Is God a Silly Idea: A Socratic Dialogue


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In their last discussion, Sarah explained why she’s within her epistemic rights to deny the existence of  a teapot orbiting the sun, because, among other reasons, the idea was silly. Read that discussion here. This discussion follows from that.


Brad: Alright, I’ll take you up on your offer. I’ll let you know why I think your God is silly.

Sarah: Okay.

Brad: Well, first of all, it would probably help if you define what you mean by God. People have all sorts of whacky ideas about God, I can’t tell you why your God is silly unless you define him.

Sarah: Umm … the all-good, all-powerful, all-knowing, supernatural creator of the universe? That’s off the top of my head, there’s probably a better definition, but that might do for now, yes?

Brad: So God knows all things?

Sarah: Yes. He knows everything that is happening, has happened, or will happen.

Brad: Yeah, I’m sorry, I find that ridiculous.

Sarah: You don’t have to be sorry, you just have to offer an argument. Why do you think God—so defined—is ridiculous?

Does God Know What It’s like to be Afraid

Brad: Well … Okay, If God knows everything then he knows what it’s like to be afraid. Right? But if he knows what it’s like to be afraid how can he be all-powerful?

Sarah: God knows what it’s like for me to be afraid, and he knows what it’s like for you, but God doesn’t know what it is like for God to be afraid because God is perfect.

Brad: If he’s perfect, perfect in knowledge, he should know that, but, according to you, he doesn’t. This is one of the many examples I could give to show why your God is incoherent.

Sarah: I disagree.

Brad: Shocking!

Sarah: Well, I could agree with you if it would make you feel better but then we’d both be wrong.

Brad: You’re a Sassy little Christian aren’t you.

Sarah: You’re arguing: God isn’t able to experience imperfect emotions, therefore God isn’t all knowing.

Brad: Something like that.

Sarah: But God is by definition a perfect being. And a perfect being can’t experience pain or loss. And if he can’t experience pain or loss then he can’t experience fear . . .

Brad: And that’s another thing, why are you so certain he’s a he.

Sarah: Either that was an intentional red herring or you need to get back on decaf. . . . As I was saying, if God cannot experience pain or loss then he can’t experience fear. To say that he should know what it is like for him to be afraid is simply meaningless. And since it’s meaningless it can’t be true. And since it can’t be true, it can’t be known. And since it can’t be known, it can’t contradict his omniscience. [1]

Can God Create a rock too heavy for him to lift?

Brad:  Okay, what about this one; I’m sure you’ve heard it before. If God is all powerful, which you’ve already said you believe, can he create a rock so heavy that even he can’t lift it. If he can’t create a rock that heavy then he isn’t all powerful. If he can but can’t lift it he isn’t all powerful.

Sarah: Well wait a minute. Are you conceding the point? Do you see why God’s inability to experience fear doesn’t contradict him being all-knowing?

Brad: I’m not conceding anything, Sarah. I’ll chew over what you’ve said. But if you’re okay moving on for now, Can God create a rock too heavy for him to lift or not?

Sarah: What do you think omnipotence means?

Brad: The ability to do anything.

Sarah: That explains why you think this is a good objection to God’s omnipotence. Just as God’s omniscience doesn’t entail that he knows logical contradictions—such as what it’s like for him to worship God—God’s omnipotence doesn’t mean the ability to do things that are meaningless. God can’t create a God for him to worship. God can’t lie—to do so would contradict his nature. God can’t create a square circle, because a square circle isn’t anything.

Brad: That’s all fine, but creating a rock too heavy to lift isn’t meaningless, nor, I don’t think, does it contradict his supposed nature.

Sarah: I’ll have to give that some more thought. . . . But, in asking “can God create a rock too heavy for him to lift”, you’re essentially asking, “can an all-powerful being create something that he cannot control”, but an all-powerful being would have an infinite amount of lifting power, right? So anything too heavy for such a being to lift would have to have more than infinite weight. But “more than infinite” is one of those combinations of words that contain a logical impossibility. It’s a nonsense phrase that can’t correspond to anything in reality or in our imagination.

Brad: Interesting stuff. Alright, I gotta go. Would you like me to see if the barista can make a coffee too hot for you to drink?

Sarah: I would like you to see if the barista can make a chai latte that is not too hot nor too cool. Thanks.

fradd-atheism (1)


[1] I stole this line of reasoning from my friend Trent Horn’s book, Answering Atheism.

12 thoughts on “Is God a Silly Idea: A Socratic Dialogue

  1. Hey, just so you know, the argument of “Can an infinitely powerful God create a rock He can’t lift” is the fallacy of Contradictory Terms.

    Basically, if God is all powerful,the rock He can’t lift can’t exist. One of the two terms is impossible and the argument is impossible.

    Same thing for ‘square circle’ etc.

    Hope this helps.

  2. This is a super silly argument. I don’t understand why people keep trying to define and characterize God in human terms. The simple answer is that there are many, many things our imperfect (functioning only at 10% brain) can’t fully comprehend. But I guess that’s too scary for most people.

    1. Stephanie, do you think we can know anything at all about God? Do you disagree that he is all powerful? Do you disagree that he knows all things? Do you disagree that he is all loving? That he is immaterial?

  3. You said, “…And a perfect being can’t experience pain or loss.”

    Jesus has both a divine and human nature. Jesus certainly felt pain and loss. Therefore, God can know pain and loss. See, Philippians 2:6-8

  4. I have question about God being afraid – because Jesus was afraid in the garden, was that in his humanity only or something, because God HAS felt fear yet he is perfect.

  5. Wow, wow, wow, stop. right. there: God is not a “being”, remember? You better put an “*” and write a note liking to one of those good videos of Fr. Robert Barron! 😉

  6. Sarah: Umm … the all-good, all-powerful, all-knowing, supernatural creator of the universe?

    She didn’t read her bible. God is neither described as all-knowing, nor as all-powerful…

    Robert Heinrich

    1. Do you expect the creator of the universe is a stupid and uncaused process? So, this means your intelligence is superior to all others?

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