The Nature of God


The Traditional Definition of God

  • God is understood as: simplicity, eternity, omniscience, omnipotence and omnibenevolence,

God's Simplicity

  • Simple refers to they way whic God was thought of as not changeable and not having parts of characteristics.
  • Simple means that God does not consist of parts or characteristics. Augustine said God is unchangeable and cannot lose or gain any characteristics.
  • By saying God is good, philosophers are saying that:
  • 1. God is God
  • God cannot be broken down or explained in terms of parts. Aquinas says that God's nature and God's existence are the same thing, to talk of God is to talk of a being that exists. Existence is a predicate.
  • Aquinas said God is not a kind of thing.
  • 2. God is Unchanging
  • Change involves movement from being one thing to another - potentiality to acuality.
  • Yet, God is perfect so lacks nothing and is not capable of changing into something else.
  • Christian philosophers argue that only something unchanging can logically be the cause of the created world that changes.
  • Davies claims that anything that changes is part of the world and not distinct from it.
  • 3. If God is immaterial as argued by Aquinas and many others, He does not have a body which has characteristics. God is simply God.
  • Why Does the Simplicity of God Matter?
  • Matters because it is the implication of any understanding of God's nature that claims God is not physical.

God's Eternity

  • God being eternal is hinted in biblical passages such as "For thus says the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy." (Isaiah 57: 15a)
  • Classical philosophy also influences God's eternity and his unchangeing true reality of the world of Forms.
  • Wolterstorff suggests that eternity of God has appealed to people because of the influence of Greek philosophy and because the eternal God is different from humans' experience of life in the physical world. 
  • Time flows by, can be regretted byt not changes.
  • In our world, the notion of God being other and always existing, leads to the philosophical underrstanding of God's nature as eternal and makes believers conviction that God is eternal more understandable. 
  • In Judaeo-Christian philosophy, concept of God being eternal can have two senses:
  • 1. Eternal refers to God existing outside of time.
  • 2. Eternal refers to God having no beginning and no end, time does still pass for God.
  • Eternal will be used to refer to God existing outside of time and everlasting will be used to refer to God always existing but with time passing.

The Eternal God

  • Since the time of Boethiusm Chrstians have thought of God as eternal.
  • Aquinas and Anselm have suggested that God exists outside of time.
  • Anselm said God is eternal because nothing can contain God and Aquinas said time and change are inseperable; since God cannot change, so God cannot be in time.
  • Mains reasons can be identified to explain why Christians traditionally believe that God is eternal:
  • 1. The Bible suggestes that God is always exists.


No comments have yet been made