Anonymous asked in Society & CultureReligion & Spirituality · 1 decade ago

Is god so powerful that he can make a rock so heavy that even he can't lift it?

11 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    God and Omnipotence

    The paradox of the stone, as presented by Wade Savage:

    1. Either God can create a stone that God cannot lift, or God cannot create a stone that God cannot lift – there are no other possibilities.

    2. If God can create a stone that God cannot lift, then there is at least one thing that God cannot do (i.e., lift that stone).

    3. If God cannot create a stone that God cannot lift, then there is at least one thing that God cannot do (i.e., create that stone).

    4. From the combination of 1, 2 and 3, it follows that there is at least one thing that God cannot do.

    5. If God is omnipotent, then God can do anything.

    6. Therefore, God is not omnipotent.

    What this argument apparently shows is that omnipotence is impossible (or, that the notion of omnipotence is incoherent). Thus, God cannot be omnipotent (as nothing can be).

    Suggested solutions to the paradox St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274):

    Aquinas defines as “absolutely impossible” any thing where the “predicate is altogether incompatible with the subject” (his example: “man is an ***” (in the non-metaphorical sense)). With this in mind:

    Whatever implies contradiction does not come within the scope of divine omnipotence, because it cannot have the aspect of possibility. Hence it is more appropriate to say that such things cannot be done, than that God cannot do them.

    That is, to be omnipotent involves being able to do all things that are possible. For example, it is not considered a limit to my powers that I cannot draw a square circle. That’s impossible, so it’s no failing that I can’t do it – it cannot be done.

    BUT: surely I can make a thing that is too heavy for me to lift, so that task is not impossible, so if God can’t do it, that really is a limit to his power.

    George Mavrodes (1926-):

    Mavrodes responds that although “a stone too heavy for Simon Cushing to lift” is not a contradictory notion, “a stone too heavy for an omnipotent being to lift” is a contradictory notion.

    Mavrodes’s argument in full:

    1. Either God is omnipotent or he is not.

    2. If God is not omnipotent, then the fact that he cannot do something (either make or lift the stone) is unsurprising.

    3. If God is omnipotent, then, by definition, there necessarily cannot be a stone that is too heavy for him to lift (otherwise he would not be omnipotent).

    4. If there necessarily cannot be such a stone, then it is an impossibility.

    5. By Aquinas’s reasoning, even an omnipotent being cannot perform impossibilities.

    6. Therefore, by definition, inability to create a stone too heavy for one to lift is no barrier to being omnipotent. (In fact, only non-omnipotent beings can create objects too heavy for themselves to lift.)

    BUT: both Aquinas and Mavrodes assume that God cannot do impossible things. Is this right? Descartes, for one, thought not. Descartes believed God could make 2+2=5. Why? Because otherwise you are suggesting that God is bound by the laws of logic. But if God created the laws of logic, why should he be bound by them? Couldn’t he have made them differently?

    Harry Frankfurt:

    However, if we assume that God can do impossible things, then God can create a stone too heavy for him to lift (which is supposedly impossible). Furthermore, if he can do that, then he can go one stage further and lift that stone (also impossible – but what’s the difference between doing one impossible thing and doing two?)

    BUT: doesn’t that mean that the stone he created was not a stone too heavy for him to lift, and that we’re back to the situation of him being unable to create such a stone? Not according to Frankfurt:

    If an omnipotent being can do what is logically impossible, then he can not only create situations which he cannot handle but also, since he is not bound by the limits of consistency, he can handle situations which he cannot handle. [256]

    That doesn’t seem to make sense – but that’s because “sense” is limited to logical possibility.

    To recap:

    There are two options for an omnipotent being:

    1. Omnipotence means the ability to everything that is logically possible but nothing that is logically impossible. In this case, by definition, an omnipotent being can lift any rock, and therefore “a rock too heavy for an omnipotent being to lift” is an impossibility. In that case, however, inability to create such a rock is no barrier to omnipotence, because no omnipotent being can do the impossible.

    HOWEVER: why limit omnipotence to logical possibility?

    2. Omnipotence includes the ability to logically impossible things.

    In this case (says Frankfurt) an omnipotent being could create and lift a stone too heavy for him to lift, both of which are impossible, but that’s no problem for somebody omnipotent!

    HOWEVER: taking this option removes the discussion from one that makes sense to humans, because it allows God both to exist and not exist at the same time, or to sin and be good at the same time.

    Can God sin?

    Similar problem: if God can sin, then he is not wholly good. But if he can’t sin, then he is not omnipotent.

    Suggested solutions

    Aquinas: Two options

    Either: it’s true to say “If God wants he could sin”, which allows that he can sin. But he won’t ever because (by his nature) he will never want to.

    Or: God can do absolutely anything, rape, murder, whatever, but by definition, because he defines what is good, if he did it it would be good. (This is essentially the Divine Command Theory – or perhaps, the Divine Action Theory.)

    William of Ockham:

    Again, assume that an omnipotent being can only do what is possible. Also assume that the definition of “sin” is “whatever is opposed to God’s will”. To sin, God would have to will what is opposed to his will, which is impossible. Thus, the fact that he cannot sin doesn’t prove he’s not omnipotent.

  • 1 decade ago

    I don't believe in god but I don't like this argument. If god does exist he can't do things that do not make any sense like make a rock that is impossibly heavy or make a triangle with 4 sides. When you create a rock heavier than what god would be able to lift you automaticly change the deffintion of what god can lift if logic follows

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago


    The concept of "a rock so heavy that it cannot be lifted by a being which can lift anything" is vacuous. The problem is not with God. The problem is with your question; it is entirely devoid of meaning. God cannot do the logically impossible not because there is some specifiable act of which God is incapable, but because a logical contradiction does not specify any conceivable act at all.

    As C.S. Lewis observed, nonsense does not acquire sense because the words "God can" are prefixed to it.

  • 1 decade ago

    Your question is answering itself. God IS all powerful, so even if He were to make the most heaviest rock ever, His great power would allow Him to lift it.

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  • 1 decade ago

    God is not a physical being, so no.

    It is also a contradiction in terms to say that He could do that. God is the All-Powerful, so there is no way that something can come to be which negates that.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Absolutely NO! God does not participate in exercises of futility. He has no need to. He is Almighty, anything less than that, He is not God.

  • 1 decade ago

    With God all things are possible man!

  • 1 decade ago

    God doesn't need to prove anything by such a foolish test, does He?

  • 1 decade ago

    Age old question: so I will answer you by saying the chicken came first.


  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    God is the rock.

    Love and blessings Don

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