The Omnipotence Paradox

God is literally the greatest possible being. God is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscience, self-existing and ever-being, and all the above.

But… Can God create a stone so large that even He cannot lift it? Can God will Himself out of existence create a puzzle so hard that even He cannot solve it?

If God can create a stone so large that even He cannot lift it, then there is something He cannot do and He is not omnipotent. If he can’t create a stone so large that even he cannot lift it, He is not omnipotence in the first place. At least, according to the omnipotence paradox.

The omnipotence paradox is an atheistic argument against the existence of God. Since some atheists are more honest, and admit that they cannot rule out God’s existence unless they actually cough up actual evidence against the existence of God, this is one of the arguments they try. And in fact, this argument is universally laughed at by philosophers, because it, although seems intriguing on its face, would fail to sustain itself even after a single Philosophy 101 course. One of the worlds greatest and most influential living philosophers, Dr. William Lane Craig comments the following on it;

…people will often ask if God can make a stone to heavy for him to lift. If he is all-powerful, shouldn’t God be able to make a stone that is so heavy that he is unable to lift it? If you say, “No, he can lift anything!” then that means there is something he can’t do – which is make such a stone. This is a logical impossibility. Could God bring it about that Jesus both died on the cross and did not die on the cross? That again seems logically inconceivable – that is a logical contradiction. Can God make a round square or a married bachelor? Those sorts of logical impossibilities are typically exempted from omnipotence. Omnipotence doesn’t mean the ability to do things that are logically impossible. Indeed, something that is logically impossible isn’t really a thing at all, when you think about it. It is not as though there is some “thing” that God can’t do. Those are just contradictory combinations of words, and there is no such thing as a round square or a stone too heavy for God to lift. This is not an infringement of his omnipotence, as it is typically understood.

The omnipotence paradox, in essence, is feeble. Omnipotence is being able to do all things, however logically impossible or logically incoherent concepts are not things at all, the question “Can God create a stone so heavy that He cannot lift it?” is on logically nonsensical and has no actual meaning, because it is not logically valid. Logically impossible things are not things at all, they are nothing, they are just self-contradictory ideas that have no actual meaning, and thus have no relevance to omnipotence. God is omnipotent, and so by definition, He can do all things.

The question “Can God create a stone so heavy that He cannot lift it?” posits that it is possible that a stone exist that is beyond the limits of an omnipotent being, but such a stone cannot exist in any conceivable world, and therefore is logically invalid. Likewise, asking if God can will Himself out of existence, if God can create a puzzle so hard He cannot solve, or if He can create a square circle, all presuppose logically invalid concepts, and thus are of no meaning. The only way for any of these questions to bear meaning is to show that logically invalid concepts are actually logical in some possible world, which is by definition impossible — therefore, the omnipotence paradox is invalid. This is something that all the worlds best and weakest philosophers understand, and thus there is no logical problem for the existence of God.

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2 thoughts on “The Omnipotence Paradox

  1. What do you make of the omnipotence paradox as it relates to omniscience? I’ve heard philosophers say that God is logically impossible as if He knows everything, He knows what He will choose to do; and if He knows what He will choose to do, He cannot choose to do otherwise. Thus, He is bound by His own omniscience and becomes essentially very weak. So the argument is essentially that omnipotence and omniscience cannot coexist in one being. Thoughts?

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    • Weak argument — God is not a temporal being, there is no “future” for God, God encompasses all that is, past, present and future. Therefore, any argument that presupposes His “future” in some aspect is logically incoherent. God is viewing the Big Bang right now at the same time He is viewing what is happening in this current moment of human history, at the same time as when He is watching the Roman Empire expand. This is because, as I said earlier, He encompasses all that is, He sees all frames of time at once, and God has already hypothetically done that which is in our own future.

      In other words, God cannot be “forced” to do something in the future, because to Him there is no future, no time, no past or present, nothing but His utter reality, and everything that is, exists only in His conception. This is why God did not say “I will be” to Moses, He said “I AM”.

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