Can God Create a Rock He Can’t Move?

Can God create a rock He can't move?
Can God create a rock He can’t move? That is a recurring question we see just about every day in someone’s email. The idea is that if God can do anything, He should be able to create a rock so big He can’t move it. But that would mean there is something He cannot do. Many times the question is sent along with a quote of Matthew 19:26 where Jesus said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” There are multiple errors in both the question and in the questioners’ concept of God.

I want to make it clear that there are things that God cannot do. The Bible says, “It is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18). There are many things associated with evil that God cannot do because they would violate His very nature. That should be so obvious that no thinking person would want to debate it.

It is also important to understand that God cannot renege on His promises. The Bible is full of promises of God, beginning with Genesis 3:15. The New Testament treats those promises as iron clad–something that God cannot break. Take a few minutes to look at Acts 13:23, Romans 4:21, Galatians 4:4, Hebrews 10:23, and Hebrews 11:11. It is important to Christians that the promises of God apply to us today, and that promises concerning eternity can be trusted. (See Matthew 10:32, Matthew 25:46, and 2 Timothy 2:12.)

God cannot hear the prayers of sinful people who reject God and His teachings. The Old Testament tells us that in Isaiah 59:1-2, Proverbs 1:24,28 and 28:9. In the New Testament, we all know the promise in John 3:16 that “whoever believes in (Jesus)…will have everlasting life.” We also see in Mark 16:15-16 that the lack of belief leads to condemnation. John 8:24 and Romans 1:16 and 10:1 carry the same message.

So when Jesus said, “with God, all things are possible?” in Matthew 19:26, what was He talking about? To understand any passage in the Bible (or any other book), you need to look at who said it, to whom, why, and how the people it was spoken to would have understood it. In this case, Jesus is talking about how hard it is for a rich person to “enter the kingdom of God.” He said it would be “easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.” The disciples asked how anyone could be saved. Jesus answered in verse 26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

From a human standpoint, giving up riches for something religious seems impossible. But God’s love is so great and His grace so sufficient that even a rich person can be saved. The statement certainly doesn’t apply to moving a physical rock, but rather a spiritual boulder.

Someone asked Marshall Keeble, a great old black preacher, the question, “Can God create a rock He can’t move?” His response was “Yep, and He can create a bulldozer big enough to do the job.” God uses unlikely tools to accomplish impossible challenges. Using an old physics teacher to answer questions like this one is improbable, to say the least. But the fact that you read this discussion this far indicates that no matter how unlikely it might be from a human standpoint, sometimes it works.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Cancer Curse and God

Cancer Curse and God
One of the most common catastrophic illnesses facing humans is cancer. If you live long enough, it is almost sure that you will experience cancer in yourself or a loved one. Atheists contend that there can’t be a God or He wouldn’t allow the cancer curse to become so common and cause so much suffering.

A study recently released by Johns Hopkins University found that 29% of cancer-causing mutations result from environmental factors such as Sun exposure or cigarette smoking and inherited genetic mutations cause 5%. The remaining 66%, according to the study, are completely random and are due to bad luck. The authors of the study say they wanted to offer comfort to people with cancer who were living a healthy lifestyle, by showing that it was not their fault they got cancer.

This type of study has many problems. First, it involved 32 cancer types and 69 countries. The sampling of the study would have been extremely difficult because cancer incidence in areas with large amounts of asbestos in the soil and bedrock would be different from areas with no asbestos. The effect of exposure to toxins in the environment would vary widely. The ages of the subjects are also important because part of the cancer problem is that more people are living long enough to get cancer. That was not the case even 100 years ago.

When God created the first humans, there was no cancer problem. The point is that God did not create cancer. Passages like Deuteronomy 28 tell us that rejecting God would result in God not withholding “curses” on humans. Verses 1-14 describe God’s protection from these things, but verses 15-68 describe the curses in detail. The Hebrew word for curse in these verses is arar which means to be completely without God’s help or blessing.

When humans reject God, we are left on our own to deal with the consequences. Galatians 6:7-8 talks about reaping what we sow. That principle applies to people or nations as well as individuals. James 1:13-17 describes God as a loving God who never gives us temptations of any kind, but rather brings good things. It also tells us that God does not vary or mislead in the way He deals with us.

We have contaminated our world with chemicals that we disposed of in irresponsible ways. We have contaminated our bodies with chemicals from recreational drugs, alcohol, and even prescription drugs. The result has been a cancer curse and many of the curses God warned of in Deuteronomy. We need to turn back to Him.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Bible Translations and the Tyranny of God

Bible Translations
One of the constant challenges made by skeptics of the existence of God is what they sometimes call the tyranny of God. The charge is that God has done things that make it impossible to believe that He is a God of love and mercy. They suggest that the biblical stories are just myths contrived by brutal and primitive societies. This misunderstanding is often caused by Bible translations.

They give examples like 2 Samuel 12:31 where David “puts people under saws, axes, and iron and passes them through brick kilns: … ” Perhaps the most frequently used case is 2 Kings 2:23-25 where Elisha has God send a bear to rip up a group of children who are kidding him because he is bald. Just reading these stories in your KJV Bible might make you think that there is some validity to the challenges, but there is a far more basic problem here.

The problem in these cases and many others is translation. In many cases, the King James is a very poor translation of the original language, and the meaning many English words has changed since 1611. You can see this by looking at modern Bible translations or by using The Word: The Bible in Twenty-six Translations. Let us take the two examples above to see what we mean.

Second Samuel 12:31 does not say that David cut up people with saws and irons and burned them in kilns. It says he forced them into doing these things as labor. The people involved cut wood, made bricks, picked rock, and the like. It may have been hard labor, but it was not wanton brutality. The story in 2 Kings 2:23 -25 is badly distorted by the KJV use of the word “child.” The actual Hebrew word in the passage refers to a young man in a militant form–sometimes referring to an army. This was a gang of teenage thugs who were not just making fun of Elisha, but denigrating God and His spokesman. The reference to baldness probably had to do with the fact that lepers shaved their heads, and as such were outcasts. This is a case of a direct challenge to God and His representative.

To get at the question of whether we understand God’s methods, purposes, or nature, we must look at the original language and the context in which it was written. Failure to do this is not confined to those who would discredit God. It is also seen in the work of some fundamentalists and religionists.

In the debates about evolution, many creationists do not look at the words in Genesis and what they mean and how they were understood by the people of Moses’ day. The fact that the Sun, Moon, and stars were created in verse 1 and then became fully visible in verses 14-19 is lost if one does not look at the difference between the process of creating (Hebrew bara) and making (Hebrew asah). Failure to take the Hebrew words literally has caused some to limit God’s creative process to the week of Genesis when clearly God’s miraculous acts took place before the week started.

Those who claim to take the Bible literally must work at understanding what the author wanted to convey in the original language. Comparing different Bible translations can help to clarify some problems. For a detailed explanation of the Hebrew words in Genesis, we recommend our booklet God’s Revelation in His Rocks and in His Word available in printed form or online.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Dancing Around Religion

Is Religion a Brain Function?
Is religion a brain function? Stav Dimitropoulos is a regular writer for Discover magazine. In the July/August 2017 issue (page 26-27) she wrote an article titled “Trying to Lose My Religion.” She explains her religious feelings by saying, “Could my grandparents’ faith, foisted upon me during my formative years, have hard-wired my otherwise logical brain for mysticism?”

Dimitropoulos launches into a series of speculative discussions trying to explain away the unique religious quality of humans as entirely functions of the brain. In one section of the article, she suggests that psychoactive drugs will accomplish the same result. One of her fellow researchers, Dr. Jordan Grafman at Northwestern University points out that, “Mystical experiences can lead to creative thoughts and artistic development.” This is a step in the right direction. The problem is that researchers like Dimitropoulos lump all religious activity into the same mold.

Attempting to suggest that all religions do the same thing, come to action in the same way, and/or have the same experiences in worship activity is rather ignorant. Many of us worship quietly on our own without emotional experiences or ritual. Suggesting that an apologetic scholar, a Unitarian, a Muslim, a Hindu, a voodoo chanter, a Buddhist, a Catholic priest, and pentecostal participant engaging in tongues all do the same thing, in the same way, is ludicrous.

The fact that creativity, music, art, and worship all have similar origins in religious activity is a manifestation of the spiritual nature of humans. Guilt, sympathy, compassion, and self-sacrificing love are further manifestations of the human spiritual nature. Those of us who work with the mentally challenged and have mentally challenged children can tell you that their spiritual nature is no different from ours. They may not be able to express that nature as we do because of the impairment they have to overcome.

Trying to make religion a brain function is dancing around the fact that there are things humans do which are not rooted in any evolutionary model. Attempting to break the brain down into a multilayered device to explain everything there is to know about humans doesn’t work. God created us in His image and religion is not a function of the brain. Our spiritual uniqueness is not dependent on our brain or any section of the brain.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Bogota, Colombia–Faith Challenges

Bogota, Colombia
Bolivar Plaza, Bogota, Colombia

As you read this, your author is in Bogota, Colombia, South America, presenting lectures at a university and in town meetings.

What has happened in Colombia is going on in many areas of South America. For years the Roman Catholic Church has dominated the country, and recent moral problems with some priests and Catholic leaders have disillusioned many Colombians. The result is that belief in God has dropped considerably and Colombia’s health minister has announced he is an atheist and is vowing to implement legal abortion.

Atheists are bringing in atheistic professor Richard Dawkins to challenge the Catholic Church to debate in Bogota in December of this year. The Catholic Church has accepted the challenge and an ordained priest of 50 years experience named Gerardo Remolina will oppose Dawkins. Remolina has written a book titled God and Religion, Illusion or Reality. He is the vice-chancellor of Bogota’s Catholic Javeriana Pontifical University and is the academic dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. Tickets for the debate have already gone on sale.

The atheists are also sponsoring a national essay contest in which students are being asked to watch the BBC documentary entitled Beautiful Minds and then write a five-page essay on Dawkins’ godless belief system. The top ten students will then be invited to travel to London to visit the Natural History Museum, with a tour guided by Dawkins himself. You can read more about the Dawkins challenge on ColombiaReports.com.

During our trip we are presenting programs on the existence of God in Chia, a northern suburb of Bogota, Colombia, on June 30 and July 1.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Skeptic Challenges Answered

Skeptic Challenges
DOES GOD EXIST? maintains a Facebook page with daily postings. We often get skeptic challenges and questions from those who are seeking for answers. We want to share the following conversation from Facebook. The article we posted was about the design of kidneys. The article ended like this:
…Science has not created a perfect kidney machine to replace the Original Equipment Manufacturer’s model in spite of years of research and the work of our brightest medical and engineering minds. We think this is a design that’s more than dandy–it’s magnificent.

SKEPTIC 1- creation of god ??? please stop kidding yourself ..

DGE?- Does the idea that there might be a Creator disturb you?

SKEPTIC 1- the idea there might be a creator doesn’t disturb me at all .. we are probably the creation of some alien form. What is disturbing me is the amount of lies religions are built on … you don’t actually think god created us do you? …and if you do, tell me your version of how it possibly happened

DGE?- You seem to believe that we were created by some “alien form.” What evidence do you have of that? What are the “lies religions are built on?” I don’t have my own personal version of how God created us. It’s in the Bible.

SKEPTIC 1- Why would i read the biggest lie ever written ??? Imo you are the one with a lot to learn if you believe all that (….)

DGE?- How can you say the Bible is “the biggest lie ever written” when you have never read it. Who told you what to believe?

SKEPTIC 1- I don’t believe we have been created by an alien species but I think that this theory is far more plausible than a man made god created to control people … He didn’t give us the ability to learn .. Evolution did … Science is proving everyday that god doesn’t exist yet we still have people who believes these lies … You’re free to believe in what ever suits you.

DGE?- Science is not proving that God doesn’t exist. It’s really difficult to prove that anything DOESN’T exist. Just because you have never empirically verified something does not mean that it doesn’t exist. We can’t see, touch, taste, smell, or hear God directly, but that does not mean that God doesn’t exist. You could say the same things about love, but you can see the evidence of love in people’s lives and in the things that it causes. So also you can see the evidence of God in people’s lives and in the things he has created.

BELIEVER 1- Really it takes more faith to believe this all just happened than to believe a Great God designed us! Nothing comes from nothing!!!

SKEPTIC 2- some supernatural sky daddy made everything is a lot more fantastic than the Big Bang and evolution which is absolute certain. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence

DGE?- If your concept of the God you don’t believe in is “some supernatural sky daddy” then I have to agree with you. I don’t believe in that kind of God either. The Big Bang is evidence of a beginning. The Bible has said that there was a beginning ever since Genesis 1:1. From Aristotle to the 20th century (Over 2000 years) science said that the universe was eternal. Scientists had to reluctantly accept the fact that there was a beginning when the evidence became overwhelming in 1965 with the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation. Scientists finally had to recognize that the Bible was right–there was a beginning. By the way, “Big Bang” was a derogatory name coined by a scientist (Fred Hoyle) who was critical of the idea of a beginning of the universe. You say, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” To claim that the universe just came into being out of nothing with no Creator and that non-living matter turned into complex life without any intelligent guidance are extraordinary claims. Where is your extraordinary evidence?

SKEPTIC 2- 1) The universe *as we know it* had a beginning. It could have existed in another state. We just don’t know. 2) I simply don’t believe the claim that the universe is a “creation” by a “creator.” If a creator is claimed, that creator must be proven. That last bit is shifting the burden of proof. It equates to “prove there is no god.” It is intellectually dishonest to shift the burden of proof to the negative. The positive claim bears it.

DGE?- You say that 1) the universe could have existed in another state before the Big Bang. Where do you suppose that imaginary universe would have come from? Don’t try to suggest that the universe is cyclical. The present universe is not going to collapse on itself and start over with another Big Bang because science shows that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. It will never collapse and re-bang. Secondly, you say that 2) there is no creator because you don’t believe in a creator. I could say that there is a Creator because I do believe in a Creator. That doesn’t prove anything.

SKEPTIC 2- Also, -12 + 12 = 0. The total net energy of the universe is 0. Therefore, no creator is necessary.

DGE?- You have been reading too much of Lawrence Krauss and A Universe from Nothing. If you define nothing as an equal amount of positive and negative energy, you are not talking about nothing. You are talking about something. How about this equation, 0 + 0 = 0.

SKEPTIC 2- Evolution is a cornerstone of modern science. It is not a controversial subject, the evidence is overwhelming and from many different fields. To deny evolution is like saying the sky is orange or the earth is flat. People will just think your retarded.

DGE?- Evidence for limited evolution, especially within species, is obvious. Evidence for one kind of animal evolving into a completely different animal is sketchy to non-existent. New kinds of animals appear in the geologic record suddenly, by geologic times. There is no gradual unfolding as Darwin predicted. Consider the Cambrian Explosion.

BELIEVER 2- Only a Master Engineer such as God could have designed this handiwork. The Bible says, “I’m fearful and wonderfully made”! Modern Science can’t come up with a machine like the kidneys!

SKEPTIC 2- Science has and does… It’s called a kidney dialysis machine

DGE?- I know people who are on dialysis machines. Those machines are nothing like real kidneys. The don’t work on their own, and they are very large. Humans have never invented a device to do what the kidney does without attention, and that fits within the human body.

BELIEVER 3- The fact that you people are smart enough to have this discussion proves to me that there is a creator.

(This conversation was edited to correct grammatical and spelling errors, to clarify, and for brevity. You will find our daily Facebook postings at www.facebook.com/evidence4god.)
–Roland Earnst © 2017

Skeptic Challenges Answered

Skeptic Challenges

DOES GOD EXIST? maintains a Facebook page with daily postings. We often get challenges and questions from atheists and skeptics or those who are seeking for answers. We want to share the following conversation from Facebook. The article we posted was about the way the tendons in the legs of various animals and birds are designed in a way that allows them to sleep while standing, hanging upside down, or perched on a branch. The article ended like this:

DGE?-…If a human falls asleep while standing up, it can be dangerous. It’s also very uncomfortable when we have to stand while we are sleepy. For some animals sleeping while standing comes naturally. It’s all a matter of design. Such a simple thing as the position in which we sleep is a reflection of the incredible design that is built into all living creatures.

SKEPTIC- Are you so willfully ignorant that you refuse to do any research?

DGE?- Please explain what you mean.

SKEPTIC- You talk about stuff like this like it’s some kind of universal mystery, but there’s already a scientific explanation

DGE?- If you read this again, you will not find any place where we said it’s a mystery. There are explanations for this and most of the other things that we have presented on this page. The few times when we present things which cannot be explained, it’s usually because science has not yet discovered the answer. What science does is to try to discover how God did it. I think that’s why God gave humans curiosity. Solving the “mysteries” makes life fun and challenging. The point we are making on this page is not that these things are mysterious. The point is that they show design and engineering–not merely random chance.

SKEPTIC- Science is not just a way to discover how your god did it. It’s a way to find out how, if, and why things work. Before you look for how Yahweh did it, the intellectually honest thing to do is to find out IF he did it.

DGE?- That’s a good point. Science does look for how things work–and why. The “why” leads us to the question, “Do the facts of how this works indicate that it could have happened by chance?” That leads to the question of, “Is it rational to think that this could have happened as a result of random accidents without any intelligent design or planning?” The more we see apparent design in the world around us, the more we realize that it takes more faith to believe all those “designs” happened by accident than to believe they had a Designer.

SKEPTIC- Prove it was designed. Provide evidence to back up your assertions

DGE?- You say I should prove my assertions. You might want to look back to see what my “assertion” was. It was that there is apparent design in the world around us. Someone you may have heard of wrote, “Biology is the study of complicated things that have the appearance of having been designed with a purpose.” Even biologist Richard Dawkins sees apparent design in living things. So you can say, like Dawkins, that the apparent design is only in your imagination and is totally the work of natural selection acting on random mutations. Or you can say there really is a Designer. I would suggest that design shows intelligence. I can’t prove that God exists, and you can’t prove that He doesn’t exist. All that we can do is look at the evidence and reach our own conclusions.

SKEPTIC- When someone like Dawkins says there’s a “design” they don’t mean some guy sitting in the clouds with blueprints of every species, they mean that different animals have special means of doing things to survive (stuff like horses having hooves and fish having gills). This is not proof of Yahweh or any deity.

DGE?- If your concept of the God you don’t believe in is “some guy sitting in the clouds”, then you have a very juvenile concept of God. I don’t believe in that kind of god either.

(This conversation was edited to correct grammatical and spelling errors, to clarify, and for brevity. You will find our daily Facebook postings at www.facebook.com/evidence4god.)
–Roland Earnst © 2017