Can God create a stone that he can’t lift?
In general how do we answer such problematic questions about God’s ability to do logically impossible things?
Transcription by – Sesa Vishnu Das
Edited by – Sesa Vishnu Das
Question : Can God create a stone that he can’t lift ?
Answer: Prabhupada gave one simple answer to this. He will create a stone he can’t lift and then he will lift it. that is the meaning of God. God can do anything. At one level he can create a thing which he cannot lift and at next level he can expand his energy and lift it. That is one level of explanation. Another important point to understand is these sorts of questions misunderstand the nature of God. God is not just another being or another thing in the universe in competition with the rest of the things. God is the ground of all beings. He is the reason why everything exists. He says that for everything that exists, I am the seed. This conception of God comes because we have deities. The light is a thing, the table is another thing and hence we also think that God is just another thing. But this is a misleading conception of God. God is not just another thing among the many things of the world. He is the source of everything. What does that mean? It means that his nature is clearly different than ours and others. In principle this is called as the cosmological definition of God. In simple terms everything we see around us is finite and is temporary. If I trace that to the origin of a temporary thing, I will get another temporary thing, then if I proceed I will get another temporary thing. And if with the chain of temporary things I go backwards going towards infinity, because everything is temporary. At the start of a temporary there is something and if that is temporary then that will require a start. If Z comes from Y, Y comes from X …. Like that then we come to the first thing and we call it is A, If Z, Y, X.. all are temporary then if A is temporary then what is there before A? something has to be there before A. So if I go backwards in a chain of temporary things the chain will by necessity never end because if the chain ends there is nothing. So A comes from nothing which is not possible. Essentially its like I have a huge ladder and there is 100th floor, 99th floor .. 6th floor.. 2nd floor and first floor and there is no connection to the ground floor. How does the building exist? The whole building will collapse. So for that to not happen, there has to be a ground on which everything has to be there. Similarly if the universe is filled with temporary things and the chain of temporary things has to end somewhere in some concrete thing. It has to end in something which is not temporary. Or the other possibility is that it never ends. That means the universe has to be eternal. Even science also has told us that the universe had a beginning. It is not eternal. If the universe had a beginning then it has to be qualitatively different. The beginning state is not just another state in the universe. When we say that God is sarva karana karanam, the source of everything that means God is not like just another thing of this world. He is the ground for all the beings, the ground for which all the beings are existing, the being without which nothing is possible. So we shouldn’t have this simplistic idea of God being just another being. Of course God has that particular feature also as all attractive person. …… so understanding of this principle is very important otherwise there will be contradictions. So now Can God create a stone that he can’t lift? This question assumes that God and the stone are almost of competitive to each other. May be the stone will become stronger than God. God is the being who is the source of the strength of everything. So even if the giant stone is created which is huge in terms of heaviness, it’s important to notice that the heaviness of the stone comes from God. And if God wants to lift that stone, he will remove the heaviness of that stone and he will lift it. some sceptics argue Krishna lifted the govardhan hill, how could he lift such a hill on his finger? How did he find the centre of gravity to put his finger on it and lift? So Krishna doesn’t have to find the centre of gravity because he is the source of gravity. When he wants the law of gravity will work, when he wants he can suspend the law of gravity and then he will lift. Viswanath chakravarti Thakur writes in his commentary that Govardhan was not lifted on krishna’s finger but it was floating on his finger, Because Govardhan was a devotee. This may not make scientific sense for us but the simple point to understand is that God is not just another thing among the many things of the world, he is the source of existence of everything and he is the source of the existence of the qualities of everything. Therefore heaviness of the stone which is supposed to be heavier than God, also comes from God. So when he wants he will give that heaviness and when he wills, he will take away that heaviness.
So there is this point of logical impossibility to just argue, like can God make a square rectangle? And if God can’t do it, then he is incapable, his omnipotence is challenged. And if he can make it the how is he going to do that? So the point here is that a logical impossibility is not an impossibility for God to do it but it is a difficulty for us to comprehend how God will do it. Logic is not a limitation for God, it is a limitation for us and our understanding. So the logically impossible is also possible for God but how it is possible is impossible for us to logically understand.
Hare Krishna Prabhuji
It’s just to mention (for those who are following this question) that another example regarding ‘square-rectangle’ was actually misspelt, and Prabhuji meant ‘square-circle’.
I can say this as Prabhuji has already answered a similar question Here.
Thank you Prabhuji for your wonderful guidance!!
Thanks for pointing this out and sharing the link too.