The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY)

What God Cannot Do

- –Christophe­r Simon

“God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” Numbers 23:19 NIV

There is an old joke about the wiseacre who asks the Sunday School teacher if God can make a rock so big that He Himself cannot lift it. Either way of answering results in something God cannot do. The short answer to this paradox is that the descriptio­n of the rock is logically contradict­ory (an object which an omnipotent being cannot lift). There are, however, a few things which God cannot do, but it is not because his power is limited, but rather because his goodness is unlimited. That is, God cannot lie or otherwise act immorally, because He cannot contradict his own nature. It would be a weakness or defect in God if He were to lie or act viciously. Likewise, the fact that God cannot make 2+2=5 is not a weakness on God’s part, but rather a consequenc­e of the fact that even God must obey the laws of logic. What would the world be like if 2+2 could equal anything other than 4? It would be a manifestly absurd world, a world where anything and everything might be good or bad, and true or false. These few things which God cannot do, such as lie, or make the logically impossible possible, are really part and parcel of the fact that we live in a world where things make sense, and good and evil are not simply a matter of whim and whimsy.

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