Omnipotence paradox

28.03.2015 |

Episode #5 of the course “Brain-twisting paradoxes”

The omnipotence paradox provides arguments to dispute both the existence of an omnipotent god as well as the existence of omnipotence itself. The paradox provides examples of two outcomes, both of which leave god with limited powers, and therefore not omnipotent. The most popular example is the paradox of the stone.

The paradox of the stone poses the question “Can an omnipotent being create a stone so heavy that it cannot lift it?” If yes, he or she can create a stone so heavy that it cannot be lifted, then the being’s power is limited because it cannot lift the stone. If no, the being cannot create a stone so heavy that he or she cannot lift it, then the being’s power is limited because it could not create such a stone. In either scenario, the allegedly omnipotent being has been proven not to be omnipotent because it lacks certain abilities.

The omnipotence paradox also has implications in the debate about the free will of mankind. The same question could be asked, “Can God or any other omnipotent being create a man he could not control?”

Most people who refute the paradox claim semantics as their reasoning. That is, that the idea or definition of omnipotence is misrepresented in the paradox. The alternative is that true omnipotence, the kind held by God, is not necessarily bound by the laws of logic, physics, or mathematics. Another argument is that an omnipotent being does have every conceivable ability, including the ability to limit their own power. Thus, an omnipotent god could create a rock so heavy that he could not lift it because he’s also taking away his own power of omnipotence.


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