The Nature of God

  • Created by: livvvx
  • Created on: 04-05-19 21:26

The Nature of God

The traditional definition of God centres upon five key concepts:

  • Simplicity
  • Eternity
  • Omniscience 
  • Omnipotence
  • Omnibenevolence

God's Simplicity

Christian philosophers use the word 'simple' as a description of God. By 'simple' they are referring to the traditional way in which God was thought of as not being changeable and not having parts or characteristics. When philosophers talk about God being simple they are saying that God does not consist of parts of characteristics. Augustine commented that God is unchangeable and thus cannot lose or gain any characteristics. Aquinas spoke of God being simple as God signifies 'being/existing'.

God is God-

God cannot be broken down or explained in terms of parts. Philosophers like Aquinas say that God's nature (what God is) and God's existence are the same thing, because to talk of God is to talk of a being that exists- in onto arg Anselm claims that existence is a predicate of God. Aquinas stated that God is not a kind of thing. Brian Davies explains this suggesting that God is not a thing like 'a human being' but God is a thing in the same sense as you might talk about 'the human race' as a whole.

God is unchanging-

God is unchanging because change involves a movement from being one thing to being another. Because God is perfect, God lacks nothing and is not capable of changing into something else and remaining perfect. Christian philosophers have argued that only something unchanging can logically be the cause of the created world that changes. Brian Davies claims      ''If something changeable accounted for there being a world in which change occurs, it would be part of such a world and could not, therefore, account for it.'', like Aquinas, Davies thinks that God is simply God. 

If God is immaterial as argued by Aquinas and many other philosophers, God does not have a body which has characteristics. God is simply God. 

The simplicity of God matters because it is the implications of any understanding of God's nature that claims that God is not physical. 

Challenges to God's simplicity:

  • God changes

Response- God does not change instead God is the source of change 

  • How can a simple God love his people?

Response- God loves us in a non-human way. Second, love concerns what God wills for human beings; it is not a reference to empathy for people

  • God has no freedom if simplicity is true

Response- This is a misunderstanding of God's nature. Aquinas argues that God 'wills whatever he does from eterenity' E.g. God is the Creator, so if God is simple, God eternally wills creations. 

  • God is not described as simple in the Bible

Response- There are many references to God's nature in the Bible some of which are not literal. Secondly, Malachi 3:6a suggested that God is unchanging.

  • The simple God is transcendent and is thus unknowable

Response- God can be known through revelation. Secondly, some people claim God can, in a way, be known…

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