Presentation Title

The Names of God

Faculty Mentor

Steve Barbone

Start Date

23-11-2019 11:00 AM

End Date

23-11-2019 11:15 AM

Location

Markstein 210

Session

oral 2

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

humanities_letters

Abstract

Assuming that the Abrahamic God does exist, philosophers are always talking about Him. Different philosophers assign different natures, names, and attributes to God. In each case -- whether we are talking about the nature, the name, or an attribute of God -- philosophers are referring, in this case, to God's essence. However, how do they know about these names and natures? How do we attribute a name or a nature to a God that we have never seen? A lot of the names and natures that are attributed to God come from the Tanakh, Bible, or the Quran, and while religious people claim that the writers of these books were inspired and helped by God and angels when writing the books, at the end of the day, regular humans were the ones that wrote those books. To answer the question of how we come up with the names that we attribute to God, in this presentation I look at Thomas Aquinas’ answer in his Summa Theologiae and compare it to Maimonides’ answer offered in the journal article, “Maimonides and Aquinas on the Names of God. However, when answering this question, many problems seem to come up. How can we ascribe affirmative names that have human characteristics to a divine God? How can God be one yet have many attributes, that is, how can God have more than one essence? How can God be simple and indivisible yet have many attributes and natures? How can these attributes be some varied yet really be the same – e.g., mercy and justice? After looking at these questions, I can’t help but wonder, how important is it to give names and attributes to God? Which is more important, a believer’s faith or those words one gives to describe God?

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Nov 23rd, 11:00 AM Nov 23rd, 11:15 AM

The Names of God

Markstein 210

Assuming that the Abrahamic God does exist, philosophers are always talking about Him. Different philosophers assign different natures, names, and attributes to God. In each case -- whether we are talking about the nature, the name, or an attribute of God -- philosophers are referring, in this case, to God's essence. However, how do they know about these names and natures? How do we attribute a name or a nature to a God that we have never seen? A lot of the names and natures that are attributed to God come from the Tanakh, Bible, or the Quran, and while religious people claim that the writers of these books were inspired and helped by God and angels when writing the books, at the end of the day, regular humans were the ones that wrote those books. To answer the question of how we come up with the names that we attribute to God, in this presentation I look at Thomas Aquinas’ answer in his Summa Theologiae and compare it to Maimonides’ answer offered in the journal article, “Maimonides and Aquinas on the Names of God. However, when answering this question, many problems seem to come up. How can we ascribe affirmative names that have human characteristics to a divine God? How can God be one yet have many attributes, that is, how can God have more than one essence? How can God be simple and indivisible yet have many attributes and natures? How can these attributes be some varied yet really be the same – e.g., mercy and justice? After looking at these questions, I can’t help but wonder, how important is it to give names and attributes to God? Which is more important, a believer’s faith or those words one gives to describe God?