In my last blog post I challenged one of God’s attributes namely God’s Perfection . Today I want to take a look at another attribute of his namely that he is supposedly unchanging. It is my stance that his unchanging nature poses a few theological problems for Theists in general and Christians in particular.
One of those problems arises with the Creation of the Universe: The most popular theistic argument nowadays seems to be the Kalam Cosmological argument. This argument claims, that God exists because it is proven that the Universe began13.8 billion years ago and since it had a beginning it must be contingent and therefore have a cause.
If God is unchanging however, then it would stand to reason that the Universe must be eternal or at least near-eternal. If God is unchanging and eternal, then having the intention for the Universe to be existent must likewise be eternal in God’s mind, meaning he must’ve created it eternally or at least as close to eternal as is possible. If he had the intention “I want the Universe to exist at a later point” then his intentions must have changed prior to Creation to “I want it to exist now” which would mean that his intentions have changed which is impossible since he’s unchanging.
Now to be fair I see a few ways out of this scenario but as always, they don’t come without consequences. One objection I could imagine being made is that it was always in God’s mind to create the Universe at that point at which he created meaning his intentions did not change. At that point though we have to conclude that God is in fact determined. He can’t choose to change his mind on it, since he then wouldn’t be unchanging. At that point he has no choice but to follow his set and unchanging divine will, which has been set forever randomly. After all no outside source could’ve possibly decided what his intentions were since God always was and since he and he alone existing is the default. God couldn’t have chosen them himself, since that would require change. Unless there’s a mysterious fourth option I’m unaware of, I’ll have to conclude that God’s characteristics and intentions and plans are randomly determined.
Another much more easier route to go is of course claiming that “God’s nature is unchanging. He’s always omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent etc. but he can change his mind and his intentions”. That is a legitimate way out. Some Christians I talked to denied that God can change his mind and his intentions and they did so for good reason:
What makes Theists so sure that he won’t change his mind about how we can reach salvation? If God’s mind can change God could likewise nullify his salvation plan. He could for example decide that, since only a third of the world population is Christian, he’d lower his standards a little about who gets to be saved. He could decide that from now on works do in fact get you to Heaven. If God can change his mind and intentions then we might as well throw the Bible out altogether since nobody can know God’s mind and whether it has changed or not or whether it has been revealed or not. Islam might be truly the last revelation or maybe Mor(m)onism is the real deal after all.
Christian theology only works if God’s plan is set in stone and this means he cannot change his mind on it.
Another issue I want to raise at last is about Christianity specifically. It is the claim of Christians that God’s nature does not change. It is also their claim, that Jesus was God incarnate.
See where I’m going with this?
God’s nature did change very much from spiritual being, to a being made of matter. He also had to give up omniscience it seems since Jesus said the following in Matthew 24:36:
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
Jesus in this case is of course the son and he explicitly admits, that he himself doesn’t know when the end times will come the Father (meaning God) however does. God thereby is omniscient, Jesus himself as God is not. I think this would qualify as a change in God’s nature.
Where does this leave Theism and Christianity in particular? I do think with a little bit of work ahead to reconcile some things within the definition of God.
Goodbye from yours truly,
Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation