What God Cannot Do – Part 5

Could God be a hero? I don’t think so. Based on recent discussion of this question, I can formulate an argument for the claim that God is not capable of being a hero:

1. Only a being who can suffer or be harmed can be a hero.
2. A person who is eternally omnipotent, eternally omniscient, and eternally perfectly free is not capable of suffering or of being harmed.
3. Something is God if and only if it is a person who is eternally omnipotent, eternally omniscient, and eternally perfectly free.
Therefore,
4. God is not capable of being a hero.

A person must at least be at risk to perform an act of heroism. A person who is not capable of suffering or of being harmed cannot be at risk to perform an act, so such a person cannot perform an act of heroism or be a hero.

A person who is eternally perfectly free, as Richard Swinburne understands this concept, must always make choices that are uninfluenced by emotions and desires. A being can suffer only if a being can be influenced by emotions or desires. So, if Swinburne is correct, a person who is eternally perfectly free is not capable of suffering.

A person who is eternally omnipotent, eternally omniscient, and eternally perfectly free cannot in fact lose its omnipotence, omniscience, or perfect freedom; otherwise it would possess those properties only temporarily, not eternally. A being who possesses the properties of omnipotence, omniscience, and perfect freedom, and who cannot in fact lose any of those properties, cannot be harmed.

Premise (3) states Swinburne’s analysis of the word ‘God’, at least the three core divine attributes. Swinburne argues that the other divine attributes are logically implied by those three attributes. The only thing I have left out is the property of being a ‘necessary being’. This condition introduces ambiguity and complexity into the analysis of the word ‘God’, which is why Swinburne leaves that condition out of consideration in section II of his book The Coherence of Theism. I don’t think that added condition has relevance for the question at issue here.

Since God cannot suffer or be harmed, God cannot put himself at risk, and thus God is not capable of being a hero.

What is Faith? - Part 3
The Logic of the Resurrection - Part 1
What is Faith? - Part 5
What is Faith? - Part 4
About Bradley Bowen

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