Sophists are people who deceptively used logic to derive illogical conclusions. They’d often do this to stump and confuse their opponents. We have no shortage of sophists today. Here’s a popular piece of sophistry:
- If God can do anything, can he create a mountain so large that he can’t move it?
The “logic” goes like this: If God can’t create such a mountain, then He can’t do anything. If He can create such a mountain that He can’t move, then, here too, He can’t do anything. Conclusion: He can’t do anything!
At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be any way out of this conundrum. However, there are many of these “logical” conundrums. Take this statement: “I always lie.” If this statement is true, then it refutes itself. If the liar “always lies,” then this statement is also a lie. If this person doesn’t “always lie,” then this statement remains a lie. Consequently, it’s always a lie and can never be true.
Nevertheless, it is logically possible that some people always do lie. And so why can’t the liar ever coherently state that he always lie? Well, he can by rephrasing the statement: “I used to always lie!”
Perhaps the sophist’s challenge against God must also be rephrased so that it makes some logical sense. In fact, the Bible itself would require some rephrasing of the sophist’s challenge. This is because Scripture is clear that, while God can do anything, He can’t do it in any way. He too is bound – by His Word, His promises, His character, and perhaps even by logic. This means that there are certain things that He can’t or won’t do:
- When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. (James 1:13-14)
Nevertheless, our God can do all things but these will be done in His way. You can trust Him entirely!