simplicity, divine

simplicity, divine
   The doctrine of divine simplicity is the doctrine that God is absolutely simple. The intuition behind this idea is that any kind of complexity in God is either unseemly in itself, or would mean that God had to depend on his parts in some way. This doctrine comes in a variety of strengths: (1) the most basic form is that God has no spatial parts, or, at least, that his nature is not to have such parts; (2) like (1), but with the claim that he has no temporal parts, usually because he is thought to be timeless; (3) like (2), but with the denial that there is logical composition within God's nature; each of God's attributes is identical with each of his attributes, so God's omnipotence is the same as his omniscience and his omnipresence and his perfect goodness and his eternity; (4) like (3), but with the addition of the contention that God himself is the same as his nature, that is, his property; (5) like (4), but with the claim that God's existence is identical with his nature, that is, with God himself. Although in medieval philosophy it was common to hold the doctrine of divine simplicity in its strongest possible form, in contemporary Christian philosophy this is a good deal rarer, though there are some present-day examples, such as William Mann. Particular problems for Christian philosophers include the reconciliation of divine simplicity with the doctrine of the Trinity and with the doctrine of the incarnation.
   Further reading: Hughes 1989; Morris 1991; Plantinga 1980

Christian Philosophy . . 2015.

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