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Author Topic: Attributes of God  (Read 1536 times)
emahwoowoo
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« on: 19/10/08 @ 18:02 »

Can anyone direct me to some good reading about the attributes of God? Someone's got an essay to write Smiley
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Gareth Southwell
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« Reply #1 on: 19/10/08 @ 18:53 »

Hi Emma (again!),

I can't think of a specific internet site to point you to regarding this, but there are number of good books you could search for in the library. Two which spring to mind are: "Philosophy of Religion", by John Hick (p.7-14), and "An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion", by Brian Davies (chapters 8 and 9).

However, if the deadline is sooner than that, then you could do worse than search for the following list of attributes on the net:

* Omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent - traditionally, God is is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good.
* Transcendent - God is not part of the world, but somehow separate from it ("beyond" it); in a way, this is what makes him difficult to reach, or "hidden".
* Immanent - on the other hand, other traditions stress that God is closely involved with every aspect of His creation - which would obviously conflict with the idea of his being separate from it (transcendent).
* Eternal, immortal, immutable - God is not subject to change or the ageing process, and there was no time when He did not exist, or will not exist. However, "eternal" can mean different things, and to experience the eternal can mean to feel a sense of timelessness, or being "outside" time.
* Personal - some traditions stress that each believer must establish a personal relationship with God, and to do this we must see God as a person; this may be contrasted with traditions which see God as an impersonal force or power beyond our comprehension.
* Infinite - God has no limit - either spatially or in any other sense.
* Self-existent/self-caused/Creator - God is often called the Prime Mover or First Cause of the universe - He needs no other cause to exist or continue existing, and is Himself the cause of all other things.
* Loving/forgiving/just/merciful - these are personal qualities which are often associated with God, but which are stressed differently by different religions (for instance, some might say that Christianity stresses the loving aspect, whilst Islam stresses the aspect of justice - though these are just generalisations, and neither deny the other aspects).

Anyway, this is most of them. Be aware, though, that we are talking mainly about the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic tradition here, and hence monotheism (one God).

I expect your essay will ask you to say how these various qualities might conflict with each other (the problem of evil, transcendence, etc.).

Hope this helps.
« Last Edit: 20/10/08 @ 09:22 by Gareth Southwell » Logged

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emahwoowoo
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« Reply #2 on: 20/10/08 @ 08:35 »

thank you so much! this has been a big help Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: 20/10/08 @ 09:22 »

thank you so much! this has been a big help Smiley

You're welcome!  Smiley
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wicked insanity
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« Reply #4 on: 11/11/08 @ 13:23 »

Yes don't forget the bad stuff too. The problems of evil and suffering, the Inconsistent Triad (ompnipotent, omniscient and benevolent), free will, causality (what caused God) and the proof of God and his attributes by miracles.
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Gareth Southwell
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« Reply #5 on: 11/11/08 @ 13:30 »

Point taken, but actually these are just a list of God's attributes, as traditionally defined. The 'bad stuff' mostly comes from what appear to be conflicts between these attributes, or inconsistencies: How can God be good and evil exist (the problem of evil)? How can God be both in the world (immanent) and separate from it (transcendent)? Do God's actions always tie in the attribute of divine love (e.g. the flood, and other examples of divine wrath)?

These are all interesting problems - perhaps, if anyone is interested, we could start discussion of some of them separately?     Grin
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sononellemerde
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« Reply #6 on: 10/02/09 @ 02:28 »

Although i am sure this will go beyond A-Level students'' syllabus requirements, i think it is pertinent and healthy to point out that it is dangerous when discussing the attributes of God to assume God''s existence in the first place. From personal experience, much of the syllabus seems geared towards absorbing prescribed knowledge/ information and then presenting that knowledge/ information in a way that has been deemed satisfactory. Of course this is necessary for the purposes of assessment, but perhaps the irony of studying a-level philosophy is that ultimately you are extremely restricted in terms of your thinking.

With this in mind, i would like to recommend an entertaining book, which though not specifically related to an a-level course unit, is ultimately a book of arguments, many of them philosophical in nature. ''God is not Great'' was written by Christopher Hitchens a couple of years ago. The appeal of Hitchens is that he writes lucidly, sometimes controversially, and he has the ability to tie people up in knots with his arguments despite not all of them being totally sound. Importantly he uses philosophical arguments that are more relevant to contemporary issues than an a-level unit might be. Check the book out, it costs about £5 nowadays, and even if you don''t agree with all of what he says i am sure you will be entertained and have to apply your philosophical skills!
 

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Gareth Southwell
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« Reply #7 on: 10/02/09 @ 23:50 »

Hi There,

Whilst I take your point about the syllabus coverage, I''m not totally sure that it is true. Admittedly, there are parts of the study of the philosophy of religion which look at religious belief, language, etc., and some of these will take the existence of God for granted - I suppose you might say that this is closer to theology than philosophy. However, there is a large part of the syallabus which DOES question the existence of God - most of it, in fact.

For instance, the subject of God''s attributes leads naturally to the question of the possible conflict between these attributes, and so to the problem of evil.

The book sounds interesting, though. I''d be happy to review it if someone wants to send me a copy? Me being a starving philosopher, an all...  Wink
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