(Written by: Bill Pratt)
This is a common question that is asked by those who misunderstand the nature of God’s omnipotence. Another humorous way of asking this question is: Can God make a sandwich so big he can’t eat it? (I owe that jewel to my friend Greg).
When Christians claim that God is omnipotent (all-powerful), they do not mean that he can do anything. We mean that God can do anything that is logically possible. God’s omnipotence exists in concert with all of his other attributes, not as a stand-alone attribute. Therefore, when we don’t understand the other attributes of God, we get stumped by questions like this. Here is a brief list of some things God cannot do, based on his other attributes:
- cease to exist – a being whose very nature is being cannot cease to be; that’s logically impossible
- love evil – a being who is all-good cannot love evil; that’s logically impossible
- make a copy of himself – God is infinite, and two infinite beings cannot exist; that’s logically impossible
- change his nature – an unchanging (immutable) being cannot change; that’s logically impossible
So why can’t he make a rock so big he can’t lift it? Simple. God is infinite, and there can only be one infinite being (see number 3 above). If there were two infinite beings, then neither would really be infinite because they would each be limited by the other. But an infinite being has no limits, so they can’t both be infinite.
If a rock is created that cannot be moved by an infinite being, then that rock must be infinite. But if we have an infinite being and an infinite rock, we have two infinite beings. That is, as we said a moment ago, a logical impossibility.
Once we understand what infinity means (without limit) and once we understand that God cannot violate the laws of logic (which are based on his own nature), then we can easily understand how God cannot make a rock so big he can’t lift it. It’s like asking one infinite being to create another infinite being. Not possible!!