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Brian (8)

There is surprising agreement between atheists and theists on God's essential properties!


My preliminary research has come up with a surprising answer to this question: “There is pretty much universal agreement between atheists and theists on the properties (or nature) of God.” By theists I mean Jews, Christians and Muslims.
I will mainly draw on the views of Oxford philosopher T.J.Mawson in his book “Belief in God” in this summary.

If you are trying to argue for or against the existence of a ‘hidden’ supernatural being like God you must first agree with your opposition on who this God is. What are his proposed characteristics, capabilities, intentions etc? Theists and atheists must first ensure that they both talking about the same being if they are to argue constructively.

Well Mawson claims that there is almost universal agreement on the essential nature of God across the whole “belief spectrum”.

There seem to be three main positions in the argument about God’s existence (ignoring agnosticism):
1. Theists - who believe God exists
2. Atheists - who believe that the God in which theists believe makes sense (is logically coherent in his properties and nature) - but that he simply does not exist.
3. Atheists - who believe that the God in which theists believe must have the properties which they ascribe to him - but that these properties are logically incoherent (it is impossible for God to have all these properties without some fundamental contradiction existing).

Now I will quote Mawson:
By believing that there is a God, theists believe that there is a being who is personal; incorporeal/transcendent; omnipresent/immanent; omnipotent; omniscient; eternal; perfectly free; perfectly good; and necessary. Furthermore they believe that this being has created the world (by which I now mean to include anything else other than God which exists in addition to the physical universe we encounter in our everyday lives - for example , souls, angels, other universes, if there are any); that believe that he is the creator of moral and other sorts of value for us; they believe that he has revealed himself to us; and they believe that he offers us the hope of everlasting life.
Not only do all theists agree that God has these properties, they also agree as to their status: the first nine of these properties are held ….. to be essential properties of God; the last four … are held to be accidental properties of God.


So we have the following essential properties pretty much agreed by all sides:
1. God is Personal
2. God is incorporeal/transcendent
3. God is omnipresent/immanent
4. God is omnipotent
5. God is omniscient
6. God is eternal
7. God is perfectly free
8. God is perfectly good
9. God is necessary

And the following “accidental” properties believed by theists
10. God has created everything that exists apart from himself
11. God has created moral and other (e.g. aesthetic) value for humans
12. God has revealed himself to us
13. God offers us the hope of everlasting life

By “accidental” we mean that these properties are not ESSENTIAL to the existence of God - they are choices that God has made which he was free not to make.

I propose that we use this list as a structure within this section of “TheBigQuestions" to investigate and debate God’s nature.

What do people think?
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Max (3)

Bring it on


I like it Brian
I feel I need to explore these attributes if I am to know personally (or at least understand) something of this God.