Theism

Aseity | Creator | Eternity | Goodness | Immutability | Impassibility | Ineffability | Necessity | Omnipotence | Omnipresence | Omniscience | Perfection | Trinity

Divine Perfection

 

The perfection ascribed to God goes beyond ordinary perfection. Ordinary perfection is relative to a specific end or goal. The properties that make for a perfect racehorse, for example (speed, agility, stamina, etc.), and the properties that make for a perfect spouse (i.e. compassion, faithfulness, beauty, etc.) are very different. What is perfect for one end might not be perfect for another. God’s perfection, though, is not tied to any end. God is perfect simpliciter.

Perfection and the Meaning of “God”

For some God’s perfection is an analytic truth, a truth that holds in virtue of the meaning of the word “God”. Just as one who calls an object with four sides a triangle thus betrays their ignorance of what “triangle” means, so one who calls a being that is imperfect God thus betrays their ignorance of what “God” means. “God is perfect” is a definitional truth, a truth of meaning. It is this thought that grounds one of the classical arguments for the existence of God: the ontological argument.

Perfection and God’s Existence

Even for those not already inclined to think of God as perfect, however, the ontological argument may provide a reason for doing so. The ontological argument, if it is successful, proves the existence of a perfect being. Theists who accept this argument must identify this being as God; it would be absurd to hold that there exists a perfect being who is not God, and also an imperfect being who is. The ontological argument, then, if it is accepted, gives theists a reason to believe in divine perfection.

Perfection and Other Divine Attributes

It is God’s perfection that grounds many of his other attributes, according to classical theism. His immutability, impassibility, aseity, omnipotence, omniscience, and goodness are all thought to follow from his perfection.

 

Links

Divine Perfection
Austin Cline’s critique of the idea that God is perfect.