I was pondering this question while writing on whether or not God had the ability to create a best of all possible worlds. I hold that God is not limited by anything (a view among classical theists such as myself). But I also hold that God can't do things such as make a rock so heavy he can't lift it, or he can't make a married bachelor, due to the laws of logic, such as the law of non-contradiction. So is God limited by these laws of logic?

  • Does my answer to this question answer your question as well? philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/90027/…
    – Dcleve
    Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 22:29
  • Like all concepts, also the concept of god has been created by humans. Theologians elaborate on this concept since thousands of years. In particular on two topics: - How to define the concept? Which properties characterize a god? - Has the concept a referent? Does there exist a being with the properties from the definition? The OP’s question „is God limited by these laws of logic?“ refers to the first issue: The paradox of omnipotence shows the problem when taking omnipotence as part of the definition: Assuming that a concept has a referent and at the same time placing the possible referent ou
    – Jo Wehler
    Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 22:33
  • When God is spoken of as El Elyon or El Shaddai, do we mean all power or maximal power? According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, IIRC, there has been a drift towards the maximality definition of omnipotence in recent years. Then we just say that the cardinality of the set of God's powers is greater than the cardinality of the set of any creature's powers, irrevocably. This does not require e.g. that God has the power to ejaculate semen, or other such 'debased' things. Commented Mar 15, 2022 at 1:50
  • @Geoffrey Thomas I have edited my answer. Then you converted the edited answer to a mutilated(!) comment. That's not what I intend with editing my answer. Why not leaving the answer as it is after editing? Do you consider the answer of low quality or out of focus?
    – Jo Wehler
    Commented Mar 16, 2022 at 8:41
  • In a comment on the answer from @tkruse you said you weren't asking if God can do certain things (presumably, whether He can 'violate the laws of logic'), rather you were "asking about God's nature in relation to the laws of logic". It might be helpful to include this in the question, and to elaborate on what that question about God's nature is, specifically--are you asking only whether classical theists would see it as God being "limited" by something external to Himself (the 'laws of logic'), vs. seeing the laws of logic as part of God's nature? Or is the question not just about that?
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Mar 16, 2022 at 16:25

3 Answers 3


Many, if not most classical theists think so. Aquinas solved a lot of "problems" by citing God's logical nature as being the ontological source of things like the law of non-contradiction. God not being limited by anything is a somewhat separate issue, but many classical theists (for example, William Lane Craig) would argue that God's limitations are not limitations in the normal sense of the word (as in, he's limited because he can't make a rock he can't lift) but rather logically incoherent statements that can't be spoken about as actions at all. Another way a classical theist might think about it is that God cannot act against his nature (law of identity), and because God's nature is to a classical theist the ultimate reality, God acting against his nature is both a logical impossibility and an incoherent statement.

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    So perhaps it’s right to say that God is not limited by such, but that God’s nature is that which is logic.
    – Luke Hill
    Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 21:50
  • 3
    @LukeHill If you mean what I think you do, that sounds right. A classical theist (I am a thiest, but I don't hold this view for some reasons I won't get into) would say that to talk about God being limited by the laws of logic is itself illogical, and is something of a category mistake.
    – SamIAm123
    Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 21:53

Our ideas of logic is limited to what we have experienced. Some things might seem like it would defy logic, but we haven't experienced enough knowledge to understand an answer. For example, many people thought the theory of relativity defied the laws of logic (and physics) in many ways. But there was a way around it using ways not yet thouht about.

Also, if you believe in God, you must believe in many things about him that seem illogical.

  • While this isn't really what most classical theists believe, this is a great insight that is worth reading anyways.
    – SamIAm123
    Commented Mar 16, 2022 at 2:34
  • People often use "logic" loosely to refer to something more like "reason", to claim laws of logic are violated you should to be able to actually write down the premises in some kind of formal logical language like propositional logic, and show using standard rules of inference that they can be used to deduce a contradiction. I don't think most atheists claim typical ideas about God are "illogical" in that sense, and I don't think most critics of relativity would have said it was illogical this way either (unless they might use some incorrect premises to get a contradiction in the twin paradox)
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Mar 16, 2022 at 20:21

The Wikipedia article on omnipotence explains most of the subtleties, writing classical theists: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omnipotence

In response to questions of a deity performing impossibilities, e.g. making square circles, Aquinas says that "everything that does not imply a contradiction in terms, is numbered amongst those possible things, in respect of which God is called omnipotent: whereas whatever implies contradiction does not come within the scope of divine omnipotence, because it cannot have the aspect of possibility. Hence it is better to say that such things cannot be done, than that God cannot do them.

The possible paradoxes are also well explained in Wikipedia: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omnipotence_paradox

The paradox arises, for example, if one assumes that an omnipotent being has no limits and is capable of realizing any outcome, even a logically contradictory one such as creating a square circle

It is also well hashed through in prior questions of this forum, such as Can God make a rock so heavy he cannot lift it?, Problems with the Omnipotence paradox, Does this explain the Omnipotence paradox?, Can someone explain omnipotence to me? ... It does not seem the current question brings anything new to the table that a quick Google search could not solve.

  • Notice that my question was not one of “can God do X?” Rather, my question was asking about God’s nature in regards to the laws of logic.
    – Luke Hill
    Commented Mar 16, 2022 at 15:50
  • It seems to me that those are related enough that the resources i list should help you find whatever you're looking for.
    – tkruse
    Commented Mar 16, 2022 at 22:56

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