Explain biblical beliefs about the attributes of God
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A) Explain biblical beliefs about the attributes of God (25) Throughout the bible, many of the attributes of God are shown. Both Jews and Christians have views from the bible on characteristics of God, each with their own variations. These both can be compared to Aristotle’s prime mover, as they include many similar characteristics. These characteristics however, do differentiate within the Judeo-Christian religion, and even in the bible.
From the beginning of the bible, in Genesis, attributes of God are shown. Firstly, God is shown as the creator. In this, God was seen as creating the world and people out of nothing. This view is appealing today, as it relates to the big bang theory, as God is the cause of everything, just like the prime mover. Genesis 1 shows a transcendent God, who created the world in 6 days through speech, similar to the prime mover developed by Aristotle. This is compared to the immanent God in Genesis 2, who crafted Adam and Eve. The God shown in Job 38 is comparable to this as he is seen as an artist or designer, laying the foundations of the world. Aquinas’ view of this is not whether or not the world had a start- this is not important.
What is important is that God causes everything that exists, to exist. Again, this view is similar to the prime mover, showing Aristotle’s similarities between the prime mover and God. Aquinas’ view on the form of the good is also comparable to God, shown by Logos who made the direct comparison of the Spirit of God and the Form of the good. These are both seen as perfect and unchanging, therefore showing another strong belief derived from the bible, which has then been extended on to give a greater understanding of our world. Without the original descriptions in the bible, these ideas would not have been formed, meaning we would have even less of an understanding of our world and our God.
Again relating to Genesis, specifically Genesis 2, God is seen as anthropomorphic. An example of this is how he is seen as having an ‘outstretched arm’ (Exodus 6:6), as well as moving, speaking and smelling in Genesis. This offers us a form to God from the bible; enabling Judaeo-Christian believers understand how our God can relate to us, if he has a similar form.
God is also seen as the most responsible and controlling being. This is seen in both Isaiah40:22-23, and in Genesis, for example when God threw Adam and Eve out the Garden of Eden. A being with this much control could not possibly be human in this world, instead offering the view of God being anthropomorphic and transcendent to be much more fulfilling. Comparative to this is the understanding of human’s free will, as does this not take God’s responsibility from him, if he cannot be responsible for each of our actions if we have free will? This also is contradicted with the problem of evil, as the existence of evil could be an example of God being irresponsible.
The time limit of God is also an attribute worth discussing. God is seen as omnipresent and eternal, but there are two views to the start of His existence. Firstly, God is seen as temporally everlasting; he existed for an infinite amount of time and is now infinite. Opposing this is the view that God is spiritually timeless-he exists outside the universe, with no concept of time. These are both argued from different views of the bible, but most of the Judeo-Christian religion would believe that God is timeless, with no concept of time.
The main four qualities of God are omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient and omnipresent. Firstly, omnipotent- meaning all powerful, show in Revelation 19:6; ‘Alleluia! For the Lord God omnipotent reigns!’. This is believed due to the power God shows in stories of the bible, for example, causing flooding or a plague. Another quality is the omniscience of God, or the complete knowledge. God knows everything that happens in the world, challenging the problem of evil, as there may be a reason for evil that is out of our understanding, as we unlike God, are not omniscient. Another important quality is that God is omnibenevolent; all loving. In 1 John 4, God is spoken as not just loving, but at love itself. He is not thought as angry and hateful as other deities.
God is also seen having many other attributes, such as the trinity, being in 3 forms; the father, the son and the Holy Spirit. However, these are not as important to Jews or Christians. The holiness of God is also expressed in the bible, as he is completely without sin and evil. Overall, God is seen as a being who is a human form outside of this world, whose concept of time is much different to ours.
B) ‘The Bible is too Inconsistent to be Used for Moral Teachings’ Discuss (10)
Throughout the Bible, there are many inconsistencies, although these may have reasoning’s. The bible was given to us by God, to be a moral guide, but this may cause some issues, due to the inconsistencies.
The first contradiction in the bible is in Genesis; as even the qualities of God are opposite. In Genesis 1, God is transcendent, compared to the God in Genesis 2, who is immanent. This causes problems for Jews and Christians, as if they do not know the qualities of their God, how are they supposed to follow him?
On the other hand, it is likely that contradictions such as these may have come from translation. When the bible was translated from Hebrew, a slight misinterpretation can cause a contradiction, leading to a misunderstanding.
The bible does condemn many things, which helps us to live our lives free from sin and evil, however, there are still some problems, as people choose what they believe, thanks to free will. For example, the bible condemns eating shrimp far more than homosexuality; however homosexuality is far more condemned today than eating shrimp. Contradictions in the bible, similar to above, are very common. This may be due to the bible only being contextual when it was written, however, the choice and free will humans have can cause a misunderstanding in the true meanings of the bible.
The contrast of God between the two testaments may also be a problem, as the personality of each was very different. This may be due to the writer at the time considering things differently, or due to the context of the people on Earth. In the Old Testament, God was vengeful, compared to the compassionate God in the New Testament preached by Jesus. Bible stories, such as Genesis 7:21-23 where God caused a large flood are considered vengeful, but, as God is omniscient, we may not know the reason behind this act that may be considered ‘evil’, when their may in fact be a good reason that humans cannot understand.
Many people wrote the bible, all in different time sets. In between each recording of the stories, some important elements may have been lost. Also, the bible is just each person’s recall of the event, and each individual’s interpretation. This may not be God’s true meaning of the story, leading to contradictions and/or misunderstandings.
Since the time in which the bible was written, many philosophers have helped developed a better and wider understanding of God, which may not have been present at the time of writing. As we can never fully understand God as he is completely perfect, we may not be able to fully understand why certain things have happened, although we know that God is omnibenevolent, therefore everything must be done for a loving reason.
Finally, to argue with the above statement, could be considered to argue against the 10 commandments- the 10 rules on which morally our lives are based. The bible is not a set rule, it is just a guide, which we should interpret to each situation, individually.