all things exist by him. (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)

Edited by Nicky

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What if God transformed some part of the Universe into something else the same way as someone can transform wood into a wooden table?

Making/creating a table doesn't mean you have to create wood from nothing, right?

So God is an alien? At least that explanation might have the capability of being possible.

Edited by brian0918

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You cannot logically disprove the existence of God. At most you can show that some interpretations or attributes of "God" are selfcontradictory, for example the attribute of omnipotence. But such contradictions are easily evaded, in the case of omnipotence by claiming that God may not be literally omnipotent, but at least very, very powerful in what he can do. There are many different interpretations of the concept "God", from an irascible old man with a beard, inspired by the stories in the bible (a jealous God!), to the vague general God of Spinoza or the God of the deists. The only valid argument against the existence of God is the fact that there is no evidence for it. What is usually brought up as "evidence" is not worth of serious consideration: texts written a few thousand years ago, personal "revelations" or inevitable gaps in our scientific knowledge for which it's claimed that the only possible "explanation" is "God did it" ("The God of the gaps").

Pointing out contradictions in the bible is not a logical disproof of the existence of God, it's merely showing the weakness of biblical arguments for the existence of God.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe the claim is that God (who EXISTS) created everything else in existence. There is nothing illogical or "Primacy of Consciousness" about a conscious EXISTENT creating another existent.

Your "Primacy of Consciousness" argument would only work against a God who is "Pure Consciousness" and who does not EXIST. I doubt many serious Theists propose a "non-existent consciousness" as "God".

With what material did this existent do this? Do you accept that creation must mean a rearrangement of existents into new configurations or are you fine with ex nihilo?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Colossians 1:17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (King James version)

And he is The One who is before all, and all things exist by him. (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)

And you seriously think that if you could sit Paul down and ask him, that he would say that he meant by this statements that "all things" included God, Himself, so that what Paul is communicating here is that "God is before Himself"? Seriously?

It's much more likely that Paul meant "all things" to be "all things besides Himself".

"He is before all [other] things, and in Him all [other] things hold together"

vs.

"He is before all things [including Himself], and in Him all things [including Himself] hold together".

That type of "interpretation" - whether of the Bible or anything else - is either sloppy or purposefully evasive of the original intent.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With what material did this existent do this? Do you accept that creation must mean a rearrangement of existents into new configurations or are you fine with ex nihilo?

I prefer ex nihilo, and by it, I mean "out of nothing else" - the "else" meaning "anything but God"... which is sort of what it always meant.

The idea that "God created ex nihilo" means "God created out of nothing - including Himself, so that He wasn't even there" is such a stupid strawman that it doesn't even warrant discussion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, the attributes God supposedly has contradict themselves and reality over and over again. And that in turn directly contradicts the Law of Identity. It's because of the Law of Identity that we know that there are no contradictions.

For instance, like Epicuros pointed out around 300BC, an omnipotent and benevolent God wouldn't allow evil to exist.

You assume that "benevolent" = "altruistic". Perhaps God is an Egoist and allows evil to exist as an instrumental means to satisfy a more ultimate purpose of enjoying and displaying Himself-- His benevolence being that He shares the good with whom He chooses... rather than Him having some sort of altruistic obligation to give good to everyone equally.

Then there is the question of whether an omnipotent being can create a rock he himself cannot lift.

"can an omnipotent being create a rock He, Himself cannot lift?"

"Can an omnipotent being be incapable of something?"

"Can an all-powerful being lack a power?"

"Can A = ~A?"

All you've done is throw together a meaningless combination of words (a convoluted contradiction), slapped a question mark at the end, and considered yourself profound. As C.S. Lewis once said (this is a rough paraphrase): A meaningless combination of words does not gain meaning because you slap the words "can God" in front of it.

You either don't understand basic logic, or you don't understand the meaning of the terms you are using. Omnipotent/all-powerful means "able to do all THINGS". A contradiction is not a "thing" and contradicting one's self is not a power/ability-- it is a weakness.

So, no, God is not "capable" of contradictions -- but that "incapability" is not a weakness, but a strength. Likewise, God is not capable of weakness, and that "incapability" is NOT a weakness. lol.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I prefer ex nihilo, and by it, I mean "out of nothing else" - the "else" meaning "anything but God"... which is sort of what it always meant.

The idea that "God created ex nihilo" means "God created out of nothing - including Himself, so that He wasn't even there" is such a stupid strawman that it doesn't even warrant discussion.

How do you justify such a belief?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not sure why you decided that I agreed to debate you on your religion, Jacob86. I didn't. I'm replying to the OP. When I answered you before, it was merely to clarify my previous answer to the OP, on what religious view I was referring to.

I don't debate religious people, because their views are not grounded in reality.

Edited by Nicky

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not sure why you decided that I agreed to debate you on your religion, Jacob86. I didn't. I'm replying to the OP. When I answered you before, it was merely to clarify my previous answer to the OP, on what religious view I was referring to.

I don't debate religious people, because their views are not grounded in reality.

Don't worry. I don't debate evasive people- they hate reality.

My response to your post was more to demonstrate to the OP (and other readers) that your objections weren't based in reality -- not so much to debate you. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×