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

New Life from an Old Source

New Life from and Old Source
My daughter and I were digging up potatoes in the garden. Most of the potatoes were pretty small, but we try to be sure we do not waste anything, so all of them were going in the bucket. Suddenly I heard, “Yuk, this isn’t a potato” and she reared back to pitch a tulip bulb she had dug up into the compost pile. I stopped her and said, “Hey, we want to plant that in the flower bed, and it will be beautiful by spring.” She looked at the dirty, shabby tulip bulb and said, “How can anything as pretty as a tulip come out of something as ugly, old, and beat up as this?”

The fact of the matter is that it is a basic design of the Creator that causes all kinds of beauty and new life to come from an old source that has been buried. These beautiful flowers all were dead looking ugly bulbs at one time. It is a design of nature that allows seeds to come out of a dying and rotten vegetable.

The same thing is true on a spiritual, psychological, and emotional level. A beautiful Christian life is only possible when the ugly old person of sin is buried. Those of us who have found ourselves deep in sin, fight a losing battle if we try to overcome that sin on our own. It is only when we bury that sinful, ugly old person that something beautiful can blossom and grow. That is why baptism is such a wonderful and beautiful act. Perhaps those who have grown up in the church cannot appreciate it as much as those of us who experienced total contamination by the world, but it is far from a meaningless or senseless act.

New life for old is a very good offer. Everything God tells us to do is logical, reasonable, and pregnant with meaning. Let us bury the old life of sin, come out of the waters of baptism a new person in a new relationship with God, and with a new capacity to change the world through the power God gives us.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Where Is God When Natural Disaster Strikes?

Where Is God?
Many times atheists and skeptics use natural disasters as proof that God doesn’t exist. The argument is that an almighty and loving God would not allow these things to happen, so therefore God doesn’t exist. That is a faulty argument that assumes we know more than an omniscient God could know. When faced with the current disaster of flooding from Hurricane Harvey on the United States Gulf Coast, even those who believe in God often ask, “Where is God?” They want to know why the God they believe in would allow such things to happen.

So where is God? Why doesn’t He do something about the suffering? God is there, and He is doing something. God is working through His people. We are all created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). When tragedy strikes, even those who don’t have a good relationship with God begin to show a little bit of that image as they reach out to help. Those of us who are Christians should be the most willing and eager to show God’s love. We not only bear the image of God, but we also remember what Jesus did and what He said about helping “the least of these” (Matthew 25:34-40).

Rick Stedman posted an opinion essay on the Fox News website that answers the question about where is God when a natural disaster strikes. We recommend that you read it. We could not have said it better.

We also encourage you to help those in need in any way you can. If you can donate to help the flood victims in Texas and Louisiana, please do so. But make sure you are giving your support through a trustworthy organization. You want your money to go toward helping the people in need and churches and Christian relief funds are the best a doing that.

Where is God when natural disasters strike? He is working through His people who are demonstrating God’s love to those who need it the most. There is no better time for you to witness to those who need to know that God loves them.

If you have questions about why God allows pain and suffering, we invite you to visit our website www.whypain.org.
–Roland Earnst © 2017

Eclipses Are Not Omens

Eclipses Are Not Omens
By now everyone should know that there will be a total solar eclipse across the United States tomorrow. We have been writing about it in our posts for the past week. Please go back to any of them for more information. We hope that everyone knows that eclipses are not omens of some mysterious event. They are a natural phenomenon of the solar system that God designed.

The first written record of a total solar eclipse was in China in the year 2134 B.C. Apparently, that eclipse took everyone by surprise because two royal astrologers who failed to predict it, were beheaded for their crime. Since that time, people have often interpreted eclipses as omens or signs from God (or the gods) of some impending disaster. Human history has many instances of people interpreting an eclipse as a sign that something, usually bad, was about to happen. That is superstition and is not supported by the facts.

In recent years some Christians have declared eclipses, comets, or celestial alignments to be a sign that Christ is about to return or that God was about to send judgment on a nation. There have already been such claims about the total solar eclipse of 2017. That is both untrue and counterproductive for the Christian faith.

If you hear anyone saying that this eclipse is a sign of God’s judgment or Christ’s return, don’t believe it. Jesus made it clear that nobody knows when He will return. (Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32) We should always be prepared for Christ’s return because we can’t predict when it will be. It may be today, or it may not be in our lifetimes. Just remember that eclipses are not omens and neither are any other natural events.

Using omens or numerology or personal “revelations” to predict the end of the age and the return of Christ not only makes the false prophet look foolish, but it is a bad reflection on Christianity. It’s both bad science and bad theology. Nobody knows when Christ will return, but when He does, everyone will know it. (Philippians 2:10)
–Roland Earnst © 2017

270-Degree Triangle and God

Looking for a 270-Degree Triangle
Everyone knows that if you add the three angles of a triangle, the total equals 180 degrees. So how can you have a 270-degree triangle? This question can be applied to the much tougher challenge of understanding what God is.

Many of the struggles people have in understanding God are rooted in our inability to understand how God functions and what is the nature of God. Questions we hear are like: “What race is God?” “What sex is God?” “How can God hear the prayers of many different people in many different places all at once?” “Who created God?” “Why does God allow awful things to happen?” These questions are a reflection of our inability to understand God’s nature.

The Bible gives us many pictures of God’s nature. So what does the Bible say God is like? All of the biblical descriptions portray God as a being who exists outside of time and space. Since God is not limited by the dimensions that restrict us, then the rules that are inviolable in our dimensions create no barriers for God.

To illustrate, I suggest that you take a flat sheet of paper and draw a triangle that has three right angles of 90 degrees for a 270-degree triangle. You may reply, “It is not possible. Triangles have 180 degrees. Don’t you know the rules of Euclidian geometry?” I then suggest that you visualize this. On a globe of the Earth, start at the North Pole and draw a line down the Prime Meridian to the Equator. Then to make the first 90° angle, go west along the Equator to 90° west longitude. From that point make a second 90° angle by going straight north to the North Pole. That line will be perpendicular to the first line creating a third 90° angle. By changing from the two-dimensional paper to the three-dimensional globe, the impossible becomes possible.

Let’s apply that to our understanding of God. How do we, stuck here in our limited dimensions, have the power to comprehend God who is not limited to our dimensions? The answer is, of course, that we cannot! To answer the most profound questions about God, we have to be willing to enlarge our understanding of the nature of God. We must accept the fact that God is not limited to our dimensions. When we do that, we realize that the questions we asked earlier are meaningless. They come from the fact that we cannot see all of the dimensions of God’s existence. A 270-degree triangle is possible when it is not limited to two dimensions. For a dimensionless God, all limitations are gone.

For more on this see “A Help in Understanding What God Is.”
–John N. Clayton and Roland Earnst © 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

Area 51, Aliens, and God

Area 51
About once a month, on an average, we get a letter or email from someone who wants to convince us that “God” is an alien who is in control of the Earth. The people who advocate this idea say that this alien is using religion to prepare us for some devious purpose. The purpose goes all the way from turning us into food for the aliens to being foot soldiers in a cosmic war. The usual claim is that the alien headquarters in Area 51, which is a military installation in Nevada. Area 51 and a restaurant/motel nearby known as the “Little Alien” (which has the heading “Earthlings Welcome” on the sign) have been referenced in numerous books, TV shows, and movies.

“Dreamland Resort” was an old code name for the military base. The area was a research facility for Lockheed Aircraft where they developed aircraft that could fly higher than the Soviet missiles could reach and fast enough to outrun any interceptor planes. In 1960 the U-2 spy plane piloted by Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union. That led to a new project titled “Project Oxcart” which produced the spy planes A-12, YF-12, and eventually the SR-71 Blackbird. Area 51 was also involved in the development of the F-117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighter which was kept a top secret until 1988 when a new plane called the A-22 Raptor was introduced. These planes could fly as high as 90,000 feet. Civilian aircraft cannot go higher than 40,000 feet. The testing and experiments on these aircraft gave visions from the Earth unlike anyone had seen before. To this day people are still reporting sightings of UFOs as military aircraft research continues. Remember that “UFO” (Unidentified Flying Object) simply means we have not identified what the sighting is. It does not mean an alien has abducted someone.

We have pointed out many times that life in space is not a biblical issue. The Bible does not tell us that Earth is the only place where God saw fit to create life. We have also labored to get people to understand that God is not a physical being nor is He limited by physical forces or environments. The Bible says that no one can look on God’s face and live for the simple reason that God is a Spirit and not flesh and blood. Living people cannot see a non-physical being. When people say that God is a physical being, they are creating their own badly-informed concept of God. God is not an “old man in the sky.”

For more on the nature of God, we encourage you to read “A Help in Understanding What God Is” on our doesgodexist.org website. Also, watch programs #8 and #9 in our video series on doesgodexist.tv.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Antichrist: Who Is It?

Antichrist?
We continue to get mail from dispensationalists who have two grievances. First, they have a denominational conflict with anyone who doesn’t believe the Bible teaches that the Earth is 6000 years old. Secondly, they continually attach the name Antichrist to anyone whom they feel is leading us into a physical war with political forces of today.

We are reading an excellent book by F. Lagard Smith titled After Life. (We will review it in the fourth quarter issue of our printed journal.) Smith has the best and most concise explanation of the fallacy of Dispensationalism we have seen. The following is an excellent footnote on Antichrist on page 263 of his book:

“’Antichrist’ is the definitive word describing any evil person. In the New Testament, the word itself is mentioned only five times, all in four verses of John’s epistles (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7). A quick review of those verses will show that no single person–past, present, or future–is referred to as the Antichrist. In speaking of the ‘antichrists,’ John is specifically addressing a doctrinal error in his own day in which some were denying the fleshly humanity of Christ. It was thus that they were anti-Christs–those who were against Christ. Who were the ‘many antichrists’ (plural)? ‘They went out from us (meaning they had been counted among the Christians).’ Who did John call liars? ‘It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist–he denies the Father and the Son.’ When will he come? ‘This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.’ John describes these first-century Gnostic-thinking former believers as ‘liars,’ ‘false prophets,’ ‘deceivers,’ and ‘antichrists.’ Call the beast in Revelation ‘the Beast,’ if you wish, but John’s Revelation knows nothing of a powerful ‘Antichrist’ who is supposedly coming during the Tribulation.”
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Science and Faith: Handing it Down

Science and Faith-Science Fair
The message we have presented for many years is that science and faith are friends, not enemies. It’s important to hand that message down to the next generation.

When I was a junior in high school, I was fortunate enough to win the local science fair in Bloomington, Indiana. My exhibit was a survey done of southern Indiana freshwater rivers and streams. The purpose was to determine if the biospheres of these smaller bodies of water were a valid commercial source of food for human consumption. This was long before Indiana fish farms existed. My study involved pH, chemical factors, and populations of freshwater life such as turtles and frogs. It was pretty simple and far less complex than the work of Frank Sandy who did a study of new methods of solving complex cubic equations.

The National Science Fair that year (1954) was held at Purdue University and sponsored by Westinghouse. In the May 27, 2017, issue of Science News, there is an article about Aaron Yeiser who won second place in the 2017 version of the National Science Fair called the “Regeneron Science Talent Search.” Aaron says he was “encouraged to pursue his science career because of his grandfather” and because his father and grandparents work in computer science, technology, and chemical engineering.

We attempt to show the world that science and faith are friends and that the teachings of Christ are the best possible way for a person to live. We believe it is important to pass that message and ministry on to our children and grandchildren. If they see us committed to something spiritual, and they understand our love for God and His creation, they too will want to pursue that calling.

Passing on our faith to our children is essential. Paul recognized that fact when he wrote to Timothy “I recall the unfeigned faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that it is in you as well” (2 Timothy 1:5).
–John N. Clayton © 2017

Science and Theology

Science and Theology

There has been a growing trend in the academic community to suggest that science and theology are two separate disciplines that cannot support one another. The position of this ministry has always been that science and faith complement each other and should never be viewed as opponents. The dictionary defines science as “systematic knowledge.” It defines theology as “science dealing with God and His relationship to the universe.” (Webster’s American College Dictionary) Bad science and bad theology are very much the same–systematic knowledge replaced by human opinion.

In the physical world, science is based on a method that precludes human opinion. The scientific method involves testing a theory by experimentation to see if it can be falsified. We can even expand and enlarge our fundamental knowledge. Our understanding of gravity, for example, has undergone several changes since Newton’s day when the first knowledge was derived by the tests available to him. When Einstein gave us an expanded understanding of gravity, it was based on several tests which could be duplicated over and over. Now there is a possibility that Newton’s ideas will be expanded even more as better experiments enlarge our understanding.

Interestingly, Isaac Newton also did experiments in theology. In theology, his experiments did not verify his personal opinions, so they never became science. Like much of astronomy, quantum mechanics, and cosmology, experiments in theology have to be conducted by observation of things we can’t control. Science provides facts about the physical world and our role within it, and many of those facts have theological implications.

Do our understandings in theology change? Certainly! Just as our understanding of gravity has grown, so too our understanding of God has grown. As we experience life and see what has happened in human history and in our own lives, our understanding grows. Even our understanding of the Bible has grown as we learn more of what Jesus and the Apostles taught and how they lived. Knowing that the cosmos is not just the Earth and the solar system has expanded our understanding of God and His power and intelligence. It is bad theology to take the knowledge of 500 years ago and force our understandings of the Bible on that knowledge.

The twenty-first century is an exciting time to be alive. As our scientific knowledge continues to grow, so too our understanding of God is growing and expanding. Proverbs 8:1 and 22-30 shows how wisdom was involved in all of God’s creation. If we use our God-given intelligence and take His Word as truth, we can grow in our faith and in knowledge.
–John N. Clayton © 2017