Tuesday, August 2, 2011

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.


Gabe said...

Like. A. Boss.

Dave said...

This is apologetic gold. I love that it doesn't just win the argument but aims to win the heart by explaining the glory of what God has done. Thank you so much for sharing it.

Could you add a "tweet this" button to your site? It would make my frequent sharing of your insights easier :)

David said...

Nice - Amen and amen

Veronica said...

Its rare to read something truly Inspired. You captured the senselessness of both the leading question AND the cross.

All smug atheists everywhere are left to think "Alright, who wants to come up with another question to stump the Christians???"

Really? said...

Let's see how this wins.

First, it belittles the legitimate difficulties of thinking people- albeit atheists.

Second, it reduces the question to illogic and then proceed to answer the illogic.

Third, it 'answers' the question without any basis in logic.

Fourth, it changes the question from a physical object- a rock, to a spiritual thing - sin. Thereby, muddying and confusing the question and driving the apparent mislogic to new astounding depths.

Fifth, it declares victory irregardless of the non-logic and remaining objections based on the strange non-logic and shiftiness of the answer.

This is why atheists hate us.

Jared said...

This is why atheists hate us.

No, it's not.

But even if it were, it would not be logic that would change their heart to love but the gospel, which is what this response attempts to transition the question into.

If the person asking insists on logic only, the answer would still be, a la Lewis, that the question is nonsensical.
Or, if pressed, we could say that "No, God can't make a rock so big he can't lift it," but this no more assails the right understanding of his attributes any more than saying "God can't sin" does.

There are things impossible for God if by impossible we mean "things that would violate or contradict what he has revealed about his nature."

Really? said...

@ Jared: Let me rephrase: 'This is one of the reasons why atheists hate us.' And if you think they hate us only because of Jesus, I would draw your attention to their equal despisement of Mohammed and Krishna or any one or thing that people regard as God or gods or supernatural.

And the answer is not a la Lewis that it is non-sensical. Sense is a product of the mind. What makes sense to Einstein doesn't make sense to me. What makes sense to me doesn't make sense to my 1 year old. Sense is adaptive.

The correct answer to the question is that God cannot will opposing things in a parallel fashion, He cannot say to the same stone- exist and be destroyed at the same time. Or one of the intentions of His will is a.) wonrg and b.) not accomplished. This would be a gar less 'Godlike' thing to do than lifting or creating rocks.

Anonymous said...

This might not be a direct answer to the question, but it does seem to be a good response. To say that God cannot do something because it defies our understanding of reality and logic is, I think presumptuous - including three sided squares and such. To say it cannot be done assumes my understanding of reality and logic are equal to God's. It is true that I cannot conceive of it, but I cannot create anything original.

Deb said...

Jared, I like where you going with this type of apologetic and have been trying to more of this sort of thing myself.

However, when you say, "God did make a weight so heavy he couldn't lift it", referring to three days that the stone was in front of the tomb, wouldn't it be more proper to think of that as what the incarnate Christ couldn't do in His humanity? Moving the stone was something that God was eternally capable of doing regardless of Christ's humanity, but just as He did not let the cup pass from Christ by sending Him to the cross, God the father also did not move the stone before the proper ordained time. I think perhaps eluding to the idea that God could somehow create the stone and yet not be able to move it is akin to saying that God is not sovereign, all powerful, or self-existent.

I do like the approach of moving past the "Slam dunk" answers that we have in apologetics toward sharing the Gospel truth.

Stephen Haggerty said...

Incredible stuff. I always hated this question growing up, like the way you've spun this! Thanks for the great writing!

Anonymous said...


Unknown said...

If part of God's nature is love (and it is) then who did he love before he created them?

See, love requires at least two people, the one to love, and the one to receive the love being given. The answer is that he loved himself. This is why the Trinity is so important. We have one God, but who is in three persons, so that the Father and the Son and the Spirit can all love each other and be loved perfectly and completely. And it's that same love that existed from before the beginning of the universe that God has poured out on to each and every one of us. And it's that same love that sent his Son to the cross to take the punishment for our sins so that we would not have to be separated from God.

And it's that same love that allows the rock that God cannot lift to be moved. For you see Jesus cannot move that rock, for he is the one separated. The Father cannot move the rock for he is the one that has judged sin. It is the Spirit that was able to step into that gap and restore the relationship. See what one person of the Trinity would have been unable to do alone, the three of them together could.

Anonymous said...

Really? is the only one who has made any sense here. The essence of the riddle is pointless because it's a paradox. Something that can do anything can't be able to not do something. It goes against the premise of what being able to do anything entails. Everything in the original post is pretty much total rubbish aside from the does 9 smell red or yellow comment.