The Nature of God

archiebw's version from 2016-06-14 17:51


Question Answer
What are the relevant attributes of God for this topic?His simplicity, eternity, omniscience, omnipotent and omnibenevolence.
What is the difference between what a religious believer and a philosopher are doing when they talk about God?A religious believer is using language to communicate experience, whereas a philosopher is trying to provide a coherent account of what the former means by the word.
What do we mean when we talk of God as 'simple', and whose view is this? He is unchangeable, unable to lose or gain characteristics, and Saint Augustine.
Who says God is not a type of thing, who elaborates on this, and what does the latter say?St. Thomas Aquinas, Brian Davies, and God is a thing in the sense one might talk of 'the human race' cohesively.
What are three factors that arrive at a view of God as unchanging? Change involves moving from one thing to another, but God is perfect so lacks nothing; “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”, God is immaterial so does not have a body with characteristics.
What two answers are given for how a simple God can love?His love is non-human, and love concerns what he wills, and not how emphatic he is.
What two answers are given for the challenge that God is not portrayed as simple in the Bible?Many references to His nature are figurative, and he says in Malachi 3 "I the lord do not change"
What two answers are given for the challenge that a simple God is transcendent, so unknowable?He can be known through revelation, or through analogy of proportion and attribution and the Via Negativa.
By whom was the idea of the Christian God being eternal influenced?Plato and Boethius.
What word can be used to mean 'within time, but having no beginning and end’?'Sempiternal'


Question Answer
Why did Anselm believe God was eternal, and in which work does he state this?Because he believed nothing could contain him, and Proslogion 19.
What are three reasons to believe God is eternal?The Bible says God always exists, he is not a physical being and he is Creator and time passing is just a feature of the universe.
Who argues one of the reasons the conclusion of God's eternity can be reached is that he is perfect and time passing implies imperfection, and in which work?Anselm, and 'Proslogion'.
What is an argument that God exists necessarily?Aquinas's Third Way.
Who argues God is eternal since if time passed for him he would learn new things but this does not fit with his omniscience?Boethius.
What is the word Boethius uses to describe God, and what does it mean?'Impassable', and unable to experience pain or pleasure.
To Boethius, what is eternity?‘the whole, simultaneous and perfect possession of unending life.'


Question Answer
Who believes God can know one's future actions but one can still be free, and why?Boethius, and He has an immediate atemporal knowledge.
Who writes the view of God as eternal leads us to be limited in our language about Him?St. Thomas Aquinas.
What is an implication of accepting both that God is eternal and he is the Creator?He does not think about creating and then create.
Who used a 'reductio ad absurdum' argument against the idea of God being eternal, and what did he say?Anthony Kenny, and all of time being simultaneously present to God, meaning that as he is typing the great fire of Rome is happening, is incoherent.
Who said they could not 'make much sense' of all of time being simultaneously present to God?Richard Swinburne.
What is a challenge to God being eternal based on the Bible, and what is a response to this criticism?In the Bible, God seems personal and exists in time, such as responding to the Israelites' prayer for freedom from slavery in Egypt; the language in the Bible suggesting God as a person merely reflects people of the past who described encounters using personal language.
What ability of God comes into question if we accept his eternity?His ability to take part in the two-way process of love with his creation, such as responding to people and their prayers.
How can a loving God be justified if he is outside time?He is always sustaining creation.
Who says prayer is the act of being aware of God's activity in the world, and what does he use to describe what a prayer shouldn't be?St. Thomas Aquinas, and petitionary.
Which philosopher form the 'Miracles' topic can be brought in here in the discussion about whether a loving God can be eternal?Maurice Wiles.
Who argues God is sempiternal instead of eternal, what is a reason he gives, and in which work?Richard Swinburne, it fits more with the Bible, and 'Is There a God?'
What is a weakness of God as sempiternal?Surely he would have to gain knowledge as time passes, which undermines the idea of his being omniscient.


Question Answer
In what two ways might we conceive of God as knowing things before they happen?By thinking of a time traveler, or a scientist who is able to predict the result of a reaction.
What two contradictory ways might one conceive of absolute knowledge?Knowledge of what will happen and all the possibilities of what might happen.
What are the three ways in which one could interpret omnipotence? The ability to do anything, including logically impossible, the ability to do what is logically possible for a perfect God to do and just a hyperbole of His immense power.
Who believed God could do the logically impossible?René Descartes.
Who wrote nothing was logically impossible for God, in which work and why?J.L. Mackie, 'Omnipotence' and the logically impossible was “only a form of words which fails to describe any state of affairs.”
Which two people wrote that God could only do the logically possible, and what was an example the latter gave of the logically impossible?Anthony Kenny and Aquinas, and changing past events.
Who wrote God cannot sin, as sinning intrinsically involved lacking power over one's activity?Anselm.


Question Answer
Who suggested God has all knowledge because knowledge is not a physical entity?Aquinas.
As what did Aquinas express God's knowledge, and why?'Self-knowledge' and because God is the Creator of all there is to know.
Who says God takes in all of history in a 'single glance', and who agreed?Boethius, and Aquinas.
How did Aquinas analogise God's omniscience, and what word did he use to mean 'from God's perspective'?As a man who has a bird's-eye view of people walking along a road, and 'theocentric'
Who suggests God's omniscience includes all possibilities for the future?Luis de Molina.
What is a characteristic of humans which might undermine God's omnipotence?Free will.
How does Boethius resolve the question of why an omnibenevolent God would punish people on account of necessary actions?He appeals to God's eternity, suggesting that God does not foreknow our actions.
Between what two types of necessity does Boethius distinguish, and what do they mean?'Simple necessity' and 'conditional neccesity', and something happening because it has to and something happening out of choice.
What is a good point that arises from Boethius's argument?God does not influence actions by seeing them.
With what is the view of God as an impartial spectator at odds?The Biblical depiction.