Attributes of God

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  • Attributes of God
    • Omniscience :
      • Limited omniscience – God knows what is logically possible to know
      • Unlimited omniscience – God knows everything that has happened  & will ever happen. With this approach,we still have free will.
      • Problems :
        • Senses:IF God is supposedly omniscient, but without form. How can he know what Chocolate tastes like? As a result, Gods knowledge is limited.
          • Kenny: To taste or smell is not knowledge, it is just a sensation. So God is still omniscient.
            • Anthony Kenny God knows all that he needs to know but does not have the accompanying sensation of pleasure or pain.
              • If God cannot experience sensations, then he can't experience suffering. Surely he is not then loving?
                • Aquinas: God does not have a body! This is not a problem.
      • Middle knowledge - If God is omniscient then he should have middle knowledge (knowledge of every possible choice you make). But if they are just 'what ifs'  then surely they are not genuine facts. Therefore God cannot know them.
        • Gods knowledge is different to ours. It is arrogant to think we can compare ourselves to him.
          • Flew & Mackie argue that if GOD really was OMNIS then he would have foreseen the consequences of human action & changed us.
          • Michael Dummett God’s knowledge is beyond our perspective. This is because God’s knowledge is of everything. Unlike ours. We can get things out of proportion sometimes and misunderstand.
          • God doesn’t experience this. Therefore, we cannot really understand God’s omniscience because he is so beyond us and timeless
      • Future knowledge If God is omniscient then he should know what will happen in the future. If it hasn't happened yet, then can it be called knowledge? Also, if God has this knowledge, why does he allow things to happen? E.g. the Fall.
        • Do not compare ourselves to God. He is above us.
      • Free will - If God is truly omniscient then he knows what you will do before you do it. If you think you make a last minute decision God will always have known you were going to do that. This seems incompatible with free will! If he knows you are going to do it, surely you are not acting freely.
        • Calvin: We are not free! God has predestined us.
          • Process Theology: God is not omniscient in that he does not know the future.
            • Schleiermacher goes on to say “so even the divine foreknowledge cannot endanger freedom”(The Christian Faith, 1831),. God knows us like a friend knows us. His knowledge does not influence our choices.
      • Responses :
      • Evaluation :
    • Omnipotence
      • Multiple philosophers and theologians believe there is evidence for an omnipotent God. E.g. Miracles, irreducible complexity, apparent design, intelligent design, and causation……..However, this is challenged by other theories & problems e.g. evolution, big bang theory, evil, randomness……
      • There are also paradoxes & problems relating to God’s omnipotence.These are:
        • Paradox of the rock – if God was so powerful he would be able to create a rock so heavy he couldn’t lift it.
        • He could change the past
        • He could do the logically impossible – make a 5 sided triangle / 2+2=5
        • Sin
        • DO what we can do…jump, run, squat….
      • Some philosophers have defined God’s omnipotence in light of these problems. Some argue God has divine power (can do anything) or they say he has self-imposed limitations (meaning he chooses to limit his powers).
        • Descartes Argues God can do the logically impossible. There is nothing God cannot do. God can do anything,including the logically impossible.  + total power.         - bit unpredictable & can also do things that are nonsense!
        • Aquinas God is different to us &; so cannot do particular things. But this is NOT a problem. God cannot run because he is beyond us. Everything that does not imply a contradiction.Running, for example, is not important to God or part of his perfection. Swinburne supports & argues logical contradictions do not refer to things.
        • Peter Vardy Gods omnipotence is limited in order for us to be free.God chose to create us in this way knowing that he would have to limit his power.Gods wish to create a universe in which human beings can be brought into a loving relationship with him".
        • John Macquarrie God chooses to limit his power out of love for humanity. He argues for analogy and suggests we are weak compared to him and cannot comprehend his omnipotence.We will struggle to comprehend Gods power. But he limits it out of love.
        • Whitehead & Hartshorne His power over us is greater than any other being but NOT total power.They choose this view because otherwise things would only happen because God wanted them to. Both refer to theidea of resistance. Things can resist against God.
    • Benevolence
      • If God is loving this raises many issues/ problems.
        • Command things because they are good? This means GOD can command anything to be good or goodness is outside of God meaning he is no longer as good/omnipotent. RESPONSE: Kiergegaard argues that God is beyond human understanding so we cannot judge him based on our standards.Aquinas - God cannnot will evil as he is perfectly good.
        • Is it really benevolent for God to reward/push us if he is omniscient and so knows what we will already do. Response: His omniscience means he is more capable of judging. Also, being able to experience Good and evil helps develop us as people & to learn.
        • God is benevolent then it would be imposible for him to create a hell. Basically, it is a logical impossibility that GOd could create hell. Response: Hick argues that hell is not actually a real place. It is symbolic. Richard Swinburne also argues that for us to have genuine freedom we msut be able to damn ourselves to hell.
      • Problem: IF God is omnipotent, then he can sin. But he is supposed to be benevolent so surely he cannot! Surely his goodness is then not as good because he can only do good! RESPONSE: It is a logical impossibility. Also, it is not a genuine limitation. It does not make God any worse because he cannot sin

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