Does the Perfect God exist?
Does God exist? If God exists, is God perfect? Can you prove God’s existence?
These are the common questions that an atheist will normally ask a person who believes in God. Since ancient times, philosophers and theologians have come up with their own argument on God’s existence and God’s attributes. Yoram Hazony in his article “An imperfect God” points the theistic belief of God’s attributes as “all-powerful, all-knowing, immutable, perfectly good, perfectly simple, and necessarily existent” (Hazony). He argues that there are two famous problems with the view of God. The first is that although God is viewed as perfectly powerful and perfectly good, our world is filled with evil and injustice. This brings an argument that “a God who is perfectly powerful cannot also be perfectly good” (Hazony). The second problem is that in the Hebrew Bible, God is not depicted as immutable, not all-knowing and not perfectly powerful, which is different than the theistic view of God in the bible. So, the concept of God’s perfection does not seem true with many shreds of evidence in the Hebrew Bible and logical judgment.
Hazony’s argument relates to the problems of evil as both argument points to the conclusion that a theistic belief of an omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent being cannot exist as there are evils and sufferings in the world. David Hume argues that “if God is willing to prevent evil but not able? then he is impotent. Is he able but not willing? then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?” (Meister, 128) . This is a strong argument for the problems of evil and God’s existence. The problems of evil that exist in the world can be explained in many ways. The logical problem of evil is based on two beliefs that “all powerful, all knowing and wholly good being” exists and evil in many forms exists (Meister, 130). The argument of the logical problem of evil is that the perfect God would have power, knowledge and desire to eliminate evil and God would eliminate evil. But evil still exists, therefore such God does not exist (Meister, 132). The logical argument for the existence of evil should be able to explain why God would allow evil in the world for it to conclude why God does not exist. We can think of the necessity of some evil for good lessons. Moreover, we know what is good by only comparing something with bad. Likewise, we need pain for pleasure, cold to understand heat and many more. However, it does not necessarily mean all evil is for good outcome. We can see many other examples where certain evils like natural evils are not beneficial at all. The problems of evil can only be resolved if we could explain vividly why there is so much evil in our world.
Many reasons and arguments resembles the non-existence of such perfect being or God. So, many might believe that God is imperfect but changing our perspective of the divine’s perfect attributes to imperfect would completely refute the logical problem of evil. Because, the logical problem of evil begins with one belief that God is perfectly powerful, knowing and good. I do not agree that imperfection should be a divine attribute. We as a human being are almost perfect if compared with animals and other creatures in the earth. We are rational beings who have achieved so much that we have known many laws of the universe and made every aspect of our life easier by advancing in science and technology. We are very cruel to other living beings and to mother nature. We are movers and shakers of the world. Although animals may never understand our human imperfect attributes, we should never be entitled as a perfect being on earth. Likewise, a being cannot be called God without perfect divine attributes which also includes self-existent and immutable.
Hazony’s argument also relate to Augustine’s free will theodicy as he argues that God is not immutable as in the Hebrew Bible, it is depicted that God constantly changes his mind and regrets for creating man. This means God created human beings with a free will, and they misuse their freedom to create chaos and disorder in the earth. Augustine’s free will theodicy is one of the most compelling theodicies to explain the existence of evil due to God. The theodicy says that God gifted man with freedom of will to create a moral universe. But the human beings and the angels sinned which brought evil into the universe and God will reform the world at the end (Meister, 140). This free will theodicy explains how the evil came into existence in the universe. One of the objections to the theodicy questions is that if no one controls God, then the evil cannot exist. Likewise, it can be argued that why the god created man chose evil rather than good. The other objection is that why God will create a hell for people when he is all good. So, the free will theodicy has objections which refute its argument for evil through free will of human beings.
Changing our attitude to “imperfect” would affect the free will theodicy as the theodicy considers God as a perfect being who created the universe with a free will to human beings. The theodicy is an answer to keep the existence of perfect God by explaining how human beings are the culprit for spreading evil in the universe. So, if we do not believe in God’s perfection, then the free will theodicy is not needed to explain the existence of evil. Applying imperfect attributes to God will destroy the free will theodicy and all the cosmological, teleological and ontological argument for God’s existence.
The divine attributes should be always attributed as perfect. Otherwise, God is not worth worshipping and may not be the creator of the universe as viewed by theists. Since ancient times, the God of theism has been believed to be perfect. Philosophers and experts have debated for the existence of theistic God. Many evils and sufferings in the world points to the non- existence of such God. If such God exists, God would have prevented the unnecessary natural evils and moral evils too. Although I believe such perfect God does not exist, but the divine attribute should be always viewed as perfect. Many have argued that the prevailing of evil in the world proves non-existence of God. Such arguments have defenses which rebut such arguments and theodicies which explains why such evil is justifiable. So, the problem of evil is still unsolved. That’s why we cannot confidently say whether the theistic God’s attributes should be viewed as perfect or imperfect. It depends on personal understanding and conclusion that one draws from the knowledge that has been achieved so far. Further, it may be beyond our imagination and understanding.
The purpose of studying religion within a philosophical context is to study and critically analyze the teachings and doctrines of all religions formed on this earth. Religion is the most impactful and powerful system that controls every human being’s actions, attitudes and living. Therefore, the concept of religions need to be philosophically discussed and examined to understand its pros and cons for the citizens of the world. Moreover, many people embrace a religion with faith and with their parent’s influence; we need philosophy to contemplate the origin, purpose and validity of all religions. Using philosophical and logical discussions, we can find the true nature of cosmic reality and the purpose of our life and the universe.
The favorite class moment was when we had a discussion on the cosmological arguments for God’s existence. We relate God’s existence to the origin of the universe. The argument points to why God is the creator of the Universe and we have discussion on questions of what was before the big bang or origin of the universe. We also talked about infinite cause and effect and why there should not be such infinite chain of cause and effect. It amazes our human mind to think about it. We may need some more millennia to grow our brain to be able to explain our cosmos.
Hazony, Yoram. “An Imperfect God”. The New York Times. November 25, 2012. Web. Accessed on 27 August 2017.
Meister, Chad. Introducing Philosophy of Religion. Routledge, 2009. Print. Accessed on 10 July 2017.