Can God create a rock so big that even He cannot lift it?
I am sure we have all heard that question before. I certainly remember having long conversations about it as a child. We would argue that if God could not make a rock that He couldn’t lift, then He wasn’t omnipotent, or if He could make a rock that He couldn’t lift then He wasn’t omnipotent. It seemed like an unsolvable quandary and could certainly leave you feeling as though your are stuck between a rock and a hard place.. See what I did there?
I think the key to this particular puzzle is in the way that we define “omnipotent”. In every logical puzzle it is extremely important to define our words before endeavoring to solve the puzzle. In this case, let’s start by defining our puzzle:
- If God is omnipotent, can He create a rock so large that he cannot lift it?
Let’s also define some of the key words in this puzzle:
- God – The creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being
- Omnipotent – Having virtually unlimited authority or influence *It is important to note that synonyms for virtually are “close” and “almost”*
Keeping those definitions in mind, if God is unable to create a rock so large that He cannot lift it, does that mean that He does not have “nearly unlimited authority or influence” over our world? By our definition of omnipotent, God seems to qualify regardless of the answer to the question.
It is important to realize that changing the definition of one of these words can create a logical fallacy. If you google “omipotent definition” the result is:
- (of a deity) having unlimited power; able to do anything
Obviously, there is a logical fallacy within the very definition. If you are able to do anything, then you are unable to think of anything that you cannot do. The very definition defeats itself. If we cannot define a word with a logical meaning, then we simply cannot attribute that word to anything. It would be utterly meaningless to do so.
Hi, I’m James Dusenbery, the Founder/Lead Editor at CanonOfReason.com. I have a deep passion for the Bible and am constantly studying one part or another. In addition to an interest in theology and Christian apologetics, I also love philosophy. My podcast and website merge these interests together to create a unique experience that you will not find anywhere else.
do you think the average Christian struggles with questions like this one?
I don’t think that the average Christian loses sleep over questions like this, but I do think we have all encountered similar questions at different points in our lives. Children especially like to ask this one and I think it is a great learning moment to ask someone to define what exactly they mean when they say “all-powerful” or “omnipotent”.
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