Drange presents for our consideration supposedly incompatible attributes of God.
1) Perfection vs. Creation:
1. If God exists, then he is perfect.
2. If God exists, then he is the creator of the universe.
3. A perfect being can have no needs or wants.
4. If any being created the universe, then he must have had some need or want.
5. Therefore, it is impossible for a perfect being to be the creator of the universe (from 3 and 4).
6. Hence, it is impossible for God to exist (from 1, 2, and 5). (186)
My reply: Premise 4 is false, since God created the universe according to neither physical nor teleological causation. God’s nature is not dualist but uniquely triplist, with the 3rd level understood as “goodness.” Therefore, God neither had to create as if a machine, nor wanted to create as if an imperfect dissatisfied spirit. God created through the overflowing of His goodness. I have of course dealt with this in great detail earlier.
2) Immutability vs. Creation:
1. If God exists, then he is immutable.
2. If God exists, then he is the creator of the universe.
3. An immutable being cannot at one time have an intention and then at a later time not have that intention.
4. For any being to create anything, prior to creation he must have had the intention to create it, but at a later time, after the creation, no longer have the intention to create it.
5. Thus, it is impossible for an immutable being to have created anything (from 3 and 4).
6. Therefore, it is impossible for God to exist (from 1, 2, and 5). (187)
My reply: We can distinguish logically between ad intra and ad extra divine faculties. Regarding God the Father as Creator, since God is eternal, there is, however, no temporal distinction: the Father (unlike the Holy Spirit and the Son) has always been good, and the world was always meant to be. The Father’s intellect, will, and power have always been adequate.
Regarding intention, I argue that as the human (1st-level) body moves, so the God’s (2nd-level) spirit loves; that is, as the body moves without any external forces moving it, so the spirit loves by creating things and infusing being without any dissatisfaction felt by the lover — without any external object, the non-possession of which causes God displeasure.
Nothing other than (3rd-level) goodness moves God’s will. The Father chooses the state of affairs “2nd-level God + the world” over the state of affairs “God alone,” but only by reason of His goodness, or mysteriously in order to show forth and communicate His goodness. The world for God is not a consumer good from which He derives utility.
Therefore, God never had an unsatisfied desire that vexed Him until He scratched His itch, either in time or in eternity. According to the First Vatican Council, God created “not for increasing his own beatitude, nor for attaining his perfection, but in order to manifest this perfection through the benefits which he bestows on creatures.” (Catechism, §293)
3) Immutability vs. Omniscience:
3. An immutable being cannot know different things at different times.
4. To be omniscient, a being would need to know propositions about the past and future.
5. But what is past and what is future keep changing.
6. Thus, in order to know propositions about the past and future, a being would need to know different things at different times (from 5).
7. It follows that, to be omniscient, a being would need to know different things at different times (from 4 and 6).
8. Hence, it is impossible for an immutable being to be omniscient (from 3 and 7).
9. Therefore, it is impossible for God to exist (from 1, 2, and 8) (189)
My reply: Ad intra, without reference to the creation, God is both absolutely immutable and omniscient. Regarding His knowledge of “enunciable things,” i.e., propositions, St. Thomas argues that God does not in His inner life think by forming propositions in His mind and contemplating them. He “knows each thing… by understanding the essence of each thing; as if we by the very fact that we understand what man is, were to understand all that can be predicated of man. … Now the species of the divine intellect, which is God’s essence, suffices to represent all things. Hence by understanding His essence, God knows the essences of all things, and also whatever can be accidental to them.”
Yet he insists that God knows and at least is able to entertain propositions: “Since it is in the power of our intellect to form enunciations [thoughts expressing propositions], and since God knows whatever is in His own power or in that of creatures…, it follows of necessity that God knows all enunciations that can be formed.” (ST, I, 14, 14)
The main puzzle concerns indexical propositions, i.e., those varying in reference with the individual speaker though words like I, now, here. If God knows (has a justified true belief) that today is Wednesday, then tomorrow he will cease to know that it is Wednesday. If God knows that Socrates is sitting, then His knowledge will change when Socrates stands up. St. Thomas is fully aware of this problem, himself raising the objection: “God knew that Christ would be born. But He does not know now that Christ will be born; because Christ is not to be born in the future. Therefore God does not know everything He once knew; and thus the knowledge of God is variable.” (15, objection 3)
As a result, things are considerably more complicated regarding God’s ad extra attributes. Now God the Son died at the hands of goodness not once but three times for the sake of the improvement of each of His faculties — intellect, power, and will (from merely ad intra to ad extra). His first death allowed Him to choose which possible Father’s and potential Holy Spirit’s world should become actual. God’s natural knowledge is ad intra and fixed from eternity; His middle knowledge is ad extra, generated upon the decision to create, but also fixed from eternity. The Father’s creative act was a miracle; the Holy Spirit bestows grace; and the Son solicitude regards nature. Thus, the Son’s first kind of free knowledge, concerning every action of both creatures and Himself as ruler of the communion of saints into their everlasting lives, became fixed upon the Son’s free decision at creation. The resulting best actual world may be called the “Path.” Once the Path has been fully mapped, God is mostly done.
(A possible caveat already mentioned elsewhere is that before His incarnation, the Son did not know what would happen afterwards and so was not ad extra omniscient.)
Further, God is easily able to distinguish between this world’s present, past, and future by virtue of His atemporal eternity and superiority thereof. God does not exist “outside of time” but in time perfected and transcended. He is eternal, surveying all time. As a result, God does not absurdly attempt to change the past or interact with a future person, etc.
But God’s second kind of free propositional knowledge, regarding what time it is now and what’s happening now and what’s in the past or future, is ad extra and variable in time.