Monday, April 2, 2012

"Nonsense remains nonsense even when we talk it about God."

C.S. Lewis on God's omnipotence, quoting portions from a passage in The Problem of Pain that can be found here:
Omnipotence means ‘power to do all, or everything’. And we are told in Scripture that ‘with God all things are possible’.

It is common enough, in argument with an unbeliever, to be told that God, if He existed and were good, would do this or that; and then, if we point out that the proposed action is impossible, to be met with the retort ‘But I thought God was supposed to be able to do anything’.

This raises the whole question of impossibility. ....

.... His Omnipotence means power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to do the intrinsically impossible.

You may attribute miracles to Him, but not nonsense.

This is no limit to His power.

If you choose to say ‘God can give a creature free will and at the same time withhold free will from it’, you have not succeeded in saying ‘anything’ about God: meaningless combinations of words do not suddenly acquire meaning simply because we prefix them with the two other words ‘God can’.

It remains true that all ‘things’ are possible with God: the intrinsic impossibilities are not things but nonentities.

It is no more possible for God than for the weakest of His creatures to carry out both of two mutually exclusive alternatives; not because His power meets an obstacle, but because nonsense remains nonsense even when we talk it about God.”

C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, Chapter 2 (“Divine Omnipotence”), 1940
The Possible and the Impossible — C. S. Lewis on God’s Omnipotence | The American Culture