9.2 Selflessness and personal unselfishness
One way of understanding the postulated unselfishness of God would be to imagine
that God is a universal being who does not have a proper sense of self to start
with. In this scenario God would have more self-less-ness than unselfishness,
since the boundary between God and the world could not then be rigorously defined.
This comes from pantheistic inclinations and in it God is not a full person. This
is an impersonal view of God.
We will see however, that the God we are talking about does have the
existence and properties needed to be a person. I am not referring to a person like
us and existing among us, such that we might possibly exist without him because
such a God would not be metaphysically necessary. Instead, I am referring to God
as Being itself, and also as Love and Wisdom themselves. These together are sufficient
to make God a person, with a sense of self and a sense of consciousness as a particular
person. Then we can say that God loves us unselfishly and not just self-less-ly
in an impersonal manner.
Some theologians dislike this view because they formulate their postulates differently.
Postulate 3, for example, is taken by Paul
Tillich (1951) to imply that God is therefore not
himself a being, since he is more the prerequisite or condition of possibility
for any entity to exist. If God is not in fact a being, this has the consequence
that God is incommensurate with human experience and cannot act in creation and
hence not even love us in a way we would recognize as love. Such a view is rejected
in the theism postulated in this book. I argue that Postulate
3, that God is being itself, has a strict positive sense,
and that it implies that God is the ground of all being, while still keeping
God a necessary being and a person.