, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 759–785 | Cite as

A New Paradox of Omnipotence

  • Sarah Adams


In this paper, I argue that the supposition of divine omnipotence entails a contradiction: omnipotence both must and must not be intrinsic to God. Hence, traditional theism must be rejected. To begin, I separate out some theoretical distinctions needed to inform the discussion. I then advance two different arguments for the conclusion that omnipotence must be intrinsic to God; these utilise the notions of essence and aseity. Next, I argue that some necessary conditions on being omnipotent are extrinsic, and that this means omnipotence cannot be intrinsic to God. I consider three different ways of resolving this conflict, but contend that each is unsuccessful. Before concluding, I explain why the type of strategy used to resolve the traditional paradoxes of omnipotence cannot be successfully employed against the paradox presented here.


Omnipotence Paradox God Intrinsic Extrinsic 



I am grateful to audiences at the Leeds Centre for Metaphysics and Mind Seminar, the 3rd Glasgow Philosophy of Religion Seminar, and the Religious Studies at 50 Conference for their critical engagement with earlier versions of this paper. Special thanks to Dani Adams, Jonathan Banks, Michael Bench-Capon, Robin Le Poidevin, Robert Pezet, Jon Robson, and Scott Shalkowski for much helpful discussion.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of ScienceUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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