Omnipotence is unlimited power. Monotheistic
Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one and only one god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Baha'i Faith, Christianity, Druzism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.While they profess the existence of only one deity, monotheistic religions may still...

Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

s generally attribute omnipotence to only the deity
A deity is a recognized preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers....

 of whichever faith is being addressed. In the monotheistic philosophies
Religious philosophy
Religious philosophy is philosophical thinking that is inspired and directed by religion. Depending on religion, there are different philosophies for each religion:*Buddhist philosophy*Christian philosophy*Hindu philosophy*Islamic philosophy...

 of Abrahamic
Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions are the monotheistic faiths emphasizing and tracing their common origin to Abraham or recognizing a spiritual tradition identified with him...

 religions, omnipotence is often listed as one of a deity's characteristics among many, including omniscience
Omniscience omniscient point-of-view in writing) is the capacity to know everything infinitely, or at least everything that can be known about a character including thoughts, feelings, life and the universe, etc. In Latin, omnis means "all" and sciens means "knowing"...

, omnipresence
Omnipresence or ubiquity is the property of being present everywhere. According to eastern theism, God is present everywhere. Divine omnipresence is thus one of the divine attributes, although in western theism it has attracted less philosophical attention than such attributes as omnipotence,...

, and omnibenevolence
Omnibenevolence is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "unlimited or infinite benevolence". It is often held to be impossible, or at least improbable, for a deity to exhibit such property along side omniscience and omnipotence as a result of the problem of evil...



Between people of different faith
Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing, or a belief that is not based on proof. In religion, faith is a belief in a transcendent reality, a religious teacher, a set of teachings or a Supreme Being. Generally speaking, it is offered as a means by which the truth of the proposition,...

s, or indeed between people of the same faith, the term omnipotent has been used to connote a number of different positions. These positions include, but are not limited to, the following:
  1. A deity is able to do absolutely anything, even the logically impossible, i.e., pure agency.
  2. A deity is able to do anything that it chooses to do.
  3. A deity is able to do anything that is in accord with its own nature (thus, for instance, if it is a logical consequence of a deity's nature that what it speaks is truth, then it is not able to lie
    For other uses, see Lie A lie is a type of deception in the form of an untruthful statement, especially with the intention to deceive others....

  4. Hold that it is part of a deity's nature to be consistent and that it would be inconsistent for said deity to go against its own laws unless there was a reason to do so.
  5. A deity is able to do anything that corresponds with its omniscience
    Omniscience omniscient point-of-view in writing) is the capacity to know everything infinitely, or at least everything that can be known about a character including thoughts, feelings, life and the universe, etc. In Latin, omnis means "all" and sciens means "knowing"...

     and therefore with its worldplan.

Under many philosophical definitions of the term "deity", senses 2, 3 and 4 can be shown to be equivalent. However, on all understandings of omnipotence, it is generally held that a deity is able to intervene in the world by superseding the laws of physics, since they are not part of its nature, but the principles on which it has created the physical world. However many modern scholars (such as John Polkinghorne
John Polkinghorne
John Charlton Polkinghorne KBE FRS is an English theoretical physicist, theologian, writer, and Anglican priest. He was professor of Mathematical physics at the University of Cambridge from 1968 to 1979, when he resigned his chair to study for the priesthood, becoming an ordained Anglican priest...

) hold that it is part of a deity's nature to be consistent and that it would be inconsistent for a deity to go against its own laws unless there were an overwhelming reason to do so.

The word "Omnipotence" derives from the Latin term "Omni Potens", meaning "All-Powerful" instead of "Infinite Power" implied by its English counterpart. The term could be applied to both deities and Roman Emperors. Being the one with "All the power", it was not uncommon for nobles to attempt to prove their Emperor's "Omni Potens" to the people, by demonstrating his effectiveness at leading the Empire. This presents the most controversy when applied to Abrahamic Religions, since there was no word for "Infinite Power" in Ancient Semitic Languages like Hebrew or Aramaic.

Scholastic definition

Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

 acknowledged difficulty in comprehending a deity's power. Aquinas wrote that while "all confess that God is seems difficult to explain in what God's omnipotence precisely consists." In the scholastic understanding, omnipotence is generally understood to be compatible with certain limitations upon a deity's power, as opposed to implying infinite abilities. There are certain things that even an omnipotent deity cannot do. Medieval theologians drew attention to some fairly trivial examples of restrictions upon the power of a deity. The statement "a deity can do anything" is only sensible with an assumed suppressed clause, "that implies the perfection of true power." This standard scholastic answer allows that creaturely acts such as walking can be performed by humans but not by a deity. Rather than an advantage in power, human acts such as walking, sitting or giving birth were possible only because of a defect in human power. The ability to 'sin
In religion, sin is the violation or deviation of an eternal divine law or standard. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation. Christians believe the moral code of conduct is decreed by God In religion, sin (also called peccancy) is the violation or deviation...

', for example, is not a power but a defect or an infirmity. In response to questions of a deity performing impossibilities (such as making square circles) Aquinas says that "Nothing which implies contradiction falls under the omnipotence of God."

In recent times, C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis
Clive Staples Lewis , commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as "Jack", was a novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist from Belfast, Ireland...

 has adopted a scholastic position in the course of his work The Problem of Pain
The Problem of Pain
The Problem of Pain is a 1940 book by C. S. Lewis, in which he seeks to provide an intellectual Christian response to questions about suffering...

. Lewis follows Aquinas' view on contradiction:

In psychology

Early Freudianism saw a feeling of omnipotence as intrinsic to early childhood. 'As Freud and Ferenczi have shown, the child lives in a sort of megalomania
Megalomania is a psycho-pathological condition characterized by delusional fantasies of power, relevance, or omnipotence. 'Megalomania is characterized by an inflated sense of self-esteem and overestimation by persons of their powers and beliefs'...

 for a long period...the "fiction of omnipotence"'. At birth. 'the baby is everything as far as he knows - "all powerful"...every step he takes towards establishing his own limits and boundaries will be painful because he'll have to lose this original God-like feeling of omnipotence'.

Freud considered that in a neurotic 'the omnipotence which he ascribed to his thoughts and a frank acknowledgement of a relic of the old megalomania of infancy'. In some narcissists, the 'period of primary narcissism which subjectively did not need any objects and was entirely independent...may be retained or regressively regained..."omnipotent" behavior'.

D. W. Winnicott took a more positive view of a belief in early omnipotence, seeing it as essential to the child's well-being; and "good-enough" mothering as essential to enable the child to 'cope with the immense shock of loss of omnipotence' - as opposed to whatever 'prematurely forces it out of its narcissistic universe'.

Rejection or limitation

Some monotheists reject the view that a deity is or could be omnipotent, or take the view that, by choosing to create creatures with freewill, a deity has chosen to limit divine omnipotence. In Conservative
Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism is a modern stream of Judaism that arose out of intellectual currents in Germany in the mid-19th century and took institutional form in the United States in the early 1900s.Conservative Judaism has its roots in the school of thought known as Positive-Historical Judaism,...

 and Reform Judaism
Reform Judaism
Reform Judaism refers to various beliefs, practices and organizations associated with the Reform Jewish movement in North America, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. In general, it maintains that Judaism and Jewish traditions should be modernized and should be compatible with participation in the...

, and some movements within Protestant Christianity, including process theology
Process theology
Process theology is a school of thought influenced by the metaphysical process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead and further developed by Charles Hartshorne . While there are process theologies that are similar, but unrelated to the work of Whitehead the term is generally applied to the...

 and open theism
Open theism
Open theism is a recent theological movement that has developed within evangelical and post-evangelical Protestant Christianity as a response to certain ideas that are related to the synthesis of Greek philosophy and Christian theology...

, deities are said to act in the world through persuasion, and not by coercion (for open theism, this is a matter of choice—a deity could act miraculously, and perhaps on occasion does so—while for process theism it is a matter of necessity—creatures have inherent powers that a deity cannot, even in principle, override). Deities are manifested in the world through inspiration and the creation of possibility, not necessarily by miracle
A miracle often denotes an event attributed to divine intervention. Alternatively, it may be an event attributed to a miracle worker, saint, or religious leader. A miracle is sometimes thought of as a perceptible interruption of the laws of nature. Others suggest that a god may work with the laws...

s or violations of the laws of nature.

The rejection of omnipotence often follows from either philosophical or scriptural considerations, discussed below.

Philosophical grounds

Process theology rejects unlimited omnipotence on a philosophical basis, arguing that omnipotence as classically understood would be less than perfect, and is therefore incompatible with the idea of a perfect deity. The idea is grounded in Plato's oft-overlooked statement that "being is power."
From this premise, Charles Hartshorne
Charles Hartshorne
Charles Hartshorne was a prominent American philosopher who concentrated primarily on the philosophy of religion and metaphysics. He developed the neoclassical idea of God and produced a modal proof of the existence of God that was a development of St. Anselm's Ontological Argument...

 argues further that:
The argument can be stated as follows:
1) If a being exists, then it must have some active tendency.
2) If a being has some active tendency, then it has some power to resist its creator.
3) If a being has the power to resist its creator, then the creator does not have absolute power.

For example, though someone might control a lump of jelly-pudding almost completely, the inability of that pudding to stage any resistance renders that person's power rather unimpressive. Power can only be said to be great if it is over something that has defenses and its own agenda. If a deity's power is to be great, it must therefore be over beings that have at last some of their own defenses and agenda. Thus, if a deity does not have absolute power, it must therefore embody some of the characteristics of power, and some of the characteristics of persuasion. This view is known as dipolar theism
Dipolar theism
In Process theology Dipolar theism is the position that in order to conceive a perfect God, one must conceive Him as embodying the "good" in sometimes-opposing characteristics, and therefore cannot be understood to embody only one set of characteristics....


The most popular works espousing this point are from Harold Kushner
Harold Kushner
Rabbi Harold Samuel Kushner is a prominent American rabbi aligned with the progressive wing of Conservative Judaism, and a popular author.- Education :...

 (in Judaism). The need for a modified view of omnipotence was also articulated by Alfred North Whitehead
Alfred North Whitehead
Alfred North Whitehead, OM FRS was an English mathematician who became a philosopher. He wrote on algebra, logic, foundations of mathematics, philosophy of science, physics, metaphysics, and education...

 in the early 20th century and expanded upon by the aforementioned philosopher Charles Hartshorne. Hartshorne proceeded within the context of the theological system known as process theology.

Scriptural grounds

In the Authorized King James Version of the Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

, as well as several other versions, in Revelation
Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation"...

 19:6 it is stated "...the Lord God omnipotent reigneth" (the original Greek word is παντοκράτωρ, "all-mighty" ). Although much of the narrative of the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 describes the Judeo-Christian
Judeo-Christian is a term used in the United States since the 1940s to refer to standards of ethics said to be held in common by Judaism and Christianity, for example the Ten Commandments...

God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 as interacting with creation primarily through persuasion, and only occasionally through force. However, it could further be argued that the ability to conflict with truth is not an appropriate representation of accepted definitions of power, which negates the assertion that a deity does not have infinite powers.

Many other verses in the Christian Bible do assert omnipotence of its deity without actually using the word itself. There are several mentions of the Christian deity being referred to as simply "Almighty", showing that the Christian Bible supports the belief of an omnipotent deity. Some such verses are listed below:

Psalms 33:8-9: Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spoke, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.

Genesis 17:1: And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. (The Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 word used here is "shadday" )

Jeremiah 32:27: Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?

At his command a storm arose and covered the sea. (Psalm 107:25)

Several parts of the New Testament claim Jesus to be one with the Father, who is omnipotent, and others show Jesus to have some separation from the Father and even self-imposed limitations on his power. (Gospel of John)


Belief that omnipotence exists in any form can arguably be disproved. A classical example goes as follows:
"Can a deity create a rock so heavy that even the deity itself cannot lift it? If so, then the rock is now unliftable, limiting the deity's power. But if not, then the deity is still not omnipotent because it cannot create that rock."

This question cannot be answered using formal logic due to its self-referential nature - see liar paradox
Liar paradox
In philosophy and logic, the liar paradox or liar's paradox , is the statement "this sentence is false"...

. Combining omnipotence with omniscience can yield the difficulty of whether or not a deity can pose a question to which the deity would not know the answer.

Within the Biblical context, God is almighty (not omnipotent) because there is no other entity that can thwart Him in whatever he decides to do. Therefore, the proper questions relative to God's power, would be: (1) Can any other entity (or alleged deity) create a rock too heavy for God to lift and (2) Can God create a rock too heavy for any other entity (or deity) to lift? The answers are no and yes . Thus, no other entity (or deity) can exert any power over God and claim to be more powerful than God .

Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

, in his City of God, argued, instead, that God could not do anything that would make God non-omnipotent:

For He is called omnipotent on account of His doing what He wills, not on account of His suffering what He wills not; for if that should befall Him, He would by no means be omnipotent. Wherefore, He cannot do some things for the very reason that He is omnipotent.

Thus Augustine argued that God could not do anything or create any situation that would in effect make God not God.
This question is in itself and in many forms answered by its own context for which it was questioned. He created you, the rock that he can move but He will not. (Free will)

This theory has no individual creator, but the 'center' of the creation of this theory has agreed to appear as 'TF'.
TF argues that there is no "can't" in omnipotence, if there was a "can't" then it is not omnipotence. God cannot be unable to do anything, or it is not omnipotence, even if the effect would make God unomnipotent. If he lifts the rock, he loses omnipotence, since he did not manage to create the unmoveable rock. If he cannot lift the rock, then omnipotence will have been lost as he could not lift the rock. Therefore, a researcher theorized that if in a situation where an unmoveable force meets with an irresistible force(omnipotence), the omnipotence will negate itself. In other words, omnipotence has the power to defy itself, and in turn, it will lose its omnipotence. This would also mean that the unmoveable rock can be moved by another force, as if omnipotence could not move it, omnipotence does not exist, which means that the unmoveable rock can be moved, for it was not created unmoveable. To make an unmoveable for, you need to omnipotence. If the latter does not exit, then the same holds true for the former. The final theory was that there will either be one of two effects, and TF states the latter being more likely. Effect one: Nothing happens. The forces will negate, making one all power force be non all power, which makes the second non all power as well. Effect two: The forces will create an energy in which explodes on itself, which means that the forces cannot collide, and the power from the forces are negated. The energy will have uncertain effects on the area in which it was released. This is also the same theorists idea of what forces had created the big bang. The instant an omnipotent force is created, it cannot hold itself, making it nonomnipotent. In short, the theorist believes there was an UnGod (non omnipotent omnipotence) at the beginning, for it was omnipotent and nonomnipotent at the same time, making the UnGod expand, the energy exploding to create the universe. If this was true, then our theory of God is actually the UnGod. This means that God, or UnGod, is in fact all around us, as well as the fact that we are the UnGod, because we were his energy. This theory further implies that there is no governor of the universe, and the power of this UnGod did create us, but there was no 'plan'. This means that if a paradox is created in physical form, there could be another of what we call the 'big bang'.

Uncertainty and other views

All the above stated claims of power are each based on scriptual grounds and upon empirical
The word empirical denotes information gained by means of observation or experimentation. Empirical data are data produced by an experiment or observation....

 human perception. This perception is limited to our senses. The power of a deity is related to its existence.There are however other ways of perception like: reason
Reason is a term that refers to the capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions, and beliefs. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, ...

, intuition
Intuition (knowledge)
Intuition is the ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason. "The word 'intuition' comes from the Latin word 'intueri', which is often roughly translated as meaning 'to look inside'’ or 'to contemplate'." Intuition provides us with beliefs that we cannot necessarily justify...

, revelation
In religion and theology, revelation is the revealing or disclosing, through active or passive communication with a supernatural or a divine entity...

, divine inspiration
Divine Inspiration
Divine Inspiration is a British music group that formed in 2002. The group consists of singer Sarah-Jane Scott, DJ Paul Crawley, David Lewin and Lee Robinson. They have had two singles that charted in the United Kingdom. Their first release, "The Way " peaked at number five in the UK Singles Chart...

, religious experience
Religious experience
Religious experience is a subjective experience in which an individual reports contact with a transcendent reality, an encounter or union with the divine....

, mystical states, and historical testimony.

According to the Hindu philosophy the essence of God or Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

 can never be understood or known since Brahman is beyond both existence and non-existence, transcending and including time, causation and space, and thus can never be known in the same material sense as one traditionally 'understands' a given concept or object.

So presuming there is a god-like entity consciently taking actions, we cannot comprehend the limits of a deity's powers.

Since the current laws of physics are only known to be valid in this universe, it is possible that the laws of physics are different in parallel universes, giving a God-like entity, more power. If the number of universes is unlimited, then the power of a certain God-like entity is also unlimited, since the laws of physics may be different in other universes, and accordingly making this entity omnipotent. Unfortunately concerning a multiverse there is a lack of empirical correlation. To the extreme there are theories about realms beyond this multiverse
Multiverse (science)
The multiverse is the hypothetical set of multiple possible universes that together comprise everything that exists and can exist: the entirety of space, time, matter, and energy as well as the physical laws and constants that describe them...

 (Nirvana, Chaos
Chaos (cosmogony)
Chaos refers to the formless or void state preceding the creation of the universe or cosmos in the Greek creation myths, more specifically the initial "gap" created by the original separation of heaven and earth....

, Nothingness).

Also trying to develop a theory to explain, assign or reject omnipotence on grounds of logic has little merit, since being omnipotent would mean the omnipotent being is above logic. A view supported by René Descartes
René Descartes
René Descartes ; was a French philosopher and writer who spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic. He has been dubbed the 'Father of Modern Philosophy', and much subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, which are studied closely to this day...

  He issues this idea in his Meditations on First Philosophy
Meditations on First Philosophy
Meditations on First Philosophy is a philosophical treatise written by René Descartes and first published in 1641 . The French translation was published in 1647 as Méditations Metaphysiques...


Allowing assumption that a deity exists, further debate may be provoked that said deity is consciously taking actions. It could be concluded from an emanationism
Emanationism is an idea in the cosmology or cosmogony of certain religious or philosophical systems. Emanation, from the Latin emanare meaning "to flow from" or "to pour forth or out of", is the mode by which all things are derived from the First Reality, or Principle...

 point of view, that all actions and creations by a deity are simply flows of divine energy (the flowing Tao
Dao or Tao is a Chinese word meaning 'way', 'path', 'route', or sometimes more loosely, 'doctrine' or 'principle'...

 in conjunction with qi
In traditional Chinese culture, qì is an active principle forming part of any living thing. Qi is frequently translated as life energy, lifeforce, or energy flow. Qi is the central underlying principle in traditional Chinese medicine and martial arts...

 is often seen as a river; Dharma (Buddhism)
Dharma (Buddhism)
Dhamma or Dharma in Buddhism can have the following meanings:* The state of Nature as it is * The Laws of Nature considered collectively....

 the law of nature discovered by Buddha
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

 has no beginning or end.)
Pantheism is the view that the Universe and God are identical. Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal, anthropomorphic or creator god. The word derives from the Greek meaning "all" and the Greek meaning "God". As such, Pantheism denotes the idea that "God" is best seen as a process of...

 and/or panentheism
Panentheism is a belief system which posits that God exists, interpenetrates every part of nature and timelessly extends beyond it...

 sees the universe/multiverse as 'the body of God', making 'God' everybody and everything. So if one does something, actually 'God' is doing it. We are 'God's' means according to this view.

In the Taoist religious or philosophical tradition, the Tao is in some ways equivalent to a deity or the logos
' is an important term in philosophy, psychology, rhetoric and religion. Originally a word meaning "a ground", "a plea", "an opinion", "an expectation", "word," "speech," "account," "reason," it became a technical term in philosophy, beginning with Heraclitus ' is an important term in...

. The Tao is understood to have inexhaustible power, yet that power is simply another aspect of its weakness.

Further reading

External links

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