Contradictions of Divine Simplicity

1) All that exists is either God, or a creature. Now, if this is true, what is predestination? It cannot be something “in” the divine essence if simplicity is true. For there is nothing “in” the divine essence: there is only the divine essence. Now, the divine essence is necessary. Therefore, if predestination is the divine essence, predestination is necessary. On the other hand, if predestination is a creature,  then it either exists right now, or not. If not, then predestination does not exist. If it does, then it cannot be false that those who are predestined are not predestined. Therefore, whoever is predestined right now, is necessarily predestined (they cannot be unpredestined.) But then, if predestination is true right now, no person can change whether or not they are in fact predestined. In fact the word “can” loses meaning. For a person simply does what he is predestined to do and that cannot be otherwise. Unless you want to hold that predestination can fail or be different than it is now.

Also, if predestination is a creature, then given predestination, a creature causes men to do acts in such and such a way. But then, given predestination, men cannot perform their acts otherwise than such and such a way. Therefore, this creature causes men’s acts, and they are not free.

2) Creation cannot be an act of the divine essence, because the divine essence is itself necessary, and then creation would be necessary. But neither can creation be something outside the divine essence as depending on it, for then there is nothing in the divine essence to explain why it exists rather than not. If you say creation is a free act, then this free act is either the divine essence itself, or something outside it, and the same conclusion follows. In fact to say creation is a free (i.e. contingent) act while affirming it of the divine essence, which is a necessary act, you implicitly contradict yourself by saying the divine essence is both a contingent and necessary act.

3)  If things are possible in God’s mind (say he necessarily has the ideas of all possible beings) then it cannot also be true that those beings actually exist. For what is actual is not possible, but actual. For suppose that no being existed and only God existed. It would then follow that the beings which actually did exist and were still merely possible in God’s mind were also possible in God’s mind when they don’t exist. In other words the beings are merely possible in God’s mind whether or not they actually exist – but that is absurd. Also, God would have the same belief about a thing’s existence whether or not the thing really existed.

Its modal problems like these that make the idea of divine simplicity and timelessness unravel for me. The notion just becomes unintelligible. God becomes this sort of inert property (whichever one I am thinking of at the moment): and each property excludes the possibility of being something else if I try to attribute another or different property to that same God.

In fact, if God’s essence is his existence, then God is simply “is.” But then, we can’t say anything more about God than “God is” – which is really just redundant. Therefore when talking about God, when describing him and what he “does” we are reduced to saying simply “God.” God loves, God thinks, God wills, God necessarily exists, God freely creates, etc. all just reduce to “God.”

The notion is absurd. How can “a” thing or substance also be simply “being” itself? How is that not a contradiction: for “a being” to also be “being”? How is that intelligible?

All our explanations and all observable phenomenon ultimately seem to reduce to following: “that’s just the way it is.” Existence seems just a brute fact – a given. Nor do I see how it can have a “giver:” for that giver itself would also have to exist; and then we would still be left with the same phenomenon: a given existence.

This can be put another way by the following collapse of modal categories: for every explanation, there either is a previous explanation that is contingent or necessary. Now, all explanations cannot be contingent. For then nothing would be necessary. Something, however, must be necessary, or nothing contingent could exist. (That’s just what “contingent” means – to depend on something else.) Now, if we finally run into a necessary explanation, it must be the case that, given this explanation, what is contingent follows. Otherwise, there is nothing in the necessary explanation which accounts for the contingent phenomenon. But in that case, there is no reason why the contingent phenomenon should exist or not exist. Therefore, their existence would be a matter of brute fact. Why do they exist? That’s just the way it is.

In short, by positing either something contingent or something necessary we simultaneously affirm the opposite category. It is inconceivable to postulate only the purely necessary or the purely contingent, without supposing their opposites. But then if both categories must be supposed, one can ask: why do we have the contingent and the necessary to begin with? And again the answer: there is no reason: that’s just the way it is.



The idea that the human spirit can contemplate

loving something forever

is the most moving thing in the world.

For a heart to give birth to the thought

“I shall give myself to thee forever”

is a mystery most profound

which surpasses all knowledge

and the words of infinite worlds.


In it is the bottomless mystery of love itself.

For when a person desires to love something forever,

he is,


imitating the life of God:

the mystery of existence itself.

To wish to give oneself to another presupposes a knowledge of

the good

and the beautiful

and the lovely:

for one can only want what appears to be

good and beautiful and lovely.

This desire also presupposes

separateness and relationality:

for one can only desire union with that which is in some way

distinct from oneself

and which can be related to.

But the desire is not merely for the sake of giving

so that the other may have:

but also so that the one given

is united to that which is being given to.

Thus I want to give myself to my wife,

not only so that she may have me,

but so that I shall be united to her, and so have her.

This phenomenon of self-gift:

how mysterious!

How profound!

What other desire is there,

than the desire for unity,

a unity so close that there remains

no space of separation left between –

no way in which a closer unity would be possible?

For a heart to be united to another –

for a spirit to join another such that the two are in no sense separated –

what other desire is there?

This desire we must turn

to the beating heart of Christ:

for his heart is itself united to the source of all life

and love and goodness and beauty

and being itself.

We must seek ever more

to draw those we love and wish to be united with

into this union with the Lord.

For once all are perfectly united,

all shall be perfectly satisfied,

and all shall be perfectly joyous,

as the one desire of the human heart

– unity –

is perfectly fulfilled.

Look Around Thee

Look around thee

oh man

and behold all that comes to thy eye.

All that thou see will perish.

There will be a time when these things are no more.

You know this.

And yet

you live your life as if these things were your end

your infinite good.

Yet no infinite good can pass away.

Therefore fix in thy mind

every morning, and at mid day, and every night

this truth:

there is one but everlasting and infinite good.

And it is only in this that thou canst find what thou seekest:






and overflowing.

Problems with William Lane Craig’s View of God being Timeless SANS creation and temporal SINCE creation

Craig’s view of God’s choice to create the world entails a contradiction insofar as he affirms both a) that God is timeless, and b) that God is temporal. Craig believes God’s timeless decision to create, and his subsequent entering into time, is necessary because the world cannot be infinite in the temporal past. The world – or rather temporal becoming and time itself – cannot be eternal in the past direction on Craig’s view. For this implies a contradiction (he thinks), because it means that an infinite series would have to have been traversed to arrive at the present moment. No infinite can be traversed (for then it would be finite). Therefore, Craig concludes, the past cannot be infinite.

First – this objection is not new. The medievals knew it well. Aquinas answers it in about three sentences in the ST by saying that it rests on a category mistake. No one who thinks the past is is eternal supposes that that very eternity has somehow been traversed. Rather, what they are saying is that there is no contradiction in supposing that temporal becoming has always been, for forever in the past. The category mistake comes in when you use the word “traversed” and try to apply it to this past infinity. To traverse implicitly implies some completion of a finite movement through space and time. “I have traversed the distance between my door and my car.” I.e. I have walked that finite distance. But if the past is eternal, all that is implied is that “movement has always been occurring.” Thus it would be meaningless to refute this proposition by saying that “infinite movement has been completed” since the one term – “completed” – implies finite movement, which is the opposite of what the proposition is suggesting to begin with.

In short, when you try to describe a) “movement has always been occurring” as b) something that has been “traversed” you are just changing a) into the following sentence: “movement occurred.” But you see saying movement occurred is very different from saying that it has always been occurring. The first implies a finite completion. The second, never ending succession.

Second – there is an implicit contradiction in Craig’s view insofar as he says that God “was timeless” sans (i.e. without) creation and is temporal “since” creation. If God “was timeless” then this proposition is indexed – that is, it has a temporal location, which is the past. But nothing that did exist is timeless in the strict sense. It was either temporal, and continues to endure, or it was temporal, and did not continue to endure. I.e. it is either like the grand canyon, which did exist in the past and still exists today or it is like the meteor that caused the grand canyon, which did exist in the past but no longer exists today.

In other words, if God was timeless, he is temporal, and Craig is contradicting himself.

On the other hand, if Craig is simply describing God’s existence in himself, independent of the world, then he is saying that God is in himself timeless. But what is timeless cannot “become” or “change” or move or it would not be timeless. Further, it would make no sense to further nuance God’s timeless state by saying that he is temporal “since” creation. For what does this word “since” here mean? It is again just a copula of temporal index – akin to the phrase “since back at time such and such.” That is, what Craig’s phrase really means, when looked at grammatically, is this: “God exists timelessly without creation, but back at the first moment of creation, God entered into time.” But “entered” is a past tense word. It implies temporal becoming. It implies that God existed in the past and then took on some new mode of being – some mode of being accrued to him or he lost some – when he “became” temporal (a contradiction.) But then, God cannot “be” timeless.

Craig must break down how he is using the word “is” with respect to God’s relation to time. If God is timeless, it is contradictory to predicate of that same God (since God is identical to himself) temporality. God’s “is” is either timeless – like the medievals thought – or it is temporal. It cannot be both.

Here is Craig’s view of God and time in his own words: “God is timeless without creation, and temporal since the moment of creation.” When stripped to its bones, it is self contradictory. To see this more explicitly, one must ask of this view: did this same timeless God “become” temporal? If we answer yes, then this same God was never timeless (and so Craig’s view is false.) If we answer no, then we cannot predicate temporality to the same being we predicate timelessness to. And so again, the view is false.

Behind this problem of Craig lurks another, which is this.

Any change in God seems to be explicable ultimately only by some active principle that is itself unchanging. Suppose, for instance, God was always changing in the infinite past. One would have to ask why he was changing in just such a way. But the only possible answer to this question would have to come in the form of a changeless principle, an ultimate principle of sufficient reason, which was absolutely timeless. Or again, on Craig’s view God’s timeless state before creation “was” contingent. Since God “became” temporal (I’m entertaining the contradiction here), then it was evidently not necessary that he remain timeless. For what is necessary cannot cease to be – and God became temporal. But what explains this contingent state in God, in which he existed “before” creation timelessly? It must be some further necessary principle outside of God. It cannot just be God himself in this timeless state – for that state is contingent and becomes temporal. But in such a case, you have something acting on or causing or explaining God’s own contingent state sans creation. Of course, this is inadmissible.

Once again, classical theology seems to have the upper hand on the analytic guys.

Paradoxes of Creation

the issue with god freely creating is puzzling. but it does seem to me the medievals were right to suppose that god is not somehow more fulfilled with creation than without one. that would seem to imply that god is perfected through something outside himself and that he isn’t himself the fullness of being and goodness (the aseity issue.)

the question seems to be does a “difference” in gods “conscious” experience (willing, loving, relating to creation) necessarily entail a diminishment of his necessarily fulfilled existence (which he has with or without creation.) it may be that these are value neutral differences: i.e. whether or not god creates or is made man ,he will be just as maximally fulfilled.*

now if this is right, and if god cannot be enriched by his creative act – though he can be different because of it – god cannot create for a need within himself or to do himself any good. *he can only create for the good of that which he makes.* given creation then god necessarily wills the good of each thing he makes as such, for itself.

this to me if a powerful (and classical!) argument for universalism based on gods aseity. the only reason god could have to create is to bestow (or “pour out” – love that image!) goodness on what he makes: i.e. to will the goodness of the other as an end in itself. eternal torment and annihilation are not instances of this. therefore, god cannot will these things. (the argument is, more specifically, although god need not create, if he does he must will universal reconciliation to all, for no other alternative is consistent with him willing goodness to creatures.)

*this is closely connected to impassibility. could god freely will in himself something analogous to grief, anger, or patience? in gods triune life these experiences seem to have no place or even meaning. given just the trinity, who would cause them? yet given the sheer fact of creation it can’t be impossible for god to have experiences other than just his triune life. for he at least knows the world, that he creates it, that he became man to die because of sin it it, etc.

but god can’t get these “extra trinitarian” experiences from the world absolutely speaking, for then he would be receiving being (and how could the source of all being receive being?) but how then can god have them? how can god know “loss” or other “negative” emotional experiences, since by nature his triune life is perfectly harmonious in will?

Three Conundrums for Open Theism

i) God’s free choice. It seems once God has freely chosen to create, he has also freely chosen how to respond to every situation that occurs in the world. (Or has he?) If so, this seems to rob God of his freedom. He is not “now” free to do either A or B. He’s locked in. Doesn’t that make him now (and forever?) determined? Was God’s initial choice to create the only libertarian choice he will ever have? Or has God only decided how he will respond this side of heaven, and after the end of the world – or the end of each of our lives here on earth – he will be free again? And if so, did God decide that very fact during the initial act of creating?

ii) Prior to God creating, God existed without the universe. This state of God was contingent. Otherwise it could not have changed and God necessarily would have remained alone. Now, if God’s state prior to creating was contingent, what caused it? If it is contingent it need not exist. It could therefore fail to exist. What then explains why it existed? The preceding moment, and so on, ad infinitum?

iii) Each moment of God’s existence – if he experiences a before and after – seem to entail a kind of finitude, insofar as it is defined as “this” moment. But what sets a limit on this finitude?

Is it possible Gods necessary existence is akin to our “subconscious” being? It necessarily presents stuff sequentially into God’s conscious mind at “fitting” and maybe even necessary times (given God’s nature) and then God freely acts on this information?

Two problems with saying God does not suffer

All the criticisms that maintain that God does not suffer – there seem to me two problems. i) On any view of the Incarnation, the second Person of the Trinity suffers. Assuming one adopts a two natures Christology, the suffering of the second Person is not negated by the fact that it only occurs in his human nature, for he has a human nature just as fully as a divine nature. ii) Suffering, insofar as it is a conscious experience, is still a modality of being – of existence. It is incomprehensible to me that such a thing could exist and be existentially “unknown” to God. It would be like saying that God doesn’t know what the color blue looks like. Blue only exists because God made it so. But surely if God makes a mode of being he must know it perfectly – indeed it must come absolutely from him and him alone. The same holds, I would argue, with suffering.