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The Background to the Debate about God.

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Introduction

The Background to the Debate about God Plato * Born in 427BC, died 347. Pupil of Socrates. Socrates condemned to death, for corrupting the young, getting them to think for themselves, challenging views of parents/elders. * Left Athens and travelled. Returned, established a school, 'The Academy', dissolved by the Roman Emperor Justinian 529AD. * Plato's God - Demiurge. Didn't create matter. Raw matter has always existed. Demiurge took matter, moulded it. Potter doesn't make the clay, shapes it. Demiurge used pre-existent matter to fashion universe. Enabled universe to share in perfection putting it into mind or soul otherwise wouldn't be present in matter. * Demiurge used model to work from, matter being in space/time imperfectly resembled perfectly heavenly forms, which existed outside time/space. Time was 'moving image of eternity' only an image of eternal forms, not identical. * When people saw examples of truth, justice, beauty or goodness, these were pale reflections of the perfect form of 'truth' etc. ...read more.

Middle

* Not clear how Plato considered highest form, form of the good, related to Demiurge. * Ultimate reality timeless and spaceless, beyond change. Forms perfect because metaphysically complete and unchanging. Perfect, as they simply existed. Aristotle * Born 384BC, died 322. Joined The Academy 367. After Plato's death left Athens, tutor to Alex the Great (13yrs old). Aristotle rejected ideas put forward by Plato. Plato's thought started from realm of ideas. Forms most truly real of all realities. Ideas only exist so far as they expressed in world. * Tree is called a tree, because resembles the form of 'treeness'. * Aristotle form of something is unchanging element in it. Form of tree remains unchanged, changes in appearance. * Form of a thing, its nature, form is the reason why it is what it is. Form remains same while human changes from baby to adult. Soul as the form of the body, survives death till some time in future, given new body. ...read more.

Conclusion

Clearly aware of difference between God and idols. God omnipresent. * OT God gradually revealing himself to chosen people, yet He is God who can understand to some extent. God likened to Father, God speaks directly to Jesus, and angels came down and go up to heaven again. Person and loving. * Biblical God, unlike Demiurge, creates universe from nothing, utters world into existence. 'Let there be light'. Early Church * God timeless and spaceless, like Plato's Forms, course of all motion, cause of all causes, Aristotle's unmoved mover. * Church fathers wanted god's life to have quality different to that of our lives. * Advantages in idea of timeless God. Time/space didn't exist before Big Bang. Started when universe began. Dense matter exploded apart at big velocity. Matter became stuff of which universe made. All times simultaneously present to timeless God. * Two ideas influence thinking: 1) platonic idea that truly real and perfect (forms) completely unchanging timeless/spaceless. Aristotle maintained Prime Mover time/spaceless.2) individual, personal view of God, appeared to be the one put forward in Bible. Sian 7th November ...read more.

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