Free Will: Can God create a stone He cannot lift?


I was thinking about the question that some people ask in trying to argue against an omnipotent God. Can God create a stone He cannot lift? We usually answer that it is an absurd question, because it doesn’t mean anything. I agree that the premise of the question is absurd, but I had some ideas in response to it in relation to God’s power to create free beings. God can create people who can and will reject Him, no matter what He does to them or for them. There is something within a person which can still say they reject God and His will. God could decide to take away that person’s free will and make them into a mere machine, essentially taking away their personhood, but does He want to? Wouldn’t that be more cruel than letting them choose to reject God on their own terms? So God essentially can create a “stone” He cannot lift, because if He creates someone who freely rejects Him no matter what He does, and the only way they will choose Him is if He compels the person’s will to choose Him, then essentially the being He created would not be free anymore. He would not be that whom He created him to be. If God wants to create a free person, and the person does not wish to follow Him, no matter what, then God cannot lift that “stone”. Free will is defined as that which cannot be coerced by God, because God has the power to create a will that is distinct from His own. These are just investigations. I would like to hear what some of the Catholics here have to say, because I am not an expert on philosophy by any means. Free will is of the essence of the universe. God gave us the ability to choose Him because He loves us. He wants us to love Him, but love requires choice. Without a free choice to love unconditionally, there is no love in the first place. Beings who do not choose independently of God’s will (not a good word, because all good choices to love are initiated by God, but cooperated with or obstructed by each of us) do not really love. Although all love comes from God, the choice to love is somehow independent of God’s will. See, this is where my language gets muddy, because I sound like I am separating choice to love from God’s will. What I am trying to say is that we have wills that are not the same as God’s will. Maybe I should just let everyone else chime in because I might have more to learn from most of you than any of you do from me.

God bless all here,

What are the consequences? Eternal punishment and torment in hell?

So, your arguement is it is more cruel to STOP someone, by whatever means, from that fate of eternal punishment, rather than to let them go merrily on their way to hell!!! THAT, is more loving??? :eek:

When the resurrected Jesus appeared to the apostles and the women at the tomb, and whoever else saw Him, were their free wills taken away? If yes, then obviously taking someones free will away isnt a problem at all. If no, why not?

Sarah x :slight_smile:

  1. God would not be omnipotent if He were unable to share His power with us!
  2. He can overide our choices if He wishes to do so.
  3. He doesn’t overide our choices because it would defeat the purpose of sharing His power with us.
  4. As you point out, love cannot exist where there is no freedom of choice.
  5. Since love is more important than anything else God is justified in sharing His power with us.
  6. It is God’s Will that our will is independent of His Will so that we can love Him and be united to Him forever - of our own free will. :slight_smile:

God bless


Those first four words are written in a way that you believe it is true.

Your soul is crying out for God but you do not know it yet.

I hope I haven’t offended you but you like this forum don’t you?


As for free will, they didn’t have to believe when they saw Him. If He turned up in someone’s house tonight that didn’t believe they would find an excuse to rule out what really happened.

Do you want God to take away your freedom and force you to “love” Him?

If you don’t love the One who created you and believe that He love you even more than you could ever love Him back, you already are in Hell. How could you ever be in anything but torment if you believe you are not loved by the very source of your own existence and of all that exists?

Hell has its compensations! It is not a trap for the unwary but a state of splendid isolation for those who choose to be totally independent and worship themselves at the expense of others - like some people on this planet…

The people in hell want to be there. They chose hell over heaven because their souls reject and are not compatible with God.

Someone once talked to God and told him that they believed nobody should go to hell. So he let someone out of hell and then they were in heaven and they wanted to go back to hell because they did not want to be “smothered with love”.

Another story is about a guardian angel whose person was sent to hell. God asked the angel why the person should go to heaven and the angel replied that the person have someone an onion once. So God gave the person in hell the onion and then when another person in hell asked for the onion on the way to heaven, the person refused and said it was his onion, so the person was dropped back down to hell.

The stone God “cannot” lift is because He chooses not to violate his/her free will. It would be cruel to force someone to do something against their will or to turn them into a robot.

No, he cannot. Even God can not create a logical absurdity, such as a circle that’s not 360º or dry water. God is omnipotent, and can not create a logical contradiction: this doesn’t imply a lack of omnipotence, but an essence of reason, essential to the creation of the ordered universe. To create a stone that he could not lift would be to introduce a contradiction - circumscribed omnipotence, or just potence, without the omni.

I’m coming at this problem in what I think is a completely new way, disregarding the (very valid) argumentation that follows directly from the proofs for God’s existence, and arguing directly from logic, instead of from empirical fact.

  1. Something is omnipotent, or something is not omnipotent.

  2. God is omnipotent.

  3. God can not create a logical absurdity.

  4. Circumscribed omnipotence is a logical absurdity.

  5. Therefore, God’s omnipotence can not be circumscribed.

(This is fast and loose argumentation, but demonstrates a point nicely, without me having to actually do philosophy and refine my logic):

  1. God has an essential nature.
  2. This nature includes omnipotence.
  3. God creates a stone he can not lift.
  4. God’s nature does not include omnipotence.
    5a) Therefore, God is not omnipotent.
    5b) Therefore, God is not God.

You can substitute “eternal” or any other divine Attribute for “omnipotence”, and the argument works just as well.

Demonstration of the self-refuting nature of the statement (not a true reduction to absurdity):

  1. God is omnipotent.
  2. God creates a stone that he can not lift.
  3. Therefore, God is not omnipotent.

The question has little bearing on the matter of free will. If humans have free will, we can not cause ourselves to become apes, or to throw a fireball with our minds, or to kill with a thought, because these are incompatible with our essential nature. God has an essential nature just as we do, and omnipotence and omniscience (he knows the outcome of his actions perfectly, in the case of the above argumentation) are part of it. God can not cause himself to be something other than what he is (this is different from the classical doctrine of impassibility, the more general statement that God can not change or be changed, and is eternally the same ens qua ens).

Actually God lets people have in the afterlife what they love in this life. If someone does not love God in this life he or she won’t love God in the next. So for them to be in the presence of God would be torture. See what I mean? God does not send people to hell, they go there of their own accord. (BTW does that mean there will be lots of Honda automobiles in Hell if people go there in their own “Accord?”)

Actually the stone God can’t lift is someone’s impenitant heart!

If that’s the case, it has to do with Man’s free will, and I’m tired of writing syllogisms.:o

There seems to be an incredible amount of interpretations of what exactly hell will be like: so far I have images ranging from just ceasing to exist, to burning in lake of fire, to now, it would seem, carrying on riding my horses, hiking in the hills with my dogs, and eating endless and endless supply of steak. Some of that doesnt sound too bad actually :smiley:

Sarah x :slight_smile:

Forgive my saying this but these questions don’t even appear relevant to me. There is no “stone that God cannot lift.” God does possess the power to take our free wills, but He is respectful enough of them not to interfere.

I think that the simple problem here is the word “can’t”. God has the absolute power to do anything, including to “lift the stone” aka to soften the impenitant heart. God has given us the gift of free will, and desires that each of us choose to love Him, for choice is essential for love. Could God melt even the coldest of hearts without actually taking away free will? Yes, of course He could. The omnipotent God can send graces, signs, blessings, tragedies, or whatever He wills, in ways so powerful that even the hardest sinner would fall to his knees.

God has created a world that is ordered with many beautiful laws of nature, and He supercedes them only when He wills. God can lift any stone, move any heart. But, His plan is far beyond our comprehension. Why doesn’t He move more obviously sometimes? Any answer to that question is to try to use human words and reason to describe the transcendent will of God. Good luck with that :wink:

In Christ through Mary,

The situation of free will would be analogous to the “stone God cannot lift” paradox if it was phrased “Can God create a human whose free will He cannot take away?” The thing is, most Catholics would say that God could take away free will if He wanted to, but in His goodness He does not.

Now, the situation becomes more complicated when you take into consideration Divine Simplicity. Because God is infinite He is not composed of any kind of parts, because if He was each part would be less than the whole, less than infinite, finite- and the sum of finite parts is also finite. Thus there isn’t even a distinction between essence and existence in God, much less between essence and attributes or between different attributes. Therefore it’s really a mistake to say God’s power would allow Him to take away someone’s free will but His goodness will not allow it, because God’s Goodness and Power are the same thing: the simple Essence-Existence of the Necessary Being.

Therefore I think we need to take a step back and ask how will the Being with infinite perfection act? He will act in the best way possible, with no limitations to what He can do other than the limitations, if they can be called that, of logic. Therefore we know that God will not take away our free will because He has infinite perfection, and likewise we know that God’s power is unlimited again because He has infinite perfection.

IMO, the premise is not absurd.

The question really is, can God do something which limits the use of His power.
He already has. He created man with Free Will and has left it intact through His covenant.

He could therfore say, “I will create a stone I cannot lift” and thus place a limit on the use of His own power.

He could create a stone He could later ‘uncreate’, but not be able to lift it in the meantime because He ordained that He wouldn’t be able to.

Thank you for confirming that hell has its compensations. It must be very enticing in many ways or Satan must feeling totally isolated, poor chap! There’s nothing to stop you from keeping him company… :wink:

And even that is because He chooses to put Himself in such a position! :slight_smile:


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