Is God Limited?

Perhaps you have been asked the very old question of, “can God create a rock too large for Him to lift?”  This is an often posed question by some.  Before answering their question, I would first suggest that the question be rephrased.  What they are really asking is, “if God does exist, is He limited by anything?”  However for many that ask either of these questions, they really are not seeking an answer to this question but often times are seeking to prove a contradiction within God’s nature that “proves” He does not exist.  Now moving on to the question at hand.

As to the question of the Rock, one must first decide if they believe God falls outside of the law of non-contradiction. Thomas Aquinas, for instance, said no He does not. Rene Descartes said God is beyond or not limited by the law of non-contradiction.

I fall into the more Thomistic line of thought. So to address this first, one must first assume that God is omnipotent, because if He is not, then there is not dilemma to begin with. Once this assumption is made, then I would follow Aquinas’ principles in that the paradox fails because it proposes as a test of God’s power, a putative task whose description is self-contradictory. If this is the case, any type of pseudo-task not falling in the realm of possibility, and therefore cannot be performed, implies no limit on God’s power.  To say it another way, it is not a limitation of God’s power to be unable to perform a hypothetical task which contradicts itself.

If perhaps one sides with Descartes, suppose then God’s omnipotence enables Him to do what is logically impossible. Next, one must assume God’s is capable of performing one of the tasks whose description is self-contradictory (creating the rock).  If this is assumed, why should He not then be assumed capable of performing the other (lifting the rock)? For an omnipotent God who is not limited by the law of non-contradiction, why should we then be surprised by His ability to perform acts beyond our understanding or experience?

This has been your food for thought for today 🙂

Sensei Brown

Wake Forest Christian Karate & Kobudo