Monday, November 28, 2005

So I understand that I don’t understand God. That’s why I am doing all this reading. Ok, this is taking me nowhere. I don’t want proof, I want experience. Let’s try the next site, Let’s click the Nature and Attributes of God link. The summary reads “In this article, we proceed by deductive analysis to examine the nature and attributes of God to the extent required by our limited philosophical scope. We will treat accordingly of the infinity, unity, and simplicity of God, adding some remarks on Divine personality.” The material is pretty good.

When we say that God is infinite, we mean that He is unlimited in every kind of perfection or that every conceivable perfection belongs to Him in the highest conceivable way. In a different sense we sometimes speak, for instance, of infinite time or space, meaning thereby time of such indefinite duration or space of such indefinite extension that we cannot assign any fixed limit to one or the other. Care should be taken not to confound these two essentially different meanings of the term. Time and space, being made up of parts in duration or extension, are essentially finite by comparison with God's infinity. Now we assert that God is infinitely perfect in the sense explained, and that His infinity is deducible from His self-existence. For a self-existent being, if limited at all, could be limited only by itself; to be limited by another would imply causal dependence on that other, which the very notion of self-existence excludes. But the self-existing cannot be conceived as limiting itself, in the sense of curtailing its perfection of being, without ceasing to be self-existing. Whatever it is, it is necessarily; its own essence is the sole reason or explanation of its existence, so that its manner of existence must be as unchangeable as its essence, and to suggest the possibility of an increase or diminution of perfection would be to suggest the absurdity of a changeable essence. It only remains, then, to say that whatever perfection is compatible with its essence is actually realized in a self-existing being; but as there is no conceivable perfection as such -- that is, no expression of positive being as such -- that is not compatible with the essence of the self-existent, it follows that the self-existent must be infinite in all perfection. For self-existence itself is absolute positive being and positive being cannot contradict, and cannot therefore limit, positive being.

This general, and admittedly very abstract, conclusion, as well as the reasoning which supports it, will be rendered more intelligible by a brief specific illustration of what it involves.

Good. I need something a little more intelligible. Now they shine some light on what they mean:

(i) When, in speaking of the Infinite, we attribute all conceivable perfections to Him, we must not forget that the predicates we employ to describe perfections derive their meaning and connotation in the first instance from their application to finite beings; and on reflection it is seen that we must distinguish between different kinds of perfections, and that we cannot without palpable contradiction attribute all the perfections of creatures in the same way to God. Some perfections are such that even in the abstract, they necessarily imply or connote finiteness of being or imperfection; while some others do not of themselves necessarily connote imperfection.

Oh. Ok. Well then, on to the next site. Oh, oh, wait. There is a section on The Blessed Trinity, I have always sort of wondered how that works. I'll save that part for tomorrow's post.

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