Unbelievers often ask, “Can God create a rock that is so heavy that he cannot lift it?” Unbelievers allege that this question highlights that the notion of an omnipotent God, or in this case, Adonai, is self contradictory, and therefore, impossible.
The Omnipotence Paradox: Inapplicable to Christianity?
The idea behind the question is to show that if God can create a rock so heavy that he cannot lift it, he is not omnipotent. On the other hand, if God cannot create a rock that is so heavy that he can’t lift it, God is not omnipotent. According to the atheist, either answer means that God cannot be omnipotent. The Christian loses either way.
There is a glaring problem with the question that is being asked. The question implies that if Adonai is omnipotent, he should be able to create a rock that is so heavy that he cannot lift it. Yet, if Adonai can actually do it, he is not omnipotent. What is the definition of ‘omnipotent’ that the questioner is attacking? Should Adonai be able to do anything? I have not seen any atheist who has asked this question, whether it be on social media or in an academic journal, bother to define ‘omnipotent.’ Fortunately, since our position is the one being attacked, we are the ones who get to define the terms that are related to our own position. Without a definition of ‘omnipotent,’ the question is meaningless.
Adonai Elohim’s Nature and Defining ‘Omnipotence’
It is important to note that Adonai exercises his power within the confines of his will. 1 Adonai has made it clear that he does not lie (Numbers, 23:19, Titus 1:2), and Yeshua said he is the truth (John 14:6). Adonai is self sustaining, and whatsoever comes to pass only comes by his will and power (Ephesian 3:1, Ephesians 1:11, Romans 8:28). Therefore, we know that Adonai will only do what he wills. This has lead many theologians to correctly point out that when omnipotence is defined by Christians, it should be consistent with Adonai’s attributes. Our God is logical and because of this, his actions will be too. Therefore, any question that asks Adonai to violate his own will is a question that is inapplicable to Adonai. Still, the definitions that Christian theologians have given for ‘omnipotence’ are largely incomplete. What does it mean to say, “Omnipotence only refers to being able to do what is logically possible?” Clearly, this is a start, but it is not a Biblical definition, nor is it a definition at all. The Bible does not tie omnipotence to what is logically possible, rather, omnipotence is tied to Adonai’s will (Colossians 1:16, Ephesians 1:19-21). While theologians are correct to say that Adonai doesn’t do anything that is illogical, the connection that the Bible attributes to Adonai’s power goes beyond a simple matter of logical possibility. Therefore, a more Biblical and precise definition is needed. In this article, omnipotence is defined as the ability to perfectly carry out one’s will.
Other similar questions have been raised too such as, “Can God destroy himself?” The answer to this question is no; an eternal being cannot be destroyed by definition. In particular, a being that does not lie, is all knowing, and who has told us he is eternal, cannot be destroyed, for if he were, it would make him a liar, and Adonai does not lie. This does not denote a limitation of his own power, rather, it is a testament to his power and glory, for no one can frustrate Adonai’s will.
Another similar question is, “Can God create a being more powerful than himself?” It is written, “Yours, Adonai, is the greatness, the power and the splendor, and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything in heaven and earth. Yours is the kingdom, Adonai and You are exalted above all. Both riches and honor come from You. You rule over everything. In Your hand is power and might, in Your hand, to magnify and give strength to all (1 Chronicles 29:11-12).” It is clear that Adonai Elohim will never create a being greater than himself because he will always be the greatest.
This brings us to the question, “Can God create a rock that is so heavy that he cannot lift it?” Adonai has told us that he is the greatest, and by consequence, he is greater than his creation. It is clear that Adonai did not will for his creation to be greater than he is. Therefore, the answer to the question is no. Adonai does not lie, and he has told us that he the greatest, therefore, there will never be a rock that is so great that Adonai cannot lift it. Given the definition of ‘omnipotence’ that was given in this article, the answer that I gave to this question is not problematic. Rather, it answers this supposed ‘paradox.’
It is obvious. The unbeliever is using some sort of unconstrained definition of ‘omnipotence.’ While we do use the word ‘omnipotence,’ to describe Adonai’s power, the Bible only tells us about what Adonai will and will not do. Clearly, Adonai’s power is exercised only within the confines of his will, not due to lack of power or ability, but simply because of who he is. Such questions that ignore the parameters assigned to Adonai’s omnipotence by the scriptures are attacking another god instead of the God of Christianity.
1. Adonai’s will is synonymous with his nature. Adonai’s nature has been decreed in eternity’s past (James 1:17-18). Simply put, Adonai is who he has always willed to be. One could use the term, ‘nature,’ but the word ‘will,’ which is defined as ‘intention,’ is a term that is easier to understand.