Theism means worship

The idea of ​​a finite God

Concern about the problem of evil - that is, the reconciliation of the existence of evil with that of a good God - becomes acute for thinkers who rest their case mainly on what they find in the world around them, and this has led many to withdrawing to the idea of ​​a finite God, according to which the world can be under the direction of a superior being who is nevertheless limited in its power, if not in its goodness. This is a serious alternative to the idea of ​​a supreme and unlimited source of all reality found in the usual forms of theism. Indeed, it is debatable whether the idea of ​​a finite God should be classified as a form of theism. However, it comes close to traditional theism in insisting on the oneness and absolute benevolence of God. The idea of ​​God as a limited being clearly has advantages, especially when it comes to evil. Although one could still insist that God does not intend anything that is not entirely good, one can now explain extensive suffering and other evils based on the limits of God's power. He is doing his best, the finitist says, but there are things - refractories or explicitly evil forces - that he has not yet subjugated, although hopefully he will eventually. It also creates a sense of urgency in humanity's own obligation as the vertex of creation to work with God - to be a "co-worker". God will clearly need this help, even though he himself is a pioneer in the fight against evil. Hence, those inclined to the idea of ​​a finite God have usually been activists in thought and practice.

There are also serious difficulties to overcome. For if a thinker falls back on the idea of ​​God just to explain what is confusing in the finite course of things, he may find no reason to conclude and actually cling desperately to what is sometimes referred to as "God." the gaps ”(ie the gaps in human explanations). On the other hand, if he proceeds from the inherently imperfect character of finite explanation as such, or from the contingency of finite things, nothing less than an infinite or absolute God will encounter the Fall. It is also questionable whether the attitude of worship is appropriate for a limited being, however superior he may be to humans.

Among the prominent proponents of the idea of ​​The Finite God at the turn of the 20th century was the American pragmatist William James and some of his students, notably Ralph Barton Perry. So it is not surprising that a very similar term that emerged in the mid-20th century found its main inspiration and support in the United States, in the work of thinkers in the tradition of process philosophy such as the logician Charles Hartshorne and the theologian Schubert Ogden. Both characters build on some of the guiding ideas of Alfred North Whitehead, an eminent mathematician and metaphysician. Philosophers and theologians who base their work on Whitehead's metaphysics, the scheme denies the nature of God's presence in creation and the extent of God's power in it, departing from more traditional theistic views. God is himself in the process of fulfillment in the ceaselessly emerging world. He is also one creature among other creatures himself, although he pervades and unites the universe by providing the "divine bait" that encourages all other creatures, and thus the universe as a whole, to fulfillment. There are admittedly problems with this point of view - e.g. Take, for example, the type of relationship between God and individual creatures that Whitehead believed came about through what he termed "understanding" - that fueled proponents of late 20th and early 21st century novel solutions to develop. For example, the American philosopher and theologian Bernard M. Pantheism. Others stayed in the theistic camp or, like the American theologian Marjorie Suchocki, moved to a position called panentheism, in which God remains something greater than the created world and helps to lure it to greater fulfillment.