“Can God Create a Rock that He can’t Lift?”


I Found This One On The Internet…

“The number of things that are impossible to do are almost infinite. If god were to be almighty he would be able to do them, but it’s impossible to do so. Therefore there cannot be a god. For example, God can not create a rock that he can’t lift.”

What A Funny Question…

This is known as a  pseudo-question i.e not genuine but having the appearance of. Questions like “Can God beat Himself in a thumb war?” or “Can God create something He can’t destroy?” are all pseudo-questions. Why? Because they all go against the very laws of logic and, not to mention, the nature of God. These questions are fallacious because they beg the question: What is omnipotence? 

Just A Simple Misunderstanding…

The fallacy of these questions lie in the misunderstanding of the biblical concept of omnipotence.  These questions are intended to show the weakness of one aspect of God’s ability against the other (His creative ability posed against His ability to lift objects). Thus showing (they believe) the “contradiction” of God’s “omnipotence”. This would be effective if that is what omnipotence in the Biblical sense meant. To the dismay of the proposers of this argument, Omnipotence doesn’t mean that God can do anything and everything.  The concept of omnipotence has to do with power, not ability.

A Logical God…

God can’t make square circles or curved straight lines. He can’t double a cube or invisible opaque objects. None of these, though, have to do with power. Instead, they are logically contradictory, and therefore contrary to God’s rational and logical nature. God doesn’t have the ability to be illogical just like He doesn’t have the ability to be unjust. Ergo, God’s omnipotence remains intact. Why? Like I said before, omnipotence has nothing to do with ability (like the ability to do illogical things), but with power.

And One More Thing…

An addition to the definition of true biblical omnipotence is found in the fact that there are two different types of omnipotence: positive omnipotence and negative omnipotence. Positive omnipotence being the power of causation and negative being the lack thereof. So when someone asks “Can God create a rock that He can’t lift?”, say “Creating a rock (positive omnipotence) is certainly a quality of God, not being able to lift (negative omnipotence) is not.”

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  1. #1 by Paul Park on July 2, 2011 - 10:03 am

    One thing to note is these questions presuppose that God is contained in space and time. Lifting requires an “up” and a “down” as it requires time to perform such an action. So the deeper question here is the the distinction between God in relation to a rock (i.e. creation) versus God by himself (i.e. before creation). What is the difference?

  2. #2 by studentsforchristianity on July 2, 2011 - 10:40 am

    I’m not really sure if they presuppose that God is contained in space-time. If God were to (as in your example) be lifting things, He would simply by acting within space-time, but not necessarily being contained by space-time. But otherwise, good point!

    • #3 by Paul Park on July 7, 2011 - 9:39 am

      But if he could act within space-time, yet be outside of it at the same time, He could voluntarily “contain” (I don’t mean ontologically) himself to create a rock he could not lift. This is why the distinction I mentioned above is not just important but necessary to answer the question in the post intelligibly.

  3. #4 by studentsforchristianity on July 8, 2011 - 3:28 am

    This idea ran through my head when I was writing the post, but a major problem came to mind when debating whether to put it in:

    If God can restrict His powers (and thus eliminate His omnipotence), can this really be considered “God” as understood in the paradox? Let’s say that God created a rock and then, having given up His omnipotence, could not lift the stone he created. In a sense, the entity that can’t lift the rock is separate from the “God” understood in the paradox.

    • #5 by Paul Park on July 8, 2011 - 7:49 am

      Taking a break from the distinction between God without creation vs God in relation to creation, let’s try something else. How do we then account for the incarnate Christ? Could he have lifted any rock on earth? If he cannot, then is he not God or separate from God?

  4. #6 by studentsforchristianity on July 9, 2011 - 5:50 am

    I think he could of lifted any rock if he willed to.

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