God can't do something?


#1

CCC 156 What moves us to believe is not the fact that revealed truths appear as true and intelligible in the light of our natural reason: we believe “because of the authority of God himself who reveals them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived”.

But I thought that God can do anything and everything. Is God really incapable of deceiving?


#2

Be careful… be VERY careful … when attributing to God, what He can or cannot do… Or may or may not do. Or is able or unable to do … Or is willing or unwilling to do…

We finite earthlings are limited to English and a few other languages. VERY limiting… Very restricting…

At BEST, all terms and words need to be carefully defined. The Catechism is a translation…

[be afraid… be very afraid … ]

[just kidding]


#3

[quote=Flopfoot]CCC 156 What moves us to believe is not the fact that revealed truths appear as true and intelligible in the light of our natural reason: we believe “because of the authority of God himself who reveals them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived”.

But I thought that God can do anything and everything. Is God really incapable of deceiving?
[/quote]

God can be spoken of as deceiving, as in 1 Kings 22 - but God cannot deceive. Descriptions of God are not God Himself - which is why the supreme revelation of God is not a book, not even a most holy book, but a Person. The Bible is a marvellous gift of God, and those who know it best are the very people who never cease finding new depths of meaning in it; but it is not as full a revelation of God as Jesus Christ.

Human words are not human persons, so they don’t altogether reveal them - only one Divine Word is a Divine Person. So human words and human acts are too small to fully convey the Presence of God.

God’s faithful undeceiving Love is most of all shown by His acts, for mere words don’t go far enough; and the Passion is the greatest of those acts; everything else follows from it. The Father did not save us by revealing assertions about the Divine Nature - He gaves what is better; He saves us in and through the Son Whom He Loves, & Who Loves Him. He did not only speak - He acted, so that He backed up what He said, by deeds. Words are cheap - so He showed the full extent of His Love. Talk is easy - but only an Incarnate God can die and triumph over death by dying. That is how faithful God is, and how incapable of deceit.

We deceive - but we are sinners, not the God Who insists time & again on His Faithfulness. To say He can deceive, is to see Him through the distorting medium of our own wretchedness & poverty; it’s to “project” our limitations on the God Whose Goodness is unlimited - to make Him less than God, to “un-God” Him. If He is God at all, He cannot be less than utterly deceitless.

And just in case we hadn’t got the lesson (He spends a lot of time in the gospels complaining of the slowness and hard-heartedness of his hearers), He gave us the sacraments, in which the reality of His acts is renewed, in all their saving power. Every Mass is a reminder that He is still faithful. Every instant we live is a proof that that He maintains us in being by His Love. To say “I believe in God, Creator of Heaven and Earth”, is implicitly to say that He is faithful; because without Him, nothing at all could endure for even an instant. ##


#4

Can God not be God?


#5

[quote=mercygate]Can God not be God?
[/quote]

No. God cannot NOT be God! The reason is that God’s very nature, His essence, is TO BE.

His essence is his existence. This is summed up in the divine name “I am.” (YHWH).

God is Truth. Truth cannot deceive.


#6

Philosophically speaking,

God can’t do nothing.

God can always do something, because his nature is to be and to act. God is always active, never passive. So God can do everything. But God can not do nothing.


#7

[quote=JimG]God is always active, never passive.
[/quote]

False. In fact, the explanation for a lot of evil is that God passively allows it to happen. What must be taken into account is that somethings are inherently impossible. For example, God cannot create round corners because in doing so they cease to be corners. God cannot act against his nature, which is perfect. After all, what would be the point?


#8

Aaron, you are right that God can allow evil, through the free exercise of people’s free will. I was thinking more of Aquinas’ distinction between act and potency. God is all act and no potency.

And it’s true that God cannot make square circles or 4-sided triangles, because such things are contradictions in terms. They are nothings. And nothing IS impossible to Go.


#9

[quote=Flopfoot]CCC 156 What moves us to believe is not the fact that revealed truths appear as true and intelligible in the light of our natural reason: we believe “because of the authority of God himself who reveals them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived”.

But I thought that God can do anything and everything. Is God really incapable of deceiving?
[/quote]

Deceit belongs to the devil. God is infinitely perfect, and cannot be better or holier than He already is. The only thing God cannot do is make a contradiction, because He cannot will wrong, since that would be a contradiction of His goodness.


#10

[quote=Flopfoot]CCC 156 What moves us to believe is not the fact that revealed truths appear as true and intelligible in the light of our natural reason: we believe “because of the authority of God himself who reveals them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived”.

But I thought that God can do anything and everything. Is God really incapable of deceiving?
[/quote]

You are wrong. You are mistaken because you consider the ability to do “anything and everything” more perfect than all other alternatives. But in reality, less is more in this situation. God cannot do things which are imperfect - like sin. The inability to sin falls into a different category than “anything and everything”, and, paradoxically, is greater than it.


#11

God can do whatever he wants. God can contradict logic if he wants. God can temporarily stop existing if he wants.

He just doesn’t, for our sake. And because I don’t think he would enjoy it much.


#12

Just think about that. To “stop existing” means to cease to be. There is nothing temporary about it. God’s name is “I Am.” He is existence. God can not cease to exist without ceasing to be God, and both are a contradiction in terms.

Do you really think God can cease to be God?

(If He does, everything ceases to exist, and never comes back!)

Perhaps God can contradict logic, depending on your definition of logic. But He cannot contradict Reality, because He IS Reality.)


#13

[quote=Philthy]You are wrong. You are mistaken because you consider the ability to do “anything and everything” more perfect than all other alternatives. But in reality, less is more in this situation. God cannot do things which are imperfect - like sin. The inability to sin falls into a different category than “anything and everything”, and, paradoxically, is greater than it.
[/quote]

Thanks, that makes a lot of sense. I’ll also check out those paragrahs in the Catechism once I get up to there.


#14

[quote=JimG]Just think about that. To “stop existing” means to cease to be. There is nothing temporary about it. God’s name is “I Am.” He is existence. God can not cease to exist without ceasing to be God, and both are a contradiction in terms.

Do you really think God can cease to be God?

(If He does, everything ceases to exist, and never comes back!)

Perhaps God can contradict logic, depending on your definition of logic. But He cannot contradict Reality, because He IS Reality.)
[/quote]

It seems this thread is dividing the Realists from the Nominalists :slight_smile:

God cannot cease to be, not because He does not Will this (a Nominalist position); but because He is as you say - (which is a Realist position).

God is sheer overflowing Being, in the totality of “Being-ness” :slight_smile: His fullness of Being, is the source of all created being, which has no model or cause or source other than His own. All causality is the working out of His - the created fruit of His boundless fruitfulness. That’s why He is said to maintain all beings in being - i.e., why we speak of a Divine Providence for all creatures. So He is entirely present to all creatures, as though each were the only one - and that is one of many reasons why He is called Almighty; because that is possible only to a power that is eternal, infinite, ever-young, all-creative, untiring, irresistible, and sheer Goodness. Goodness = Being; evil, has no being; its “reality” is pilfered from what it is a parasite on. It has to depend on what has being, to support its own unbeing.

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) - God as Being in General ##


#15

[quote=cardenio]God can do whatever he wants. God can contradict logic if he wants. God can temporarily stop existing if he wants.

He just doesn’t, for our sake. And because I don’t think he would enjoy it much.
[/quote]

Not exactly. God can stop exisisting if he chooses to, but he wouldn’t be able to exist again. That would require him to cause himself, which means he would have to exist, but he wouldn’t exist, so he couldn’t cause himself. In other words, God can’t both exist and not exist at the same time.


#16

[quote=Flopfoot]CCC 156 What moves us to believe is not the fact that revealed truths appear as true and intelligible in the light of our natural reason: we believe “because of the authority of God himself who reveals them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived”.

But I thought that God can do anything and everything. Is God really incapable of deceiving?
[/quote]

If we hadn’t just talked about something along these lines in the adult Catechism my pastor is running I would not have been able to answer your question. However, given one of his recent talks it is now very simple for me to explain why God cannot deceive.

God always has been and always will be Perfection and Goodness itself. Evil is imperfect. Therefore, God cannot commit an evil act and remain perfect or good. Deception is a form of evil and because God is perfect and good, He is incapable of such an act.


#17

I don’t know if it’s so much that God -can’t- do anything evil. It’s that God -won’t- do anything evil. We know for a fact that God is the only being in this universe that’s perfectly moral. I don’t think the focal point of all that is good would ever even try to lie.

But that’s just my spin on it.


#18

Reminds me of the age old question:

Can God make a rock so big that even He can’t lift it? :whacky:


#19

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