Can God create a rock so big that he can’t lift it? I think I was first asked this question when I was a student at Chickasha High School. I remember how it put me into a complete stupor, which wasn’t uncommon for me in high school (and all my former teachers said—amen). It wasn’t until later when I studied philosophy that I could spot the trick. It’s really nothing more than a magical slight of hand or in this case a slight of words.
Many times this question is set-up by asking, “Can God do anything?” Our natural response is “of course—He’s God”. But in reality God can’t do everything—the Bible even tells us so. First God cannot do anything that is contrary to his nature. God cannot lie (Titus 1:2); He cannot fail (Psalm 33:11); He cannot change (Malachi 3:6); He cannot be tempted (James 1:13); He cannot sin (1 Peter 1:16). The fact that God cannot do these things doesn’t mean that He’s weak, it in fact means the opposite–it means that He’s strong and can be trusted.
Secondly, God cannot do that which is logically contradictory. For instance, He cannot make a square circle. As soon as a square becomes a circle it’s no longer square. He cannot make a married bachelor; as soon as the bachelor gets married he’s no longer a bachelor. He cannot make light that’s dark (you get the picture). Logically speaking, these statements violate the law of non-contradiction. In everyday language we would say that these statements are nonsense. The law of non-contradiction is essential in human thought; it helps us to evaluate everything from a simple statement to a complete worldview. It’s interesting to note that postmodern thinkers are attempting to abandon the law of non-contradiction—but they might as well spit into the wind too. This current attempt is why we all hear funny statements like—“there are no truths” (is that true?); or “all truth is relative” (is that true, therefore relative?); or “there is no right or wrong” (is that right?); or “all religions are the same” (Buddhism and Christianity are the same?)–all of these statements upon close examination violate the law of non-contradiction.
Now back to the question. “Can God create a rock so big that he can’t lift it?” is an illogical question and violates the law of non-contradiction. A rock is a finite object, limited in time and space. God, however, is an infinite being, not limited to time or space. If God created a finite rock so big that he couldn’t lift it, that finite rock would have to become infinite. So we can rephrase the question like this–“Can God make the finite infinite?” You see, now we’re back to the same category as square circles and married bachelors–which we understand to be utter nonsense.
Keep the law of non-contradiction handy in your thinking tool box; if the current postmodern trend continues in our society you’ll need to use it often.
Article by Pastor Billy Elkins.