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Summary The tradition of Western philosophical theology has associated with God certain principal attributes including omnipotence, omniscience, and moral perfection. Each of these attributes raises a variety of problems which must be addressed if a philosophically robust version of theism is to be developed.
Key works Perhaps the most influential treatment of the divine attributes is to be found in Aquinas 1274. More recent systematic treatments of the divine attributes include Ross 1969, Mann 1975, Swinburne 1993, Kenny 1979, and Wierenga 1989.
Introductions Relevant selections from Aquinas, in a translation suitable for students, can be found in Davies & Leftow 2006. Morley 2002 provides an encyclopedia treatment of the divine attributes. A book-length introduction is provided by Morris 1991.
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Subcategories:History/traditions: Divine Attributes
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  1. Christoph Jäger (ed.) (1998). Analytische Religionsphilosophie. UTB.
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  2. Yitzhak Melamed (forthcoming). Spinoza's Amor Dei Intellectualis. In Noa Naaman (ed.), Descartes and Spinoza on the Passions. Cambridge University Press.
    The notion of divine love was essential to medieval Christian conceptions of God. Jewish thinkers, though, had a much more ambivalent attitude about this issue. While Maimonides was reluctant to ascribe love, or any other affect, to God, Gersonides and Crescas celebrated God’s love. Though Spinoza is clearly sympathetic to Maimonides’ rejection of divine love as anthropomorphism, he attributes love to God nevertheless, unfolding his notion of amor Dei intellectualis at the conclusion of his Ethics. But is this a legitimate (...)
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  3. Christopher Menzel (forthcoming). Problems with the Bootstrapping Objection to Theistic Activism. American Philosophical Quarterly.
    According to traditional theism, God alone exists a se, independent of all other things, and all other things exist ab alio, i.e., God both creates them and sustains them in existence. On the face of it, divine "aseity" is inconsistent with classical Platonism, i.e., the view that there are objectively existing, abstract objects. For according to the classical Platonist, at least some abstract entities are wholly uncreated, necessary beings and, hence, as such, they also exist a se. The thesis of (...)
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  4. Patrick Todd (forthcoming). The Greatest Possible Being Needn't Be Anything Impossible. Religious Studies.
    There are various argumentative strategies for advancing the claim that God does not exist. One such strategy is this. First, one notes that God is meant to have a certain divine attribute (such as omniscience). One then argues that having the relevant attribute is impossible. One concludes that God doesn't exist. For instance, Dennis Whitcomb's recent paper, ‘Grounding and omniscience’, proceeds in exactly this way. As Whitcomb says, ‘I'm going to argue that omniscience is impossible and that therefore there is (...)
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Divine Eternity
  1. Andrei Buckareff, The Ontology of Action and Divine Agency (Do Not Cite Without Permission).
    The concept of divine agency is central to the narrative traditions inherited by Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The scriptures of the Abrahamic religions include repeated references to the intentional actions and intentional outcomes of the actions of God. For instance, in the “Song of Moses” (Exodus 15:1-18), Moses celebrates the freedom of the Hebrews from bondage, declaring that Yahweh is “awesome in splendor, doing wonders” (5:11 NRSV). Alongside the picture of God as an agent who performs actions is a conception (...)
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  2. James M. Byrne (2009). Theological Methodology, Classical Theism, and "Lived Time" in Antje Jackelén's Time and Eternity. Zygon 44 (4):951-964.
    Antje Jackelén's Time and Eternity successfully employs the method of correlation and a close study of the question of time to enter the dialogue between science and theology. Hermeneutical attention to language is a central element of this dialogue, but we must be aware that much science is untranslatable into ordinary language; it is when we get to the bigger metaphysical assumptions of science that true dialogue begins to happen. Thus, although the method of correlation is a useful way to (...)
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  3. William Lane Craig (2000). Omniscience, Tensed Facts and Divine Eternity. Faith and Philosophy 17 (2):227--228.
    A difficulty for a view of divine eternity as timelessness is that if time is tensed, then God, in virtue of His omniscience, must know tensed facts. But tensed facts, such as It is now t, can only be known by a temporally located being.Defenders of divine atemporality may attempt to escape the force of this argument by contending either that a timeless being can know tensed facts or else that ignorance of tensed facts is compatible with divine omniscience. Kvanvig, (...)
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  4. William Lane Craig (1998). Divine Timelessness and Personhood. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 43 (2):109-124.
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  5. William Lane Craig (1997). On the Argument for Divine Timelessness From the Incompleteness of Temporal Life. Heythrop Journal 38 (2):165–171.
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  6. William Lane Craig (1997). Talbot School of Theology Divine Timelessness and Necessary Existence. International Philosophical Quarterly 37 (2):217-224.
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  7. Thomas P. Flint (1990). Hasker's God, Time, and Knowledge. Philosophical Studies 60 (1-2):103 - 115.
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  8. Gregory Ganssle (1993). Atemporality and the Mode of Divine Knowledge. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 34 (3):171 - 180.
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  9. Gregory E. Ganssle, God and Time. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  10. Benedikt Paul Göcke (2012). Panentheism and Classical Theism. Sophia - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Metaphysical Theology and Ethics 52 (1):61-75.
    Panentheism seems to be an attractive alternative to classical theism. It is not clear, though, what exactly panentheism asserts and how it relates to classical theism. By way of clarifying the thesis of panentheism, I argue that panentheism and classical theism differ only as regards the modal status of the world. According to panentheism, the world is an intrinsic property of God – necessarily there is a world – and according to classical theism the world is an extrinsic property of (...)
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  11. Benedikt Paul Göcke, Matthias Hoesch & Peter Rohs (2008). How to Heckle Swinburne on God and Time. In Nicola Mößner, Sebastian Schmoranzer & Christian Weidemann (eds.), Richard Swinburne. Christian Philosophy in a Modern World. ontos.
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  12. William Hasker (1989). God, Time and Knowledge. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
    ... or engenders a tradition of philosophical reflection, questions will arise about the relation between divine knowledge and power and human freedom. ...
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  13. Paul Helm (2010). Eternal God: A Study of God Without Time. OUP Oxford.
    Paul Helm presents a new, expanded edition of his much praised 1988 book Eternal God , which defends the view that God exists in timeless eternity. This is the classical Christian view of God, but it is claimed by many theologians and philosophers of religion to be incoherent. Paul Helm rebuts the charge of incoherence, arguing that divine timelessness is grounded in the idea of God as creator, and that this alone makes possible a proper account of divine omniscience. He (...)
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  14. Paul Helm (1975). Timelessness and Foreknowledge. Mind 84 (336):516-527.
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  15. Jonathan Hill (2012). Incarnation, Timelessness, and Exaltation. Faith and Philosophy 29 (1):3-29.
    Christian tradition holds not simply that, in Christ, God became human, but that at the end of his earthly career Christ became exalted (possessing andexercising the divine attributes such as omnipotence and omniscience), and yet remained perpetually human. In this paper I consider several models ofthe incarnation in the light of these requirements. In particular, I contrast models that adopt a temporalist understanding of divine eternity with those that adopt an atemporalist one. I conclude that temporalist models struggle to accommodate (...)
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  16. Jonathan Kvanvig, Omniscience and Eternity: A Reply to Craig Jonathan L. Kvanvig.
    Craig claims that my treatment of temporal indexicals such as ‘now’ is inadequate, and that my theory gives no general account of tense. Craig’s argument misunderstands the theory of indexicals I give, and I show how to extend the theory to give a general account of tense.
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  17. William Lane Craig (1997). On the Argument for Divine Timelessness From the Incompleteness of Temporal Life. Heythrop Journal 38 (2):165-171.
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  18. Brian Leftow (2004). Eternity and Immutability. In William Mann (ed.), The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Religion. Blackwell Pub..
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  19. Brian Leftow (1991). Timelessness and Foreknowledge. Philosophical Studies 63 (3):309 - 325.
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  20. Delmas Lewis (1987). Timelessness and Divine Agency. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 21 (3):143 - 159.
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  21. Don Lodzinski (1998). The Eternal Act. Religious Studies 34 (3):325-352.
    As a personal agent, God's act of creation involves deliberation about His possible courses of action, a decision to act in a certain way, and the execution of that decision. In this paper, I argue that there is good reason to suppose that God's deliberation of the possible worlds cannot make Him temporal. Furthermore, whether we favour a deterministic and indeterministic version of freedom, a model can be constructed of how God timelessly decides to create this world and respond to (...)
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  22. William E. Mann (1993). Time and Eternity. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 53 (4):954-958.
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  23. Arjan Markus (2004). Divine Timelessness: A Coherent but Unfruitful Doctrine? Sophia 43 (2):29-48.
    The author argues in this article that it is possible to have a consistent and coherent version of the doctrine of divine timelessness. Towards the objection that a timeless God cannot act it is defended that a timeless God can certainly act in the world and can love human people. In spite of the consistency and coherence of the doctrine of divine timelessness, however, the author has serious problems with the fruitfulness of this doctrine when it comes to essential practices (...)
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  24. Hubert Meisinger (2009). The Rhythm of God's Eternal Music: On Antje Jackelén's Time and Eternity. Zygon 44 (4):977-988.
    Antje Jackelén's book Time and Eternity is a thorough and carefully presented theology of time and, by its very essence, an incomplete and open thought model because time will always be dynamic and relational. This approach is an excellent example for the dialogue between science and religion because it uses resources not tapped in the dialogue so far: hymn-books stemming from Germany, Sweden, and the English-speaking world published between 1975 and 1995. They are taken as resources for a critical investigation (...)
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  25. R. T. Mullins (2011). Divine Perfection and Creation. Heythrop Journal 54 (5):n/a-n/a.
    Proclus (c.412-485) once offered an argument that Christians took to stand against the Christian doctrine of creation ex nihilo based on the eternity of the world and God’s perfection. John Philoponus (c.490-570) objected to this on various grounds. Part of this discussion can shed light on contemporary issues in philosophical theology on divine perfection and creation. First I will examine Proclus’ dilemma and John Philoponus’ response. I will argue that Philoponus’ fails to rebut Proclus’ dilemma. The problem is that presentism (...)
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  26. Timothy O'Connor (1999). Simplicity and Creation. Faith and Philosophy 16 (3):405-412.
    According to many philosophical theologians, God is metaphysically simple: there is no real distinction among His attributes or even between attribute and existence itself. Here, I consider only one argument against the simplicity thesis. Its proponents claim that simplicity is incompatible with God's having created another world, since simplicity entails that God is unchanging across possible worlds. For, they argue, different acts of creation involve different willings, which are distinct intrinsic states. I show that this is mistaken, by sketching (...)
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  27. Graham Oppy, Some Emendations to Leftow's Arguments About Time and Eternity (1998).
    At p.23, Leftow argues that, as a matter of physical necessity, no parcel of matter follows a discontinuous spatial path. He then uses this conclusion as a premise in a further argument to the conclusion that no non-theistic scenarios involving contingently existing entities could yield a sure way to gain evidence that a second time series exists. I think that there may be non-theistic scenarios involving contingently existing entities which yield ways of gaining evidence of other time series -- it (...)
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  28. Robert Pasnau (2011). On Existing All at Once. In C. Tapp (ed.), God, Eternity, and Time. Ashgate.
    It is important to distinguish between two ways in which God might be timelessly eternal: eternality as being wholly outside of time, versus the sort of timelessness that consists in lacking temporal parts, and so existing “all at once.” A prominent but neglected historical tradition, most clearly evident in Anselm, advocates putting God in time, but in an all-at-once sort of way that makes God immune to temporal change. This is an intrinsically plausible conception of divine eternality, which also sheds (...)
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  29. Jeremy Pierce (2003). Gregory E. Ganssle, Ed.: God and Time: Four Views. [REVIEW] Faith and Philosophy 20 (4):504-509.
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  30. Philip L. Quinn (1992). On the Mereology of Boethian Eternity. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 32 (1):51 - 60.
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  31. Hugh Rice (2006). Divine Omniscience, Timelessness, and the Power to Do Otherwise. Religious Studies 42 (2):123-139.
    There is a familiar argument based on the principle that the past is fixed that, if God foreknows what I will do, I do not have the power to act otherwise. So, there is a problem about reconciling divine omniscience with the power to do otherwise. However the problem posed by the argument does not provide a good reason for adopting the view that God is outside time. In particular, arguments for the fixity of the past, if successful, either establish (...)
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  32. Richard Rice (2007). Trinity, Temporality, and Open Theism. Philosophia 35 (3-4):321-328.
    A number of thinkers today, including open theists, find reasons to attribute temporality to God. According to Robert W. Jenson, the Trinity is indispensable to a Christian concept of God, and divine temporality is essential to the meaning of the Trinity. Following the lead of early Christian thought, Jenson argues that the persons of the Trinity are relations, and these relations are temporal. Jenson’s insights are obscured, however, by problematic references to time as a sphere to which God is related. (...)
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  33. Katherin A. Rogers (2007). Anselmian Eternalism. Faith and Philosophy 24 (1):3-27.
    Anselm holds that God is timeless, time is tenseless, and humans have libertarian freedom. This combination of commitments is largely undefended incontemporary philosophy of religion. Here I explain Anselmian eternalism with its entailment of tenseless time, offer reasons for accepting it, and defend it against criticisms from William Hasker and other Open Theists. I argue that the tenseless view is coherent, that God’s eternal omniscience is consistent with libertarian freedom, that being eternal greatly enhances divine sovereignty, and that the Anselmian (...)
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  34. Katherin A. Rogers (2007). Anselmian Eternalism: The Presence of a Timeless God. Faith and Philosophy 24 (1):3-27.
    Anselm holds that God is timeless, time is tenseless, and humans have libertarian freedom. This combination of commitments is largely undefended incontemporary philosophy of religion. Here I explain Anselmian eternalism with its entailment of tenseless time, offer reasons for accepting it, and defend it against criticisms from William Hasker and other Open Theists. I argue that the tenseless view is coherent, that God’s eternal omniscience is consistent with libertarian freedom, that being eternal greatly enhances divine sovereignty, and that the Anselmian (...)
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  35. Katherin A. Rogers (2007). The Necessity of the Present and Anselm's Eternalist Response to the Problem of Theological Fatalism. Religious Studies 43 (1):25-47.
    It is often argued that the eternalist solution to the freedom/foreknowledge dilemma fails. If God's knowledge of your choices is eternally fixed, your choices are necessary and cannot be free. Anselm of Canterbury proposes an eternalist view which entails that all of time is equally real and truly present to God. God's knowledge of your choices entails only a ‘consequent’ necessity which does not conflict with libertarian freedom. I argue this by showing that if consequent necessity does conflict with libertarian (...)
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  36. Thomas D. Senor (2009). The Real Presence of an Eternal God. In Kevin Timpe & Eleonore Stump (eds.), Metaphysics and God: Essays in Honor of Eleonore Stump. Routledge.
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  37. Thomas D. Senor (2002). Incarnation, Timelessness, and Leibniz's Law Problems. In Gregory E. Ganssle & David M. Woodruff (eds.), God and Time: Essays on the Divine Nature. Oxford University Press.
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  38. Thomas D. Senor (1993). Divine Temporality and Creation Ex Nihilo. Faith and Philosophy 10 (1):86-92.
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  39. Quentin Smith (1989). A New Typology of Temporal and Atemporal Permanence. Noûs 23 (3):307-330.
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  40. Eleonore Stump & Norman Kretzmann (1991). Prophecy, Past Truth, and Eternity. Philosophical Perspectives 5:395-424.
  41. Eleonore Stump & Norman Kretzmann (1987). Atemporal Duration: A Reply to Fitzgerald. Journal of Philosophy 84 (4):214-219.
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  42. Eleonore Stump & Norman Kretzmann (1981). Eternity. Journal of Philosophy 78 (8):429-458.
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  43. Richard Swinburne (1998). Gott Und Zeit. In Ch JäGer (ed.), Analytische Religionsphilosophie. Ferdinand Schã¶Ningh.
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  44. Richard Swinburne (1993). God and Time. In Eleonore Stump (ed.), Reasoned Faith. Cornell University Press. 204-222.
    Four principles about Time have the consequence that God must be everlasting, and not timeless. These are 1) events occur over periods of time, never at instants, 2) Time has a metric if and only if there is a unified system of laws of nature, 3) The past is the realm of the causally unaffectible, the future of the causally affectible, 4) Some truths can only be known at certain periods. Yet God is not Time’s prisoner’, for the unwelcome features (...)
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  45. Kevin Timpe (2007). Truth-Making and Divine Eternity. Religious Studies 43 (3):299 - 315.
    According to a widespread tradition in philosophical theology, God is necessarily simple and eternal. One objection to this view of God's nature is that it would rule out God having foreknowledge of non-determined, free human actions insofar as simplicity and eternity are incompatible with God's knowledge being causally dependent on those actions. According to this view, either (a) God must causally determine the free actions of human agents, thus leading to a theological version of compatibilism, or (b) God cannot know, (...)
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  46. David A. White (2000). Divine Immutability, Properties and Time. Sophia 39 (2):70-78.
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