Can God create a stone so heavy that He cannot lift?

“Can your God create a stone so heavy that He cannot lift”? Asked the atheist, as the Christian theist’s face started turning red because he realised he’s been trapped.  The atheist continued, “If you say He cannot create such a stone then He’s not an omnipotent God, because He is not able to do ‘something’ as opposed to be able to do ‘everything’ in His power. If you say He can lift any stone, then once again He’s not able to do a certain task, which is to create a stone too heavy for him to lift.” The Christian guy was dumbstruck and the atheist acclaimed,” Your God is just a flying spaghetti monster, who exists only in imagination but cannot stand against scrutiny!!!”

You definitely must have come across such people who often use these types of puzzles in order to establish the non-existence of God, by denouncing one of His attributes that makes Him God, namely the ‘Omnipotent attribute’. There are many other such puzzles like ‘Can God create a fruit that He cannot eat’ and ‘Can God create a space where He cannot go?’ and so forth. Let’s take a look at this objection and deal with it.

First thing that we should notice here is that this is nothing but a word play. The objector is just using words to bring about a statement which is illogical to the core. The first erroneous assumption that the objector makes here is that with the definition of ‘Omnipotent’. He assumes that God being omnipotent has the power to do anything, but fails to understand that it doesn’t work in that manner. God does work within the realm of ‘Logic’ as logic is in itself the very product of God’s nature. As you see in this case, God cannot do contradictory things like create a square circle or a straight crooked line, because there is no such thing as a square circle. The objector should be able to demonstrate that it is a logical possibility even before we discuss whether God can do it or not.

William Lane Craig explains the following with regards to the Omnipotence Paradox,

First, we need to ask ourselves, “Can God act in ways that are contrary to his own nature?” For example, could God create another God and fall down and worship him? Could God commit adultery? These are obviously not things that God could do. God cannot act contrary to his own nature. So such actions are usually exempted from divine omnipotence. To say that God is omnipotent or almighty doesn’t mean he can contradict his own nature.

What about logical impossibilities? Can God do things that are logically impossible? For example, could God make a square circle? Could God make a married bachelor? Could God bring it about that Jesus both came and died on the cross and that he did not come and die on the cross? Could God make a round triangle? These sorts of things are also usually exempted from God’s omnipotence. Most theologians – the vast, vast majority of theologians – have not understood omnipotence to mean that God can do things that are logically impossible. Indeed, when you think about it, these really aren’t things at all. There isn’t any such thing as a married bachelor. There is no such thing as a round triangle. These are just combinations of words which, when put together, are incoherent combinations. They are just logical contradictions. Therefore, to say that God cannot do logical contradictions is not to say that there is some thing that God can’t do because these aren’t really things at all. Thus, to say that God can’t bring about a logical contradiction is not really to inhibit God’s omnipotence at all.” [1]

That’s some brilliant explanation from one of the greatest contemporary philosopher. He mentions that God cannot act contrary to his own nature therefore such actions are exempted from divine omnipotence. It’s as simple as that, God’s omnipotence doesn’t mean he would commit certain acts that contradict his own nature, that’s just absurd. Not just that, he also points out a fact that vast majority of theologians agree that God’s omnipotence doesn’t entail logical impossibilities.

Conclusion

Reiterating what WLC said, God cannot do logical contradictions is not to say that there is something that God cannot do, but in fact God cannot do those things because they don’t exist; God cannot act contrary to his own nature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Craig, William Lane. 2010. Doctrine of God (part 16) Transcript of William Lane Craig’s Defenders 2 Class. Accessed October 28, 2017. http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defenders-2-podcast/transcript/s3-16

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