Idea of God

Attributes of God, Ontological Argument, Origins of God

  • Created by: Katrina
  • Created on: 13-05-12 13:28

Attributes of God

God as a supreme being

5 attributes: omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, trancedent/immanent and eternal/everlasting

God is assigned these attributes as he is personal i.e. isn't just a force or energy, he is associated with being a person such as intellect or will

however, he is personal not a person

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perfect power/power to do anything/most power possible

God can do anything and is unlimited in his choice or action

can do what's logically possible

square-circle/stone paradox i.e. logically impossible

Aquinas-not a limit as is a pseudo task that cannot be done-God can do the logically possible

we can do what God cannot e.g. run, hold a book, write

isn't a lack of power-God has free will and the power to move your body so there isn't a logically possible power God lacks

maybe omnipotence is 'maximal power'

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God knows everything

Aquinas-God knows everything directly and immediately rather than through deduction or language

we know what God doesn't-God must know what we know, but most of what we know derives from sense experience which God doesn't have sense organs to experience

only an imperfect being has this type of knowledge as it relies on having a body-omniscience is to know all that is possible for a perfect being to know

God does know these things as God knows everything directly and immediately

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perfect goodness

God is perfectly perfect and the most perfect being possible (metaphysical and ontological)-iltimate being of existence

OR moral goodness-always in accordance with moral values

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Transcendence or Immanence (Transcendence)

transcendent-above and independent of the material universe-distance from the world and the things in it

God is incorporeal (not physical)

God goes beyond the universe and is self-sufficient and the creator so God is not reducible to the universe

God is not spatial, so some argue God transcends time as well as space i.e. is timess

while God is personal, He has an intellect different from a person-transcends the human realm

makes God seem too remote from us and not a part of our lives

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Transcendence or Immanence (Immanence)

immanent-dwelling within the universe (within time-omnitemporal), His existence connects with everything else

God is omnipresent and being everywhere, knows everything 'from outside'

immanence without transcendence (God is wholly immanent) leads to pantheism-God and the universe are one and the same i.e. everything is God

transcendence is necessary for the tradiational concept of God

immanence is necessary to prevent God being impossibly remote from it

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Eternal and Everlasting

time is linear-with a beginning and end, but Hod cannot have a beginning or end

eternal-God is perfect and self-sufficient so doesn't depend on anything, so has no beginning or end (TRANSCENDENT)

God is eternal means he is non-temporal/timeless

everlasting-God exists all throughout time (IMMANENT)

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Incoherence of Omnipotence and Omnibenevolence

problem of a lying God-God cannot lie

can lie for good, cannot lie for bad; who is he lying to is transcendent?

problem of evil-God knows evil exists, so would wan to stop if he could

natural disasters aren't evil; it would be more evil to remove free will

Euthyphro dilemma-is piety (what's morally right) decided by God? i.e. morally right because the Gods do it, or the Gods do it because it's morally right?

if morality is independent of God, He cannot will anything but if God decided morality, he can change his mind and morality is arbitrary

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Incoherence of Omniscience and Omnibenevolence/Tra

Omniscience and Omnibenevolence

problem of knowing all evil things

Omniscience, Omnibenevolence and Transcendence

free will paradox-transcendence coheres with omniscience, but conflicts with omnibenevolence

God wants the best for is, but can we have free will is God knows our decisions already?

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Incoherence of Omniscience and Eternal

free will paradox-does God knows the future if we have free will?

as the future unfolds, God gains new knowledge but God is unchanging (immutable)

may not be a deficiency in His knowledge, God still knows everything it is possible to know at any given time

if God exists out of time, God never gains new knowledge-already knows what happens in our future

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Incoherence of Immanence and Transcendence

He cannot be within time, but outside of time

God is otherly but not so beyond he bears to relation to us and our world

God is not matter, but Spirit so is immanent in line with transcendent

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Incoherence of Omnibenevolence and Eternal

being eternal suggests he is immutable and must suffer with us if he is truly loving

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Ontological Argument

St Anselm and Descartes-can deduce the existence of God from the idea of God

by thinking about what God is, we conclude God must exist

an a priori argument

works by unpacking the concept of God

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St Anselm's Ontological Argument

God is a being of which no greater can be conceived

it's greater to exist in reality than as an idea

if God doesn't exist we can conceive of an even greater being i.e. one that does exist

Therefore God must exist in reality


deductive argument-no missing steps

doesn't rely on empirical evidence

easier for people to believe in God

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Criticisms of St Anselm

just because we can conceive of it, he may not exist and may still remain a concept

people's 'Gods' vary

God doesn't have to be the greatest being

have to accept the premises for the argument to work

Gaunilo's perfect island:

existence isn't necessary

St Anselm's response-however, God has unique perfection.  An island is contingent and perfection isn't a necessary property of an island

Hume-necessary existence is meaningless i.e. non essential and we can conceive of a non-existing God

saying God doesn't exist is a contradiction andnothing is demonstrable unless the opposite is a contradition

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Descartes' Ontological Argument

God is a supremely perfect being

existence is a predicate of a perfect being-God must exist to avoid being self-contradictory

imagining God without the preciate of existence is logically like imagining a triangle without three sides

Gassendi-existence isn't a part of the idea of God and we can form an idea of a God who doesn't exist

Aquinas-doesn't prove he exists, just proves the concept of God is inseparable from existence and so the ontological argument makes a transitional error from existence in intellectu (in the mind) or in re (in the body)

Johannes-the concept of necessary existence doesn't entail existence

Kant-existence isn't a property

it is a synthetic judgement so needs to be proved

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The Origins of God

Descartes-there are 3 sources of the concept:

1.he is fictitious (we invented it)

2.he is adventitious (outside of the mined)

3.he is innate

Descartes uses the Trademark Argument to prove God's innate

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Bernard Williams

is we find a piture of asophisticated machine, we assume it's the product of an advanced society even though it's a picture

if we found the machine, it would be better i.e. the effect (machine) must match the cause (maker), therefore God must be the cause of God

even if everyone has a concept, the wide differences duggest it's meaningless

some people have no concept of God

in science we invent things we haven't experienced e.g. electron, but doesn't mean it isn't true, we invent the oncepts because the theory behind them is true

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concept acquisition

we formed the idea by abstraction and negation of finite and imperfect (things we have experienced)

Descartes-God isn't made of negative ideas, but positive ones, also, we need perfection to experience imperfect

if God is innate, why are there so many different views?

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God as a human construction


we meet/know good, powerful and intelligent people so we times these qualities by infitity and get God

Ludwig Feuerbach

God is a man abstracted without limits

contemplated and worshiped as another being, distinguished from his own

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God as a human construction and projection

we don't have any direct experience of od and he isn't innate, then we must have invented it

God of the Gaps-using God as the best explanation for an aspect of the world we want to explain

justified in using God as an explanation as it's best the best explanation i.e. thunder used to be down to God, now has been scientifically proven

Anthropomorphic account-concept based on what we're familiar with

God isn;t a purely theoretical concept but depends on human psychology too

concept is a projection of our own sense of self

Freud-God emerges from our unconscious-our wishes for consolation and reassurance

we are dependent on a protector that our parents cannot provide

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God as a human construction from 'mundane' social

god doesn't emerge from within us, but from the society we live in

Durkheim-functionalism-religion secures a sense of identity and solidarity within a society and a basis for collectivist morality i.e. is a norm of society

Mark-communism and the whole human history determined by the economic means of production i.e God was a tool by the upper classes to keep the working class in place-emphasis on suffering and those who did well would be rewarded in the afterlife-'religion is the opiate of the people

accounts religious beliefs in terms of social functionalism but doesn't disprove God's existence

related to religion, not specifically God e.g. buddhism has no God

Marx supposes religion is due to production, but doesn't explain religionin ancient society

the idea of God may be innate

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God as a human construction and projection from ou

Neitzsche-God is a reflection of what people value

the personification and objectification of wat we value

different societies with different value have different ideas of God

we can see how changes in the idea of God are part of an attampt to change the system of values

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