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Is the omnipotence paradox really a paradox?

Hello everyone,

there is one very common argument against the existence of god, or to be more specific, against an attribute which god is said to possess. It is called the "omnipotence paradox" and can be summarized by the question:

"Can God create a rock so heavy that he can't lift it?"

I won't explain the details of this paradox (you can find more information in the iron chariots wiki), but rather want to ask whether this is really a paradox at all.

I think it's possible to rephrase this question to a more generally one:

"Can God limit his own power?" or "Is God capable of making himself losing his omnipotence?"

Let's assume there is a god and this god is omnipotent or all-powerful in a literally way. Can he limit his on power? If the answer is "no", then there is a single action god cannot do, therefor he can't be all-powerful.

If the answer is "yes", then where is the problem? *After* he limited his own power, he won't be omnipotent any more, but that is the idea of limiting once power ;-)

One way to lose your omnipotence could be to create a stone you cannot lift ... or an espresso machine you cannot use. So where is the paradox?

We could even substitute some words in the stone-lifting question to show that this paradox might be not that paradox:

God = me ;-) being omnipotence = be a living being create a stone = making suicide (because it will make you lose your omnipotence/living being attribute)

Then the omnipotence paradox will not look very logically any more:

"Daniel (that's me) is a living being. Living beings can commit suicide. But once the Daniel is dead, he should also be able to commit suicide again, which contradicts the first claim, because dead people cannot commit suicide. Therefor Daniel can't be a living being. q.e.d."

Do I miss here something? Did I made a mistake? What do you think of this paradox?

I'm looking forward to hear your opinion,

Daniel

PS: I'm German, so not a native speaker. Please be merciful with my English :)

QUOTE: "there is one very common argument against the existence of god, or to be more specific, against an attribute which god is said to possess. It is called the "omnipotence paradox" and can be summarized by the question: "Can God create a rock so heavy that he can't lift it?" I think it's possible to rephrase this question to a more generally one: "Can God limit his own power?" or "Is God capable of making himself losing his omnipotence?" Let's assume there is a god and this god is omnipotent or all-powerful in a literally way. Can he limit his on power? If the answer is "no", then there is a single action god cannot do, therefor he can't be all-powerful."

The claim made by some theists is that God is omnipotent, but how they define that is ambiguous. If you try to pin it down to a definition they come up with extraordinary and supernatural explanations, and most theists can extrapolate a can opener into proof of the existence of god. However, Omnipotent usually means that there are no things beyond God's abilities. Any being that is omnipotent and created everything would be capable of everything and anything.

QUOTE: "If the answer is "yes", then where is the problem? *After* he limited his own power, he won't be omnipotent any more, but that is the idea of limiting once power ;-) One way to lose your omnipotence could be to create a stone you cannot lift ... or an espresso machine you cannot use. So where is the paradox?"

God is omnipotent, or he isn't, he can't be both. If there is something God can't do he is not omnipotent. The espresso machine only adds to God's problems.

QUOTE: "We could even substitute some words in the stone-lifting question to show that this paradox might be not that paradox: God = me ;-) being omnipotence = be a living being create a stone = making suicide (because it will make you lose your omnipotence/living being attribute) Then the omnipotence paradox will not look very logically any more: "Daniel (that's me) is a living being. Living beings can commit suicide. But once the Daniel is dead, he should also be able to commit suicide again, which contradicts the first claim, because dead people cannot commit suicide. Therefor Daniel can't be a living being. q.e.d." Do I miss here something? Did I made a mistake? What do you think of this paradox?"

I don't understand how your example helps to explain the paradox about God being omnipotent. A better analogy: Do you think God could create something bigger than (infinite)? Can God give us a number bigger than infinite? Using numbers you would say a number bigger than all numbers is infinite. Make a bigger number. No matter what number God counts up to infinite is larger.

There are too many contradictions involved with your paradox one version cancels out the other. If God were absolutely omnipotent in every sense, then God would be capable of being (omnipotent and not omnipotent) at the same time. That would be worthless for answering any questions about God being omnipotent. He is or he isn't. I think the whole exercise is worthless since nobody can prove anything about something for which there is no proof. This is like saying fairies exist but nobody can see them because they exist in another realm (fairyland). Would a fairy make something else that can make wishes come true?

Hi Linda

thanks for your response. Ok, I see the whole omnipotence paradox depends very much on the exact definition of "omnipotence", maybe that's why I'm puzzling so much about this paradox.

QUOTE:"If God were absolutely omnipotent in every sense, then God would be capable of being (omnipotent and not omnipotent) at the same time."

This is true for one possible interpretation of the word omnipotence and I totally agree with you, that using this definition a truly omnipotent being could never exist.

But most theist I know, are arguing that God is omnipotent, which means he can do everything "which is possible". So he can't bypass the laws of logic or maths, but is able to do circumvent natural laws. Under this condition the omnipotence paradox isn't a paradox anymore, is it?

Let's assume there is an omnipotent god and he creates a stone he cannot lift. He is able to do this action because he is omnipotent. But now he can't lift the stone, so there is a single thing he is not able to do, therefor he is not omnipotent anymore.

I think the idea behind that paradox is, that an omnipotent being and a stone which cannot be lifted can't coexist, right? But when god lose his power after creating that stone, there is will be no contradiction.

We still need to answer the question whether it is logically possible to circumvent natural laws or even change them ... but that's a different story.

QUOTE: "I think the whole exercise is worthless since nobody can prove anything about something for which there is no proof."

Well said ... theists have to prove their statements, I'm free to be in doubt about their position as long as there is no proof (or even the tiniest bit of evidence)

Ok, my conclusion so far:

* If omnipotence mean­s to be able to do everything, even things which are contradictory then omnipotence is nonsense.

* If omnipotence means to be able to do everything, which not contradicts the laws of logic then - in theory - an omnipotent being could be able to exist.

* If omnipotence means to be able to do everything which not contradicts the laws of logic and natural laws, then - in theory - an omnipotent being could be able to exist, but would be pretty uncool.

If you can't prove that God does not exist, how can you argue against his existence? You have no proof to support your position. If you are going to make this claim, then I say, the burden of proof is upon you! If God created "the ever loving, debatable rock that is too heavy", he would be in violation of his own nature. Linda, I know that you've already heard that argument, so I won't wast your time. Daniel, there are other explanations to these ques. than what you are receiving here. Come on... go do your homework! It's like cheating on a test in school. So you get an A on this exam and don't learn what you are supposed to? Do the reading and studying for yourself!

Since you graded our posts I'm grading yours.

Quote: "If you can't prove that God does not exist, how can you argue against his existence?" You have no proof to support your position. If you are going to make this claim, then I say, the burden of proof is upon you!

You don't need a comma after say!

I stated that I thought the paradox was silly because it's about something that nobody proved exists. Your lame assumption that something should be accepted as true unless proven otherwise is absolutely false! Not believing a claim is not the act of making a claim. I don't have to prove the Easter Bunny exists simply because I don't believe it does. If someone says the Easter Bunny does exist then they need to prove it because they are making a claim. The burden of proof is always on the person making an assertion or proposition. Those who make assertions in any scholarly field have to prove it with tangible evidence that can be examined and falsified. So saying, "show me the Easter Bunny" is not a claim.

However, the subject of the post was a paradox concerning a particular attribute of something, not the existence of something. Omnipotence was the subject of the paradox. A paradox is an apparent contradiction. Even though Daniel stated that his native tongue is German (not English) he clearly understood what he was talking about, and proposed his own original solution to the paradox, and I gave him my own original answer to my own original paradox. Your remark that I read it before was as dumb as accusing Daniel of not doing his homework. How many languages do you speak?

QUOTE: "If God created "the ever loving, debatable rock that is too heavy", he would be in violation of his own nature."

As I stated, "I don't think the paradox has any relevance what so ever." Anyone could propose the same kinds of things about other mythological characters in fairytales and legends. It's obvious that they would need to prove something exists first, and if they don't their paradox is meaningless. If there is something an omnipotent mythological god can't do it's only a problem for mythology. The rock paradox has nothing to do with the nature of the being; it has to do with power, and the nature is another paradox altogether.

QUOTE: Linda, I know that you've already heard that argument, so I won't wast your time. Daniel, there are other explanations to these ques. than what you are receiving here. Come on... go do your homework! It's like cheating on a test in school. So you get an A on this exam and don't learn what you are supposed to? Do the reading and studying for yourself!

Did you mean I won't WASTE your time? You have already wasted my time! You suggest Daniel is too lazy to do his own homework. From reading your inarticulate jerky little assumptions it's more than obvious that your ability and information are very limited, and that's why you assume nobody else can do any better. All you are capable of is drippy assumptions! Don't tell me anything about what I've heard unless you know me, and you don't!

You get an F in comprehension, spelling, and punctuation.

The side claiming you should believe something must produce reasons why. The side that takes the affirmative must shoulder the burden of proof. The only reason for switching the burden of proof to the one who does not believe something is because you can't prove anything. It's a waste of time all right. Spud gave the typical apologists argument for G-d's existence: G-d exists because - duh! Spud can't prove anything. Nothing is real unless it is observed. That also renders the paradox meaningless as Linda pointed out. She also pointed out that any G-d from mythology will workout fine in this paradox. Spud seems to think that only his G-d will fit, in fact, just about any G-d will fit. There are plenty to choose from.

A paradox is a contradictory statement and most of them are silly, and don't prove anything. Linda is right about that too. However, a paradox does force one to use the mind logically. Belief does not require the mind to be used for logic, and religious teaching actually encourages people not to question anything they are being told. That's a big problem for the Spuds of the world.

Unfortunately for the creationists and other fundamentalist types they are not dealing with illiterate sheepherders anymore. They expect intelligent people to assume G-d's existence and that is the answer to everything. Unfortunately for them scientists and many other thinkers just didn't agree. Unless you prove the existence of something you can't prove anything about it. G-d wouldn't make a rock like that is an assumption. The all-powerful aspect of any G-d is composed of different qualities they are not all the same thing. Power and mercy are not the same things. The nature of G-d is not about (G-d is capable of doing everything) that's why the nature of G-d has nothing to do with this specific paradox. Spud didn't explain or present anything in terms of answers or proof. I have heard the "it's against G-ds nature" before from the apologists, and it's not an answer to this paradox or anything. How do we know that we have the right G-d if nobody can produce one? And that G-d can do everything. What his argument boils down to is very common with all apologists; I don't have to prove anything. All that is left is to just believe whatever they say about G-d, and everyone should just assume that's the right answer.

What if God killed himself (twice) with an espresso machine?

Linda: It is really annoying how the "I have to speak against the idea of a god"-attitude obviously clouds the capabilities of your consciousness.

========== QUOTE =========

QUOTE: "If the answer is "yes", then where is the problem? *After* he limited his own power, he won't be omnipotent any more, but that is the idea of limiting once power ;-) One way to lose your omnipotence could be to create a stone you cannot lift ... or an espresso machine you cannot use. So where is the paradox?"

God is omnipotent, or he isn't, he can't be both. If there is something God can't do he is not omnipotent. The espresso machine only adds to God's problems.

========== END QUOTE =========

What's your problem?

In this example, first, god is omnipotent. Then he creates the rock that is supposed to have the property of being beyond god's power (like, for example, the world). Then god is not omnipotent any more.

You say that god can not be omnipotent and not omnipotent at the same time. But that is not what's stated here! First omnipotent... makes rock... then not omnipotent any more.

Much like if god would create a second god. Both omnipotent but incapable of killing the other one, hence some equilibrium must emerge.

...............

On a different note: If god were omnipotent, were he capable of ceasing to exist?

To Makeroni:

My reasoning was unlike yours on this controversy. First of all Daniel is making god no longer omnipotent by means of suicide so that the "rock he can't lift" won't be a problem (god is no longer omnipotent). So, god can't lift the rock, but it doesn't matter, because god is not omnipotent upon his death. How then does god pull off the "Second Coming" if he is no longer omnipotent? Daniel cannot say god couldn't pick up the rock when he was no longer omnipotent and that solves the problem, because if he was no longer omnipotent he isn't god. God could not pull of the "Second Coming" if god were not omnipotent. That's why I said god couldn't be both, so pick one. It becomes invalid either way.

I don't think Daniel's ideas are all that bad, and he does accept the falseness of the entire situation. His ideas are not nearly as outrageous as numerous stories that are eagerly acceptable by most xians.

Evangelical xians, apparently believe that Tyrannosaurus Rex frolicked alongside human beings only a few thousand years ago in the Garden of Eden. They funded a $27 million Creationist museum that has dinosaurs on Noah's Ark. I'm sure this literal biblical interpretation will keep kids out of all kinds of criminal behavior. As far as education is concerned America has reached the bottom of the pit. We are essentially rolling out an assembly line of ignorant conforming clones and our culture, as a whole will pay dearly, very soon. Anyone who doesn't think so will soon find out.

God = me ;-) being omnipotence = be a living being create a stone = making suicide (because it will make you lose your omnipotence/living being attribute)

Then the omnipotence paradox will not look very logically any more:

You're certainly right about that! Not after you changed every term in the original statement into something totally irrelevant to that term!

2+2=4

Now just change 2 to 6, the other 2 to 14, and 4 to 413,768 and we can all see that just does not make any mathematical sense!

Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

My own answer to the question "Can God (assuming He/She/It/They existed) create a rock so heavy that he can't lift it?" is simple. "No." The explanation I'll leave to any physicists out there. ;)

--Mike from Shreveport

Mike:

You start your post with what Daniel said, "God = me ;-) being omnipotence = be a living being create a stone = making suicide (because it will make you lose your omnipotence/living being attribute) Then the omnipotence paradox will not look very logically any more:"

Mike said, "You're certainly right about that! Not after you changed every term in the original statement into something totally irrelevant to that term! 2+2=4 Now just change 2 to 6, the other 2 to 14, and 4 to 413,768 and we can all see that just does not make any mathematical sense! Sorry, I couldn't help myself. My own answer to the question "Can God (assuming He/She/It/They existed) create a rock so heavy that he can't lift it?" is simple. "No." The explanation I'll leave to any physicists out there. ;) --Mike from Shreveport"

The answer to Daniel's' paradox is not quite that simple since Daniel is not questioning the original rock paradox; he refers to a source. Daniel was making a paradox that would make omnipotence invalid (god committing suicide) making omnipotence invalid (when god comes back to life). He did not redefine omnipotence he made it invalid. However, Linda points out that god cannot be both omnipotent/non-omnipotent. If he is not omnipotent he is not god. So, answering the original rock paradox does not answer Daniel's paradox; it's a new one. Linda went straight to the new paradox and showed him that it didn't achieve his goal. It's not very logical to just dismiss anything before carefully reading it and giving it due consideration. It's only that simple if you believe that the most concise answer is necessarily the right one, which is often a Christian view. Scientific subjects do require a person to use complex logic and are very involved. Using complex logic is repressed by religious indoctrination and frequently does not help one to develop complex logic.

The post from Spud, " If God created "the ever loving, debatable rock that is too heavy", he would be in violation of his own nature." This is what you would call redefining terms.

Linda's infinite number paradox is the paradox that would require a mathematician/philosopher. Euclid's proof that there are infinite numbers of prime numbers, or more precisely, that there cannot be a largest prime number. A similar idea is Euclid in his proof of the infinite number of primes. The idea of Euclid is to add 1 to the product of all assumed limited number of primes showing then that this number is either itself prime or a prime number exists that is larger than the largest prime used in the product.

I'm back!

My answer is that God (if there were an allegedly omnipotent being with infinite power) could not create a stone that he could not lift for the following reasons:

What would he have to lift the stone against? Lift implies the direction "up." What is "up" in relation to a presumably supergalactic size stone? You have to have a frame of reference. We're used to lifting stones against the Earth's gravity. But a super-stone that an infinitely-omnipotent being could create would be so much greater in size than the Earth that it would be more like lifting Earth from the stone!

One would also have to presume that this God would have to change the laws of physics anyway, because any stone that enormous would easily exceed the mass limit that would create a black hole, sucking in the Earth or any other heavenly body (no pun intended) that He would have to lift against. Basically, the stone would have to just hang in space, pulling matter into itself. In space, there is no "up," and in zero gravity there is nothing to prevent anything from moving other than its own inertia. But even this would succumb to a significant force applied over time, and God theoretically has an infinite amount of time, so the stone would succumb eventually.

It's not non-omnipotent to not limit one's self, and for God to not be able to lift the rock would imply the rock is more powerful than God, which would certainly make Him non-omnipotent. So to not be able to create a stone he cannot lift would not be a lack of omnipotence, but the failure of a stone to exceed the abilities of its creator, which is not unreasonable to assume. One might also say, "Can God make himself not exist?" (assuming He did), or "Can God make Himself finite?" (assume He were infinite).

Your right, God cannot create a rock that he cannot lift, but only because God doesn't exist.

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