A Dialogue Concerning the Omnipotence of God

“You would have been proud of me today had you heard me silence the callow youth who said in class that he did not believe in the omnipotence of God. Even the professor was shocked, and asked the smart Aleck to state some reasons for his disbelief.”

“Did the poor boy have reasons? Most persons who make such statements have neither reason nor reasons.”

“Oh he rattled off such worn-out arguments as: God can not make a square circle, or a round square, and many other absurdities.”

“And what did you do to enlighten him?”

“I told him that each of his so-called proofs involves a contradiction. That since essences are fixed, round denies square, and square denies round; therefore, God can not do what is contrary to His wisdom. Then, just to show that I was not looking for a quarrel, I admitted that there were many other things that God could not do.”

“What, for example?”

“That He could not do wrong; or change His decrees; or make an infinitely perfect creature; or create all possible things together; because He can do nothing that is absurd or contrary to any of His perfections.”

“Well, I am proud of you. But did you not learn from your little catechism that all things are possible to God, and that nothing is hard or impossible to God?

“Yes, but those words do not mean-”

“They mean just what they say: All things are possible to God, and to God nothing is hard or impossible. It is not necessary to try to explain away a meaning that is perfectly correct.”

“Don’t tell me that I made a goose of myself this afternoon!”

“I could not do that even should I feel so inclined .I spoke sincerely when I said I was proud of you. I merely want to call your attention to the meaning of the word thing. A thing exists or may exist. But what is self-contradictory can not exist, and therefore it is not a thing.

God can not do what is self-contradictory or absurd, but He can do all things.”

From Sister Mary Paula’s High Lights in Philosophy (Ad-Vantage Press: 1929) pp. 65-6

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