Challenging God's Necessity: A Semantical Inquiry

Published on 6 September 2023 at 08:46

In the quiet recesses of contemplation, amid the ever-turning gears of philosophical inquiry, there emerges a spark—an idea that resonates with profound implications. This entry is born of such a moment, where the shadows of semantics cast light upon the timeless conceptions of God, goodness, and evil. What lies before us is an intellectual journey that challenges the very bedrock of theological thought: the necessity of God. At its heart, this is a discourse firmly grounded in the common definitions of God as espoused by theistic philosophers, where we dare to question the seemingly unquestionable. Join us as we venture into the intricate tapestry of language and meaning, where the absence of a single word can reverberate through the corridors of theology, prompting us to rethink the very essence of the divine.


This argument primarily deals with semantics, so it is essential to establish precise definitions for key terms. Foremost among these is the concept of "God." In this context, we are referring to the God of classical theism, a divine being characterized by aseity and possessing all the omni-properties. These omni-properties encompass omnipotence, omnibenevolence, omniscience, and omnipresence. This entity is the necessary uncaused cause, and I believe this definition aligns with a generally accepted understanding, avoiding controversy.


The next key term to define is "reality." In this context, we refer to reality as the encompassing framework that holds everything within it. It is not merely the sum total of existence but rather the container for that sum total. As I have previously emphasized in my entry titled "Cogito, Ergo Sum," for something to possess existence, it must occupy a place within this underlying reality. Consequently, reality itself assumes a necessary status. While this understanding of reality may provoke controversy, it is important to note that for the purpose of this entry, I will employ this definition. It's crucial to understand that if something does not exist within this framework of reality, it does not exist at all.


Another pivotal definition to establish is the usage of the term "evil." In line with the common definition, notably expounded upon by the Catholic philosopher Thomas Aquinas, evil is defined as the absence of good. This concept is encapsulated by the Latin term "Privatio boni," which denotes the privation or absence of good. Given the near synonymous relationship between "good" and "God," this definition should not be a source of controversy.


Building upon these definitions, we can now delve into the core of this discussion. Goodness is an inherent component of God's nature, forming the very fabric of its being, as per the definition employed here, which aligns with the majority of monotheistic beliefs. Consequently, any absence of goodness also entails an absence of God.


Evil is a tangible concept within Abrahamic scriptures, such as the Torah, Bible, and Qur'an. Therefore, if we adhere to the definition of evil as the privation or absence of good, this implies that in the presence of evil, there exists an absence of God.


These reflections carry profound theological implications. If it is conceivable for God to be absent at any point or place within reality, then God cannot be considered necessary, foundational, or ultimate. Let's explore each of these aspects, starting with necessity. A necessary entity is one that cannot fail to exist. However, if God is absent at any moment in time or from any place in reality, it implies that God has failed to exist in at least one possible world—the real world.


Regarding the concept of God as foundational, if God can be absent, it implies the existence of a state of affairs that does not depend on God. This challenges the notion that God serves as the foundational source of all things. In fact, it suggests that God's absence may be a prerequisite for the existence of evil, rather than God being its foundational source. Similarly, when considering ultimacy, unless one posits that evil exists solely because of God, the concept of God as the ultimate source and explanation for all things would also be undermined.


The most pivotal implication to underscore here is the concept of necessity. If God is genuinely omnipresent, possesses aseity, and is characterized by omnibenevolence, it becomes inconceivable for God to be absent from any part of reality at any point in time. However, this notion directly contradicts the idea that evil is the absence of good, as the absence of good signifies the absence of God. If God can, in any way, be absent, then the concept of necessity, which is foundational to the traditional understanding of God, is rendered untenable.


Even without employing my concept of reality, the inherent implications of the descriptors of God and evil persist. While my notion of reality bolsters this argument, its absence does not diminish the core issue. It's conceivable that some might attempt to manipulate the semantics of 'God,' 'good,' and 'evil' to sidestep this challenge, but the underlying problem remains unaltered.


Well conclude this first with a syllogistic argument:

Premise 1: If God possesses omnipresence, aseity, and omnibenevolence, then God cannot be absent from any part of reality at any point in time.

Premise 2: Evil is commonly defined as the absence of good, and if God is absent, it entails an absence of good.

Conclusion: Therefore, if God can be absent from any part of reality at any point in time, it contradicts the attributes of omnipresence, aseity, and omnibenevolence, and thus, God cannot be considered necessary in the traditional sense.


In this entry we used common philosophical definitions and logic, to confront a theological conundrum that demands attention. The attributes of omnipresence, aseity, and omnibenevolence, once seen as the bedrock of God's nature, now stand at odds with the very essence of evil as the absence of good. We are left with a stark choice: either redefine the divine attributes to accommodate this discord, thereby risking the dilution of God's traditional nature, or grapple with the unsettling proposition that the concept of God as traditionally understood may not be as necessary, foundational, or ultimate as once believed. The gauntlet has been thrown down, and theology must rise to meet this challenge, for it is in the crucible of intellectual rigor that our understanding of the divine may be transformed, refined, or even revolutionized.

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