What is the answer to the old "Can God make a rock too big for him to lift" question?

I know this is an old Sunday School warhorse, but what is the specific logical fallacy of this question?

This would be a variation of what happens if an immovable object encounters an irresistable force? Logically, both couldn’t exist in the same universe.

Why do the powers of an omnipotent God have to obey the contraints of a logical universe? Why does God have to be logical at all?

My smartass answer is that Jesus wasn’t physically strong enough to lift every stone on Earth, yet He was God. Of course, that breaks down when you read that He said that if you had the faith of a mustard seed you could move mountains…

If God can be illogical, then why do you ask if this is a logical fallacy? The concept of a logical fallacy makes no sense other than in a logical universe.

Many philosophers would tell you that logic is God.

Think about it this way: Does anything mean anything if we abandon logic? What does happen when an irresistable force encounters an immovable object, in your opinion?

A logical conundrum or paradox is a statement that appears meaningful because it is properly formed according to the rules for forming sensible statements in English (or another language) but which is actually meaningless because it is self-contradictory. “A four-sided triangle” is an example of such usage, since the definition of a triangle is a three-sided plane figure. (Wise-ass remarks about a square-shaped percussion instrument will be treated with the contempt they deserve! ;))

The tacit definition of “God” in such discussions involves omnipotence; if you care to posit a god without omnipotence, that’s your privilege, but it does not correspond to the common-referent deity which theists and atheists concur on for purposes of such arguments, the latter of course using the term to describe what they understand the theists to believe in which they don’t think has any basis in reality.

Hence, what you are describing is an omnipotent deity who nonetheless has limitations (inability to lift a particular rock) – i.e., an inherent interior contradiction in terms.

It is a demonstration of the logical inconsistency of the concept of omnipotence. One must either accept the position that there are some things God cannot do (and is thus not literally omnipotent) since they are logically mutually exclusive, or that God is not constrained by logic (in which G & -G can be true, ie. God can exist and not exist simultaneously).

And I would point out that “universe” is traditionally a solely physical entity, and God is traditionally not physical.

I thought the answer was what rfgdxm said. If an immovable object (unliftably heavy rock) exists, then by definition there’s no irresistible force (true omnipotence).

If God is the most powerful being, then I can do something God can’t: point to a more powerful being than myself. That imposes a limitation on omnipotence independent of what rocks are out there.

Forgive me for being glib, but, yes, and then he’d lift it.

There are lots of things that you and I can do that God (in the Judaic sense) cannot. We can eat, breathe, sleep and die. God does none of those things because God is a non-corporeal Being.

The short answer to the question is that we do not state that God has the power to do that which is logically impossible. As Polycarp explained, we do not state that God lacks omnipotence because He cannot make a four-sided triangle. Likewise, we do not state that He lacks omnipotence because He cannot point to a non-existant entity (a being more powerful than Himself).

Zev Steinhardt

Here’s a smartass answer: The force will go through the wall and continue on.

There is none. The conundrum is not fallacious. The arguments I’ve heard that purport to dispute the conundrum do not address the logic itself, but either address the definition of “omnipotent”, or suggest that God exists outside the laws of our universe, and thus is not subject to our logic. But I think the logic is sound - one can only attack the premises.

True omnipotence can not exist.

It’s about as logically sound as “Could God create a sandwich so big he just couldn’t eat it all”, “Could God sing so loud he couldn’t hear it”, or “Could God drive so fast that his transmission falls off and by the time he turns around, that baby is long gone and it’s better to just buy a new Pinto anyways.” Give me 20 minutes and I’ll come up with 100 more.

Either way, I like Zev’s answer - very nice.

That is utterly nonsensical.

When I asked that question, as a wee lad, I was told “God has better things to do.”

Are you going to doubt the Metaphysical authority of Mom?

…unless we are all emanations of God’s being, making us parts of God assuming corporeality for a brief time until we return to Him fully. Much of the Celtic tradition relies on finding God in ALL of creation, even ourselves…

To the OP I suggest that God CAN make a rock too big for Him to lift, and He CAN lift it as well. The limitation is not in God’s capabilities, but in our ability to fully conceive of what He can do…

Like what, save Star Jones from the tsunami?