Daniel is a simple fellow. Nobody quite knows how, when, why and where he exists. His appearance is unknowable. Even his existence is debated. What Daniel is can be described as God. Daniel is omnipotent, a fancy word meaning ‘all powerful’. He has unlimited power. Many debate what Daniel is really capable of. One day, Daniel, rather bored, starts to question what he can do. He sets himself a task. If he is omnipotent, then can he create a stone so heavy he cannot lift it? He has unlimited power. But if he can create something he can’t lift, then he isn’t all-powerful. But if he can’t create something he can’t lift, then also, he is not all-powerful. Daniel is puzzled. Is he omnipotent? Is there such a thing? Or is this apparent paradox linguistic nonsense? These are the questions, readers.
It’s very confusing. So don’t worry, you’re not alone. The general gist of things centres on what ‘omnipotence’ is. Christians believe that God can do ‘anything that’s possible according to His nature’. God is limited by His nature. He can’t make one plus one equal three, for example. Because it’s absurd. He is eternally logical in the same way He doesn’t perform evil actions because He is eternally good. So He cannot violate the laws of logic. God is omnipotent in that He can do anything He can possibly do, and He cannot do things that He can’t do, such as violate His own laws of logic. Of course, if you’re not a Christian, this may sound a tad like ‘linguistic mumbo-jumbo’.
Other Christians further compound matters in arguing that because God is non-corporeal, he actually cannot ‘lift’ anything. He doesn’t have a physical form, ergo, no arms, so what is ‘lifting’? Hindus believe that one incarnation of God may not be able to lift the stone, but another could, meaning God as a whole could lift the stone. Others argue still that applying human characteristics to something fundamentally ‘un-human’ is ridiculous.
C.S. Lewis, a committed atheist for much of his early life, before converting to theism, argued what many believe. The statement is a fallacy. It makes just as much sense as asking someone to create a ‘square circle’. The statement is illogical. It can’t be done. That’s the point. The debate is about language. Nobody unanimously agrees on what omnipotence is. This paradox was always doomed to failure. Some philosopher’s argue there are levels of omnipotence, others, that there are rules and conditions, and others have their own strange ideas. The paradox is flawed because we don’t know, and never will know, what the paradox truly is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein said that language couldn’t define what power an omnipotent being would have. This sums up the problem with this paradox. People spend so much time trying to figure out a solution when there can’t be one. What I think is that there is no paradox because we’ll never agree on what the paradox really is. We can say, ‘Can God create a stone He cannot lift?’ But that asks one important question. What is omnipotence? And quite simply, readers, nobody can really agree on that. Every religion, every philosopher, everybody on this planet, has a different interpretation. I argue the paradox doesn’t exist. And it never will. We’re fussing over nothing. It’s a strange beast that I think we’ll ponder over until the end of time. And although there may be no answer, I think that pondering is a good thing. Where would humanity be without debate? It’s what makes us great.
What are your thoughts on this ‘paradox’, readers?
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