– Rev José Mario O Mandía
In the last three essays of Bite-size Philosophy, we had spoken about how the human mind can discover not only the existence of God, but also his attributes (cf essays 78, 79, 80). Human reason can discover that God is infinitely perfect, that He is unique (there are no other gods), that He is everywhere (omnipresence), that He is eternal (not measured by time), that He is the Supreme Act of Understanding (Intellect) and Loving (Will). The human intellect can discover that God is Infinite Truth, Goodness and Beauty. These philosophical conclusions are confirmed by what Revelation tells us. Let us examine these data from Revelation in the next few essays
GOD IS UNIQUE – HE’S THE ONLY ONE
There is only one being who simply “is” (“exists”), only one Being who can say, “I am who am.” The Compendium (no 39) says: “Since creatures have received everything they are and have from God, only God in himself is the fullness of being and of every perfection. God is ‘He who is’ without origin and without end. Jesus also reveals that he bears the divine name ‘I Am’ (John 8:28).
In the book of Deuteronomy (4:35) it is written: “To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides him.” God himself declares through the prophet Isaiah: “I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God” (45:5).
Is it not possible to have several gods? In his book The Faith Explained (p 19), Leo Trese says: “We express this concept of God, this fact that He is the source of all being, above and beyond all else that exists, by saying that He is the Supreme Being. It follows that there can be but one God. To speak of two (or more) supreme beings would be a contradiction. The very word ‘supreme’ means ‘above all others.’ If there were two equally powerful Gods side by side, then neither of them would be supreme. Neither would have the infinite power which God by His nature must have. The ‘infinite’ power of the one would cancel out the ‘infinite’ power of the other. Each would be limited by the other. As St Athanasius puts it, ‘To speak of several equally powerful Gods is like speaking of several equally powerless Gods.’”
If there is only one God, what does it mean for us? The CCC teaches us that if there is only one God, then:
(1) there is no other who is His equal, and hence, we have to place Him and Him alone in first place (cf no 223);
(2) everything we are and everything that we have comes from Him, and therefore we ought to live in thanksgiving to him (cf no 224);
(3) we will understand better the unity and true dignity of all men because they are made in the image and likeness of God (cf no 225);
(4) we ought to treat creatures as creatures, not as gods to worship, praying like St Nicholas of Flue:
“‘My Lord and my God, take away from me everything that takes me away from You.
My Lord and my God, give me everything that brings me closer to You.
My Lord and my God, detach me from myself to give my all to You’” (no 226).
(5) we ought to trust Him at all times: in moments that we call “good” and also in moments we call “bad”, as St Teresa of Avila recommends:
“‘Let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you,
Everything comes and goes, God never changes,
Patience obtains all,
Whoever has God needs nothing more,
God alone is all’” (no 227).