Divine Power, Goodness, and Knowledge

William L. Rowe

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780195331356
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Divine Power, Goodness, and Knowledge

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In the major religions of the West—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—the dominant theological tradition has long held that among the attributes constituting the nature of God are to be counted his unlimited power (omnipotence), perfect goodness, and unlimited knowledge (omniscience). Within this theological tradition stands the work of many influential theologians and philosophers such as Maimonides (1135–1204), Aquinas (1225–1274), and al-Ghazali (1059–1111), who have labored to explain how we should understand these fundamental aspects of the divine nature. This article aims both to explain these three attributes of the divine nature and to discuss some of the ideas the difficulties philosophers and theologians have suggested arise when one endeavours to conceive of a being possessing such extraordinary attributes. Before beginning this task, however, it should be noted that the attributes ascribed to God in the historically dominant theological tradition within the major Western religions are not characteristic of the entire history of thought about God in those religious traditions.

Keywords: divine power; goodness; theological tradition; omnipotence; omniscience; divine nature; Western religions

Article.  10216 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Religion ; Metaphysics

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