Can God Do Anything? – How God’s Omnipotence Works

Can God do anything?

Yes. There are things He can do.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that God can do everything.

And He can’t.

Sometimes atheists and ponderous Christians will ask if there are things which The Lord cannot do.

Atheists do this because they want to refute his omnipotence.

Christians do this because they are genuinely curious.

In both cases, their questions arise from a misunderstanding of what is meant when we say that God is all-powerful.

God cannot do certain things. He cannot sin. To sin is to move away from Him. But God, being God, cannot move away from Himself. This would be a logical absurdity. And He, being constrained by His internal logic, would be unable to do so.

So there are things which The Lord can’t do.

But that doesn’t mean that he is all-powerful.

Let’s explore how that works.

Intro to the Omnipotence Paradox

The question “Can God do anything/everything?” takes a few different forms:

Can God create another God?
Or could He create a rock so heavy even he can’t lift it?
Can God microwave a burrito so hot that he couldn’t eat it?
And so on.

Each of these questions is essentially the same. Their purpose is to exploit something called the Omnipotence paradox in order to refute God’s existence.

The Omnipotence Paradox states that an all-powerful being could create something it could not overcome and, therefore, destroy its omnipotence.

The logic behind the paradox is valid, and it refutes certain understandings of omnipotence.

So Christianity, being a religion which accepts reasoning, must reject some definitions of omnipotence.

This does not mean that The Almighty is not all-powerful. There are different ways to be all-powerful, and God does not follow all of them.

What God Can’t Do

God can’t sin.

To sin is to bring oneself away from God, and God cannot separate Himself from Himself.

And the greatest sin is to violate the First Commandment.

I am the Lord thy God, you will have no other gods before Me.

So God cannot create anything greater than himself because to do so would be to violate the First Commandment.

So God can’t create another God.
He can’t create a rock so heavy even he can’t lift it.
And he can’t microwave a burrito so hot even he couldn’t eat it.

And the fact that God can’t do these things does not mean that he isn’t omnipotent.

How God Is Omnipotent

God created the universe. He created everything in it, He created it according to His nature, and there is nothing within that does not have its root in Him.

He has the power to create, start, stop, or modify any object or event which might be within the universe.

This is what is meant He tells Moses, “I am that I am”. (Exodus 3:14)

Now, the fact that God created everything within the universe means that He exists outside the universe. It also means that he could exercise complete control over everything within.

This does not mean, however, that he actively controls everything within the universe. He could exercise this authority, and he chooses not to. This is why humans are able to have free will.

Although God does occasionally intervene in affairs of the universe. The name for those instances in which God directly alters events within the universe is divine intervention. The most famous examples of this include the birth of Christ and the commandments given to Moses.

This is analogous to how a computer programmer has authority over the code which he writes and may choose to change something when he feels the need.

Now, God has authority over everything within His creation, and he exercises this authority according to his nature.

What does that mean?

Can God Do Anything? On His Nature

God is a god of order. This is the reason why he appeared to Moses as a lawgiver and required the Hebrews to follow certain rules in order to come closer to him.

Now, in order for God to be a god of order, he must have some internal consistency which guides his decisions. If He did not have consistency, then His behaviors would be inconsistent, i.e., random.

And if God did things randomly, then the universe, being the creation of a randomly-behaving mind, would follow inconsistent rules.

And the rules would change randomly.

Yet the rules which govern the universe are consistent. This is the reason why we know that the sun will rise tomorrow just as it has risen today and as it rose yesterday.

Would a randomly-acting deity create consistent rules?

Possibly, but that same god, behaving randomly, would inevitably either change the rules or remove them altogether.

Yet we do not see that this is the case. Math, gravity, and proper reason are the same today as they were yesterday. And the scripture which we have inherited clearly asserts that Our Savior does things for reasons.

So we can conclude that God is orderly.

God’s Order Is Logic

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. -Jesus, John 14:6

In this verse, Jesus states that He is the Truth. Jesus is God. Therefore, God is the Truth.

To come to Him and to come to the truth are one and the same.

So, by arriving at truth, we arrive at God.

And how do we arrive at truth?

By using logic.

Logic is a collection of tools which we use when thinking in order to arrive at truth. God is truth. Therefore, logic allows us to come closer to the Almighty.

Moreover, the fact that The Lord does things for reasons means that He acknowledges the existence of cause and effect relationships and acts because of them.

And He can’t sin or be wrong. So logic, which is the study of cause-and-effect relationships, must be a part of God’s nature.

So logic is a part of God’s nature, and we can come closer to Him by using it.

Why God’s Logic Matters Here

The Omnipotence Paradox is a paradox.

Duh.

And no paradox can be true. If a paradox were to be true, then it would refute itself and become false. No self-refuting statement can be true.

Now, does that means that paradoxes are false and that they make themselves true?

No.

Paradoxes are neither true nor false. They occupy another place.

What is that place?

It doesn’t matter. The thing that matters is the truth and not something else hiding in the weeds.

What does that mean for us?

It means that whenever we encounter a paradox, we have erred in our reason. Paradoxes are a symptom of a poor use of logic.

In other words, a paradox is proof of a fallacy on the part of the person who produced it.

The Two Types of Fallacies

Reason follows a cause-and-effect sequence. It begins with premises, things which are assumed to be true, and arrives at conclusions form them.

All types of fallacies arise from one of two sources within the reasoning process. They either arise from the premises of an argument or from the way the conclusion was reached.

Fallacies do not arise form the conclusion. No conclusion is a fallacy. Some people falsely claim that certain conclusions are fallacious. Those people are either lying, or they are not thinking clearly.

The liars do so to discredit their opponents, and the people with muddy thinking do so because they can’t speak intelligently on their chosen topic, but they insist on talking anyway.

Fallacies that arise from premises are called informal fallacies, and they occur because the chosen premises are either wrong or insufficient for arriving at truth.

Formal fallacies are errors in the deduction that arises from the premises.

And the Omnipotence Paradox arises from informal fallacies.

The most common informal fallacy which leads to the Omnipotence Paradox is the Definist Fallacy. People define omnipotence incorrectly, and they produce weird understandings of God because of it.

Hopefully by now you will not be one of them.

Gene Botkin

Gene is the director of the Theosis Christian Project. He studied physics and military science before founding the Project. Gene is currently pursuing his doctorate in systems engineering at an engineering college in the Ozarks. The Theosis Christian Project is his attempt to expand Holy Orthodoxy in America.

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