Can God create a rock so heavy that he can't lift it?

(Difference between revisions)
Jump to: navigation, search
(formatting; add another sentence)
(He->he re God -- I don't think we're using that convention here except in direct quotes; various other copyediting/expanding)
Line 1: Line 1:
This is a rather silly conundrum designed to show that "[[omnipotent]]" is actually a meaningless term.
+
The paradoxical question, "'''Can God create a rock so heavy that he can't lift it?'''" is a rather silly conundrum designed to show that the term ''[[omnipotent]]'' is actually meaningless.
  
Omnipotent means "all-powerful".  If [[God]] can do everything, then He should be able to create such a rock. But once the rock is created, He should also be able to lift it, which contradicts the first claim.
+
Omnipotent means "all-powerful", which is typically understood to mean "able to do anything".  If [[God]] can do anything, then he should be able to create such a rock. But once the rock is created, he should also be able to lift it, which contradicts the first claim.
  
 
This is reminiscent of a story about a medieval arms salesman who boasted that his sword was so sharp that it could penetrate any armor, and his shield was so tough that it could withstand any attack.  A member of the crowd called out, "What happens when you strike your sword against your own shield?"  The salesman was stumped.
 
This is reminiscent of a story about a medieval arms salesman who boasted that his sword was so sharp that it could penetrate any armor, and his shield was so tough that it could withstand any attack.  A member of the crowd called out, "What happens when you strike your sword against your own shield?"  The salesman was stumped.
Line 9: Line 9:
 
Similarly, there cannot exist a rock that cannot be lifted in a universe that also contains a God who can lift anything.  Yet this proves that there is something that God cannot create.
 
Similarly, there cannot exist a rock that cannot be lifted in a universe that also contains a God who can lift anything.  Yet this proves that there is something that God cannot create.
  
How do we get out of the paradox?  An [[atheist]] would answer that the very idea of being "all-powerful" is meaningless and not worthy of consideration in the real world.  However, [[apologists]] often respond that "all-powerful" means "God can do everything... that is logically possible."
+
How do we get out of the paradox?  An [[atheist]] would answer that the very idea of being "all-powerful" is meaningless and not worthy of consideration in the real world.  However, [[apologists]] often respond that "all-powerful" means "God can do everything... that is ''logically possible''."
  
 
As [[C.S. Lewis]] states in ''[[Mere Christianity]]'':
 
As [[C.S. Lewis]] states in ''[[Mere Christianity]]'':
 
:"''His omnipotence includes power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to do the intrinsically impossible.  You may attribute miracles to Him, but not nonsense.''"
 
:"''His omnipotence includes power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to do the intrinsically impossible.  You may attribute miracles to Him, but not nonsense.''"
This raises the question of what exactly a [[miracle]] is, if not doing the impossible.
+
This raises the question of what exactly a [[miracle]] is, if not doing the impossible. Of course, the qualifier ''intrinsically'' is an important one. Still, this seems to paint a picture of God as simply the ''most'' powerful being in the universe, instead of an ''all-''powerful one.
  
This subject is further explored in the [[omnipotence paradox]].
+
This subject is further explored in the article about the [[omnipotence paradox]].
  
 
[[Category:Arguments]]
 
[[Category:Arguments]]
 
[[Category:Arguments against the existence of God]]
 
[[Category:Arguments against the existence of God]]
 
[[Category:Deductive arguments]]
 
[[Category:Deductive arguments]]

Revision as of 20:00, 24 August 2007

The paradoxical question, "Can God create a rock so heavy that he can't lift it?" is a rather silly conundrum designed to show that the term omnipotent is actually meaningless.

Omnipotent means "all-powerful", which is typically understood to mean "able to do anything". If God can do anything, then he should be able to create such a rock. But once the rock is created, he should also be able to lift it, which contradicts the first claim.

This is reminiscent of a story about a medieval arms salesman who boasted that his sword was so sharp that it could penetrate any armor, and his shield was so tough that it could withstand any attack. A member of the crowd called out, "What happens when you strike your sword against your own shield?" The salesman was stumped.

The answer is that the salesman was lying about one of his products. Or to put it another way, a perfect sword and a perfect shield cannot exist simultaneously. If there exists any sword that can penetrate all shields, then by definition there does not exist any shield that can withstand all attacks.

Similarly, there cannot exist a rock that cannot be lifted in a universe that also contains a God who can lift anything. Yet this proves that there is something that God cannot create.

How do we get out of the paradox? An atheist would answer that the very idea of being "all-powerful" is meaningless and not worthy of consideration in the real world. However, apologists often respond that "all-powerful" means "God can do everything... that is logically possible."

As C.S. Lewis states in Mere Christianity:

"His omnipotence includes power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to do the intrinsically impossible. You may attribute miracles to Him, but not nonsense."

This raises the question of what exactly a miracle is, if not doing the impossible. Of course, the qualifier intrinsically is an important one. Still, this seems to paint a picture of God as simply the most powerful being in the universe, instead of an all-powerful one.

This subject is further explored in the article about the omnipotence paradox.

Personal tools
Namespaces
Variants
Actions
wiki navigation
IronChariots.Org
Toolbox