Nature Of  God
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Nature Of God






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Nature Of God Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Nature of God God’s Attributes
  • 2. Simplicity
    • God is immaterial (Aquinas) no body which has characteristics.
    • Augustine: God is unchangeable cannot lose or gain characteristics
    • Aquinas: God signifies ‘being/ existing.’
    • Brian Davies: not like ‘a human being’ but God is whole like ‘the human race.’
  • 3. Immutability: Unchanging
    • Change involves movement from one thing to another
    • God is perfect = lacks nothing
    • Something unchanging can logically be the causer of the created world that changes.
    • Brian Davies: anything that changes is part of the world and not distinct from it. So if God is creator God needs to be separate and thus unchanging.
    • What problems might it pose for omniscience?
    • Can God really know everything if God doesn’t know what it is like to change?
    • Can God ‘know’ new events as they happen if God doesn’t change?
  • 4. Eternal
    • Influenced by classical philosophy e.g. Plato unchanging World of Forms
    • Nicholas Wolterstorff: different from humans’ experience of life in physical world “freed from the bondage of temporality.”
    • God exists outside of time
    • God has no beginning and no end
    • Anselm: God is eternal because nothing can contain God.
    • Aquinas: time and change are inseparable – God cant change so cannot be in time.
  • 5. Boethius
    • Book 5 of ‘The Consolations of Philosophy’
    • God is changeless
    • Does not exist in time/ God’s existence is limitless
    • Eternity: “the whole, simultaneous and perfect possession of unending life.”
    • All time is present to God ‘simultaneously.’
    • E.g. Like watching a film and seeing the opening titles and credits in ‘one glance’
    • “ And God possesses this present instant comprehension of ….. From his own simplicity.”
    • Aquinas agrees with Boethius: “eternity exists as a simultaneous whole and time does not.”
    • This means time passes: past – present – future
  • 6. Critics Response
    • Anthony Kenny: notion of time being simultaneously present to God is incoherent.
    • Swinburne agrees: he could not “make much sense” of this.
    • How can God be personal and act in creation e.g. Red Sea?
    • Love involves a two way process and ability to respond
    • How can an eternal God respond to people’s prayers?
    • Paul Helm: “ God, considered as timeless, cannot have temporal relations with any of his creation.”
    • Boethius: God knows the results of human’s free actions = not foreknowledge.
    • God is timeless in the sense of being time free.
    • Language that suggests God acting personally in the Bible reflects people of the time encountering God.
    • God changelessly wills good/ love for people.
    • Aquinas: prayers not for requests
    • Wiles: no selective response from God –ongoing creative activity.
  • 7. Not Eternal but … Everlasting
    • ‘ Everlasting’ = God always exists (no end) however time passes for God.
    • Swinburne agrees: “God knows the events of AD 1995 unless it means that he exists in 1995 and knows in 1995 what is happening….hence I prefer that understanding of God being eternal as his being everlasting rather than as his being timeless.”
    • Nicholas Wolterstorff: some of God’s actions in Bible are free responses to human beings behaviour = time passing.
  • 8. Omnipotence
    • Aquinas “ God can do anything.” – God’s power is infinite, eternal and non physical
    • God cannot sin (Aquinas / Anselm) – limitation of power
    • Power beyond human comprehension and ability e.g. miracles
    • Descartes: God can do the logically impossible e.g. change laws of physics
    • X J.L.Mackie logical impossibilities do not exist
  • 9. What does it mean to say God is ‘omniscient’?
    • All-knowing/ all-seeing
    • Aquinas: “God’s knowledge is not reasoned or discursive, though he knows all reasoning and processes”
    • God knows all true propositions
    • God knows 2+2=4 but does not know 2+2=5
    • Truths of mathematics and logic
    • And empirical truths
  • 10. Omniscience
    • Anselm “you are supremely perceptive.”
    • Omniscience : unlimited knowledge. Past, present and future. God is outside of time – knows whole of time from beginning to end (eternal)
    • Limited omniscience : limited to what is logically possible. God chooses to limit what he knows = human freewill. God's knowledge changes overtime (everlasting)
  • 11. Why might God’s omniscience pose a problem for free will?
    • Does God’s all-knowingness include knowledge of future events?
    • Divine foreknowledge:
    • God foreknows all my acts
    • What God foresees must come to pass
    • Therefore, if my acts must come to pass, then they cannot be free
    • Determinism must be true- no freewill
  • 12. Possible solutions?
    • Swinburne- The Coherence of Theism
    • God does not know what will happen in the future
    • An omniscient person knows every true proposition…
    • But a future action isn’t ‘true’ or ‘false’ until it has happened
    • So an omniscient being does not have to know them
    • Boethius: God has no foreknowledge = God is eternal – does not know future but all history
    • Augustine: God simply knows our choices.
    • Aquinas: God knows past, present and future, but does not interfere with this path (Walkers up the hill)
  • 13.
    • God is perceived, in classical theism as omnipotent, omniscient and Omni-benevolent
    • Total power and knowledge implies God controls the future - Divine Determinism- Calvin
    • But the problem is: how can humans still be held responsible for their actions?
    • How can human actions be judged ‘evil’ and therefore punished if they do not have free will?
    • And does this make God responsible for suffering?
    • Classic problem of evil= Epicurus & Hume
  • 14. The theodicies
    • Attempts by Christian thinkers to defend God in the face of evil and suffering
    • Augustine: Evil is a privation of good- Humans are wholly responsible for evil (deserve punishment)
    • Irenaeus: Earn perfection - Possibility of evil has to exist for the possibility of good to exist
  • 15. Problems for Augustine
    • Scientific criticism- Alternative origins to world and humankind e.g. Evolution
    • Logical error- Schleiermacher- how can absolutely perfect world go wrong? How could an omniscient/ omnipotent God let it?
    • Moral problem- if Hell exists, evil must have been anticipated- need for punishment
  • 16. Problems for Irenaeus
    • Allows for evolution idea for modern thinker
    • Is it fair for everyone to go to heaven?
    • Even if we accept suffering and evil as necessary possibilities, does it have to be so severe for us to grow?
    • DZ Philips- is allowing suffering ever an expression of love?
  • 17. Free will Defence: Hick and Swinburne
    • It was necessary for God to give us free will
    • Otherwise, we would be controlled robots
    • Life would be pointless
    • We either have complete free will or no free will
    • And this leads to possibility of any extreme of evil acts being committed