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Wielenberg proposes the radically different definition of omnipotence (in Omnipotence Again, 2000)

x is omnipotent if and only if it is not the case that there is some state of affairs, p, such that x is unable to bring about p because of a lack of power in x

As far as I can see this "lack of power" suggestion has been little discussed. Is there a reason this proposal doesn't seem to have been taken seriously?


For reference, here are some other common definitions in Philosophy of Religion:

  1. S is omnipotent iff S can perform any action A such that A is possible
  2. S is omnipotent iff S can perform any action A such that it is logically possible that S does A.
  3. S is omnipotent iff S can bring about any possible world
  4. S is omnipotent iff for every contingent state of affairs p, whether p is the case is logically equivalent to the effective choice, by S, that p
  5. S is omnipotent iff S can bring about any state of affairs p such that it is logically possible that S brings about p
  6. S is omnipotent at time t iff S is able at t to bring about any state of affairs p such that it is consistent with the facts about what happened before t that, after t, S should bring about p
  7. S is omnipotent at t iff S is able at t to bring about any state of affairs p such that possibly some agent brings about p, and p is unrestrictedly repeatable
  • Can you cite a few other definitions of omnipotence that were used (by theologians, I suppose) and were radically different? I can't see why this one should be new or non-obvious? – Drux Sep 17 '14 at 10:01
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    @Drux - Have done so. I feel the same, which is why I asked the question, but it doesn't seem to be something taken seriously. – 8128 Sep 17 '14 at 15:54
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    @Einer Yes it is, although I agree it's not obvious (Making a stone that God couldn't lift would be something God couldn't do, but not because of a lack of power, but because such a stone couldn't exist.) – 8128 Sep 17 '14 at 15:59
  • Ah! I get it. Nifty! – Einer Sep 17 '14 at 16:21
  • If a person believes God of the Bible or any other deity actually exists then this Being would have qualities that are beyond human comprehension or understanding. If one could analyse a Deity and 'their' 'mind' just like the way scientists analyse human beings 'minds' or even machines like it is all 'analyse-able' and determinate then sure one could use words like omnipotence and omnipresence etc., as if these concepts (if they exist) that are beyond are comprehension by definition , can be pin-pointed with words. – user128932 Sep 18 '14 at 22:15
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The problem with this definition is that it proposes an empty list of possible conditions that can inhibit to bring about p (besides a lack of power) - whatever could they be. Thus, we cannot say where limits of the omnipotence are.

I would say, that the author of the definition seems to reserve for himself the possibility to fill this list in a future. For now, nobody can judge from this definition which possible limits destroy the omnipotence and which of them leave it intact.

  • I would like to kind of agree, but sorry, if there is such a thing, per you, the "limit" of the ominipotence, upon that instance, "that" is not omnipotent. I think. – Kentaro Mar 15 '15 at 14:11
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Being a materialist, or softly saying an empiricist, I would like to apologize if my answer sounds offensive to you, whenever I see a "God related discussion" ( here, his omnipotence ), it always looks to me metaphysical.

Now,

x is omnipotent if and only if it is not the case that there is some state of affairs, p, such that x is unable to bring about p because of a lack of power in x

The omnipotence is an omnipotence, therefore there would be no counter-case even in the slightest meaning, ( here, Wielenberg even does not need to mention even "only-if" ) because of the definition of the "omnipotence". Personally, when we talk about the omnipotence, to me, it it equals with that we can not argue or mention about A and B, anything, none at all about "his omnipotence" because he is omnipotent...

  • Because if God is not omnipotent, he would be not God.. – Kentaro Mar 15 '15 at 13:54
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The Power of Motion

Omnipotence: nothing that Motion is able to bring about due to a lack of power
Motion is the source of all power. If something does not come about, it is only because he has decided to resist himself.

An object in motion remains in motion unless acted on by an outside force.

He is the outside force. So only he can stop himself, or prevent himself from doing something.

Motion is omnipotent if and only if it is not the case that there is some state of affairs, p, such that motion is unable to bring about p because of a lack of power in motion.
Again the only reason for a lack of power would be because he resists himself.

As far as I can see this "lack of power" suggestion has been little discussed. Is there a reason this proposal doesn't seem to have been taken seriously?
The "lack of power" only shows the "power of his resistance", so the "lack of power" does not affect his omnipotence. It is like he is flexing his muscles.

Other common definitions in Philosophy of Religion

Motion is omnipotent if motion can perform any action A such that A is possible
If it is the will of motion, that action can be performed, if it is not possible, then it is only because it is not the will of motion.

Motion is omnipotent if motion can perform any action A such that it is logically possible that motion does A.
Functionality is only a perspective, however if the it is true within defined functionality, then that function can continue.

Motion is omnipotent if motion can bring about any possible world
Every possible world is brought about by Motion.

Motion is omnipotent if for every contingent state of affairs p, whether p is the case is logically equivalent to the effective choice, by motion, that p
Again the contingent state of affairs is defined functionality. It really is just a question about resistance or not.

Motion is omnipotent if motion can bring about any state of affairs p such that it is logically possible that motion brings about p
Logically possible functionality is only a perspective, for logically impossible functionality is the opposite and equal reaction. However what is possible and what is impossible is only defined by functionality. And the Lord is greater then functionality, even though he loves functionality and chooses to remain in structure to his own will.

Motion is omnipotent at time t if motion is able at t to bring about any state of affairs p such that it is consistent with the facts about what happened before t that, after t, motion should bring about p
Here is structured functionality, with the constraint of time added. However since the Lord can supersede any function, he is not limited by functionality, therefore still omnipotent.

Motion is omnipotent at t if motion is able at t to bring about any state of affairs p such that possibly some agent brings about p, and p is unrestrictedly repeatable
Functionality does not need restriction.

An object in motion remains in motion unless acted on by an outside force.

The proof of this would be two objects traveling parallel yet at different rates. Like a four lane highway and one car passes another.

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