Whitehead and God

According to Victor Lowe (1990, 187), one of the reasons that Alfred North Whitehead rejected both Canterbury and Rome was “his dislike of the doctrine of Almighty Power which they both maintained.”  Whitehead disapproval of traditional ideas of omnipotence is evident in his writing.  He believed that the concept of God as an arbitrary tyrant (think Old Testament God) goes hand-in-hand with building a  religion on fear.  In Science and the Modern World, Whitehead writes, “The presentation of God under the aspect of power awakens every modern instinct of critical reaction” (1925, 274).  This “modern instinct of critical reaction” can be found a year later in Religion in the Making:

The worship of glory arising from power is not only dangerous: it arises from a barbaric conception of God.  I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the bones of those slaughtered because of men intoxicated by its attraction.  (1996, 55)

No wonder, then, that in 1929, in Process and Reality, he referred to the idolatry of fashioning God in the image of imperial rulers (1978, 342).

Source:  Donald Wayne Viney, from a paper presented at Claremont School of Theology, March 11, 205.

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