Philosophers, Orientalists & Our Intellectual Heritage

So I have this philosophy course this term. Great fun. Good teacher. The guy’s British by education and somewhat by background. He’s also a huge Monty Python fan. But, the other day he tossed out this funny little paradox that seemed to really impress many folks in the class. He proposed the following:

God cannot be both All-Knowing and All-Powerful
The parable he sets forth is this: imagine a box, which the contents are unknown and unknowable.
Could God created such a box? If so, how could He be All-Knowing?
If not, how could He be All-Powerful?

I’d be interested to get your feedback on this one. Really made me chuckle.

7 Replies to “Philosophers, Orientalists & Our Intellectual Heritage”

  1. Salaam’s, this must be a philosophy class first year. They always come with this paradox to devalue an indiviual’s faith or foundation. Because you can create an intellectual paradox does not prove the validity of the paradox, but you ability to structure a lose lose formula. In the end the question is “who cares” – alright now.


  2. Sallaams

    Your Menopausal Theosophist/Philosophy teacher would do good to just talk about Quantum Indeterminacy or The Obeservers Paradox, celebrated by such parables as “Shrodingers Cat”. A cat is placed in a steel chamber w/ a vile of cyanic acid reigged to break and kill the cat if another element, also in the chamber, looses particle one due to radioactive decay. From the outside, you’d never know if the cat is dead or alive. Indeed it would ACTUALLY BE BOTH.

    If he can’t, or won’t, get him to discuss or suggest readings by St. Anselm, Y’know, the guy who came up with the truism ” If that, than which no greater can be conceived can be conceived not to exsist, then it is not that than which no greater can be conceived”. He was bigger than the Beatles for that one. Theres a beautiful drinking song that Ivy League brats of old used to sing ’round the piano called St Anselms Waltz. The words were put to the music of The Australian Nat. anthem, “Waltzing Matilda”. Remind me to send you the lyrics. Pretty deft feat to pull off after slamming a few nips of Seagrams 7, which I guess was the whole point.
    This long winded smack talk is brought to you by “The Deadly Thinkin’ Rican Foundation” who suggest that the resolution of such perponderances are best sought through proven structured channels like, uh oh, I don’t know, uh, any 1st year physics class. Math is a good outlet for that. Good time killers @ bus stops too. Some really amazing R&D thats being done is predicated on similar principles of quantum theory.

    Allah Subhana Wa Ta’ala obliges us w/ the mere senses we have. We’re afforded glimpses outside of these only @ his behest with disciplines like math and physics. Not to mention the appropriate Ayas you have @ your command that would put all of this to bed.Out side of these I suspect lurks convoluted arrogance. Take a Shiv to this guys L7 vertebrae for me.

    Sallaams my Bro


  3. God cannot be both All-Knowing and All-Powerful.
    Why not? What power provides the parameter for “all Powerful” or “All Knowing”?
    I do not know and neither does your instructor.

    The parable he sets forth is this: imagine a box, which the contents are unknown and unknowable.
    Why not open the box, know the unknown, and discover the unknowable?

    Could God created such a box? If so, how could He be All-Knowing?
    If not, how could He be All-Powerful?
    God “The Inevitability” has already created such a box; it only needs opening, but only by the unfaithful and arrogant.

    The instructor seems vain, in that he attempts to impress with the “square circle” argument.

    It is as absurd as the question; what happens if a hole falls off a sheet of paper.

  4. Ha!! Very good, Michael. He also said something about that same “square-circle” argument. That’s funny…

  5. Salaams,
    You know, we should print this out and present it to the most Salafied people we can find and watch them explode!

    We’ve all been in these conversations before, usually prompted by the same type of person that your professor is. Normally such people don’t care or even believe in the existence of a “higher power” anyway and pose such questions simply to test those questioned – to test their patience and ability to carry an argument without becoming angry, or smacking the taste out the mouth of such a person.

    Some time ago, I had my encounter with such a person, and at the time, I confess it did bother me somewhat. So, I asked those who I consider knowledgeable and trustworthy and the answer they gave me was a simple question:
    Why would God create/do something that would challenge His Lordship?

    Honestly, these days I steer pretty clear of such people and arguments. My patience with such things is, unfortunately, pretty thin. I just don’t want to hear it, and I usually respond with my patented “whatever,” or “I don’t care, go away” I know this isn’t the best thing to do, but that’s me.

    I hope you fair better in dealing with people like that, at least until the end of the semester when you’ve found out that you passed the class! Then, maybe give them a good “what-for!”


  6. All this intellectual hypothetical suggests (maybe) is that God’s omnipotence precludes His self-deception. Okaayy so God is too powerful NOT to know something…I value a good parable as much as the next guy, but I’m unimpressed by your professor’s attempt to spew agnotistic sentiments disguised as philosophy.

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