I just came across this on Wikipedia, and I am still reeling in astonishment. It's called the 'Omnipotence Paradox.' Just thought I'd throw it on here to give you guys some quick and easy ammo against theists. I'll give you the scientific idea, then the example (aka 'Paradox of the Stone').
If a being can perform such actions, then it can limit it's own ability to perform such actions. By this arguement, it cannot perform all actions, yet, on the other hand if it cannot limit it's own actions, then that is something it cannot do, and therefore, is not omnipotent.
And now for the easy version:

Could god create a stone so heavy that even he could not lift it? If so, he would then cease to be omnipotent. If not, he was not omnipotent to begin with.

Thank you for your time and patience. Another win for the Rationalists brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Atheist,


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it's impossible!
I can already see some heads exploding over this one...
That's what I was going for, sir.
The problem is with your definition of omnipotence. You are assuming that omnipotence includes the ability to do self-contradictory things. In other words you are suggesting that being omnipotent should include the ability to break the law of non-contradiction. Can God make 2=3? Can God make the statement "this statement is false" true?

"This statement is false is true." is a nonsense statement. It is meaningless.
The problem lies with the absolute definition of omnipotence and omnipresence itself. Anything that fantastical can't possibly exist. Anything defined by the illogical can't be bound by logical descriptions. Infinity and dividing by zero and infinity divided by infinity have no meaning to mathematicians because they can't possibly exist. They're theoretical concepts. God should be a theoretical concept but people insist on making him real.
You are assuming that omnipotence includes the ability to do self-contradictory things. In other words you are suggesting that being omnipotent should include the ability to break the law of non-contradiction.

Then the law of non-contradiction is more powerful than the omnipotent being, which in turn negates the being's omnipotence. Either way, the omnipotent being is somehow limited and therefore not omnipotent.
Win for Shine.
*Victory lap*
I don't think you understand what I am saying.

You are assuming that omnipotence should include the ability to do things logically impossible. You then demonstrate with logic that some things are logically impossible to do. What does this prove? Either omnipotence does not include the ability to do things that are logically impossible and is a meaningless designation or it does and logic by the (above) definition of omnipotence does not apply to omnipotence and cannot be used to disprove it.

What do you think is the significance of what you are saying?
Nope, I'm not making any assertions about what a deity should or shouldn't be able to do. I'm just trying to point out specifically how the argument initially posed doesn't really mean anything as far as I can tell for the reasons I've given. It's kind of a word game and the definition of omnipotence is what it hinges on. I'm just trying to make that clear as best I can.

Either omnipotence includes the ability to do the logically impossible and hence is not bound by logic (and incomprehensible) or it doesn't and is a meaningless word (when defined that way, since it would then be self-refuting).

Is there some significance here I am missing?

(to your question I'd say a person who knows a lot about the universe)
Wow, I had to read that quote of Augustine about 10 times before it started to make some sort of sense to me.

Augustine is defining God's character of omnipotence as the ability to do anything He wills. Since God cannot do what He does not will (or that what He does not will cannot be forced upon Him) omnipotence does not mean the ability to do anything at all.

So back to the initial argument I think the implied definition of omnipotence (the ability to do anything even logically impossible things) is not the Augustine definition of omnipotence. Augustine would (I think) argue that God would not be self-contradictory because He does not will it. The law of non-contradiction is not something God is subject to, it is an expression of His will.

This of course opens up a whole host of reasonable and difficult questions. Like, why would a God who is love allow evil? But by providing a clearer definition of omnipotent (albeit one that you probably don't like) it does cause the initial argument that started this thread to break down.

I'm guessing that the response to this might be that,"It's easy to just say God doesn't will it." Maybe so, but if that is how one defines omnipotence that is the solution to the problem.
Yeah tell that to the people who kept insisting that God can do anything he wants to when I was discussing science one day. I kept affirming that the acceleration of gravity on Earth was 9.8 meters per second squared. I told them that I wasn't expecting the Earth to suddenly change size and thus alter that property anytime soon. So this presents us with two situations. Either God doesn't exist or he's self-limiting to mirror the physical laws of nature, in which case, what's the point of requiring an icon to worship? Does God not will it because he can't? Or does God not will it because he won't? One presents a physical limit. One presents a theoretical one.

More to the point, I find the concept of something being omni anything to be utterly ridiculous.



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