Denial of the Doctrine of Divine Simplicity is Platonic

Without a strong account of divine simplicity, the ultimate principle and explanation for the being and perfections of things in the world, yea even for God himself, must be sought outside of and back of God. This is, in effect, to offer a Platonic vision of the world in which even God possesses being and attributes through participation in ideal forms or universals.

 


God's Image as Analogy

Though creatures bear the image of God’s existence and attributes, their similarity to God is better understood as analogical than univocal. The manner in which God exists and possesses attributes is so radically unlike anything found in creatures that he cannot be classified together with them in a single order of being or as the highest link on a great chain of being. As the one who ultimately accounts for being in general, as its first and final cause, God does not stand within that general ontological order.

 


What is the Doctrine of Divine Simplicity

Adherents to this doctrine reason that if God were composed of parts in any sense he would be dependent upon those parts for his very being and thus the parts would be ontologically prior to him.

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Simplicity is the ontologically sufficient condition for God’s absoluteness. The doctrine of divine simplicity teaches that (1) God is identical with his existence and his essence and (2) that each of his attributes is ontologically identical with his existence and with every other one of his attributes.

 


God’s Essence is His Existence

Thomas’s greatest contribution to the advancement of the DDS is found in his teaching that every created thing, even relatively simple things such as human souls and angelic spirits, are at the very least composed of existence and essence. No created essence is identical with its act of existence and is therefore relative and dependent in some sense. But God’s essence is identical with his existence and therefore God is absolutely necessary and self-sufficient.