Is God really omnipotent?

A friend posed me a question on the paradox of God’s omnipotence. It’s the famous question about a stone that God cannot move. I’ve understood the question to be flawed, rather than God himself.

However, that led me to this question: If God can do all things yet unable to contradict himself, does that make him unable to do all things?

Is the inability to contradict a flaw in God’s omnipotence?

Omnipotence means that the Holy Trinity needs no help from anything else to produce his effects, in unlimited number, and intensity. Note that the Holy Trinity does not change his own nature (such as not being able to lie).

Hebrews 6:18

17 Wherein God, meaning more abundantly to shew to the heirs of the promise the immutability of his counsel, interposed an oath: 18 That by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have the strongest comfort, who have fled for refuge to hold fast the hope set before us.

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Jesus being God, gave up some of his power for a time, so even though he was omnipotent, I bet there were quite a few things he could not lift…

At first glance, this would seem to be a rather benign statement about God’s omnipotence. God can create whatever He wants, in whatever degree He wants. But upon further reflection it quickly becomes apparent that in order for God to create the reality that we see around us, He has to obey some very specific rules. Rules that dictate exactly what it is that God can and cannot create. Rules such as the “Law of Noncontradiction” and the “Principle of Sufficient Reason”.

Now strictly speaking God may not be restricted by these rules, but if He wants to create the coherent reality that we see around us, then there are indeed certain rules that He cannot violate. This would seem to severely restrict God’s creative potential.

Even an omnipotent being needs to obey the rules. Which would seem to make Them not quite so omnipotent.

Where did the rules come from in the first place?

Can/does God make rules which He Himself chooses not to break?

Is a car that can end up off the road (contradicting its purpose of going from A to B safely) is more powerful than a hypothetical car of the future that cannot end up off the road?

They didn’t come from anywhere. It’s like asking if someone created the rule that 1+1=2. It’s something that’s true with or without God.

So it wouldn’t matter if reality was created by God, or physics, or even by my own mind, the rules would be the same. God would have to obey the very same rules that I would.

Let us take the question seriously. God is a being of infinite power. A stone of infinite weight would be needed to at least equal that infinite power. However, stones are physical objects with finite qualities. Therefore, the question really could be better phrased as, “Can God make a stone that is simultaneously not a stone?” A stone that is not a stone is not something, it is a meaningless contradiction.

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In other words, God cannot violate the Law of Noncontradiction. Certain laws apply to everybody…even God.

So what is the problem? If it exists, God can affect it. Hence omnipotent.

Ah, but it’s what God can do with that omnipotence. If He wants to create a reality like this one, then He has to obey the rules, otherwise He’ll just be creating chaos, and there’s nothing impressive about that.

So for God to be much of a God, He has to obey the rules.

If you believe that God created the universe then yes, He must be omnipotent. God wouldn’t be God otherwise. If God wasn’t omnipotent then He would be a being that’s less than God and less than God is not God.

Amen. But that’s also my question. Isn’t a contradiction, no matter how meaningless it is, still a contradiction? And does that defy God’s omnipotence?

When we use the word laws we think of things that could be broken or could be other in some alternate world. That’s not the case for either the LNC or PSR. There is no metaphysical possibility for these not to be true of being or for being to be otherwise.

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Are you saying God must create impressive things to be God?

No. It merely means that God does not will to do what is illogical.

Am I right to say that this is a case of God’s contextual limitation (fundamentally able, but chooses not to do what is illogical) instead of a fundamental flaw (fundamentally unable to do what is illogical)?

Are you implying that God is externally limited in some way? Or merely that God does not will to do it?

The former would seem problematic; the latter speaks simply to God’s eternal will.

Well that’s because Jesus’ already limited by his physical human form like us. Hence, it’s understandable that he is unable to lift some stuff.

I think there’s a misinterpretation on the word “limitation.” I may have phrased it poorly. Basically the context is that God is able to defy human logic, yet he willingly chooses to conform his course of action to it.

If the latter speaks to God’s eternal will, does that mean He’s fundamentally unable to defy human logic? Wouldn’t that actually limit God’s power to just what humans can understand?

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