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Can God Make a Rock So Big He Can’t Lift It? – #1 Post of 2009

Post Author: Bill Pratt

big rock in ocean  bermuda heather kirk Can God Make a Rock So Big He Cant Lift It?   #1 Post of 2009This is a common question that is asked by those who misunderstand the nature of God’s omnipotence.  Another humorous way of asking this question is: Can God make a sandwich so big he can’t eat it?  (I owe that jewel to my friend Greg).

When Christians claim that God is omnipotent (all-powerful), they do not mean that he can do anything.  We mean that God can do anything that is logically possible.  God’s omnipotence exists in concert with all of his other attributes, not as a stand-alone attribute.  Therefore, when we don’t understand the other attributes of God, we get stumped by questions like this.   Here is a brief list of some things God cannot do, based on his other attributes:

  1. cease to exist – a being whose very nature is being cannot cease to be; that’s logically impossible
  2. love evil – a being who is all-good cannot love evil; that’s logically impossible
  3. make a copy of himself – God is infinite, and two infinite beings cannot exist; that’s logically impossible
  4. change his nature – an unchanging (immutable) being cannot change; that’s logically impossible

So why can’t he make a rock so big he can’t lift it?  Simple.  God is infinite, and there can only be one infinite being (see number 3 above).  If there were two infinite beings, then neither would really be infinite because they would each be limited by the other.  But an infinite being has no limits, so they can’t both be infinite.

If a rock is created that cannot be moved by an infinite being, then that rock must be infinite.  But if we have an infinite being and an infinite rock, we have two infinite beings.  That is, as we said a moment ago, a logical impossibility.

Once we understand what infinity means (without limit) and once we understand that God cannot violate the laws of logic (which are based on his own nature), then we can easily understand how God cannot make a rock so big he can’t lift it.  It’s like asking one infinite being to create another infinite being.  Not possible!!


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Comments

  • Geoff456

    Hi Bill,

    Sorry to say, but that (number 3) makes absolutely no sense. Doesn’t the Bible say that Jesus is made in the “express image” of His Father? Isn’t Jesus a God? I know you believe in the trinity…I personally can’t make heads or tails of that…but Jesus is a God. He had the power to lay down his life and take it up again. He is infinite. And, finally don’t we call Him “Father”? Does not an earthly father “make a copy of himself” through procreation? Why put limits on God?
    Your “logic” simply does not justify your conclusion.

    ~Geoff

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Geoff,
    The Christian view of Jesus is that he has two natures: human and divine. In his human nature, he represented God to mankind as a finite, physical being in time and space. In his divine nature, he is absolutely infinite, as are God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. There are three persons who all share the same divine nature, so we have one God in three persons. Think of a triangle as a possible analogy. It is one shape with three corners. This analogy is imperfect, but it gives you some idea. This one God is infinite.

    There can only be one infinite being. This seems obviously true. If you had two or more infinite beings, then in what sense are they infinite? Where does one end and the other begin? If these inifnite beings have boundaries of some sort, then they are finite. I think when you are using the word infinite, you are thinking, in reality, “great” or “awesome” or “powerful” or something like that. When I say infinite, I mean a being who is actually unlimited in all of its attributes. There simply cannot be two of these beings.

    I hope this helps.

    Bill

  • http://www.CalvinSchool.info Dr. Johnson C. Philip

    The “heavy stone” question has been an all-time favourite of the critics. In essence it is asking, can God do something against His nature. Obviously not! So what!!

    Johnson C. Philip, PhD (Physics)
    India

  • http://crowfeather.net The Crow

    Now that you have defined God, his abilities and his inabilities, I would like to ask you another tough question…
    How in the world would you know anything about what God is, or what he can and can’t do?

  • Geoff456

    Bill,

    I guess my main problem does come from not understanding the trinity as you do. Do you mean that Jesus, God and the Holy Ghost are three separate beings but share their “power”, or do you mean that they actually share space and “live” in the same “body”.
    I have never understood this concept. How did Jesus hear His Father’s voice when he was baptized? How did Stephen see Jesus on the right hand of God? How did Saul hear a voice and identify it as Jesus when He was already in Heaven and no longer a physical being? What would you say God looks like? And where does Jesus’ physical body go when he is in heaven?

    thanks,
    Geoff

  • Bill Pratt

    “How in the world would you know anything about what God is, or what he can and can’t do?”

    By reading the Bible and using reason.

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Geoff,
    I wrote a post on the Trinity that you can read, if you want a little more background. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all share the same divine nature. They are all fully God and possess all of the attributes of God.

    Of the three, Jesus actually added a human nature to his divine nature. Therefore he has a physical body, just like other humans.

    Since God is spirit (c.f., John 1:18, John 4:24, Rom 1:20, Col 1:15, 1 Tim 1:17), then it doesn’t make sense to say what God looks like. He cannot be seen, as he really is, with human eyes, as the Bible states over and over.

    Stephen and Paul both saw Jesus. He can be seen by whomever he chooses to reveal himself to.

    We don’t know where Jesus’ physical body resides locationally in the universe. The Bible never tells us.

    I’m not saying that the doctrines of the Trinity or the Incarnation are easy to understand or that we can fully comprehend how it all works. But I am saying that the early church came to these conclusions based on weighing all of the biblical evidence, and I believe their conclusions are warranted. God is infinite, and we can never fully comprehend him, as we are finite. But we do know enough to apprehend some of his attributes.

    Hope this helped,
    BP

  • http://ramblingtaoist.blogspot.com The Rambling Taoist

    When Christians claim that God is omnipotent (all-powerful), they do not mean that he can do anything. We mean that God can do anything that is logically possible.

    To echo my friend Crow, how can you know what is logically possible for God? You are a mere mortal who happens to be extremely finite. Your perspective on the concept of logic is limited by your finiteness. In truth, if you genuinely believe that God is indeed infinite, then what is logically possible for him is infinite too.

    What does this mean? It means that God COULD create a rock he couldn’t lift, if that’s what he wanted to do. It also means he could choose not to exist.

  • Bill Pratt

    “how can you know what is logically possible for God?”

    I’ll give you the same answer I gave another commenter. I read the Bible and I use reason. Those two things tell me what God is like.

    “It means that God COULD create a rock he couldn’t lift, if that’s what he wanted to do. It also means he could choose not to exist.”

    And how do you know those things, Trey? What is your source of knowledge about God?

  • http://judgeallthings.wordpress.com/ Joshua

    God can do the “logically impossible” (Matthew 19:26). Therefore, He would indeed be able to create a rock so big that He can’t lift it. Yet, He would then be able to defy all natural, logical laws and lift it anyway.

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Joshua,
    Jesus does not say that God can do the logically impossible in Matt 19:26. The context is that Jesus’ disciples are asking him who can be saved, because he just told them that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to be saved. Jesus tells them that all things are possible with God, meaning God can save where man cannot. There is nothing logically impossible about rich men being saved or even camels going through needle eyes.

    If God can do anything, as you seem to believe, can he go out of existence? Can he become evil?

  • http://rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    (BTW, I wrote this before I scrolleddown to all the comments. I see the idea of the Holy Trinity has already come up. all to the good!)

    I think it interesting that your number 3 (cannot make a copy of himself, as he is infinite; two infinite beings cannot coexist) is the best argument I know for the Holy Trinity.

    When combined with the idea that God is Love, love must have an object, unless we conceive God as a divine narcissist. One could say He created this world to have an object, but that implies that God was not Love before creation, only potential Love since before the dawn of time itself; or that He was Love, but frustrated love, that needed to create. That violates another attribute of God, that He is not moved by need or compulsion of any kind. Positing God as Triune, or at least as a “Plural-Unity” solves both of these problems. There are not multiple infinite beings, only one God, whose nature is 3 in 1. The Persons of the Trinity forever exist in a relationship of Love, thus the idea that “God is Love” has substance, not just an unrealized ideal. And the creation becomes an act born out of the overflowing of that love, not out of need.

    I’ve been in some blog conversations re: the Trinity on an Islamic site, and it is a breath of fresh air to read your post. Thank you!

    -Blessings
    R. Eric Sawyer

  • Bill Pratt

    Eric,
    Excellent point about God’s love within the Trinity. I had never thought of tying God’s infinity to the Trinity, but you make a great point.

    Thanks,
    BP

  • http://rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    You are right if you think it presumptuous to claim to know anything about God, if He so far above us, etc. It would be like Hamlet claiming to know something about Shakespeare.

    That is why we have always held that we need revelation. We are told that there is at least enough “fingerprints” in creation to get a start, but to know much, we cannot go up to Him, He must come down to us. The Jews claim (and Christians agree) that He revealed Himself through the Law and the Prophets. We further claim that Shakespeare did indeed write Himself into the story so that Hamlet could interact with Him. Jesus told His disciples that “when you have seen me, you have seen the Father” and “I and the Father are One” Everything we really know, we know by revelation, added around the edges by reason to understand what He has been showing and telling us.

  • http://judgeallthings.wordpress.com/ Joshua

    He can (i.e. it is hypothetically possible), but he won’t. He does whatever he places (Psalm 115:3), and this is why all flesh must fear him. Also, it isn’t for you or anyone else to decide what qualifies as evil. God is by definition good, so anything he does (regardless of a man’s judgment of it) is good.

    He has given us his Word, which expressly states what he has decided to do, and he has decided not to lie (e.g. Titus 1:2).

  • Brad

    Taoist/Joshua,

    Can God create a 2-sided triangle?

  • Geoff456

    Bill,

    I can honestly say that is the most confusing, convoluted explanation I have ever heard. It makes no sense what so ever. If the Trinity is all ONE, then how do they separate to do their individual tasks…(like come to earth and pray to the Father)? Hebrews chapter 1 says that Jesus was made in the “express” image of His Father…..shouldn’t God LOOK like Jesus then? And how did Stephen see Jesus on the “right hand” of God, if God has no hands, or body or form? Of all things we can know, I would think that knowing what God looks like would help us to love him and worship him. I cannot comprehend worshipping a fluffy bit of cloud.
    ~Geoff

  • http://rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    “Can God create a 2-sided triangle?” OK, assuming the question is not just silly, we have to decide what that means.
    The nature of a triangle is to have 3 sides, to be triangular.
    “Can God create a triangle that is not triangular?” or one step further and more general,
    “Can God create something in such a way that it is contrary to its own nature?”

    I think that is self-answering, as it implies a basic falseness. I take the nature of God, who declared his name to be “I AM,” as pure truth and reality. Can He create something that is not what it is?

    For what it’s worth, that pretty well sums up my problem with transubstantiation.

    -R. Eric Sawyer

  • Bill Pratt

    Geoff,
    With all the kindness I can muster, just because you cannot comprehend God as a spirit does not make it false. Millions of Christians over 2,000 years have understood this idea. I assume you’re a bright guy, so my guess is that you don’t want to even try to understand it because it contradicts your beliefs. I’m fine with that, but the Trinity is understandable. God is spirit. Jesus is both spirit and body (as he has two natures). When you are in heaven, you will be able to “see” God clearly but with spiritual sight. We call this the beatific vision, the moment when you can “see” God in all his glory. All Christians look forward to that day!

    God bless,
    BP

  • Bill Pratt

    Joshua,

    You said, “He has given us his Word, which expressly states what he has decided to do, and he has decided not to lie (e.g. Titus 1:2).”

    Why not quote the KJV, as you did earlier? It says:

    “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;”

    It says “cannot lie,” which is not the same as God deciding not to lie even though he could if he wanted. He cannot lie.

    What about Heb 6:18? Again, I’ll quote the KJV:

    “That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:”

    There are clearly things God cannot do because they violate his own nature. It is impossible for God to lie. He cannot do it.

    Let me ask you a hypothetical question: If you thought that God declared that rape was good and that he commanded you to go out and rape every woman you see, would you do it?

  • Brad

    Sawyer,

    That’s exactly the point. The question is self-answering, as it implies a basic falseness. Much like the “heavy rock” question – the question is faulty on it’s face.

  • geoff456

    Bill,

    ok…now you are making a tiny bit more sense. I have never heard a Christian say that we will be able to “see” God. Do you think He will have the form of a man? DOES Jesus look like God? Will there be 2 “men” to talk to in Heaven? Jesus and God? (We will leave the Holy Ghost out of it for this argument) Or one “being” with 2 personalities? According to your explanation, God will be “seeable” so I am assuming Jesus will be also. Is that a correct assumption? The last Christian’s heard of Jesus, he was ascending to heaven WITH His body. Can I assume He will have it again? If not, what is the purpose of OUR being resurrected if we just “store away our bodies” in heaven?
    do you see why I am confused?

    ~Geoff

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Geoff,
    Those are a lot of good questions. What it will be like in heaven is not really known, except in vague outlines. We will definitely have physical, resurrected bodies and we will ultimately live in a physical world after God creates the new heavens and earth. Jesus still has his body and so will we. How God the Father and God the Holy Spirit will interact with us, I do not know. Maybe they will manifest themselves in different forms, but I don’t know. I do know that we can never see God as He truly is with our human eyes, because he is spirit. He cannot be contained by a body. A body has severe limits in time and space and God can never be limted in that way.

    I am not an expert on heaven, but I trust that it will be wonderful and exceed our wildest hopes. Since God is the ultimate good and beautiful being, it will truly be awesome!

  • http://judgeallthings.wordpress.com/ Joshua

    If that were truly God’s will, then yes. But if I “thought that God declared that rape was good,” I would seriously question my own sanity.

    Again, I will say that God can do whatever he pleases (Psalm 115:3). He cannot lie because he has eternally decided that he cannot lie, for this is pleasing in his sight. At this point, you are just arguing over words. But I will tell you, it’s not up to you or any other man to decide what God should be or should do. The decision is his alone, and in an ordered universe, there can only be one free will (Romans 9:20); therefore, we must submit no matter what.

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  • Rick Godfrey

    Reason 3 says that two infinite beings cannot exist yet the trinity has three infinite beings existing together. Three persons existing together as one. How can this be? Who is God? The old testament called him Jehovah or Yahweh. Most people that had heard of him were fearful of his power but did not know him as father. He longed to be a father to the people but they would not grow close enough to know him because of their sin. So God introduced animal sacrifice so that the peoples’ sin would be covered but not taken away. This animal sacrifice was simply a shadow of what would come when God would provide himself to be the Lamb. The only way to take mans’ sin away was for a sinless man to give his life to pay the ransom price but there were no men without sin since all men had come through Adam who had sinned and put us all in sin. So God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary to deliver his Word that it might be received by her. She had only one question for Gabriel,”How shall this be seeing I know not a man?” Mary was not doubting the Word of God but just wanted to know how it would happen. Gabriel told her that the Holy Ghost would come upon her and the power of the Highest shall overshadow her. The Word of God would be implanted into her wormb as a seed from God the Father. The Holy Spirit watches over the Word of God to perform it. When Gods’ Word goes forth out of his mouth, it will not return unto him void but it will accomplish that which he pleases and it shall prosper in the thing whereto he sent it. You can’t seperate God from his Word. They are one and the same. Mary made a body for the Word of God to inhabit. Now there was a man on earth that did not come through Adam and therefore had no sin. His blood was pure and could be given to ransom mankind. God could now watch himself in flesh form. Mankind could now know God. When man would see Jesus they were actually seeing God manifest in the flesh. Now you have God the Father seated on the throne in heaven and you have the Son of God standing on earth. God was now manifest in the flesh on earth and we call him Jesus. Jesus told Philip,”If you have seen me you have seen the Father.

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Rick,
    Quick clarification. Christians do not believe that there are 3 infinite beings. We believe there is one infinite being and that three persons share that being.

    Thanks,
    Bill

  • Andrew

    Just wondering about (3): I concede it might be impossible for God to create a copy of itself due to the whole omnipotent thing (could one omnipotent being destroy another?), but I don’t see that it follows that two beings that were infinite in some regard could not co-exist.

    If it is granted that a physical being could have infinite dimensions, mass, etc. (which might not make sense) it seems that two beings could be infinite in that regard (e.g., an infinitely large burrito w/ an infinite amount of beans inside). It might be counter-intuitive, but what about the infinite sets of prime #s (isomorphic to the beans) and the infinite set of integers (isomorphic to the burrito, of which the beans is included)?

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Andrew,
    God is not physical, but spirit. There is no such thing as a physical being which has infinite dimensions. Physical beings have parts, and therefore you could always add one more part to the “infinite” physical being. But if you can add one more, then it wasn’t infinite.

    There are at least two meanings of the word “infinite.” One, which is used on mathematics, is an abstract concept which does not exist in reality. There is no such thing as an infinite number of anything. You can always add one more, which means it isn’t infinite.

    The paradox that states that a person must always cross half of a distance in order to to reach a point proves this. If mathematical infinites really existed, then you could never cross any distance because you would first have to cross half, then half again, then half again, and so forth – you could never get anywhere. But clearly we can cross distances, so there is not an infinite distance between any two points. It must be finite.

    The other meaning of infinite is metaphysical. It refers to the unlimited being of God. God’s existence is unlimited, but we don’t mean that in a numerical sense, we mean it in an ontological sense. God exists in an unlimited way whereas everything else exists in a limited way. Once you understand that definition of inifinite, you can see that there cannot be two infinite beings.

    God bless,
    Bill

  • http://rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    Andrew said

    but I don’t see that it follows that two beings that were infinite in some regard could not co-exist….
    … but what about the infinite sets of prime #s…?

    I think this an excellent question. Obviously there are more than one “infinites” ; in addition to your examples, there is the set of all even numbers and the set of all odd number, mutually exclusive, yet each infinite. Or all positive numbers v. all negative numbers, etc.

    But what we see in these mathematical models is that infinity can be a subset of another infinity. Oddly enough, it seems that something can be both limited and without limit at the same time. The key is what is the “ultimate infinity”? In all the examples of two infinities, both are subsets of a still more fundamental infinity. And of that, there can be only one. Odd and Even are both infinite subsets of the number line, but once we have named *that* line, there can be no other. Or to speak geometrically, vertical is infinite, horizontal is infinite, but an ultimate volume is fundamental, and cannot be duplicated.

    God is conceived of as such a fundamental infinity, of which any other infinity is a subset.

    One more point of interest- My earlier examples of fundamental infinities, number lines or directions in space, or troubled by the very fact that I named more than one of them- I named multiple fundamentals and said there can be only one fundamental infinity. Obviously, my examples are not truly fundamental. They are limited by the nouns we use to describe them; “numbers” or “volume.” I think perhaps this is part of the reason God has been described as pure verb. When He gave His own name, He identified Himself as “I AM”

  • William

    So, let me get this straight-you claim to know the nature of God? I find that a bit odd, considering it is impossible(since you love that word so much). We truly cannot know the nature of God, since He is not a physical being in our sense of the word “physical”, and our minds are limited to our understanding of the world in which we live. The Bible itself says that none know the heart of God. God’s heart would, to me, be His nature.

    As far as the rock question goes, it would be impossible to create a rock so big that God couldn’t lift it, unless He were to make Himself human, which would violate our beliefs, and His promises that He would be there. It would also completely destroy the book of Revelation, because if God isn’t divine in the last days, Satan would win.

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi William,
    You claim we cannot know the nature of God, but then you make several statements about God’s nature that you know:

    1. You claim he is not a physical being
    2. You claim God’s heart is his nature.
    3. You claim that God is not human.
    4. You claim God is divine.

    So, if we cannot know the nature of God, then why do you seem to know so many things about God’s nature? Are you exempt from this ignorance of God’s nature?

    God bless,
    Bill

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  • Alex Sayers

    I must say that this post mirrors my own thoughts almost exactly, and I have written very similar things in the past.

    I would add, however, that the reason God cannot create the rock is simpler still. A rock which cannot be lifted by an infinitely powerful being is definitionally impossible: it’s truth would necessitate a contradiction. When we string together the words, “rock which cannot be lifted by an infinitely powerful being”, we aren’t referring to any concept at all; it’s meaningless and confused. To say that God can’t create it is to say that God can’t create something which cannot exist, or to say that God can’t create [blank]. The problem is a language trick in the first place.

  • Bill Pratt

    Alex, I agree. There are a few ways to deal with this question and your ways is certainly right in target. Thanks for commenting.

  • Leonardo Vera

    This is very interesting topic and it has made me analyze my points of views towards certain subjects concerning this matter. One thing though that caught my attention is, if only one infinite being can exist then their is no such thing as a paradise where we who have worshiped God will have eternal life along side our father. This is because only God can be eternal. Second, angels or the idea we have of them cannot exist either. Aren’t angels eternal as well? or do they simply die off? Last, Adam and Eve were never meant to be perfect, we were created to sin, or should I say forced to by the forces of nature, all this in order to keep God an infinite being.

    Now I simply don’t believe in any of the statements I’ve made. I read one of the comments here stating that “God is love”. Also, The Bible states that we are made in God’s image. So maybe God is not a being really, but is love, and love is the only thing that can truly be eternal. I believe anything that has the capacity to love has the capacity to live for eternity, because they become love. Maybe if people stopped the hatred they had towards others, stopped there selfish acts, and stopped having the need for superiority and just learned to forgive and love and not carry this cycle of hatred, which travels through revenge, then we can be pure love and become one with the eternal being.

    This is possible because love is eternal, hatred isn’t.

    ~Leonardo Vera

  • Bill Pratt

    Leonardo,
    Maybe I’m misunderstanding you, so correct me if if I have.

    Love can only exist when two or more personal agents exist. Love is a relation between two subjects, so it is inconceivable to me that love can exist eternally as some kind of thing without there being also personal beings that also existed eternally along with love. You seem to want to separate love and make it a stand-alone object, but I don’t see how this can work. There is no love without the lover and the loved.

    Thanks,
    Bill

  • Leonardo Vera

    That’s a good point, but I want to ask you something before I answer your response. Does your philosophy believe in a Heaven where those who reside in it will have eternal life? does it believe in angels? does it believe in immortality? I look at the philosophy and it just seems to me that it questions God’s powers. I mean if only one thing can be eternal, then it limits Gods powers, and it makes us question if we would have lived eternally even if we din’t commit sin. Now I tried to answer this with love.

    Now I want to ask another question so I can better understand your philosophy and give you a better answer. Do you believe Gods attributes are eternal? I mean they have to be eternal in order for him to be eternal, but then there would be more then one eternal. Well I guess you can say those are just attributes so it wouldn’t count as a being. Well love is an attribute that even if we all die, God whose nature is being will still have, and if you disagree I would say you are questioning his infinite being or you are questioning whether he feels love or not.

    I mean we can love ourselves and our memories cant we? Just because someone dies we don’t just stop loving them.

    I believe love is the only thing that can connect us with God, it is the only thing that we can be able to share with him, and that it self will make us immortal, maybe not in flesh but surely in mind. Or will God just forget us?

    Now I do admit my philosophy has many flaws, but I believe every philosophy has equal flaws. So in no way am I trying to discredit you or myself. I mean we aren’t all knowing.

    God Bless,
    Leonardo Vera

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Leonardo,
    You packed a lot in that last comment, so let me just comment on something you said that may help clarify the traditional Christian view of God. You said:

    “Well love is an attribute that even if we all die, God whose nature is being will still have, and if you disagree I would say you are questioning his infinite being or you are questioning whether he feels love or not.”

    I agree that love is an attribute of God and since God is eternal then all of his attributes are as well. How does God love if all humans and creatures are dead? The answer is the Trinity. Christians believe God is three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) in one eternal nature. The three persons of the Trinity eternally love each other as they all eternally exist. If this were not true, then your point would be very telling against traditional Christianity.

    I agree with you that love connects us with God, but so do other things. We are made in his image, so our moral nature, our free will, our intelligence, our rationality, our ability to know the truth, all of these things connect us to God. For God is our cause, and we, as the effects, share in some of the attributes of the cause.

    I am concerned that you have promoted love to a position that is even above God. God is the ultimate, not love. Love must always take its rightful place as an important, even glorious attribute of God. God does not, however, serve love, as if love is God’s master.

    The Bible also stresses that truth is important, and love without truth is misguided.

    Thanks for the comments,
    Bill

  • Leonardo Vera

    Wow that was amazing =] yeah you are right in almost everything you just said, well at least in my opinion. One thing I dint understand was the concept of the trinity you described. I dint understand if you were talking about the trinity about one being or three separate entities. Other then that you had a lot of good points and you are right, love isn’t the only thing that connects us to God. I just want to see a world were people are able to forgive, and maybe I let my ideas take over my knowledge. I thank you for all your replies =]

    God Bless,

    Leonardo Vera

  • Brenda

    Mr. Pratt

    My Sunday school teacher asked us to search for the answer for this topic “Can God make a rock so big that He can’t lift it.” I have found so many websites about it and the answers are all very logical and reasonable.

    You are so nice that you would share all you could to others. I am sure that God is very pleased with your work and thoughts.

    I am nobody, but would just like to express my feelings that I do admire and appreciate a lot for your contributions. I am so glad to be one of the reader of your blog.

    God bless,
    Brenda from Hong Kong

  • Bill Pratt

    Thank you, Brenda. I hope the answer I gave made sense!

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  • Hein Huyser

    Bill, I have been following your questions and have come to the following conclution. To ask a question like,” can God make a round square” is just baseless and the question is inherrantly flawed, therefore a non-question, but just thoughts that occupy ones mind to detract from the real issues. A time killer or waster, but i won’t be so bold and direct.

    As for the Trinity question, (and I have explained it somewhere else on this site) I will take you to level one math. We were taught that 1 + 1 + 1 = 3. Now on level 3 you were taught that 1 x 1 x 1 = 1, and if you read through the book of John for example, one will clearly see that when Jesus spoke of Himself and God and the Comforter to come after His ressurection, Jesus implied the latter example of 1x1x1=1 to be applied when trying to get around this concept.

    I hope it helped
    Shalom

  • fern

    If this is the case, then there is a possibility that one of the ‘beings’ can have ‘free will’ and not the others. There is also a possibility of god creating another god with free will to share infinity with them since it seems that three ‘persons’ are not a major problem. Would this be logically contradictory? I think not. If this is possible, then it means that the possibility of more than one god is not absurd. To be clear, the question is not: Can god lift a rock? I’m asking: Can he do something he has already done, e.i., giving us free will?

  • http://rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    Fern, as an interloper, I’m not sure what you mean by “Can (God) do something he has already done, (such as) giving us free will?” Perhaps you are suggesting that, having given “free will,” He no longer has it to give? That is an interesting suggestion, and may be intriguing to follow that out, but I may completely misunderstand you.

    As to the first part of your comments, when the early church pounded out these ideas, one of the points they were quite clear on is that each person of the Trinity is “of the same substance” as the other. The Son was not “of the same kind of substance,” or “of similar substance” but of the very same “one substance” with the Father. There is no sense that Jesus is not the fullness of God, even though He submits to the Father’s will.

    Particularly, they took some pains to articulate the Christian position that there is, and logically can only be one God, God being understood as ultimate reality. Anything “created” by God cannot itself be ultimate reality; it – or he – would be not God, but a creature. Such a creature would be lower than the ultimate Deity by definition. I don’t think this falls into the understanding of the Trinity. (For my own take on the Trinity, see http://rericsawyer.wordpress.com/2009/04/07/thoughts-on-the-holy-trinity/ on my own space.)

    However, you raise a very interesting possibility when you suggest that God may create multiple “gods” who have free will. I think that is exactly what He is doing; creating beings like Himself that have free will, and yet are so full of selfless love that they become a “plural-unity” in mirror-reflection of His own nature. I think that is exactly what He intends for us.

  • fern

    One can assume that they are all the same, but with free will one can only assume their goals would be equal.
    I think Jesus was not always of the same substance. He had other qualities. In fact, according to the bible he was made of organic matter-flesh and bones. Some call it a manifestation of god in the body of a man. But God can not be like Jesus then, for he can not be made of material matter. At least, this how I understand it. If he were, than he would have limitations. No longer God. If Jesus’ body is important to the teaching of Christianity, then they can’t be entirely the same. If Jesus died someone had to be there to resurrect him. If they were of the same substance (in this case flesh), then it would mean that God is not eternal. I’m assuming that Jesus death was real and important to the teaching. It would be meaningless to say that someone died for our sins but then we change the definition of death. So by death I mean one is no longer unless brought to life again. This requires to be entirely separate.

    If Jesus submit to his father’s will, he does it by choice.
    If he does not submit, then it means that they are equally powerful but opposite in purpose if he desired to be so. My point is that you can not submit to someone without being different in nature at some point. Assuming that this is true, then Jesus submits to his father because he has free will. I could easily say that god submits to Jesus too.
    You mention substance and plural unity in the text. I guess I will go to your link to understand it better. Nonetheless, I always finding strange that the question: “Can God Make a Rock So Big He Can’t Lift It?” is portray as a logically impossible. Yet plural unity is some how more logical. If god parted the seas, I don’t see why we can’t ask silly question.

  • http://rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    I regret that I don’t have the time to give a more complete answer, but just to hit a few points:
    If one takes the Bible as the standard, the issue becomes a little easier. You may ask, ”why should one take the Bible seriously?” For me, it is because I believe it to be true and authoritative. But even for those who don’t accept it in that way, it must be accepted as the fountainhead of doctrine and teaching for Christians. One may disagree with that doctrine; but in order to understand that with which one disagrees, it is often best to go to the source.

    The beginning of the Gospel according to John says that “the Word” was in the beginning, that the Word was with God, and that the Word *was* God. Both in his account of the Gospel, and in his first epistle, John seems quite determined to declare that Jesus was both uncreated, existing forever with God the father, and also that he was human –not innately, but by “taking on” our flesh in the incarnation. With that, He did, as you surmise, take on the limitations of humanity, St Paul speaks of him laying down His glory, the old Christmas song, “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” has it “Mild He lays His glory by…”

    The importance of Jesus’ incarnation in the flesh, the eternal Word becoming temporal with the limitations of flesh, is thought about in several ways: one is that God, the eternal “expression” of God, stooped down lower than we, as low as the lowest human, a condemned criminal suffering torturous death. From this point, imagine a man “getting under” an immense burden, then lifting it and walking away with it swaying on his shoulders. Only as Man could He get low enough to help, only as God does He have the strength to help. But again, His own eternal nature is that of the eternal God, in fullness.

    I of course agree that the submission of the Son to the Father is by choice. It is the choice of any relationship bound together not by compulsion, but by love. They are indeed separate, but separate in a way that does not deny their unity. To reject either their unity or their independence is error. I agree that this is mighty strange, and hard to wrap one’s mind around. I can’t fully do it. But I can see models in some things that God has made, and which the Bible declares to be especially metaphorical for understanding this. I think the closest picture is a particularly good and longstanding marriage; particularly one in which neither party is subsumed into the other, or is dominated by the personality of the other. Each is free to do what he and she wills. But what each party wills most vigorously is to be a delight and pleasure to his/her spouse. Just as it would be a mistake to think of them as “Eric, and Eric’s wife” it would be a mistake to not treat them as the “one flesh” that the Bible declares them to be.

    That, I think, is where the questions about the Trinity differ from the “big rock” question. I can understand neither. But the rock question is not understandable based on its arguments being essentially self-refuting. It makes no sense because it is nonsensical. The nature of the Trinity is not understood by me because it is too immense. No one looking up from the pool at the base of Niagara Falls could give a reasonable description of what is going on. But we can see it in smaller forms, and extrapolate, see principles at work, and make our best inferences. It is wise, though, to hold such inferences lightly. The truth is almost certain to be more wonderful than any picture any of us can draw!

    Blessings!
    -R. Eric Sawyer

  • anonymous

    yes but a triangle is defined by human terms. God does not define anything by our terms but by his own. He could definitely make a figure that is two sided and call it a triangle without using our humanly definition of it. and we also know that since God is all-knowing then he understands that it isnt necessary in the first place to make such a figure. that being said, he will never be put in the position in the first place and therefore the question becomes irrelevant.

  • Brett

    Hi Bill I just wanted to clarify something you said in your article as well as this response. In your article you stated that “When Christians claim that God is omnipotent (all-powerful), they do not mean that he can do anything. We mean that God can do anything that is logically possible. God’s omnipotence exists in concert with all of his other attributes, not as a stand-alone attribute.” yet in your response above you state that “When I say infinite, I mean a being who is actually unlimited in all of its attributes.” so is it safe for me to assume that his omnipotence one of his attributes? If that is the case then how can god be unlimited in all of its attributes yet simultaneously not in the attribute of omnipotence? Aren’t these two arguments contradictions?

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Brett,
    Omnipotence means unlimited power, so power is one of God’s attributes that are unlimited. But saying that God can only do what is logically possible does not limit his power. The ability to do the impossible is nonsense; it’s like referring to square circles.

    So, God’s power is unlimited, in the sense that it is not constrained by anything outside of him. He has all the power that it is possible for any being to have. There is no being that can have as much power as God. Whatever ultimate power is, God has it and is it.

    Hope that helps,
    BP

  • http://pablosorigins.blogspot.com Pablo

    “Once we understand what infinity means (without limit) and once we understand that God cannot violate the laws of logic (which are based on his own nature), then we can easily understand how God cannot make a rock so big he can’t lift it.”

    You present a very good argument, but honestly and humbly, this sounds to me like a contradiction. You say that God is infinite (without limit), but he cannot violate the laws of logic (his nature). So, he indeed has a limit, which is his own nature.

    I always found this so difficult to understand.

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Pablo,
    Saying that the laws of logic represent a real limit on God does not follow. Anything that violates the laws of logic is nonsense, impossible. The infinite being of God does not include nonsense, because nonsense cannot exist. Nonsense is just words filling up the air that don’t mean anything (e.g., 2+2=5, “He is a married bachelor”).

    When we say God is unlimited (infinite) we mean that he is all that anyone or anything can possibly be. Whatever the attribute is – being, power, goodness, love – God is that attribute to the absolute maximum degree that the attribute can be.

    Nonsense cannot be, so God’s infinity does not apply to nonsense. Does that make sense?

  • Tony

    Question: Can God create a rock so big that he could not lift it?
    Answer: Yes, and then he would any way. I just don’t know how.

    Logic is a human concept, arguably the most important human concept, but human nonetheless. As such, like all human concepts it is inherently shaped by the limits of our perception, understanding, what we are capable of experiencing and the conditions necessary for our servival. The things that do not fall within these parameters are often called “nonsense” or “impossible” but would be better understood as logical fallacies. Even the idea of infinity can fall within the logical limitation when defined as “limitless though otherwise adhearing to the rules of logic”

    However, God is more than just “limitless though otherwise adhering to the rules of logic”. God is not bound by logic, even though our understanding of him is. So the “rock so big” question does not represent the limit of God’s ability, but the limit of our ability to understand God. Think of it as the logic/faith border.

    Put it this way. I person who was born deaf, no matte how much music they read, will never understand music as much as a person who can hear. The deaf person is limited by their lack of hearing and as such must define music according to the limits of their ability to perseve it (ie reading music, feeling sound waves). But the deaf person’s inability to experience music completely does not mean that music has no characteristics beyond that which the deaf person can experience. The deaf person can choose to believe that there is such things as sounds, but this is based on faith and not logic as they have no way of logically reaching this conclusion due to the limitations of their perception.

    So can God make a rock so big that he can’t move it?
    Yes, and then he would any way. I just don’t know how.

  • http://rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    Bill, I think you are to be congratulated for starting a post (#1 of 2009) which is still running into 2010! Seems like, as silly as it sounds at first, the question strikes sparks that fly into all sorts of other issues, and is therfore somthing of a foundational question. Probably because it challanges us to define terms, to figure out what re really mean by what we say, particulalry reguarding the infinity of God.
    No good in just spouting words! what do we mean by them (“Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter…”
    What do we mean when we call Him Lord?)

    Blessings!
    -R. Eric Sawyer

  • Bill Pratt

    Tony, if logic does not apply to God, then can I assume that he exists and does not exist? Can I assume that he both loves rape and hates rape? Can I assume that he always lies and always tells the truth?

  • Phil

    No. Omnipotence is ALLpowerful. Being unlimited means not be limited in ANY way. This includes not being limited by logic. An infinite substance must have created everything, even our logic.

  • Phil

    Also, if this infinite substance IS limited by logic, why can’t we use logic to prove its existence?

  • http://rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    Phil, I would agree with you that Logic is not higher than God, which seems the core of your point. However, i would say that logic arises *from* God, almost as an atribute, or expression of Him. To go against logic (mind you, not against my own idea of what is logical, but against the truth itself) is ultimately for God to go against himself, to be not internally cohesive.

    As for proving Him via logic, we can go a long way there by the very existence of logic. Why must the universe be rational? why must the “macro” universe governed by consistant laws, instead of displaying the results of the “uncertainty principal”?

    Until light was better understood in Physics, a worthwhile expresion was that I know light, not because I see it, but because I can see everything else thereby. This, I think, applys well to the logic that arises from the nature of God.

  • Phil

    Hi Eric, thank you for the response.

    “To go against logic (mind you, not against my own idea of what is logical, but against the truth itself) is ultimately for God to go against himself, to be not internally cohesive.”

    I definitely agree with the second part of this statement, but I’m not quite clear exactly what you mean by the first; I think in your clarification of the word “logic” you are saying that our grasp on it is different from its true nature. Yes?

    I’m not trying to get you to agree so I can make another point by the way… I can accept this.

  • http://rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    If the parenthetical statement, I am trying to draw a very clear distinction between “TRUTH” and what Eric (or any other human) thinks that truth is.
    I believe that truth is a real thing, that it is not relative, Our individual understandings of that truth may both be false, both be true in a way we can’t reconcile, or vary all over the map.
    But the truth exists (that is a big part of what I understand by God giving His name as “I am that I am”)

    So with logic. Just because some humans may think something to be logical (like an anthropo-centric universe) doesn’t mean it is, nor does it mean that logic has failed when they are proven wrong.

  • Phil

    So we can’t prove ANYTHING then, hmm?

  • http://rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    Not sure what in my post suggests that. I, nor any one else is guarentied to get it right every time. That by no means suggests that the rules of logic are flawed. Mostly, mis-applied, or applied with erroneous or incomplete data.
    However, it can still be safely claimed that if a=b, and b=c, then a=c.

    one of the tasks of reason is to know what questions are not solvable by our current understanding of facts. Like the nature of light in the 19th century, light acting like a wave, or like a particle could not be reasonably explained using then-current understanding. The two ideas had to be held in tension. Supposed Reasonableness (which is really our emotional need for resolution) would want to argue away one of the two sets of evidence. True reason understands the current limits, and holds the two in tension.

    if a is true, and b is true, and neither can be refuted, then it is likely that there is a resolution not yet in evidence.

  • Phil

    You make your point well here, partly (‘A’ and ‘B’ being the existence/nonexistence of an infinite being cannot both be true… but that is besides the point now.)

    Maybe you are right. I hope so, at least. Maybe one day our understanding of things will be enough that we could see an infinite being as being logically possible. Thinking in that way, I see no point in claiming it cannot be. We just don’t see how it could be (yet, perhaps?).

    So many “maybe’s” and “perhaps’s” though…
    Not to say that this is disheartening. Quite the contrary, the possibility of an infinite being, of God, has been re-instilled in me, I feel a bit more hopeful.
    Only problem is I have nowhere really to go from here, now I just say “maybe.”

  • Bill Pratt

    Phil,
    I have found the arguments for God’s existence to move me past maybe to probably. I don’t know if you’ve read these posts, but they contain three arguments for God’s existence. Maybe they will be helpful.

  • Phil

    Thanks, I enjoyed talking to you

  • http://www.merequestions.wordpress.com Spencer D.

    You say “God cannot violate the laws of logic…”

    1. God created all things
    2. Therefore God created the Laws of Logic
    3. So God is bound by the Laws of Logic (because He cannot violate them)
    4. Therefore God is limited by what He created

    This is, according to your statement, logically true. So do you agree?

  • Bill Pratt

    Premise 2 is incorrect, and therefore the conclusion does not follow. Christians do not believe God created the laws of logic. Logic, or rationality, is part of God’s very nature. God is rational; God did not create rationality.

  • http://www.merequestions.wordpress.com Spencer D.

    God created all things. If God did not create the Laws of Logic, then they do not exist.
    Also – does “logic” affect what is supernatural (outside of nature). God is outside of nature, therefore God is not affected by nature’s laws (ex: Law of Gravity) so isn’t the laws of logic a law of nature?

  • Bill Pratt

    Spencer,
    Why do you say God created all things?

  • http://www.calvaryle.org Steve Wright

    Spencer, you are guilty of a logical fallacy, even as you discuss the laws of logic. This is commonly called a ‘post hoc’ fallacy.

    To give you a better example:

    God created all things.
    Therefore, God created the Empire State Building.

    In fact, if you deny God created the Empire State Building, (yet believe He is the creator of all things), then the Empire State Building must not exist.

  • http://www.merequestions.wordpress.com Spencer D.
  • http://www.merequestions.wordpress.com Spencer D.

    Me: But God did create the Empire State Building.
    You: No he didn’t, Mr. Whoever did.
    Me: So if God didn’t build the Empire State building and a man did – are you saying man created the laws of logic?

    Also, God did create the Empire State Building. He created the materials, the workers, the ability, the space, the time, and everything that went into the Empire State building. Now, obviously God didn’t go “poof” and there was the building, but the origin of EVERYTHING related to the building came from God.

    Also, no man “built” any natural laws. God put in place every natural law that exist – so the question is: Are the Laws of Logic a Natural Law?

  • http://www.calvaryle.org Steve Wright

    Spencer, you have moved the goalposts of the debate. You were declaring a cause/effect relationship, using undefined terms in a manner that fit the argument you sought to make. Now you are abandoning the simplistic A-B-C-D formula…

    Now you are doing what you should have done before, which is to look at these terms more closely. You admit God did not create the Empire State Building by going “poof” (ex nihilo is a little more theological sounding). Yet, God “created” what was needed for the building to come into existence.

    But look at your list. You include time and space along with ‘materials’ Did God create steel, and other alloys found in that building? You mention God created the ‘people’ who built it, do you mean in the same way He created Adam and Eve?

    Even in Genesis One, we find two different verbs for God’s creative process.

    Your Hebrews verse is an interesting choice. If every house is made by a man, but God made all things, does that mean God is a co-maker with man of every house? Man is given the ‘credit’ for making the house, right?

  • http://www.calvaryle.org Steve Wright

    I’ll trade you a verse, as you seek to limit God by logic.

    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians%203:20&version=NKJV

  • http://www.merequestions.wordpress.com Spencer D.

    Steve Wright,
    Firstly – we are assuming the existence of God and that the Bible is the perfect word and will of God (both of these assumptions I doubt). We are assuming these for the sake of discussion. I’m not here to debate the clarity or truthfulness of the Bible (I’d much rather do that somewhere else).

    Secondly – the original discussion was not about material things (as in a building) but was rather about the laws of nature and whether God is affected by them.

    Arguing whether God created the Empire State building or not is a waste of time because it has no relation to the omnipotence of God or the original topic. The question Iis – IS GOD BOUND BY THE LAWS OF LOGIC?

    Everything else you state is a completely different topic.

  • http://www.merequestions.wordpress.com Spencer D.

    What does it mean to “create” something? Do you make all the materials and matter that goes into this thing? Or is it that you put together and organize already existing materials to make this thing? God did the first one, man did the second one.

  • http://www.calvaryle.org Steve Wright

    Spencer, why quote a Bible verse at me for support of your view? Oh well..

    You refer to the laws of logic. Yet, your ‘logical’ contribution was a fallacy, as shown, and that is why we went down this road. The LAWS of logic are not the A-B-C-D nonsense you showed. The laws of logic speak to the Law of Identidy, Non-Contradiction, Exluded Middle.

    Let me show you an example of your error.
    Mary is the mother of Jesus (True)
    Jesus is God (True)
    Therefore, Mary is the mother of God (Not True)

    This is why defining terms is crucial.

    You stated that everything that exists must first be created. But you expanded your ‘everything’ to include the non-material.

    Does love exist? Of course. Did God create love? Absolutely not. Love is an attribute of His nature, and He is eternal. Love thus is eternal. (Note – this is an example that is not a fallacy)

    Of course, if someone defines ‘love’ as simply the emotions or feelings experiences between two or more human beings, and then argues that since God created human beings, He must have created love, they would be in error, though they might not realize it because of their faulty definition of the term.

    And if the challenge is to Christianity, you have to let Christianity define the terms. You can’t define your own terms, apply them to Christianity, and then seek to prove your poiint. That too is a logical fallacy (strawman fallacy)

    Your terms are in error. This is why I tried to get you to THINK about the terms you use, like “create”

    I think somewhere you also discovered a flaw when you asked if the laws of logic are ‘natural’ laws. Unless you have a weird definition for ‘natural’ laws, this would seem to obviously be No. Are mathematical laws ‘natural’ in your view too?

  • http://www.calvaryle.org Steve Wright

    What does it mean to “create” something? Do you make all the materials and matter that goes into this thing? Or is it that you put together and organize already existing materials to make this thing? God did the first one, man did the second one.
    —————————————————————–
    Actually, God does BOTH things. This is why I mentioned Genesis One and the two verbs used of God in the Creation Week. Again, your conclusion is in error.

  • Bill Pratt

    Spencer,
    As Steve has mentioned, orthodox (traditional) Christians do not believe God created everything. There are some things that exist as part of his nature, and rationality, which can partially be expressed in the laws of logic, is one of those things that exists in his nature. So the laws of logic are not parts of the laws of nature (the natural world), if I understand you correctly. The laws of logic, or rationality, are built into God’s nature. They are part of him and have always been part of him, so it is not true that he created the laws of logic.

  • Greg

    Phil,

    Are you truely saying that God being unlimited in power can choose to “not exist” or He can change His mind? If so, you don’t understand the attributes and nature of God. If you believe (as the bible states) that God sustains the entire universe, are you not terrified He may grow weary and decide to cease to exist thus taking us with Him? Or maybe He changes his mind about Christ paying the debt of sin with His death. Where would that leave us?

    When we say God cannot do things it does not mean He is limited in power. It means He cannot go against His nature because it is that very nature that defines Him. He cannot violate what makes Him who He is. Would you want to seve an illogical God?

    God didn’t create logic just like he didn’t create holiness, they are part of His nature and exist because He exists. He IS, therfore they are. God is not limited by logic, He is logic(al). Anything opposite of logical is non-existant. Something that does not exist cannot limit God.

    Also, we do use logic and reasoning every day to prove the existance of God. That’s what the study of Apologetics is all about.

  • Greg

    Spencer,

    Let me ask it this way, did Rembrandt or Bach “create” beauty when they constructed their masterpieces OR was beauty (and the ability to create it) a part of their nature and therefore they were able to create?

    Are you suggesting that once upon a time God was illogical so using something (most likely logic itself) He decided to create logic so he could stop being so illogical? Doesn’t that just sound rediculous?? God and logic had to coexist eternally because logic can’t make God and and an illogical god can’t create logic. Therefore, you must conclude that logic is in God’s nature and God cannot choose to be anything but logical.

  • http://www.merequestions.wordpress.com Spencer D.

    “The LAWS of logic are not the A-B-C-D nonsense you showed.”
    ——————————————–

    I was not speaking of just the actual laws, but I did refer to them in my argument. So yes, my argument is not the laws of logic.

    “Let me show you an example of your error.
    Mary is the mother of Jesus (True)
    Jesus is God (True)
    Therefore, Mary is the mother of God (Not True)”
    ——————————————–

    I do not agree with your conclusion nor the 2nd premise because your conclusion shows that certain presumptions you and I both have are different. Your 2nd premise has the presumption that “Jesus is God….and that’s all there is” but from my understanding, I’d say Jesus is a part of God, therefore Mary is the mother of part of God (the Son).

    “I think somewhere you also discovered a flaw when you asked if the laws of logic are ‘natural’ laws. Unless you have a weird definition for ‘natural’ laws, this would seem to obviously be No. Are mathematical laws ‘natural’ in your view too?”
    ——————————————————

    “Natural Laws” are what I called the Laws that affect the natural world and laws that were set in place after creation (big bang, whatever you feel like calling it).
    Mathematical laws would be “natural” because in this world, 2 + 2 = 4 and always will. But does that apply to the supernatural (that which is outside of nature) i.e. God? If so, how do you know?

    Steve, all that you’ve basically been doing is shooting little quibbles at my argument and ignoring already understood, common sense presumptions. For example, if I say
    “A car is going down the road, therefore it is going somewhere”
    You’d say something like “oh but where did the car come from?”
    Me: “From up the road.”
    You “Oh so the car was created from up the road”
    Me “Well no it came from a factory but that’s already understood…”
    You “So you agree that you were false in saying that the car came from up the road”
    Me “What does this have to do with anything”

  • http://www.merequestions.wordpress.com Spencer D.

    We are discussing the Empre State Building. So either 1) You just contradicted your earlier statement about God not making the building or 2) You didn’t realize I made the previous post about what it means to “create” in reference to the building.

  • http://www.calvaryle.org Steve Wright

    I do not agree with your conclusion nor the 2nd premise because your conclusion shows that certain presumptions you and I both have are different
    ——————————————————
    EXACTLY..amd that is all Bill, myself, and now Greg are saying about your presumptions.

    But like I said before, you can’t tell us what Christianity believes, even when we don’t believe that way, and then show us how that strawman is illogical based on your own terms.

    If you do want to backtrack. The issue is with your premise that “God created the laws of logic” and if He didn’t then “the laws of logic do not exist”

    That is where you err. I am more than happy to drop all the rest of it.

  • http://www.merequestions.wordpress.com Spencer D.

    So the question is: Are the laws of logic “natural laws” in that 1) they came into existence at the creation and 2) they affect the universe, natural world, us; basically the entire CREATION.

    2 is an obvious yes. 1 is being argued. Did the laws of logic exist before God created the universe? You say “yes they did” but I originally said no. I don’t mind admitting that I am not perfect and could very well be wrong (that’s the whole point of my blog and me posting here – to figure out what is right, not to prove myself right), but I don’t see any way of proving that they did exist before creation and that they do affect what is outside of nature.

    So, to be completely honest, I’m at a loss of where to go from here.

  • Sonic

    I know I’m late, but, OH MY GOD! This has been the most intellectual debate on religious subject I have ever had the pleasure to read. I read each and every comment and gained SO much understanding now. I wish I could have been here in the heat of the discussion!

  • Kierk

    Just on this point, wouldn’t this mean that “love” did not exist as one of God’s attributes before “companions” were created? This would be saying that God actually does not have everything to begin with.

    A quick reflections on several points that have been debated throughout. You say that you read the Bible and use reason to get a grasp of God. But isn’t the Bible just a source of revelation(the only source), that reveals whatever God wishes you to know in human words. Only God knows himself truly, so even by reading bible and using reason, you still cannot “assign” what you think is logically possible or impossible to God’s omnipotence. It seems that you are thinking alone the line that God thinks like men. How do you know that God cannot create a copy of himself? Is it explicitly stated in the Bible that he cannot? You might counter argue and say that it is irrational to say that God can create a copy of himself. But then again, how can finite men’s reasoning ability ever reason about that of which is infinite?

  • Bill Pratt

    Kierk,
    You comment about love was answered in the comment thread which you replied to. As to your next comments, you seem to be arguing that God is not subject to the laws of rationality, of logic. I agree that God is not subject to them, but they are part of his nature. This has always been the position of the various church fathers over the last 2,000 years.

    In fact, to say that God can do things that violate the laws of logic is self-defeating. Why? Because that very statement assumes the laws of logic. Once we throw out the laws of logic, we have to start saying things like: God both violates the laws of logic and does not violate the laws of logic. Or, God exists and does not exist. Or, God is infinite and finite.

    Once you go down this road, you are lost in an insane world where up means down and down means up. Every statement you make about God can equally mean the opposite of what you state. Do you really want to go that way?

  • http://3questions.us CM PhillipsIII

    1- Yes and Yes. He is infinite. He can make infinite. He can lift infinite. You can’t handle infinite!

    2- Cosmic Approach- He already has and has! He made the all the planets, stars, and the stuff of the universe. One “star” in Virgo is really a galaxy that is 2.2 light years across and has 500 trillion times the mass of the sun (the sun is 343,000 times the mass of the Earth). He not only lifted this galaxy, all other galaxies, and all the other celestial bodies, he flung them. Even though over 13 billion years has passed, our earth, our solar system, and our galaxy: the Milky Way are moving at around 675,000 mph away from the the point he flung them (heck of a fast ball). Other celestial bodies are moving at comparable rates. He flung them up in just such a way as to create life on earth. All so you can ask silly questions like this.

    3- Math Approach- How BIG can you imagine? A million? a trillion? a quadrillion tons?, These are just a drop in the ocean compared to a gogol, a one followed by a hundred zeros. Then there is the gogol-plex which is a one followed by ten thousand zeros. The next level is a one followed by a gogol of zeros, we will call this a kokol, then the lolol, the momol, the nonol, the popol, the qoqol, the totol, the vovol, the xoxol and the zozol. We are not though yet … But God can make and lift a rock that big as easily as as a feather. Next lets go to gugul, a one with zozol zeros after it and so on. He can and has made and lifted more than you can ever imagine.

    So take a deep breath, and accept him.

  • Randy Musick

    Bill,

    Thanks for the wonderful insight. Many people, including me, have asked the same or similar questions to religious leaders and Christians from all denominations. I have yet to hear a solid, easy to understand explanation. Your views, although insightful, leave questions unanswered for me.

    I have given this topic much thought and time and I would like to share this with you but would like to respond outside this blog. I am not a “nut” or an “argumentative” believer with weird ideas outside fundamental Christianity. However, I believe I have a legitimate, believable, and simplistic answer to this age old question. If you are interested in hearing my thoughts, please send me a response email expressing your wishes.

  • Joseph Ianetta

    the answer to the quesiton can god make a rock so big he cannot lift it is very easy
    “yes and he will lift it and not lift it at the same time” do not try to put logic to the being who invented logic

  • bobo chango

    I think Zeus could. Then, magically, he would lift it.

  • charles

    the notion of god is the biggest load of nonsense ever concocted and everything that flows from it is also.

  • Greg

    Joseph,

    Are you stating that God was illogical prior to him creating logic? He did not create logic it is part of his nature.

    Charles,

    thanks for the insight. Your evidence is overwhelming!

  • http://www.communion.net Communion

    Just like the famous proverb, “To err is human to forgive is divine”, humans have limitations and God doesn’t. That’s the reason that Jesus in-spite of having the powers given to Him by the Almighty didn’t use it to free Himself while he was on the cross. He wasn’t us to understand the fact and work towards it.

  • liviu

    omnipotence means that someona can do anything he/she wants. so if he/she can’t violate the laws of physics logic or whatever, it means that he/shi is not omnipotent.
    everybody cand do something that can be done!

    PS: it not really article related, but” Why we must prove that God doesn’t exist, but we must belive (without a proof) that Gos exists?

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi liviu,
    When Christians use the term omnipotence, they don’t mean that a person can do anything. That may be your definition of the word, but I’m not debating your definition, but the definition used by Christian theologians and philosophers.

    With regards to your second question, Christians have offered dozens of proofs of God’s existence, so we do not just assume that this is the default position. Several of those proofs are offered on this blog.

  • Dimingo

    It is logically impossible to understand the spirit logically.

  • Phillip

    Geoff,

    Regarding the difficulties in understanding how we will interact with the trinity in heaven, you should read a book called The Shack by William P. Young. It might be give you a different angle on this idea.

  • Happened to end up here

    Don’t you dare listen to the atheists, but equaly the religious. It’s always great fun to think that the answers are found, until reality slaps you in the face and you are left nothing but confused. As if the truth will always be hidden.

    But look for the truth, don’t think that any one book will give it to you. And if it is so that God is the truth then you will find it to be so, but don’t for one second assume it.

    **deleted for bad language**

    You may never find the truth, but if God is the truth, then I think it would be happy to know that you used your whole life searching for it. (If God is the truth, then won’t beliving in the truth be beliving in the God that is true?)

    Thx, this is my midnight rant (why did I even..).
    And kk, bad english, kk.
    Good night.

  • http://www.ipandora.net matthew

    Human logic cannot be used to constrain God.

    In your second paragraph you state that the first problem with the big rock question is that God can only do things that are logically possible.

    Impregnating Mary without the aid of a human father is not logical and yet that did not stop God from doing it.

    Setting an angels and flaming swords outside the garden of eden after the fall was not a logical response. There are countless other ways we’d imagine God logically addressing the issue of expelling Adam and Eve and preventing their reentry before we got to angels and flaming swords.

    What constrains God is His nature. And it is a constraint only insofar as you would say Webster unduly limited the meaning of “is” (which I believe only one man in recent times is willing to argue). God’s nature can only be comprehended by us in small, slight, foggy ways. These small, slight, and foggy pictures we have of God are still sufficient, because the smallest fraction of the infinite is still a very seriously significant amount. We lack no knowledge of God that is necessary for us to live as He desires. But we are limited in what we understand of Him due to the smallness of our minds.

    How terrible would it be to say that God must remain small in order to live within the confines of our human logic.

  • Bill Pratt

    Matthew,
    Please read this post to clear up what I meant by “logically possible.”

  • An inspired believer

    This blog is truly awesome! It started Jan 1, 2009 and here it is May 24 and I’m still going to add to it. So, God didn’t create logic. I can understand that because that would mean b4 the creation of logic everything was illogical and God was never, at any point, illogical. Let’s talk about love. God didn’t create love, it’s an attribute of God. God is a loving God. His love for us is in a realm of understanding that I know I’ll never be able to understand. He sent Jesus to be tortured and murdered on a cross meant for, well, me. Now, Jesus is literaly God manifested in the flesh, therefore God sent Himself to die for a crime He didn’t commit. Surely no human would actualy send themselves to be killed in place of a stranger for any reason let alone a crime they didn’t commit. Now your point 3 about God copying himself. There’s no way, it’s illogical. God is infinite…nothing restraining Him except nothing. So if He is everything to the nth degree then how can He copy Himself while still having everything to the nth degree. The copies would either have to be equal, greater or less than the other. Since infinity has no limit then comparing one to the other is impossible. Even still, if He did want to that would mean that there would be two God’s, which would be a lie. His word is the same today as it was infinity past and infinity future. God said He is the only God therefore Titus 1:2 would be contradiction, RIGHT? The last thing that I would like to say is GOD IS. No matter what we think or say…God has always been, is, and always will be. That might not make sense to some but I encourage those to have faith and find out what I mean when saying GOD IS.

    Thanks for letting me be a part of this!

  • baseball jerseys

    Does not an earthly father “make a copy of himself” through procreation? Why put limits on God?

  • Andie

    I think this “God” already created this rock that cant be lifted. It is called “Himself.” Even you can try it for yourself. Try to stand, hold your neck and lift yourself. Nice try, but does it work? Even in zero gravity it will not work, but yes you do exists right? So this “God” just needs one thing, a stone, so PUFF!!! “God” turns himself into a stone, but who will/can lift it? No one can, even “God” can’t (as explained earlier), but does it exists? Yes it does. So there you have it, a stone, heavy or light, that even “God” can’t lift.

    No bible study needed from my side.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “So there you have it, a stone, heavy or light, that even “God” can’t lift.”

    Doesn’t mean then that you have placed a limit on his power?

  • Andie

    Actually i didn’t, that is why it can be heavy or light or neither, it just exists. The concept of my example is that “God” can create such a thing.

    By the way, by saying “God”, I didn’t mean something or someone that is mentioned in the bible or quran or other holy books. The term “God” I use is the concept that manifests the what’s so called “omnipotent.”

  • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ Benjamin Baxter

    Transubstantiation posits that the substance of the Eucharist is exactly of the same substance of Christ, not a thing with a different substance. Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity is really present there in a validly consecrated host. It is not a difference in nature, as you say. Only the accident of the Eucharist is bread and wine.

  • http://www.randyeverist.com Randy Everist

    “God is by definition good, so anything he does (regardless of a man’s judgment of it) is good.”

    Doesn’t this mean it is impossible for God to do evil? If it does, then your objection fails. If it does not, you believe that God can lie, contrary to Scripture. Further, God is truth–and it is a necessary truth that God exists, that logical impossibilities are impossible, etc. Either truth exists ontologically grounded in God, in which case he cannot do the logically impossible, for to do so is to not be God, or truth exists independently of God, in which case truth is either relative or objective. If it is objective, then God submits himself to truth, in which case he cannot do the logically impossible. If it is relative, then the truth that God can do the logically impossible is relative and hence I have no need to believe it.

  • http://www.randyeverist.com Randy Everist

    Who says one is “putting” the limits on God? Why is this not merely recognizing them?

  • Keith

    Hi Bill,

    I’d like to make a comment about (3). I see no reason why two infinite being cannot exist. Would you show how that leads to a contradiction? Do you mean that two beings cannot exist who are both the greatest beings in existence? Anyway, let me know what you think.

    Keith

  • keith

    I see you answered my question. I now see a contradiction looming given your understanding of the infinite.

    Keith

  • Anonymous

    Keith, just above your other post yesterday were some pretty good, or so I thought, explorations of infinities, and under what conditions there can or cannot be more than one.

    At the end of that thread you noted you noted that you saw a “question looming” in the understanding of the infinite presented.

    Because both responses time-stamped in the same hour, I do not know their order; I was going to refer you to that earlier discussion for some thoughts as to why their cannot be more than one fundamental infinity, but I see you have already been there (or perhaps went there after your comment here?).

    Perhaps it would help if you tied your two responses together. I presume that you found the earlier comments regarding multiple infinities unsatisfying. How so?

  • Andrew Ryan

    The laws of logic must have existed before God created ANYTHING, as creation is in itself a logical act. In fact, creating something requires time itself to exist.

  • Dean

    Somewhere, out in the heavens, there is an object that cannot be lifted – because there is nothing larger to lift it from! Why have we been so stupid that we cannot find these simpler answers?

  • Dean

    He does whatever pleases Him. Psalm 115:3. Is there a better way to describe omnipotence?

  • Krafty1

    If God is the creator of all things, and nothing exists that is not created through him, he must also have created evil. Thus, how can we not serve two masters?

  • stephen porter

    Really an old argument without much hope for answering, but if I were pressed, I’d say, “yes” God could make such a rock. If you’re interested in my reasoning, I’ve laid it out here: http://www.manifestblog.com/2011/07/can-god-make-rock-so-big.html

  • Andrew Osborne

    I love what my father says when he was asked this question, the logic is so simple, my father replies with “Yes he can, then he would lift it”

  • ggodat

    that’s completely illogical! God cannot not lift and lift an object at the same time. It’s one or the other. Let me ask it this way, can God create another God that is even more powerful than he is?

  • Chris

    Just as we are 3 finite being living as one. (Mind, soul, and body)

  • Chris Thompson

    Can God create a rock so big that he can not lift? Answer: Yes. If God creates a rock with free will. We must choose God for him to lift up our lives.

  • Ragnarok

    yes he can,

  • HASAN

    If GOD is omnipotent can he
    Create a rock so heavy that he cannot lift it ????

    This
    is a perfect answer for christianity’s problem about Jesus, was Jesus GOD or
    not

    The tentative answer of this question is
    YES
    in the sense of his omnipotence to shows that his power can’t be limited, so it
    means that his omnipotence reached when he can’t lift that
    “stone”, but when GOD do that
    his title as all powerful will crumble directly and make him not GOD anymore
    because GOD is all powerful not the weak one, so then GOD can’t do the thing
    because he simply can’t BUT he WILL NOT do things / choose to do anything that
    contradict another nature of himself or we can say that GOD WON’T DO UNGODLY
    THINGS TO HIMSELF because it can omit his divinity , GOD just do GODLY thing,
    another type of the question above :

    Can GOD LIE???

    if he can then he is not GOD because GOD
    is truthful and if he can’t then he is not omnipotent who can do anything, and
    the answer is NO the reason is GOD WON’T
    DO UNGODLY THING TO HIMSELF

    Can GOD become SATAN??

    again if he can then he is not GOD
    because SATAN’s nature is opposed with GOD’s nature BUT if he can’t then he is
    not omnipotent who can do anything

    and the answer is NO the reason is GOD WON’T DO UNGODLY THING TO HIMSELF

    Can GOD become NOT GOD??

    if he can then he is not GOD because
    called GOD if he has the nature of GOD BUT if he can’t then he is not
    omnipotent who can do anything and again the answer is NO the reason is GOD WON’T DO UNGODLY THING TO HIMSELF

    Can GOD become ignorant??

    if he can then he is not GOD because GOD
    is all knowing who always know everything if he can’t then he is not omnipotent
    who can become anything and again the answer is NO the reason is GOD WON’T DO UNGODLY THING TO HIMSELF

    (How about this??)

    Can GOD become human (Jesus)?????

    The nature of human are weak, powerless,
    not knowing and need the others which is opposed with nature of GOD i.e
    strongest, powerful, all knowing and don’t need anything, if christian said
    that Jesus is GOD incarnate then it is
    become a paradox just like all of questions above

    If GOD is omnipotent can he Create
    a rock so heavy that he cannot lift it.

    the core of this question is
    “Can GOD become weak?? / Can infinite become a zero??? and this question
    make GOD involved in relativity while GOD is simply not, if we continue with
    another question

    If GOD is omnipotent can he lift a
    rock which previously he can’t??

    and IF the answer is YES then GOD
    involved in relativity and enhancement which is GOD not, GOD always the same,
    past, present, future so we can’t put any degradation or improvement on him,
    degradation make him change and improvement also make him change, so saying
    that GOD can involved in relativity is opposed with GOD natures

    Psalm 102:27

    But you remain the same, and your
    years will never end.

    Malachi 3:6

    “I the LORD do not change

    -If GOD is omnipotent can he become not
    GOD (human).

    if he can then he is not GOD because
    called GOD if he has the natures of GOD BUT if he can’t then he is not
    omnipotent who can do anything and again the answer is NO the reason is GOD WON’T DO UNGODLY THING TO HIMSELF, and GOD WON’T involved in relativity
    because he is never change

    So to say that Jesus is GOD incarnate in
    human form is the same way we say that GOD can be weak, powerless, not knowing
    and need the others (not the nature of GOD), and in the same way we say that
    GOD can LIE (not the nature of GOD),
    also in the same way we say that GOD can become a SATAN (not the nature
    of GOD), in the same way we say that GOD can become ignorant (not the nature of
    GOD), in the same way we say that GOD involved in relativity which is opposed
    with GOD’s natures.

    The conclusion is saying Jesus is GOD=
    weak is GOD, powerless is GOD, not knowing is GOD etc and it will make paradox just like skeptic
    question above, IS JESUS GOD ?????? and
    the answer is NO the reason is GOD WON’T
    DO UNGODLY THING TO HIMSELF, WHY?? BECAUSE IT WILL DENY HIS DIVINITY

  • http://ricklionheart.com/ ricklionheart

    There are many ways to look at this question in essence the question is intrinsically impossible and therefore just nonsense. However that
    is a way to answer the question that will make them think.

    See: http://christianversustheworld.blogspot.com.au/2014/07/christian-versus-rock.html

    http://christianversustheworld.blogspot.com.au

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