Who says God is abstract and unknowable?

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Who says God is abstract and unknowable?

Old Testament- God can manifest as a physical being and interact with the world

New Testament- God is a being who rules over heaven

Contemporary philosophers- God is abstract, unknowable, exists beyond reality, exists as a set of rules or laws, exists as the universe itself, is not part of reality at all, is a concept beyond our understanding, is immeasurable, etc.

In this last category, what philosophers started describing God as an abstract concept?  Descartes is one example, Thomas Aquinas is another.  Who else?  It seems over history the idea of God has moved from something that can be manifested and seen to something immeasurable and outside observability.  I'd like to know how this idea of God was presented by different philosophers and how these ideas have evolved over time. 


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Part of the reason why God

Part of the reason why God is 'abstract' stems from origins of Christian theology. The Church Fathers (the guys who decided which 'scriptures' were divinely inspired) were influenced by Plato's philosophy of the divine. Have you read Plato's analogy of the cave?

Another reason is because anthropomorphic conceptions of God (i.e. versions where God's descriptions are taken literally rather than metaphorically) have been considered obviously false that most modern theologians reject the idea. If God is real then 'he' has to be outside the known physical world and that places 'him' in the abstract.

I think a last reason is that if God isn't abstract then he's a bit too easy to understand and isn't really 'all that' as far as some theologians are concerned. Todangst has got a good Augustine quote somewhere. If I wasn't so lazy I'd dig it up myself! Smile

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I'm not as lazy! ;)

I'm not as lazy!

What then, brethren, shall we say of God? For if thou hast been able to understand what thou wouldest say, it is not God. If thou hast been able to comprehend it, thou hast comprehended something else instead of God. If thou hast been able to comprehend him as thou thinkest, by so thinking thou hast deceived thyself. This then is not God, if thou hast comprehended it; but if this be God, thou has not comprehended it. - St. Augustine

Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life. - Immanuel Kant