- Just think: You’ll be in heaven FOREVER!
- Since there’s a God, anything’s possible!
At least they were awe-inspiring to me. To my brother: not so much. The first statement would invariably cause him to roll his eyes. But he came back with some logical arguments to my second grand statement.
“If anything’s possible because God exists,” he asked, “Is it possible for God to die?”
Without thinking I blurted out “Yes! Anything’s possible.”
“Then, if God died,” he concluded, “not everything would be possible anymore, because you said it was all based on there being a God.”
“Okay,” I replied, “that’s true, but God hasn’t died, so all things are currently possible.”
At that point he just shook his head; our Catholic upbringing restrained us from pursuing this further. However, later in life (after I’d graduated from being a Catholic and from being a Jehovah’s Witness) I read a question that would’ve been a perfect comeback for my brother to use: “Can God create a square-circle, or an object so heavy that he can’t lift it?”
This question points out an apparent distinction between the miraculous and the impossible. Both violate the laws of physics, but impossibilities seem to carry it further by being paradoxical as well. [I am speaking of miracles in the strictest sense; not in the casual usage which merely means that something is amazing.]
The Bible makes this distinction too. We are indeed told that “With God all things are possible.” But we are also told that there are things it is impossible for God to do: He cannot die and he cannot lie. This certainly qualifies the statement regarding all things being possible. It’s plain that all things are not possible (since the Bible just listed two such things.)
So what are we left with? We evidently cannot truthfully say that all things are possible. But then how can we allow room for miracles? Do we revise our statement to: “God can do anything that it is possible to do?” That’s not a very awe-inspiring statement. That wouldn’t have even evoked an eye-roll from my brother.
I think what Christians want is a definition something like this: “God can do things that would be impossible for anyone else to do: as long as these things do not involve an inherent paradox.”
But here’s the thing: miracles always involve an inherent paradox.
The statement contains a paradox because of the definition of the title International Grand Master: one can only earn that title by winning many chess games. So, if someone was awarded that title without having won any games the title would be a misnomer: as meaningless as my pointing to a circle and saying “This is a square.”
Let’s return to biblical miracles. Take a mundane one: Jesus turning water into wine. This is a paradox because water is not wine anymore than a square is a circle. “Wine” defines the juice of grapes which have undergone a chemical change due to the time-consuming process of fermentation. Just as it is a mistake to call someone a Grand Master who has not gone through the lengthy process of winning many high-level chess tournaments, it is a mistake to call something “wine” which has not undergone the slow process of fermentation.
The laws of physics are even more strict than the rules governing chess titles. The laws of physics hold that a quantity of water in a vessel cannot spontaneously change into wine because physical objects do not change their nature without some other physical force acting upon them. If you could violate a physical law you would create a paradox. Such paradoxes are subtler than the ones we’ve discussed (and so typically go unrecognized) but they are there nonetheless.
Let’s take one more biblical example: the “multiplying loaves and fishes.” The definition of bread is, at minimum: flour that has been baked. The minimum definition of a fish includes having parents and being hatched from an egg. Something that has not been hatched cannot be a fish anymore than something that has not been baked can be bread.
If Jesus created some things resembling fish (which for convenience we’ll call fish), were they created alive or dead? It seems very strange to create dead fish, replete with perfectly functioning hearts destined to never beat in beings created for the sole purpose of feeding another species. I wonder if his followers came equipped with knives to kill and “clean” the fish, or if it was the first Middle-Eastern sushi feed in history. This god supposedly cares about every sparrow, but evidently doesn’t spare a thought for fish. Go figure.
Miracles are, by their nature, unbelievable; they contradict the laws of physics, and you can’t do that — even if you’re God.
That last statement is bound to rankle believers, who reason that since their god created everything he can do anything he likes with it. So let me elaborate. Let’s say that I “play god” by creating a two-dimensional world on a piece of paper with my pencil. Okay, I created this world, so I can damn well do what I please with it.
Only, I can’t. I can’t make the characters I draw speak audibly or have them dance into the third dimension [well, maybe with some creative origami and a pair of scissors] I can’t expect them to go out and get jobs, etc. There are limits to what can possibly take place in the two-dimensional world I have created. Even though I possess powers that a two-dimensional being would consider supernatural [if they were capable of thought], when it comes to my dealings with two-dimensional characters on paper I can’t go beyond the restrictions of that world, and it doesn’t matter a jot if I created it or not.
So too, in our universe there are restrictions: they are known as the laws of physics. God itself cannot violate these laws. This is why “miracles” [the violation of the laws of physics] are only reported where scientific scrutiny isn’t available. Either they happened in the distant past, or they are simply unverifiable hearsay where we are asked to take someone’s word that they took place. But what is more likely: that someone is mistaken/fibbing, or that the impossible has occurred?
A miracle, by definition, is a violation of the laws of physics: the very laws that govern our existence in this universe. Violating them would create a paradox. If God can do miraculous things only if they don’t involve a paradox, then God cannot do any miracles.
Since the Bible is chock-full of miracles, it follows that the Bible is false.
Since the Bible is false, then the Watchtower (which claims to be based on the Bible) is also false.