The Omnipotence Paradox Has Puzzled People For Centuries

The omnipotence paradox (also known as the paradox of the stone) asks the following: Could an omnipotent being limit its own power?

This Is The Paradox

According to traditional Western theism, God is all-powerful. It's written in the bible in Luke 1:37: "For with God nothing shall be impossible." So if it is established that nothing is impossible for God, it should be possible for God to make something impossible for himself. Let's back up before this gets too philosophically heady. The omnipotence paradox (or, the paradox of the stone) is typically phrased like this: Can an omnipotent being create a stone too heavy for him to lift? If he is omnipotent, he can make this stone. But if he cannot move the stone, he is not omnipotent. Don't let your head spin too fast on this one—this dilemma was raised as early as the 12th century by Averroës, a Muslim thinker, and people are still debating it.

Why Are We Even Asking This Question?

It's one of those questions that raises other, arguably more important questions. We don't really care about a super heavy stone, but questioning the existence of a god is decidedly more relevant. Is his existence, as it is often described, possible? Never mind if God does or doesn't exist—could it even be possible for an omnipotent being to exist?

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Written by Curiosity Staff December 30, 2016

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