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Can G-d really do anything?

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  • Can G-d really do anything?

    The question often comes to me as to whether Hakodesh Baruch Hu (G-d) can do anything? Can G-d do anything no matter what it is?

    This question/issue came up in another thread and I wanted to have a discussion/debate on the matter. As Jews we firmly believe that G-d is self limited to doing what is possible, not what is impossible. Some would say that this is limiting G-d but to the contrary this is merely stating that G-d imposes His own limits on what He can and will do. G-d could not make himself not be G-d. He cannot destroy Himself and he cannot suddenly become evil or develope amnesia. Maimonides, one of our greatest rabbis, summed this up pretty well.

    Maimonides: Guide for the Perplexed 3:15

    The "impossible" has a stable nature, one whose stability is constant and is not made by a maker; it is impossible to change it in any way. Hence, we do not ascribe to G-d the power of doing what is impossible. No thinking man denies the truth of this maxim, and none ignore it – except for those who have no understanding of logic . . . Likewise it is impossible that G-d should produce a being like Himself, or destroy Himself, or make Himself physical, or change Himself – all of these things are in the category of the impossible, and cannot be attributed to G-d . . . It has become clear then that, according to every opinion and school, there are things which are impossible and which cannot exist. The power to bring about these impossible things cannot be ascribed to G-d. The fact that He cannot change them does not imply inability or deficiency of power on His part.

    Please discuss and debate. Enjoy!
    אברהם אבן עזרא

    Avraham Ibn Ezra

  • #2
    Originally posted by Avraham Ibn Ezra View Post
    The question often comes to me as to whether Hakodesh Baruch Hu (G-d) can do anything? Can G-d do anything no matter what it is?

    This question/issue came up in another thread and I wanted to have a discussion/debate on the matter. As Jews we firmly believe that G-d is self limited to doing what is possible, not what is impossible. Some would say that this is limiting G-d but to the contrary this is merely stating that G-d imposes His own limits on what He can and will do. G-d could not make himself not be G-d. He cannot destroy Himself and he cannot suddenly become evil or develope amnesia. Maimonides, one of our greatest rabbis, summed this up pretty well.

    Maimonides: Guide for the Perplexed 3:15

    The "impossible" has a stable nature, one whose stability is constant and is not made by a maker; it is impossible to change it in any way. Hence, we do not ascribe to G-d the power of doing what is impossible. No thinking man denies the truth of this maxim, and none ignore it – except for those who have no understanding of logic . . . Likewise it is impossible that G-d should produce a being like Himself, or destroy Himself, or make Himself physical, or change Himself – all of these things are in the category of the impossible, and cannot be attributed to G-d . . . It has become clear then that, according to every opinion and school, there are things which are impossible and which cannot exist. The power to bring about these impossible things cannot be ascribed to G-d. The fact that He cannot change them does not imply inability or deficiency of power on His part.

    Please discuss and debate. Enjoy!
    Given how certain people on this site tend to stay in certain forums. I think that you may get more/better responses by posting this in the Tektonics or Deeper Waters forums. If you do want to follow my suggestion, you can simply ask one of the moderators of this section to move the thread.

    ETA: Well, not all of them will be better, but I'm thinking you would certainly get more responses.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Cerebrum123 View Post
      Given how certain people on this site tend to stay in certain forums. I think that you may get more/better responses by posting this in the Tektonics or Deeper Waters forums. If you do want to follow my suggestion, you can simply ask one of the moderators of this section to move the thread.

      ETA: Well, not all of them will be better, but I'm thinking you would certainly get more responses.
      That sounds like a good idea. Am I able to keep this thread open and post another one just like it or do I have to move it?
      אברהם אבן עזרא

      Avraham Ibn Ezra

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Avraham Ibn Ezra View Post
        That sounds like a good idea. Am I able to keep this thread open and post another one just like it or do I have to move it?
        I'm pretty sure it's best to have just one thread. More than that will be considered spamming IMO. Looks like you already started one in Theology 201. I think you should report it, and ask for the response to it to be merged with the thread. After that, then you should decide where you think it is best suited to be.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Avraham Ibn Ezra View Post
          The question often comes to me as to whether Hakodesh Baruch Hu (G-d) can do anything? Can G-d do anything no matter what it is?

          This question/issue came up in another thread and I wanted to have a discussion/debate on the matter. As Jews we firmly believe that G-d is self limited to doing what is possible, not what is impossible. Some would say that this is limiting G-d but to the contrary this is merely stating that G-d imposes His own limits on what He can and will do. G-d could not make himself not be G-d. He cannot destroy Himself and he cannot suddenly become evil or develope amnesia. Maimonides, one of our greatest rabbis, summed this up pretty well.

          Maimonides: Guide for the Perplexed 3:15

          The "impossible" has a stable nature, one whose stability is constant and is not made by a maker; it is impossible to change it in any way. Hence, we do not ascribe to G-d the power of doing what is impossible. No thinking man denies the truth of this maxim, and none ignore it – except for those who have no understanding of logic . . . Likewise it is impossible that G-d should produce a being like Himself, or destroy Himself, or make Himself physical, or change Himself – all of these things are in the category of the impossible, and cannot be attributed to G-d . . . It has become clear then that, according to every opinion and school, there are things which are impossible and which cannot exist. The power to bring about these impossible things cannot be ascribed to G-d. The fact that He cannot change them does not imply inability or deficiency of power on His part.

          Please discuss and debate. Enjoy!
          Yes I agree that some posters do stay on certain forums but this is a very good post especially on the Jewish forum. However, what type of discussion will it be and the answers on the subject considering the contents of the New Testament vs. the Jewish Tanakh. Would it be a matter of thought - considering the verse "30 I and the Father are one.”

          Maimonides: Guide for the Perplexed 3:15

          In the same breath Maimonides discusses angels:

          On account of this difficulty the prophetic books contain expressions which, taken literally, imply that angels are corporeal, moving about, endowed with human form, receiving commands of God, obeying His word and performing whatever He wishes, according to His command. All this only serves to lead to the belief that angels exist, and are alive and perfect, in the same way as we have explained in reference to God. If the figurative representation of angels were limited to this, their true essence would be believed to be the same as the essence of God, since, in reference to the Creator expressions are likewise employed, which literally imply that He is corporeal, living, moving and endowed with human form..




          ...another thought:

          There are, as you know, four kinds of quality; I will give you instances of attributes of each kind, in order to show you that this class of attributes cannot possibly be applied to God. (a) A man is described by any of his intellectual or moral qualities, or by any of the dispositions appertaining to him as an animate being, when, e.g., we speak of a person who is a carpenter, or who shrinks from sin, or who is ill. It makes no difference whether we say. a carpenter, or a sage, or a physician: by all these we represent certain physical dispositions: nor does it make any difference whether we say "sin-fearing" or "merciful." Every trade, every profession, and every settled habit of man are certain physical dispositions. All this is clear to those who have occupied themselves with the study of Logic. (b) A thing is described by some physical quality it possesses, or by the absence of the same, e.g., as being soft or hard. It makes no difference whether we say "soft or hard," or "strong or weak"; in both cases we speak of physical conditions. (c) A man is described by his passive qualities, or by his emotions; we speak, e.g., of a person who is passionate, irritable, timid, merciful, without implying that these conditions have become permanent. The description of a thing by its colour, taste, heat, cold, dryness, and moisture, belongs also to this class of attributes. (d) A thing is described by any of its qualities resulting from quantity as such; we speak, e.g. of a thing which is long, short, curved, straight, etc.

          Consider all these and similar attributes, and you will find that they cannot be employed in reference to God. He is not a magnitude that any quality resulting from quantity as such could be possessed by Him; He is not

          p. 71

          affected by external influences, and therefore does not possess any quality resulting from emotion. He is not subject to physical conditions, and therefore does not possess strength or similar qualities; He is not an animate being, that He should have a certain disposition of the soul, or acquire certain properties, as meekness, modesty, etc., or be in a state to which animate beings as such are subject, as, e.g., in that of health or of illness. Hence it follows that no attribute coming under the head of quality in its widest sense, can be predicated of God. Consequently, these three classes of attributes, describing the essence of a thing, or part of the essence, or a quality of it, are clearly inadmissible in reference to God, for they imply composition, which, as we shall prove, is out of question as regards the Creator. We say, with regard to this latter point, that He is absolutely One.

          CHAPTER LII

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Avraham Ibn Ezra View Post
            That sounds like a good idea. Am I able to keep this thread open and post another one just like it or do I have to move it?
            Another thought to Maimonides: Guide for the Perplexed


            Thus we shall not be in opposition to the Divine Will (from which it is wrong to deviate) which has withheld from the multitude the truths required for the knowledge of God, according to the words, "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him" (Ps. xxv. 14).

            Know that also in Natural Science there are topics which are not to be fully explained. Our Sages laid down the rule, "The Ma‘aseh Bereshith must not be expounded in the presence of two." If an author were to explain these principles in writing, it would be equal to expounding them unto thousands of men. For this reason the prophets treat these subjects in figures, and our Sages, imitating the method of Scripture, speak of them in metaphors and allegories; because there is a close affinity between these subjects and metaphysics, and indeed they form part of its mysteries. Do not imagine that these most difficult problems can be thoroughly understood by any one of us. This is not the case. At times the truth shines so brilliantly that we perceive it as clear as day. Our nature and habit then draw a veil over our perception, and we return to a darkness almost as dense as before. We are like those who, though beholding frequent flashes of lightning, still find themselves in the thickest darkness of the night. On some the lightning flashes in rapid succession, and they seem to be in continuous light, and their night is as clear as the day. This was the degree of prophetic excellence attained by (Moses) the greatest of prophets, to whom God said, "But as for thee, stand thou here by Me" (Deut. v. 31), and of whom it is written "the skin of his face shone," etc. (Exod. xxxiv. 29). [Some perceive the prophetic flash at long intervals; this is the degree of most prophets.] By others only once during the whole night is a flash of lightning perceived. This is the case with those of whom we are informed, "They prophesied, and did not prophesy again" (Num. xi. 25). There are some to whom the flashes of lightning appear with varying intervals; others are in the condition of men, whose darkness is illumined not by lightning, but by some kind of crystal or similar stone, or other substances that possess the property of shining during the night; and to them even this small amount of light is not continuous, but now it shines and now it vanishes, as if it were "the flame of the rotating sword."

            The degrees in the perfection of men vary according to these distinctions. Concerning those who never beheld the light even for one day, but walk in continual darkness, it is written, "They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness" (Ps. lxxxii. 5). Truth, in spite of all its powerful manifestations, is completely withheld from them, and the following words of Scripture may be applied to them, "And now men see not the light which is bright in the skies" (Job xxxvii. 21). They are the multitude of ordinary men: there is no need to notice them in this treatise.
            Last edited by mitzi; 07-05-2014, 06:15 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Avraham Ibn Ezra View Post
              The question often comes to me as to whether Hakodesh Baruch Hu (G-d) can do anything? Can G-d do anything no matter what it is?

              This question/issue came up in another thread and I wanted to have a discussion/debate on the matter. As Jews we firmly believe that G-d is self limited to doing what is possible, not what is impossible. Some would say that this is limiting G-d but to the contrary this is merely stating that G-d imposes His own limits on what He can and will do. G-d could not make himself not be G-d. He cannot destroy Himself and he cannot suddenly become evil or develope amnesia. Maimonides, one of our greatest rabbis, summed this up pretty well.

              Maimonides: Guide for the Perplexed 3:15

              The "impossible" has a stable nature, one whose stability is constant and is not made by a maker; it is impossible to change it in any way. Hence, we do not ascribe to G-d the power of doing what is impossible. No thinking man denies the truth of this maxim, and none ignore it – except for those who have no understanding of logic . . . Likewise it is impossible that G-d should produce a being like Himself, or destroy Himself, or make Himself physical, or change Himself – all of these things are in the category of the impossible, and cannot be attributed to G-d . . . It has become clear then that, according to every opinion and school, there are things which are impossible and which cannot exist. The power to bring about these impossible things cannot be ascribed to G-d. The fact that He cannot change them does not imply inability or deficiency of power on His part.

              Please discuss and debate. Enjoy!
              Again, and considering the very "action" of creation and if God can "will" anything - yes, but Maimonides explains within the guide (and I can't remember the exact source).

              Esdras (and I'll bring back some verses that I've read)

              4 Ezr 7:70- He answered me and said, "When the Most High made the world and Adam and all who have come from him, he first prepared the judgment and the things that pertain to the judgment. 4 Ezr 7:71- And now understand from your own words, for you have said that the mind grows with us.
              4Ezr 7:72- For this reason, therefore, those who dwell on earth shall be tormented, because though they had understanding they committed iniquity, and though they received the commandments they did not keep them, and though they obtained the law they dealt unfaithfully with what they received.
              4Ezr 7:73- What, then, will they have to say in the judgment, or how will they answer in the last times?
              4Ezr 7:74- For how long the time is that the Most High has been patient with those who inhabit the world, and not for their sake, but because of the times which he has foreordained!"


              This verse reminds me of the explanation from Jesus,"Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains." or even another verse, ""If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened."According to Esdras, God's judgment has already been in place - So is God limited on what he can do? That is, when he has already sent judgment for the human race? Has it been pre ordained and therefore limited once God has placed his judgments?

              Comment


              • #8
                4Ezr 7:74- For how long the time is that the Most High has been patient with those who inhabit the world, and not for their sake, but because of the times which he has foreordained!"
                Fascinating.
                tut2-8.png

                Has it been pre ordained and therefore limited once God has placed his judgments?
                Has anything been preordained in that sense. Or does prophecy ordinarily have an inherent (whether implicit or explicit) "if" behind it.
                Last edited by tabibito; 07-05-2014, 07:21 PM.
                sigpic1 Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by tabibito View Post
                  Fascinating.
                  [ATTACH=CONFIG]1014[/ATTACH]


                  Has anything been preordained in that sense. Or does prophecy ordinarily have an inherent (whether implicit or explicit) "if" behind it.
                  Well yes, Rosh Hashanah begins the night of Wednesday September 24, 2014 and Yom Kippur begins the night of Friday October 3, 2014

                  On Yom Kippur, the judgment entered in these books is sealed. This day is, essentially, your last appeal, your last chance to change the judgment, to demonstrate your repentance and make amends.


                  Unetanneh Tokef:

                  "Let us now relate the power of this day's holiness, for it is awesome and frightening. On it Your Kingship will be exalted; Your throne will be firmed with kindness and You will sit upon it in truth. It is true that You alone are the One Who judges, proves, knows, and bears witness; Who writes and seals, Who counts and Who calculates. You will remember all that was forgotten. You will open the Book of Chronicles — it will read itself - in which everyone's signature is. And the great shofar will be sounded and a still, thin silence will be heard. Angels will hasten, a trembling and terror will seize them—and they will say, 'Behold, it is the Day of Judgment, to muster the heavenly host for judgment!'—for even they cannot be vindicated in Your eyes in judgment."

                  ....

                  He Judges Us[edit]


                  The second paragraph continues this point, depicting how every event that will occur in the upcoming year is "written on Rosh Hashanah and sealed on Yom Kippur". This paragraph is known by its opening words, BeRosh Hashana, and it is traditional that the litany of possible destinies is read with increasing speed from the phrase "Who shall rest and who shall wander" to the end of the paragraph. This paragraph reaches its climax with the final line, said by all the congregants in unison, "But repentance, prayer, and charity avert the severe decree." This verse is usually printed in more emphatic typeface and usually with, in smaller type, the words "fasting", "voice", and "money" above "repentance", "prayer", and "charity" respectively - those words are not read aloud but are intended as instructions on how to perform the three acts necessary to avoid (or reduce) the dire punishments. This verse expresses the formula by which a man may obtain a reduction in the severity of the original decree, as expressed in the Bible (Second Chronicles 7:14), the Talmud (T.B., Rosh Hashana 16b; T.J. Ta'anith 2:1) and Midrah (Bereshis Rabbah 44:13).[8]

                  Comment

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