Omnipotence and the so called unliftable stone

Someone said: I came across this post for some reason, and decided to answer this “unliftable stone” question from logical (not religious) point of view.

In the question, we have imaginary omnipotent entity referred to as “god”, which does not have to be actual muslim God. We might call it “Bob”, if you want; what matters for the question is that our imaginary Bob is omnipotent. Then we ask, can Bob create a stone that he will not be able to lift? As long as Bob is omnipotent, he obviously can create it. As soon as he does, however, he loses his omnipotence. There is no logical problem with the question this way.

We can, however extend this question, by asking Bob to create such a stone AND remain omnipotent. In the language of logic, this is asking for A and B to be true at the same time, while we know that A makes B necessary false. This is clearly not possible, as far as logic is concerned.

Comment: There is no separation of logic and religion in this question or any other in Islam.

When you say that Bob was omnipotent and then became not omnipotent, then you are saying that his omnipotence is a possible attribute, not a necessary attribute, as it accepts non-existence. This means that Bob’s claimed omnipotence would have a beginning, because the possible in existence needs a cause to become existent, which means that it would need to be given to him by something else.

This something else would have to be omnipotent without a beginning, or we would end up with another Bob in need of a cause (i.e. someone else to give him the omnipotence), and going down that path we would end up claiming an infinite past series of Bobs, which is impossible, because infinity cannot pass. Since this omnipotent being is necessarily omnipotent, as it is eternal and therefore not in need of preponderance to exist, it cannot end, because whatever ends is only intrinsically possible in existence (one moment it’s here, the next it’s not; so, it is not necessarily existing). This means again that Bob cannot become omnipotent, as you cannot have two omnipotent beings at the same time. After all, that would mean that they would have to agree to bring something into existence, as they are both of equal power, and this is a restricted power, not an absolute power, and would have meant that the necessary omnipotence prior to Bob’s, became restricted and would therefore be intrinsically possible, and not necessary in existence.

Omnipotence cannot be a created attribute, because if we assumed that it had a beginning, then the one that gave it must have been either omnipotent before it, or not. If the one that supposedly gave it was omnipotent, then we have already shown that this means that it must be eternal and necessary in existence, and cannot be given away.

On the other hand, if the one claimed to have given omnipotence was proposed to have power restricted to creating omnipotence, then this is refuted, because if it could create omnipotence, then anything less than that would definitely fall within its power. If not, then this would require someone to specify the restricted power of the proposed creator of omnipotence, which would mean he is not the true creator of omnipotence, and this way we are either ending up saying there is an infinite series of specified creators, or end up at a creator that is omnipotent, thus not in need of specification, and since his power would be necessary, he could not lose this power later, or part of it, or it would have to be intrinsically possible, and not necessary in existence.

If someone argued, on the other hand, that omnipotence was restricted by a hindrance or prerequisite before Bob, then this contradicts the concept of omnipotence. Moreover, this proposed restriction to create anything but omnipotence would either be eternal or having a beginning.

A) If it was proposed eternal, then it would be universal, because it would not be specified, which would make it impossible for anyone to create anything but omnipotence, which is absurd, because omnipotence is not omnipotence if nothing other than omnipotence can be created, such as entities. After all, omnipotence is about creating other than omnipotence. Thus the proposed restriction cannot be eternal.

B) If it was proposed not eternal, then it would need a creator to specify it. This creator would either be proposed omnipotent or not. If he was omnipotent, then we have shown that this omnipotence cannot be given away to Bob. If he was not, then we are dealing with someone with created power, which needs a creator, and he would be either omnipotent or not.  This brings us into the problem of needing an infinite past series of specified creators, and this idea is rejected, because one cannot conclude an infinite series of past creating, or claiming there is a creator who’s necessary omnipotence ceased, which we have shown to be impossible.

4 Responses to Omnipotence and the so called unliftable stone

  1. Hossein says:

    Salam Alaykum,

    A Muslim who probably has left Islam made the following points from another place about the impossibility of an Infinite God, and therefore of God in general:

    (1) An actual Infinity is impossible.

    COMMON QUESTIONS:

    Why is an actual Infinity Impossible?

    Because an actual Infinity violates the Law
    of Identity. Existence is by nature, limitation. To exist, is to be something specific. An Infinity is unlimited, which means, it’s nothing in particular. Something that is nothing in particular, has no Identity. In other words, it doesn’t exist.

    What is your definition of Infinity?

    (A) Something that is not finite in any way, shape, or form.

    or

    (B) Having no limits or boundaries in time or space or extent or magnitude;

    What logical support do you have for claiming the
    Universe is everything that exists, and that the Universe is existence?

    There are several reasons why the Universe
    is everything that exists, mainly based on Quantum
    Mechanics and measurement Omission. That may
    be too complicated and involved for the average person, so I will stick to the two main, and more straight forward reasons:

    (1) The Universe is supported by several credible
    sources as being by definition, everything that exists.

    If I see your query, and time permits, these sources
    are available from me, upon request, to your YouTube inbox.

    (2) To say that something can exist outside the Universe,is to commit the fallacy of the stolen concept. The Universe is that which contains existence(things that exist). To claim that something exists outside of the Universe, is to steal the concept of existence, and apply to something external to itself. Which is fallacious, since one could only appeal to existence again, REDUNDANTLY!

    Therefore, the Universe is everything that exists, thus by corollary, it is existence, since that adheres to the Law of Identity. Why? Because the Universe is the sum total of all “extants”. To say that the Universe is not by corollary existence, is to say that that which has the quality of existence, is not by implication, existence itself in total, which is invalid.

    • The author said:

      (1) An actual Infinity is impossible.

      Comment by Abu Adam: If you mean infinity as in physical quantity, then yes that is true, and that proves actually that the world’s existence is not eternal, because it could not have gone through an actual infinity of changes in the past. This alone proves that God exists, because something that does not change must have brought what changes into existence.

      The author said: Why is an actual Infinity Impossible? Because an actual Infinity violates the Law of Identity. Existence is by nature, limitation. To exist, is to be something specific. An Infinity is unlimited, which means, it’s nothing in particular. Something that is nothing in particular, has no Identity. In other words, it doesn’t exist.

      Comment by Abu Adam: We do not accept the idea that any existence must be limited. When we say that Allaah’s power is unlimited, then that does not mean it is nothing in particular. It is something not limited, but pertains to everything that is possible in existence. In this sense it is not limited. The existence of this power is not limited, but it is not merely possible in existence (as it necessarily exists and is not a mere possibilty.) Everything possible in existence must in deed be limited at any point in time and in the past, but based on what do you claim that existence is confined to what is intrinsically possible in the mind’s eye? Rather, since what is possible intrinsically must be limited in the past, we must conclude that it needs to be brought into existence, and whatever brought it into existence cannot be limited in the past, because otherwise we would not be able to escape from saying there were infinite changes in the past.

      The author said: What logical support do you have for claiming the Universe is everything that exists, and that the Universe is existence?

      There are several reasons why the Universe is everything that exists, mainly based on Quantum
      Mechanics and measurement Omission. That may be too complicated and involved for the average person, so I will stick to the two main, and more straight forward reasons:

      (1) The Universe is supported by several credible sources as being by definition, everything that exists. If I see your query, and time permits, these sources are available from me, upon request, to your YouTube inbox.

      Comment by Abu Adam: So if several of what you call “credible sources” say this, then it must be true? In any case, all they will have is an argument based on drawing analogy between what they detect and what they do not detect. Inductive arguments always have elements of conjecture, and conjecture cannot measure up to the clear proof that the world needs a creator that is not like it.

      The author said: (2) To say that something can exist outside the Universe,is to commit the fallacy of the stolen concept. The Universe is that which contains existence(things that exist). To claim that something exists outside of the Universe, is to steal the concept of existence, and apply to something external to itself. Which is fallacious, since one could only appeal to existence again, REDUNDANTLY!

      Therefore, the Universe is everything that exists, thus by corollary, it is existence, since that adheres to the Law of Identity. Why? Because the Universe is the sum total of all “extants”. To say that the Universe is not by corollary existence, is to say that that which has the quality of existence, is not by implication, existence itself in total, which is invalid.

      Comment by Abu Adam: Those are a lot of words to say “I define the universe as everything that exists, therefore nothing else exists.” Silly. We define the universe as creation, or everything other than Allaah, not everything that exists. That is why we also say that something other than the universe exists.

  2. T says:

    The existence of this power is not limited, but it is not merely possible in existence.

    Salam Alaikum Sheikh:

    I couldn’t grasp the above sentence. Can you please clarify.

    Jazak’Allah khayr.

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