Can God Make a Rock So Big He Can’t Move It?
Do you have a good answer to the question?
If you answer yes, then God cannot be omnipotent because he cannot move his own rock. If you answer no, then God cannot be omnipotent because there’s something he can’t make. Either way, it seems, God cannot be omnipotent.
There are several ways around the paradox.
My friend and mentor, Michael Fisher, answers conclusively no, because God’s not dumb. Why would he want to make a rock so big he couldn’t move it?
My friend, Rico Ignace, who has his Ph.D. in astronomy, asks: under what conditions? Once an object reaches a certain mass, the laws of physics cause it to implode upon itself.
The standard philosophical answer is that omnipotence doesn’t mean the ability to do anything, only anything which is logically possible. God cannot make 1 + 1 = 3; he cannot draw a picture of a square that is also a circle (in the same sense that it is a square); and he cannot make a rock so big he can’t move it. A logical impossibility is not a true limit on God.
Perhaps you’re not convinced. Let’s say God is unable to make a rock so big he can’t move it, and I concede that this does in fact make him somehow less than omnipotent. Even still, this question must be answered: in what practical sense does this differ from actual omnipotence? The only thing God can’t do is become less powerful.
But let’s move past the verbal games. I’m convinced that omnipotence is not the right place to start in our thinking about God. A better place to start is his character: merciful, compassionate, just, forgiving (Exodus 34.6-7). Besides, the Bible explicitly says God cannot do some things: he cannot lie (Hebrews 6.18), he cannot deny himself (2 Timothy 2.13), etc.
Christians have always believed that God is most fully revealed in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, in his death and resurrection. We believe that, paradoxically, God’s power is best seen in his subjection to humility.
The Bible doesn’t answer all our questions. But if you give it a chance, you’ll find that the Christian worldview offers challenging responses to nearly any intellectual attack you care to bring against it.
Can God make a rock so big he can’t move it? If you are only asking in order to get out of having to take the God question seriously, allow me to suggest that God’s desire is to move you closer to himself. But he will not overpower you to do it. Perhaps you are the rock that God cannot move.