Nature of God

Nature of God

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jayceeii

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Re: Divine Simplicity: Yes or No?
« Reply #15 on: October 21, 2019, 07:01:48 pm »
The doctrine of divine simplicity (DDS), in its more radical formulations, is pretty controversial. I want to discuss some of the arguments pro and con. What is your opinion of DDS?<div>
</div><div>A sampling of arguments in favor:</div><div>
</div><div>It explains God's necessity: If God's attributes are identical to his existence, then clearly they cannot fail to exist. </div><div>It explains God's aseity: If God's properties are identical to his existence, this explains why God's properties are instantiated without appealing to anything external to himself.</div><div>Properties don't threaten aseity: If God's properties are distinct from his being, then, problematically, one could say God depends for what he is on the existence of the properties that he exemplifies. </div><div>Simplicity exalts God: God is exalted as the fundamental basis of all reality only if we deny that his properties are logically prior to him in the way expressed immediately above.</div><div>
</div><div>A sampling of arguments against:</div><div>
</div><div>Incoherence charge 1: The identity of all of God's different attributes is incoherent (e.g. omnipotence is not goodness)</div><div>Incoherence charge 2: The identity of essence and existence is incoherent, because it means that either God is a property or the property of divinity is a concrete object.</div><div>Simplicity destroys contingency: If God's existence is identical to his essence, then he possesses all of his properties essentially. Thus, he could not do or know anything contingently, destroying both his free will and creaturely free will.</div><div>Simplicity contradicts the Trinity: The doctrine of the trinity affirms distinct divine persons, and so seems irreconcilable with the idea that there are no components/distinctions/parts in God.</div>
The doctrine of divine simplicity appears to be an early form of denying God’s reality and relevance. The times have not really changed. Those deriving this doctrine did not have television or even electricity, but human hatred of interference from Above is written deep into the human character. Men wanted God, but a God under their control.

jm:  It explains God's necessity: If God's attributes are identical to his existence, then clearly they cannot fail to exist.

jc: How can men have tried to discuss God’s attributes, without knowing a single one in even remotest detail? Men use this term “attributes,” without being able to identify the abiding attributes in themselves or anyone else. Even the most advanced among gurus are unable to identify the traits or stature of their students, some of whom may be above them. Men similarly are unable to think about existence in anything above material terms.

In general saying “God’s attributes are identical to existence,” is a way to appear to flatter God while not saying anything substantial, neither attributes nor existence defined. The flattery is in admitting God will be whatever He will be, the ignorance is not having a clue what this means and not caring either. All is based upon an unclear model of entities.

Once more, the flattery is in a vague way of saying God is unchanging, but without qualifying in any way what “unchanging” can mean, until God is thought of as not much different from the rocks beneath human feet. God’s attributes are further considered irrelevant to human attributes, without noticing God may want humans to be more divine.

jm: It explains God's aseity: If God's properties are identical to his existence, this explains why God's properties are instantiated without appealing to anything external to himself.

jc: Aseity is “existence originating from and having no other origin but itself,” and I’d submit humans are unfit to think about God’s existence, when they remain blind to their own souls and hence their own spiritual existence. As humans try to think about existence they are bound to material analogies, objects they have seen in the senses. This is totally unrelated to the existence of the soul or spirit, inhabiting the body. One must know what exists, before one can think about existence. So as humans have presumed to think about God’s existence it has been a huge lie, an appearance of caring in absence of real care.

I’d need to see someone genuinely thinking about properties or existence, before I’d accept this sentence to be meaningful. Any such I’d be able to show is thinking about human properties and bodily existence, not God’s properties or spiritual existence. I guess the lesson is that words don’t justify the man, even when they are pompous words.

For instance if you are going to say one of God’s properties is compassion, it’d be easy to show you are thinking about human compassion and imagining that God will be a match. God is not sympathetic, where humans are sympathetic. The ones you’d save, God may condemn, as Jesus warned. Only God can speak about the source of His properties, or even define them properly, away and above the human clan, the creatures unlike Himself.

jm: Properties don't threaten aseity: If God's properties are distinct from his being, then, problematically, one could say God depends for what he is on the existence of the properties that he exemplifies.

jc: Again, the sentence must be demonstrated to emerge from one who knows what a property is, and what existence is, in ultimate terms, otherwise it remains meaningless. If anyone could think about God’s properties the entire civilization would be overturned, therefore it is clear no one is thinking about God’s properties. Furthermore a creature would need to demonstrate the capacity to understand the source of his own properties, before deemed fit to declare about the source of others’ properties, especially his Maker.

jm: Simplicity exalts God: God is exalted as the fundamental basis of all reality only if we deny that his properties are logically prior to him in the way expressed immediately above.

jc: No, there are other ways by which to think about the source of properties than mashing everything into a simplicity since the minds are incapable of complexity. This would start with the creatures comprehending their own existence and properties, which no one has done yet in history. No one has known what a property is or what existence is.

jm: Incoherence charge 1: The identity of all of God's different attributes is incoherent (e.g. omnipotence is not goodness)

jc: Again I’d say, humans have no realistic idea of what God is doing, to try to talk about His potencies. Their idea of goodness is radically against what God would call good, so they are unfit to think about God’s goodness. The force of the charge against the doctrine of divine simplicity appears to be that saying God’s properties are the same as His existence does not allow distinct properties. The rebuttal is that each property is just a part of His existence. Yet humans must learn about the existence and properties of souls, before there is any chance of thinking about God’s existence and properties. No one has learned and no one cares. The soul exists and it has properties. Of this men know nothing.

jm: Incoherence charge 2: The identity of essence and existence is incoherent, because it means that either God is a property or the property of divinity is a concrete object.

jc: The rebuttal is that the force of the doctrine of divine simplicity is to emphasize God’s unchanging nature, that His properties abide flowing naturally from His existence. God cannot be anything other than compassionate, though I’d disagree with anyone creature’s conclusion about what that means. The accusation is at fault, making a simplistic interpretation that an exact equality of existence and attributes is presumed, which is incoherent. The answer would be found in examining these two different words, properties and existence, and asking what each is intended to mean. In that case there has been unclarity on both sides of the debate, and no one asking such questions of the soul.

jm: Simplicity destroys contingency: If God's existence is identical to his essence, then he possesses all of his properties essentially. Thus, he could not do or know anything contingently, destroying both his free will and creaturely free will.

jc: Indeed. The doctrine presented simply throws out the Living God, any chance God would oppose humans and take actions, even to sustain a world. God is conveniently shelved while men devise their own affairs. There’s a parallel in those calling God the “ground of being,” that in essence relegates God to an unthinking entity unwittingly supporting planets and men. God must be making plans, and taking actions to fulfill those plans. These attributes cannot come simply from existence, but are components of awareness and potential. God’s properties abide eternally, but as a Living God, He acts.

jm: Simplicity contradicts the Trinity: The doctrine of the trinity affirms distinct divine persons, and so seems irreconcilable with the idea that there are no components/distinctions/parts in God.

jc: Again the accusation takes a too simplistic interpretation of the doctrine of divine simplicity, which if it has any merit is intended to point to God’s unchanging nature. If you find a property of God, you’ve found His existence, for instance if you can authentically identify where God would apply compassion, and where He cannot do so. Finding the properties of the souls, by contrast, you have not found their existence so long as these are in flux. This is why the Bible called angels “forces and principalities,” for the angels attain firmly abiding traits, that do not alter, almost part of their existence.