You’ve probably stumbled upon this mind-bending question at some point. Critics often pose this question as a way to challenge the omnipotence of God. If God is truly all-powerful, could He create a rock so heavy that even He couldn’t lift it?
In today’s post, we’ll dissect the assumptions underpinning this question and explore the true meaning of omnipotence according to Christian faith and philosophy.
At the heart of the question lies the concept of omnipotence, or being all-powerful. The traditional interpretation suggests that an omnipotent being can do anything at all. But this raises issues: could such a being create a married bachelor, or a square circle? These are logical contradictions. Could an omnipotent being limit its own omnipotence or omniscience? That too would be a contradiction.
This has led many philosophers to redefine omnipotence, not as the ability to do absolutely anything, but to do anything that is logically possible. This refined definition maintains the integrity of the concept of omnipotence.
God’s Actions and His Nature
Scripture doesn’t claim that God can do absolutely anything. Rather, it makes the clear assertion that God cannot do anything contrary to His nature. He can’t lie (Numbers 23:19, Titus 1:2, Hebrews 6:18) because that would go against His perfectly moral character. Similarly, God cannot murder, steal, or blaspheme.
When we apply this understanding to the paradoxical question posed in this article, we find that for God to create a rock too heavy for Him to lift would violate His own logical nature. It’s like asking for a married bachelor or a square circle—these are philosophical absurdities because they contradict the inherent nature of the concepts they involve.
The Paradox: A Conclusion
Skeptics who ask the heavy rock question are trying to expose a logical inconsistency in the Christian or theistic worldview. However, the question itself is based on a philosophical absurdity. If we were to entertain the idea that God could create a rock too heavy for Him to lift, we’d also have to accept that He could lift it—another absurdity.
So, these questions, rather than revealing inconsistencies in the concept of God’s omnipotence, instead fall victim to their own logical incoherency.