The History of the Omnipotence Paradox

The roots of the omnipotence paradox can be traced back to as early as the twelfth century where it was addressed by Averroes who often wrote of logic, Aristotelian and Islamic philosophy. The question was later addressed by Saint Thomas Aquinas who argued the merits of the question along with Rene Descartes. In more recent times the omnipotence paradox has been addressed by modern theologians such as Alvin Plantinga.

The omnipotence paradox refers to a paradoxical situation where an omnipotent being is forced to limit its powers while remaining omnipotent and do so all at the same time. It is considered logically impossible. This paradox is commonly used as an argument against the existence of an omnipotent God and any concepts of true omnipotence.

The design of the omnipotence paradox is based on reductio ad absurdum (Latin for “reduction to absurdity”) which is the process of reducing an argument or hypothesis to the state of absurdity. An argument's premises or conclusions are pushed to their logical limits leading to the most ridiculous, absurd, or impractical conclusions. This results in the disproving, discrediting or otherwise negating of whatever the original argument or hypothesis may have been.

The classic "Paradox of the Stone" has existed for literally centuries. The beauty of this particular version of an omnipotence paradox is that it is not based on a flawed premise or error in logical from the very start (such as, "Can God make 2+2=5?" or "Can God make a square circle?"). We already know that 2+2≠5 and that circles are not squares by design, so we haven’t given an omnipotent, all-powerful God a fair shot at demonstrating pure omnipotence. However, to ask God to create something new, so pure and simple as a rock, strikes at the very heart of God's omnipotence.

So the "Paradox of the Stone" question reads as follows:

"Can God create a stone so heavy that he cannot lift it?"

There have been numerous variations on the omnipotence paradoxical questions with some of them becoming fairly outrageous. Some even stretch the arena or logic and reason by requiring God to kill Himself in order to prove that he is omnipotent. Here are some of the more noteworthy omnipotence paradox questions

Stone Paradox Variations

"Could Jesus microwave a burrito so hot
that he himself could not eat it?"

"Can God kill himself?"

"Can an omnipotent being create a triangle
whose angles do not add up to
more than 180 degrees?""

"Can God create square circle?"

"Can God create a prison so secure
that he cannot escape from it?"

Stone Paradox Variations - Breakdown


Omnipotence (literally, "all power") is power without limits. Monotheistic religions generally attribute omnipotence only to God. In the philosophies of Western monotheistic religions, omnipotence is listed as one of God's characteristics among many, including omniscience, omnipresence, and benevolence.


Omniscience is an attribute having to do with knowledge; it is the attribute of "having knowledge of everything." Many philosophers consider omniscience to be an attribute possessed only by a divine being, such as the God of Western monotheism. However, the Eastern followers of Jainism allow omniscience to be an attribute of some human beings. But what exactly is it to be omniscient? The term's root Latin words are "omni" (all) and "scientia" (knowledge), and these suggest a rough layman's definition of omniscience as "knowledge of everything." Yet even though this definition may be somewhat useful, there are a number of questions which the definition alone does not address. First, there is the general question of what exactly our human knowledge is and whether or not an understanding of human knowledge can be applied to God. For example, does God have beliefs? And what kind of evidence does God need for these beliefs to count as knowledge? There is also the question of what exactly this "everything" in the definition is supposed to mean. Does God know everything which is actual but not all that is possible? Does God know the future, and if so, how exactly? This last question is a perennial difficulty and will require a thorough investigation.


In western theism, omnipresence is roughly described as the ability to be "present everywhere at the same time", referring to an unbounded or universal presence. Omnipresence means minimally that there is no place to which God’s knowledge and power do not extend. It is related to the concept of ubiquity, the ability to be everywhere or in many places at once. This includes unlimited temporal presence. Ubiquity is defined as the state or capacity of being everywhere, especially at the same time; omnipresence.