Re: A freely choosing God? (was: Faith, Evolution, and Tax Dollars?)

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <>
Date: Tue Apr 06 2004 - 23:47:41 EDT

On Tue, 06 Apr 2004 12:50:50 -0500 Thomas Pearson <>
> On Tuesday, April 6, 2004, George Murphy wrote:
> <snip>
> I'm not sure I'm reading you correctly here, George, but isn't there
> an
> implicit contradiction between any claim that "God freely chooses,"
> and
> the words of Athanasius? If Athanasius is right, then God is
> constrained by his own nature; specifically, by the goodness of his
> nature. In that sense, Athanasius is telling us what God can't do,
> not
> what God "freely chooses" to do.
> Ever since the voluntarist account of God began to emerge among
> figures
> like Abelard at the turn of the twelfth century, it seems to me
> that
> there has been a something profoundly incommensurate between that
> voluntarist portrayal of God, and the more traditional picture of
> God as
> defined by his attributes (including omnipotence and perfect
> goodness).
> If God is a "free chooser" in any meaningful sense, then it's hard
> to
> see how God can be limited by the demands of his nature, as
> described by
> his attributes.
> Perhaps this is exactly the point you were making, George; but I
> couldn't quite tell.
> <snip>
This seems to me to require that freedom must involve arbitrary choice,
which turns out to be no choice at all. True freedom requires rational
choice, which is not chaotic, and certainly not uncontrolled. If, as
standard theology has it, God is not composite though a Trinity, one
cannot separate omnipotence from omniscience, omnipresence, etc.
Philosophers and theologians need to be careful about the confused
assumptions that they import along with relevant matters.
Received on Tue Apr 6 23:50:25 2004

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