Is god perfect and changeless? This is the fifth of a series of short posts about whether gods exist and why the question is an important one.
Many theists believe that their god is perfect and changeless. But if it is perfect, then it would not want to do anything, because it would have no need or desire to do anything.
If it did somehow want to create a universe, then it would have to create a perfect universe. A perfect universe, at a minimum, would contain no suffering or evil. Our universe doesn’t look like that.
But if such a god is changeless, then it could not do anything, including creating a universe, because it would have to change in order to do so.
Could such a god simply will a physical universe into existence without changing? No, because that act of will would be a change of mind. And in any case, a change of mind would have no way of generating or interacting with physical matter.
So we would have a perfect god that can not change or create anything, and doesn’t want to change or create anything anyway.
Could such a god be changeless, but it changed when it created the universe? No, because then it would be false to say that it is changeless. Or could it change back to being changeless? Would that be another change? And how would those changes happen if it was changeless?
The more that we examine it, the more incoherent the idea of a perfect and changeless god seems.
Like this article? It is one of a series on this topic.
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3 thoughts on “Do gods exist? 5 Perfect and changeless?”
I love your articles — they are thought provoking.
When I was a teenager, some other teenager, who was probably beginning to emerge from their childish beliefs, — asked me if I had heard that God was ever powerful ? I agreed that that was what I had heard.
“If that is so”, said my companion, “Could he make a rock so big that he would not be able to lift it” ?
Reading your article about the “Changeless God” reminded me of this event. Every conversation about the existence of a god, invariably ends up going in circles, with contradiction and counter-contradiction.
Thanks, Paul. I agree that that is how it works. People attribute different characteristics to a god because it is useful at the time, then the characteristics start to contradict each other. But they can’t back down from any of the claims, so they have to invent reasons why they are consistent with each other when they clearly aren’t.
I agree with Paul Finlay – your articles are thought-provoking. I have a few, somewhat disconnected and highly speculative comments to make: 1. What was God doing before “He” created the universe – seems incredibly boring. Maybe there was a very interesting “spirit” world and He had plenty of non-material interests (stretching the imagination here). 2. Presumably some theists believe that God is perfect but not changeless – i.e. maybe there is more than one type of perfection? 3. The universe is meant to evolve towards perfection. Perfection is forged through suffering and overcoming evil.