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The consequence of divine simplicity is that God is being subsisting and can only be immutable.

If so how does God do anything? Or how did he create?

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  • Why does His divine simplicity pose a problem for His ability to create?
    – Geremia
    Apr 12, 2022 at 22:53
  • I can see how immutability poses a question to God deciding to create (if he was happy and content without creating a universe what changed such that he deemed to create one?) but I'm not also not too sure how simplicity connects to the question of creating. Could you please edit to clarify?
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 12, 2022 at 22:55
  • How can a immutable God basically not be a frozen rock?
    – johny man
    Apr 12, 2022 at 22:58
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    Ah I see. How can God be unchanging and yet still do action (which implies a change in God’s action, so a change in God). Basically, I would make a distinction between God’s nature and action. Actions don’t change nature. Actions proceed from nature.
    – Luke Hill
    Apr 12, 2022 at 23:34
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    @johnyman Again you're focusing on God's immutability. Would it be okay to edit the question to just ask about immutability rather than divine simplicity?
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 13, 2022 at 0:21

1 Answer 1

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Per St. Thomas Aquinas (and Aristotle), things have actual states and potential states. God, per Aquinas, has actual state but no potential (https://www.scotthambrick.com/article/1081/). This makes Him immutable. This is part of divine simplicity (https://pintswithaquinas.com/what-is-divine-simplicity/).

Other, contingent beings have both actual and potential traits. In order to create change in a contingent being, something has to activate that potential. Ultimately every potential that's activated must result from some cause that is not itself caused by something else -- like if you're pushing something with a stick, the motion of the stick is caused by the motion of your hand is caused by the contraction of your muscles, etc. If there's no prime cause, there's no motion. So there has to be an ultimate cause that is itself not contingent, that is not having its potential actualized by something. "This," Aquinas says, "everyone understands to be God" (https://home.csulb.edu/~cwallis/100/st2.html).

I wouldn't know how to address a perceived contradiction between being immutable Oneself and causing change in other things, because like other commenters and AFAIK Aquinas I don't see the contradiction, but it's clear Aquinas thinks that every change in our world requires a simple and immutable Cause.

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  • is God's one single eternal act the cause of multiple acts and things?Vasubandhu criticizes this,and ibn sina uses it to logically presuppose emanationism.how are they wrong?
    – johny man
    Apr 14, 2022 at 20:14
  • I'm not aware, in Christianity, of God having "one single eternal act." If there were such a thing, what would it be? The Incarnation? In the Bible, there are multiple divine acts, from Creation of the universe to the parting of the Red Sea to the gifts of the Spirit in Corinthians.
    – Maverick
    Apr 15, 2022 at 0:41

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