The Instigator
Pro (for)
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The Contender
Con (against)
6 Points

Can God create a rock so big he can't lift it, or not create the rock? either, not @ same time

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/20/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 897 times Debate No: 59231
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (1)




Can an Omnipotent God create a rock he cannot lift? it is said that If one answers yes to the question, then God is therefore not omnipotent because he cannot lift the rock, but if one answers no to the question, God is no longer omnipotent because he cannot create the rock.

my position is that he can do one or the other, at different times, but he can't do both at the same time. and, that he can't do both at the same time doesn't disprove God as omnipotent.

the solution is to say that God is limited by logic as far as we can see, but it is possible for him to act beyond logic. 'the otherwise unlimited force of God that is limited by logic'. and the opt out, that God is God and he can do whatever he wants, logical or not.

the questions of the paradox are basically another way of saying the following...
"can the unlimited limit itself? if not, it is not unlimited. is so, it is not unlimited."

does the fact that we can ask those questions show that the unlimited is possible only in theory, but when examined, is not actually possible? a mere human construct that has been shown to not hold up against scrutiny?

not necessarily. it more so shows the absurdity of the question. no matter how we approach it, the unlimited is then limited. calling the unlimited, limited, for the above stated reasons, is an absurd notion itself.

the only way to approach it is to say, if the unlimited is truly unlimited, then it cannot limit itself. that would be illogical. this is true at the abstract level, but has troubling consequences in application. cause what gives, can he make the rock or can't he? does the inability of the unlimited being unable to limit itself translate into "God cannot create the rock i.e. limit himself in that way?" or does it translate into 'he can create the rock cause he is unlimited, but he can't lift it?"

the solution is to say 'the otherwise unlimited force of God that is limited by logic'. and then i gave an opt out, that God is God and he can do whatever he wants, logical or not. if God wants to make the moon mean fish, or a circle be a square, he can.

the solution lies examining God according to logic, versus the unlimited imagination. for example, in the real world as we can claim to know it, a circle cannot at the same time be a square. if the inability for a square to at the same time be a circle shows that the unlimited is not possible, then yes, the unlimited does not exist. but in the real world, the unlimited can be said to exist, if it follows the laws of logic. this all translates into God by replacing "unlimited" with "God". the unlimited ultimately translates into God's abilities. so, God in the world of imagination where circles can be squares, God is in no way limited. but in the real world as we know it, God is limited by logic. perhaps it is better not to say that God is unlimited, but that God is reality, which includes logic. or at least to recognize that the unlimited can only be so in the real world where logic restricts what it really mean to be unlimited.

so we've examined the unlimited when it comes to the square circle, an as an 'unlimited as otherwise limited by logic'.... so what about back to the issue of God and the rock?

to answer this, we need to ask another question. what happens when an immovable rock meets the unstoppable force of God?

the issue-- the paradox arises because it rests on two premises- that there exist such things as immovable rocks and unstoppable forces - which cannot both be true at once. If there exists an unstoppable force, it follows logically that there cannot be any such thing as an immovable rock, and vice versa.

so the key then is "at once". to ask if God can create both scenarios at once is a logical impossibility. God cannot do the logically impossible.

if God creates the immovable rock, he cannot be an unstoppable force. and if God acts as the unstoppable force, he cannot create an immovable rock. he must choose which scenario exists at any given time. and, in fact, the fact that he would be able to choose the scenario, highlights the underlying omnipotence of God to begin with.

to highlight the time element. if God made a rock that could not be lifted for a week, then for a week he could not lift it. when we merely say God can make the rock, but then he can lift it, we are assuming that the time has elapsed such that God is able to then 'switch gears' and lift it. when we add a time element such as "a week" it highlights that there are in fact restrictions if God makes that rock.

we have to suppose that God knows what he's doing when he makes decisions like that to prevent lifting it for a week. and, this is a matter of consistency.... it is like dropping a ball or not. i can say i won't drop a ball, and if i am consistent as i would imagine God is, then i won't drop the ball. if he creates the rock, whether or not he can lift it, he probably won't lift it for as long as he says he won't. not that he couldn't.

but, if God wanted to lift the rock which should not be able to be lifted, then he can. but this is getting into illogic, making a circle a square type stuff.

so, as some have intuitively argued, God can create the rock, but then he can also choose to lift it. but he can't create both scenarios at once. that would be illogical.
so.. yes, in some sense, God as the unlimited has been shown to not exist... he is restricted. but.... he's merely restricted from the world of imagination, due to logic. God cannot be illogical.

so, ultimately... the notion of unlimited that follows logic hasn't been shown to not exist.... it and the following notion of God, has been shown to be possible..... as long as it's consistent, and logical.


and last, it is notable to approach this from the point of 'the unlimited paradox'. "the unlimited paradox states that an immovable object cannot exist at the same time as an unstoppable force. the fact that it cannot exist at the same time, shows that the unlimited truly doesn't exist." this approach in practice, highlights more that those who are atheists will find ways to make 'the unlimited paradox' not be a paradox, while the "God paradox" has the same issue with regards to theists.


I would like to thank PRO for setting up this debate. This is something I have yet to debate, so I am eager to dig in a little bit.

Omnipotence: The Definition

First, I feel it is important that we start with a definition:

Omnipotence: Having unlimited power [1][2].

Omnipotence: The Resolution

PRO has set this debate up to be about the Omnipotence Paradox, which basically asks if an omnipotent entity (a God) is capable of limiting itself. The classical problem with this paradox is that if the entity can limit itself, than it can be limited and is therefore not omnipotent, and if it cannot limit itself, than that is something it cannot do, and it is therefore not omnipotent [3]. PRO has argued that this is not a paradox by somehow claiming that being limited by logic is not being limited. She then goes on a confusing tangent about how God is not limited in the world of imagination.

To rebut PRO’s arguments, I will offer a quote from her own arguments. “…in the real world as we know it, God is limited by logic.” I find whatever points PRO is trying to make about the world of imagination to be of little interest to the discussion. She has admitted, that God is limited by something, and it necessarily follows that God is not omnipotent.

Temporal Omnipotence

Another Point PRO has made refers to a particular formulation of the Omnipotence Paradox (sometimes called the Irresistible Force Paradox [4]), where the question is asked as to whether an omnipotent entity can create both an unstoppable force, and an immovable object. Obviously, this is another case of the entity (God) being limited by its own power. PRO’s way around this paradox is simply to claim that God can do both of these things, but not at the same time, and that, somehow, this does not diminish his omnipotence. I disagree.

What PRO is doing here is trying to define the problem away. A very simple way to demonstrate the absurdity of is simply add the word ‘simultaneously’ to the wording. Can God create an immovable object and an unstoppable force simultaneously? Of course not. Therefore, God is not omnipotent. Of course, one might object to my adding of the word ‘simultaneously’ to the verbiage, however, this actually returns to the spirit of the thought experiment [4].

Closing Thoughts

PRO is trying to define her way out of the Omnipotence Paradox. I have shown how the paradox remains in both formulations PRO has offered, therefore, God is not omnipotent.



Debate Round No. 1


con has admittedly an interesting, and straightforward approach to my resolution of the paradox.

"I will offer a quote from her own arguments. ""in the real world as we know it, God is limited by logic." [...] She has admitted, that God is limited by something, and it necessarily follows that God is not omnipotent."

note, though, that i also said that God could be said to be above logic. in which case he can make square mean circle, or the moon mean fish. in this way, God is not at all limited. i only noted 'for our purposes as far as we can see' God is limited by logic. he is still unlimited, as otherwise limited by logic.

from what we can see, perhaps con has a point, but he's not definitely proven that God is not fully unliimited in that he can go beyond logic.

" Can God create an immovable object and an unstoppable force simultaneously? Of course not. Therefore, God is not omnipotent."

basically, the same thing i said above could be said here.


I thank PRO for the prompt reply to my comments. I will address her reply presently.

Above Logic?

In her response to my points, PRO notes that she suggested that God “could be said to be above logic.” First of all, this is contradicted by her own point where she wrote, “God cannot do the logically impossible.” So basically, I am wondering which of these two PRO is asserting; is God bound by logic or not? If he is, then his omnipotence is impossible as I described in the previous round. If he is not, then PRO needs to demonstrate that it is even possible for a logical contradiction to exist.

Square Circles?

PRO expanded on her point regarding square circles, writing that God “can make square mean circle, or the moon mean fish.” So what? God can redefine words; I don’t see how this is relevant.
The square circle analogy is a bad one because a square is a square because it is defined as such. If it becomes a round thing without corners, it is BY DEFINITION no longer a square. This isn’t even a matter of logic; it is a matter of semantics.


PRO never addressed my points regarding her claim about the immovable object and an unstoppable force. If God can’t make these two things exists simultaneously, his power is limited, and he is not omnipotent.

Closing Remarks

I’m glad that PRO was able to respond to my arguments so quickly, but I am disappointed to see that she really didn’t address my points. She made a contradictory statement about logic, a confusing comment about geometry, and failed entirely to address my points about the Irresistible Force Paradox. I look forward to her closing remarks in the final round.

Debate Round No. 2


con should recognize that anything that could be said to be unlimited is implied to accord to the rules of nature, or at least logic. otherwise, con is pretty much saying nothing can be said to be unlimited.... that is, nothing is such that a square can be a circle, or break rules of logic..... and another approach is that we live in a finite universe as far as we can see. 'as far as we can see' also applies to logic, that everything abides by it. so when i say 'unlimited as otherwise limited by logic' i can still say it's unlimited as it should be implied "abiding by logic".

if con wants to argue that the unlimited in principle can exist, he must concede that omnipotence in principle can exist. as of now, con is trying to argue an unlimited concept that cannot exist due to it violating natural law or at least logic.

i recoginze that my wording in my opening argument wasn't the most precise and was poor. this is mostly due to the fact that i allow the possibility for God to go beyond logic, and when that happens, our approach of describing it is in deep trouble for being imprecise for such a shaky concept.

lastly, con doesn't negate that God could go beyond logic. again i didn't describe that he could very well, but i didn't rule i tout... i in fact made for specific allowance for it.

it's not like atheists cant have somewhat of a field day though. if God makes a rock that can't be lifted, using the rules of logic... then God himself cannot lift it. this should make them happy that he is limited.

so whichever way you look at it, con has not done an adequate job addressing the issues


Thank you PRO for another round of discussion.

Refocusing on Omnipotence

I would like to refocus on the actual resolution being debated here. PRO has basically made the claim that the Omnipotence Paradox does is not actually a paradox because an entity being limited by logic or the “rules of nature” is not actually limited. To rebut this point I will simply quote PRO, “God cannot do the logically impossible.” Being unable to do something is, by definition, being limited, and according to the definition of omnipotence we are using, it means the entity is question is not omnipotent. Whether we are talking about rules of logic or laws of nature, if God can’t break them, he is not omnipotent.

Beyond Logic?

Pro has accused me of not negating the claim that God could “go beyond logic.” She is, of course, correct. I did not negate that claim as I had no burden to do so. PRO has spent the lion’s share of this debate trying to explain how God’s inability to do the illogical doesn’t mean that he isn’t omnipotent. However, if PRO really wants me to address it, I will do so by quoting her again, “God cannot do the logically impossible.” In PRO’s own words, God cannot “go beyond logic.”

Unless she is referring to the odd part of the discussion regarding imaginary realms and the relabeling of various geometric shapes, I don’t see how she has even supported a claim that God can “go beyond logic.” If she is referring to the section on geometry, I addressed it in the previous round. If she is referring to the section about the “world of imagination,” she if right that I didn’t address it. As I pointed out in first round, we aren’t talking about an imaginary world, we are talking about reality. An imaginary world is of no interest to this discussion.

Closing Thoughts

This has been a most interesting debate; I would like to thank PRO for setting it up. As I mentioned at the beginning of my comments this round, the actual resolution being debated was whether or not God’s inability to break logical rules or natural laws makes means that he is not omnipotent. PRO has not met her burden to show that it does not, while I have shown that the paradox does indeed mean that God is not omnipotent.

Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by MrJosh 7 years ago
I might be interested in debating this topic, but what is the resolution here?
Posted by dairygirl4u2c 7 years ago
i only said 'as far as we can see' he is limited by logic. as far as theoretical possibility, he can act illogically and do anything.
Posted by KhalifV 7 years ago
Resolution negated; " God is limited by logic"
Omnipotent god negated by word;"limited"
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by InnovativeEphemera 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Thanks for an interesting debate. Both sides were engaging, however Con made stronger and better-supported arguments towards the resolution. He also dealt with Con's contentions individually and clearly; his position was easy to understand. Conduct was good from both but Con had slightly better spelling and grammar, which was largely a function of capitalisation and punctuation by Pro being lacking. Otherwise, good read.

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