This question is often posed by many as a “Gotcha!” question to try to trip up Christians as they explain God. It often becomes troublesome to many Christians and almost impossible to answer at first. First, let’s see what this question’s implications are, and then we will see its presumptions.
It implies that if God cannot create this rock then He is not all-powerful; and if He can create this rock and hence cannot lift it, then He again is not all-powerful.
It lies almost wholly on the presumption that God is all-powerful, and that definition is that God can do everything and anything. That is an incorrect assessment of all-powerful.
The definition of power ranges from strength, to force, to ability. It all centers around the energy or force of something acting upon another. Obviously, God as infinite power, force, and strength to use as God. The incorrect definition then lies with equating all-powerful, to being able to do anything.
There are several places in the Bible where God is described as not able to do something because of who God is:
“So that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.” – Hebrews 6:18
“Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.” – 1 Samuel 15:29
“if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” – 2 Timothy 2:13
“The LORD is slow to anger but great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet” – Nahum 1:3
“When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone” – James 1:13
So, the Bible clearly says God will not lie, will not change His mind, will not leave the guilty unpunished, and will not be tempted or tempt anyone with evil. These are so because God is just, unchanging, and of logic.
To return to all-powerful, this would simply imply having all force and strength that is possible (logical) available to that something. The suggestion that God can do absolutely anything is illogical and contradictory since that implies God can do good and evil or allow sin to be passed over without justice done, of which He cannot. God is of order and logic and cannot create something illogical such as a two-sided triangle or a married bachelor since such are illogical and lies.
Now let’s look at what the question is asking for. A rock that is also all-powerful since God is all powerful. A rock is a material object, and material objects cannot be material and be infinite in any way, that’s contradictory. We know God cannot lie and is logical, and a contradiction is illogical and a falsehood. So, the question is demolished.
A second way to approach this question is to grant that somehow God can create this illogicality for sake of argument. You can then point out that since the rock and God has infinite power, that the rock can never be more powerful than something that already has infinite power even if it also has infinite power. Thus, their outrageous ask for a rock more powerful than infinite power is ridiculously illogical and does not bring us to the conclusion that God is not all-powerful, but that the question is flawed and misunderstands the definition of “all-powerful”.
The non-sequitur show put together a series of question from YouTube atheist, which are unanswerable by Christians to them. Here’s a few responses and thoughts from me. Some of these answers were featured in an article which you can found here: https://christian-apologist.com/2018/05/06/christians-answer-questions-atheists-say-christians-cant-answer/
1. (Steve McRae) “If God is going to be positive as an explanation for human existence, then by what mechanisms, meaning by what activities and interactions that are organized in such a way that produced humans did God use and by what means could we discover those mechanisms?”
“An explanation of a phenomenon usually requires some type of mechanism that explains the phenomenon. So if God is posited as an explanation for human existence, what mechanisms did he use? If one posits naturalistic mechanisms we know exist, then why [do you] have God as an explanation?”
Answer: This is the most interesting question on this list, but it commits the category error. This is a question that does not apply to God because God is not made up of parts like a computer or a car. These are physical things that have a mechanism that Steve is asking that God would have. God is an immaterial being, so he does not have mechanisms like physical things. If something can only be known based on mechanisms, then we have a problem with epistemology. What are the mechanisms of matter taking up space? How does matter take up space? You have to say that it just does. God can make things ex nihilo because He is omnipotent. A better form of this question would be, what predictions could the God hypothesis make? Some predictions that could be made are as follow: if we found a universe that is fine-tuned, if it had a beginning ex nihilo. If we found a universe in which objective moral truths exist or if we found a universe in which humans have libertarian free will, these could be explained by God. These would be some predictions, or at least observations that Theism would account for. If you ask how God is omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresence, I would not have an answer for because it commits the category error. If we can’t answer how matter takes up space, then we don’t have to neglect its existence just because there’s an unanswered question. God is an ontological and metaphysical question, so physics cannot explain God’s attributes because God is beyond physics.
2. (Genetically Modified Skeptic) “Among even the most fundamentalist of Christians there are always people who interpret some part of the Bible metaphysically, like in the Book of Job, they talk about the four corners of the earth. Christians, for the most part, interpret that as metaphorical because we know there are no four corners of the earth. So when we find something in the Bible that doesn’t necessarily reflect facts interpreted literally, how can we definitively tell that it was intended to be interpreted metaphorically and not literally and is actually a falsehood?”
Answer: This question can be applied to any text. When do we know what any text means? This is called exegesis, which is to find out what a text originally meant. A text cannot mean what it never meant to the original audience. Job is a Jewish poetic book, so much of it is based on that literature, so it’s not a literal interpretation. The Gospels are historical narratives and written down as eyewitness accounts. Another type of symbolic book is the book of Revelation, which is Jewish apocalyptic literature. 1 Enoch is written in this style and would have been understood as very symbolic. The Bible was not written in one sitting, but rather written by 40 different authors over a 1500-year period. Different books require different interpretations depending on the type of literature and historical context of the book. A great book is How to Read the Bible, for learning how to do proper exegesis of the Bible.
3. (Lloyd Cedars) “What are your reasons for not being a Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, or follower of the many other non-Christian faiths? Is it because you devoted enormous time and energy to systematically investigate and debunk all of those other religions? If you haven’t done that, how can you in all honesty claim that your religion is superior? And if you’re only a Christian because you happen to have been born into a Christian family or you were raised in a culture or society where Christianity is commonplace, what about all of the other people – who by a twist of fate – have been raised believing one of the many other religions that God has allowed to proliferate?”
Answer: Christians have good reasons to believe in Christianity based on the evidence and historical data of the person, Jesus of Nazareth. To determine whether a position is true or not is to test its internal consistency and how it will much with reality. If we have a position that is self-contradictory or inconsistent with reality, then it can be dismissed as true. A classic example is the worldview of Islam. Islam holds that the Bible and Quran are the full inspired word of God. These two books are contradictory, so it seems that Islam is inconsistent. The Quran teaches that Christ was never Crucified (Surah 4:157-158), but the four gospels report otherwise. It’s a historical fact that Christ was crucified because there are sources for his reported death. This is just one claim of Islam that shows that it is self-contradictory and inconsistent with reality. When you apply this method with the major claims of the main stream religions, I have found Christianity to be the most consistent in itself and reality. Concerning the genetic fallacy, it would not matter if one holds a belief because of their environment. Its truth is independent of where and when it is adapted by someone. By saying that a worldview is false because it is associated with a specific group of people and a specific time is to commit the genetic fallacy. With Christianity, we see it is growing in hostile location such as China and parts of the Middle East. It’s a non-argument concerning whether my beliefs in Christianity are true or not. I came to my Christian faith through an intense study and investigation of the major claims of the Christian worldview. I could also ask this question back at the asking: Have you gone through every religion and shown them all to be false?
4. (Godless Cranium) “Why would an omnipotent, all powerful God need a human sacrifice to forgive people for sins? If this being is truly capable of doing anything and has unlimited power and resources and is all loving, why would it require a brutal torture and killing? Why would it need a blood sacrifice and not just simply forgive people for their sins – especially if it knew their motivations and could judge people according to their intentions?”
Answer: God requires a sacrifice to show that you really want to be forgiven. We see this all through the Old Testament from the time of Moses to the Prophets. We see the first sacrifice with Cain and Abel. God appreciate the effort that Abel gave over his brother’s sacrifice. Abel showed his commitment to God and his want for him. The amount you give is the amount you care. God could just forgive us, but he would just be forgiving someone who truly did not want to be forgiven. Christianity is the one religion where God comes to man to be the atoning sacrifice for the sins of mankind. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac to God, so God would give the atoning sacrifice for Abraham. Notice how we don’t have to give an atoning sacrifice today because of what God did through Christ. We are forgiven because God first loved us. Finally, since God did this, he is able to forgive us without the blood sacrifice because he gave it already it.
5. (Luciano Gonzalez) “A variety of religions from ancient Greek beliefs to Native American beliefs both past and current account for gods that have relationships with their believers and with their servants. Why do you feel that the relationship that you have with Jesus Christ is somehow special or unique and somehow invalidates how all other believers feel about their gods and actions with their gods?”
Answer: Personal experiences alone cannot show a particular religion to be true or false. I’m convinced that Christianity is true based on the resurrection of Christ, so that would validate Christianity over other religions. Again, the way to validate a worldview is to see whether it holds internal consistency and if it corresponds to reality. I would argue when you do an intense investigation of the major claims of the major religions, you find that the Judeo-Christian worldview will meet these standards over other religions. If Christianity is show to be true, then out experience would be validated over other experiences. The question should not be based on personal experience, but whether which religion is true?
6. (Jackson Wheat) “In the Old Testament, God didn’t like all of the unrighteous people on the earth. So why did God choose to get rid of all of them with a global flood? Presumably he could have made them painlessly vanish with a silent snap of his immaterial fingers. And why after flooding the whole earth did God decide to hide all evidence of his act?
Answer: This question presupposes that the narrative of Noah in Genesis is a global flood. I would argue from a hermeneutical perspective that the original readers would have understood this flood narrative as a worldwide flood rather than a global flood. By worldwide, I mean the world as the Middle Eastern Israelite's would have understood it as. The world back then would have been the Mediterranean world in which Alexander the great took over. There is evidence for this narrative considering the flood plains of Mesopotamia and the surround bodies of waters that cover this region. God could have snap his “immaterial fingers” and everyone would vanish away. This is a non-argument against the flood and only questions God’s way. From a theological perspective, the flood waters represent the washing away of the unrighteous to allow for the righteous to win. Water is used a lot in the Bible to represent cleanness of God’s judgement against sin and his ways of bringing people to himself.
7. (Brilliant Doubt) “Why is it that the believers in every religion in history were wrong about their respective religion despite having the same conviction and evidence as you do for Christianity? It seems to me that you’re an atheist when it comes to all other religions in history but somehow the one that you happen to be born into is the correct one?”
Answer: This is about the third time responding to this type of objection which is simply asking for a refutation of every religion that has ever existed. Of course, they try and shift the burden of proof on just the Christen, but it doesn’t work like that. If the atheist is going to claim that all these religions are false and equally irrational to believe in, then they have the burden of proof to show that to be the case. There’s also a common thread in all these worldviews, they all hold to a supernatural belief. Of course, they disagree on the specifics of the supernatural. The atheist is going against all these beliefs and has the burden to show their case to be correct. There’s a phrase that they use: “You only go one God further.” I would argue that I only believe one God further than you. This argument also commits the genetic fallacy like question #3, but it’s essentially asking how I know all religions to be false. I would be repeating myself, but you have to test the internal consistency of the worldview and whether it’s claims corresponds with reality. I would again argue that Christianity meets these standards.
8. (Viced Rhino) “If God is all-powerful and all-loving, why does he require blood in order to grant forgiveness? Old Testament or New, someone had to die before he could forgive anyone. Human beings can forgive each other without there being a death first. Why can’t God?”
Answer: I’ve answered this in question #4, but I’ll add on to the answer. Blood was the representation for atonement since it represents life. Life was shed when sin entered the world, so blood had to be shed in order to make reparations for one’s trespassing’s. I would refer again to the reparations made by Christ’s sacrifice so God could end the bloodshed with his blood. He shows his commitment to us, which presupposes love. Humans can just forgive each other, but how would you know it to be sincere? When God forgives us, we know it is sincere through what he did at the cross.
9. (Kaitlyn Chloe) “If you’ve never been to the ends of the earth. If you’ve never been to every planet. If you’ve never been to the corners of the universe. How do you know other gods don’t exist?”
Answer: This question shows a misunderstanding of what we mean by God. God is the greatest conceivable being who is essentially an unembodied mind that transcends the dimensions of time and space. If God was contingent upon the laws of nature, then he would not be God. God is an ontological question and a metaphysical question. This again seems to presuppose that God is the magical man in the sky. This is a false view of God and is not the view held by Christianity. When you ask about other Gods, I would simply investigate the worldview that it is attributed with. The Greek pantheons of God’s are attributed to an eternal universe, so these are physical being bound by space and time. Based on Big Bang Cosmology, the universe started a finite time ago, so that would seem these divine beings got their revelations wrong. Last time I checked, we have not seen Neptune in the Sea, so it’s safe to assume that he is not there. I would simply refer back to the method of assessing worldview to establish whether or not a particular deity exists. I would again argue that the Judeo-Christian worldview is the one that is most consistent with itself and reality, which would affirm the existence of Judeo-Christian God.
10. (Professor Stick) “There are thousands of other religions out there, many of which have millions of followers. So according to your logic and their logic, anyone who is a blasphemer to your particular deity is going to be condemned whether it is to go to hell or to be reincarnated to a less intelligent animal. If your God is true, why is it that he would even allow the minds of humans to be so easily deceived to believe in other religions? He essentially would have created brains that can be fooled to ultimately send those people down to hell. How do you know you’re not one of the people who has been fooled?”
Answer: This is the fourth time answering of how a Christian knows their worldview is true over others. For the last time, the test of internal consistency and correspondence of reality to test for a particular worldview to be true or false. Another question that is brought up was, why would God allow people to be deceived by other religions? This can be also phrased in this form, what about those who have not heard? This question can be answered in two ways. First, Christian are commanded to spread the good news to every living creature, but some places do not allow this. China does not allow the spread of the gospel, so they purposely do not accept it. When one hear’s the gospel, they can either accept or reject it. If one rejects the gospels, then God gives them up to their own desires. The second way to answer this question is to describe the two types of revelations from God. God’s general revelation is a sense of a divine creator and the moral law written upon everyone’s hearts. If those who have not heard follow the moral law and believe in the divine creator, then God will judge them on that. If Christianity is true, then the Gospels needs to be spread to every living person.
11. (Holy Koolaid) “Truth doesn’t fear curiosity testing on doubt, which inoculates us against charlatans and scams, but if your beliefs stand up to scrutiny, then why is doubting Thomas vilified as the bad guy for utilizing the scientific method – while the rest of the disciples are congratulated for following like blind sheep?”
Answer: Is blind faith still an option though based on the verses? I think not, but there is a common verse that people will try to point out that Christianity is based on Blind Faith. Both Christians and atheists will try to point this out by either showing that Christianity is irrational or that we must believe without evidence, which is not the truth at all.
John 20: 24-29 “Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’
So he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’
And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace to you!’ 27 Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.’
And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’
Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”
This is when Thomas is doubting and Jesus said “blessed are those who have not seen, but yet believe.” While at face value this may seem to be promoting blind faith. All it really shows is that Jesus is okay with those who believe in him and have not seen him directly, but followed indirect evidence. It stills shows that faith is based on evidence because Christ appeared to Thomas as evidence that He rose from the dead. This also shows that even Thomas still would not believe even though he had overwhelming evidence. It actually shows not to have unreasonable faith because Thomas still believed that Jesus had not been raised from the dead, which would be unreasonable faith. Jesus appeared to all 11 of the disciples and we all know that 11 people cannot hallucinate something at the same time. Plus, the next verse says this to encourage us to have a forensic faith.
“And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”
It shows that Jesus did all the miracles (evidence that He is divine) to show why you should believe in Him on the foundation of evidence.
Christianity encourages us to believe on the foundation of evidence for why it is true. (Excerpt from my article)
12. (Suris the Skeptic)“In most sections of Christian theology, there’s typically one of two after-lives people get into when you die. There might be different subsects on this but generally speaking, there are these main two: heaven or hell. Why would you want either of those? You can go to heaven and have no free will or hell and burn forever. If you go to heaven, everything is happy at all times, which means you’re not allowed to feel sadness and you’ll be worshipping God until the end of days so that’s going to keep going forever and ever, which means you effectively have no will of your own. You are forced to worship this deity until who knows when. Now, if you go to hell, then you’re going to be burning forever but at least you have your free will. In neither of these are you given a choice or chance be anything than what you’ll be shaped or molded into. In both of these, you will effectively be a slave, whether you have your free will and you’re burning and tortured or you have no free will and are effectively stuck in servitude. I don’t believe either of these places exists but it seems that a lot of Christian theists want these places to exist. And my question is why? Both sound abysmal.”
Answer: This question is asking why you would want Heaven or Hell. Apparently there is no free will in Heaven because you will not be able to feel sadness. First, why would you want to feel sadness? Also, Free will by definition is choosing between the options, but not choosing the options. Evil will not be an option in the New Heavens and Earthsbecause it will be filled with those we choose the ultimate good following the one who is good, which is God. Worship seems to be misunderstood in this question. Worship is loved express, which presupposes free will. Hell on the other hand, is the ultimate separation from God, which also presupposes free will. Hell is described as torment, which is self-inflicted because it is rejection of God, which presupposes free will. Finally, if Heaven and Hell does exist, then it doesn’t matter what we think. Why would one not want to be in eternity with God?
13. (Paulogia and Shannon Q) “Can a person simply choose to believe in something that they are not convinced of? If not, then God created our brains to require a certain level of evidence in order to be convinced. Why has He chosen to not provide that level of evidence for us, even though we both wanted to believe?”
Answer: First, it must be asked what evidence would convince you or what standards does your brain require for belief? Standards of evidence must be established for basic epistemology to work. It could be that you may not have come across the right evidence that would qualify as evidence for the existence of God. Perhaps the standards you hold to require proof beyond any doubt/absolute certainty. If so, then you require too much for any basic belief concerning certain propositions. The question should rather be, what are the proper standards of evidence for believing in something and are those standards consistent with the belief in God? One’s presuppositions will change their standards of evidence, so one’s presuppositions must the right presuppositions.
14. (Godless Engineer)“Often creationists will characterize the Big Bang as something magically created from nothing – but then you have creationists who literally believe a supernatural being created the entire universe. Literally something magical from nothing. Why is the first one irrational but the second one logical?”
Answer: If nothing was a causal force, then we should see something coming from nothing all the time. Why don’t we see this? Why don’t we see horses, chairs, dogs, or anything else pop into existence by nothing all the time? Why is nothing so discriminatory? God is omnipotent and has created ex-nihilo. Also, Christians aren’t claiming that something came from nothing, but rather God did not need prior material to cause the universe to begin to exist. Godless Engineer seems to confuse the types of causes. God is the sufficient cause for the beginning of the universe, which we have scientific evidence for ex nihilo. We can’t get something from nothing, since nothing is not a cause. God is the sufficient cause for the beginning of the universe. This question is simply a red herring to try to avoid their burden of proof for the claim that something can come from nothing. Also, Godless Engineer believes that subatomic particles came into being without a cause all the time in quantum vacuums, so his objection to creation ex nihilo is just silly when you take this into account.
15. (Kyle Curtis) “Atheists are told we have no true way of having a moral compass. I don’t think you need the promise of heaven to see that doing good is just good. The basis for my morality is simple. I believe that doing the most good and the least harm benefits not only me but those around me. I believe that things like kindness and love and laughter benefit not only me but those around me. However, I also believe that things like judgment, condemnation, and a willful ignorance to follow something that has no basis in reality or is backed up by evidence is ultimately harmful and not only to me but to those around me. What’s the basis for your morality? Is it the Bible? That same Bible that doesn’t condemn slavery or rape? Instead it says things like if your daughter is raped, she should marry her attacker. Or if you’re a slave owner and you find yourself in a situation when your slave is unruly, you’re within your rights to beat him within an inch of his life. So many Scriptures. 66 books filled with thousands of pages and hundreds of thousands of words but not one of which says that rape or slavery is morally wrong.”
Answer: The argument from morality has never stated that atheists can’t be moral, but rather what best accounts for objective morality? On Atheism, moral values are just part of the evolutionary process like growing five fingers or two ears. Rape and Slavery could have evolved to be morally appropriate. Even if the Bible did support these things, on what basis would we have to judge these horrible acts objectively on Atheism? Exodus 20:17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Covet means to want to possess something that is not yours. Rape is a sexual desire for something that is not yours, which is the process of this horrible act. The passages that Kyle is referring to are those that presuppose consent of the woman. Slavery is the act of making another humans life yours, which is not the biblical slavery, but rather southern American slavery that was part of the Atlantic Slave Trade. The same commandment that condemns that act or rape would apply to slavery as well. Old Testament slavery has been highly equivocated by those who misinterpret it by Christians and Atheists. To shed some light on this, I would recommend Paul Copan’s book, “Is God a Moral Monster?”, which deals with Old Testament slavery. Overall, objective morality has to be grounded in the unchanging nature of God, who is the greatest conceivable being.
If you have other response, then please notify me of them. Thanks for taking the time to go through these questions and answers. Please like and share this article!
Notes and Helpful Sources:
1. My Book Review on How to Read the Bible: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9TQMlURiVc
2. This page shows the Quran verse that contradicts the four gospels account: https://carm.org/islam-crucifixion-of-jesus
3. This page shows the minimal historical data for the death of Christ by Crucifixion: https://crossexamined.org/the-evidence-for-jesus-resurrection-part-3-fact-1-jesus-died-by-crucifixion/
4. Here’s a web page that gives more details about Christ’s atonement: https://www.josh.org/resurrection/why-did-jesus-have-to-die/?mot=J79GNF&gclid=Cj0KCQjw28_XBRDhARIsAEk21FjedpZ4LQNP-DIsT8HiYoA3mhtZoScMqnBWzUdGLky1NKu2dCOUO58aAk4aEALw_wcB
5. The resurrection is the most important claim of the New Testament, so he’s a list of the top ten reasons of why we should believe it to be true: https://crossexamined.org/10-reasons-accept-resurrection-jesus-historical-fact/
6. For more information on the worldwide view of the flood, here’s a lecture by Hugh Ross on the worldwide flood: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=463VOeEdBaU
7. There are 12 basic, historical facts that Jesus rose from the dead, which is one of the essential claims of Christianity: http://www3.telus.net/trbrooks/garyhabermas.htm
8. This video of William lane Craig give a great quick answer to why is Christianity right among other religion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuMRP8bZXEQ
9. Except from my article: https://www.christiantruththroughapologetics.com/talk-apologetics-blog/is-christianity-just-based-on-unreasonable-faith-blind-faith-or-forensic-faith
10. Link to my book review on Paul Copan’s book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6F32htm9TFg
11. Credit goes to SJ Thomason for writing out the questions from the video: https://christian-apologist.com/