Paradox of the Stone

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Originally formulated by Wade Savage in "The Paradox of Stone," the argument reads: Either X can create a stone that X cannot lift, or X cannot create a stone that X cannot lift. If X can create a stone that X cannot lift, then, necessarily, there is at least one task that X cannot perform (namely, lift the stone in question). If X cannot create a stone that X cannot lift, then, necessarily, there is at least one task that X cannot perform (namely, create the stone in question). Hence, there is at least one task that X cannot perform. If X is an omnipotent being, then X can perform any task. Therefore, X is not omnipotent. This argument proves the existence of an omnipotent being to be logically impossible. Responding to this argument, there are several positions from among which a theist can choose to take. George Mavrodes, for instance, calls into question the possibility for the task to even be performed at all. Mavrodes challenges that the self-contradictory nature of the task renders it an inadequate gauge of God's omnipotence, and reminds us that power is determined only by tasks performed within the realm of possibility. God's inability to fulfill this illogical task has no bearing on the extent of his power and does not discredit belief of his omnipotence in any way. Harry G. Frankfurt offers a different, slightly more confusing, response to the paradox. Frankfurt asks you to suppose God's omnipotence enables him to do even what is logically impossible in that He actually creates a stone too heavy for Him to lift. He continues on to say that God having created the stone that He cannot lift exhibits God's ability to perform a self-contradictory task, and that the completion of one such task leaves open the possibility for other self-contradictory tasks to be completed as well. God's ability to perform the initial logically impossible task of creating the too-heavy stone stands as proof of his power for any subsequent

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