Is God a Turtle?

Analytic philosopher Jason Waller discusses the question of the necessity of God in his article: “Can only abstract objects exist by necessity?” He is responding to an argument that only abstract objects necessarily exist:

God is a concrete object, not an abstract object.
All concrete objects exist contingently.
Therefore, God is a non-necessary being.

As I suggest in a comment on Jason’s blog, this all seems very wrong-headed. Can we properly talk about God as an “object,” abstract, concrete, or otherwise? Yes, I know that such talk is inevitable. Christians properly tell stories of their God. In these stories Deity is rendered as both personal agent and object of our praises and prayers. Perhaps we might therefore speak of him as a “narrative agent” or “doxological object”—but this speech presumes the apophatic apprehension, without which we would be talking about an idol.

Why is the transcendent Creator a necessary being? Because if he were not, we could always ask of him, “Why God rather than nothing?” or “Who created God?” And we would be right back with infinite turtles.

(And if you are wondering whether I am a turtle, the answer is yes. I was inducted as a member of the Ancient and Honorable Order of Turtles in 1970.)

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5 Responses to Is God a Turtle?

  1. I see I have inspired a post here. I’m honoured.


    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      You are quite welcome. Do you want to become a Turtle? If so, email me. 🙂


      • One of the high schools I went to had a tortoise so I guess turtles (or tortoises at least) are ingrained into my past. The English teacher had a lot of turtles (or were they also tortoises). Don’t know if he still does.


  2. Mary Holste says:

    Seems to me that Waller has come up with another proof that gods are not necessary beings. It’s worth thinkung about, because there are plenty of people in Christianity and other religions who do think of “God” as a “concrete object”- a being. But we all eventually get to a place in our lives where that belief is just insufficient. A God who is worth worshipping, who is truly all-loving, must be greater. If God is really God and not just god, then he would be neither concrete object not abstract object. The turtles are a good analogy. He’s got to be beyond all our human categories if he is the real thing. this is my understanding of the Christian teaching of apophaticism. So this is just me agreeing with what you wrote.


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