“Nonsense Remains Nonsense Even When We Talk it About God”

The Problem of Pain book coverI started C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain today on a flight to Honolulu. Now, before you get envious, it is for work. However, I sill stipulate that there are far worse places and things to do for work. 🙂

In either case, it is yet another thought-provoking work by him, and I am sure it will generate a good number of posts here on Traditores…this being the first. Getting on with that…

How many of you have ever heard someone ask, “Can God create a rock so large He cannot lift it?”

To them, hopefully with kindness in your heart and voice, you can respond:

[God’s] Omnipotence means the power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to do the intrinsically impossible. You may attribute miracles to him, but not nonsense. There is no limit to His power. If you chose to say “God can give a creature free will and at the same time withhold free will from it,” you have not succeeded in saying anything about God: meaningless combinations of words do not suddenly acquire meaning simply because we prefix to them the two other words “God can.” It remains true that all things are possible with God: the intrinsic impossibilities are not things but non-entities. It is no more possible for God than the weakest of His creatures to carry out both of two mutually exclusive alternatives; not because His power meets an obstacle, but because nonsense remains nonsense even when we talk it about God.

It is easy to see how this quote from chapter two applies to the rock question, but we humans fall afoul of this far more often than we realize; whether as believers building a self-contradictory systematic theology, or non-believers rationalizing our rejection of the Divine through an intrinsically impossible standard for an acceptable God.

Nonsense remains nonsense.


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