Divine Immutability Evaluation

Introduction Having finished arguments for the existence of God, we have now turned to what philosophical inquiry can know about what God is like (or, according to classical theists, what God is not like), i.e.  “divine attributes” like simplicity, perfection, goodness, omnipresence, omnipotence, omniscience, etc. One of the main points of disagreement between classical theists and theistic personalists is whether God is immutable, that is whether God can or does change in any way. Classical theists say “God cannot change. Anything that can or does change in any way is not God.” Consider the following argument from Aquinas: It was shown above that there is some first being, whom we call God; and…this first being must be purely actual, not possessing of any potentiality [to be otherwise], because, considered absolutely, potentiality is posterior to act [i.e. what is potential is not first]. Now everything which is in any way changed, is in some way in potentiality. Hence it is evident that it is impossible for God [the first being] to be in any way changeable.  Summa Theologiae, q. 9, a. 1 Theistic personalists, on the other hand, argue that “God must be able to change and God must actually change. The idea of a being that cannot be different in any way is not an idea of God.” Consider this argument from Grace Jantzen: A living God cannot be static: life implies change… This means that the doctrine of [divine] immutability cannot be interpreted as absolute changlessness, which would preclude divine responsiveness and must rather be taken [to mean] “steadfastness of character.” Grace Jantzen, in A New Dictionary of Christian Theology, edited by A. Richardson and J. Bowden (London, 1983), p. 573 Likewise, another argument is made by Richard Creel: “An absolutely perfect being will have the power of agency, i.e. be able intentionally to cause things to happen. But for an agent intentionally to cause something to happen which was not happening requires that he was not willing it and then began to will it–but to change from not willing something to willing it is to change. Therefore, in order to have this power of agency, an individual must be able to change… Therefore, God must be able to change. Therefore God must be mutable.” Richard E. Creel, “Immutability and Impassibility,” in A Companion to Philosophy of Religion, editec by P. Quinn and C. Taliaferro (Oxford, 1997), p. 314 So, obviously there is great disagreement about this subject. Prompt Based on these quotes and the readings from this week, write a paper on divine immutability. Specifically, consider the following statement, endorsed by Classical Theists: “Only an unchanging and unchangeable God could account for there being a world of changing and changeable things.” In your paper, evaluate the truth or falsity of this statement. If you think it is true, state why it is true and explain why the theistic personalists’ objections to divine immutability fall short. If you think it is false, state why it false and explain why the classical theists’ arguments for divine immutability fall short.  In your paper, be sure to quote and/or cite arguments and reasons from the week’s readings. Instructions Length: Minimum of 500 words. Formatting Requirements: Double spaced, 12 point font, Times New Roman, 1 inch margins Citations: Chicago Manuel of Style. You may use footnotes or parenthetical citations .

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