Thursday, November 13, 2014
Could God Make a Cadillac So Shiny That He Could See His Own Invisible Attributes In It?
I asked the latter question in class yesterday. I'll take a stab at answering it and leave it to the reader to answer the former question.
But first let's back up and ask another question: Could God have made it the case that he never existed? It seems not. For if he made it the case that he never existed then he could have never made it the case that he never existed (for to DO something entails that one exists or has existed).
So there are some states of affairs that are impossible. Here is one: A state of affairs in which God makes it the case that he has never existed. That is neither an actual nor possible state of affairs.
Is there a possible state of affairs in which God is a billiard ball (let's presume there are billiard balls which is not at all obvious...but I digress). Can billiard balls think? COULD a billiard ball think? Presumably not. If not, then God couldn't be a billiard ball...That is, unless he could become a thing which cannot think.
Let's turn our attention to some other properties of God. God is infinite and unbounded. Billiard balls are finite and bounded (they are spherical and spheres are bounded in 3 dimensions; and there can be no such thing as an infinite 3-dimensional object existing in space). An unbounded thing can't be bounded.
But could an unbounded thing BECOME bounded? Could an infinite thing become finite? Could a thinking thing become an unthinking thing?
It is one thing to take on another nature (e.g. the doctrine of the Incarnation states that the Logos took on a human nature while fully retaining a divine nature) it is another thing to turn into another kind of thing entirely. To think that God could turn into a billiard ball is to think that God does not have infinitude, unboundedness, aseity, essentially, since to be a billiard ball is to be bounded, finite, and dependent on other things (billiard balls depend on there being spatial dimensions, matter, etc.). Could one have power such that one could be infinite and unbounded but not have either infinitude essentially? If one had infinite power but not essentially it would seem to be a brute fact that one has infinite power, for such a being could not acquire or have infinite power by depending on some other being for the infinite power. One would just have infinite power and there would be nothing in virtue of which one had infinite power. Moreover, it might be thought that one with such a power is not truly infinite since such a being could not make it the case that the being has infinite power essentially--for to have infinite power essentially entails that the being couldn't lack such a power, but a being with brute infinite power could lack infinite power by becoming a finite thing. But by the same token it might be thought that a being which could not turn into a billiard ball does not have infinite power either.
So one of the following propositions must go:
1. A being with infinite power exists.
2. A being with infinite power could turn himself into a billiard ball and thus not have infinite power essentially.
3. A being with infinite power has infinite power essentially and thus could not turn into a billiard ball (or anything else that is finite for that matter).