Can God Lift the Rock?

August 18, 2011 | by

Can God terminate His own existence? I've asked many people, and the only (unsatisfying) answer I got was: "Why would He want to?"

The Aish Rabbi Replies

What you are asking is a version of the well-known riddle: "Can God create a rock too heavy for Him to lift?"

These and other similar questions are bothersome, because they imply a limitation in God's power: Either he is unable to create such a heavy rock, or He is unable to lift it.

There is a fundamental flaw in the question. The question assumes that infinities – an infinitely heavy rock and an infinite God – can be compared. But as we know from 10th grade math class, two infinities cannot be quantified, and thus cannot be compared. It's not an inability in God, but rather incoherence in the task proposed.

Stated a bit differently: If God is infinite, then He is represented by the numerical equivalent of "infinity." The question of making a rock of such proportions thus begs the question – which is greater, infinity, or infinity plus one? Essentially, there is no such thing as infinity plus one, for if you could add “one” to the mathematical value of infinity, then infinity in the equation, "infinity plus one" would, by definition, not be infinite. Clear?

In Jewish terms, the question is further flawed since it implies that physical characteristics apply to God. Yet one of Maimonides' 13 Principles of Faith states: "I believe with perfect faith that God does not have a body. Physical concepts do not apply to Him. There is nothing that resembles Him at all."

So can God terminate His own existence? Well... why would He want to?

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