Then God is........blank.
April 13, 2009 3:43 PM   Subscribe

What is the quote about god that goes something like: "Can god intervene but chooses not to? Then he is _____. Can he intervene but is not able? Then he is _____" I can't find the exact quote.

So, I believe the quote was from some philosopher back in the day who concluded at the end of the quote that god is not able, or omniscient, or something along those lines.

Do you know what I'm referring to?
posted by virga to Religion & Philosophy (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know the quote, but it seems as though the first blank could be filled in with "omnibenevolent," and the second with "omnipotent."
posted by decathecting at 3:46 PM on April 13, 2009

I think you've got those words on backwards, decathecting. If God chose not to help someone, he wouldn't be omnibenevolent. If he wanted to help but couldn't, he wouldn't be omnipotent.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:53 PM on April 13, 2009

Best answer: Epicurus.

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?”

posted by spockette at 3:55 PM on April 13, 2009 [26 favorites]

It's close to what decathecting suggested. The blanks are "not benevolent" and "not omnipotent."

It's often referred to as "the problem of evil."
posted by Nattie at 3:55 PM on April 13, 2009

The quote, by the way, comes from David Hume. But it's from the Epicurean Paradox (by, obviously, Epicurus).
posted by spockette at 3:57 PM on April 13, 2009

More pithily: if God is good, he is not God, if God is God, he is not good.
posted by Maias at 4:40 PM on April 13, 2009 [3 favorites]

Seconding nattie: it's a statement of the problem of evil, which has been & continues to be discussed by a lot of philosophers and theologians. Spockette's right too.
posted by kestrel251 at 5:10 PM on April 13, 2009

Theodicies are interesting reading; usually elegant "But.. but.. and..(so on and so forth)" from great minds.
posted by flippant at 3:36 AM on April 14, 2009

...and if you are interested in any responses, I suggest Alvin Plantinga's Free Will Defense or overview of defenseshere. Plantinga's is considered the best response from what I hear. (Of course I'm losing my hearing.)
posted by snap_dragon at 5:13 PM on April 30, 2009

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