Last week I discussed Pascal’s Wager as forming a partial basis for faith in Christianity. That is, it serves as an argument for adhering to God’s will from a more theistic perspective. This week, I thought it’d be interesting to mix things up and address an issue more direct from the side of a non-believer.
This issue is the omnipotence paradox, which questions if God, an all-powerful being, can truly exist. Luke 1:37 seems to give us an answer: “For with God nothing shall be impossible.”
The dilemma was raised as early as the 12th century by Averroës, a Muslim thinker.
The fundamental version of the paradox goes as follows: “Can God create an object (rock, diamond, house, _______ (insert object here)) so heavy that he cannot lift it?”
The responses to this dilemma would seem to disprove the possibility of an omnipotent God. That is, being an omnipotent being, he can do whatever he wants to. He could very well create such an object that he cannot lift, but this paradoxically results in him not being able to lift it – right?
Well, there are some assumptions made in an overzealous attempt to disprove an omnipotent God. For one, there is a stark assumption that God is below or must abide by logic, that is, all his actions must follow the naturalistic schemes of the mind and universe. They must make sense to us, humans. Notice in the second and brief paragraph of this page that I did not say if “God, an all-powerful being, can truly exist in the face of logic.”
Why would an all-powerful God abide by human logic and live accordingly? This itself would seem to undermine his everlasting power. Possibly, he could make such an object of tremendous weight, and due to his infinite nature/power, still lift it. Doesn’t that contradict human logic? Probably. But at least it does not restrict an omnipotent being to our own conceptions of omnipotence.
On another note, and one worth exploring is, how do we define omnipotence here? Does it mean omnipotence to defy all human logic and thoughts? Semantics are crucial in assessing whether a deity truly has unlimited power.
There are several replies by many theists to the question, but the answer seems quite simple (to many Christian minds at least) in a brief sentence.
As Jeremiah 32:27 notes, “Behold, I [am] the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me?”
What’s omnipotent power to you?