Monday, August 10, 2009

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

I remember when I first heard this bit of immature atheistic reductio ad absurdum. I was in high school, and I didn't respond to it because the Nirvana-shirted, long-banged drama stud who said it didn't say it to me. He was laying it on his friend like it was theist's kryptonite.

My answer then, steeped in C.S. Lewis as I was, would have been along the lines of the nonsense of the question as framed. It is a rhetorical and hypothetical "gotcha" with no sincerity behind it, and in any event, it is sort of like asking, "Does the number nine smell red or yellow?"

My answer today is different. My answer today would not be to skewer the nature of the question but to inject its insincerity with the sincerity of God and all the weight of the gospel.

The truth is that God did make a weight so heavy he couldn't lift it. He did so not by building an immovable force -- we did that with our sin -- but by incarnating the frailty of humanity and willingly subjecting himself to the force. As one of us, yet still himself, he created the conundrum of the incarnate God, bearing a cross he both ordained yet could not carry by himself, becoming condemned in death and also victorious. And God was crushed according to the plan he himself projected from the foundation of the world.

So, can God make a rock so heavy even he can't lift it?

Yes. And he did. For three days only. And then he drop kicked it out of the mouth of the tomb.


Pete Scribner said...

Perhaps the best answer to the worst question I've ever heard.

Molly said...

Wow. Thank you so much for posting this. I hope I can remember this to repost/link at Easter.

Unknown said...

Yeah great gospel answer to the question. My friend answered that by saying that's not the question you should be worried about - the question you should worry about is if God drops that rock on you. "Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 'Fall on us,' and to the hills, 'Cover us.'" (Lk. 23:30). I guess that just exposes the insincerity, but better to invest it as you say with gospel sincerity.

steve said...

I read this a couple weeks ago and it really bothered me and so I had to try to find this post again (I had to go through the imonk, I couldn't remember your name, no offense).
I ask myself questions like this all the time, and I don't think they are stupid. And maybe most of the people who ask questions like this are being insincere or trying to make you sweat or see how you will react. But I know that when I think about these questions (and most the time I keep them to myself, sometimes I ask my wife, because it doesn't really matter if she thinks I'm weird), I'm not being insincere, I'm trying to wrap my mind around a God who is so awesome and complex and huge and good. I wonder all the time about the things that God can and can't do. So maybe someday someone will ask you that question or one like it and they might really be searching, and I guess I just want to say don't assume the person is being insincere.

Jared said...

Steve, fair enough.

I've never heard it asked except by atheists wanting to challenge the faith, but I should be open to its use by sincere seekers. Thanks for weighing in.

Keith Brenton said...

Excellent answer, jared.

All due respect to steve: there are some folks who pose such questions and hide behind them, withholding their faith until they feel they completely understand God. Ain't a gonna happen. (Ask Job about that.)

I told my teenage son last year - when he was struggling with his Bible class at his Christian school - "Christian evidences are fine as far as they go. But at some point, you just have to decide to believe in God ... whether God makes sense to you or not. His ways aren't our ways. He isn't all rational; sometimes He is passionate. Sending your son to die for someone else isn't rational. But it gives you something much more to believe in than the facts and figures and archeology and linguistics. God is love - and who can explain love?"