Originally posted by Palynka
I have a serious problem understanding what the problem is.
Isn't this the same as asking if an omnipotent being can bring about limits to its own omnipotence?
Pretending the universe is flat and there is a magical force pulling everything down that we call gravity:
It seems to me that any definition of omnipotence requires the ability to create any r ...[text shortened]... it his ability to "lift" rocks to rocks of size lower than Y?
Or am I missing something?
The problem I have is in the formulation of 'omnipotence'. I have no real problems with the so-called paradox of the stone itself because I think there simply is no paradox. I think arguments centered on the paradox of the stone are unsound. For instance, the argument could be delivered in the following way:
(1) Either it is the case that X can create a stone X cannot lift or it is not the case that X can create a stone X cannot lift.
(2) If it is the case that X can create a stone X cannot lift, then X cannot be omnipotent (because X's power would be limited: in particular, X cannot lift the stone in question).
(3) If it is not the case that X can create a stone X cannot lift, then X cannot be omnipotent (because X's power would be limited: in particular, X cannot create the stone in question).
(4) So, X cannot be omnipotent.
In this argument, I think (2) is true (this is the horn of the supposed dilemma that I think actually cuts), but I think (3) is false. I like an article written by C. Wade Savage on this (entitled I believe Paradox of the Stone
), in which he does a thought experiment somewhat similar to what you suggest as a thought process. He says, look, consider you have some entity E1 and some entity E2. E1 can create stones of any poundage or size or shape, etc, and E2 can lift stones of any poundage or size or shape, etc. So, E2 can lift any stone that E1 creates. So it is not the case that E1 can create a stone that E2 cannot lift. But, surely this fact should not really count against the stone-creating power of E1. Now, imagine that E1 and E2 are the same entity.
Or the argument could be delivered in this way:
Objector: "Okay, let's suppose, as you claim, that G is omnipotent. Now, could G create a stone He Himself cannot lift?" (with intent to usher in a dilemma.)
But there is no actual dilemma: the theist can simply respond "No" on the basis that such a stone is a logically impossible object and that he is not committed to a view of omnipotence that entails the power to bring about logically impossible objects (If, on the other hand he is committed to such a view, then I think his view of omnipotence has major incoherency problems anyway).
So, I think I have no problem with the "paradox of the stone". The reason I brought it up is just to make the point that I do think one of the horns of the supposed dilemma does actually cut. Basically, I think (although the paradox of the stone type arguments are unsound), there is still an upshot that renders O1 inadequate. From there, my actual problem is I do not see a good way to go about addressing this failing. Not sure if that helps clarify or not…
Can the omnipotent being limit his ability to "lift" rocks to rocks of size lower than Y?
I do not think that, say, the question asked by the hypothetical objector above translates to this.
This question as you state it could maybe seem ambiguous between something like (A) Can the omnipotent being choose (say) to not fully exercise his lifting capacities? and something like (B) Can the omnipotent being bring it about that he cannot lift rocks larger than Y?
Either way, I do not see any problem. I suppose the answer to (A) would be yes, and the answer to (B) would be no.