Some of the problems with the concept of perfection depend upon what we mean by ?absolute perfection,? and it is not at all obvious what that concept means. In Eastern religions, for example, such perfection might entail a total detachment from all desires and concerns, because they lead to suffering. Thus, an absolutely perfect being really wouldn?t desire our worship ? or desire anything at all, for that matter.
Medieval Christian theologians like Anselm and even Augustine expressed something similar when they argued that an absolutely perfect being must be ?impassible,? which means being incapable of any feelings, but particularly sorrow or suffering. Although Jesus suffered on the cross, that was thought to only be the human part of Jesus which suffered ? the divine experienced none of that.
However, not all theologians (especially today) accept such a notion. They argue that perfection requires that God be capable of empathizing with human suffering, and of course the capacity to empathize requires the capacity to experience emotions. Moreover, it is arguable that an inability to be harmed, to feel pleasure, or to experience suffering is incompatible with the characteristic of personhood as we understand it, another important attribute commonly ascribed to God.
This forces us to raise another important issue: if God is absolutely perfect, then we have reasonable grounds for thinking that the attributes of this God must be logically consistent.
Inconsistent and contradictory attributes lead to an incoherent and impossible God, and that God isn?t absolutely perfect, is it? Thus, even the attribute of absolute perfection must be understood as logically consistent with other attributes, like God?s love and power, in order for God to indeed be absolutely perfect.
Is the concept of absolute perfection meaningful and coherent? Perhaps, although it is not quite clear what exactly it really does mean and that renders it suspect. Many people, including some philosophers, seem to gloss over it as if ?everyone knows? what is meant, even though in reality the concept looks about as clear as muddy water.
Is the concept of ?worthy of worship? meaningful and coherent? Yes, it is coherent and meaningful, but it is not clear that it is true ? in particular, it is not clear that it follows from the assumption that God is absolutely perfect. It should be granted that it is at least conceivable how a person might move from one to the other; nevertheless, whether a theist asserts or denies that God is absolutely perfect, reasons for concluding that God is ?worthy of worship? should be offered.
« What Is God? | What Is God? »