Two textbook examples of this:
Now, the easy way out would be to point at the above, and simply note that both locations are in Kentucky. 🙂
Actually, I’m going to do something far more “nuanced” (note: I’m not using “nuance” as a synonym for “hand-waving”).
My problem with things like the above is: any attempt to demonstrate how stuff from religion/mythology could be “possible” necessarily involves abandoning the central tenet of ALL religions: supernaturalism.
As Leonard Peikoff puts the point:
What is meant by “the supernatural”? Supposedly, a realm that transcends nature. What is nature? Nature is existence—the sum of that which is. It is usually called “nature” when we think of it as a system of interconnected, interacting entities governed by law. So “nature” really means the universe of entities acting and interacting in accordance with their identities. What, then, is “super-nature”? Something beyond the universe, beyond entities, beyond identity. It would have to be: a form of existence beyond existence—a kind of entity beyond anything man knows about entities—a something which contradicts everything man knows about the identity of that which is. In short, a contradiction of every metaphysical essential.
Now, the essential “gimmick” of all religions is the claim that “God”/”The gods” are unrestrained by any sort of “natural law”. That is the whole gimmick at the root of “omnipotence”. (Hint: the notion of “worshipping” an entity which is only “semi-potent” — no matter HOW “potent” as compared to humans – strikes me as inane for other reasons.)
Now, here’s just a few problems with the notion of “omnipotence”, for starters:
The paradox highlights cases where, in performing an action, an omnipotent being would be limiting its abilities (therefore rendering it very firmly not omnipotent); conversely if it was unable to perform such an action, it would also not be omnipotent. The paradox represents a reductio ad absurdum, with the conclusion that a truly omnipotent being cannot exist.
The most classic example of the paradox, a Morton’s fork, is the “Paradox of the Stone”:
- Can an omnipotent being create a stone so heavy that it cannot lift it?
- If yes: the being’s power is limited, because it cannot lift the stone.
- If no: the being’s power is limited, because it cannot create the stone.
- Either way, the allegedly omnipotent being has proven not to be omnipotent due to the logical contradiction present in both possible answers.
The stone paradox can be substituted with similar examples. E.g. Could an omnipotent being create another being more powerful than itself? Could an omnipotent being destroy itself? Could he create a wall he cannot climb? Could he beat himself at arm-wrestling? And so on. The situation crops up numerous times in different wordings but all mean the same thing.
Some variations gives other useful consequences:
Can God create a cryptography/key exchange system so secure that he himself cannot crack/bypass?
- If no: He does not have the ability to authenticate any of his revelations, and therefore he lacks omnipotence, and cannot authentically reveal anything to anyone.
- If yes: He does not have the ability to bypass encryptions therefore he lacks omnipotence and omniscience.
And therein (as they say) lies the “rub”:
“Omnipotence” is an inherently self-refuting idea.
Now, what most so-called “believers” actually “mean” when they talk about “omnipotence” etc., is some kind of (deliberately hazy, imprecise) notion that the purported entity in question is merely “really, really powerful” (as compared to some — typically unstated — standard).
A particularly idiotic and slovenly variant of this was the one used by John (the morbidly-obese blind guy whose girlfriend has to cut his food for him when they go to restaurants): “Well, its like if you said an ‘omnipotent king’.
When I pointed out to him the fact that his “answer” amounted to:
- Tautological restatement (“Using the term omnipotence is like using the term omnipotence”)
- Failure to actually define the term being used
He got all mad.
I further pointed out that there would never be any possible excuse for using the expression “an omnipotent king”, for the simple reason that a “king” (or any other “law-maker” for that matter) cannot actually prevent “crime” from occurring — such persons can merely attempt to use “punishment” as disincentive.
Quite frankly, that state of affairs is SO FAR from “omnipotence” as to qualify as a mere reaction.
So, yeah: the notion of “omnipotence” relies on the (often self-imduced) wooziness of those who resort to the term.
But, that brings me back to the “Noah’s Ark”/”creation” atrocities linked above.
Quite frankly, the basic contradiction at the heart of all religions is as follows:
1. If “god”/”the gods” required any MEANS to enact their “will” – then He/It/They are not “omni”-potent.
2. If He/It/They are “only” semi-potent (even if really, really, really “powerful”), then any attempt to ‘worship” He/It/Them is indistinguishable from groveling at the feet of “power”.
3. Any act of “worship” which is predicated on: A. Escaping “punishment” or B. receiving a “reward” of some kind amounts to an act of NAKED SELF-INTEREST on the part of the “worshiper”.
So much for the religionists’ purported “selflessness”.
The central “gimmick” at the base of Christianity is the claim that it is “just” for Yahweh (one “Person” of the “Trinity”) to doom the entirety of humankind to an eternity of “hellfire” — either for the “original sin” committed by the first two humans, and/or the specific “ins” committed by any individual human — or whatever. (Different variants of “Christianity” make somewhat different claims about this).
However, they THEN go on to claim that Jesus (the second “person” of the Trinity) “interceded” on humanity’s behalf, such that Yahweh “wills” that It punish ITSELF — not merely for whatever specific “sins” had actually been committed as of Ca. 2000 years ago (when the events supposedly happened) — but FURTHER, for all manner of FUTURE “sins”, which hadn’t even happened yet.’
This is the blatant idiocy behind their claim that “he died for you!”
In order for that to be even halfway “plausible”:
- Everything about “you” — including every single one of the “sins” you supposedly need to be “forgiven” for — had to be preordained, from before “Creation” itself.
- Further, you had no “choice” in the matter.
(Fun fact: “The Bible” even backs me up on this one:
King James Bible
And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.
King James Bible
Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
So, yeah: whatever religious types claim to “worship”, if you take the notion seriously, it amounts to a whim-ridden, power-lusting “thug” on a cosmological scale.
A cosmological thug who is also schizophrenic, such that one of its “Alters” was willing to “die in your place”.
And THAT is the dirty little secret, folks: the WHOLE absurd spectacle of “Christianity” (or any other “religion”, for that matter), amounts to the most brazen act of “self-interest” imaginable.
Ask yourself this: Would ANYONE still bother with “Christianity”, if they KNEW beforehand that they would spend an eternity in hell EITHER WAY?
If the answer is “no’, then it follows that the religion is not an “end in itself” — but a mere means — either to avoid an “eternity in hell”, or to secure and eternity in “heaven”.
They’re either in it to eat the CARROT, or avoid the STICK.
Same goes for any of the “Dharmic” religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.):
Their “carrot and stick” gimmick is slightly different, but ultimately comes to the same shitty shell-fame:
Supposedly (although they have no evidence for the claim), they are “spirits” who ‘reincarnate” over and over and over. Their “Karma” determines what they reincarnate as (nonuman animals, the lower “castes”, the priesthood, etc.) — with the (purported) goal being not to “reincarnate” at all.
In other words: the carrot and stick gimmick, again.
Now, of COURSE religious folks cannot allow themselves to recognize the fact that their antics are blatantly self-interested. They cannot allow themselves to even ask themselves: Absent whatever specific ‘carrot and stick” gimmick is used to extort my participation, would I continue doing this?
Is their motivation intrinsic — or extrinsic?
But, back to the “creation museum” and “life-size Noah’s ark”, and suchlike:
A genuinely “omnipotent” Entity wouldn’t HAVE to “repent” of having created “sinful” humans. Moreover, a genuinely “omnipotent” Entity wouldn’t HAVE TO “command” some ignorant yokel to build an ark out of “gopher-wood”.
That’s leaving aside the fact that it would be impossible to get two of “every kind” into such a vessel.
That’s ALSO leaving aside the fact that it would be EQUALLY impossible to get “two of every ‘unclean’ animal, and SEVEN of every clean one” onto such a vessel.
And that is my basic problem with the above-linked attractions:
By attempting to “explain” a literal version of parts of the Genesis MYTHOLOGy, they just end up illustrating the idiocy of the mythology itself.
Moreover, by (tacitly) conceding that their “God” was constrained to do things via any specific MEANS, they are (tacitly) also denying the “omnipotence” of said “God”.