Nature Of  God
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Nature Of God






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    Nature Of  God Nature Of God Presentation Transcript

    • Nature of God God’s Attributes
    • 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.’
    • 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?
    • 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.
    • 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
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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
    • 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
    • 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)
    • 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
    • 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)
      • 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
    • 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
    • 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
    • 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?
    • 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