Chapter 3: Simplicity and the Theological Rationale for Divine Absoluteness

DDS is not explicitly revealed in Scripture, but it is the conclusion that must be drawn from a wide range of biblical data. Simplicity is necessary for God’s aseity, unity, infinity, immutability, and eternity. It is simplicity that fully separates God from the rest of creation. Both the advocates and the detractors of DDS recognize that it is tied to aseity. Aseity means that God is from himself: he is not dependent on anything. God is the absolute sufficient condition for his own existence. God is not self-caused (since a cause would have to exist before it can cause itself), but rather he is identified with his existence and essence. If God were composed of parts his existence would be dependent on those parts, which would entail that the existence of something less than God must exist in order for God to exist.

The Scriptures abound in passages that teach that God is one. Even composite beings exist in a unity (or else they would disintegrate and cease to exist). Yet God’s mode of unity is not univocal with his creatures. God is not just undivided, he is indivisible. God’s unity is grounded in his simplicity, so that he is unlike any other being. Simplicity is also necessary for God’s infinity. If a material substance consists of form and matter, then the form is limited by the matter and vice versa. God’s infinity does not just refer to his limitlessness, but to the fact that he is full perfection and actualization. Parts delimit each other, so God must not have parts if he is infinite. God’s existence and essence are unlimited because of their ontological mode, so God’s infinity is predicated upon his simplicity.

A being who is infinite and perfect cannot undergo change by addition or subtraction. Biblical texts affirm God’s immutability, and even though the focus in those passages is on God’s ethical immutability, such ethical immutability is grounded in God’s ontology. All creatures depend on God, so they are mutable and changeable, in that God brings them into existence and could change their existence. Material substances are very mutable, both in accidental and substantial ways. Since God is without composition, and his existence and essence are identical, it is impossible for God to change. God’s immutability does not mean that he cannot act. In fact, God is immutable not because he is inert, but because he is pure act. Rocks are immobile and seem not to change, but God cannot change because he is already perfect in act.

God’s atemporal eternality is necessitated and supported by DDS. There is no chronology inside of God. Time requires change and movement from one state to another. God’s eternity is identical with his unchanging, complete, and indivisible life. All of God’s acts in time are contained in his one limitless instant. Because God is simple he is able to be wholly present in all of his completeness to all points in time.