The Paradox of Omnipotence: Can God create a stone He can’t lift?

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Can God create a stone so heavy that He cannot lift? Can God destroy Himself? Can God create an uncreated being? The paradox of omnipotence consists of a family of arguments, all exhausting the same flawed logic that aim to draw a contradiction in God’s “supposed” omnipotence. Although there are different interpretations of omnipotence, for the sake of clarity, the following definition of omnipotence will be used: having unlimited or universal power, authority, or force; all-powerful [1]. While giving St. Augustine’s famous “He could but He is busy preparing hell for people that ask questions like that,” [2] reply would make matters much easier, I will be aiming to hopefully provide a satisfactory response to the fallacious conundrum that is, the paradox of omnipotence.

God can either create a stone He can’t lift or He cannot. If he can, the argument goes, then it is in direct contradiction with His attribute of “All-Powerful.”

إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ قَدِيرٌ

Truly! Allah is All-Knowing, All-Powerful. (16:70)

If He cannot, the argument goes, then His inability and limited power in carrying out the given task, necessitates for His impotence.

Alike answering any other question, one must first ensure the question has logical consistency before attempting to solve it. The logical inconsistency arises when an atheist expects God to make the impossible, possible. A stone God can’t lift is similar to a married bachelor, or making 1+1=3, or a circle with four sides – all are logical absurdities which are contradictory by definition. This apparent illogicality only proves the irrationality in the expected affairs. A rock heavy enough that God can’t lift is inept, unimaginable, self-contradictory, impossible, and logically incoherent. In a nutshell, you’re asking if God can make it impossible for Himself to do something. The question is contradictory, not God’s omnipotence. Such two entities can’t coexist in the same universe, as they’re contradictory, similar to an unmovable force and an unmovable rock simultaneously interacting.

I predict this unreasonable expectation stems from an inaccurate understanding of what omnipotence implies. In order to simplify the definition of omnipotence, many define it as “the ability to do everything.”  But we know that fundamental laws of logic predicate for impossibilities, namely the law of contradiction: the law that a proposition cannot be both true and false or that a thing cannot both have and not have a given property. [3] Omnipotence means the ability to do everything, logically possible. Meaning God cannot bend properties inherit to an object. For example, God cannot create a circle with four sides because then it wouldn’t be a circle anymore. If this were to prove anything at all, it’s the logical absurdity of expecting the impossible. The “All-Powerful” talked of, in reference to God’s attribute, does not include the logically impossible.

أَمْ تَحْسَبُ أَنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ يَسْمَعُونَ أَوْ يَعْقِلُونَ ۚ إِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا كَالْأَنْعَامِ ۖ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ سَبِيلًا

Or do you think that most of them hear or reason? They are not except like livestock. Rather, they are [even] more astray in [their] way.


[1] Omnipotence. (n.d.) American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. (2011). Retrieved June 3 2016 [2] Confessions of St Augustine, Book 11, Chapter 12 [3] “law of contradiction,” in Unabridged. Source location: Random House, Inc. Available: Accessed: June 04, 2016

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Amir Ghafarian

Amir M. Ghafarian, born in Iran, has an unconditional affinity towards shawarma and kabob. He reads too, sometimes, and occasionally writes.

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