Nature of God - Entire Unit

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OCR Philosophy of Religion A2 unit - Nature of God

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Nature of God - Entire Unit
1 God's simplicity
1.1 God is good
1.1.1 Aquinas: God is not a type of thing
1.1.2 God's nature and existence are the same thing - he can't be broken down or explained in terms of parts
1.2 God is unchanging
1.2.1 Change implies moving from one thing to another but God is perfect, lacks nothing and therefore isn't capable of change
1.3 God doesn't have a body
1.3.1 God is God, no characteristics
1.4 Simple = the traditional way in which God was thought as not being changeable and not having parts or characteristics
1.4.1 God is unchangable and therefore can't gain or lose any characteristics (Augustine)
1.4.1.1 Aquinas: simple = God signifies 'being/existing'
2 God as eternal
2.1 Timeless
2.1.1 God is outside of time and sees all events in an eternal present
2.1.1.1 Augustine: "thy years neither come nor go; whereas ours both come and go"
2.1.1.1.1 Obvious link with the Greek. Ideas such as change and motion are part of the world of appearances
2.1.1.1.1.1 Plato: The forms are eternal and unchanging. Time was the moving image of eternity. Whatever is perfect cannot exist within time and space
2.1.1.1.2 Boethius, Anselm and Aquinas all argued that this world is constantly changing and God is unchanging and outside of time. God is therefore not limited or bound by the constraints of time
2.1.1.2 Time is something that is bound up in creation and created things but doesn't effect God
2.1.1.2.1 God can still bring about change in time and cause change in people without being changed himself
2.1.1.2.1.1 Biblical support: Psalm 139 and Numbers 23:19
2.1.1.2.2 Change means that God would either require improvement or decay but the fact that he is perfect means he must be immutable
2.1.2 Evidence: Bible says God has always existed; God isn't physical, must be out of time and space; God's creator of the universe, suggests being out of time; God is the cause of why everything exists; God's existence is necessary (cannot not exist)
2.2 Everlasting
2.2.1 God moves through time with us, He has always existed and always will
2.2.1.1 Love cannot be compatible with immutability, in a relationship, both parties are mutually affected by experiences - these changes happen within time and as a process and sequence of events - if there is a living God who has relationships with people as individuals, then God cannot also be timeless
2.2.1.1.1 Oscar Cullen: Bible text analysis - eternal = everlasting not timeless because God is in an 'endless duration'
2.2.1.1.1.1 Biblical support: Jeremiah 18:7-10 and Isaiah 38:1-5
2.2.1.2 Swinburne: "The Good of the OT...is a God in continual interaction with men, moved by men as they speak to him, his action being more often in no way decided in advance. We should note, further, that if God did not change at all he would not think now of this, now of that. His thoughts would be one thought which lasted for ever" (The Coherence of Theism, 1977)
2.3 Process Theology
2.3.1 Accepts that God moves through time with his creation - that eternal means everlasting not timeless
2.3.2 Whitehead and Hartshorne argue that God is affected by this interaction - God is in the process of becoming and changes with us, so God is involved in creation. Although he is powerful, he is in no sense omnipotent
2.3.2.1 D.Z. Phillips suggests a different concept of eternity: For Phillips, the idea of eternity isn't related to the notion of time but expresses something of a qualitative nature, God doesn't exist as just another object amongst objects even if he is the greatest being. He is completely different being that cannot be comprehended; the notion of God as eternal attempts to convey this idea.
2.4 Philosophical problems raised by God as eternal
2.4.1 Timeless: free will & impossible to have a loving relationship
2.4.1.1 Can we have a loving relationship with a timeless God? Aquinas: There's a difference between God's nature & will and his activity. The farmer is immutable - his nature is always perfect, good etc. The latter is possible because he is God. He is different from us.
2.4.1.1.1 Creel: God doesn't have to wait until we act to feel or respond, he knows what all the possibilities of our choices are and he can know in advance what his is in response to each of these possibilities without his will changing
2.4.2 Eternal: Limited omnipotence & is he omniscient or not?
3 God's omnipotence
3.1 1. Ability to do anything, including the logically impossible 2. Ability to do what's logically possible for a perfect God 3. omnipotence is just a statement of the power of God
3.2 Can God sin?
3.2.1 Sin is a bad thing so if he can sin he wouldn't be perfect but if he can't sin then is he really omnipotent because he can't do all things
3.2.2 George Mavrodes: Being omnipotent doesn't mean that God can logically impossible tasks or perform tasks which are self-contradictory to his nature. Hebrews 6:18 - it's impossible for God to lie
3.2.3 Augustine: Evil is not a real, positive quality - so not made by God. If he cannot create evil, then he cannot sin
3.2.4 Nelson Pike: God's OP would allow him to sin, but he is morally good, he would never do it, otherwise he wouldn't be free and his goodness wouldn't be worthy of praise
3.2.5 Aquinas: "To sin is to fall short of a perfect action; hence to be able to sin is to be able to fall short in action, which is repugnant to omnipotence. Therefore, it is that God cannot sin, because of his omnipotence"
3.2.5.1 Aquinas also pointed out that Aristotle says "God can deliberately do what is evil...he may be understood to mean that God can do some things which now seem to be evil: which, however, if He did them, would then be good" This plays on the Euthyphro Dilemma, if actions are good because God commands them then whatever he does is always good.
3.2.6 Anthony Kenny: God's OP consists of being able to do anything logically possible that a perfect being can do. Additionally, do anything possible that a being which possess the attributes of God has (e.g. no body)
3.3 If God can do everything, could he create a five-sided triangle or make 2+2=5?
3.3.1 A triangle is a descriptive word, a 5-sided triangle would be a pentagon.
3.3.2 Harry Frankfurt: If God is able to do one impossible thing, he can do another impossible thing by lifting that stone. So OP in not incoherent - in fact it shows how OP he is!
3.3.3 Aquinas: Logically impossible actions are not actions at all. They are not 'proper' things that one can or cannot do so meaningless to even discuss them
3.3.4 Swinburne: "It is no objection to A's omnipotence that he cannot make a square circle...omnipotence denotes an ability to bring about any logically possible state of affairs
3.4 Can God change the past?
3.4.1 William of Ockham: Two types of omnipotence - one which is unlimited "absolute power of God". This is the power God had at the beginning of time. Second is "ordained power of God". This refers to what God can do given the current options available to him e.g. world is created so he cannot un-create the world, but he does have complete power over it.
3.4.2 Michael Dummett: If you hear on the news that the ship your loved one was on sank two hours ago with few survivors, does it make sense to pray in that situation? Could God change what happened or is your loved one already safe because God knew that you would pray?
3.4.3 Aquinas - can God make the past not to have been? "There dos not fall under the scope of God's omnipotence anything that implies a contradiction. Now that the past should not have been implies a contradiction. For as it implies a contradiction to say that 'Socrates is sitting' and is not sitting, so does it to say that he sat, and did not sit. But to say that he did sit is to say that it happened in the past. To say that he did not sit, is to say that it did not happen. Whence, that the past should not have been, does not come under the scope of divine power."
3.4.4 Irenaeus: Evil and suffering are part of the whole design, part of God's original intention
3.4.5 Alvin Plantinga: God may choose to limit his powers in certain circumstances in order to preserve human free will
3.4.6 Whitehead: God can only do what is logically possible and it is not logically possible to force free individuals to obey moral laws. He is involved in them, but is unable to choose to step outside them and make them any different
3.5 Other Scholars
3.5.1 Descartes: God can do anything. God could change the laws of nature
3.5.2 Luke 1:37 "For nothing is impossible with God"
3.5.3 Peter Geach: The Greek NT used the word 'pantokrator' which translates as 'almighty'. This can refer to God's capacity over everything rather than a power to do everything
4 God's omni-benevolence
4.1 What is good?
4.1.1 Aquinas: "the perfections of everything exist in God, he lacks no excellence of any sort"
4.1.2 Swinburne: Analogy of God's goodness and a parent rewarding and punishing
4.2 Should God reward and punish?
4.2.1 Problem: Is punishing loving? Reward is arbitrary? Do we earn reward? If we don't have free will, can God judge us?
4.2.2 Solution: Punishment = discipline, reward = grace, God = perfect, goodness = justice = free will
4.3 Euthyphro Dilemma
4.3.1 Good because God commands or God commands because they're good?
4.3.1.1 Problem: Goodness = out of God's control (another source of goodness) or God is arbitrary and can decide whatever he wants is good
4.3.2 Solution: He created good - that being the source of good, not just arbitrarily making it up
4.4 Can God do evil?
4.4.1 Problem: If God can do evil, he can't truly be good but if he can't then is he omnipotent? Can he freely choose evil?
4.4.1.1 Solution: can't do evil - perfect power, logically impossible for him to do evil (See "Can God sin?" under omnipotence)
4.5 Can an omni-benevolent God send people to hell?
4.5.1 Problem: Hell is incompatible with the attributes of God
4.5.1.1 Solution: Universalism (Hick)
4.5.1.2 Alternatively, attribute of God = just, therefore has to punish
5 God's omniscience
5.1 How much does God know?
5.1.1 Option 1: Unlimited - timeless God, knows everything (past, present and future), doesn't gain new knowledge and takes all of history into account in a single glance. He knows everything that is true (propositional)
5.1.2 Option 2: Limited - everlasting God, limited to know what is logically possible (or chooses to limit what he knows to allow human free will), gains new knowledge as time passes and history unfolds God also acquires new knowledge
5.1.3 Option 3: Middle Knowledge, knows all infinite possibilities of what you could do and all infinite outcomes, God knows what you will choose but knows the infinite possibilities if you don't. W.L. Craig - God knows the appropriate knowledge (that Napoleon knows he is Napoleon, not that HE IS Napoleon. He has all propositional knowledge (facts/information, rather than feelings/sensations - e.g. what chocolate tastes like)
5.1.3.1 Challenge: Do humans have free will?
5.1.3.1.1 John Locke: Free will = the ability to do other in any situation = incompatible with Boethius' idea of omniscience
5.1.3.1.2 Aquinas: analogy of man walking on a road and man watching above - knows end decision but not exactly how
5.1.3.1.3 Boethius: No foreknowledge, just knows future in a glance (timeless God)
5.1.3.1.3.1 Kenny: This can't happen
5.1.3.1.4 Augustine: God knows all our choices
5.1.3.1.5 Luis Molina: God's knowledge involves all possibilities, still have free will to choose which (middle knowledge)
5.1.3.2 Anscombe: No such thing would happen, God doesn't know what will happen in someone's life if they hadn't died as a child
5.2 Scholars
5.2.1 Hartshorne
5.2.1.1 God is in the process of changing with us. He is affected by his relationship with the world and the decisions we make
5.2.1.1.1 He has the divine ability to know everything that is knowable - past actualities as already actualised; present realities to the extent that they are knowable according to the laws of physics; future possibilities as probabilities
5.2.2 Aquinas
5.2.2.1 Follows Boethius in asserting that God timelessly knows what we will do
5.2.2.1.1 God's knowledge is not "discursive" - he doesn't first think of one thing then think of another for "God sees all things together and not successively" and God doesn't derive his knowledge by deducing conclusions from other things he knows.
5.2.2.1.1.1 For Aquinas, God knows immediately, all at one, in a single act - the past, present and future.
5.2.2.1.1.2 According to Aquinas, God knows self-knowledge - creation is his and he knows about it. His knowledge isn't physical, it's not gained through senses, it's different knowledge to that of humans
5.2.3 Swinburne
5.2.3.1 God is eternal and moves through time with us. God can only know what is logically possible to know
5.2.3.1.1 "I propose to argue that not merely is perfect goodness compatible with perfect freedom, but that it is logically necessary that an omniscient and perfectly free being be perfectly good"
5.2.3.1.1.1 God knows what we have done and what we are doing but is only aware of the logical possibilities of our futures
5.2.4 Calvin
5.2.4.1 God predestines some to be saved and others to be damned. He is omniscient and this has priority over our freedom. Free will is an illusion. Just as an artist has knowledge of his creation before he creates it, God's knowledge as creator is the source of everything. As he created everything, he knows and has caused everything that will happen to his creation. God determines everything, including who goes to heaven and hell.
5.2.5 Schleiermacher
5.2.5.1 Analogy of close friends, God knows what he thinks we'll do in the same way a best friend would know what we would do in any situation. Free will is therefore not endangered
5.2.6 Boethius
5.2.6.1 Use's Plato's ideas to suggest God is outside of time in an eternal present. He doesn't foreknow. He sees all actions as present
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