Thursday, July 8, 2010

Questioning the Question

In Proverbs 26 Solomon tells us that we are not to answer a fool according to his folly, or we’ll make fools of ourselves. On the other hand, Solomon continues, answer a fool according to his folly, or the fool will think he is wise in his own eyes (vv.4–5)—he’ll think he has uncovered some wisdom. We often find this sort of thing with questions that are raised in order to denigrate the notion of an eternal Being, an Intelligent Designer, or an uncaused first Cause.

One of those questions is “Can God create a rock so heavy that he can’t move it?” That question is a classic straw man that has most Christians looking like the proverbial deer in the headlights. At best, the question challenges God’s omnipotence; at worst, it undermines His existence.

At the very outset, however, we should recognize a problem with the premise of the question. While it is true that God can do anything that is consistent with His nature, it’s absurd to suggest that He can do just anything. God can’t lie (Hebrews 6:18). God can’t be tempted (James 1:13). God can’t cease to exist (Psalm 102:25–27).

Furthermore, just as it is impossible to make a one-sided triangle, so it is impossible to make rocks too heavy to be moved. What an all powerful God can create, He can obviously move. Put another way, not even an omnipotent God can do the logically impossible.

A wide variety of similar questions are raised to undermine the Christian view of God. Therefore, it’s crucial that we learn to question the question, rather than simply assume that a question is valid


Anonymous said...

If there is any one thing, just one, that God can't do that by its nature deems him NOT omnipotent.

Anonymous said...

THIS is exactly why I believe in Christian prosperity. If God said to tithers and givers that He would rebuke the devourer for their sake and pour out a blessing so big it would over-flow, and that he would give with good (overflowing) measure then I will stand on His promises for He is not a man that He should lie.

Many of the followers of this blog see an overly blessed Christian and assume greed and love of money. My first reaction is, "He must be a sower to have reaped all that reward." As it turns out, I am more often right.

If God said He would give success to those who follow Him and live righteously (our righteousness comes from our faith in Jesus Christ, Galations 4) and God isn't a liar, why is it so hard to believe He could ever bless Christians with an abundance?

Messiah's Way said...

You make a great point Hank. Those who would tear down believers have an interesting way of always framing the debate in such a way so that only they can win.

As an example, I used to get very flustered when debating with my wife's cousin. It seemed like my responses were never on an intellectual plane consistant with his. Then I discovered that if I was gaining ground that he would redirect me away from that topic. (I have discovered that some talk show hosts do that as well :) Once I stopped letting him change the subject, my well reasoned arguments started holding up.. He now no longer will "play with me", darn.

As hard as it is, avoiding taking it personally is sometimes the only way to do well in these debates.


Jorge said...

"Put another way, not even an omnipotent God can do the logically impossible."
I thought miracles could be just that, Hank.
Is it possible to bring someone from the dead if they've been dead three days? logic says it's impossible.
Is it possible to turn water into wine in an instant (or a few seconds)?; logic says it's impossible.

Alan B. said...

I agree with you, Hank, that to question a question is a good thing. It is especially useful when we are trying to arrive at the truth of a matter. If someone asks me for example, "Do you believe that unicorns have wings?", I should respond by asking why anyone would believe in unicorns at all--winged or flightless.

Several years ago I came to the realization that I was not asking enough questions about my own beliefs. The end result was my progression from a Christian viewpoint much like your own to an agnostic one. I worked my way deeper and deeper as to why I believed what I believed looking for something foundational to stand on. And the closest thing to bedrock I have found is uncertainty. I don't like uncertainty. I know the absolute truth lies somewhere below it. But I just don't think it is reachable by anyone.

I welcome a dialogue with you and your readers. As your last paragraph puts it, let's attempt to "undermine the Christian view of God" together. Let's question whether or not "In the beginning, God..." can be our starting point.

. said...

The peace of the Lord!

I do not speak English but I'm using an online language translator to write this question.
I was studying the book of Joshua and I had a question in chapter 1 and verse 8: which means the words thou shalt make thy way prosperous and you will be successful. Refers to the path of Joshua with Israel to the west of the Jordan or the lifetime of Joshua (i. e., is a principle or a promise for a specific work that Joshua had to perform).
Another question:
In several languages this passage was translated with a slight variation - in some language says "will be successful in the path and act wisely", but in others, "thou shalt prosper your ways and you will be successful".
What would be the most appropriate translation?

Hugs, God bless you,

Gileade F. Sá
(SC, Brazil)

Anonymous said...

These are silly questions asked by silly people. This is not a search for truth or a search for anything. It is merely the creation of a statement that is self-contradicting and then asking someone else to make it true. The question they should be asking is how to understand predestination and free will. But that would lead to a serious theological discusion, and these people have no interest in that.