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God


Daniel von Wachter


Pages 235 - 237



Philosophers have usually spelled out the claim that there is a God as the claim that there is a bodiless person who is omnipotent, omniscient, eternal, and perfectly good and free. This claim is called ‘Theism’. It is also claimed by theism that God is the creator and sustainer of the universe. That God is a person means that he can act intentionally and for reasons. As Christian doctrine claims that God consists of three persons, sometimes instead it is said that God is a ‘personal being’. That God is eternal can be understood either as the claim that God is outside of time or that he is everlasting, i.e. exists at all times. Thus theism includes quite different views of God. However, both views, the timelessness view as well as the everlastingness view, maintain that God is imperishable, that he is the creator of the universe, that he can answer prayers, and that he can perform miracles such as raising a man from the dead. If omnipotence and omniscience were understood as meaning that God can do and knows ‘everything’, meaning everything that can be described, then certain paradoxa would result, such as ‘God can create a square circle’ or ‘God can create a stone that is too heavy for him to lift’. There is a consensus that ‘everything’ must be spelled out so that it expresses just the idea that God’s power and knowledge is maximal and not limited by any lack. God has the power to do everything that he can possibly do, and he knows everything that he can possibly know. But there is much debate about how exactly this is to be formulated and what exactly this includes, for example whether this includes infallible knowledge of all future free actions.




1International Academy of Philosophy in the Principality of Liechtentein



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10 Swinburne, R., (1994), The Christian God, Oxford UP, ch. 7.

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12 Wierenga, E. R., (1989), The Nature of God: An Inquiry into Divine Attributes, Cornell UP.

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14 Wolterstorff, N., (1991), “Divine Simplicity”, Philosophical Perspectives 5: 531-552.

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