A popular argument that comes, by some theists, for attributes of God is:

The argument that some of God's attributes, such as Omnipotence, are illogical cannot restrict God from having them since God is not bound to "human" logic.

The argument raises an important question for logic that has been seen in other entities (Euthyphro dilemma).

Is logic logic because God defined it as such?

If the answer to the above question is "Yes" then it follows that God is not necessarily bounded by the logical constructs we follow and is entirely possible that things that seem illogical to us might be, in some manner, logical and plausible for God.

If the answer to the above question is "No" then it follows that logic is indeed a priori for God and his attributes are also restricted by it.

My question is, is it possible for the answer to be "Yes"?

  • We may agree with "God is not bound to "human" logic". But this seems to assume that logic is human, i.e. is a tool "created" by humans. Thus, the fact that we human cannot understand all of God is a human limitation and not a God's one. Conclusion: God is not "illogic". – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Aug 1 '18 at 18:07
  • Yes. That's what I am asking. Is it possible that God is not bound to human logic since the "human" logic was constructed by God, much in the same way it is possible that Good is Good because God defined it as such? – mathnoob123 Aug 1 '18 at 19:24
  • The problem with allowing this question to be answered "yes" is that it causes an explosion of the possibilities of infinite other things that are not bound to human logic. If you can special plead God into being exempt from logic, you could special plead pretty much anything to be exempt from logic. Allowing this exemption makes logic pretty much useless, since it then can't be relied to distinguish between falses from truths, so you would have to give up logic altogether. You can't have "yes" and at the same time assert that logic exists. – Lie Ryan Aug 1 '18 at 19:27
  • @LieRyan I agree that answering this question by saying "Yes" makes other illogical things plausible. However, that alone is not sufficient to refute the "Yes" answer. Moreover, you can answer "yes" and assert that logic exists, by defining a domain in which the logical constructs can operate, which in our case, the universe seems to be a good choice. – mathnoob123 Aug 1 '18 at 19:31
  • I read somewhere that it was the ancient Greeks who put the Gods under necessity. Even the Gods must follow the rules, are subject to fate, etc. Sorry I don't have a cite for you. – Gordon Aug 1 '18 at 21:13

If we take a view, such as was held by Descartes, that God is omnipotent in the sense that there are no limits to God's power, then God creates logic in whatever form and governed by whatever rules God prefers.

If we retreat to the more moderate position that God's omnipotence entails that God can do anything that is logically possible, then God cannot create logic but is bound by it.

But then, what is 'it' ? There are alternative logics with which we can and do operate. We can, for instance, have two-valued logics or many valued logics.


Gusbert Van den Brink, 'Descartes, Modalities, and God', International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Vol. 33, No. 1 (Feb., 1993), pp. 1-15.

S. Haack, Deviant Logic Some Philosophical Issues, ISBN 10: 052120500X / ISBN 13: 9780521205009. Published by Cambridge University Press, 1977

  • If we take the Descartes position, then I assume showing a possible illogicality with Omnipotence is not a valid refutation for it? – mathnoob123 Aug 1 '18 at 21:15
  • @mathnoob123. I was pegging Descartes' position as a conceptual marker. I happen to think that the logic of omnipotence is deeply problematic and I am not sure a coherent account can be given of it. You might share this view. In any case you make a clever point, really nice. Best - Geoff – Geoffrey Thomas Aug 1 '18 at 21:22
  • Just one more question, if the Descartes position is taken, then it is necessarily the case that God even chose the Good (to resolve the Euthyphro dilemma under the light of Descartes omnipotence). Correct? – mathnoob123 Aug 1 '18 at 21:25
  • @mathnoob123. Yes, I think Descartes would accept precisely that. If God can create logic at will, God can create ethics at will also : in whatever form God chooses them to take. You make a sound inference - one at least that Descartes would accept as sound. Best - Geoff – Geoffrey Thomas Aug 1 '18 at 22:29
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    @mathnoob. Put another way, if God created all the natural rules or laws to which humankind is subject, and ethics is among those rules, then necessarily God created ethics. – Geoffrey Thomas Aug 2 '18 at 7:37

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