7

I'll begin by laying out some some ideas that are considered true for the sake of argument:

1. Given: God Exists
2. Given: God is Perfect
3. Given: Everything God does is good
4. Given: Everything God does is right
5. Given: Nothing imperfect can come from something that is perfect
6. Given: God created everything
7. Given: Man is part of everything
8. Given: Man is not perfect
9. Given: Free will is necessary
10. Given: Nothing greater than perfection can be conceived
  • #6 implies that Man was created by God
  • #3, #4, and #6 imply that it was good and right to create everything
  • #5 implies that creation was perfect when it came from God
  • #3, #4, #5, and #6, implies man was perfect when created
  • #8 introduces a contradiction with #5. In perfection, man somehow became imperfect

Objection: Man has free will and chose to become imperfect

Counter: #5, else it is possible for God to choose to become imperfect

I feel forced to conclude that a perfect God can not exist if man exists, being created by God yet in an imperfect state. Can an imperfect God then exist?

What, if anything, is lacking with this line of thought? I'm very interested in hearing any and all thoughts.

  • 3
    In Eastern philosophy, there is no creation. What you call creation is the projection out of Brahman. What you think of as creation is maya. It is an illusion. From within the illusion there appears imperfection, there is apparent imperfection. From the standpoint of God, there is no imperfection as it is all illusion. Does rain in a mirage wet the earth? – Swami Vishwananda Feb 21 '15 at 11:11
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    OP: Descartes directly addresses the argument you make in the Meditations. Main problem is in the implication you're drawing at 5. It's not actually necessary by a long mile. A big part of the problem is that "perfect" is thoroughly ambiguous. This echoes in #8. – virmaior Feb 22 '15 at 15:14
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    Upvoted for its logical soundness. – Neil Meyer Feb 22 '15 at 17:16
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    i'm less impressed than @NeilMeyer . there has been centuries of similar arguments and it generally boils down to The Problem of Evil. usually we take issue with premise #5. in Christianity, we call that The Fall, or the less inclusive "Fall of Man". – robert bristow-johnson Feb 22 '15 at 19:38
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    Why does everyone's gods these days have to be perfect, all knowing, all powerful, etc., etc.? The Greek gods were imperfect and their stories were way more fun. Did they inspire any less devotion? – Dan Christensen Feb 25 '15 at 6:00

11 Answers 11

8

There is no reason under a Christian world view to believe that point 5 is true. We where made perfect in his image but by our own device we fell from the pinnacle of his perfect creation and through this our sinful nature was born. Luckily for us all a young carpenter from Galilee came so that we should not perish because of our sinful nature.

Your premise may still be true but without a great deal of justifying I withhold belief. Actually I'm rather interested in how this premise would be defended.

At least all the premises follow so the strength of this argument would hinge on the defending of the premises.

  • 1
    hey, Neil, i wrote before reading all answers. you're spot on. – robert bristow-johnson Feb 22 '15 at 19:39
  • I'm more interested in how premises 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 9 would be defended. If we grant him the truth of all of these premises, why not grant him a few more? They're all unfounded and/or unproven, so the argument is still deductive and valid in form. IF the premises are true, then the conclusion is true. That's just one big IF. – Goodies Feb 27 '15 at 2:50
3

I am delighted to see a serious attempt at contemplating God and creation.

In a holistic Neoplatonist understanding of God and creation, your premises are questionable. For according to Emanationist understanding of God and His act of creation, all imperfections emanate from non-existence (or lack of (some) existence) while every perfection emanates from God who is perfect existence, provided that 'perfect' as for God implies an existence with highermost intensity. Therefore man owes his defects to non-existence or, in other words, to some lack/weakness of existence, and his perfections necessarily to the perfect existence (God).

For indeed, if imperfections indicate anything, that's the existence of a perfect being! For there can be no imperfection without perfection! If blindness, for example, can "exist" as an imperfection that is because sight is a relative existing perfection! If ignorance is an imperfection that's precisely because knowledge is a real existing perfection.

Endnote: This thesis admittedly requires further elaboration. Especially the Neoplatonist theory of God as pure existence (where 'pure' simply implies that God is all existence and altogether existence) has to be elaborated. For those interested I recommend this answer I wrote a while ago to a question on Islam.SE. There I extensively expose an advanced version of Neoplatonist Theology first proposed by a 17th-century muslim philosopher and theosophist, Mulla Sadra.

  • I am delighted you're delighted! I was hesitant about asking. I will check your recommendation. Doesn't your idea of imperfection, though, necessarily imply that man could never have come into existence, since he would have to start out as completely imperfect or completely perfect? If he comes completely perfect, then my premise holds. If he comes out completely imperfect, then he was not created by God. There doesn't seem to be any way to have it both ways. What am I missing? – Sean Rowe Feb 21 '15 at 8:19
  • @SeanRowe, "Complete imperfection" is only an abstract idea. For according to this philosophy, complete imperfection equates non-existence which can not be. Imperfect beings (all creation) however emanate from God and that's exactly why they are imperfect, for they emanate from God while having no independent existence at the same time. – infatuated Feb 21 '15 at 9:09
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    @SeanRowe I think this is a completely legit answer in its own right. But I want to point out one thing for the OP (which I think the answerer knows): this definition of God is not considered perfect by either Aristotle himself (for whom God is perfect precisely because he does not emanate or even interact with the world) or for standard Christian theologies. And many of these view share the claim that God is pure existence (in other words, there's disagreement about what would be "perfect"). (but +1 to infatuated for helpful answer). – virmaior Feb 22 '15 at 15:17
2

Logically, your argument is correct. To counter it, someone will have to go against the premises.

You're saying that you must conclude that a perfect god cannot exist if man exists. This statement is about truth, not about correctness of the argument. As I said before, the argument is logically correct. This surely doesn't mean it's true though. If I assume that all horses are brown, I can conclude that there exist no white horses. This is logically correct but not true because the premises are not true.

Lastly, the points you make in your argument use more premises than they say they do. For example, your step

#3 and #4 imply that it was good and right to create everything

actually also uses #6. There are more steps like this.


In the beginning I said that to counter your argument, someone will have to claim that one or more of the premises is untrue. I'd say that premise 5, "Nothing imperfect can come from something that is perfect" is particularly debatable.

The line of thought exposed there seems to assume that only the 'final product' (perfect/imperfect man) is what matters. Instead, consider for a moment that also the process to a final product matters: the process of development, possibly both physically and mentally, or even socially or more... In that case one could argue that the development process is perfect when it starts with imperfectness and finishes with perfectness. God would have created man in his imperfectness so that he can grow towards perfectness, making that process perfect.

Note: these are not my personal ideas.

  • I appreciate your comments. I think you're being fair, but I did not mean to come off as rigid. I was trying to be clear that I wasn't interested in banging heads over theology, but I can see that I did not. I would be interested in hearing anything else you have to say before I ask any questions. Thanks again for responding. – Sean Rowe Feb 21 '15 at 8:14
  • @SeanRowe maybe I was a bit too harsh in the beginning, I'm sorry. As you seem genuinely interested I also added a possible counterargument to my answer. – user2953 Feb 21 '15 at 8:25
  • Wouldn't this raise the possibility that God could choose to become imperfect in order to become more perfect? How do you handle recursion of this type? – Sean Rowe Feb 21 '15 at 8:28
  • @SeanRowe you had a premise that nothing higher than perfection can be conceived. Hence, the process stops when perfection is reached - and, since this god is perfect, no process for him. – user2953 Feb 21 '15 at 8:31
  • If it is within the bounds of perfection to be imperfect yet striving towards perfection, then God can be perfect while being imperfect at the same time. That is a contradiction. This is where I seem to be stuck. I feel as if I am missing something, but I can't seem to get around this. – Sean Rowe Feb 21 '15 at 8:38
2

A few things:

First, if you're curious for someone who would argue the opposite way, this is a favorite topic of Peter Kreeft, a current professor and writer of philosophy. See e.g., http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics/evil.htm, but he also has talks on YouTube where he discusses this.

Second, I think it is widely held at least by Christians (I cannot comment as knowledgeably about other groups) that premise #5 ("Given: Nothing imperfect can come from something that is perfect") is not quite right. For examples, Genesis talks about God creating man in God's "image," which is widely understood to mean that man has lots of similarities to God, but like any image is an imperfect representation of the original. It is not about God "choosing to become imperfect" as you stated above, but that only God is perfect, and in choosing to make something that is other than Himself, he must make something that is not perfect.

Third, I have read before (again, from the previously mentioned Kreeft) a more succinct version of this argument:

  1. God is good.
  2. God is all-knowing
  3. God is all-powerful.

Any two of these three being true precludes the third.

So, while I would personally disagree with your argument, I would recommend to you that you put forward the more succinct version.

1

All you can say is that man is part of something perfect, not that man is perfect. You need another premiss which can be challenged: the parts of something perfect are also perfect.

1

I think that the following logically imply that man does not exist.

(1) God Exists

(2) God is Perfect

(5) Nothing imperfect can come from something that is perfect

(6) God created everything

(7) Man is part of everything

(8) Man is not perfect

So this system of axioms is inconsistent with what we actually observe; so, at least one of the givens is incorrect. I think (5) is probably the weakest link.

0

There is an interesting insight by Simone Weil on this question which is that man can exist only where God is not; by reason of his finitude and Gods Infinitude; if God were to be here right here and right now we would be annihilated as finite creatures.

Hence man must be imperfect.

Interestingly, when Arjuna is convinced by Krishna to follow his dharma, he asks to see Krishna as he really is, and is given 'second sight' so he can do so; and in the Qu'ran, Allah is behind a veil; and in the Bible, God never manifests himself directly.

0

If god is perfect and everything he creates is right and good and he created humans that are not perfect then that was his intention.

Imperfection can't come from perfection. What determines if something has perfection, if it corresponds to the idea of the creator and if it is finished.

0

biologically, man can never be perfect. he can never have a perfect brain and a perfect memory. because of this biological imperfection man becomes imperfect in all other aspects including his thoughts, feelings, behavior, etc. this imperfection then results in imperfect actions which most people say the result of free will..there is really no such thing as free will.

God created the universe and endowed it with natural laws and part of that laws is that when circumstances are favorable such as the element composition, temperature and all other things, LIFE could exist. that is how man came to be, he is simply fruit of God's creation not His direct creation..

0

Shift perspective for a moment. If God is perfect then it is logically impossible for God to create anything except imperfect beings. If God creates a perfect being then God can only reproduce Godself - another being equal in perfection to God. If perfection involves omnipotence, then we should have two omnipotent beings : and this is logically impossible. God can't be all-powerful - which at least means supremely powerful - if something else, which God has created, is equally powerful. God would have destroyed God's own supremacy, which would make God no longer imperfect.

So either God creates nothing at all or God does create but what God creates is of logical necesssity imperfect.

-2

As Keelan has already pointed out, If your premises were true, then your conclusion would be true. However, premises #5 and #6 - are false. Therefore, your conclusion is false.

#5 is false because mankind did not come from God.
#6 is false because, as far as mankind is concerned, God created only - Adam & Eve.

  • False premises don't make for a false conclusion. You mean to say unsound. – Kevin Holmes Feb 24 '15 at 21:45
  • Apart from that, this answer is pure opinion and as such not a good fit for this site. – user2953 Feb 25 '15 at 13:45

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