# God and Stones

If God can do everything can he make a stone that is so heavy even he can’t lift it?

Dazed and Confused
Rockchick

Here we go again.

The odds that the bread will fall butter side down are directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.

Yes.

(cf. “John Popper-Blues Traveller”)

(And before anyone has a conniption, this is what’s commonly called a joke. I personally think Popper’s a damn fine musician and a decent man.)

Thank you for playing.

“I’ll give you guys a dollar if you make out right now.”

Come on, people. Rockchick is new here, let’s cut her some slack, ok?

My three favorite answers are almost the same, but you might understand one more easily than the other:

(1) No, He can’t. But the problem is not in God’s inability to do something, but rather the problem is the rock’s inability to exist.

(2) No, He can’t. But the problem is not in God’s inability to do something, but rather the problem is that you changed the rules in the middle of the game. First you ask God to make something, and then you ask Him to relinquish his control over it.

(3) It’s like asking Him to create a four-sided triangle. I suppose He could do it if He wanted to, but I’ll bet that when He shows you the result, you’ll complain that He cheated. (Like, maybe He’ll offer you a tetrahedron as an example of a four-sided triangle.) But actually, its not so much that He cheated, but more like that you asked an unfair request.

Rockchick: Where is this God person, anyway? (Despite the form, it’s a serious question.)

“Living in this complex world of the future is not unlike having bees live inside your head.” - F. Scott Firesign

My favorite response is that God will make a rock so heavy that it cannot be lifted, period. Then he will move everything in the universe one meter, say. Wherever the rock was before, it is now one meter higher, lower, to the left, right, whatever.

Lib-- That’s a good example of my #3.

You’re right, Keeves, and I should have cited you in my follow-up to your post. Your analysis was excellent, I thought.

God and Stones? “Oh God, my gallstones are killing me!”

Of course, “heavy” only makes sense within a gravity field. God could make the rock, but then he would have to make another object to create the gravity field. This other object, of course, would have to be even more massive, or else trying to lift the rock would simply push the other object away. Then God would half to crawl between the rock and the heavy place . . .

The best lack all conviction
The worst are full of passionate intensity.
*

My favorite reply (overheard from a staunch Baptist one day:
Q: Could God make a rock so heavy He couldn’t lift it?
A: Yes.
Q: Could God lift that rock?
A: Yes.

It helps to have a smartass smile when you say this. Make it clear that you will answer all questions that start with “Could God do …” with “Yes”. After a while the questioner will realize that omnipotence is a trickier subject than it looks.

The problem with the question is that it only makes sense if we view God as a creature like us, only with unlimited power.

But if we posit a God who created the universe, then it makes no sense at all to say, “OK, God, you created the 4-dimensional bubble of spacetime in which all of your creation lives; let’s see you create something inside that bubble that’s too big for you to lift.”

“Living in this complex world of the future is not unlike having bees live inside your head.” - F. Scott Firesign

Is the question “can he lift” really appropriate when you’re referring to an entity which (if you believe in it) exists outside AND throughout the time space continuum in some unfathomable way? I don’t think so.

If you existed through, within and without time and space itself, would you have arms and lift rocks?

Sorry to gripe, but why DO people insist on thinking of God as a big old man in the sky? You’re talking about something which, by its very concept, must be an infinite being.

BJ

Sorry, Oh Great and Powerful Webmeister, but the question isn’t “Can God make a rock heavy then tell himself not to list it?”
I think artificial self-imposed limits are a bit of a cheat on this question, don’t you?

That was supposed to be “lift”, not “list”!

Slythe, you may have hit on the perfect argument for the existence of God!

Consider: unless we presume a perpetually existing universe in contradistinction to present cosmological knowledge, there had to be a first cause. No matter what exactly that cause was, the laws of causality require that there be a first one in order to define a time-finite universe.

Now, the question as asked is paradoxical, as everybody has had fun pointing out. It indulges in internal self-contradiction. A non-purposive, non-volitive first cause could not in fact create a rock so heavy it could not be lifted by anything including that first cause.

But an entity with volition acting as first cause could. The proper answer to the OP is, “Yes, if he wanted to.” I.e., as Dex has noted, he would give up that portion of his puissance that involves lifting rocks of that heaviness, in order to create such a rock. Contrariwise, he could then lift the rock by revoking that surrender. But, it being a paradox, he could not do both simultaneously.

Q.E.D. God.