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Monday, March 24, 2014

Sixteen Tons?

 William of Ockham... no particular connection with the post

I was reading a discussion this morning about the old question whether God can make a rock so massive that even He cannot lift it, thereby negating His omnipotence.

This is a poser for people. I am not sure why.

The first part says that God can do anything. Since that is the case, He can do any amount of Work, and work = force x displacement in a straight line = Fd.

Therefore, God can exert a Force F1 which can displace any mass M1 upwards ("lift") a distance d.

Therefore, there is a Force F1.

The second part says that there is a rock of mass M1 that is so heavy that there is no force that can be exerted to lift it.

Therefore, there is no Force F1.

It really does not matter if God is in the question or not. It comes down to a contradiction: {there is a force F1} and {there is not a force F1}.

The concept of "God" is added merely to confuse us.

We usually compound God and notions of necessity, so we usually end up with:

It is Necessarily True that {there is a force F1}          since we associate God with Necessary Truth


It is Necessarily True that {there is no Force F1}         since we say it is

Now a mere contradiction should not make us lose a night's sleep, but this is different.

To me it is the same thing as being a logical matchmaker, and saying:

Proposition A is necessarily true.
Having said that, let's consider proposition Not-A and see how they get along.


Oh, Sixteen Tons refers to the song of the same name.... "You load sixteen tons, and what do ya get? A ticket to Beulah Land and no regret."

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