Talk:Omnipotence paradox/Archive 4

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The applicability or otherwise of certain predicates to certain subjects

Hi. I am a philosopher, not a specialist on this topic, though. When I read the 'stone' argument as a child, it struck me as particularly silly, and it still does (well, I know it was not silly in the original context..). By then, I could not say why, by now I can: the predicate "...can lift a stone" is simply not applicable to God. Can he/she/it paint him- or her- or it-self green? No. Yet this is clearly no limit to his/her/its omnipotence. Has this never cropped up in the serious part of the discussion? It ought to (have). Yet, I cannot find it in the main body of the article, perhaps I am overlooking something. (talk) 12:24, 4 November 2008 (UTC) Wojciech Żełaniec

God's essence, the alterability thereof

Also, I can't find very clearly posted this line of thought, pretty obvious though it would seem: to create a stone he/she/it cannot lift, God would have to modify his/her/its essence at least for the purpose of not being able to lift this stone. By my scant knowledge of philosophical theology, God's inability to change/modify/alter/tamper with his/her/its essence has never been much talked about (correct me if I am wrong in so thinking) nor has it been seen as a limit to divine omnipotence. Can God make him/her/itself a disgruntled salesman? A weasel? A footnote to Plato? The irrationality of the square root of 2? No. Yet, this is (they thought, if I am not wrong) no limit to his/her/its omnipotence. Yet still, there IS a problem here: God HAS (so believe Christians at least) made himself to a man, not a very powerful one, at that.

Maybe there is, not a logical, but a metaphysical impossibility to the concept of God changing or modifying his/her/its essence so as to render him-/her-/itself less than really omnipotent, for instance with regard to lifting a divinely created stone. And if so, then God is no less omnipotent for not being able to accomplish THAT (viz. that which is (not logically but) metaphysically impossible).

Has this (possibly silly) line of argument been ever in the market? I sort of miss it in the main body... . (talk) 12:24, 4 November 2008 (UTC) Wojciech Żełaniec

A feat?

The article tells us: As Mavrodes points out there is nothing logically contradictory about this; a man could, for example, make a boat which he could not lift.[13] It would be strange if humans could accomplish this feat, but an omnipotent being could not.

I do not know how many boats either Mavrodes or the author of the above words have ever built, but, not being myself into building boats, I should at least suspect that most boats built by men are much too heavy to be easily lifted, so there would not be anything "featy" about that. Maybe what Mavrodes meant was: ... make a boat which he could not lift before it has been built? (In this case, depending on which stage of its not yet having been built, the boat would be non-liftable, or easily liftable.) Or maybe we are talking here about toy boats and/or of particularly muscular men? (talk) 12:24, 4 November 2008 (UTC) Wojciech Żełaniec

Sound Recording?

William Morgan is supposed to be working on it, but it's been there for a good four months and Bill himself doesn't seem to have been on Wikipedia since the tag date (January 10th 06). I think the Sound Recording tag can be taken out now, right? fel64 22:29, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

Yes. I have now removed it. -- Etimbo ( Talk) 22:43, 22 December 2006 (UTC)

V0.5 Nomination fail for importance

In my opinion, the topic is not important enough to be taken into the V0.5, and the way the text is written is not appropriate for a general encyclopaedia. Habemus pampam 08:01, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

This stuff is hilarious. If someone asks me, "could the God of War" make a stone so big that even you could not lift it?" I would smite him down for being such a dumbass.--God Ω War 06:25, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

--There is such a simple solution to this non-problem: The Trinity! Obviously, Jesus IS God, but at the same time IS only a Man and therefore not able to lift as much as Superman, but God, still can. So, all an Omniverous being needs to do is create himself in something else and he will have certain limitations prescribed to that something else. See, non-problem-- —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:34, 27 June 2008 (UTC)


Should this article simply be merged with omnipotence?? or paradox or something? I've always been puzzled by this Featured Article about a single paradox...--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 09:54, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

Nah there are lots of pages on individual paradoxes, there is a whole list of paradox pages, and the paradox main page is for explaining what paradoxes are, not exploring individual ones. We could maybe merge with omnipotence but both seem pretty healthy on their own to me.

Back from Italy

I see this article is undergoing a well-need overhaul. I see it still contains the opening-ish sentence 'The omnipotence paradox (also known as the paradox of the stone) is a paradox that arises when attempting to apply logic to the notion of an omnipotent being.'

There is something truly horrible about this. Can't quite put my finger on it. Is it the suggestion that paradoxes don't arise unless we 'apply logic'. Or is it the expression 'apply logic'. I automatically had the urge to put scare quotes around it. Dbuckner 21:01, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

First sentence. The omnipotence paradox (also known as the paradox of the stone) is a paradox that arises when attempting to apply logic to the notion of an omnipotent being.

The word 'logic' is surely superfluous. Do any paradoxes arise when we do not attempt to apply logic? And is it POV to imply that the paradox arises at all? The word 'paradox' occurs three times in the first sentence. The word 'stone' is used here, whereas below the word 'rock'.

'The paradox arises from the question of whether or not an omnipotent being is able to perform actions that would limit its own omnipotence, thus becoming non-omnipotent.'

Second sentence. The paradox arises from the question of whether or not an omnipotent being is able to perform actions that would limit its own omnipotence, thus becoming non-omnipotent.

Why is this a paradox? There is no paradox in the idea that an actually omnipotent being could make itself not omnipotent, and is thus potentially non-omnipotent.

Is there a source for the original formulation? Averroes is mentioned only once. What is the source? The version attributed to Averroes is the triangle one, not the 'stone' one. Where does the stone one come from?

I checked on Q25 of the Summa, which does not mention Averroes.

I could do some work around this, but, as Franco asks, is it worth doing a lot of work (and this needs a LOT of work) around a single paradox? Dbuckner 05:53, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

Many paradoxes emerge without applying logic, but if the phrase bugs ya, come up with a better one, BE BOLD. Economic "paradoxes" only need to be counter-intuitive, for example. Paradox is not a term limited to philosophical applications. Look at the Wikipedia definition of paradox there is nothing POV about claiming that a paradox arises, any more than saying that a puzzle or complexity arises. The omnipotent being making itself non-omnipotent is in fact one of the philosophical responses we mention, but trust me on this, many people do not see that way out at first. I don't know where the stone version is first made, and off hand I wouldn't be surprised if its origin is simply not known. Bmorton3 14:14, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

More delving

I did a little more delving. The expression 'Paradox of the Stone' goes back at least to an article by C. Wade Savage, in Philosophical Review 1967. I don't have a copy of this, but you can access the first page on JSTOR. An earlier article referred to is by Mavrodes, "Some puzzles concerning Omnipotence", Philosophical Review 1963.

Does the paradox exist in this form earlier than that? If not, then we need to resolve the confusion about whether this article is about 'The Paradox of the Stone', or whether about other omnipotence puzzles, such as whether God can create a triangle whose angles do not add up to the right amount &c.

This is an excellent point. I was unable to put my finger on it, but I suspected there was something basically wrong with the formulation "omnipotence paradox" as the title of this article. I had heard of the "paradox of the stone", and whenever I goodled the two terms, I would get many hits for "paradox of stome" but very few and very unspecific ones for "omniptence paradox. This article seems to treat primarily of the "stone paradox and only tangentially of the other related paradoxes of omnipotence. It's odd. This is also why I added "also known as "paradox of the stone" in the intro sentence. The title could be changed to either "paradox of the stone" or "onmiptence paradoxes". But, as Dbukcner points out, it has to be decided what exacly the article treats of.

There is also a characteristically good statement of the paradox by Peter Suber | here. Follow


If an entity has the power to make any law or do any act at any time, then can it limit its own power to act or make law? If it can, then it can't, and if it can't, then it can. If it can do any act at any time, then it can limit or destroy itself, because that is an act; but it cannot do so, because doing it means it cannot and could not do any act at any time.

Suber also draws in some wider implications of the paradox. And he sensibly comments "The idea of a sovereign or a deity is vague and requires much preliminary specification before the contours of the problem can come into relief.".

What to do? Is this article about the paradox of the Stone? Or about the family of paradoxes involving divine omnipotence? Is it worth being in WP at all? I think yes, because it's a good example of a standard objection to the existence of God, which still clearly exerts a hold on popular imagination. Any such article should therefore

1. Give a historical background to the problem. (Including sources for the 'stone' formulation, other instances of omnipotence paradoxes). 2. Contemporary responses to the paradox (Savage, Geach &c) 3. Contemporary relevance (Suber's article gives a sense of this) 4. Further reading

But this, repeat, is a LOT of work. Given the dire state of philosophy in WP, are there better things to do? Dbuckner 06:32, 28 August 2006 (UTC) --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 08:02, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

Given the nonsense that IS in WP, I think the question about remaining in WP is obvious. Why not? It's WP, not SEP!! But this is a lot of work indeed, and I personally have few resources on this, except what people can point me to on the net. As usual, I shall do what I can to help, nevertheless. --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 08:02, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
I'm prepared to put in some work. Presumably Brian is too. My preferred style of working, as you know, is not to rush in with spell and grammar checking (why do all that when the corrected words may be removed at any point in the process - leave that sort of stuff until last. Ditto footnotes - renumbering is an awful pain - collect the references in the talk page or somewhere and bang them in at the end). Logical way to work is, decide on the basics that go into the article - starting of course with the question of what the article is about in the first place, then build up from those bones. Dbuckner 11:58, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
I've downloaded the Latin of Summa Contra Gentiles, Book II. There is some more stuff there. Back later. Dbuckner 12:02, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
I am worried that a historical background to the problem consistutes OR, there was some background on the 13th century Averroist versions that was in the original FA version, but it seemed to be confusing Ibn Rushd with Parisians influenced by him, look at the condemnation of 1277 (art 17, for instance). I'll check Ps-D on Omnipotence. My intuition is that the paradox of the stone is far older than the 20th century, but I don't have evidence yet. Bmorton3 14:14, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
Hawking supposedly discusses the historical background in Brief History of Time, if it hasn't been stolen from your libraries check it, that's a good enough source for here. Pseudo-Dionysius discusses a version of the omnipotence paradox debated between Elymas the Magician and St. Paul in Acts 13:8, but it isn't the stone version. Bmorton3 14:21, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree with BM3. It seems intuitively obvious that the "stone paradox" goes back...well, to the age of the stones, almost. But I don't see why we can't just leave it approx. the way it is now: one version of the omni pardox is the stone paradox: "Could being create stone....?" <ref>Savage...</ref> .This way we avoid having to make a specific historical commitment as well as Original Research. I don't have access to JSTOR, but the basic argument is right there on the from page!!--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 14:35, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
Seems like it ought to be old. But I've read through II 25 of Contra Gentiles, and can't find any reference there. (The article in question is a list of all the things that God can't do – such as create a being identical to himself, destroy himself, commit sin &c). As you say, it ought to be old, but cannot find any source. Art 17. of the 1277 condemnations contains no direct reference. I've also looked in my collection of scholastic books, and also the big brown book in the hall, but without success. I like the new introduction by the way. Much better. I'll go on researching the background, you guys are doing a good job with the rewrite, I won't interfere. Dbuckner 16:20, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

What still needs to be done here??

I've address all the minor stuff abaout lists and the introductory sentences. I can find nothing on the history of this stuff. It seems to me that a few more refernces are needed and that's about it. The article is mcuh better than it was when it made FA in the first place and it now has in-line citations.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 15:06, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

I think we need to nail down the Hawking cite, the Ibn Rushd cite, and if we can find some history on the paradox of the stone add that but I think that is non-essential. Anything else? Bmorton3 15:10, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
Hmmm....very nice!! Now I can just burn a copy of it to DVD. [

A Brief History of Time online]...--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 15:31, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

Crap it has lots of anthropic principle stuff and mentions God a lot but doesn't do the Omnipotence stuff at all. Maybe he did it somewhere else, or maybe he never did it at all. It doesn't even seem to support the citation we are using it for (which is probably about Brief History of Time, rather than IN Brief History of Time). Maybe we should just cut Hawkings and make the argument without attributing an originator. I hate tracking down other people's work with scant clues ... grr Bmorton3 15:56, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, very disappointing. He does mention it!! He says somthing like "it's like the old paradox: can god create a stone that he cannot lift. Well, Augustine showed that time exists only inside the universe." And that's about it. LOL! Well, it's Wikipedia. A short time ago there was no policy on citations at all, so you can't really blame anyone either. Do what you think's best.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 16:31, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

I would have been surprised if Hawking had mentioned it. Most of these science books, once they stray outside their specific subject matter, rely on Wikipedia (joke).

I have to admit this is true, even though I am a naturalistic sort. Win a noble prize for some amazing but extremely specific contribution to the understanding of the three-dimensional issoconformational structute of the intergenomic anoalous mitochondria, and you can then publish books about the nature of consciouenss, the universe and life itself (title of a book by Francis Crick). But, then, it makes a great deal of--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 07:42, 30 August 2006 (UTC) money.

Anyway, I did something positive and translated Aquinas CG 2.25, which is the list of things God can't do. This has interesting things like God can't make the angles of a triangle not equal to two right angles, God can't make the past not exist, can't create himself, can't destroy himself, can't make someone like himself and so on. No mention of stone or lapis or anything remotely similar. Given he was probably listing what other people have said on the subject, it seems unlikely that the stone example dates back this far.

I also translated some of Suarez Disputation 30 on the same subject. S. is much later and is also a valuable source in that he gives citations (unlike medieval writers who just say 'some people say that ...' - good job Wikipedia not around then, or they would have had Sandy to reckon with, also Tony who would have criticised their copious use of the word etiam). Anyway, Suarez doesn't mention stones either. I did a Google site search on all the Latin sites I know for 'lapis' and its derivatives. No luck so far. I'll keep on searching, as it kind of interests me now.

All for now. I thought you have done some splendid work here. Dbuckner 19:10, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

Grr I'm no longer convinced the Averroes stuff is correct. Oh he discusses the paradox of omnipotence alright, and has some very sophisticated things to say, he also claims that God can do anything that isn't logically impossible. He and Ghazali even fight over exactly what the difference between the logically impossible, the naturally impossible, and the habitually uncommon is. Tahafut al Tahafut 529-536 is all about this stuff. He uses a few concrete examples, God cannot make white identical to black, "since the negation of white is implied in the affirmation of black, the simultaneous affirmation and negation of white is impossible." (536) God cannot make a person be in two places at once, but could animate a corpse. The only web sources which support this claim reference and old version of this page, none of my secondary books on Ibn Rushd say anything about this triangle argument. WP, and the IEP don't mention it. But he wrote a lot, it could be a throwaway example in some book I haven't read. Bmorton3 21:02, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

The WP:Contact page claims that the book Contact attributes this doctrine to Ibn Rushd, maybe given all the atheists working on this page back in FA, that is where they got the claim. Contact doesn't use footnotes does it? Bmorton3 21:24, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

The triangle example does go back to Descartes and Kant, but this page, seems to have inadvertantly attributed it to Ibn Rushd, probably because someone screwed up reading Contact closely, grrrr, I hate spreading urban legends and disinformation accidently. Bmorton3 21:28, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

Well in fact the triangle example goes back at least to Aquinas, as I've said. Who also mentions the black and white argument, without mentioning Averroes. Also the corpse example, also without mentioning Averroes. Can we infer that, although he normally mentions 'the commentator' by name, that here he isn't, but is nonetheless using his arguments. I take it you are looking at secondary sources? Is there a primary source for Averroes on this subject? Is there an expert in the field who we could email? Dbuckner 05:40, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
I found Tahafut al Tahafut by the way. Thanks for the tip, I didn't know this was on the net. But A. wrote lots of commentaries didn't he. I wonder if the example is there. I know there's a specific bit of Aristotle where the omnipotence thing crops up. I tried a bit of site searching for 'triangle' on muslimphilosophy but no luck. I'm certain the example is before Aquinas. Indeed, any scholastic example you find is usually some old chestnut going way back. Golden mountain, for example, which predates Meinong considerably. Dbuckner 05:58, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
"Cum principia quarundam scientiarum, ut logicae, geometriae et arithmeticae, sumantur ex solis principiis formalibus rerum, ex quibus essentia rei dependet, sequitur quod contraria horum principiorum Deus facere non possit: sicut quod genus non sit praedicabile de specie; vel quod lineae ductae a centro ad circumferentiam non sint aequales; aut quod triangulus rectilineus non habeat tres angulos aequales duobus rectis." Contra Gentiles, 2.25
Which I translate as folllows "Since the principles of certain sciences, such as logic, geometry and arithmetic are taken only from the formal principles of things, on which the essence of the thing depends, it follows that God could not make things contrary to these principles. For example, that a genus was not predicable of the species, or that lines drawn from the centre to the circumference were not equal, or that a triangle did not have three angles equal to two right angles." Dbuckner 11:33, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
An idea just struck me: do you think it would seem anti-Wikipedian if we just quoted the Latin version.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 11:47, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
From what I've been able to gather here: a) the triangle example IS mentioned in Aquinas. No explicit connection to Averroes has been found. I suggest that we should either ask an expert on Averroes (but this is an unlikely path) or just say something like "the triangle example,which goes back at least to Aquinas' Summa Contra Gentile (citation)...etc.. That would be fine, I think. b) There is something called WP:Contact which I've never heard of, but which may be useful. What the devil is it?--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 07:51, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
Oh, I see. The Wiki article on the book Contact by Carl Sagan. Well, the warning is (used to be anyway) on the main page: please keep in mind that Wikipedia is known to contain unreliable information.LOL!!--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 07:59, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
Aha right it goes to Aquinas, and it sure looks like its in a list of other examples being kicked around at the time, maybe it does go to Averroes, and it is just in one of the other works besides the Tahafut al-Tahafut (BTW I didn't know it was on the net, I went to my library and read the physical book in the sections that the secondaries had mentioned when discussing Averroes opinions of "What God can Do" that's why I couldn't do a text search or anything). He certainly discusses a lot of related stuff in other texts, so it could well be somewhere other than his dispute with Ghazali. I think we can cite the T al-T that Averroes discussed the Omnipotence Paradox, and cite Aquinas for the triangle example, as long as we phrase it that it might have been earlier. Bmorton3 15:30, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
I've done some more digging and someone told me Urban and Walton's collection The Power of God: Readings on Omnipotence and Evil? It has some excellent articles on this topic, including several efforts by contemporary logicians to translate and resolve the stone-lifting problem. It also includes excerpts from Anselm, Aquinas (including the one you cite), Peter Damian, et alii, on similar issues. However I don't have access to a library (except my own, which doesn't contain this one). Is there any chance you could find it, Brian? Dbuckner 07:25, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Otherwise, I think Brian's suggestion is fine. I am still determined to locate an earlier source given, as I say, that Aquinas nearly always cites something 'kicking around'. Dbuckner 07:25, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Yup we've got it I'll go get it later today Bmorton3 13:57, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
This book has jack-all to say about Averroes, in fact it has no non-Christians, except a brief Spinoza except. I might be able to find some stuff on the stone, though. The language Aquinas uses in the Summa Contra Gentiles, mirrors some stuff in Quaestiones Disputatae De Potentia Dei, and our Aquinas page claims its unknown which is earlier. But in QD De Potentia Dei, he makes the argument about what is geometrically or mathematically impossible without giving an example, and claims its one of 3 different kinds of impossibility that he has interpreted from Aristotle's metaphysics 5, 12 (and sure enough that is what Aristotle says about potency and possibility there, but his example is about the diagonal of a square being commensurate with a side of the square). Hey St. Peter Damian argues for God's ability to change the past! Frankfurt asserts in 1964 that the puzzle of the stone is "well-known" so it's probably earlier than Mavrodes' 1963 article. hmm, damn this book doesn't answer our questions and instead raises many more. Damn I argued that that was a good thing to Lacatosias the other day didn't I? Bmorton3 15:09, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Augustine, much earlier, argues that God cannot destroy the past. "Anyone who says, 'If God is omnipotent, let him make what has happened not to have happened,' does not realize that he is saying, 'If God is omnipotent, let him make true things false insofar as they are true.'" (XXVI Contra Faustum cap. 5) Dbuckner 15:35, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Yup, and St. Jerome, and Aquinas even Aristotle quoting Agathon agree (Ethics 6,2, 1139b 10), but St. Peter Damian argues the other side! Bmorton3 15:55, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, wasn't reading carefully enough. St Peter Damian says God CAN change the past? What is the argument? This page is exerting a horrid fascination, when there are so much more 'important' things to do. Dbuckner 18:27, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Well he's got about 6 pages, and lots of Bible quotes and lots of God is omnipotent afterall stuff, but the main argument seems to be 1) If every power is co-eternal with God then God is able to make it so that what was done, was not done, 2) But every power is co-eternal with God. 3)So ... Ok there's a bit where he talks about the status of the men before the flood, God created them, destroyed them, took away there future, but did not take away the fact that they had been. For Damien, these are seperate sentiments. Contrariwise, the "as regards the merits of the depraved men who were destroyed in these catastrophes" they tended towards non-being rather than being because of their refusal to cleave to God, and quoting Wisdom of Solomon 2:1f he says "For we are born from nothing; and we shall here after be as if we had never been" that is they will tend towards non-being to the extent of it being as if God had removed there past, as well as their present and future. He says "If what came about was evil, it was not something, but rather nothing. Furthermore, it ought to be said not to have been, because it did not have the wherewithal for existing since the Creator of all has not commanded it to exist."

"We can properly say that God can act in his invariable and most constant everlastingness that what had been done in our transient state of affairs was not done. So we say "Surely God CAN bring it about that Rome which was founded in ancient times, was not founded." The assertion "Surely he can do it" is said consistently in the present tense as far as the changeless eternity of the Omnipotent God is concerned; but with regards to us, where is continuous mobility and perpetual change, we more naturally say "he could have done so" as is customary." Because God does not change but we do, the power that God once had to bring it about that Rome not be founded, God still has and has in the present tense, to bring it about that Rome was not founded. Bmorton3 19:33, 31 August 2006 (UTC) God has power "over that which is made, and that which is not made"Since God is outside of time

Do think he would count as a 'lone crank' or does he represent a significant subculture. But then he's a Saint, I suppose. Any of those contributing to Wikipedia? Dbuckner 15:25, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

Irrelevant question

Why are Americans so damned obsessed with French and other so-called "continental" philosophy? Over here, it is generally considered nonsense in the universities and serious academic discussions rarely conentrate on nutjobs such as Foucault, Derrida, etc,.. This is truly bizarre. --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 16:10, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

That, as you say, is an irrelevant question. Dbuckner 18:27, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

reversion of user SOuj1ro's edits

I have reverted the recent POV edits by So32 (or whatever the heck. I wish people would use real names around here). He thinks that Geach's distinction between various levels of omnipotence are not particularly convincing. Neither do I, but that's no reason to remove them from an encylopedia article. They are central to Peter Geach's discussion of the paradox of omnipotence. Geach's dicussions of these matters seem to be very influential in contemprpary philosophy of religion. Therefore, they should stay. Period.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 09:17, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

If you wanted to use a different set of types of omnipotence (and cite them) that would be fine, especially if we synched up with the main Omnipotence page, but you need some discussion of the different kinds of attribution of powerfulness, to explain the differences between Descartes, Aquinas, Mavrodes, Geach, etc. Bmorton3 13:35, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
Ah....I think that's what I just said.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 13:45, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
User:Lacatosias - The username would be S0uj1r0. It's in the article's edit history, the FAR page, and as such, I would think not all too difficult to keep track of. I'm not going to simply revert, but the edits were not POV. I'll admit to not having read Geach's treatise on the subject, so perhaps you have the edge here. However, it's not that I disagree with any of his definitions, but rather that I think they may be excessively complicated for use in this article, and his relation to the subject is not well-established in this article, or even in the article on Geach himself. Also, I made a number of other minor structural improvements unrelated to Geach entirely that you reverted without apparent concern. Perhaps you can review these and integrate some of them, as User:Bmorton3 has done a bit of, if they seem beneficial.
User:Bmorton3 - You state on the FAR page, "There are lots of easy things that 2 requires but 3 doesn't. This is the heart of Mavrodes' argument." Perhaps if either George Mavrodes (whose article contains nothing more than "George I. Mavrodes is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan and author of Belief in God: A Study in the Epistemology of Religion.") or his support for points 3 and 4 are to be considered of any importance, perhaps he deserves somewhat more than the two-sentence summation given in the article. Furthermore, without the example you gave on the FAR page, the distinction between "logically consistent" and a "logically consistent state of affairs" in Geach's points 3 and 2, respectively, is unclear. You also state, "Anselm argues that God is omnipotent despite the omnipotence paradox because omnipotent only means almighty, not something stronger. Geach argues that God isn't omnipotent, because of the omnipotence paradox, but that God is something else very close, namely "almighty." Would it be possible to expand on this to make each of their arguments clear in article itself? Between Geach, Mavrodes, Anselm, Aquinas (especially Aquinas), and Descartes, I think it becomes quite easy for confusion to result about who is putting forth or supporting which arguments. Since the average user of Wikipedia cannot be expected to have read all of the sources cited for each philosopher (and if they had, it can reasonably be expected that they wouldn't be turning to Wikipedia for their information), the article could certainly stand to be more clear in this regard. You say to "Look at Cowan's 1964 objection" and "Cowan proves the difference between the two as a theorem", yet he is mentioned only once at the top of the article in passing, with "Some philosophers, such as J. L Cowan, see this paradox as a reason to reject the possibility of any absolutely omnipotent entity", and cited as a reference at the bottom. Without even an article on this person, it's impossible to ascertain any sense of his authority on the subject despite the simple fact that he wrote a book on it. Again, as with Mavrodes, Cowan's points can't be taken into account if they're not brought up, and the support he lends to any claim is empty if he has no established weight on the subject. If he does have such weight, then please establish it. --S0uj1r0 03:44, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
Yeah those are all good points and I'll see if I can work on then tuesday. I had thought the 2 vs 3 bit was clear without all the rigamarole but I guess it isn't. I had tried to say very brief things in each of the Geach definitions to deflect these problems, but I guess we need to tackle them head on instead, sigh. Bmorton3 13:25, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
OK I tried to clarify some of the distinctions. I'm afraid I can't do anything with your worries about Mavrodes or Cowan's "authority," whatever authority they have is from the arguments they make, which are too detailed for here. There is no remedy, any page here can be no more than an outline and introduction to the debate, with citations mentioning where to go for more information. If you beleive that the support someone lends is empty if they have no established weight on a subject, then you have no motive to listen to me or anyone else on WP. I'm tired of wasting time on this article, let it rise of fall as it will, DO better if you can establish some "weight" on the subject. But I think and hope that I have addressed some of your other concerns. Bmorton3 14:36, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
The fellow is a complete newbie (not intended as an insult in any way). The point of putting in the names of philosphers, scientists and so on (with citations to the sources of article thet have written, etc) is to avoid accusations of using weasel langauge (some people, most people, etc..). Ths article originally DID NOT do that. It was chock full of such weasel terms. According to WP:Weasel policy, all that is needed is a verifiable citation. It says absoltely NIL about establishing the authority of J Fredereick Colangelli. In fact, as I undseraynd it, one can even cite one's own publcished work, as long as it is from a serious acaemic jurnal. etc.. What you ask goes beyoing even general academic starndars for citations. The source is given, it is verifibale, it is reputable and yet someone want a full article on J.L. Cowan exaplaing his importance. Worse yet, you want someone to explain on the text of THIS article who Cowan is and what his importance is. You've got a lot to learn about Wikipedia!!! A LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT to learn. most article still do NOT HAVY ANY citations.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 15:14, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
Hi, Lacatosias. I fully the understand the necessity of avoiding weasel words, but the style guide isn't quite as decisive in dealing with them as you're portraying it to be. It only states, "If a source for the opinion is cited, the readers can decide for themselves how they feel about the source's reliability." It does not say "all that is needed is a verifiable citation", as you've asserted. I agree that "Cowan argues" is superior to "some people argue", and I understand why it's not reasonable to explain in great detail who Cowan is. However, a simple sentence or clause would do to give the reader a point of reference; namedropping little-known philosophers is not a substitute for cogent argumentation. Furthermore, the claims I'm making are prescriptive, not descriptive as yours are. I know that most Wikipedia articles still remain entirely uncited. That doesn't mean that they shouldn't be improved upon. This has nothing to do with learning "about Wikipedia" or the ways that many articles fall by the wayside. This is a claim about how this article should be written and structured. My intent is only to improve the soundness of the claims in the article and do some copyediting. I'm not looking to make sweeping changes, go on a crusade, or step on anyone's toes. I first became interested in the topic when this article became a Featured Article and ended up on the front page. That was months and months ago, and I've been around for quite some time; I'm not as much as newbie as you seem to think - I just don't always log in when making edits. In any case, this isn't about Wikipedia as a whole, and it isn't about me; it's about this article. I simply believe that the section on Geach's points is a bit sloppy, sprawling, and disorganized, and in the process of cleaning it up, I decided that the article might be improved by simply removing the separate section and integrating it a little with the rest of the inline text. Obviously some editors disagreed with me, and I'm fine with that. That's why I didn't try to make a revert war out of it, and that's why I'm trying to clear things up here. If we can focus on making the article more presentable and addressing positive elements of change, not bickering about policy without necessity, things will move along a lot more productively. Thanks for your consideration. --S0uj1r0 20:00, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
Did my alterations to the definitions section satisfy you, or do you have further suggestions for its improvement? As far as I know Cowan's only claim to fame is having published an article in Analysis in 1965, which was anthologized as an important part of the debate in 1978, which frankly is more than I've pulled off, so I don't think adding anything about Cowan or Mavrodes will help here. Here, Cowan argues that ... is the best we can do, unless you've got a better suggestion. I don't think I namedrop him except in the lead paragraph (where name dropping IS appropriate because its just introducing things) and ft 16 (where the point is only that lots of different approaches have been tried, so a list of obscure philosophers should work fine). If you know a more famous philosopher who has used the paradox of omnipotence to argue against the existence of an absolutely omnipotent being, we could replace the section in the lead. I guess we could use Ethan Allen, if you'd prefer. An earlier version used Spinoza which is fair, but just barely; the cite where he uses the problem to argue against an absolutely omnipotent being is pretty unclear, and I thought a clear but obscure philosopher would be better. Bmorton3 20:21, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Franco's revert, but the points made by Mr S0uj1r0 seem cogently argued & deserving of consideration. The idea that "the average user of Wikipedia cannot be expected to have read all of the sources cited for each philosopher (and if they had, it can reasonably be expected that they wouldn't be turning to Wikipedia for their information)" is particularly compelling. Mr S0uj1r0, do you have an account and a name? I too hate strange unreadable user ID's. I go by Dean, btw. Dbuckner 15:30, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for your consideration. And as for the username, I see where you're coming from now. My name's Jordan, if it's more convenient. ^^ --S0uj1r0 18:09, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

FAR passed

Congratulations, folks. Good work on this one. --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 16:44, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

PS: Lots of good links to texts which I don't have to pay for, too!! HOHO!!--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 17:04, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

"Stone paradox" is flawed

I have never seen anyone notice how flawed the so called "stone paradox" is ("Can an omnipotent being create a stone it cannot lift?"). It treats a twofold task as one: first, a supposed omnipotent being (God, if you will) is asked to create a stone it cannot lift; and then, it is asked to lift it. I see no paradox for an omnipotent being creating a stone it cannot lift, when asked to do that, and then lifting it, when asked to do that instead. This, of course, does not solve the paradox of omnipotence. Far better examples of challenges for omnipotence are questions put out (if my memory does not fail me) by Thomas Aquinas: can an omnipotent being create another omnipotent being like itself, or can it even create a being more powerful than itself? I am not aware how Aquinas (or whoever it was) answered these questions, but I suppose his answer was negative, albeit very complex, and probably not very convincing for anyone who is not convinced about the negative answer to begin with, like Aquinas had to be, being a Christian, and a leading Catholic philosopher at that. - Thomas Helsingiensis, 20 December, 2006.

'Stone paradox' can take infinite forms. For example, Can God(omnipotent being) kill Himself so that He can never create Universe(s) and hence mankind? This makes every question nonsense. There will not be anything to think, ask such questions and to write such articles.
Or, "Can god microwave a burrito so hot that he himself cannot eat it?" —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:48, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

RAMA (talk) 22:56, 8 December 2009 (UTC)

Omnipotence Paradox does not involve any logical impossibility at all

Unlike the square-triangle or squared-circle examples which are most certainly illogical, I believe that the God and rock example of this paradox is not illogical at all.

Let us forget about omnipotence, supernatural and supreme beings and come to earth. A man can build (create) a ship which he himself cannot lift it. This statement is not non-sense. It is right, it is meaningful, it is logical and it is possible. Let us apply this idea (a reality) to the concept of God's omnipotence. What is illogical in the statement- "Can God create a rock which he himself cannot lift it?"? We are not talking about God creating another God but considering the power of omnipotence, we are talking about a very simple task that is possible even by a temporal being (remember man creating a ship).

A different thought: A man can kill himself. This is again logical and possible. Can God kill himself? This is not absurd. For those who claim that the action 'killing' does not apply to something which is formless, let me paraphrase it, "Can God cease to exist?". Its a different issue whether 'he will not' or 'he should not'. But whether 'he can' or 'he cannot' should be answerable. This is easy if we try to understand the statement- Buddha WILL not lie, but he CAN. May be God WILL not do something which can question his own qualities. But CAN he?

For those who claim that there is nothing called unliftable:

Let us assume that a being has a key which will open all locks in this world. Agreed that the term 'unlockable' has no meaning in such a case. Similarly , let us assume that God has a key (say X) which opens all locks. The term 'unlockable' is again meaningless. (Note: The word/action "unlock" however is still meaningful). The paradox will again surface as shown below:

Can God create another key (say Y) which cannot open a lock, despite having a key (X) which opens all locks? (please note that this statement does not contain the notion himself which is significantly causing the confusion in the God-rock paradox)

A. If he CAN create Y (which cannot open a lock), then the term 'unlockable' has a meaning. If the term unlockable exists, then the key X does not exist. ie God cannot have a key like key X. Since he cannot have a key X, which opens all doors, he is not omnipotent.

B. If he CANNOT create Y (which cannot open a lock) , then he is not omnipotent.

Santhoshxtra 08:28, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

Assume that all keys were five cylender Yale Locks. These can be opened using a simple tool owned by all locksmiths, which, since it opens a lock, must be a key. If I were to make a key for one specific lock, but that lock were not in existance, I would ahve a key which is not in fact capalbe of opening anything, even though it is a key and perfectly trivial to make. Since a person can do this, so can God, so God is not proven to be not Omnipotent. (It would be impossilbe to prove that he is omnipotent by this line of argument, only that no argument against it is logical.) |333173|3|_||3

—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 04:21, 29 March 2007 (UTC).

Apparent claim to have solved the paradox in article

The last paragraph of "Other versions...". From "This is patently..". This seems like someone wrting THE TRUTH and POV but I don't know enough philosphy to be sure.A Geek Tragedy 13:09, 29 November 2006 (UTC)


I confess I cannot wholly follow Santhoshxtra's reasoning about keys - why, it does not take God to create a key which cannot open any lock in the world: any human is capable to make a key that bad. And I cannot see any contradiction in simultaneous existence of a key which opens all locks and another which does not open any. But thank you, Santhoshxtra, for another counter-example to omnipotence: "Can an omnipotent being kill/annihilate itself?" That was brilliant. - Thomas Helsingiensis, November 29, 2006.

GOD did try to kill himself and developed multiple personality syndrome as the we all areJiohdi 18:28, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Folks who are still interested in the history

The stone paradox can be found in Lucretius "De Rerum Natura". I lost the page and the quote, however, and my copy is from collection of Latin texts with no index. I just happened upon it by pure happenstance while scanning through some old used books on the shelf. I don't feel like going through the damned thing again. So look there, if you are intersted in hisrorical origins. --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 10:44, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

Invalid Question

"This question is representative of the type of paradoxes atheists use in attempts to prove that God cannot exist. It works like this. God is supposed to be omnipotent. If He is omnipotent, then He can create a rock so big that He can't pick it up. If He cannot make a rock like this, then He is not omnipotent. If He can make a rock so big He can't pick it up, then He isn't omnipotent either. Either way demonstrates that God cannot do something. Therefore God is not omnipotent. Therefore God does not exist.

Is this logical? A little. However, the problem is that this bit of logic omits some crucial information, therefore, it's conclusion is inaccurate.

What the above "paradox" lacks is vital information concerning God's nature. His omnipotence is not something independent of His nature. It is part of His nature. God has a nature and His attributes operate within that nature, as does anything and everything else.

For example, I have human nature. I can run. But, I cannot outrun a lion. My nature simply does not permit it. My ability to run is connected to my nature and I cannot violate it. So too with God. His omnipotence is connected to His nature since being omnipotent is part of what He is. Omnipotence, then, must be consistent with what He is and not with what He is not since His omnipotence is not an entity to itself. Therefore, God can only do those things that are consistent with His nature. He cannot lie because it is against His nature to do so. Not being able to lie does not mean He is not God or that He is not all powerful. Also, He cannot cease to be God. Since He is in all places at all times, if He stopped existing then He wouldn't be in all places at all time. Therefore, He cannot cease to exist without violating His own nature.

The point is that God cannot do something that is a violation of His own existence and nature. Therefore, He cannot make a rock so big he can't pick up, or make something bigger than Himself, etc. But, not being able to do this does not mean He is not God nor that He is not omnipotent. Omnipotence is not the ability to do anything conceivable, but the ability to do anything consistent with His nature and consistent with His desire within the realm of His unlimited and universal power which we do not possess. This does not mean He can violate His own nature. If He did something inconsistent with His nature, then He would be self contradictory. If God were self contradictory, He would not be true. Likewise, if He did something that violated his nature, like make a rock so big He can't pick it up, He would also not be true since that would be a self contradiction. Since truth is not self contradictory, as neither is God, if He were not true, then He would not be God. But God is true and not self contradictory, therefore, God cannot do something that violates His own nature.

Another way to look at it is realize that in order for God to make something so big He couldn't pick it up, He would have to make a rock bigger than Himself. Since He is infinite in size, He would have to make something that would be bigger than Himself. Since it is His nature to be the biggest thing in existence because He created all things, He cannot violate His own nature by making a rock that is larger than He.

Also, since a rock, by definition, is not infinitely big, then it isn't logically possible to make a rock, something that is finite in size, be infinite in size (no longer a rock) since only God is infinite in size. At, a rock is defined as a "Relatively hard, naturally formed mineral or petrified matter; stone. a) A relatively small piece or fragment of such material. b) A relatively large body of such material, as a cliff or peak. c) A naturally formed aggregate of mineral matter constituting a significant part of the earth's crust." A rock, by definition is not infinitely large. So, to say that the rock must be so big that God cannot pick it up is to say that the rock is no longer a rock.

What the critics are asking is that God become self contradictory as a proof He doesn't exist. Their assertion is illogical from the start. So what they are doing is trying to get God to be illogical. They want to use illogic to prove God doesn't exist instead of logic. It doesn't work and the "paradox" is self-refuting and invalid.

So this basically means "An omnipotent being can do anything, but only if that omnipotent being wants to"? Seems like a silly way to call a paradox self-refuting. (talk) 18:58, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

Logical Invalidation...

Some may consider this a Buddhist or Zen answer, however...

We are considering a being who can create a stone out of nothing, and then assuming that we leave the God unchanged, ignoring the fact that it is, indeed, a God. If this God creates a stone, what is to then stop the God from creating a body to inhabit? While then inhabiting that body, the nature of that body, as created by the God, may be that the God within cannot move or lift the stone.

From a Christian perspective, one might phrase it as follows:

If God, in the Beginning, created a stone, for instance, fifteen times taller than the physical adult incarnation of Jesus, then while God had supposedly manifested Himself as Jesus, using no supernatural abilities, Jesus would have been unable to, at a certain point in his life, move/lift that stone. In the Manger, definitely. When Jesus was 12, most likely. And maybe even later in life, unless He picked up a lot of tricks from His carpenter upbringing.

--Ayelis 17:52, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

The paradox is not about physics, god may well violate it. Also, it seems reasonable to expect that it's a 'static' problem, i.e. it happens at one moment or god is always omnipotent. An ability to lose the quality of omnipotence changes the problem to another (and easier) one, which you've provided solution for.

--Theabsurd (talk) 21:11, 17 June 2010 (UTC)

Metaphysical assumption with "stone" problem?

For me, much of the "stone" issue (and some related paradoxes) involves an interesting but unprovable assumption that I feel originates in our language more than anything else. The assumption is this: for every object X (such as a rock), there exists a sort of intangible "Who's Who" list of all the beings and entities able and unable to perform action Y (such as lifting) on X. This is to say, not only is it impossible for Koko the gorilla to lift Mount Augustus (sometimes considered the "world's biggest rock"[1]), but Koko's inability is in itself a feature or aspect of Augustus, like its color, vegetation, and, of course, size.

To me, saying this is an easy trap to fall into, but still basically irrelevant (and if that's so, there is no paradox — God makes a mountain of however many tons he likes, then, being infinitely strong, lifts it — the "impossibility" having never been present "within" the mountain to begin with.) Has this confusion/objection been raised before, perhaps in different phrasing? And if so, how do those who contend that it is still a paradox respond? (Note that I still believe there are plenty of other inescapable omnipotence paradoxes — can God make a square triangle? This one in particular strikes me for this reason). —Lenoxus 23:38, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

It's entirely possible my viewpoint on this is too simplistic, but...

There are three possible solutions for this:

1. Just because God can make a stone he can't lift, doesn't mean he will. As long as such a stone does not exist He retains His omnipotence.

2. The very idea of 'omnipotence' in this definition doesn't exist, after all it's inconceivable that any being could ever make a stone he can't lift, and then lift it. In that case, God is 'as omnipotent as is logically possible'

But this is in my opinion by far the best conclusion:

3. God made the material that makes up stones, the humans that came up with the word stone, the minds those humans used to do that, the very idea of a 'stone', the very idea of 'weight', etc. In a mere instant He could make the idea of a 'stone' lose existence, much like he could do with humans. As such, to an omnipotent God a 'stone that cannot be lifted' is, quite simply, a ridiculous attempt of the humans he made to question Him. This may be hard to grasp, but when you think about it like that the whole question becomes moot. Anyway, if you can't understand that then just be satisfied with the other two solutions.

Whoa, I lost track of this page. Anyway, yeah, those are excellent points, and I admit I like all three, if for different reasons. The first one is a neat cop-out irony, indicating that omnipotence exists until it is tested, which reminds me of Uri Geller's powers. The second is fun if you like logic games, and if you interpret the paradox as a put-down against God him/herself and not fundamentally the idea of omnipotence, and then act like the guy needs defending (he's trying as hard as he can in this limited world, honest!). The third is definitely the most closely related to my way of looking at it; God's powers include setting the definitions in the first place (and "stone he cannot lift" is just a human definition, not God's), altough it does have a bit of overlap with the "just plain logically impossible" argument. Lenoxus " * " 02:39, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Jerry. God, are you omnipotent?
God. Of course. Audience murmurs assent.
Jerry. But can you make a square triang---
God: Let there be yrreJ.
God: Has anyone here heard of somebody called "Jerry"? Audience murmurs "no" in confusion.
God: Am I omnipotent?
Audience: Of course!
8^) (talk) 18:48, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

Simple Solution

If God were to make the stone out of all the matter in existance, then He would not be able to lift it, because to lift a body requires at least one other body to be in existance, since to lift is defined as to move against the net Gravitational force. His omnipotence is not violated, because the problem lies not in his abilities but rather in the definition of the problem. God could no more lift the stone than kill, because the action is in both cases meaningless. If he were to make more matter 9so that it is possible to increase the rock's gravitational potential energy), the stone would lack the crucial property of containing all the matter in the Universe. (posted by |333173|3|_||3 on 29/03/07) —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 07:15, 29 March 2007 (UTC).

Alter Logic

I don't see mention of the idea omnipotence includes the ability to alter logic itself. In which case an omnipotent being could create a rock he could not lift. He could also lift it. The premise this paradox is built on, a fallacy can't happen, is questionable when talking about omnipotence.

What if God created an Unliftable Rock? Lots42 (talk) 10:28, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
I came up with the Jesus answer to this puzzle immediately upon hearing it (God creates a rock that Jesus can't lift) I came up with the altering the logic of the universe answer shortly there after. I do not see either of these answers dealt with in the article. Have there really been no philosophers who ever came up with solutions that an 18 year old can think up? Surely there are some thoughts (supporting or debunking) these solutions published somewhere --Bertrc (talk) 04:22, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

"Philosophical responses" first paragraph "original research"

I'm pretty sure the first paragraph under “Philosophical responses” (the one tagged “original research?”) is indeed (bad) original research and should be taken out. The “helpful” restatement alters the content of the original paradox to create the self-contradicting formulation that the author then tries to apply to the original.

The restatement makes “disability” innate and not something achieved through ability as in the original paradox. A restatement that preserves the content of the original would be for example “Can total ability achieve disability?”. If we take this and contrast it with "Does total ability include disability?" from the article, we can see that the second is self contradicting due to the law of identity. The contradiction arises because “total ability” is held to be inclusive of “disability”. But the first does not contain this contradiction since “total ability” and “disability” are not simultaneous. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 06:53, 17 April 2007 (UTC).


This is very similar to the "paradox of the stone" article. Any thoughts on merging them? Seldon1 14:24, 21 May 2007 (UTC)


how did any being including the supposed omnipontent one, figure out that he was infact omnipontent? Jiohdi 18:30, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Probably it's not one of those things you need to ask about. Yasha80.43.71.196 00:53, 30 June 2007 (UTC)

"Gödelian" variant

I might pose a "Gödelian" variant of the "rock so heavy God can't lift".

"God cannot prove this sentence true."

Proof: Suppose the sentence was false. Since it is impossible for anyone to prove a falsehood, it therefore follows that it is impossible for God to prove the sentence either. Therefore, if the sentence is false, it is true. But, if it is true, no such contradiction eventuates. Thus, the sentence is true, and its truth is provable by anyone who is not God.

Thus, there are actions which it is logically possible for me to do, but not logically possible for God to do. If I a mere mortal can do something, but God can't, that would suggest God is not immortal, no?

I can do something God can't do, I can prove this sentence true.

— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:59, 7 August 2007‎ (UTC)


I am surprised that this article (a featured article!) does not mention Maimonides who dealt with this question before any of the other mentioned. He said (Guide for the Perplexed Part I chapter 75)

"Thus we, Monotheists, do not consider it a defect in God, that He does not combine two opposites in one object, nor do we test His omnipotence by the accomplishment of any similar impossibility."

This is very similar to Thomas Aquinas which is not surprising since he based some of his philosophy on him. Jon513 16:36, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

Sufficient Omnipotence

Obviously, the trouble starts when one asserts that God can do absolutely everything there is that can be done. Logical analysis does not support this assertion (can God sin?, etc.) and, from a Biblical perspective, it is not a necessary assertion. For God to be who the Bible claims He is, He only needs to be sufficiently omnipotent, not absolutely omnipotent. To meet the Biblical definition of who God is, God only needs to be powerful enough to get done what He thinks needs to be done. And why would He think He needed to make a stone so heavy that He couldn't lift it - or think He needed to engage in any other illogical activity? So, the paradox exists only for those who wish to engage in nonsensical thinking. More on this line of thought can be found in Wikipedia at

Can God do anything He wants to? If yes, would that not be sufficient omnipotence? So what if He maybe doesn't want to make a stone so heavy that He cannot lift it? That still leaves Him way more powerful than I am - which I think is ultimately the point?? I think the idea of "sufficient omnipotence" is sort of contained in Peter Geach's Points 3 & 4 on the main page, but a) I think my statement at the top of this paragraph is way more understandable than Geach's Points 3 & 4 are to the layman, and b) my point about "sufficient omnipotence" allows that God can maybe make a stone so heavy He can't lift it (or any other "illogical" action), but that He might choose to not do this. Geach's Points 3 & 4 on the main page seem to allow that God can do what is logically possible. My point accepts the idea that God can maybe do what is logically impossible (to us) but allows Him to choose not to do it. I may have missed it, but I didn't see this idea explicitly addressed on the main page - unless the term "essentially omnipotent" allows for doing what is logically impossible to us. Does anyone know if someone has explored this idea more fully in books or journal articles?

Finally, what is the signifigance of God making a stone that is so heavy He cannot lift it? Should He choose to make such a stone, is He then constrained in some way by the the weight of the stone or His inability to lift it? Hardly. So long as God retains the power to shatter a stone and carry it off in pieces and then reassemble it and make it like new, it will actually never be possible for Him to make a stone that is so heavy He cannot lift it. That is, there is always more than one way to skin a cat or solve a problem - and it makes no sense for us to presume that we know what they all are. Because of this, our perceptions of the limits to God's powers probably don't match His perceptions. What appear to be paradoxes to us are perhaps not paradoxes at all - just manifestations of our own lack of knowledge. Martin Luther spoke to this issue. See Point 19 here:

"That person does not deserve to be called a theologian who looks upon the invisible things of God as though they were clearly perceptible in those things which have actually happened."

It is a "well duh!" kind of statement: there is more to the God defined by the Bible than what we can comprehend or perceive.

Richard 25 Aug 2007 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:19, August 26, 2007 (UTC)

It all boils down to whether God can superceed certain atandards of logic. Is God writer or scrpipt in some sense. And if he is simply script are we subject to infinte regress. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:31, 5 September 2007 (UTC)


"It is similar to asking a perfect pither with a perfect defence behind him to not be able to record an out" .... HUH? And in English? I'm guessing its sporting or legal jargon? Really, whatever that is supposed to mean and to be making clear, it needs rephrasing. (talk) 19:54, 22 November 2007 (UTC)


The article likens the omnipotence paradox to Russell's paradox. Has anyone adapted ZFC to provide an answer?

Also, the existence of two omnipotent beings would seem to invoke this paradox - can either defeat the other?

I am surprised that no one suggests simply that it is in the nature of an omnipotent being not to exist in contradiction with itself, not by impotence but simply by choice, as it chooses to remain omnipotent and presumably has access to the knowledge to avoid any need for contradiction. There must be something like that in the old literature because Asimov wrote a short story where God wasn't allowed to contradict himself. (talk) 03:16, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

Still a FA?

This article looks like it has a non-standard lead and (by recent standards) a fairly short reference list. Its limitation to Western Christian culture is also likely a sign of lack of comprehensiveness. It seems like it's bound to end up in featured article review fairly soon unless something can be done for it, but I'll leave it to someone else to pull the trigger. (talk) 03:21, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

This should not be a featured article. It shouldn't even be a good article. Hamsterlopithecus (talk) 20:57, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

"Language and Omnipotence"

Good article, could use some work though. I'm especially concerned with the phrase "propositions which no doubt came as a shock to judges, lawyers, members of the clergy, guidance counselors, mothers and fathers the world over." I'd like to see a citation for that. Additionally, it seems innappropiate and unencyclopedic. Just a thought. FluxFuser (talk) 01:15, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

It's a metaphor

It's a metaphor aimed at the idea of "salvation". The Christian god can save you from anything, any sin including mass murder, adultery, etc.; that is anything except you not asking him to save you; his ego is the metaphorical rock that he can't lift because without that ego everyone could be saved and he would truly be omnipotent. Ehrichweiss (talk) 20:57, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Cite? Lots42 (talk) 10:25, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
Not citeable. That reasoning contains the omnipotence paradox unhandled. ... said: Rursus (bork²) 21:20, 21 March 2009 (UTC)

In- or out-of-universe?

Nobody seems interested by the way the first and second halves of the paradox seem (to me at least) to require two different logical continuities. If God is an omnipotent creator, he is by a not enormous leap of logic outside, or at the very least encompassing, the universe. The ability to exert force is a limitation on inhabitants of the universe. The two are not logically congruent.

I like to use the video game analogy here. Say I start up a new project and code: CreatePhysicsBody(mass=TooHeavyToLift). It is a very poor physics/game engine that doesn't allow me to reposition it using a command, say SetPhysicsBodyPosition(X,Y,Z), that simply changes a fundamental aspect of the game universe's setup. The question of whether I could lift this physics body is irrelevant because I am outside the game's universe. If I were to create a character and script it to push the stone, nothing might happen; alternatively, I could create exceptions. I could also then create a release version and play the game myself without access to the physics commands. None of this changes the fact that in setting up the scenario I was not bound by the laws of physics, and could add mass and energy to the universe and redistribute them at a whim. My playable character may be bound, but it is at most an avatar; it is not the same person as me.

The analogy doesn't contribute anything especially new, just thought I'd point it out as you can effectively try this thought experiment yourself now, which makes clearer the apparent logical inconsistency between the first and second parts of the question. Whether God is understood to be playing with the scripting engine, and the stone appears in a universe mid-existence, or whether the stone was there from the outset and nothing is changed on the fly, does not change the fact that putting the stone there is not an act dependent upon the universe's internal physics system; whether the object "can be moved" is clearly a question asked from within that system. The prohibition on moving the object is a parameter that can be set, but unless God exists wholly in-universe (whereupon my analogy is irrelevant, but I don't think many monotheists hold this view) there is no reason why it shouldn't be un-set with a couple of keystrokes/a thought.

OK, OK, enough of the crazy person logic. But if anyone knows of a source that has a similar viewpoint to this and articulates clearly (preferably more clearly than me) the break in logical continuity, please add it, or at least mention it here. Currently the article looks pretty weak to me. Not many citations and the ideas that are cited are more than slightly incoherent. From the sound of the article so far CS Lewis would probably have a similar opinion if he didn't think "four-sided triangle" summed it up sufficiently. I will see if I can find something usable there. Leushenko (talk) 04:09, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

The Simpsons? Seriously?

To quote: "If so, then it seems that the being could cease to be omnipotent; if not, it seems that the being was not omnipotent to begin with.[3] This argument was comically rephrased in an episode of the American cartoon series, The Simpsons, in which Homer gets high on marijuana and asks his religious neighbor Ned Flanders if God could microwave a burrito so hot that even he couldn't eat it." Why do Wikipedia writers insist on cramming the Simpsons into every article they can? Is this really necessary? It neither informs, explains, or sheds any light on the discussion at hand. The earlier examples cited in the text are more than necessary for a reader to gain an understanding of the paradox. Let's leave the fandom out, this just drags the whole article down. (talk) 16:48, 2 January 2009 (UTC)Tim

Since no one has seen fit to justify the presence of this item in the last several days (which at best should go in a References in Popular Culture section), I've deleted it. (talk) 21:03, 5 January 2009 (UTC)Tim


Section: Language and omnipotence:

Gödel's incompleteness theorems offers ... there is no need to address it.

That is about the same thing as Geach level 4 omnipotence. Or? ... said: Rursus (bork²) 21:30, 21 March 2009 (UTC)

Creating the unliftable rock is a weakness, not being able to create it is a strength

If you really read it carefully, the essential question is "Can God weaken himself?" Of course He can create a rock he can't lift if he wants to.

Omnipotence doesn't mean "the ability to do anything"--it means all power and no weaknesses.

Imagine two Gods. One can do ANYTHING. The other can do anything except weaken himself. Which one is stronger, if they have a battle?

The one who cannot even hurt himself is even more invincible than the one who cannot be hurt but is in danger from himself, because if he ever chooses to take his own omnipotence away, the other God will win.

God cannot weaken himself, but this does not change the truth that God is omnipotent because omnipotence doesn't mean all "power" (including the power to hurt yourself) it means all power (strength) with no weaknesses.

So, God being omnipotent (all POWERFUL, not all powerful with a weakness from himself) cannot make a rock he cannot lift. That would be a liability in his character and might. The inability for him to make the rock (or weaken himself in any way) is what makes him TRULY all powerful in a deeper sense.

Marilyn Vos Savant (highest IQ in the world) was asked this question, but said something different:

She said something similar to: "Of course since God can do anything, he also has the power to give away one of his powers. He can give away his power to lift the rock and thus have a rock he can't lift. However, whenever he wants, he can take back the power he gave away and then lift the rock again."

I believe Marilyn gave the right answer for people not incredibly interested in the depths of the issue. Essentially, however, Marilyn's answer is the same as just saying, "No--he cannot create the rock". This is because if he can take the power back to lift the rock, then the rock was never really "an unliftable rock" in the first place! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:53, 12 April 2009 (UTC)

This article is CRAP.

This is supposedly a featured article. It has some horrible references, including a recent graduate with B.A. in communication and a B.S. in Bible. How is this a reliable source? The introduction is horribly long and the whole article has amateur-philosopher statements written all over, most of which are not cited. I suggest that instead of discussing the meaning of Omnipotence, and the consequences to each one's definition, we focus on fixing the article's style and content using GOOD references. Hamsterlopithecus (talk) 21:31, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

Question regarding the Christain God

In the Christian faith, since God is omnipresent, could he not create two realities where he both was present at the same time, and in one reality create a rock that he could lift, and in one reality not be able to lift it? Then the answer would be yes. And since he is present in both realities at one time, he would be able to lift the unliftible rock and not lift it. Now let us take this one step further. Since he has three separate entities (the Trinity) and they are all separate and one at the same time, would he not then be able to create a universe that has separate realities yet is the same universe? Like in Einstein's Theory of Relativity: in one reference frame he can, in one he cannot, and both are perfectly valid representations of reality.

And one more thought: God is not bound by time. Since he has always been and always will continue to be, asking him to lift the stone puts him in the same box as time. Yes, he can create a stone, but you ask him to create a stone he CANNOT LIFT. Cannot lift? If he is omnipotent, then there is no measure to his power, and it cannot be measured. Therefore his power is infinite. It is like numbers, never ending. And since it never ends, then the weight of the stone needed to overcome his abilities never ends. But since TIME never ends, yet God is "beyond time" which is infinite, e.g. he was never born and will never die, then could he also not be BEYOND the measurement of the weight or his stone and BEYOND measurement of the abilities needed to lift it in the same way? These are both quantitative measures constructed by men, therefore, he could be BEYOND them, as he is beyond time, which is also constructed by men.

And yet another thing. Since God can create or destroy anything in the universe, what if he destroyed any way of measuring the weight of the stone, or the ability to lift. And what if he changed the past infinitely to never allow there to be in the past or in the future a measurement by which you could measure weight, or by which you could measure force (which would be needed to lift the stone.)

He would still be omnipotent, because there would never be any way to measure the stone or his abilities. And MOREOVER, what if just before someone asked him to make an unliftable stone, he removed stones and erased them from all time?

And, what if he lives in an area where he removed the stones, removed people, removed EVERYTHING except himself from the beginning of time, removed his ability to create, and is outside of our universe. What if he were outside of our universe in a complete void, with no one to ask him to do anything, where he erased absolutely EVERYTHING from time, both past and future, including his abilities. What if he were only omnipresent over our universe, so if you asked him to create a stone, any stone at all, he could not in his void, but he could in our separate Universe. Therefore he is not omnipresent, indeed capable of doing NOTHING* in his void, yet he can do everything outside of his void. And if you ask him to do something, he will say "I cannot." And of course he cannot leave this void, because inside of it he is completely powerless, so if you ask him "Make a rock in our universe that you cannot lift" He would make nothing, because he is in his void, where he cannot lift anything. So therefore he creates nothing.

  • And say that the only ability he retains in his void is to influence our Universe. Therefore, in this view, he could create anything, including a rock he cannot lift.
—Preceding unsigned comment added by Rabcarl (talkcontribs) 11:06, 8 August 2009 (UTC) 
This is a talk page about the article "Omnipotence paradox", layout and contents. The question you're asking is like a philosophical speculation best fit for a philosophical internet forum somewhere. Personally, despite being a Christian, I won't answer, since I deny the Omnipotence paradox by denying the premisses: God isn't almighty, perhaps not even allknowing. I'm here for all the funny linguistics. ... said: Rursus (mbork³) 21:00, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
What a load of bullshit, you will rather say he is dead than never existed, what for ? It doesn't make any difference..the paradox still apply.
also, what Rursus said. (talk) 10:47, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

Intro answers the paradox incompletely

The intro is not quite well formed. Since the answers are so many, the intro shouldn't just pick two random selected answers and "explain" the paradox. Instead a proper intro should make a sketch over the paradox formulation variants, and then list categories of answers, such as philosophical answers based on logical discourses trying to explain the paradox, linguist answers based on posing the premisses as invalid, and more. ... said: Rursus (mbork³) 21:00, 28 October 2009 (UTC)

Logical positivism?

Except as being a philosophy verily refusing answering questions such as the omnipotence paradox, I cannot see what connection to Logical positivism motivates the occurrence of a link to said article in the See also list. I'll remove it because of completely unrelated. ... said: Rursus (mbork³) 21:12, 28 October 2009 (UTC)

Article is woefully lacking

We have the following in the article:

1. Either God can create a stone which he cannot lift, or he cannot create a stone which he cannot lift. 2. If God can create a stone which he cannot lift, then he is not omnipotent (since he cannot lift the stone in question). 3. If God cannot create a stone which he cannot lift, then he is not omnipotent (since he cannot create the stone in question). 4. Therefore God is not omnipotent.

Am I the only one who sees the fallacy in this argument? 2) says that God is not omnipotent because he cannot lift the stone, but the stone does not exist, so shouldn't it say God would not be omnipotent because he would not be able to lift the stone? Unfortunately, the article does sod all to explain why having the ability to remove one's own omnipotence makes one non-omnipotent. Personally, I doubt that there can be an explanation for such an assertion. Surely there is some philosopher who brings this up. Can we get a link?

Alternatively, God could simply make the stone as light as a feather after he created it and then lift it up.

--Bertrc (talk) 20:33, 30 November 2009 (UTC)

Literal Answer

Sorry I could not resist adding my literal answer to the question about the stone. I cannot begin to count how many times when I was young that I heard clergy say it was a pointless question, because it could not be answered. In my "literal" answer, I used the word "God" not omnipotent being, because the literal answer does not establish whether or not God is omnipotent. The God in my answer could be incapable of even mundane things, like smelling a rose or be completely omnipotent. Literal answers need not address the philosophical question of omnipotence at all.Docbillnet (talk) 19:57, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

Perhaps of all forms of questions on onnipotence where addressed literally, we would find there was no paradox at all.Docbillnet (talk) 20:00, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

As I mentioned privately, looks like original research on your part. Maybe you can find a reliable source to cite and then the addition can stand...? Also, please don't sign your additions right in the article, AFAIK that's not done on WP, at all. -- David Spalding (  ) 20:37, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

I was just reviewing the Or criteria. It looks like even after adding in references to the individual components of my argument, the synthesis is still Or. However, upon examining the criteria at self-published sources, this might be one of the rare cases when a self-published source can be considered reliable for the overall synthesis, so I added that reference as well.Bill C. Riemers, PhD. (talk) 21:32, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

Haha, the fun continues ... if you're citing your own published source as a cite, then you'll want to review WP:COI, too. If all you're doing is finding ways to insert your own OR in the article, then you may be deviating from the NPOV principle. See below if you want to cite your own publication as a RS.
BTW, I suspect that WP:RS will list blogs and discussion forums as not meeting the RS standard. I could be wrong ... Uh, okay, I wasn't. -- David Spalding (  )

Anyone can create a website or pay to have a book published, then claim to be an expert in a certain field. For that reason self-published media—whether books, newsletters, personal websites, open wikis, blogs, personal pages on social networking sites, Internet forum postings, or tweets—are largely not acceptable. [Emphasis added.]

— wp:rs

Editing in an area in which you have professional or academic expertise is not, in itself, a conflict of interest. Using material you yourself have written or published is allowed within reason, but only if it is notable and conforms to the content policies. Excessive self-citation is strongly discouraged. When in doubt, defer to the community's opinion.

— wp:coi, referring to OR: citing oneself



ok so this is the basic paradox: "could there be a god so omnipotent that he could create a rock so big that even he could not lift it himself? if he can create such rock, then he stops being omnipotent but if he can't create said rock, he was never omnipotent at all"

What if someone answers "God can create any sized rock and he can lift it easily", what would happen then, would it still be a paradox? Please anybody answer me I'm confused.-- (talk) 08:14, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

This is not a forum for discussing questions of this nature. NickCT (talk) 15:42, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

Lede redux

I'm deleting this portion of the lede as it is not inline with Wikipedia:Lead section and also lends WP:UNDUE weight to particular responses to the paradox. There is a section in this article for "responses". Please keep this material there. NickCT (talk) 15:52, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Lead states: The lead should be able to stand alone as a concise overview of the article. It should define the topic, establish context, explain why the subject is interesting or notable, and summarize the most important points—including any notable controversies.

The lead is not limited to simply describe what the paradox is.

Deleting sourced and notable information is vandalism. Back2back2back (talk) 18:00, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

Back2Back - 1) Please discuss changes you know are going to be contraversial before making them, 2) Can you tell me what part of WP:LEAD justifies the addition of this material (i.e. is it for a concise overview, does it explain why the subject is interesting')? 3) Please assume good faith and don't go round shouting about vandalism. NickCT (talk) 18:24, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

You were the one who first deleted sourced information.

The information you deleted is a concise overview, as it describes what theologians wrote about this paradox. It also summarizes the article. Simply deleting this information or keeping out of the lede is POV.Back2back2back (talk) 18:31, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

Back2Back - The problem is, this article includes allot of what "theologians wrote" about the paradox. Mentioning any particular theologian in the lead is WP:UNDUE. If you like, we can work on a sentence that says something like "Theologins have proposed a number of answers to the paradox" for the lede. NickCT (talk) 18:34, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

The lede summarizes all the important theologians, and gives only a brief summary. Why do you think it's WP:UNDUE? Back2back2back (talk) 18:37, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

If I have John, Jack, Jim are all theologans, and all have quotes that are all critical of the paradox, putting Jack's quote in the LEAD and the others in the proposed answers section gives undue wieght to Jack. A summary would simply say "Multiple theologians have proposed answers to this paradox". Now please self-revert and discuss or I'll have to consider reporting you for edit warring. NickCT (talk) 18:43, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

No, it doesn't. Some theologians helped develop the idea of this paradox and it is not undue weight to have a brief summary in the lede.

Furthermore, you are the one that is deleting sourced, notable and important information from the article. That is equivalent to vandalism. I suggest we collaborate, but I must insist that you stop deleting sourced and notable information. Back2back2back (talk) 18:49, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

Dude. Deleting something that is "sourced, notable" is fine if it is in the wrong place.
"Some theologians helped develop the idea of this paradox" - I don't understand your point. You are inserting a response from 1 particular theoligan in the lede, when the article has responses from many theologans. Why shouldn't JL Mackie response be in the lead? Why do you get to choose which response goes in the lead? The answer is, "you don't get to choose". Now again, please move this material to a more appropriate section. If you like, you can include a sentence in the lead that says something like "Many theologians have proposed answers to this paradox". NickCT (talk) 18:55, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

No it is not. Simply deleting such information is not OK, it is your responsibility to move it where you deem appropriate, not to simply delete it. Back2back2back (talk) 19:32, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

I moved this material a long time ago and you moved it back, so I started simply deleting it. If you want me to move it to the responces section, I will, just don't move it back. NickCT (talk) 19:40, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

Proposed negative answer

I don't know whether I have already repeated someone's notion, but could we add that one of the possible solutions is no since: 1) exactly because the being is omnipotent, it can't create an unliftable stone - the word "can't", being gramatically associated with "create an unliftable stone" (government relation, unless I'm not mistaken) emphasizes the omnipotence instead of denying it; 2) the creation of such a stone would be meaningless for the being. And this is what distinguishes God or any other omnipotent being from humans, who can create unliftable things such as skyscrapers. Twilightchill t 20:32, 3 July 2010 (UTC)


The book of The Kuzari was presented prior to 1140 [2], meaning the Averroes was no older than 14 yo when the book of the Kuzari was presented. How ever, the question about the stone (i.e. whether it can build a stone which it can't lift) is specifically mentioned there. If so, I suggest to reexamine the attribution of this paradox to Averroes as well as removing his picture from the article because it's WP:UNDUE (because he probably wasn't the one who first phrased the paradox). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:43, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

"Atom" equivocation

I'm modifying the following line: "In Principles of Philosophy, Descartes tried refuting the existence of atoms with a variation of this argument, claiming God could not create things so indivisible that he could not divide them. Ironically, atoms are only divisible under special circumstances." The latter sentence refers to the entities called "atoms" by contemporary physics. These are not the atoms to which Descartes was referring! The philosophical position of atomism, as espoused by Lucretius and Democritus, held that the universe was made up of particles that were absolutely indivisible. Physicists borrowed the term "atom" to refer to the particles that make up matter, but the term continued to be used even after those particles were found to be divisible. At any rate, the fact that the things physicists call "atoms" can sometimes be split has no bearing on Decartes' argument. --Cholling (talk) 10:59, 20 September 2010 (UTC)