is God unchanging?

simple question but the answer may be complex becuase there are some problems philosophy wise with this problem

example problems

if god was unchaning then he wouldn’t be changed by prayers meaning prayers are pointless and worthless

someone greater can be thought (a god who is bettering himself) so in order for God to be someone who no greater can be thought he must be changing. Self supassing himself eternally

You are correct that there are some problems here philosophically, namely that you are not defining your terms correctly.

God is unchanging, and his will is eternal. Why, then, should we pray? The words of one of the Prefaces of the Mass tell us that “Our prayer of thanksgiving adds nothing to (God’s) greatness, but our desire to thank you is itself your gift.” In other words, prayer does nothing, as you’ve noted, to change God. This does not render prayer worthless, however. It means that prayer is for our benefit. Prayer does not change God–it changes us. When we pray, we should not pray that our will be done, but that God’s will be done. Prayer begins with faith, which is a grace given to us by God–a theological virtue. We respond to God’s gift of faith by praying, which in turn causes us to attain varying degrees of unity with God, depending upon how open we are to God’s will. This is why the Our Father says “thy will be done.” We are praying to know and love God and his will.

You say that “something greater than God can be thought, namely a God who is bettering himself.” God is possessed of all perfections, and so has no need of self-betterment. A God who continually betters himself is finite–to be in need of betterment implies temporal existence. God is truly and fully actualized, and so is outside of time, and thus does not need to be bettered–he is already the pinnacle of goodness.

-ACEGC

thanks this is a great response :slight_smile:

Geaux Tigers!!! :slight_smile:

There is no problem, except with our perception of God.

We humans live our lives from moment to moment. God does not.

He is simultaneously** in** the past, present, and future like we are in the present moment. (Think about this for a while. Meditate on it. It’s a different way of thinking…)

So, the question becomes how does our prayer change anything in our lives? Well, the “change” part is only from our perspective as we live our lives, moment to moment. And, because it is a free will choice on our part, aided by His grace (we can do nothing good without His grace, right?!). We can choose to cooperate with God’s grace, or to reject it. That is our will and we will obtain the consequences, good or bad, from our choices. God, on the other hand, already knows what we will choose because He “sees” it right now like we see the present moment. In other words, He “sees” it happening.

There is no contradiction between our free will and God’s knowing what we will chose.

See Dr. Peter Kreeft’s explanation in the following audio talk:

alabamacatholicresources.com/Downloads/peter-kreeft_fated-free.mp3

Prayer is two-way conversation with God. We may speak using our body, but He answers through the Spirit, to our spirits. I see prayer as preparing us, conforming us to accept God’s will. Now, scripture shows Him withholding punishment at the request of Moses, for example. But, is this a change in God, or a test of Moses’ faith and love? God has a will, and is the source of freedom, so His will is not restricted. He is not a God of stone, but of Spirit, and the Spirit goes where It will.

In any event, we are commanded to pray and, out of obedience, we must pray. Consider this: if nothing else, it may be the only time our Creator hears from us! Since we carry within us God-like qualities, is it not reasonable to expect that God wants to hear from us? When their children are away at college, what parent is happy, if those children never call or email? Having given us that desire to communicate, God also desires it, as He is the Father of that desire.

Again, when we communicate with our children, we can be inflexible on certain matters - yet we keep the lines of communication open with our children, right? And, in the course of that conversation, it is not we who change, but our children who conform to our will for them.

Catholictiger:

I should think it extraordinarily difficult for an Infinite exigency, who exists in an infinite here-and-now, to think about something and “change His mind.”

example problems

if god was unchaning then he wouldn’t be changed by prayers meaning prayers are pointless and worthless

True, but, one never knows, does one?

someone greater can be thought (a god who is bettering himself) so in order for God to be someone who no greater can be thought he must be changing. Self supassing himself eternally

It may not be precisely as you have described, but, we do believe that God is Eternally Creating our universe. But, as I said, that is not per se “change,” as is change-in-time.

God bless,
jd

To add to the poster above, when we say that God is eternally creating the universe, this means that by his act of creation (which takes place outside of time, and so is not the same as an artist creating a work of art), he continually sustains and gives being to the universe. Since God loves us always if he loves one day, and his love is a necessarily creative love–it is better to be than not to be, and so all that has being is good, and since to love is to will the good of another, then God’s act of creating is loving–then by his creating the universe, he continually loves it. If he were to cease thinking about all that is (which, due to his immutable will, is impossible), then all would cease to be.

-ACEGC

This is related to a subject I was thinking of posting about for a while. The idea of a perfect, all knowing, totally good, God; who lives without temporal restriction is actually kind of horrifying from a human perspective. I mean really try to imagine what that would be like. Practically none of the things that bring us any joy in our lives would exist for that sort of being. It would be an existence without surprise, joy, sorrow, or anything. Any instant would be the same as thousand trillion years. From this entirely human perspective being God would be one of the worst hells imaginable.
It also presents some dilemmas regarding free will. How can all be known to God, but we still have free will. And if we do and God, although all knowing, allows us to march to damnation can he really be called good. At best we can call God amoral. How can someone be moral if you see pain they can change but choose to do nothing. Oh but he can not choose to change. That would mean that God was not perfect. That something exists beyond God. There are just inescapable contradictions when we try to bake some of these beliefs into the same cake.

I am really not trying to be anti-religion. These things may be beyond our comprehension as humans. That said perhaps we should be careful not to rely so completely on our own reason; or the reason of medieval and ancient philosophers and theologians. I am saying you should the baby out with the bathwater either. But there seems to be a lot that could be wrong with the way we think about these things. That does not mean you should not have faith, or believe, if you choose to. But maybe people should be a little less dogmatic sometimes, since there is obviously a lot we do not really understand.

McTeague:

Very good question. Let me ask you a few questions: When are you happiest? When does happiness thrill you to your marrow? Right now, do you care about past happiness? Are you brought to the emotion of “happy” when considering the future? When you were in the past? When you will be in the future? Or, right now?

We only have this tiny, little now. The present moment. The rest is irrelevant. The past is gone - for good. The future is off in the distance.

God’s Now is infinite and for infinity. He gets to create a universe! He gets to create people! Animals! Plants! Pillars of God!

So, who do you think is in a better condition?

God bless,
jd

Excellent post! :thumbsup:

The reason anyone thinks that a changing God is somehow more perfect or better than an unchanging God is due to a failing to understand the perfection of completely actual being verse mere contingent being.

God is ineffable, incomprehensible, and totally infinitely immeasurable in all that he has, and what he has is being - existence - in the classical sense, of fully possessive of all good, and containing no evil - no lack of being - whatsoever. He is a cup completely full, as it were.

Now, all things which can be predicated of a contingent being, which are unpleasant, are, metaphysically, due to the contingent being’s lack of existence or goodness. Yet, since God is, according to St. Thomas and Boethius, “the simultaneously whole and perfect possession of interminable life” he would not lack any good which we creatures have.

God is infinite life; infinite goodness; infinitely pleased in himself.

See here for a good image danteworlds.laits.utexas.edu/paradiso/gallery/1007rose.jpg

God bless,
jd

I am hesitant to respond to you because I am really not interested in debating the existence of God. I am not Dawkins; trying to prove every none atheist is a fool. Religious belief is very personal and very important to many people. I have no desire to take it from anyone.

My point though is that our understanding of these kinds of things is limited and often contradictory. We tend to resolve them to our personal satisfaction because of our psychology more than anything else. We put together explanations that make sense to up and support our belief system. All perfectly natural, and not wrong.

You have chosen to understand the absence of temporal distinction in a sort of Zen like, be here now, way. That is fine. It works for you. But, I will point out that that absence could also be seen as a complete absence of moments. For God, who exists out side of time, the beginning and end of creation could be seen as simultaneous events. There is actually no now to be in. Nothingness and infinitness; eternity and ( trying to come up with a word here for absence of time, or outside of time. Can’t seem to think of one. ) exist together.
For a human what I have described is almost incomprehensible. And I do not think particularly pleasant or desirable, to us as humans, as it is totally outside our references or comprehension.

I am simply saying that the inevitable contradictions that come with metaphysical reasoning should caution us to be perhaps a bit more humble and less dogmatic

Light in space can be simultaneously in the past, present and future because time does not effect this speed. Therefore, light can be anywhere at anytime. Or is that your “God?”

Why do many of you attribute human qualities to God?

No, light is not intelligent or all-powerful. God is. He created light.

And we attribute human qualities to God for a couple of reasons. 1) We are made in His likeness and image, so we’re like Him in some ways. Jesus, in addition to being 100% God, is also 100% human, remember. 2) We are limited in our ability to express the attributes of God. Like those who insist on using the scientific method to “prove the existence of God” and fail to realize that the scientific method is insufficient to perform the task.

As someone whom I admire once said, “God has place very evident limits on our intelligence in this life, but absolutely none on our stupidity.” We are all stupid from time to time, and we’re not nearly as intelligent as we think we are. :slight_smile:

If we limited in our ability, then how do we know that the atrributes we express are the right ones?

We don’t “know” in an absolute sense as may be expressed by science. We choose to “believe” based on the evidence we have been presented, as filtered through our life experiences, education, tendencies, etc.

Epistemology is the study of how we “know” things. There are three basic methods in which we can “know” something. 1) Through direct, personal experience (we saw it, touched it, etc.) 2) Through logical reasoning. Lassie is a dog. All dogs are mortal. Therefore, Lassie is mortal. 3) Through Divine faith. The actual grace we get from God enlightens our minds to see Truth more clearly and strengthens our will to accept and follow that truth.

So, would say we “know” the attributes we express are the right ones through all three basic methods.

  1. Then how do you explain the divinely inspired followers of other religions? They are just as devote as many faithful Christians, yet they do not agree with your beliefs. They claim to have been called by God to those certain religions, so are those claims false? What makes yours correct then?

Well, let’s start with a couple of things first…

By example, if I had a class of 100 2nd grade students, and I gave them a one problem test, 2+2=, and got 100 different answers, how many, at most could be correct? One. What’s the least that could be correct? 0.

So, with thousands of differing, contradictory denominations/faiths, how many, at most could be right? 1.

Given that, let’s look at history. If we were to trace, historically, every Christian religion to its beginning, where would we be in history? Historically, only one can be traced back to the time of Christ, and that’s the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church was the only Christian Church for the first 1000 years after Christ ascended to heaven. Then, in 1054 A.D., the Orthodox split off. Then, there were two, until 1517 A.D., when Martin Luther, an ex-Catholic monk, started the Reformation, and now Protestant Christianity has splintered off into literally thousands of different-believing denominations.

So, IF any one of the denominations that weren’t the first is the “right one” one would have to show that for the first 1000 years, all Christianity was wrong and with their denomination, they finally got it right. And they would have to say why. Pretty tall order. The Mormon’s tried that in the 1800’s, claiming that Joseph Smith found some plates in the ground that he couldn’t read, and was given a special viewer to interpret what was written on the plates. He lost 'em all or couldn’t find 'em when asked later.

With regard to the religions before Christianity, there was Judaism, and they believe in the same God, Who revealed Himself to them. They documented this in what we call the Old Testament. Before and since, there were pagan religions (Hindus, Buddhists, etc.).

I think the pagans were man trying to express what has always been written on his heart, that there is an Almighty Creator, except their expression of this was sort of lacking. Man wasn’t developed enough yet and God had not publicly revealed Himself yet.

If we study the Natural Law, we find that man has certain characteristics that are part of his nature. 1) To seek the highest good (God) 2) Self-survival. 3) Survival of the species (sex) 4) To live in community (this is why solitary confinement in prisons is “punishment”) 5) To know and to choose (think)

You are assuming that there is only one answer. There is no way we can possibly know the different varibles that were needed for existence, therefore anyones interpretation has the possibility of being right.

Since we do not have one defined answer, we can use this as an example.

n + x = 11. We look at this and know there is at least one answer. We can use 4 + 7, 2 + 9, 5 + 6, or even 11 + 0. Point being, because we do not know the variables, we can not assume there to be one defined answer.

Okay, So to even trace Christianity, we must look at the previous religions which may of played an influence in its development. Here is a tiny portion of the wiki page. This is not only found on wiki, just the easy source to understand.

Central to Zoroastrianism is the emphasis on moral choice, to choose the responsibility and duty for which one is in the mortal world, or to give up this duty and so facilitate the work of druj. Similarly, predestination is rejected in Zoroastrian teaching. Humans bear responsibility for all situations they are in, and in the way they act toward one another. Reward, punishment, happiness, and grief all depend on how individuals live their lives.

In Zoroastrianism, good transpires for those who do righteous deeds. Those who do evil have themselves to blame for their ruin. Zoroastrian morality is then to be summed up in the simple phrase, “good thoughts, good words, good deeds”

Achaemenid era (648–330 BCE) Zoroastrianism developed the abstract concepts of heaven and hell, as well as personal and final judgment, all of which are only alluded to in the Gathas. Yasna 19 (which has only survived in a Sassanid era (–650 AD] Zend commentary on the Ahuna Vairya invocation), prescribes a Path to Judgment known as the Chinvat Peretum or Chinvat bridge (cf: As-Sirāt in Islam), which all souls had to cross, and judgment (over thoughts, words, and deeds performed during a lifetime) was passed as they were doing so. However, the Zoroastrian personal judgment is not final. At the end of time, when evil is finally defeated, all souls will be ultimately reunited with their Fravashi. Thus, Zoroastrianism can be said to be a universalist religion with respect to salvation.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoroastrianism#The_Prophet_Zoroaster

So, from what do you derive hope? Waking up? Same as I do, but yet, more has been revealed.

Should we then become relativistic? Once convinced of the truth, should it be kept secret, or shared out of love? Despite relativism’s purpose, it has no result other than confusion and lack of cohesion. It breeds indifference and aloofness. Faith builds unity and understanding - cohesiveness. And, from that unity and cohesiveness, which is a mirror of molecular bonding, comes peace and stability.

As we take comfort from the molecular bonds within steel as we cross a bridge, so do we take comfort in the bond of faith which holds us together as a society. In the realm of creation, society acts much as any homogenous material does in maintaining its integrity. Once you introduce incompatible molecules in the mix, the mass becomes unstable. I am not saying that everyone must believe alike, only that it is advantageous if they choose to.

My Good Sir: you are a gentleman and a scholar.

My point though is that our understanding of these kinds of things is limited and often contradictory. We tend to resolve them to our personal satisfaction because of our psychology more than anything else. We put together explanations that make sense to up and support our belief system. All perfectly natural, and not wrong.

But, this isn’t just some concoction of mine; that’s my point.

You have chosen to understand the absence of temporal distinction in a sort of Zen like, be here now, way. That is fine. It works for you. But, I will point out that that absence could also be seen as a complete absence of moments.

No it can’t. There must be a Now. You see, here we are no longer in the past and we aren’t in the future yet. We’re in between. That’s what we call the Now.

For God, who exists out side of time, the beginning and end of creation could be seen as simultaneous events. There is actually no now to be in.

No it can’t. The Now moment is outside of time, too. It is that tiny space which borders the outermost edge of the past and the outermost edge of the future. And, it contains none of the past nor any of the future within it!

Thus, you see, I’m not debating the existence of God.

Nothingness and infinitness; eternity and ( trying to come up with a word here for absence of time, or outside of time. Can’t seem to think of one. ) exist together.

Nothingness is more than likely an ideality, as opposed to a reality. At least, in our time.

For a human what I have described is almost incomprehensible. And I do not think particularly pleasant or desirable, to us as humans, as it is totally outside our references or comprehension.

I agree with the very first part of your statement.

I am simply saying that the inevitable contradictions that come with metaphysical reasoning should caution us to be perhaps a bit more humble and less dogmatic

Such as?

God bless,
jd

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