I have recently been doing a fair bit of thinking about the 2 cardinal "omni" statements about God: omnipotence & omniscience. As a student of theology and philosophy, I have attempted to critically analyze these ideas, approaching them from myriad angles, trying to see them in many different lights. However, the more I look at them, the more I am becoming convinced that they are actually quite unuseful–at least theologically and philosophically.

For example, consider "omnipotence." Prima facie, this concept suggests that God can do or accomplish anything (without qualification). While this is a potentially helpful way (for humans) to think about God in the midst of the contingencies of finitude, from a philosophical standpoint such a declaration is actually quite absurd.

For example, there is the trite question: "Can God make a rock so big that even God can't lift it?" Well, it would seem that this is impossible. After all, if God can make something that is beyond the powers of God, then God–in creating such a thing–would be actually proving that God is, in fact, not God. And yet even this conclusion is absurd, for such would be postulating that that which is more powerful (the rock) arose from and was created by that which was ultimately proven to not be God (the "before-qualified" God). And moreover, the height of absurdity is reached by the conclusion that the ability to do and accomplish "all things" is actually predicated upon one being not God (for it was God who was proven not to be God who was the one able to create the rock which turned out to be greater than the God proven not to be God)!!!

Now of course, theologians have attempted to mitigate against such absurdity. One approach is to distract the conversation of God's omni-ability by raising the question of will. For example, it is often said, in relation to the question posed above, that the important question is not whether God could make a rock so big thatGod couldn't pick it up, but is rather whether God would will to do such a thing. In other words, this approach supposes that God would not create such a thing, as such an act would violate Divine wisdom.

To be perfectly honest, for most of my life I thought this was an acceptable answer. However, I am no longer so sure. After all, regardless of whether or not God would will to do such a thing, the question still remains concerning God's actual ability to do it or not.

Another alternative that has been pursued is to attempt to nuance the concept of omnipotence by outlining the categories relevant to the realm of God's action. For example, it might be said that creating a rock so big that even God could not pick it up would be a self-negating act (and this, above, was shown to be true). As it is supposed that God, as existing eternally, cannot do that which would cause non-existence to God, the proper category for answering the parameters of omnipotence is nuanced to denote those things which would not cause a self-contradiction within the existence of God.
Admittedly, this approach is compelling, and it has many beneficial facets. For one, it allows one to affirm a form of the concept of omnipotence while sufficiently nuancing it to mitigate against silly (yet deceptively penetrating) critiques. The downside, of course, is that this necessary qualification takes away from the "surface" meaning of 'omnipotence.' After all, in order to preserve the concept of omnipotence against self-contradiction, the meaning must be qualified from "God can do all things" to "God can do all things which God can do without self-contradiction," or the shorter form, "God can do all thing which God can do."

These are only a few thoughts for tonight. I'm going to go to bed now, but I will continue this discussion later.