Cam's Blog

November 5, 2009

The omnipotence paradox

Filed under: Philosophy, Religion — cfranc @ 2:49 pm

Just read Terrence Tao’s latest post over at his blog. He mentioned the omnipotence paradox, which is likely familiar to most people. It asks the question of whether God, a supposedly omnipotent being, can make a stone so big that even he (or she) cannot lift it. If he can’t, then he’s not omnipotent because we’ve found something he cannot do. But if he can make such a large stone, then he’s also not omnipotent, since he can’t lift it.

I skimmed through the Wikipedia article on the subject and read about an interesting way out of this dilemma. Namely, perhaps God could first create a massive rock. Then being omnipotent, he could remove his own omnipotence. Then it would be impossible for him to lift the rock. Problem solved… except that now God is left without omnipotence.

If Kilgore Trout heard this, I imagine he’d a write a story that went something like this: after centuries spent in Heaven being hounded by philosophers and their relentless discussion of the omnipotence paradox, God finally decides he’s going to settle matters. So he gets off his throne and turns the Atlantic ocean into a giant mountain, a mountain so mammoth that it disturbs the orbit of the moon.  God announces to the world that the following day he will show just how an omnipotent being can defy our mortal logic. Millions rush to the giant mountain in anticipation. Eventually God descends on a rainbow, and spends a good hour chastising people for their doubt of his awesome power. Then God makes himself mortal and approaches the mountain. Just as he squats and gets a good grip on the stone, someone in the crowd shoots him in the back. God is rushed to the nearest hospital, but doctors are not able to revive him. The Lord of all Creation dies a man and the paradox remains unresolved.



  1. Two days later he rises from the dead, creates a new religion, and smites the heathen who shot him. Life on Earth then continues as normal… but not for long. The new mountain turns out to be so large that the Earth spirals closer and closer to the sun until the temperature on Earth becomes too high for life.

    The paradox remains unsolved.

    Comment by jbraj — November 5, 2009 @ 3:55 pm

  2. Nice.

    Comment by Ivan — November 12, 2009 @ 11:32 pm

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