Metaphysics, part four

Arguments for the existence of God:

First argument:

1. Given any conditioned being, there must exist at least one self-sufficient being. (This is based on infinite regress. If you look for sufficient reason in conditioned beings, you won't find it. There has to be an unconditioned (self-sufficient, uncaused) being that can cause all other beings.)
2. No being can be self-sufficient unless it is qualitatively infinite in perfection.
3. There can only be one such being infinite in all perfections. (If there were more than one, one would have to lack something the other has, to distinguish them, and would not be infinite in all perfections.)
4. Therefore this being is the unique and ultimate source of all being; this we being we call God.

The beings we observe are all finite, and a finite being cannot be self-sufficient because it would have to pre-exist itself (to determine the essence it would have). And things just can't pre-exist themselves. A self-sufficient being has to be infinite, because it can't possess any perfection in a limited way.

Second argument:

1. When there is intrinsic similarity among beings, there must be a source of that feature; and that source must have the feature infinitely.
2. A beings have existence.
3. Therefore there is a single source for existence, which exists infinitely.

Characteristics of God we can know through reason include: self-sufficiency; infinite fulness of all perfections; unique; eternal; un-composed; immaterial; immutable.

God's motive in creation is to share with us his goodness. His motive can't be to acquire anything or become better: he's infinite; as infinitely perfect, he has no needs. God is the end (purpose) of creation: out of love for his goodness, he had a desire to share it with others, and so he created us and the angels. So, it is our duty to honour God because we can see that he didn't need to make us.

God's omnipotence:
This means that he is the ultimate source of all power (potency), not that he can do anything. He cannot microwave a burrito so hot that even he cannot touch it. Sorry folks.
He doesn't violate the principle of non-contradiction (A is A, not not-A), and can't do anything that implies limitation in his part. So, he can't be run faster than anything else, because running itself is a limitation (because only material beings can move from one location to another).

God's omniscience:
This was probably the most confusing part of the class, and I don't really get it.
But according to the text: there is a difference between saying God "foresees" our free acts and saying he "sees" them. If he foresees our acts, this supposes he sees them in time before they happen in time; if he sees our acts, this indicates he sees them in their presentiality, not before they happen, because he is outside time in an eternal Now: he simply sees them as they are actually taking place. God's omniscience takes place in eternity, not in time. He knows us so well that we knows what we'll do, and this doesn't denigrate our free will. It's just that nothing we do can surprise him. If you've ever known what your spouse or sibling was gonna do when you said something to them, that didn't affect their ability to freely choose what they did. It just means you know them well, and can predict what they'll do. Well, God knows us way way better than we even know ourselves, so he can perfectly know what we'll do. And he wills for us in response to our actions. He has a will for us that is unchanging, and yet contingent on what we choose to do. At every step of the way, even when we screw up, he has a will for us that we can co-operate with. This all is very encouraging, because even when you've turned away from him in sin, he has a will for you, and way for you to cooperate with him and still live a good life. If you make a poor decision, he will work with you, he has a will for you, so you can pick up the pieces in the best way possible. And since we can't surprise him, it makes going to confession a lot easier. He is not surprised that I fell in the same way I always do. He knew I would do it. But he absolved me for it last time, knowing I would do it again. Even the priest himself, in his humanity, I suppose isn't all that surprised when we show up with the same sin in the confessional over and over.

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