HOW CAN WE CHARACTERIZE A SUPREME BEING?
– introduction to an ongoing examination of the question:”Does God Exist“? –
A belief in a Supreme Being is one of the most widespread beliefs of humankind. Such a Being we call “God.” Philosophers and theologians and concerned individuals have at least two goals when it comes to talking about God:
1. to be as clear as possible about what is being believed when someone says they believe in God
2. to examine the belief in God and discover whether or not it can be “justified” – i.e., logically supported with good reasons
First, then, let us try to characterize a Supreme Being, a Being we would be convinced is “God.” We don’t care about the word “god” with a small “g.” That would be a general term or category that could apply to a whole range of entities. We want to define “God” with a capital “G.” By “God” with a capital “G” we mean a Supreme Being. If such a Supreme Being exists, by definition there can only be one of them.
How can we characterize God? What makes God “God”? What is a Supreme Being “Supreme” in?
We generally mean that the Supreme Being is “supreme” in those characteristics or properties that make a Being more perfect than it would be if it lacked them. Thus, we would call a Being “God” only if it were the most perfect Being that we could conceive of.
Traditionally, a Supreme Being is said to be “supreme” in its ability:
1. to perform actions – [“omnipotent” = all-powerful]
2. to do good – [“omnibenevolent” = all-good]
3. to know what occurs – [“omniscient” = all-knowing]
Additionally, a Supreme Being is often said to be:
4. the Creator of all things
5. eternal – i.e., has always existed, and always will exist
6. holy – i.e., worthy of our devotion; someone we should worship, honor & obey
In future posts we will look at the first three of these characteristics a bit more closely so we can better understand exactly what is meant when we say that a Supreme Being is omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient.