The Nature of God Exam Questions

  • Created by: Elena.S
  • Created on: 15-04-17 15:33

Define omnipotence (2)

  • power to do anything (perfect will)
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Define omniscience

  • property of knowing everything (perfect intellect)
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Define omnibenevolence (2)

  • property of being morally good/all-loving
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Define transcendence (2)

  • God as beyond creation being the creator + self-sufficient, if creator then cannot be reduced to the universe so non-spatial, transcending time
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Define immanence (2)

  • God as closely related to his creations through omnipresence and exists in time with us
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Define eternal (2)

  • God doesn't depend on anything for existence so nothing can start/end his existence therefore no beginning or end
  • God exists outside of time
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Define everlasting (2)

  • God exists within time + throughout all time
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God as omnipotent (5)

Aquinas: "Summa Theologica" - CTG is unlimited in power therefore can do anything

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Criticisms of omnipotent God (7)

1) logic
God can't do the logically impossible i.e 2+2=5 or married bachelors
Aquinas: God can do logically possible + logically impossible is contradiction so limits of logically possible don't limit God's power
2) paradox of the stone
Can God create stones so heavy he can't lift them?
Mavrodes: arguments assumes possibility of logical impossibility; adding omnipotent being to argument makes it logically impossible due to self-contradiction and God doesn't lose powers
Savage: talk of "stones that omnipotent beings can't lift" assumes coherent concept of omnipotent beings that in argument can't be omnipotent (self-contradictory)
Mavrodes/Savage: "God cannot create stone which he can't lift" = if God can create stone he can lift it" - no talk of what God can't do therefore no limitation
3) committing evil
Contradiction with omnibenevolence

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God as omniscient (5)

  • eternal: God's unlimited knowledge of all history (past, present + future) as "bird's eye view)
  • Everlasting: knowledge limited to what it is logically possible to know/what is possible regarding free will so knowledge can change dependent on new events
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How does God have knowledge? (5) (criticism)

P1 - God is outside of time/non-spatial
P2 - knowledge is acquired through senses
P3 - God doesn't have this ability
C - God can't have knowledge
Aquinas: knowledge is non-physical i.e square root of 9 = 3 but isn't physical itself and doesn't change despite not knowing answer therefore immaterial God can have knowledge
Aquinas: God has "self-knowledge"; as creator of everything, he has knowledge of all his creations

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Criticisms of God as omniscient (7)

  • is God's knowledge just propositional?
  • If God is incorporeal or transcendent how can he have practical knowledge?
  • Kretzmann: contradiction in God being both omniscient and immutable
    P1 - God doesn't change
    P2 - God knows everything
    P3 - a being that knows everything knows everything in our changing time
    P4 - a being that knows things in time is subject to change
    C - God isn't immutable
    Kretzmann: God knows everything which is logically possible and doesn't limit his power
  • Boethius: if God is eternal, he knows our decisions before we make them therefore no free will
  • if future events are necessary, no free will; if contingent, God must have changing knowledge
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Criticisms of God as omnibenevolent (7)

  • problem of evil (omnipotence): if God is all-powerful, why doesn't he stop suffering?
  • problem of evil (omniscience): if God is all-knowing, why doesn't he stop suffering?
  • Euthyphro Problem (Plato): Is morality whatever God wills it to be or is it independent of him?
    If independent, then he cannot make wrong be right (God wills what is morally right bc it's right) therefore God must conform his will to something independent of him (not omnipotent)
    If morality is whatever God wills, then if God wills what is morally wrong then what is wrong becomes right (what is morally right is right bc God wills it) therefore "God is good" becomes tautology (whatever God wills is, by definition, good) so morality is arbitrary and why does God will what he wills?
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Responses to Euthyphro Dilemma (7) (1/2)

  • God is tautologous; "God is good" = "God is good for us" - God wants what is best for us
  • But then what is best for us provides independent standard for God's goodness therefore morality is independent of God (omnipotence); "god is good" is not moral but metaphysical i.e God has all perfections
  • But does that entail that God is morally good if so, "God is morally good" is tautology if not morality is independent of God
  • Morality is arbitrary; if morality is dependent on God whatever God wills would be morally right
  • intuitive disagreement + no reasons for god to will what he does
  • God's will is guided by God's love
  • Love is standard of morality
  • God's love so isn't independent of God
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Responses to Euthyphro Problem (7) (2/2)


  • is God's love arbitrary? Good is same property as what God wills; not analytic truth that God is good bc god and morally good are different concepts however goodness is same property as what God wills (similar to water and H2O different concepts but identical) good = what God wills, not conceptually but metaphysically (not a set standard for God to conform to)
  • Unless we have independent standard we cannot claim that god's will and what is good is same, we need some reason to think that morality is what God wills but doesn't show they're distinct
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God as eternal/everlasting (7)

  • Eternal: atemporal and self-sufficient
  • Aquinas: person travelling on road and person watching from hill
  • incoherence of simultaneous events - Kenny: "the writing of this paper is simultaneous with the whole of eternity"
  • Helm: "God is timeless in the sense of being time-free"
  • how can God be personal? - outside of time means God can't interact with creations i.e responding to Israelite prayers for freedom from slavery
  • God is not a person but people use personal language to describe him
  • how Can God love people? - how can he love/respond to people? Wolterstorff: strictly eternal God renders Bible false
  • God sustains creations and wills good for people
  • Aquinas: "prayer is an act of being aware of God's activity:
  • Wiles: "God is always acting in the world, part of ongoing creative activity"
  • God acts in response to prayers so must be everlasting
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God as immanent/transcendent (7)

  • both exists beyond us and with us
  • if God is transcendent, deist (God is impersonal creator)
  • if God is immanent, pantheist (God is the world) (not accepted by most western religions)
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