To what extent is the omnipotence of God a logically coherent concept

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Bailey Bell

To what extent is the omnipotence of God a logically coherent concept? (35)

The concept of omnipotence and God is not easily understood; the term refers to the notion that God is all-powerful and supreme. For some this concept of God being omnipotent is logically coherent, but for others it is not. For instance, saying God is all-powerful suggests that God can do anything. But one scenario raised by Michael Dummett is can God change the past? Does it make sense to pray in the event that you receive news that a ship that your loved ones were on sank hours ago with few survivors? Could God change what happened or are your loved one already safe because God knew you’d pray. In this sense it is not a very coherent concept as we aren’t entirely clear of the extent of God’s omnipotence. Many that hold the view that God can do anything run into problems; if God can do everything, could he create a five sided triangle? If holding the view that God can do anything it would seem this is logical as God could change the definition of a triangle. But it seems illogical that God would have this sort of power to change the past, as it is contradictory.

It could be argued that God’s omnipotence is not a logically coherent concept; humans have two arms and two legs to enable us to run but the other attributes of God contradict each other because if he is all powerful yes he can do anything but also saying that God has always existed suggests a God like Aristotle’s, a prime mover. Taking Aristotle’s prime mover that exists outside of space and time and therefore cannot have any matter and so can’t run does this mean that we are better than God by being able to do something he cannot. Therefore God isn’t omnipotent.

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Even in the presence of such difficulties Rene Descartes holds the view that God can do everything; following the definition that omnipotence is a kind of supremacy, all-powerfulness, God’s omnipotence is then absolute and radical. Descartes believes that God can do the logically possible as well as the logically impossible. Thus God can make a square circle and change the laws of mathematics. “God can do whatever we are able to understand, but not that He cannot do what we are unable to understand. For it would be presumptuous to think that our imagination extends as far as His ...

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