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Previous: 15. God is Transcendent and Immanent Up: 15. God is Transcendent and Immanent Next: 15.2 Immanence

15.1 Transcendence

Traditionally, God is conceived as transcending the universe: as completely apart and distinct from us and all material objects and existing eternally and incorruptibly. God would still exist unconditionally even if he had not created a universe.

According to the theistic postulates presented so far, we see that there is a metaphysical gap between those things that have being in themselves and those things that do not. The first are divine, and the second are not but are created by the divine. This difference has to be maintained at all times in order that God’s love for us may remain unselfish. This metaphysical gap implies that the being of God is completely distinct whatever kind of being we have from him and that there is hence a necessary transcendence of the world by God.

Similar forms of argument hold with respect to Love, Life and Wisdom, as God has all of these in an original sense. God is love itself, life itself, and wisdom itself. We persons are loving, living or wise only in a much weaker or derivative sense, a sense which is completely transcended by the way in which God is loving or wise. A thing with life in itself completely transcends those things which do not.

In all these forms of the argument (concerning being, love or wisdom), the same kind of conclusion is reached. This is, the nature of God completely transcends the nature of the derivatively-existing objects in the world, and this applies with respect to all objects, whether humans, animals, plants, or galaxies.

I do not draw the line here between constant and variable things, since, as we saw in the last chapter, God also contains a changeable part. Conversely, things in the world participate in mathematical (geometrical, etc.) forms which are constant. The distinction that must be drawn is between that thing which lives from itself and those things that do not.


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