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Who God Is

Updated: Jan 22

Some Implications of God as Ipsum Esse Subsistens

God is that being whose essence is identical to His existence. God's essence is to be. Hence, it follows that Ipsum Esse cannot not be. Ipsum Esse (God) is His own to be, and therefore exists necessarily. Many other things follow from the above.

1. God is One

There cannot be two beings whose essence is to be. For, what would distinguish the one from the other? It would have to be something outside of what they are in common. What are they? Being Itself, that is, two beings whose essence is to be. Outside of Being Itself is non-being. Hence, nothing distinguishes them. They are not plural, but one.

2. God is not material

If God is His own Act of Being, then God is Act. If His essence is not in potency to existence, but is His existence, then God is pure Act without any admixture of potentiality. Therefore, there is no prime matter in God, for prime matter is potentiality. Nor is God made up of any secondary matter (extended substance). For what is secondary matter (substance) is in potentiality to certain accidents, i.e., quantity, quality, when, where, etc. But there is no potency in God.

3. God is not a quantity, nor does He have quantity

For quantity is divisible, and Ipsum Esse cannot be divided into two, as was shown above. Also, note the word divisible (able or potentially divided). But there is no potentiality in God. Also, what is Act is immaterial. Also, what is extended has parts outside of parts. A block of gold has parts outside of parts, for example the part on the left is outside of the part on the right, yet both parts share in the nature of gold. The nature is found whole and entire in every part. But if God is His own Act of Existing, He cannot have parts. Consider, this part of God is not that part of God. If this part of God is Being, then there cannot be anything outside of that part, for outside of being is non-being. If there are no parts outside of this part, then there is no “this part.” This part is so only in relation to that part. Hence, there are no parts in God.

4. God is outside of time

What is in time is subject to time, that is, actualized by time (time is an accident, it actualizes the substance in an accidental way). But a Being who is His own Act of Existing cannot be in potency or be subject to anything. For there is nothing outside of Being, and He is Pure Being. Therefore God is eternal. What is eternal is not something that endures forever, time without end. What is eternal is simply present without a before and an after. In other words, all of human history is present to God; there is no future, no past, only present.

5. God is not in place, therefore God is not in the universe nor outside of it

To be in place, that is, subject to place requires quantity and figure. God has no quantity, as was shown above.

6. That God is present everywhere

If God alone imparts the act of existing (esse) on contingent beings, then God is intimately and immediately present to anything that is. There cannot be anything between God and a contingent being. To impart being means to bring something into being from nothing, not from something mediate. Therefore, wherever there is something, God is more intimately and immediately present to that something than anything else could possibly be. In other words, God is more immediately present to Jean Paul Sartre than his own mistress, and even more present to Sartre than Sartre was to himself or to us than we are to ourselves. Wherever there is being, there is God. Hence, God is everywhere without being subject to place.

7. That God has Intelligence

A thing is known in so far as it is in act. For example, we know the essence of a thing when the intellect abstracts the form from the material conditions of the thing. The passive mind becomes actualized by the form, which is knowledge. If God is pure Act, then God is perfectly intelligible to Himself. Also, act is perfection, for a thing is perfect in so far as it is in act. But God is pure Act of Existing. Therefore God is perfect. He cannot lack any perfection; for otherwise He would be in potency to further act. Thus, He would not be pure Act. Now, of all the perfections found in beings, intelligence is considered preeminent; for intellectual beings are more powerful than those without reason. Therefore God is intelligent.

8. That God's knowledge is His Existence

God is entirely simple, that is, entirely without composition. There is nothing in God that is distinct from His Existence. God's knowledge is not distinct from His Existence, otherwise there would be composition in God. Now, there is nothing outside of God's Act of Existing (outside of Ipsum Esse is non-being). Hence, God's knowledge is His Being. Also, if there was knowledge in God, and this knowledge was not His Act of Existing, then it would be related to His Act of Existing as potency is related to act. But there is no potentiality in God, as was shown above. Hence, God's knowledge is His Existence.

9. All other perfections in God are identical to His Existence

Any other perfections, such as love, justice, wisdom, power, beauty, etc., are found in God, but they are identical to His Existence for the reasons stated above.

10. That there is will or volition in God

If God knows Himself (He cannot not know Himself) or understands Himself, Who is perfect and therefore supremely good, then it follows that He necessarily loves Himself. For the good is that which all things desire, and all things desire first and foremost their own perfection, that is, their own act. If God is pure Act without any admixture of potentiality, then God is unlimited Good (potentiality is the source of limitation in things). What is supremely Good without limits is, if known, necessarily loved. God is His own Act of Being, therefore He is perfectly knowable to Himself. His Self-Knowledge is His Existence. Therefore He loves Himself necessarily. And since love operates through the will, there is will in God. Moreover, God's will is identical to His Existence; for God is entirely simple, as was shown above.

Also, God's willing and God's knowing is not a power or potency that can be actualized. God's knowing and willing are eternally act, for His willing and knowing are identical to His Act of Existing. So God always knows Himself and loves Himself. He imparts existence on contingent beings not out of necessity, but through His own will. Whatever is, He knows, for it is His knowledge and will that cause other things to be. Hence, God does not learn as we learn, God does not discover as we discover. God does not move from potentiality to actuality, that is, from potential knowledge to actual knowledge. Anything that is, exists by virtue of God's knowledge and will. If God does not know it, it does not exist.

11. God's Knowing is the Cause of Being

If God's knowledge is His Existence, then it follows that God's knowledge is the cause of whatever is. A thing exists because God knows it (and of course wills it into being). Existing things exist independently of our knowing them, but this is not the case for God. Whatever exists, exists because He knows it. If He stopped knowing something, it would cease to be.

12. God is Omnipotent

Since God is the First Existential Cause of whatever has existence, it follows that God has complete dominion over being. You and I might have dominion over the fish, the animals, the trees, etc. But we don’t have dominion over being. We cannot impart being (bring something into being from nothing). Now, since there is nothing outside of being, and God has dominion over being, it follows that He has unlimited power. Hence, God is omnipotent.

13. God is Infinite

If God is His own Act of Existing, then it follows that God is infinite (without limits). God is His own Existence, and outside of existence is non-existence (or nothing). Hence, there is nothing outside of God to limit Him. Hence, He is infinite.

14. God is Supremely Good and cannot do evil

Whatever is, is good. Goodness is a property of being. Thus, to exist is good. That is why things struggle to perpetuate their existence. Evil is a lack of due being, a lack of something that should be there. And so it follows that if God is His own Act of Existing, then God is Supremely Good, or perfect Goodness. God cannot do or will evil. Whatever God does is good insofar as He does it.

15. Whatever happens to those who love God, He permits for their greatest good

If God is omnipotent, and if God is perfect Goodness, then it follows that whatever happens to you and me in our lives is permitted by God ultimately for our greatest good. Omnipotence means that He can do whatever He wants, and perfect goodness implies that He wants only what is best for us. The two together imply that God wills our greatest good and is able to bring it about - if we allow Him to. Hence, whatever He allows to happen to us in our lives is permitted by Him ultimately for our greatest good.

16. God is Subsistent Beauty

Every perfection that exists in God is identical to God’s Act of Existing. Beauty is a perfection. It follows that God is Subsistent Beauty. Hence, whatever is beautiful -- a beautiful sunset, beautiful scenery, the beauty of the stars, or a beautiful face, etc -- is an imperfect reflection of God’s perfect and infinite beauty. And if the human person has a natural desire to behold the beautiful, he has a natural desire to see God.

17. God is Justice

Justice is a perfection (an unjust man is not regarded as a perfect man), therefore, in God, justice is identical with His Act of Existing. Thus, God is justice. Hence, we can conclude that ultimately, injustice is temporary. God cannot allow injustice to endure. Nor is it possible for God to ever be unjust.

18. God is Truth

Truth is the conformity between what is in the mind and what is (in reality). But what is, exists by virtue of being known by God and being willed into existence (as we said above). God’s knowledge is the measure of reality, not vice versa. God is thus the measure of truth. Therefore, God does not have the truth, rather God is Truth. And so it follows that whoever loves truth, ultimately loves God, just as whoever loves justice -- and not everybody does, certainly not the majority -- such a one ultimately loves God.

19. God alone satisfies the will perfectly

The object of the will is "the good". Whatever a person wills, he sees it as good. This is true because the good is "that which all things desire". Joy is the state that results from the satisfaction of the will, which is the possession of the good. Now, if God’s goodness is His Act of Existence, and if the object of the will is the good, then to see and know God as He is in Himself is to experience the perfect satisfaction of the will, which is joy. And since we don’t see the Supreme Good (God) directly while in this earthly state, it follows that the joy of knowing God as He is in Himself is simply unimaginable. To possess that joy eternally is heaven. To miss out on that joy eternally, by virtue of our own choices, is hell.

20. Making God the end of all your efforts is eminently reasonable

Love means to will the good of another (benevolence). Goodness is a property of being. Hence, to be is good. God’s act of creating (bringing things into being) is an act of love, that is, a willing that the goodness of existence be enjoyed by the creature. Now, man is an intelligent being whose highest activity is to know and to love. Therefore, man’s highest and greatest possible achievement is to know and love God. It follows that it is reasonable to spend every ounce of one’s energy towards the attainment of that goal. A reasonable life is one directed ultimately towards the possession of God in knowledge and love. Any other goal is simply irrational.

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