Wednesday, July 20, 2016

From causal finitism to divine simplicity

If God is not simple, he has infinitely many really distinct features. Moreover infinitely many of these features will be involved in creation, e.g., because there are infinitely many reasons that favor the creation of this world, and for each reason God will plausibly have a distinct feature of being impressed by that reason. But causal finitism (the doctrine that infinitely many things can't come together causally) rules this out. So divine simplicity is true.

Assuming causal finitism, the thing that one might challenge is the claim that infinitely many of God's features are causally efficacious.

There is an even easier argument for divine simplicity based if actual infinites are impossible. For, surely, either (a) God is simple or (b) God has infinitely many really distinct features. If actual infinites are impossible, that rules out (b).


Walter Van den Acker said...

Dr Pruss

I am not sure if its true that if God is not simple, he has infinitely many really distinct features.
Suppose God has only three really distinct features?

Alexander R Pruss said...

Well, there is knowledge of all mathematics, knowledge of all physics, knowledge of all psychology, knowledge of future choices, etc. That's already four. And surely we can multiply indefinitely.

Now, maybe you can say: "There is just one feature here, omniscience. God's knowledge of psychology and God's knowledge of mathematics are not really distinct."

But once you allow for such seemingly different things as not really distinct, then you lose the motivation for having any distinctions between features, I think.

Walter Van den Acker said...

I personally think that knowledge of mathematics and knowledge of human psychology have to be distinct if human being have libertarian free will. Otherwise my choice between A and B would be based on mathematics. But I can imagine people treating omniscience as one feature, while treating omnipotence as a distinct feature and perhaps omnibenevolence as a third one.
It seem imaginable that somebody knows everything but is incapable of creating something, or that somebody is capable of creating everything he wants, but has a really evil character etc.

In short, lots of people talk about a tri-omni God and while there may be arguments against those three features being distinct, it is not at all obvious that they aren't.