The doctrine of divine simplicity states that God has no parts. God’s is identical with his nature, and his nature is described as having various attributes, or properties, like love, goodness, justice, knowledge and wisdom. Along with such a view come a few problems. The first one is how human beings could ever know such a being. We could never know an absolutely simple essence, since the finite cannot comprehend the infinite. The Christian answer is that through revelation God divides himself into parts so we can understand him. However, this answer still means we cannot know who God really is. He may actually be like the ineffable god of eastern thinkers, which Huston Smith argues for.There are several Christian attempts to escape these extremes, notably 1) Rene Descartes, who argued that although God has properties he does not possess them essentially; 2) contemporary nominalists, who argue that God doesn’t have a nature simply because there are no properties (that is, there is no such thing as the property of omniscience), and especially, 3) Thomas Aquinas’s classic answer that God is identical with his nature.
Huston Smith, Why Religion Matters (New York: HarperSanFranscisco, 2001), 213-233.
For helpful non-technical discussions of divine simplicity, see Ronald Nash, The Concept of God (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983), pp. 85-98, and Thomas Morris, Our Idea of God (Downers Grove: IVP, 1991), pp. 113-118. Both Nash and Morris have a great difficulty even accepting the doctrine.
Øystein Nødtvedt wrote: But I wouldnt compare biological complexity (isn't it that kind Dawkins uses) with God's nature (which might be in some way complex). This is a very deep subject and I feel that I am not really qualified in any way to speak much of it.
I think that you're on the right track. It is a mistake to think of God's thoughts as parts of God in the sense that material beings have parts. It comes back to the fact that properties and parts are two different categories. For example, Socrates beard is a part of Socrates, and not a property. Properties are best thought of as ways of being, that is, ways that things are. So, since thoughts are a type of mental property, God's thoughts are better thought of as ways that the mind of God is rather than parts of the divine being. Therefore, the complexity of God's thoughts are not a very intuitive way to try and bring the relevant type of complexity Dawkins needs to show that God is an improbable being.
aldrich wrote: It has been argued by Christian defenders that the reason why God is not equated with the pagan gods is that God has the omni-qualities, spirit, unseen, infinite perfect and goodwhilst the pagan deities (gods and goddesses) not just in greece, but in china, mesoamerica, norse, aboriginal, japan are visible in form of statues, are bound by fate, evolved out of some primeval chaos, can die, morally fickle and time-bound. (I agree with all of these)however, it has been said that God is an idea that similar to Democracyso is the concept of God as an infinite being, perfect in attribution similar to Square circles? I would like the theistic side to answer this questionthank you for your time
Before I hazard a guess at how to answer your question, could you be a little more specific as to what you're trying to ask? I don't understand how the idea of God being similar to democracy (not sure what you mean by that either) has anything to do with whether or not the idea of a perfect being is "similar to square circles." If you could clear up my confusion, that would be fantastic.
aldrich wrote: God and democracy are abstract principlesbecause 1) both cannot be known through the five senses2) both are a majority belief and justified in reality through societal effects (Democracy brings about the voting system, God brings about churches and evangelical movements)Atheist point out even though God might be as real as democracy as an ideal. God as defined by Theists as a inifinite person outside of space/time is a contradiction in itself since a person need the space/time dimension to express feelings, commands and thoughts within the space/time dimension. But if God is outside space/time, how can God be personal. it is analogous to a circle having the definition of a squareThanks again
Okay, I see what you're saying. Well, there are a few ways that a theist can deal with this issue. Some people follow Sir Isaac Newton in saying that as a personal being, God is a temporal being, with Time being a logical concomitant of God's existence (that is, it's not a causal consequence of His existence, but simply that when it comes to God, you cannot have one without the other). I think that Nicholas Wolterstorff takes this position (but don't quote me on this). Some individuals say that personality actually does not require temporality,since there is no logical contradiction in thoughts not coming in temporal succession, or being self-aware, or aware of others around him/her, or have thoughts about the things external to him/herself, etc. Dr. Craig takes this position (and argues for it better than I ever could in this small space) in his book, Time and Eternity, ch. 3 "Arguments for Divine Temporality." There he discusses this subject in detail by using Daniel Dennett's criteria of personhood to show that God could be timeless yet still personal. I personally go in for this latter position, since while I think that an infinite collection might be possible, it is still the case that you can't form an actually infinite collection through successive addition, and that an A-Theory of time means that Time had a beginning.
Shabi wrote: I'm just wondering, in case some of you can tell: Is there a place Dr. Craig deals with the issue of Divine Simplicity? Does he take Plantinga's position or something along the lines of Aquinas?thanks
Tim wrote: Quote from: ShabiI'm just wondering, in case some of you can tell: Is there a place Dr. Craig deals with the issue of Divine Simplicity? Does he take Plantinga's position or something along the lines of Aquinas?thanksI've never read up on Plantinga's position on simplicity (unless, maybe, it's similar to Thomas Morris's), but Craig takes great issue with Aquinas' notion (property simplicity) for a number of reasons. I know he's written briefly on this issue in his book Time and Eternity. He likely has written more extensively on it in the more technical version, God, Time, and Eternity published by Kluwer.Browsing through Time and Eternity, I'm notice that under his recommended reading section for divine simplicity and immutability, he lists Morris's Anselmian Explorations and Christopher Hughes's On a Complex Theory of a Simple God.
I'm just wondering, in case some of you can tell: Is there a place Dr. Craig deals with the issue of Divine Simplicity? Does he take Plantinga's position or something along the lines of Aquinas?thanks
The problem with Craig's characterization of the notion of divine simplicity in Time and Eternity (and to a lesser extent in Creation Ex Nihilo) is that he analyzes Aquinas' doctrine of simplicity outside of Aquinas' metaphysical framework. Craig is using a Platonic (or Theistic Conceptualist) framework as his metaphysical background which is "relational" in character, while Aquinas held to a consituent ontology of properties. The reasons that he gives for the dismissal of God being identical of with the divine existence is, frankly, a strawman. The Thomistic framework totally avoids the problems that Craig raises on this issue. Also, he doesn't seem that charitable to me in his characterization of how simplicity construes the divine attributes. It seems plausible to say that God's omni-attributes all imply one another, and might have to be instantiated together through a kind of a posteriori necessity. Also, the apparent contradictions between God's mercy and justice might just be due to the fact that we don't really have a detailed understanding of what God's character is per se. This has some plausibility since most philosophical theologians, Craig included, allow for analogical language in referrence to God's attributes. He seems to at least acknowledge that the Thomist metaphysical picture avoids some of these issues in Creation Ex Nihilo, but he still doesn't seem any more charitable in other regards.
shabi wrote: Thank you Tim and demurph. So I guess the reason you (demurph) think Craig's dismissal of God being identical with His divine existence is a strawman is since the Thomistic framework is built upon constituent ontology of properties whereas Craig construe them as a kind of Platonic abstract entities. Am I right?
Exactly. In Time and Eternity, I don't think that Craig explains the difference, though, to his credit, he does in Creation Out of Nothing. I guess that I came down on him a little too hard if this is the case.