I have heard this question a lot lately… “Can God create a weight He cannot lift?”. In fact, I have heard the question so often as of late I thought the question warranted a post, so that I might help put the question to bed by addressing the question with a bit of logic. This question is generally asked to prove a point that God is not omnipotent. The question, however, fails in three ways:
- The question is logically contradictory.
- The questioner has made false, naturalistic assumptions about God.
- The questioner has incorrectly attributed specific constraints to God.
The argument is generally made that if God is omnipotent than He should be able to create a weight (a boulder, or example) as heavy as He desires. I would argue that this point is true. Then, however, the questioner would ask if God could create that weight so heavy that even He could not lift it. The question is logically contradictory, as the two major parts of the question (creation of the weight, and lifting the weight) do not make common sense, and neither prove nor disprove any particular attribute commonly associated, by Christians, with God. This question reminds me of the similar question of what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? The questions are similar in nature, and equally irrelevant to the nature of anything at all.
The next issue with the question comes in the form of assumption. Consider that God does have the ability to create a weight as heavy as He desires. What makes the weight heavy? The answer to that is gravity. The same weight on earth would not “weigh” the same as it would on the moon due to the gravitational differential between the two bodies. The naturalistic assumption comes into play with the questioner assuming that either 1) God is bound to the physics of earth, and 2) God is bound to any of the “rules” or “laws” of this realm whatsoever. In order to be God neither of these assumptions can be true. This argument is supported, if you are a creationist, by the fact that God created the universe including all of the rules and laws by which the universe is governed. Similar to playing a board game at a friends house we are subject to “house rules”. In this case God created the house, so He sets the rules. With that said, God can create a weight as heavy as he would like, but is not limited by our relatively narrow definitions of “heavy”. As such, the question is I have been discussing here is rather nonsensical.
The Bible tells us God does not have a body, as a human would call a body. God is a perfect being. When we think about “lifting” an object we think of, for example, using our hands to raise an object from point A to a higher point B. God does not have hands as we define hands, as such God does not lift things as we think of lifting things. I can only imagine that God simply wills an object to be higher, and it is. To question if God can create a weight which He cannot lift is to attribute physical attributes to God when God has no physical attributes whatsoever. In other words, the questioner is assigning, or attributing constraints to God, which He does not actually have.
The question, “Can God create a weight He cannot lift”, really has no place in a serious theological discussion. The question nearly proves, nor disproves anything. The question is a fishing expedition meant to derail any serious conversation about the existence and attributes of God. Hopefully, this post has helped you to stiff-arm this question out of the way, so you can focus on moving your discussions to the end zone, so more of us can be…
Photo Credit: Daniel Edward