God defies definition. This is not to say that the concept GOD is incoherent (although humans are capable of misunderstanding, mischaracterising, and misrepresenting God). God is other; He is distinct from His creation, and yet – so Christianity teaches – God invites mankind to interact with Him. Such interaction requires some element of commonality; without it, there can be no communication. Christians understand God’s interaction with us to be through condescension; to understand Him fully is beyond us. The greatest act of condescension, as taught by the Gospel, is that God took on human flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
If God exists, the Incarnation is paradoxically both surprising and logical. God is by definition supremely benevolent. If this characteristic is removed, the concept of God becomes incoherent and God cannot exist: for anything that is incoherent is not real. (Note, incoherence itself has categories: humans can hold incoherent views in the realm of imagination; but this does not entail that such views correspond to anything in reality).
Such benevolence would lead to creation of a world. When that world went wrong (through free will), benevolence would lead to its redemption. The nature of human sin and is such that the path of redemption leads through the Incarnation of God Himself (although mankind did not clearly foresee or understand this; wisdom on this matter has come through revelation and hindsight).
Benevolence is a personal characteristic. Benevolence apart from personhood is incoherent. Feuerbach, an atheist, posited the idea that the concept GOD was a projection. He held that mankind, troubled by the hostility of the physical world and their own capacity for evil, created the concept GOD and chose to believe in God’s existence as a coping mechanism. It is more comforting to believe that the universe was created and created by a supreme Benevolence, than to accept that it simply exists and that there is no objective meaning to our existence.
Have we followed the route that Feuerbach described? Or have we believed in God because there is a God and because His nature and existence can – and must be – inferred from reality?
Can an eternal being exist without personhood? Is that a coherent concept? What is the substrate of existence? What is the ultimate Reality? It cannot be less than the glory of mankind – indeed it must be more.
The philosophy of emergent properties is a complex sub-discipline, much of which must lie beyond the scope of this post. However, it is sufficient to observe that our contingent minds cannot come from something that is not mind at all. Therefore, there must be a necessary Mind and that Mind must be co-extensive with Ultimate Reality.
(Intermediate great minds between humanity and God are also possible – thus thrones, principalities, powers, angels, demons, etc. However, God is logically necessary, which is why Greco-Roman paganism cannot be true, since its pantheon does not conform with the coherent definition of GOD.)
This post has served to introduce the main part of the argument. A following post will round off the series by unpacking that part in more detail.