Is this really a paradox? God, at the point in time when the question is posed, is Omnipotent - so he must be able to. But in creating something that He cannot later move, does this power simply come at the cost of his own Omnipotence?

Does denying God the power to die also deny his Omnipotence?

  • This is a duplicate. Short answer, omnipotence means "unlimited power", not "can do anything" - dictionary.com/browse/omnipotent
    – Skyl3r
    Jul 15 '16 at 17:27
  • OK, but using that terminology, don't you break the law of non contradiction? Jul 15 '16 at 17:40
  • Review the answer from Flimzy on the question I linked. He states eloquently: "The question assumes the false premise that if God is omnipotent, He can do anything. However, omnipotence is not the ability to do anything; it is the possession of infinite power."
    – Skyl3r
    Jul 15 '16 at 17:48
  • OK, so if God has infinite power, the rock must take infinity + X power to move, so must take infinity + X to create. This is not a logical question - infinity is not a relational concept (and infinity+x=infinity), so there is no logical answer. And in granting God infinite power, don't you take it away instantly when you say he cannot become finite? Jul 15 '16 at 18:03
  • 1
    The same question on Islam.SE: islam.stackexchange.com/questions/11966
    – infatuated
    Jul 16 '16 at 6:30

No God cannot create a rock that he cannot lift. But just because he can't do this doesn't mean he's not all powerful, just that he can't do the logically impossible.


Descartes gives us at least two different ways around this paradox. The first comes straight out of Catholic dogma.

By Christian reasoning (and Hindu, for that matter), God did become finite (in the latter case, over and over again), he just remained omnipotent at the same time in a different form. God in the form of the Creator (or Vishnu) could easily make a rock that God in the form of Jesus (or Krishna) could not lift.

By the magical logic of trinitarianism (or alternately by the non-dual interpretation of what an avatar really is), employing this notion, Descartes both multiplies and does not infringe the unity of God. That cannot make sense to humans, but by dogma, that is our problem, not God's. So there is no logic in insisting that by God, you did not mean his incarnations or avatars, because there is no distinction, even though the distinction is clear and obvious to us, the difference we insist upon is just an artifact of human limitation, not an aspect of reality.

The second way around the paradox comes from more directly considering the nature of omnipotence. An omnipotent being, by Descartes logic, could create square circles, but those would have to exist in a way humans could not comprehend them; unless he also changed humans... If God can do everything, real or unreal, conceivable or inconceivable, possible or impossible, the paradox goes away. You just end up with lots of copies of God and worlds full of absolute nonsense (at least from a human point of view) in a Meinongian, modal-realist sort of way.

Descartes' real point is that not only is God the being that creates stuff, he is also the being that creates rules, including rules about possibilities. And he is free to change them, or to create exceptions. This is the principle of miracles, and miracles are pretty much the point of having a God who intercedes.

The God who makes up both the stuff and the rules has no problem at all with your paradox. God can clearly make up a rock that occupies the whole of space. That rock, of course, cannot be moved. The inability to move it is not about power, it is implicit in the definition of space (and of the whole thereof). But Descartes' God is also free to simply add a dimension to space, so he can move the rock. And he could then expand his rock to be four-dimensional and fill that space, which he could then move in a new fifth dimension. An infinite regress, but not a paradox.

  • I'm not understanding Descartes' reasoning here. Does the rock expand instantaneously with the addition of the new dimension? If not, then for at least Planck time the rock is too heavy to move, then not heavy enough...right? If instantaneous, then the rock would have expanded without the passage of time, which is the measurement of movement. So when would the rock actually move?
    – Cannabijoy
    Jul 16 '16 at 6:39
  • The argument depends on infinity not being identical to All. Even though a definition of infinity is troublesome, All is a very reasonable assumption. Otherwise Essence would disagree with Nature. Jul 16 '16 at 14:08
  • @IlyaGrushevskiy The argument does not involve infinity in any way, so whether or not it is equivalent to all is not relevant. If space happens to be infinite there is still no problem filling it with an infinite quantity of matter. But it does not matter in principle.
    – user9166
    Jul 16 '16 at 14:55
  • @anonymouswho Addressing an argument from the early 1600's with a reference to Planck distance is just childish. The rock could simply remain unchanged when the dimension was added, Mathematics surely makes no requirement that there not be n-1 dimensional matter in an n-dimensional space. Who says it takes time to add a dimension to space? Surely not modern physics, which contains no such concept. Also, who put the time limit on when he has to lift it? You are making up rules out of nowhere, just to avoid getting the point.
    – user9166
    Jul 16 '16 at 15:00
  • And into an infinity of space you can place infinity+1 quantity of matter. Because infinity is not a relational concept. Making a square triangle only takes a circle, a light and a deformed surface for the shadow to land on. Jul 16 '16 at 15:14

Gods ability to make such a rock goes beyond a definition of infinite.

That is there isn't anything beyond infinite.

  • Please expand if you want to make clearer how this would answer the question. As written, it reads like an assertion. You could for instance better explain the first sentence and why you maintain it is true (what definition of God are you using? what definition of "definition of infinite"? what does "beyond infinite " mean?)
    – virmaior
    Jul 23 '16 at 13:34

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