Answering the classic omnipotence paradox: God and the stone he cannot lift


#1

Not sure why people overthink this, to me the resolution is quite easy once you realize the “problem” is entirely caused by misuse of syntax and logic.

Consider:
A) I can build any 1 foot wall
B) I can jump over a 1 foot wall.
C) Therefore, there is no 1 foot wall I can’t build which I can’t jump over.
D) Therefore, I cannot build such a 1 foot wall.

A and B are both true.
Therefore C is true, as it is another way to state the conjunction of A+B.
D cannot be derived from C as the lack of existence of something does not imply it can’t be created
In fact D is FALSE as it completely contradicts A which has already been established as true.

Now consider:

E) God can create any stone
F) God can lift any stone
G) Therefore, there is no stone created by God which he cannot lift.
H) Therefore, God cannot create a stone which he cannot lift.

E and F are both true, as God is omnipotent.
Therefore, G is true, as it is another way to state the conjunction E+F
H cannot be derived from G for the same reasons noted above.
H is in fact FALSE, as it contradicts E which has already been established as true.

And thus IMO, invalidates the entire “paradox”, or at least seemingly so.


#2

It’s actually even simpler than that.

“A stone so big God cannot lift it” is a collection of words with no possible referent in reality. It is words that do not point to a thing that can exist. It’s like asking if God can make a square circle. The words are just nonsense.

-Fr ACEGC


#3

Great point. God won’t deal with the logically absurd.


#4

There’s no such thing as a real capacity for a stone so heavy even God can’t lift it, I agree.

There are theologians and philosophers who do hold that God can create contradictions. For them, God can create a stone so heavy even he can’t lift it. God can also lift said stone, even though it remains too heavy for him to lift it. People alleging a contradiction just need to realize that these theologians don’t believe such contradictions are impossible for God to begin with, so there’s nothing impossible here.

I favor the view that God cannot create such contradictions because there is no real capacity for such a power or example, but I enjoyed stating the other view.


#5

Right, Father. It’s a God-specific variant of the old “What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object”? It sounds like a legitimate question, but an actually irresistible force and an actually immovable object can’t coexist in the same hypothetical universe. At best you can have a force that has proved irresistible so far and an object that has proved immovable so far. Once you perform the test of pitting them against each other, you will find out which one retains its title.

The God version is even more ridiculous because the rock is defined entirely in relative terms — terms, as you say, that break the rules already established in the question if we are taking “God” as shorthand for “a being that can do anything.” God can still create rocks of increasingly and arbitrarily large size — there is no conceivable rock that He cannot create — but there cannot exist a rock that is beyond God’s power to further move/alter/destroy.


#6

It follows from Aquinas’s fourth way, the argument from degree. There can be only one God, possessed of all perfections, because of there were two gods, each would lack a perfection the other held, namely each other.


#7

Is not God in all things? So why lift Himself?


#8

God’s omnipotence extends to all things that don’t have a logical contradiction.

To say that God is all powerful in as much to create the rock, and not all powerful in as much to lift it up, is a logical contradiction and such a state of affairs is not possible.

Also, God is an infinite being not bound by time and space. The rock is created so it is finite and bound by time and therefore bound by space. So it is logically impossible for this rock to be something God can’t pick up, given God’s nature and the rocks nature and that the rock exists because God created it :slightly_smiling_face:


#9

Is there a logical contradiction where black holes are concerned?

Or perhaps more importantly within quantum physics?


#10

I don’t know…why?


#11

Just thinking that if light is the fastest thing in the universe why is it that light cannot escape a black hole? Excuse my ignorance and obvious lack of logic.


#12

I don’t know. I’m not a science person :slightly_smiling_face:. Perhaps our understanding of science is still not complete to answer that question. Or if we do have the answer then I haven’t heard it yet


#13

Light is not infinitely fast. It has a finite speed depending upon what it’s traveling through. It’s direction (velocity) can be bent by gravity. The gravity of a black hole is simply too strong for it to escape. There’s no contradiction there.

On that topic, though, there is a difference between a real contradiction and a contradiction that appears in physical models. Keep in mind that physics equations and theories are models of reality. If we find a contradiction in our model, there’s something wrong or incomplete in our model, not necessarily a real contradiction in reality itself.


#14

How does this “invalidate the paradox”?

If H is false, does that mean God CAN create a stone which he cannot lift?

The paradox lies in the “any stone” description. God can only create stones that he can lift. That is a significant restriction on “any stone.”

The recourse to “no referent in reality” is simply an assertion of a limitation on the stones God can create. God can only create what is real.

God can only create real stones.
God can lift any real stone.
God cannot create any imagined stones.

The last statement is absurd, because if God creates it, it is not an imagined stone but a real one.


#15

“God can lift any stone” is very partial truth. It’s absurd or silly to say it.
Philosophers will state this better than I, but in God, being and doing are united. So any statement about God’s potency to do something is integrated with being.
God Is, and whatever God speaks is, and God lifting a stone is a really inadequate anthropomorphic image that can only fall short.


#16

Making the distinction between real and imaginary stones is incorrect; that’s not what’s being claimed. It’s not about a real stone, but about a real capacity for there to even be such a stone, that such a stone is impossible to begin with. It’d be kind of like claiming, “I can think of a jelly bean that doesn’t have any size.” It doesn’t mean there can ever actually be a jelly bean that doesn’t have any size. It’s a metaphysical impossibility. That is what people are doing here, assuming that there is a metaphysical possibility for there to be some such stone that God can’t lift, which is just a metaphysical impossibility and absurdity. Such a thing cannot be made to exist. There is no real possibility for such a stone.


#17

I wonder if God reads CAF and if He is shaking his head and chuckling at this thread … ?


#18

The way I interpret this scenario is that as soon as you instantiate a stone, it has a finite weight. If God remains infinite, He (presumably) has infinite strength and can lift said finite stone. If you posit that the stone is of infinite mass (perpetually increasing in weight), then you’re saying that infinity is greater than infinity, which is a logical contradiction. This digs to the deeper question of can God create logical contradictions or is God “bound by logic”? Some will say He’s bound by it, others that He’s not, and others that He is logic (in the same way He is goodness and love).


#19

I disagree, he did make man


#20

H contradicts E. God can create any stone, period. The paradox fails because of that and the fact that you cannot connect G which is a statement describing God’s power to H which does the complete opposite. I wouldn’t say God can only create stones he cannot lift, perhaps “will” instead of “can” would be a better way to put it. God does not deal with logically absurd concepts like a stone that he cannot lift, though I suppose in his infinite power he could do so if he wanted.


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