Can God Make a Rock So Big That Even He Can't Lift It?
If the answer is “no he can’t do that” the typical response is, “Well then he is not all powerful”. If the answer is yes he can do that, then the response may be, “If he can make a rock so big that even HE can’t move it, then he can’t move it, therefore he is not “all powerful”.
This question, erroneously races to the conclusion that the idea of an “all powerful” (omnipotent) being is a self-refuting concept and therefore an absurdity and therefore, not worthy of discussion. But what exactly is the theist claiming when he or she asserts that God is ‘all powerful’?
What is power? What things can power, as defined in ‘all powerful’, accomplish? This is an important bit of information to examine when discussing the idea that an omnipotent being is a self-refuting concept. When a theist discusses the all-powerful concept of God, they are referring to the historical, traditional, and logical definition of power itself in that God is capable of accomplishing everything that power is capable of accomplishing. Can power accomplish victory in the midst of tragedy? Yes. Can power accomplish change in a society? a family? an individual? Yes it can. Can power change the weather? The ecostructure? Can power create something physical from the non-physical? These are all questions of power.
This question in itself violates the logical principle known as the law of the excluded middle which states that a ≠ ‘not a’. How much power would it take to make a = not a? Can power as we all know or understand it, accomplish such an absurdity? It does not require “power” to create an absurdity, just stupidity. A shortened form of the question might be phrased:
“Can God can’t?”
As silly as this may sound, when stripped down to its core, the question, can God make a rock so big that even He couldn’t move it, is the absurdity, not the concept of omnipotence.
As Dr. William Lane Craig writes in his book, A Reasonable Faith, it is absurd to speculate on matters that power is incapable of accomplishing. i.e. How many nuclear bombs would it require to make 2+3=7? His answer to this question is, “God is capable of doing all things that power can do”
Thus the question itself is flawed and is often used as smoke and mirrors to distract from the real question, “Does God Exist?” which we discuss more fully on our page that is dedicated to addressing the faith-based beliefs of atheism.