• Stephen T. Davis
Part of the Library of Philosophy and Religion book series (LPR)


It is clearly part of the biblical tradition that God is all-powerful or, as philosophers and theologians usually put it, omnipotent. For example, Job says of God

I know that thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of thine can be thwarted. (Job 42:2)


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  1. 1.
    Antony Flew, God and Philosophy (New York: Delta Books, 1966) p. 47.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    See Linwood Urban and Douglas N. Walton, The Power of God (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978) pp. 84–5.Google Scholar
  3. 11.
    Richard Swinburne, The Coherence of Theism (Oxford University Press, 1977) pp. 152–8.Google Scholar
  4. 12.
    See Alvin Plantinga, God and Other Minds (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1967) pp. 168–73;Google Scholar
  5. Bernard Mayo, ‘Mr. Keene on Omnipotence’, Mind, vol. 70, no. 278 (April 1961) pp. 249–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 15.
    Including Mavrodes, in the penultimate paragraph of his paper. See ‘Some Puzzles Concerning Omnipotence’, pp. 133–4. See also G.B. Keene, ‘A Simpler Solution to the Paradox of Omnipotence’, Mind, vol. 69, no. 273 (Jan. 1960) pp. 74–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 17.
    See J.L. Cowan, ‘The Paradox of Omnipotence Revisited’, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, vol. III, no. 3 (March 1974) p. 440: ‘The real thing a being who is able to lift anything is not able to do is … to create something it cannot lift instead of being able to lift anything’. See also Swinburne, The Coherence of Theism pp. 154–5.Google Scholar
  8. 21.
    P.T. Geach, Providence and Evil (Cambridge University Press, 1977) p. 3.Google Scholar
  9. 23.
    This general point has been made by Jonathan Harrison, ‘Geach on God’s Alleged Ability to do Evil’, Philosophy, vol. 51, no. 196 (April 1976) p. 215. The ‘power to do’ approach does lead to absurdities on some views of omnipotence. For example, if an omnipotent being can do anything logically possible, and if ‘Socrates sits’ is logically possible, then an omnipotent being can do Socrates sits. (See James F. Ross, Philosophical Theology (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1969) p. 200.) But this problem will not arise on the view of omnipotence I will embrace.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 26.
    Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica (New York: Benzinger Brothers, 1947) I, 25, 3.Google Scholar
  11. 33.
    In this section I have been assisted at points by an unpublished paper by Michael Sean Quinn entitled ‘Omnipotence’ and by a doctoral dissertation by Rebecca D. Pentz entitled A Defense of the Formal Adequacy of St Thomas Aquinas’ Analysis of Omnipotence (University of California at Irvine, 1980).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Stephen T. Davis 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen T. Davis
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyClaremont McKenna CollegeClaremontUSA

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