• Catholic Encyclopedia critiqued: The Nature and Attributes of God (Pt 1)

    Here is a broad selection of claims and quotes from the Catholic Encyclopedia article “The Nature and Attributes of God” compiled by my friend Julian Haydon:

    God is infinitely perfect
    He is infinitely good, intelligent, wise, just, holy, etc
    no Theist of average intelligence ever thinks of understanding literally the metaphors he applies, or hears applied by others, to God
    Thus God is said to see or hear, as if He had physical organs, or to be angry or sorry, as if subject to human passions
    Obviously there can be only oneinfinite being, only one God.
    God is a simple being or substance excluding every kind of composition, physical or metaphysical.
    When we say that God is a personal being we mean that He is intelligent and free and distinct from the created universe.
    in the one true God, Who is the Creator and Lord of heaven and earth, and is also, in the words of the Vatican Council, “omnipotent, eternal, immense, incomprehensible, infinite in intellect and will and in every perfection”
    The finite mind is not capable of comprehending the Infinite so as adequately to describe its essence
    By saying that God is eternal we mean that in essence, life, and action He is altogether beyond temporal limits and relations. He has neither beginning, nor end, nor duration by way of sequence or succession of moments. There is no past or future for God — but only an eternal present.
    Divine immensity means on the one hand that God is necessarily present everywhere in space

    In God “there is no change, nor shadow of alteration” (James 1:17); “They [i.e. “the works of thy hands”] shall perish, but thou shalt continue: and they shall all grow old as a garment. And as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: but thou art the selfsame and thy years shall not fail” (Hebrews 1:10-12, Psalm 101:26-28. Cf. Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). These are some of the Scriptural texts which clearly teach Divine immutability or unchangeableness, and this attribute is likewise emphasized in church teaching, as by the Council of Nicaea against the Arians, who attributed mutability to the Logos (Denzinger, 54-old No. 18), and by the Vatican Council in its famous definition.

    That the Divine nature is essentially immutable, or incapable of any internal change, is an obvious corollary from Divine infinity.

    That God is omniscient or possesses the most perfect knowledge of all things, follows from His infinite perfection. In the first place He knows and comprehends Himself fully and adequately, and in the next place He knows all created objects and comprehends their finite and contingent mode of being. Hence He knows them individually or singularly in their finite multiplicity, knows everything possible as well as actual; knows what is bad as well as what is good. Everything, in a word, which to our finite minds signifies perfection and completeness of knowledge may be predicated of Divine omniscience, and it is further to be observed that it is on Himself alone that God depends for His knowledge. To make Him in any way dependent on creatures for knowledge of created objects would destroy His infiniteperfection and supremacy. Hence it is in His eternal, unchangeable, comprehensive knowledge of Himself or of His own infinite being that God knows creatures and their acts, whether there is question of what is actual or merely possible. Indeed, Divine knowledge itself is really identical with Divine essence, as are all the attributes and acts of God; but according to our finite modes of thought we feel the need of conceiving them distinctly and of representing the Divine essence as the medium or mirror in which the Divine intellect sees all truth.

    His own infinitegoodness

    He freely chooses whether or not creatures shall exist and what manner of existence shall be theirs,

    I plan on critiquing these points, though will need to do this in a couple of posts. Many of the points are huge, so I will point you to other posts I have done. So, here goes.

    God is infinitely perfect

    I have criticised this point before in my post “God Cannot Be Perfect Because Perfect Does Not Make Sense“. The basis of the post is this. You can only be perfect in a goal-directed sense, such that a golf ball is perfect for playing golf, not for cooking supper or playing tennis. This is the same for anything you can think of. There can be subjective elements to this, too. Calling something intrinsically perfect is nonsensical, and so it is with God.

    The other problem is that perfection of a being involves multiple aspects such that, as the classic problem goes, God cannot be perfectly just AND perfectly merciful since to be perfectly just assumes punishing justly for a misdemeanour, and to be perfectly merciful assumes some kind of leniency.

    With all of these characteristics which conflict, the theist retreats to maximal perfection, a sort of optimal scenario given all of the nuances and variables. But this becomes arbitrary and subjective. One more ounce of mercy and one less ounce of justice might be perfect for a God wanting to achieve A, but vice versa might be better for wanting to achieve B.

    He is infinitely good, intelligent, wise, just, holy, etc

    Having edited James A. Lindsay’s masterful Dot, Dot, Dot: Infinity Plus God Equals Folly I can do no better than send you there, as the book deals with the incoherence of using the term “infinity” with regard to God. However, let me say that apologists like William Lane Craig claim that actual infinities as sets of things do not exist. Since these claims above can be quantified in some way, then this is an admission that an infinite set does exist, in God. I suggest looking here at Lindsay’s post about the quantity vs quality aspect of infinity.

    Infinity is an abstract concept, a map which describes the terrain, and to claim that God is infinite is to abstract him, and to confuse the map with the terrain. God becomes a obtuse abstract concept.

    no Theist of average intelligence ever thinks of understanding literally the metaphors he applies, or hears applied by others, to God

    There is a problem with biblical revelation inasmuch as we cannot objectively tell what in the Bible is metaphor, and what should be taken literally. This also calls into  question the mechanics and people involved in revelation rendering the Bible an imperfect revelation. After all, it was used to countenance slavery for almost 2000 years.

    Metaphors are limited since, after all, they only liken something to something else. Applying metaphors to God is like trying to clothe a shadow.

    Thus God is said to see or hear, as if He had physical organs, or to be angry or sorry, as if subject to human passions

    Again, the problem of an imperfect revelation. I have talked before about the incoherence of emotions with regard to God. Emotions are evolutionarily derived mechanism which provide material beings with advantages. How so for God? As Valerie Tarico states in John Loftus’ The End of Christianity:

    To say that the descriptions of God in the Bible are metaphors does not make the situation any better. A metaphor about something as deep as the human relationship to ultimate reality needs to be deeply accurate. The center of gravity needs to be spot on even if the surface meaning is grossly simplistic. But biblical descriptions of God have this backwards. Rather than heightening the sense of an ineffable power that is compatible with philosophical concepts like omniscience or omnipresence or with the laws of physics and biology, they force divinity into a human template. Rather than evoking the humility, wonder and delight of the unknown, they offer the comfort of false knowledge. Rather than being true to timeless, placeless completeness, they are true to the place-time-culture-ecosystem nexus in which they arose.

    When the writers of the Bible said God was angry, or regretful, or pleased, they had only a superficial idea of what these words actually mean. How could they know that these affective labels describe intricate, functional body systems, just like our visible appendages?  Their peers didn’t yet understand how two eyes create binocularity or how our muscles contract the hand, let alone the chemistry and function of emotions. They were not responsible for their ignorance; they did the best they could with the information at their disposal. They looked at patterns in the natural world and human society and made their best guesses about what lies beyond. We should do the same. (p.177)

    On to the next statement:

    Obviously there can be only one infinite being, only one God.

    OK, so I have talked a little about infinity being problematic. Now we have monotheism. The problem here is that the Judeo-Christian God embodies the Holy Trinity which makes no sense. The leading theory is mysterianism which states that it is beyond our ken to understand. Well, there you go. We simply cannot make sense of it. Perhaps because it makes no sense? See here:

    The Holy Trinity as incoherent #1

    The Holy Trinity as Incoherent #2 – Penal Substitution Theory

    That should be enough to be getting on with. The Trinity makes no logical sense. Same same but different?

    God is a simple being or substance excluding every kind of composition, physical or metaphysical.

    The Divine Simplicity argument flies in the face of Dawkins’ Ultimate Boeing 747 thought experiment. The designer of something must be at least as complex as the thing it designs. God must be the most complex thing we know. God is also infinite, apparently, and must contain that infinite knowledge and wisdom etc which must add to levels of complexity. Of course, it depends how you define complexity.

    This also means that God can magic stuff out of nothing. This ex nihilo creation means that since God has no physical dimension, it is somewhat astounding that he can create every physical thing without any such property.

    As Ex-Apologist states:

    Thus, suppose we came upon a log cabin in the forest, and were told that the cabin was very special: it popped into existence out of nothing without an efficient cause. I imagine most of us would find that implausible. But suppose instead that we were told that it was special for another reason: a lumberjack built it without building materials. I imagine most of us would find the second claim at least as implausible as the first claim.

    To which Wes Morriston says:

    After all, a house “popping into existence out of nowhere” doesn’t seem any less absurd just because somebody says (or thinks), “Let there be a house where there was no house.”

    To say that this is unproblematic when the “somebody” in question is an omnipotent God is to beg the question against those who doubt that creation ex nihilo is metaphysically possible. The reason is that on standard assumptions about the nature of omnipotence, God is not supposed to be able to do what is metaphysically impossible. If someone insists it is just “obvious” that God could create a world without any preexisting material stuff to work with, on the ground that there is no lo gical contradiction in the idea of such a feat, then the proper reply is that there is also no logical contradiction in the idea of the universe beginning without a cause.

    This point can be expressed quite precisely in terms of Aristotle’s distinction between efficient and material causes. When I do the relevant “thought experiments,” I find the absence of amaterial cause at least as troubling as the absence of a n efficient cause. At the level of raw, untutored, intuition, the idea of somebody “making” a universe out of absolutely nothing seems to me to be every bit as absurd as that of a “beginning” with no efficient cause.

    I am not suggesting that creation ex nihilo is logically or metaphysically impossible. I am also well aware that the kalam argument is not an argument for a first material cause, but rather an argument for a first efficient cause. (Notwithstanding the title of one of Craig’s articles on the kalam argument!) Nevertheless, I think the “intuitive” absurdity of making something “out of” nothing is a near neighbor of the intuition that something can’t “come from” nothing, and this raises a doubt about the wisdom of relying so heavily on such “intuitions” for the defense of premise (1). Craig may perhaps not unreasonably be accused of emphasizing intuitions that support the picture of creation he wishes to defend, and neglecting those that don’t.

    So this is probably enough to be getting on with. I’ll save the next few lines to the next post.

    Category: AtheismFeaturedGod's CharacteristicsPhilosophy of Religion

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    Article by: Jonathan MS Pearce

    • You can only be perfect in a goal-directed sense, such that a golf ball is perfect for playing golf, not for cooking supper or playing tennis. This is the same for anything you can think of. . . . Calling something intrinsically perfect is nonsensical, and so it is with God.

      This does not appear to be the case. Consider a perfect circle. It is perfect because it conforms to the definition of a circle. It is perfect even if it is not for something else. In a similar fashion, God (Pure Act) perfectly conforms to his essence (existence).

      The other problem is that perfection of a being involves multiple aspects such that, as the classic problem goes, God cannot be perfectly just AND perfectly merciful since to be perfectly just assumes punishing justly for a misdemeanour, and to be perfectly merciful assumes some kind of leniency.

      You seem to be under the impression that God’s characteristics are two separate, non-overlapping parts of God’s character. But the CE entry reads: “It is true that no single predicate is adequate or exhaustive as a description of His infinite perfection, and that we need to employ a multitude of predicates, as if at first sight infinity could be reached by multiplication. But at the same time we recognize that this is not so — being repugnant to the Divine simplicity; and that while truth, goodness, wisdom, holiness and other attributes, as we conceive and define them express perfections that are formally distinct, yet as applied to God they are all ultimately identical in meaning and describe the same ultimate reality — the one infinitely perfect and simple being.”

      There is a problem with biblical revelation inasmuch as we cannot objectively tell what in the Bible is metaphor, and what should be taken literally.

      The section you quote is from the part of the entry on what can be known about God through natural reason. When one knows the nature of God he thereby knows that anthropomorphisms are not meant to be taken literally. The section had nothing to do with biblical revelation.

      I have talked before about the incoherence of emotions with regard to God. Emotions are evolutionarily derived mechanism which provide material beings with advantages. How so for God?

      The CE entry is not saying that God literally has emotions.

      A metaphor about something as deep as the human relationship to ultimate reality needs to be deeply accurate.

      An assertion without an argument.

      But biblical descriptions of God have this backwards. Rather than heightening the sense of an ineffable power that is compatible with philosophical concepts like omniscience or omnipresence or with the laws of physics and biology, they force divinity into a human template. Rather than evoking the humility, wonder and delight of the unknown, they offer the comfort of false knowledge.

      Except the Bible also describes God as being beyond full human comprehension.

      The Divine Simplicity argument flies in the face of Dawkins’ Ultimate Boeing 747 thought experiment. The designer of something must be at least as complex as the thing it designs. God must be the most complex thing we know. God is also infinite, apparently, and must contain that infinite knowledge and wisdom etc which must add to levels of complexity. Of course, it depends how you define complexity.

      The CE entry has two paragraphs describing divine simplicity. Did you care to look? God is not composed of physical parts, he is not composed of multiple substantial principles, he is not composed of accidents, his essence is his existence, and he is not composed of actuality and potentiality.

      Dawkins’s premise that “the designer of something must be at least as complex as the thing it designs” is false. If taken seriously it would result in an infinite regress of more and more complex designers.

      This ex nihilo creation means that since God has no physical dimension, it is somewhat astounding that he can create every physical thing without any such property.

      But on Thomism God’s existence and nature are deductively proven. Your astoundedness doesn’t refute the arguments.

      This point can be expressed quite precisely in terms of Aristotle’s distinction between efficient and material causes. When I do the relevant “thought experiments,” I find the absence of a material cause at least as troubling as the absence of an efficient cause.

      Where is the trouble in thinking an immaterial substance does not have a material cause? It is still a composite of essence and existence.

      • This does not appear to be the case. Consider a perfect circle. It is perfect because it conforms to the definition of a circle. It is perfect even if it is not for something else. In a similar fashion, God (Pure Act) perfectly conforms to his essence (existence).

        You’re just defining god into existence here, you know that.

        When one knows the nature of God he thereby knows that anthropomorphisms are not meant to be taken literally. The section had nothing to do with biblical revelation.

        Then you don’t know anything about god if all you can do is describe it through metaphors that make no sense.

        The CE entry is not saying that God literally has emotions.

        If god has no emotions, how is he personal? It seems to me that you’re saying god can only be decribed in metaphors that aren’t anything like what he really is. That to me says, you don’t know anything about how god actually is.

        The CE entry has two paragraphs describing divine simplicity.

        If god is so simple, then how come he is a “being beyond full human comprehension”?

        But on Thomism God’s existence and nature are deductively proven. Your astoundedness doesn’t refute the arguments.

        Why should anyone assume Thomism is true?

        • You’re just defining god into existence here, you know that.

          What does defining God into existence mean? I’m describing how God’s perfection can be envisioned.

          Then
          you don’t know anything about god if all you can do is describe it
          through metaphors that make no sense.

          You
          haven’t provided an argument as to why analogical descriptions imply
          that one does not know anything about God. And descriptions of God are
          not limited to metaphors.

          If god has no emotions, how is he personal?

          How
          about reading the entry?
          “When we say that God is a personal being we mean that He is
          intelligent and free and distinct from the created universe.”

          If god is so simple, then how come he is a “being beyond full human comprehension”?

          Because he’s simple in a different sense than the sense used in your question.

          Why should anyone assume Thomism is true?

          You
          need not assume it. You should read the arguments
          for it. I’m noting the contrast between the Catholic Church, which
          reasons to its conclusions, and Jonathan, who uses his emotional states
          in judging truth.

          • What does defining God into existence mean? I’m describing how God’s perfection can be envisioned.

            Yeah his perfection is that he conforms to his essence, which is existence. That’s saying that god’s fundamental nature or property is existence.

            You haven’t provided an argument as to why analogical descriptions imply
            that one does not know anything about God. And descriptions of God are not limited to metaphors.

            You use metaphors that make no sense, that aren’t even logically coherent in some places, and yet this is suppose to describe a “simple” god that is also “beyond full human comprehension”

            Howabout reading the entry?
            “When we say that God is a personal being we mean that He is

            intelligent and free and distinct from the created universe.”

            People are intelligent. How is god personal and has no emotions are only we can understand them?

            Because he’s simple in a different sense than the sense used in your question.

            I get the idea that god is physically simple because he’s non-physical, but to say god is non-physically complex concedes that god is not simple as a whole, and admits that when someone calls god complex, you’re just assuming they think he’s physically complex, and then you trot out your answer that he’s really just simple. But is this is misleading.

            Youneed not assume it. You should read the arguments
            for it. I’m noting the contrast between the Catholic Church, which
            reasons to its conclusions, and Jonathan, who uses his emotional states in judging truth.

            Prove final cases exist in everything that happens.

            • Yeah his perfection is that he conforms to his essence, which is existence. That’s saying that god’s fundamental nature or property is existence.

              And the problem is?

              You use metaphors that make no sense, that aren’t even logically coherent in some places…

              You’ll need to actually demonstrate the incoherence.

              People are intelligent. How is god personal and has no emotions are only we can understand them.

              I provided an answer. What is your problem with the answer? Just re-asking the same question is not helpful.

              I get the idea that god is physically simple because he’s non-physical, but to say god is non-physically complex concedes that god is not simple as a whole, and admits that when someone calls god complex, you’re just assuming they think he’s physically complex, and then you trot out your answer that he’s really just simple. But is this is misleading.

              Who is saying God is non-physically complex? God is not simple solely because he is non-physical.

              Prove final cases exist in everything that happens.

              Why does everything need a final cause?

      • Thanks for your comments Jayman,

        I only have a short while to make a couple of comments just now before answering fully tonight.

        I have answered the perfect circle point before, at length, though I cannot find the thread! (it might have been at DC)

        Essentially, there is no such thing as a perfect circle in material reality (obtaining to the sides of atoms) and so the term is merely an abstract label (perhaps such as God is!).

        A perfect circle is indeed goal oriented. You need a perfect circle for the mathematical formula to make sense. The abstract label is a description assigned to the entity which conforms to the desired properties, used to gain some end. There is no such thing in material reality as a perfect circle.

        If one existed it wouldn’t be a ‘perfect’ circle, merely a circle.

        And this last point is the crux. Perfect circle is a misnoma. It is merely a circle, with the properties of a circle.

        Now, if you are using a particular sized circle for a particular design end, and that circle did a better job than other competing circles, then that circle would be the perfect circle for that job.

        So it is a false analogy/example.

        • I agree that no material circle is truly perfect. Nonetheless we can classify circles as approaching perfection to greater or lesser extents. It makes conceptual sense and so cannot be called nonsensical.

          I disagree that a perfect circle is goal oriented because you need it for the mathematical formula to make sense. You seem to be using “for” in a different sense than in your earlier example of a golf ball.

          If a perfect circle did exist it would be perfect in the sense of conforming to its essence. Likewise God is perfect by conforming to his essence.

          • Likewise God is perfect by conforming to his essence.

            Isn’t the devil than also perfect?

            • Isn’t the devil than also perfect?

              Perhaps in the sense that he conforms to his essence. But he is not self-existent like God and so lacks “perfection in being.”

            • Whoah. Do you actually believe in the Devil?

          • Daydreamer1

            ‘If a perfect circle did exist it would be perfect in the sense of conforming to its essence. Likewise God is perfect by conforming to his essence.’

            Excellent. So theologians and philosophers will stop debating it now that the issue has finally been completely resolved.

            My favourite bit is in arbitrarily deciding what perfect and essence mean in such a goal oriented fashion that just seems to lend itself to your argument. After all, a slug is perfectly being a slug compared to everything else in the universe not perfectly being slugs. Therefore since a slug can perfectly be a slug my God exists. Wow, that was easy. Anyone time for all the other things I can prove using slugs?

            • After all, a slug is perfectly being a slug compared to everything else in the universe not perfectly being slugs.

              A slug may not be perfectly conforming to its essence (e.g., a body part is missing).

              Therefore since a slug can perfectly be a slug my God exists.

              That’s not my argument. I’m pointing out that it is coherent to call God perfect. Nothing else.

          • This is where you are using terms which are misnomas as I have already stated.

            They do not approach perfect circleness.

            They approach circleness as defined by the term.

            The use of perfect is superfluous.

            You could talk about a particular circle being perfect for a particular (say, mathematical) task.

            • Jonathan, I’m going with the dictionary here. One definition of perfect is “conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type” and one of the examples given is “a perfect sphere”.

            • Which is circular. Since ideal is the same here in being superfluous, all this means is a thing X which has the properties of a thing X. Ideal means has all the properties. Strictly speaking a non-ideal sphere is simply not a sphere. It is deficient of one or more sphere properties.
              Perfect God in this sense merely means a thing with all the properties of God.
              Circular.

            • Other examples can be used, such as “perfect gentleman.” Do you think all gentlemen are perfect gentlemen.

            • Given that a gentleman is open to subjectivity in its definition, the problem is even more apparent. Perfect here seems to be a mere semantic tautology, as previously illustrated. one could just say gentleman with the full range of gentleman properties, given an acceptance of those.

              So really the question isn’t about perfection, but about what properties a god would or should have,

      • “But at the same time we recognize that this is not so — being repugnant to the Divine simplicity; and that while truth, goodness, wisdom, holiness and other attributes, as we conceive and define them express perfections that are formally distinct, yet as applied to God they are all ultimately identical in meaning and describe the same ultimate reality — the one infinitely perfect and simple being.””

        This is simply meaningless word salad. An attempt at a nice soundbite from the CE, but when unpicked is just…

        Those words cannot be identical in meaning in any understanding of language. They refer to properties, properties which God must have. It’s not as if they are lumps of stuff, obviously. But they are properties of personality or descriptive properties of actions etc.

        • This is simply meaningless word salad.

          Perhaps the deficiency is on your end. If I didn’t have some understanding of Thomism the CE entry would be much harder for me to understand too. In fact, there are still parts that I don’t claim to fully comprehend. But, instead of accusing the writer of creating a word salad, I realize it is probably due to a lack of background knowledge on my part. Perhaps the main problem with your post is that you don’t understand the CE entry.

          Those words cannot be identical in meaning in any understanding of language.

          As the CE entry explains, the terms are applied to God analogically, not univocally. You appear to be trying to apply them univocally.

          They refer to properties, properties which God must have. It’s not as if they are lumps of stuff, obviously. But they are properties of personality or descriptive properties of actions etc.

          That’s fine as far as it goes but you’re trying to say that God’s justice and
          mercy could somehow conflict with each other. On divine simplicity that
          is not possible.

          • But this is exactly my point about retreating to maximal values which is itself subjective, arbitrary or context dependent.

            The problem is that all of these attributes are human, anthropocentric attributes overlaid onto a god figure. And to make matters worse, he is supposed to have them timelessly, ‘before’ creation.

            I get what you/the article is portraying and I think it is problematic.

            What you claim can be equally applied to humans as possessing these property labels. The point is, they refer to something, to some property. Now even a divinely simple being either has these properties or doesn’t. You can’t get around this by claiming a unitary, infinite oneness. THAT is word salad.

            • Our disagreement is not so much over whether God has certain properties (properly understood). The problem is that you haven’t shown how the possession of these properties is incoherent.

      • Andy_Schueler

        I´d love to fully join this discussion but I´m too busy, so I´ll just pick out one aspect:

        When one knows the nature of God he thereby knows that anthropomorphisms are not meant to be taken literally.

        I´m curious (seriously, I´d really like to know), what are they metaphors for then? All the times that God is described as getting emotional (jealous, angry, sad etc.pp.) and acting in an emotional manner – what is that supposed to be a metaphor for?

        • Andy, generally speaking, I would say emotional language applied to God tells us how he acts or would act in certain situations. For example, to say God is angry at idolatry means that he may punish idolaters.

          • D Rizdek

            So it seems to be useless and misleading terminology in that I…a faulty human…often punished my son and I punish my grandchildren…but did/do not feel anger, for example, in the process. Why mention emotions, (e.g. anger) at all? The very last thing a parent should be when they go about disciplining children is angry or strongly emotional. It leads to over reaction, foolish actions and even harm.

            Is this the connotation that is intended with god…that he over reacts to things we do and ends up doing harm rather than good? It would seem, for example, that “drowning all breathing things” because the people were sinful was an emotional response and indeed an over-reaction, resulted in lots of collateral harm (innocent children and animals suffered too) and was foolish to boot. The reason it was foolish is that he repopulated the world with the same sinnin’ people that he rid it of in the flood! In fact the offspring of Shem were worshipping other gods WHILE SHEM WAS STILL ALIVE if you read the Bible literally. So indeed it is a perfect example of emotion or something akin to it that justifies such a metaphor, causing foolish and harmful actions. God was indeed as barbaric and ignorant as they were.

            • So it seems to be useless and misleading terminology in that I…a faulty human…often punished my son and I punish my grandchildren…but did/do not feel anger, for example, in the process.

              I know in the case of “love” the biblical languages use the term more to indicate love as an action than love as an emotion. To love your neighbor is to treat him well not (merely) to have warm feelings towards him. With an understanding of the original languages I don’t see things as misleading. Your punishment of your son is anger (disapproval, or whatever) as an action.

      • Marcus Ashes

        With regard to the infinite regression of designers point you made can’t we then conclude seeing as though we know the universe exists and is not infintely complex then the designer must be equally complex as it.

    • kraut2

      The simple question is: how do they know this?
      The god of the OT definitely is not perfect, unless you maintain that being vengeful, murderous, genocidal, arbitrary, prone to moodswings is perfect.
      How can a being be perfect and have any need to create, love – all needs that rule out perfection, as by definition being perfect excludes needs and desires. Those are for those that are imperfect, that are striving – perfection does not strive, perfection is.
      Therefore the claim of a perfect being based on the OT or NT is just nonsense.

      • The simple question is: how do they know this?

        If you had read the entry you’d see a link to another entry: The Existence of God.

        The god of the OT definitely is not perfect, unless you maintain that being vengeful, murderous, genocidal, arbitrary, prone to moodswings is perfect.

        The divine name Yahweh either expresses the quality of absolute being or it means he causes to be. This matches the “God of the philosophers” mentioned in the entry.

        How can a being be perfect and have any need to create, love – all needs that rule out perfection, as by definition being perfect excludes needs and desires.

        Where does the entry claim that God needs or desires.

        Therefore the claim of a perfect being based on the OT or NT is just nonsense.

        The parts Jonathan has quoted so far are from what can be known by reason, not revelation.

        • kraut2

          When someone tells me:

          God is infinitely perfect

          He is infinitely good, intelligent, wise, just, holy, etc

          and I as an ex catholic have read the bible and found that the OT is far from presenting this picture of that god, but explicitly tells me that he is jealous, vengeful, craves adoration, wants absolute obedience or else. I don’t need no fucking “catholic encyclopaedia” spreading their own version – cleaned up to conform to some notion of what the catholic god should look like
          Therefore – how do they know that?

          As to god desires – don’t want to spent too much time wasting on utter bull:

          http://www.effectiveym.com/growing-in-the-lord/scripture-list-the-worlds-desires-vs-gods-desires/

          I was a catholic till I was fourteen and found the dogma and just about everything else about this pestilential boil called Catholicism and the holy sea wanting and utterly despicable.

          Other than – too many words wasted already on a fruitless mental jackoff called “religion”.,

          • Daydreamer1

            I would love to test my hypothesis that nonsense theology would also generate these rationalisations/excuses and that the “rationalisations/excuses for purposefully nonsense theology will be indistinguishable from real theology”.

            I.e. make something up and tell believers it is part of their religion. Come back X amount of time later after leaving it to be seeded and defended. Look at the nature, types etc of the defences and attempt to tell if there are differences between those and ‘real’ theology.

            My prediction: none.

    • Tony_Lloyd

      “Obviously there can be only one infinite being, only one God.”

      Quite apart from Trinitarian difficulties (and just WTF “infinite being” means) it doesn’t strike me as at all obvious that there can be only one of these infinite beings.

      The rational numbers are infinite. The irrational numbers are infinite. Where is the argument that, whilst multiple sets of numbers can be infinite, only one infinite being is possible. It seems to me that those Thomists have simply confused “infinity” with “everything”.

      • For what is meant by an infinite being see The infinity of God section. Since it is not easy reading I would boil it down to the fact that God is a necessary being (as opposed to a contingent being).

        For why there can only be one God see the Unity or unicity of God section.

        • Tony_Lloyd

          Yeah. Looks like this “infinite being” mixes a few other concepts with “infinite”. Something is infinite if it is unbounded/has no limit/has no end but infinite being involves ideas of “perfection”. And perfection of beings seems to be more “superlative” than …er…”perfect”, hence the claim that there can only be one. (There can be many perfect pints of Real Ale, but only one best of anything).

          If several were to exist, none of them would really be infinite, for, to have plurality of natures at all, each should have some perfection not possessed by the others.

          Which assumes that to be infinite a being would have to possess all perfections. There’s no reason why we should not have an infinitely X being and a, different, infinitely Y being or why X and Y could not be distinguished by something other than their natures.

          “(T)here cannot be several infinities”

          This is just plain wrong. It is the case that there can be at most one “best” infinity, but that’s not the claim being made.

    • primenumbers

      Infinite perfection denies any needs, wants or desires. Without needs, wants or desires a being cannot create. Infinite perfection denies creation.

    • Marcus Ashes

      Ask god to do his best. That should stump him right there since an infinite and omnipotent being could always do better. Also if god is omniscient then he should know and be able to explain his inner workings and what he is made of in a quantified way however as soon as he does this he ceases to be supernatural. It would be weird if god did not know how he works which actually must be the case if he is supernatural (in other words doesn’t make sense/cannot be explained etc.)
      Also god did not create knowledge and therefore possibility as it already must have existed in his mind already eternally. One could resort to saying he did but that leads to a circular conclusion in the sense that he must have already known something to think of it i.e. he knew before he knew.