A friend asked me this tricky question. Can God make a stone so heavy that not even Him can lift?
This is a misunderstanding of what omnipotence means. It’s not really a tricky question, nor a new one. It dates back to at least the 12th century. But it is good for your to exercise your powers of rational thinking upon such questions.
God can do all non-contradictory things. In other words He can do all things according to his nature. Logical absurdities are not according to his nature.
This includes the four sided triangle, making 1+1 = 3, creating the unliftable stone, and other such logical absurdities.
Speaking of logical absurdities, wouldn’t God who “just always existed” without having a creator of his own be one?
Agreed. Another way I’ve heard it put is that omnipotence should be understood as a matter of “actualizing potential states of affairs.” The words “an unliftable stone, a square circle, a stone so heacy God can’t life it etc.,” do not describe as actual state of affairs, so it’s not a knock on God’s omnipotence that he can’t do it. He can’t do nonsense.
Why would that be logically absurd? There’s no contradiction involved in saying God always existed and no reason to think he was created. So, no, I’d say there’s no logical absurdity there.
The thing is, God isn’t just some being; He is what it is to be. That whose very nature it is to be cannot have neither a beginning nor an end.
The concept of cause and effect applies to the physical world. It is meaningless to apply it to questions outside the physical world.
So perhaps the unliftable rock example is not a logical absurdity after all? If we’re just excluding logic from things “outside the physical world” then that example has merit.
Then where did God come from? :shrug:
I am sure you will say something along the lines of God being so far outside what the feeble human mind can comprehend. Now apply that answer to the unliftable rock and its no longer a logical absurdity, apparently.
God can do anything that can possibly be done. He could create dragons, elves, and giant spiders (Lord of the Rings). He could create magical people and intelligent talking hats (Harry Potter). He could create unicorns, Greek gods, and Superman.
God cannot do what cannot possibly be done, such as drawing square circles or writing the value of pi out to the last decimal place.
A stone is a finite object, no matter how massive it is. God is an infinite force. There can be no such thing as a finite object that cannot be manipulated by an infinite force. Such a stone could not possibly exist, so God could not create it.
I once sarcastically answered this question that “I’m sure there are many stones that Jesus couldn’t lift, He needed help carrying His cross.”
The answers above about logical impossibilities answered it nicely.
But the substance of the rock and the natural and physical laws that govern it are WITHIN the physical world, not outside of it. G-d, however, is OUTSIDE the physical world since He is not bound by its natural or physical laws, which He created. If you are arguing that G-d is bound by the logical application of mathematical laws, that raises another issue.
Once more… something that simply is cannot come from anywhere else, it just is. God is what it is to be.
Exactly. The problem is, “Can God make a stone so heavy that not even He can lift it?” is a sentence, a question, that is totally correct from a grammatical point of view; but it involves logical absurdities.
Then God cannot have just always existed by his own accord without someone/something having created him.
On the other hand
Circles and squares are things within the physical world, but maybe outside the physical world there are other odd shapes that exist, only we cant know about them because our feeble human minds cannot understand the complixities of them, like we can’t understand a lot of things about God.
Why cant there be some kind of spirit-rock outside the physical world where God exists? Why are we only assuming its rock from the earth?
That we cannot understand the ultimate mystery of the Trinity is one thing; however, it is not hard to imagine that something whose nature it is to be, always existing.
Well, what would “heavy” even mean outside of the natural physical world? You need a universe where a gravitational field exists to be able to speak of “heavy” or “light” objects.
Some people assert that God can do anything and everything, even if that would entail a logically contradictory state of affairs. (Yes, even today there are such people. :)) Most people disagree, since logical absurdities cannot exist in reality. We can speak of “married bachelors”, or “four sided triangles”, but these verbal constructs have no referents in reality. They are simply word games.
DavidFilmer wrote: “God can do anything that can possibly be done”. Unfortunately that does not help, since it just pushed the problem one step back. “What” can be done? How do we know “what” can be done?
And the problem is even worse. A “perfect” bullet would be able to penetrate any shield. Such a bullet is not a physical or logical impossibility. Therefore God could create one. On the other hand, a “perfect” shield would withstand any bullet. Such a shield is not a physical or logical impossibility either. As such, God could create it as well. So what will happen when the perfect bullet meets the impenetrable shield?
This is not a word game any more. We described two physical bodies, both of which can be created on their own, but not together. Obviously even God cannot create both of them.
Also there is a physical constant of zero Kelvin degree (absolute zero), where all the Brownian motions stop. It is a physical impossibility to make a temperature which would be lower than that. So here you have an example of a physical event which cannot be instantiated. So what happened to the argument that God “created” the laws of the physics, but he is not bound by them? Out of the window. (By the way, did God create the laws of logic?)
The conclusion is simple. The concept of “omnipotence” is nonsensical (along with the concept omniscience - but that is a different issue).
Some Native Americans believe that rocks have spirits, but that does not mean these substances are outside the physical universe. They are still governed and limited by the laws of nature; however, G-d is not since He created natural law which is apart from Himself.
If you insist on doubting everything, then why not also doubt the logic you and the rest of us are using to arrive at our questions and tentative conclusions? You and I, like Descartes, cannot do that. Doubting, a form of logical thinking, is the only thing that Descartes, the skeptic, refused to doubt. Likewise, for people of faith, G-d is the only Being they ultimately believe in albeit for certain Pagan religions, as well as Buddhism and Hinduism, the gods (subordinate to the Supreme Being in the instances of Buddhism and Hinduism) are not almighty.
For that matter, what does anything outside of the physical world even mean?
I think if we can imagine or create a place where anything can happen, then anything is possible.
And how would you begin to know that, if you’ve never been outside the physical universe?
Now that I think of another clearer example, wouldn’t “virgin birth” be the equivalent of “square circle”?