Some light-hearted fun with the Omnipotent Paradox

Here is a riddle that has been used since medieval time by atheists to prove that God does not exist. It is called the Omnipotence Paradox and it goes like this:

If there is an all powerful (i.e. omnipotent) God, is he able to create a rock so heavy that even he cannot lift ? If he can, then he is not all powerful as there is something he cannot do (lift the rock). If he cannot create such a rock, then he is not all powerful as there is something he cannot do (create the rock). Hence, the argument goes, an all powerful God cannot exist. Sound logical? Well, not quite.

The argument above is only logical if you accept a proposition of logically absurdity as being logical. To illustrate, let us examine such a proposition used by C S Lewis: Can you draw a square-shape circle? Of course not. For to do so is to violate the very nature of the circle that it is no longer a circle!

Let us examine another example. I like this one as it traces back to my Chinese roots. During the era of warring nations, there was once a man who was peddling his finely made spears and shields on the street. “My spears are so sharp that they can pierce through any shield!” “My shields are so tough that no spears can pierce through it!” A cheeky bystander then asked, “What if we try to pierce one of your shields with one of your spears?” At this, the man was so embarrassed that he quickly packed up his gears and went away. Till this day, the Chinese phrase for “contradiction” literally means “spear and shield”!

So, if God has created a spear that can penetrate any shield; can he then create a shield that the spear cannot penetrate? To say that God is not able to create the aforementioned rock, spear or shield (or draw that illusive square circle, for that matter) does not mean that He is not omnipotent. It just means that these aforementioned propositions are logical absurdities. You see, omnipotence does not mean that God can do anything, but that he can do anything according to his nature; and it is not God’s nature to be logically absurd. Thomas Aquinas explained in his great work Summa Theologica that the inherent contradictions and logical impossibilities of such propositions do not fall under the omnipotence of God.

Otherwise, if we were prepared to accept logical absurdities as logical propositions, we can come up with any number of tasks that God “cannot do”, include “godly” subjects such as,

  • Can God commit a sin? No, because He is all holy.
  • Can God cease to exist? No, because He is eternal.
  • Can God stop loving? No, because He himself is love.

Have fun coming up more such logical absurdities!

One Response to Some light-hearted fun with the Omnipotent Paradox

  1. What happen if an immovable object is met with an unstoppable force? Will the object move?

    If I say to you “I am lying”, am I telling a truth or a lie?

    And by the way, God cannot lie. Heb 6:18 tells us so.