Is God Altogether Simple?

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters. We are continuing our dive into the ocean of truth as we study the doctrine of God with the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas as our guide. You can read the Summa for yourself at We’ve been going over the doctrine of the simplicity of God for now. Before that, let’s cover prayer requests. I ask that you pray for me in my Christlikeness. It’s an area I really need to work on. Second, I ask that you be praying for my financial situation. Third, I ask for prayers for a third related area in my life. Now let’s get to the seventh question on simplicity. Is God altogether simple?

Aquinas offers a number of arguments. First off, he stresses everything that has been said before regarding the simplicity of God which is what we’ve spent the past few days covering. Aquinas is going to give a few more points on this issue however.

Aquinas says that every composite thing comes after its parts and is dependent on them. God is not dependent on anything however. God is his own being. Therefore, he is altogether simple.

Third, every composite thing has something that puts it together as nothing unites itself. However, God is the efficient cause of all and there is no efficient cause of him. Because of this, he is altogether simple.

Fourth, Aquinas also says that every composite has potentiality and actuality.  Either one of the parts actualizes another, or all of them work together to actualize the whole. This would apply even to angels whose being actualizes their form.

Fifth, when something has parts, none of the parts are the whole. For instance, I am a man, but my hands that are typing are not men in themselves. My legs are not men, and my head is not a man. It is only when all the parts are combined that we have a man.

The same works in reverse. Consider a substance like water. Let’s suppose you have a gallon of it. Now each part of that is water, but you cannot take a part and say this part is a gallon. It is when all the molecules of water come together that you have a gallon of water.

This is what’s so amazing when we think about an argument like Richard Dawkins’s 747 argument against God’s existence. It’s quite amusing since Dawkins thinks that he has refuted the five ways of Thomas Aquinas when he hasn’t even touched them. This one he could have learned the answer to however if he had simply read the very next chapter.

One of the great problems for many atheists today is that they don’t understand good theology. They don’t take the time to really understand the worldview they’re arguing against. As a Christian, I think it’s important to be able to argue for the resurrection and for the existence of God. I also think it’s important to be able to argue against them. Why? I want to know the arguments of my opponents and their position and I want to know it better than they do.

One such position is simplicity. Dawkins fails because he does not have a Christian understanding of God, but a materialistic one.

And coming from that view, we can always expect he’ll fail.

We shall continue looking at simplicity tomorrow

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