Bill McEnaney

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Divine simplicity, theistic personalism, and Exodus 3:14
« on: June 15, 2016, 06:45:38 pm »
Quote from: Exodus 3:14 in the Douay Rheims Bible
God said to Moses: I AM WHO AM. He said: Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel: HE WHO IS, hath sent me to you.
Everyone, I'm a Catholic Thomist who believes the First Vatican Council's doctrine about divine simplicity, a doctrine that some theistic personalists, including Dr. Craig, reject.  That's why I hope you'll tell me his interpretation of Exodus 3:14, where God equates himself with his existence because "AM" means "exist."

I bring up these points because in my opinion, theistic personalism implies that God has metaphysical parts, and anyone or anything with them needs a cause.  How can God be the greatest conceivable being if he needs one? 

To simplify the conversation, let's think only about the divine nature, okay?  Dr. Craig tells us that our timeless God entered time.  That suggests that God went from being potentially in time to being actually in it.  But the divine simplicity doctrine implies that God can't actualize any potential in himself, since he's purely actual.  St. Anselm believed in divine simplicity, and Dr. Craig agrees with Anselm that God is the greatest conceivable being.  So to me, Dr. Craig's theistic personalism seems plainly inconsistent with the saint's definition.  What, if anything, am I misinterpreting?

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Bjorn Aagen

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Re: Divine simplicity, theistic personalism, and Exodus 3:14
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2017, 08:31:31 am »
IMHO , I don't see anything wrong with Dr. Craigs explanation ; regarding the notion of God being timeless and also appearing at will in the physical universe where we as humans reside in. Time has no meaning with one that is not made from the physical properties as we - especially if one is ageless.

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jayceeii

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Re: Divine simplicity, theistic personalism, and Exodus 3:14
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2019, 12:27:41 pm »
Quote from: Exodus 3:14 in the Douay Rheims Bible
God said to Moses: I AM WHO AM. He said: Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel: HE WHO IS, hath sent me to you.
Everyone, I'm a Catholic Thomist who believes the First Vatican Council's doctrine about divine simplicity, a doctrine that some theistic personalists, including Dr. Craig, reject.  That's why I hope you'll tell me his interpretation of Exodus 3:14, where God equates himself with his existence because "AM" means "exist."

I bring up these points because in my opinion, theistic personalism implies that God has metaphysical parts, and anyone or anything with them needs a cause.  How can God be the greatest conceivable being if he needs one? 

To simplify the conversation, let's think only about the divine nature, okay?  Dr. Craig tells us that our timeless God entered time.  That suggests that God went from being potentially in time to being actually in it.  But the divine simplicity doctrine implies that God can't actualize any potential in himself, since he's purely actual.  St. Anselm believed in divine simplicity, and Dr. Craig agrees with Anselm that God is the greatest conceivable being.  So to me, Dr. Craig's theistic personalism seems plainly inconsistent with the saint's definition.  What, if anything, am I misinterpreting?
The angels are able to ask far harder questions than the humans can ask. Thinking about salvation, a man wonders how his body can go on forever, but the angels perceive the soul and therefore have a far more serious existential dread, able to contemplate full annihilation. The angels have this question, which has never yet dawned on a human brain, whether God has the intent, and also the power, to maintain their souls forever. These are truths beyond the abilities of the created souls to know. For instance, God could maintain a charade, having immortal existence Himself but lacking the power to sustain the souls, yet seeing it is better if the souls believe themselves to be immortal. Though lacking elucidation, the Biblical account of God saying He is the great “I am,” aims to recount the story of God’s reassurances down the eons, to these dire questions.

Furthermore, humans are unable to find another source of meaning, besides the other humans. Unable to conceive properly of their own deaths, they imagine they can “live on” in some unspecified way, in the memories of those around them, despite it being very obvious that the people even from a few generations ago have been completely forgotten by their heirs and everyone else. Angels have better memories than humans, and are not limited to a single lifetime, but they know their ultimate fame rests with the Maker. Their lives are bent to God-service, though this also makes them champions of the spirit since God wants awesome entities. When God says, “I am,” He indicates He is the final refuge.

It is wrong to think of God as the greatest conceivable being, because this only results in a God created by the human imagination. God is as He is, and it is upon the creatures to try to understand. Whether God is caused or uncaused, is a far more difficult question than the theologians have considered. It would be better if their minds could start to learn what a difficult question that is, rather than contesting with short-term, shallow answers.

Attempting to think about God’s actuality or potential, you are really starting out by thinking about human actuality or potential, and making a presumption God is ultimately like a creature. This is a faulty God-concept. It’s a failure to look up to God and see that He is greater, even inconceivably so. To say God is purely actual is mere hand waving in a situation where absolutely nothing is known about God. Indeed such a doctrine appears to limit God’s ability to act upon His creation, which is to say to bring about ideas of His such as where evolution should be pushed next. The religions have depicted God as weak, His influence considered small compare to human influence. The God the humans imagine is cut off from actually opposing them or interfering with them. They continue with selfish plots, worshipping a God they laud with false praise, for instance calling Him purely actual. It’s true God hasn’t interfered; but humans also haven’t found the real God.

As for God entering time, it is manifestly obvious those who can’t properly conceive of their own deaths, and who disregard the future generations as unreal, cannot be experts on time or even think clearly about it. So you’ve got a God you can’t imagine properly, and try to think about Him entering time, that you also can’t imagine properly. I have not yet found one soul on this planet who does not regard it to be disposable. Yet I recall Jesus’ warning that something else might be disposable, some wood to cast into the fire.