God - Entry from encyclopedia of philosophy


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God - Entry from encyclopedia of philosophy

  1. 1. GOD, CONCEPTS OFdoes contain an implicit criticism of his own age, domi- equivalent words in other languages. Even to define Godnated, in his opinion, by weak-willed liberals and tradi- generally as “a superhuman or supernatural being thattionless mongrels. controls the world” is inadequate. “Superhuman” is con- tradicted by the worship of divinized Roman emperors,See also Buckle, Henry Thomas; Darwin, Charles Robert; “supernatural” by Benedict Spinoza’s equation of God Racism. with Nature, and “control” by the Epicurean denial that the gods influence the lives of men. Therefore, while theBibliography above definition satisfies a wide range of usages, it is not universally applicable.ADDITIONAL WORKS BY GOBINEAUTrois ans en Asie. Paris: Hachette, 1859. This entry will deal with five problems: the transcen-Les religions et les philosophies dans l’Asie centrale. Paris: Didier, dence and immanence of God, his relation to the world, 1865. his chief attributes, the extent to which he is “personal,”Histoire des Perses, 2 vols. Paris: H. Plon, 1869.Correspondance d’Alexis de Tocqueville et d’Arthur de Gobineau. and the ways by which he can be known. In discussing Paris, 1959. The correspondence is also available in an these problems it will be necessary to consult the data English translation by John Lukacs in Alexis de Tocqueville, provided by both religion and philosophy. But purely reli- The European Revolution & Correspondence with Gobineau gious data (in contrast with theological speculations (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1959), edited by Lukacs. based on them) will be mentioned only when they are rel-WORKS ON GOBINEAU evant to philosophical understanding.Combris, Andrée. La philosophie des races de Gobineau. Paris: Alcan, 1937.Falk, Reinhold. Die weltanschauliche Problematik bei Gobineau. transcendence and immanence Berlin: Norm-druck, 1936. In Judaism and Christianity, God is unquestionably tran-Ferguson, W. J. Renaissance in Historical Thought. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1948. On Gobineau as historian. scendent. He is “wholly other” than the world he made. InLa nouvelle revue Française 42 (February 1934). Issue dedicated Judaism his transcendence was emphasized by, among to Gobineau and his work. other things, the prohibition of idols, the explicit teachingSchemann, Ludwig. Gobineau und die deutsche Kultur. Leipzig, of Isaiah 40:12–26, the sacredness of the Tetragramma- 1910; 7th ed. Leipzig: Teubner, 1934. ton, and the speculations of Philo who, in a typical pas-Sellière, Ernst. Le Comte de Gobineau et l’aryanisme historique. Paris: Plon-Nourrit, 1903. sage, speaks of God Platonically as “the pure andStreidl, Rudolf. Gobineau in der französichen Kritik. Würzburg: unsullied Mind of the universe, transcending virtue, tran- R. Mayr, 1935. scending knowledge, transcending the good itself.” The Hayden V. White (1967) New Testament, in confirming the Old Testament, repu- diates the claims of Hellenistic gnosis by affirming that “no one has ever seen God” (John 1:18) and that all our knowledge of him is like a confused reflection in a mirrorgod, arguments for (1 Cor. 13:12). Among later Christian thinkers this bibli-the existence of cal attitude was reinforced partly by the influence of Neo- See Common Consent Arguments for the Existence of platonism and partly by the experience of the mystics God; Cosmological Argument for the Existence of (especially Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite). Hence, in God; Degrees of Perfection, Argument for the Exis- the Summa Contra Gentiles (I, 14), Thomas Aquinas says tence of God; Moral Arguments for the Existence of that “the divine substance exceeds by its immensity every God; Ontological Argument for the Existence of God; form which our intellect attains,” so that while we can Religious Experience, Argument for the Existence of know that God is (quod sit) we cannot know his essence God; and Teleological Argument for the Existence of or what he is (quid sit). In recent times divine transcen- God dence has been stressed by Søren Kierkegaard and Karl Barth, as opposed to Hegelian attempts to obtain a rational and synoptic understanding of ultimate reality. From a phenomenological point of view, Rudolf Otto, ingod, concepts of his Das Heilige (Marburg, 1917), defined the object ofIt is very difficult—perhaps impossible—to give a defini- worship as a mysterium tremendum et fascinans that istion of “God” that will cover all usages of the word and of revealed to a suprarational faculty of the soul. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY 2nd edition • 107
  2. 2. GOD, CONCEPTS OF Christian theologians claim that this transcendent GOD AS FINAL CAUSE. God can be viewed as a final,God can be spoken of either negatively by the via negativa though not efficient, cause of the world. This view wasor via remotionis (the apophatic way) or positively (by the held by Aristotle. According to him, God is the world’scataphatic way). According to the negative way, we deny “prime mover.” God “moves” the world in the sense thatqualities to God by the use of such adjectives as “incorpo- he educes form from its material structure by inspiring it,real” and “uncreated.” Thus we come to know him by through a series of subordinate movers or “intelligences,”knowing what he is not. But we also speak positively of to love him as its end or goal. Yet Aristotle expresslyGod (for example, by predicating goodness or wisdom of denied a creation of the world; he considered matter to behim). Thomas denied that positive predicates are defin- ungenerated and eternal.able in terms of negative ones. He also denied that theysimply point to God as an indeterminate cause of finite WORLD AS EMANATION FROM GOD. The world mayproperties. In his view, they refer to God in a positive be regarded as in some way an emanation from, or self-manner through an “analogy of proportionality.” Thus expression of, God. This view has taken three main forms.goodness exists in God in a “supereminent” form, pro- According to Plotinus, the One, or “first god,” isportionate to his infinite mode of being. Through this beyond all thought and being. The One’s simplicitytheory of analogical predication, Thomas hoped to steer would be violated if the world were a part of it. Itsa middle course between the anthropomorphism of uni- unchangeability would be violated if it were to create thevocal predication, on the one hand, and the agnosticism world by an act of will. Therefore Plotinus propoundedof equivocal predication on the other. his theory of “emanation.” Mind, Soul, and the material According to the main tradition of Christian world flow from the One (as rays flow from the sun)thought, God is also immanent. Augustine held that the without impairing its self-sufficiency.light of God’s presence in the human mind enables it to According to Spinoza, the world is God (the onlyrecognize eternal truth. Thomas, while rejecting the substance) under his attributes of thought and extension.Augustinian theory of illumination, affirmed God’s Everything follows from his essence by a logical necessity.omnipresence unambiguously. “God is in all things, not, “Things could not have been produced by God in anyindeed, as part of their essence, or as a quality, but in the other manner or order than that in which they were pro-manner that an efficient cause is present to that on which duced. All things must have followed of necessity from ait acts. Hence God is in all things, and intimately” given nature of God, and they were determined for exis-(Summa Theologiae Ia, 8, 1). Similarly, the mystics affirm tence or action in a certain way by the necessity of thethat the transcendent God is present (even when unrec- divine nature” (Ethics I, prop. 33). Critics of Spinoza haveognized) at the “ground” or “apex” of the soul. But some continually pointed out that on these premises it is veryphilosophers have identified God’s substance either partly hard to account for, first, the individuality which humanor wholly with the world. The clearest exponent of this persons seem to have; second, their apparent freedom,concept in Western thought is Spinoza, whose identifica- which Spinoza elsewhere attempts to analyze; and third,tion of God with Nature a paradigm of pantheism. Such the fact of evil, especially in its moral forms.later philosophers as Edward Caird and Sir Henry Jones, The same type of relation between God and thewho equated the Christian God with the Hegelian world was posited by G. W. F. Hegel. Unlike Plotinus,Absolute, approximated pantheism in varying degrees. he regarded God or the Absolute as in its essence aMany modern theologians, such as Barth and Rudolf self-diversifying unity. Unlike Spinoza, he conceived ofBultmann, who have followed Kierkegaard in reaffirming God’s self-expression as a dynamic process that is discov-God’s transcendence, have either denied or ignored his erable in historical events. Hegel’s thought is not freeimmanence. Paul Tillich is a notable exception. While he from ambiguity. He sometimes speaks of God as an inde-spoke of God “existentially” as the transcendent Object of pendently existing entity. But his final and distinctiveour “ultimate concern,” he also held that we could not view is that the Absolute Spirit does not exist apart fromknow God without “participating” in him. the human spirits in which it is progressively evolved.god and the world WORLD AS PREEXISTENT MATTER SET IN ORDER.The degree to which God is transcendent or immanent The third way of relating God to the world was stated bydepends on the view that is taken of his relation to the Plato in his Timaeus. According to this dialogue (29E–30),world. At least five views are possible. God is bounded on the one hand by the world of Forms ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY108 • 2nd edition
  3. 3. GOD, CONCEPTS OFand on the other by preexistent matter. His task is to required in order to affirm the truth that while creaturesimpose the Forms on matter, and so construct a ration- owe their being to God as their first cause, they also actally ordered whole. Being wholly good, and therefore free according to secondary causes that are appropriate tofrom jealousy, he wished everything to be like himself. their natures. The distinction between these two types ofSince an intelligent being is superior to an unintelligent cause is necessary for a true assessment of the relationone, and since intelligence cannot be present in anything between science and theology. Because finite things existthat is devoid of soul, “he put intelligence in soul, and per se, their secondary causes are discoverable withoutsoul in body, that he might be the creator of a work which the aid of faith. But the discovery of secondary causeswas by nature best.” (In the Republic 597, Plato implies does not, without a further, nonscientific, act of inferencethat God creates the Forms, but this was not his usual or intuition, either permit or prohibit belief in a firstview.) cause, God. Yet God, as first cause, can suspend or transform sec-CREATION EX NIHILO. In contrast with all the previous ondary causes in order to perform his will. When he doesviews, Christian theists since Augustine have held the so, his action is called a miracle. A miracle does not vio-doctrine of creation out of nothing. This phrase is meant late nature. It is a case of nature behaving in an abnormalto exclude both the idea that the world is a necessary way through a special act of the same creative power thatemanation from God’s nature and the idea that matter is at work in the normal processes which can be sub-preexists his creative act. God brings the whole world into sumed under scientific laws. If the essence of finite beingbeing by an undetermined choice. He does not need is to be dependent on God’s will (and so to possess athe world to complete his nature, for he is wholly potentia obedientialis in relation to it), miraculous acts areself-sufficient. He is not confronted with an alien Neces- not less natural than nonmiraculous ones. But while thesity, for he is the efficient cause of all that is. abnormal character of an event is empirically verifiable, This conception of the relation between the Creator its miraculous character as an act of God can be dis-and the creature can be elucidated through the contrast cerned by faith alone. (Many theologians readily admitbetween necessary and contingent being. God exists nec- that at least some of David Hume’s skeptical objectionsessarily. In him essence and existence are identical. He is have considerable prima-facie force.)self-existent in a unique and incomprehensible way. Crea- The relation between divine causality and the humantures, on the other hand, are contingent. Their essence, will has been extensively discussed by theologians. Thewhile preexisting ideally in the mind of God, would not doctrine of predestination, in its rigid Augustinian form,have achieved independent being if he had not chosen to would seem to be obviously incompatible with humangrant it by a free act of love. Therefore, while they partic- freedom. Yet even those theologians who reject the doc-ipate in him both by nature and by grace, they never lose trine are obliged to face the problem of the manner intheir created status. They can be deified (as the Greekfathers taught) within their finite limits, but they cannot which God acts on men both by nature (through his gen-become divine in the sense of sharing God’s aseity. eral providence) and by grace (through the supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit). While various attempts have been The full Christian doctrine does not restrict God’s made to separate divine and human action so that, forcreative act to an initial moment in the cosmic process. example, the human will is left wholly autonomous in aAll things owe their being continuously to his power. He strictly moral choice, many theologians (more recently,is a first cause in the order of existence, not of time, for he D. M. Baillie and A. M. Farrer) affirm, on grounds ofhimself is supratemporal. Hence it is irrelevant to theol- Scripture and experience, that the divine and human willsogy whether the world did or did not have a temporal act simultaneously throughout the Christian life, but thatbeginning. Thomas held that while such a beginning was the manner of their interaction is a paradox, or mystery,revealed through Scripture, it could not be rationally that cannot be unraveled by the intellect.proved. All reason knows is that God is the eternal, ever-present, and creative source of anything that does (or GOD AS FINAL STAGE OF COSMIC PROCESS. Samuelcan) exist. Creation and preservation are identical. Alexander held the eccentric view that God qua deity, so However, while no creature exists from itself (a se), far from being the ground of the cosmic process, is (ide-every creature exists by itself (per se) or in itself (in se). ally) its final stage. The world evolves from space timeCreated substances have a relative independence, or through matter and life to mind. God exists whollyderived autonomy. These paradoxical expressions are within the world, which is his “body,” but he does not yet ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY 2nd edition • 109
  4. 4. GOD, CONCEPTS OFexist as deity (that is, as an infinite, transcendent, Being). hold as a primary article of faith that “there is no god butMoreover, he will never so exist. Deity, as a state of infi- God.” But Christians differ from Jews and Muslims innite perfection, is a goal to which the world (or God con- believing that the one God exists in a threefold form assidered as the world) continually strives but which is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is one substance (sub-unattainable. stantia, ousia) in three persons (personae, hypostaseis). Some philosophers have combined two or more ofthese views. Thus A. N. Whitehead, while rejecting the SIMPLICITY. According to Christianity and Neoplaton-idea that God is the world’s efficient cause, held, as did ism, God is one also in the sense that he is absolutely sim-Aristotle, that he is a final cause who (like Plato’s God) ple; for the distinctions (such as those between essencebrings order into the world by ensuring the ingredience and existence, substance and accidents) that make a finiteof eternal objects (which, however, do not exist inde- being composite are inapplicable to him. Plotinus inter-pendently) in the realm of temporal flux. But Whitehead preted this simplicity as a bare, characterless, self-identity.also shows his affinity with Alexander by asserting that it But Thomas held both that God actually possesses theis as true to say that the world creates God as it is to say perfections we ascribe to him and that these coalesce inthat God creates the world. an unimaginable unity. Each of God’s attributes is objec- tively distinct, but each expresses his whole being.the divine attributes INCORPOREALITY. Those philosophers who regard theIn most systems of religion and philosophy, God is world as an aspect of God or an unfolding of his essenceendowed with characteristics that distinguish him from are obliged to think of him materially. Thus the Stoicsother forms of being. identified him with nature’s basic elements, air and fire. Similarly, Augustine learned from Manichaeism that GodINFINITY. The infinity of the Christian God was implied is a bright and very subtle substance. But the immaterial-above in the accounts of his transcendence and creative ity of God has constantly been taught by Platonists andpower, and in most systems, God’s infinity makes him Christians on the ground that matter, being a principle offree, in degree, if not in kind, from at least some human limitation, is incompatible with his perfection.limitations. But he is not strictly infinite unless he is lim-itless throughout the whole range of his existence. He can IMMUTABILITY. That God’s nature cannot change (forbe wholly limitless, however, only if he is self-existent and change implies imperfection) was affirmed by Plato andthereby self-sufficient. If (as Hegel thought) God needs the Old Testament. It was reaffirmed by Christian theolo-the world as the sphere of his self-development, or if (as gians, especially Augustine.Plato thought) he copies an independent realm of Forms,he is pro tanto limited. He is strictly infinite only if his IMPASSIBILITY. Impassibility is equivalent toessence is identical with existence, as Thomas held when immutability, if it means that God cannot suffer changehe said that the most appropriate name for God is the one from either an external or an internal cause. But it hasdisclosed to Moses according to the Vulgate text of Exo- also been taken to mean that God cannot experiencedus—Qui Est (“He Who Is”). If God is thus infinite, he pain. While there is an apparent contradiction betweenmust possess all properties in a mode that is free from this last meaning and Biblical descriptions of God’s love,every limitation. He must be one, simple, incorporeal, it has been maintained by some theologians (but deniedimmutable, impassible, eternal, good, omniscient, and by others) that, although Christ experienced pain in hisomnipotent. human nature, God cannot experience it in himself, for, being wholly perfect, he is pure Joy.UNITY. The Greek philosophers were apt to speak inter-changeably of “god” and “the gods” (as may be seen, for ETERNITY. In the Bible, God’s eternity signifies an ever-example, from Plato’s Laws 900–905 and the Discourses of lasting, endless time. In later Christian thought (throughEpictetus 1,3,1). But in Judaism the belief that Yahweh is the influence of Platonism) it was understood as “time-the only God became an unquestioned axiom that was lessness.” It is, in the famous definition of Boethius, inter-inherited by Christians and defended by Thomas on the minabilis vitae tota simul et perfecta possessio (“eternal lifegrounds that if there were two gods, one would possess possessed perfectly and simultaneously,” De Consolationewhat the other lacked, so that neither would be absolutely Philosophiae V, vi). God, it is said, would not be perfectperfect (Summa Theologiae Ia, 11, 3). Similarly, Muslims unless he possessed his whole being in a simultaneous act. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY110 • 2nd edition
  5. 5. GOD, CONCEPTS OFGOODNESS. The moral order has sometimes been inter- this belief would involve a study in the doctrines of Incar-preted nontheistically through such abstract ideas as Rita nation and Atonement.)(in India), Dao (in China), and Dike (in Greece). Thegods of Greco-Roman polytheism were notoriously personalityimmoral. But in Christian thought, Plato’s affirmation In the preceding sections it has been assumed that God isthat God is wholly good (Republic 379) was combined personal. The assumption is justified by the fact that,with the Hebraic vision of Yahweh’s righteousness. Hence while in the primitive stages of religion he has often beenThomas considered it to be axiomatic that “God is sheer conceived subpersonally, philosophers (in the West, atgoodness, whereas other things are credited with the sort any rate) have nearly always described his nature to someof goodness appropriate to their natures” (In Boethium de extent by analogy with the human self. Thus, according toHebdomadibus 5). Plato, Aristotle, and Spinoza God has mental properties. But two conditions must be fulfilled if God is to be fullyOMNISCIENCE. Omniscience is entailed by infinity. But personal. First, it must be possible to speak of him as lov-a special problem is created by the view that God now ing, or caring for, humankind. Second, it must be possi-knows future freely chosen human acts. Those who hold ble to speak of him truly through images drawn fromthis view urge, first, that since God is timeless it is, strictly human life. The Aristotelian and Spinozistic concepts ofspeaking, incorrect to say that he “foreknows” events, and him fail to meet the first of these conditions. While Aris-second, that even if we say this (speaking from our finite totle’s First Mover contemplates himself, he does not havestandpoint), we need not assume that a human act, any knowledge of the world. Therefore, like Spinoza’sbecause it is foreknown, is predetermined—by either God God, he cannot return the love that he receives.or any other factor outside the agent’s will. To say that ahuman act can in principle be predicted is not to say that The second condition is not universally fulfilledthe agent has no control over it or is not really active and either. Some thinkers have attempted to mediate betweenresponsible for what he does; this, at any rate, is a view of philosophy and religion by suggesting that concretehuman action widely held by philosophers at the present images of God are inadequate attempts to grasp a Realitytime. But other theists (notably James Ward and F. R. Ten- that is suprapersonal. Thus Hegel held that Absolutenant) consider it contradictory to say that a free choice Spirit can be adequately known only by the speculativecan be known in any sense until it has been made. They intellect. Consequently, when he speaks of the Absolute asaffirm that God is ignorant of future human choices and God he means by God (as Aristotle meant) self-thinkingthat his ignorance is a “self-limitation” he deliberately Thought. The personal God of theism is a prerational andincurred in granting man free will. imperfect representation (Vorstellung) of the Absolute. On the ascending scale of truth, religion occupies anOMNIPOTENCE. Omnipotence too is entailed by infin- intermediate place between art and philosophy.ity. It is important to note that in the Creeds, Pantocrator This contrast between religion and philosophyand omnipotens imply that God is ruler of all things, becomes even more acute when the Absolute is equatedrather than that he can do anything. He cannot act with a suprarational Unity. Here there is a striking paral-against either reason or morality. But it is extremely diffi- lel between Indian monism and the thought of F. H.cult to explain the existence of evil in a world created by Bradley. Some Hindu scriptures (notably the Bhagavad-a God who is both infinitely powerful and infinitely good. Gita) describe God as a personal being, the Lord of theVarious explanations have been given. Thus, evil has been universe, whose “grace” (prasada) requires the “lovingtraced to the fall of a first man or World Soul. Again, it is devotion” (bhakti) of his worshipers. The Gita is espe-said that God permits (even if he does not inflict) unmer- cially significant. Through the theophany in the eleventhited suffering as a means of purifying the soul for eternal chapter, it declares that Krishna (the incarnate God, andlife. But many theologians would endorse Friedrich Von friend of Arjuna) is “more to be prized even than Brah-Hügel’s frank admission that no explanation is fully satis- man.” But Úankara, following the nondualistic strain infying. It is therefore not surprising that some philoso- the Upanishads, held that the sole reality is the imper-phers (notably J. S. Mill) have tried to relieve God of sonal Absolute (Brahman) with which the soul is numer-apparent responsibility for evil by supposing that he is ically identical. Personal concepts of the Absolute belongfinite both in knowledge and in power. (Christians to the sphere of illusion (maya). They are forms underbelieve that God displays his omnipotence by overcoming which the One appears to untutored minds. Likewise F.evil through the ministry of Christ; but an exposition of H. Bradley held that since Reality is nonrelational, a per- ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY 2nd edition • 111
  6. 6. GOD, CONCEPTS OFsonal God is “but an aspect, and that must mean but an He constructed five proofs based on the facts ofappearance, of the Absolute” (Appearance and Reality, motion, causality, contingency, relative perfection, andOxford, 1930, p. 397). design. (The first, second, and third of these Five Ways are Christians, however, are obliged by revelation to different forms of the Cosmological Argument—theidentify the Absolute with a God who is fully personal, argument that the world in all its aspects shows itsboth in himself and in his dealings with humankind. dependence on self-existent Being.) Kant rejected allSuch primary images as Father, King, and Friend mediate proofs based on the use of the “speculative reason.” But hea knowledge that cannot be surpassed by abstract specu- maintained that the “practical reason” is obliged to pos-lation. During this century the personal nature of reli- tulate both God and immortality. Since World War I, nat-gious conviction has been stressed in varying terms by ural theology has been vigorously attacked, on the onesuch writers as William Temple, John Oman, John Baillie, hand by Barth and, on the other, by those philosophersKarl Barth, Emil Brunner, Martin Buber, and the existen- who deny the possibility of metaphysics. However, manytialists (especially Kierkegaard, Bultmann, and Gabriel twentieth-century philosophers (chiefly Roman CatholicMarcel). Buber’s distinction between an “I-Thou” and an Thomists—but also others, such as A. E. Taylor) held that“I-It” relationship and Kierkegaard’s contrast between the main a posteriori proofs can be presented cogently.subjectivity and objectivity have been widely used to Thomas affirmed that in addition to a naturalexpress the difference between a personal and an imper- knowledge of God there is a supernatural knowledgesonal attitude to God. At the same time, many theolo- revealed by Christ and received through faith. Thus, whilegians are aware that an unqualified application of reason can infer that God is the Creator, it cannot dis-personal categories to God results in anthropomorphism. cover that he is Three-in-One. John Locke reproducedDivine personality wholly transcends its finite counter- this distinction in his Essay concerning Human Under-part. It is unique both because of the fact that essence and standing (Book 4, Ch. 18). But in his Reasonableness ofexistence are identical in it and because of the mystery of Christianity he paved the way for the deists, who held thatits triune character. the Gospel merely “republishes” the basic truths of natu- ral religion and morality. The supernatural character ofTHE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. There are three main revelation was also denied later by those Hegelians whoroutes to God: reason, revelation, and religious experi- regarded Christ as the highest instance of the Absolute’sence. universal presence in humanity. Both Plato and Aristotle claimed that reason can Religious philosophers from Plato onward haveobtain a certain knowledge of God’s existence and nature. claimed that it is possible to have a direct knowledge ofThis claim has been endorsed by many Christian theolo- divine reality. Among Christian thinkers, some hold thatgians. Thus, St. Augustine, writing from within the Pla- this knowledge is available (even if in a confused form) totonic tradition, affirmed that the human intellect by everyone; others restrict it to the recipients of biblical rev-nature participates in eternal Truth. Furthermore, many elation. Some regard it as the highest activity of ordinarytheologians have held that God’s existence can be proved. mental powers; others assign it to a special faculty of theThese proofs may be divided between those which take soul. Some describe it intellectually as an insight or intu-the form of a priori reasoning from God’s essence and ition; others stress its volitional character by calling it athose which take the form of a posteriori reasoning from confrontation or encounter. Apart from these differences,finite experience. The first type of proof is exemplified it is necessary to distinguish between an experience that ischiefly by the Ontological Argument, which was first for- mediated and one that is immediate. As many recentmulated by St. Anselm and restated by René Descartes. In writers have stressed (notably, William Temple, Johnits Anselmic form it runs as follows: The idea of God is Oman, and H. D. Lewis), religious experience is normallythe idea of that than which nothing greater can be con- mediated through secular experiences, including thoseceived; a being that exists is greater than a being that does which are formulated in the premises of the a posteriorinot exist; therefore God exists. In view of the criticisms to proofs. Thus, we become aware of God as eternal throughwhich this proof has been subjected (especially by the contingency of finite things and as holy through theThomas and Immanuel Kant), it is widely considered to demands of the moral law. (Even the divinity of Christ isbe invalid by both theologians and philosophers today. experienced, in the first place, through meditation on hisThe main a posteriori arguments received their classical human life and on the impact that it made on his disci-formulation from Thomas. ples.) But there is also an immediate, purely spiritual ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY112 • 2nd edition
  7. 7. GOD, CONCEPTS OF [ ADDENDUM ]experience that is called “mystical.” While Christian and miraculous element in Christianity is C. S. Lewis, Miraclesnon-Christian mystics often use the same terminology, (London: G. Bles, 1960). A full survey of recent writing on revelation is contained in John Baillie, The Idea of Revelationthe former (when they are orthodox) differ from many of in Recent Thought (New York: Columbia University Press,the latter at two points. First, they affirm that God is tran- 1956).scendent as well as immanent. Second, and as a conse- H. P. Owen (1967)quence, they claim, not an absorption into the Godhead,but a union of love and will in which the distinctionbetween the Creator and the creature is permanentlyretained. god, concepts ofSee also Absolute, The; Alexander, Samuel; Aristotle; [addendum] Augustine, St.; Barth, Karl; Bradley, Francis Herbert; Since H. P. Owen’s entry there has been considerable Brunner, Emil; Buber, Martin; Bultmann, Rudolf; Caird, work on Western theism’s standard roster of divine Edward; Cosmological Argument for the Existence of attributes. One of the most-discussed, eternity, has its God; Descartes, René; Emanationism; God/Isvara in own entry. This entry notes developments on three oth- Indian Philosophy; Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich; ers. Hiddenness of God; Hügel, Baron Friedrich von; Infinity in Theology and Metaphysics; Kant, Immanuel; Kierkegaard, Søren; Locke, John; Mani and Manichaeism; divine foreknowledge: the Marcel, Gabriel; Mill, John Stuart; Neoplatonism; Oman, problem John Wood; Ontological Argument for the Existence of Many biblical passages ascribe to God knowledge of what God; Otto, Rudolf; Plato; Platonism and the Platonic Tra- we will freely do in the future. But a now-standard argu- dition; Plotinus; Pseudo-Dionysius; Spinoza, Benedict ment (derived from Boethius) contends that no future (Baruch) de; Taylor, Alfred Edward; Tennant, Frederick creaturely action can be both foreknown and free. Sup- Robert; Thomas Aquinas, St.; Tillich, Paul; Whitehead, pose that for some act A, God believed yesterday that I do Alfred North. A tomorrow. God is infallible. He cannot make a mistake. That is,Bibliography (1) Necessarily, for all P, if God believed yesterday thatA. E. Taylor’s article on theism in Encyclopedia of Religion and P, then P. So, Ethics, edited by J. Hastings (New York, 1908–1926), is still authoritative. The best single book on Greek thought about (2) Necessarily, if God believed yesterday that I do A God up to and including Plato remains James Adam’s The tomorrow, I do A tomorrow. Religious Teachers of Greece (Edinburgh: Clark, 1908). On the period from Augustine to Scotus, there are admirable (3) If God believed yesterday that I do A tomorrow accounts by F. Copleston in Vol. 2 of his A History of and it is in my power not to do A tomorrow, then Philosophy (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, 1954). it is in my power to make it the case that yesterday This book also contains an excellent bibliography. Most of God had a false belief, or it is in my power to make the relevant passages in Thomas are assembled in the two anthologies, Philosophical Texts and Theological Texts, it false that God believed yesterday that I do A selected and translated by T. Gilby (Oxford: Oxford tomorrow. University Press, 1951 and 1955). On the modern period, (4) It is not in my power to make God have had a false there is much useful material in A. S. Pringle-Pattison’s The Idea of God (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1920) and in belief (from 2). E. L. Mascall’s He Who Is (London: Longmans, Green, 1943). (5) It is not in my power to alter the past. So, The latter reexamines the essentials of theism, and contains a full bibliography. See also J. Collins’s very comprehensive (6) It is not in my power not to do A tomorrow. So, God in Modern Philosophy (Chicago: Regnery, 1959); Illtyd (7) Tomorrow I do not do A freely. Trethowan’s The Basis of Belief (London: Burns and Oates, 1960), a concise summary of recent work on natural Philosophers have revived approaches to this problem theology; and F. Ferré’s Language, Logic and God (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1962), a full account of recent associated with the scholastic thinkers William of Ock- writing on religious subjects from an empiricist point of ham and Luis de Molina. view. The classical analysis of religious experience remains Rudolf Otto, Das Heilige (Marburg, 1917), translated by J. ockhamism W. Harvey as The Idea of the Holy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1925). The best modern defense of the Ockhamism rejects (4) in favor of ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY 2nd edition • 113
  8. 8. GOD, CONCEPTS OF [ ADDENDUM ] (4a) If it is in my power not to do A tomorrow, and (8) were the snake and Eve in the garden, the snake God believed yesterday that I do A tomorrow, eventually would freely tempt Eve, and then: it is in my power to make it the case that yes- (9) were the snake to tempt Eve in the garden, she terday God had a false belief; it is in my power to would freely fall. make it false that God believed yesterday that I do A tomorrow; or it is in my power to do something God knew this. God placed Eve and the snake in the gar- such that had I been going to do it, God would den. As (8) was true, the snake freely tempted her. Since always not have believed that I would do A. (9) was true, she freely fell. And so on. God decides who is created and what initial and later circumstances theyIf it was the case yesterday that an infallible God had this face in light of His knowledge of all CFs. So God sets upbelief, then I was going to do A. But it was also going to the whole future, including the parts we would do freely.be the case that I have the power not to do A, even though God knows the future by knowing the CFs and how HeI will not use this power. For Ockhamism, that I was has set things up. But our freedom, say Molinists, is builtgoing to do A determines what God believed, not vice into the CFs. Eve had it in her power not to fall. Had theversa: My future act constrains the past, rather than God’s CFpast belief constraining the future. Had I been going not (10) were the snake to tempt Eve in the garden, sheto do A tomorrow, this would have determined what God would not freely fallbelieved, and so He would always have believed that I been true instead of (9), God would have known that.would not do A. Thus, since I have it in my power not to And since Eve had it in her power not to fall, she had it indo A, it is in my power to do something such that had I her power to do something such that had she been goingbeen going to do it, God would always not have believed to do it, God would always not have believed that shethat I would do A. would fall. But just how does what I do in the future determine One problem for Molinism concerns what makeswhat God believed? Ockhamists hold that what makes (1) CFs true. It cannot be God. If God determines both thattrue is not wholly in the past. Rather, as they see it, what (8) is true and that the snake and Eve are in the garden,makes a statement about God’s past beliefs true is partly God determines that the snake sins: Sin is God’s fault.in the past and partly in the future. If (1) is true, for Ock- Furthermore, God simply determines all our actions, andhamism, what makes it true is partly God’s mental state so we are not free. Nor can it be our natures. Whateveryesterday and partly my doing A tomorrow. One large our having our natures makes true is true necessarily. Butquestion Ockhamism faces is how precisely to understand CFs cannot be true necessarily. If we suppose that (8) isthis. Perhaps God “sees” the future: Had I been not doing necessarily true, it is not so much as possible that theA in the future, that is what He would always have seen. snake not tempt Eve, and so the snake does not do soPlausibly, when I see a tree, what makes this true is that I freely—and so (8) turns out false. Nor can it be ouram seeing and that the tree is seen. So perhaps future actions. They come too late in the game. So there seemsevents are part of what make it true that God sees the to be nothing at all in reality that can make CFs true.future. Furthermore, arguably Molinism does not genuinely But when I see a tree, this is because light reflected preserve our freedom. (8) is true from all eternity. It isfrom the tree enters my eye—the tree sends a signal. So if also true from eternity that God has willed that Eve andGod “sees” the future, future events send signals back to the snake be in the garden. So from all eternity it is guar-God in the present—there is backward causation. This is anteed that the snake tempts. It cannot be the case thathard to defend. God has willed that Eve and the snake be in the garden and that (8) is true and yet the snake does not tempt. Given conditions obtaining long before it existed, themolinism snake cannot do otherwise: It is merely the case that itMolinism accepts (4a), not (4). For Molinism, God knows could have done otherwise (had these conditions notour future free actions by knowing “counterfactuals of obtained). And there is a further worry: Even if God doesfreedom” (CFs), truths about what we would freely do in not will that the snake tempt, does He not in fact initiatevarious circumstances, and knowing the circumstances the snake’s action, albeit indirectly? What initiates anwe will be in. For Molinists, before all creation, it was true action makes the first difference in the world that guar-that antees that (barring a miracle) the action is done. On the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY114 • 2nd edition
  9. 9. GOD, CONCEPTS OF [ ADDENDUM ]Molinist scenario, we do not make this first difference at this about. Thus, some suggest that we relativizethe moment of choice. God makes it from all eternity. If omnipotence to what it is possible to bring aboutthis is correct, then God removes our responsibility much at any given time.as He would if He just directly caused our actions. Thus, (c) The free actions of creatures. It is possible that Iit is not clear that Ockhamism or Molinism are successful finish writing this entry. But if God makes me fin-approaches to the Boethian argument. ish, some say my doing so is not free. So while it is possible that God makes me finish, some say it isthe concept of omnipotence not possible that God makes me freely finish.The claim that God is omnipotent, that is, “all-powerful,” (d) States of affairs that would be evil to bring about.concerns the range of God’s power—how much He is Many think that God cannot do evil. If this is so,able to do. At first glance, being all-powerful may seem to then if it would be evil to kill you, God cannot dobe having all powers. But this cannot be right. God has no this.body (leaving aside the Incarnation). So He cannot walk. (e) States of affairs that entail that no one broughtHe can take on a body. So He is able to walk, and He actu- them about. God can make an atom appear fromally has a conditional power, the power to walk if He nowhere. But He cannot make one so appear withacquires a body. But having this conditional power does absolutely no cause, because if He brings it aboutnot entail being able to walk. that the atom appears, its appearing has a cause. St. Thomas Aquinas gave a classic definition, that (f) Molinist CFs.“God is omnipotent =df. God is able to bring about everyabsolutely possible state of affairs” (Summa Theologiae Ia It is hard to make definition building in all these25, 3). The thought here is that God can make true any exceptions seem smooth and natural. But two accountssentence stating something possible, but no sentence stat- are worth noting. One could say that God is omnipotenting something impossible, for example, not “there is a =df. God has the greatest range of power one individualsquare circle.” In a sense this does not limit God’s power. can have. This lets one place outside God’s power as manyIf a sentence describes something God can bring about, it of (a) to (f) as one wants. Suppose that no one can bringdescribes something that can occur, so it states a possibil- about at t states of affairs earlier than t. Then this is notity. So no sentence stating something impossible could in the range of power of any individual. So if God cannotdescribe something God can do. But what can seem to be do this, God can be too late to bring some things abouta limit emerges when we add that some sentences really and yet have the greatest range of power one individualdo state impossibilities, states of affairs God cannot bring can have. Again, it is in my power to kill you when it is evilabout. One may wonder why there are any impossibilities to do so, and perhaps it is not in God’s. Even so, God canif God is all-powerful. In response, some have wondered still have the greatest range of power one individual canwhether the sense that there being impossibilities limits have, because His range of power is overall larger thanGod dissipates if we add that God’s nature or activity mine.accounts for these states of affairs being possible or Another definition that also allows exceptions (a) toimpossible. (f) begins from the thought that omnipotence cannot Discussions of omnipotence suggest that Aquinas’s ever be powerful enough to do anything: God is omnipo-account is too sweeping—that there are some possible tent =df. there is nothing such that God cannot dostates of affairs God cannot bring about. These include because of a lack of power. Anyone other than God can- not do some things because of a lack of power. I cannot (a) Necessary states of affairs. Necessarily, 2 + 2 = 4. run a three-minute mile because my legs are not that But this, some argue, has nothing to do with God. powerful. A turtle cannot do mathematics because its It is not something He or anyone else could bring mind is not that powerful. On this last definition, the about. Still, whatever is necessarily so is possibly “distinctive” of God’s power is that nothing like this is so. true of Him. God cannot walk because of a lack of a body, (b) Things God is too late to bring about, for exam- not because of a lack of power. There is no power to walk- ple, that the Germans won World War II. It was without-a-body to lack. God cannot sin because of His possible that they do so, and it is now no contra- moral perfection, not because of a lack of any power diction to say “the Germans won the war.” But it is needed, for example, to tell a lie. If He cannot make the now (some argue) impossible that anyone bring Germans win World War II, this is because it is now too ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY 2nd edition • 115
  10. 10. GOD, CONCEPTS OF [ ADDENDUM ]late, not because of a lack of power. And so on. One may Still, this is a bit quick. Wise and omnipotent are twowonder, though, whether having a set of powers with so predicates. But it is not obvious that real attributes pairmany limits, even if not because of a lack of power, 1:1 with (almost all) predicates. And even if predicatesamounts to being all-powerful. usually apply in virtue of a thing’s having distinct attrib- utes, it would take some argument to show that they candivine simplicity never apply in virtue of the same thing. Perhaps what made it true at one time that someone was king of Eng-Many medieval thinkers held that God is “simple,” and land was that he rightfully wore one crown, and whatthis thesis returned to active discussion in the 1980s. The made it true at one time that someone was king of Scot-more complicated or complex something is, the more land was that he rightfully wore another crown. When theparts it has. The simpler something is, the fewer parts it monarchies united, both became true in virtue of right-has, and something is wholly simple if it has no parts at fully wearing a single crown.all. The doctrine of divine simplicity (DDS) asserts thatGod is wholly simple. Most theists think that God is not A second obvious objection is that if God is identicalmade of matter, spread out in space, or an event, with ear- with His properties, then He is a property, yet surely He islier and later parts. So they think that God has no mate- not. This objection takes it that the result of identifying God with His properties is to eliminate God. But whyrial, spatial, or temporal parts. But Aquinas, for instance, think that? Perhaps the identification gets rid of the prop-also speaks of God as not “composed” of essence, acci- erties, leaving God to make it true that He is wise, good,dents, and existence (Summa Theologiae Ia 3, 3–6). The and so on. If an identity-statement A = B is true, thentheist mainstream is silent on these. And well it may be, where one could have thought there to be two items, Afor what Aquinas presupposes here is not at all a matter and B, there is only one. This one has all attributes Aof common sense. really has and all attributes B really has, but may have Parts compose. Wholes are composed. Wholes can only some attributes A has been thought to have andconsist completely of different sorts of parts at once—our some B has been thought to have. It may even have nonebodies consist completely of both molecules and quarks. of either. (Here’s a partial analogy: Suppose a spy is also aWhen Aquinas speaks of things other than God as “com- bigamist. He is discovered, and his wives meet. Each wifeposed” of, for example, essences and accidents, he takes it may learn that the husband’s real life story includes noth-that concrete things consist completely not only of con- ing he has told her about himself. In fact, by pooling cluescrete parts but also of abstract ones—essences, accidents, that previously only one had possessed, the wives mayand so on This claim stretches the sense of “part.” For the eventually learn that he is not even human, but really apart-whole relation is transitive. If a bolt is part of a wheel robot. So the wives may well wind up learning that almostand the wheel is part of a car, it follows that the bolt is nothing either had believed about the husband was true.)part of the car. The subject-attribute relation (that Given that A = B, which of the attributes we thought Abetween things and their accidents) is not transitive. and B had this one thing has remains to be determined. IfBeing an attribute is an attribute of my accidents but not God = justice, why think that God has only attributes wean attribute of mine. thought justice had? Some might reply that the property has to be there regardless—there has to be such a thing as If DDS is true, then while what makes it true that justice, because others than God are just. But actually oneBrownie is a donkey is that Brownie has an essential can use God in place of the property in other metaphysi-property, donkeyhood, what makes it true that God is cal contexts, though this is a story too complex to telldivine is simply God. Again, while what makes it true that here.Brownie is brown is that Brownie has an accidental prop-erty, brownness, what makes it true that God is just is See also Foreknowledge and Freedom, Theological Prob-simply God. We could put this a bit crudely by saying that lem of; Molina, Luis de; Ockhamism.given DDS, all God’s properties are identical with God. This courts two obvious objections. One is that if all BibliographyGod’s attributes are identical with God, then they are all Fischer, John Martin, ed. God, Foreknowledge, and Freedom.identical: God has just one attribute. But that does not Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998.seem true. God is wise and omnipotent. These seem to be Flint, Thomas P. Divine Providence: The Molinist Account.two attributes. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1998. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY116 • 2nd edition