Monday, January 11, 2010

Can God Make A Rock So Big That He Can't Lift It?

"1. Concerning God's omnipotence, the following must be held according to the sacred teaching. God is almighty, but in such a manner that acts of culpability, for instance, lying, or intending evil, cannot be attributed to Him; nor can acts of penalty [for original sin], such as fearing and sorrowing; nor corporeal and material acts, such as sleeping and walking, except figuratively; nor contradictory acts, such as making something greater than Himself, or producing another God equal to Himself, or creating some being that would be infinite in act; and so forth. As Anselm writes, "whatever is contradictory, be it the smallest thing, is not found in God." Although God cannot do such things, yet He is truly, properly, and perfectly omnipotent.

2. This should be understood as follows. The first Principle is powerful by a power that is unqualified; therefore the universal "omni" prefacing "potent" covers all those things the power to do which is power unqualified: that is, all things that proceed from a power both complete and orderly. We call COMPLETE a power that cannot disappear, succumb, or be limited. But sin implies a disappearance of power, pain a collapse of power, and bodily operation a limitation of power. Divine power, supreme and utterly perfect, is not created, nor is it dependent upon anything, nor is it wanting in anything. Therefore, it cannot be the subject of culpable, penal, or corporeal acts: and this precisely because it is omnipotent through a power that is complete.

3. Now, there are three senses in which a power can be called ORDERLY: as it is in act; as it signifies potency on the part of a creature; and as it signifies potency on the part of the uncreated Might alone. That which is possible to power in the first sense is not only possible but actual. That which is possible in the second sense but not in the first is simply possible, although not actual. That which is possible in the third sense, but not in the first or second, is possible to God but impossible to creatures. That which is not possible in any of the foregoing senses, i. e., whatever, by reason of primordial and eternal principles and causes, is directly opposed to order, is simply impossible; as it would be for God to produce something infinite in act, to make something to be and not to be at the same time, to make a past event as never having happened, and so forth. The order and completeness of divine might exclude the possibility of doing such things.

This clearly shows the scope of divine might, the meaning of the simply possible and of the simply impossible, and the fact that some impossibility is compatible with true omnipotence."

-St. Bonaventure, Breviloquium, Chapter 7- On God's Omnipotence

(Or you could go with the short answer, which is: No.)

No comments: