29 Mar 2009

Can God Make a Rock So Heavy He Can’t Lift It?

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This is a standard arrow in the atheist’s quiver. I’m not saying it is the only or the preferred arrow, but nonetheless I think many, possibly most, atheists think it is a perfectly valid illustration of just how preposterous the very concept of God is, at least the “God” that Western people know.

First, it’s odd that we have such a flippant wisecrack as one of the standard arguments lodged against God’s existence. It’s a fairly weighty issue, so it’s odd that people are eager to settle it with one-liners.

Second, it doesn’t even work. The question is, “Can God make a rock so heavy He can’t lift it?” My answer: Yes He can–He’s God and can do anything–but He chooses not to.

People think this leads to paradox, but no it doesn’t. If I had answered “No God can’t make that rock” then I would be contradicting myself. Phew, I’m glad that wasn’t my answer! I just dodged a landmine! *wipes brow*

OK but now back to Door #1. I said that God can in fact make a rock that He Himself can’t lift. But does that pose a threat to my worldview?

No, not really. It’s no more threatening than if I “concede” that God has the power to end His existence. If God chose to create that special rock, at the moment of its creation he would cease to be God. But He chooses instead to retain his omnipotence, and avoids the mistake of Clark in Superman II.

So in conclusion, I don’t see why the question, “Can God make a rock so heavy He himself can’t lift it?” is so popular. It is no more profound than asking, “Well could your God kill Himself?”

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