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The Problem with GodWhy Atheists, True Believers, and Even Agnostics Must All Be Wrong$
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Peter Steinberger

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231163545

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231163545.001.0001

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Even If the Flesh is Willing

Even If the Flesh is Willing

(p.61) 4 Even If the Flesh is Willing
The Problem with God

Peter J. Steinberger

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines the notion of God-as-spirit, first proposed by the Reverend Samuel Clarke, and its flaws. Clarke, an important English thinker of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century, goes for the idea of God-as-spirit because he agrees that physical things are governed by the logic of cause and effect. According to Clarke, the Unmoved Mover—God—exists and must have existed, since something must have started everything. The logic of cause and effect requires a beginning. But if God exists—if God is the beginning—then God must be spirit and not matter. God is immaterial. Clarke argues that the logic of cause and effect is a logic of material things causing other material things. But if God is spirit—not a material thing—then we solve the problem. This chapter also considers George Berkeley's arguments based on his belief that God must be entirely spirit. Berkeley said we should give up on the existence of material things because matter simply does not exist; the only things that exist are ideas.

Keywords:   spirit, Samuel Clarke, God, physical things, cause and effect, Unmoved Mover, matter, material things, George Berkeley, ideas

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