The last Unit looked at arguments for the existence of God. The next step in analyzing God is the focus of this Unit: understanding what God is like and what traits he has. Only a few of the arguments proving God’s existence provide us with much information about him. The Ontological Argument provides that God has all of the unlimited traits we can think of if God is the greatest conceivable being: omniscient, omnipresent, omnibenevolent, omnipotent, etc. Indeed, this type of God is often referred to as the “Anselmian God.” The other proofs for God’s existence do not show in any certain terms what God is like. For example, if God created the universe (or elements of it), then we know that God is minimally powerful and intelligent enough to do such a thing, but we might not be able to conclude more about God. However, most contemporary conceptions of the Abrahamic God maintain that God has any number of infinite traits, along Anselmian lines. The chapters in this Unit focus on examining the possibility of God having these infinite traits and the potential implications on our lives.
Chapter 16, The Various Traits of God by Tom Metcalf, discusses the possible traits God can have and which ones can be compatible with each other. Chapter 17, What Type of God is it Rational to Believe in?, looks at difficulties for us to rationally understand and accept certain traits in God. Chapter 18, Can God do the Impossible? by Tom Metcalf, looks into the possibility of God doing the impossible. Chapter 19, The Problem of Evil by David Hume, covers a classic argument discussed in detail by Hume (but it dates back to the Ancient Greeks) that asks the simple question: if God is all-good and all-powerful, why is there evil in the world? Chapter 20, Theodicies as a Response to the Problem of Evil by Tom Metcalf, provides some of the resolutions to the problem of evil. Chapter 21, Free Will and the Traits of God, examines problems for the existence of free will given possible infinite traits of God.