An essay donated by Contributing Editor Susan Humphreys:
Is God an Infinite Perfect Being?
I discussed in an earlier essay how Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli in their "Handbook of Christian Apologetics" 1 present arguments to prove their belief that an afterlife exists.
This time, I look at an argument they make about God and Cosmology -- the relation between God and nature.
This argument is centered on the claim that God is an infinite perfect Being.
I argue that the term "Infinite Being" is an Oxymoron-- because the two words contradict and cancel each other out. Only finite Beings can exist.
In their book, they claim that:
1. "the laws of nature cannot be expected to bind the transcendent Creator of nature."
Their first problem is they claim the Creator is transcendent but haven't proven that he is.
2. "all of nature and all powers in nature are finite, but God is infinite; no finite power can produce the infinite change from nonbeing to being, but infinite power can."
Their second problem is they claim it takes an infinite change to go from nonbeing to being, and that only infinite power can make such a change. How can a change be infinite? You go from one thing to something else, so there must be a beginning. And change isn’t like the energizer bunny that keeps changing and changing and changing ... with no end in sight!
They also claim that:
3."The idea of God creating out of nothing is not irrational because it does not claim that anything ever popped into existence without an adequate cause. God did not pop into existence, and nature did have an adequate cause: God."
Let me break down this argument into its separate elements. The idea of creating something out of nothing comes from a misreading of Genesis 1: (This isn’t a direct quote:)
In the Beginning the earth was a formless void.
The word "void" has two meanings. The first meaning is that nothing is there. The use of the word "formless" shows that the second meaning is meant: useless and without effect. In the beginning what was there was useless and without effect until it took form. All matter is made from something. Claiming it isn’t is irrational!
A problem here is that whether something has an adequate cause has nothing to do with what it is created out of. An example is the brick building I used in the essay about How to Dissect an Argument. The builder is the cause of the brick building getting built, the bricks aren’t the cause of the building getting built.
Some might say here that this actually supports the claim that God is the creator, if matter can’t create its self, it obviously needed something to create it. BUT matter is created from Energy and "energy" refers to those sub-atomic particles physicists have identified that spewed out into the Universe at the Big Bang. All matter is made from these particles. These particles aren’t anything like the God Theists claim is the uncreated creator. You might check out an essay I wrote in 2015 "Nothing comes from Nothing: A broad-ranging discussion of God, Logos, Deism, Gnosticism, Evil, Physics, Energy and the Golden Rule:"
A second problem is they claim that everything has an adequate cause but God doesn’t have a cause. So where does God come from?
They try to answer that in the next paragraph. First they make a totally non equal analogy, by stating:
"If God made everything, who made God? is like asking Who made circles square?"
What? That is pure gobbledygook! No one has made circles square, which is the answer I think they are looking for. Square circles is an Oxymoron. Asking who made God is a legitimate question since some claim that God exists, no one claims that square circles exist!
They go on to say it assumes the uncreated Creator is a created creature. Problem here is they assume that God is uncreated and they have nothing to back up that claim! And I can also claim that those sub-atomic particles of energy are uncreated, that they have always been here. If they try to dispute my claim they will be undermining their own claim!
They go on to explain: "God does not need a cause, or a maker, because he is not made or changed." Just stating that it is so doesn’t make it so or prove that it is so!
In the next section they list God’s characteristics:
"If God is the Creator, he must be:
- infinitely powerful;
- immeasurably wise (to create this whole universe and all its parts, including its design, laws, and structures);
- a great artist ("Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree" 2);
- totally generous, since the all-sufficient, perfect Being couldn’t have created out of need (e.g., boredom or loneliness)
Again there are lots of problems with these statements. They make many unsubstantiated claims. However, what caught my attention is that when you sum up all their arguments, they are claiming that: God is an Infinite Perfect Being.
And that, I suggest, is an Oxymoron. Something cannot be both Infinite and a Being at the same time.
Infinite means that something has no beginning and no end which is what they are claiming about God. God has just always existed. They wrote:
"... the uncreated Creator is NOT a created creature."
Infinite also means that there are no limiting dimensions--no height, weight, shape, form size, mass, chemical structure, abilities. How could something that is infinite have any defining/limiting characteristics — powerful, wise, a great artist, totally generous plus all the other characteristics ascribed to God over the centuries -- omnipotent, all knowing, all seeing?
Even unlimited power has its limitations. The argument often used is could God create a rock that was too heavy for him to lift? If God can’t create a rock that is too heavy for him to lift then he isn’t all powerful. If he can’t lift something he isn’t all powerful.
If God is totally generous how could he ever withhold anything, such as his favor, or withhold granting the wish of a prayer. If he can’t hold back the storm that causes harm then he isn’t all powerful. If he doesn’t hold back the storm that causes harm than he isn’t all generous. The contradictions that you can imagine are almost endless!
For another look at all these problems you might check out my essay about Perfection being the perfect Catch 22.
The word "being" is both a verb and a noun, which causes confusion for many people. When used with a little "b" (being) is a verb for the action of existing. When used with a Big "B" (Being) is a noun that means something has presence and life, existence. By existence we mean that something is real, not that it just feels or appears to be real, but that it is real.
A Being requires some sort of finite characteristics, height, weight, shape, form size, mass, chemical structure, abilities-- to separate it from non-real (imagined) things and from other Beings otherwise you would have an infinite amount of no Thing!
Grains of sand on a Beach may be infinite in number. BUT each grain has a specific, height, weight, shape, form size, mass, chemical structure. The stars in the heavens may be infinite in number but each star has a specific, height, weight, shape, form size, mass, chemical structure.
Beings may be infinite in number but they will each have a specific, height, weight, shape, form size, mass, chemical structure that makes them finite entities. This is why claiming that God is an Infinite Perfect Being is an Oxymoron. Something can’t be infinite and be a Being at the same time!
The following information source was used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
Peter Kreeft & Ronald K. Tacelli, "Handbook of Christian Apologetics Paperback, (1994). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. Available in Kindle format for $7.78, Paperback for $12.22 and Hardcover (used) from $32.60
- From a poem "Trees" by Joyce Kilmer, first published in the 1913-AUG issue of Poetry Magazine.
Author: Contributing Editor Susan Humphreys
Originally posted on: 2017-DEC-13