The Theological “Blue Screen of Death”

Posted: 23 March, 2008 in Theology

The Windows “Blue Screen of Death” is infamous in the world of IT for its severe, and distressing psychological effects on users. These include symptoms such as head-banging, hair-pulling, extreme frustration, high stress, fits of rage, screaming etc, and has even been known to make grown men cry.

. . . This post is not about that. . .

In fact, as much as I’d like to bash Windows for its instability and tendency to crash, ultimately this has little to do with computers or operating systems at all. This post is a summary of my thoughts on lines of reasoning which cause theological crashes if such things exist. A better name for them might be logic’s limitations.

“Why then, the strange introductory paragraph?” you may be asking. Well – computers illustrate what I am trying to say quite well.

Has someone ever asked you the seemingly unanswerable question which goes something like this: “Can God create something so heavy that He cant pick it up?” or, “How can God have no beginning and no end?” or, “Who made God?” or, “One God in three persons? I dont buy it, that makes no sense!” or, “How can God be everywhere at the same time?”

In the past, you probably sat there with a mouthful of teeth, as I have, thinking: “You know, thats a really good question!”

Well, unfortunately, I am no closer to being able to explain the answer to those questions than I was five years ago, except that perhaps God has transformed my mind a little further to help me understand and accept these concepts myself. I personally believe that questions like these ARE unanswerable on this side of eternity. You can speculate all you like, but after all is said and done, we simply cannot identify with something which has no beginning and no end. Or no creator for that matter.

This is the essence of my arguement, although the humanistic mind will cringe at my answer:

Believe it or not, the human mind is limited. Amazing, yes, but not all powerful. Far from it, in fact. Try to stop breathing, or a sneeze, or the urge to relieve yourself with will power and see how far you get. (disclaimer: stop trying when you can no longer read these words…)

We run on a system of reason called logic. Logic can be inductive or deductive. It is extremely powerful, but has its limitations. Just like an operating system, it works on certain rules. Just like a windows machine cannot “comprehend” a linux programme, or a cd player cannot “comprehend a dvd in its tray, so our finite minds, working with the rules of logic are not created with the ability to comprehend all things. We know, that logically – everything has a beginning and an end, and that nothing can be both three things and yet one thing at once, and that nothing cannot have been created, nor can a person be in more than one place at one time! Yet, the Bible claims all these things, and as the Bible is the inspired Word of God who cannot lie, they must be true.

So, yes, though the answers to the above-mentioned theological questions may be elusive this side of heaven, isn’t it wonderful to think about our resurrected bodies which will be capable of infinitely more than they are now! This means a mind which can comprehend mysteries such as these! But for now – next time someone asks me a “blue screen” question, I will be able to calmly reply that though it may be fascinating to contemplate the possible answers, our system of logic is finite, and must be ‘upgraded’ in order to wrap our minds around concepts which make us crash at present.

Dont get me wrong – logic can be an incredible tool for understanding the Bible. Christianity, more so than anything else can be based on hard evidence, facts and sound reason. There is more than enough to convince us of its authenticity, but thats not where it ends, God requires faith in His wisdom.

So, I havent answered these difficult questions, because I don’t think they’re answerable, but I have shown you why, I believe, this is so. I thank God for faith to trust His perfect reason where mine fails so miserably!

  1. Caleb Gage says:

    no God cannot create something so heavy he can’t pick it up…

  2. Anton says:

    I’m assuming you have some ground for answering the question like that?

  3. Hinglish says:

    yeah- He’s God…its kinda circular i guess, but He’s God so He will be able to pick it up…

  4. Caleb Gage says:

    the question is meant to trick us out. if we answer yes then God really isn’t all powerful and fully sovreign. if we answer no then we seem to be limiting God’s power. however, by answering no to the question we actually place no limit on God’s power. no matter how big the object he can pick it up.

  5. Anton says:

    Yeah, it is a trick question, and I believe its UNANSWERABLE because of our system of logic which cant process it. I disagree with your answer to the question – you ARE limiting God’s power if you say he CAN create something so heavy that He CANT pick it up, or that He CANT create something so heavy that He cannot pick it up. You limit His power either way you answer it. Some questions just cannot be answered with our finite minds in their current state.

  6. Beth says:

    But Caleb does make some sense. Does the word “can’t” always mean limitation? I know that sounds like a stupid question, but think about this: A.W. Tozer once said that God can’t learn. Now, the first time I read that I thought that God and “can’t” shouldn’t be used in the same sentence… but really the “can’t” was showing not that God’s power has limits, but that God’s knowledge is limitless. Does that make any sense at all, or do you have any thoughts about that?

  7. Anton says:

    Thats a very good question Beth. I’m glad you’re still thinking, and haven’t gone highlighting your hair blonde (you lose the ability to tell time, you forget who the first people on earth were etc etc It’s quite cute sometimes, just wait for a chance when you’re not gonna need to do much thinking for a month or two before you try it πŸ™‚ )

    I agree – “can’t” doesnt always mean limitation. In this case, however, it does, either way you answer the question. We know God CAN create just by speaking. Therefore to say he cant create something big is plainly untrue, but if God could create something He couldn’t pick up, he wouldn’t have sovereign control over that creation – we know that God is sovereign and controls the whole universe, so that cannot be true… Therefore the question is unanswerable because the word “can’t”, (in this case) limits God in ways we know He is not limited.

  8. Anton says:

    Oops – I forgot to add to that – Its interesting even to think of your example of God not being able to learn any more because He knows ALL, yet His knowledge is limitless. Using our system of logic – is it even possible to fully understand that?! Good example Beth, thanks for your contribution.

  9. Beth says:

    Okay I see where you’re saying that logic would break down…though I’m still not 100% convinced. Americans… love to push the envelope πŸ™‚ You’re right, though, logic is going to fail sometimes because God is unlike anything we have ever encountered before, in a class entirely of His own. We have nothing to measure Him on or to compare Him to but our own wisdom, which is utterly limited.

  10. Kaitlin says:

    How about this: does God have hands? If so, He can pick things up regardless of size. If not, what’s the point in creating something that He would need to lift?

  11. Caleb Gage says:

    antz, it seems to me that you are saying in order to answer a question you must understand completely… am i wrong? πŸ˜‰

  12. Anton says:

    I guess you could say that to answer a question CORRECTLY you need to understand it, although, my emphasis here is more that we are currently incapable of understanding many questions, such as those we have discussed. I guess it follows that we cant give correct answers to them, since they arent explained in the Bible. Obviously, understanding isn’t always a prerequisite, as the answer to the question: “How did God create the earth?” is simply “by speaking” because the Bible says so, even though its difficult to understand that Creation came into existence all because God spoke. What say you?

  13. Caleb Gage says:

    I agree. one more thing though if you don’t mind πŸ™‚ just look at the similarities between the statement Beth brought up and the topic of our discussion:

    Everything there is to know, God knows and thus God cannot learn anything new. (we are agreed that this does not limit God, but rather shows his greatness).

    God can create infinitely large (heavy) objects. God can lift anything no matter how heavy. Therefore God cannot create something he cannot lift since he can lift everything. (if you agree with the first argument then by the same reasoning you should agree with this one…)

    I do agree though that our minds are finite and cannot completely understand many of these things. It’s a great discussion to have πŸ™‚

  14. Communality says:

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation πŸ™‚ Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Communality.

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