God In Whitehead’s Process Philosophy: A Philosophical Analysis

God In Whitehead’s Process Philosophy: A Philosophical Analysis



  • Background of Study

The question of God is the final question of metaphysics. This final question of metaphysics; God, has never enjoyed a common view among philosophers. The ancient philosophers originated the question. The medieval philosophers championed it, but their solutions are still ever open to criticisms. Thus, the question of God is still raised today such that old stimulus receives new demonstration.




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In the formative years of theistic philosophy, God was understood in three different images: an imperial ruler, a personification of moral energy, and an ultimate philosophical principle. God was experienced in different ways by different people. As Whitehead rightly pointed out in his Science and Modern World, those different experiences of this reality, led to various names given to him;

He has been named… Jehovah, Allah, Parham, Father in Heaven, Order of Heaven. First cause, Supreme Being. Each name corresponds to a system of thought derived from the experience of those who have used it1                                                                    

Alfred North Whitehead is one of the contemporary minds that address this question of God. His philosophy came as an intervention when the intellectual hold of Newtonian theories took hold of Science. His effort was to harmonize philosophy, science and religion by examining the impacts of modern science on the deeper issues of philosophy and religion. He displaced Newtonian atomic theory which for him is a fallacy of “misplaced correctness” because it designates matter as the basis of all things. He developed a new notion of atom which he calls “actual entity” or “actual occasion” as the final real thing which the world is made of.

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Consequently, he developed a philosophy of natural science in which he explained very well what he meant by the term, “actual entity”. It was among these actual entities that Whitehead identified God. He presented God as one of the actual entities in the world.

1.2 Statement of Problem

The concept of God has been a problem among philosophers of different epochs. Although the ancient philosophers originated this question, the medieval philosophers championed it, the modern and contemporary philosophers have also delved into the resolution of this problem, yet the question persists. They have been preoccupied by such questions as; does God exist? If God exists, what is the nature of this God? What is the primordial nature of God? What is the consequent nature of God? Is God an actual entity or the actual entity? And the question of God and creativity.

For whitehead, his major preoccupation was not the existence or non existence of God, as much as the nature, function and mode of the existence of the Supreme Being God. The problem lies with his rejection of any notion of God that sees God as self-sufficient and beyond the laws of nature. This is a deviation from the Christian God, who is high and above every other existent reality.  Is a God which is equal to its creatures not lesser in the idea of God?

1.3 Purpose of Study

The purpose of this study is to critically analyze and examine the concept of God in Whitehead; his notion of the existence of God, bringing out the strengths and weaknesses in his argument on the nature of God. And also to compare in a critical way the notion of God among other philosophers seeking to bring out the strengths and weaknesses inherent in the theories.

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1.4 Significance of Study 

This work, will not only contribute to the general body of knowledge as it will be of immense assistance to students of philosophy, theology and religion who are interested in metaphysics in general, and the concept of God in particular, but will also serve as a reference point for the ordinary man who seeks an understanding of the “workings” of God, thus finding better grounds for their beliefs. The importance of this work therefore is to understand vividly the relevance of God’s existence.

1.5 Scope of Study

The scope of this study is multi dimensional. It is epistemological as it is metaphysical. For the purpose of “directedness” and conciseness, this work, irrespective of the fact that it seeks to do a critique of Whitehead’s view on the concept of God, would also include a critical exposition of a good number of scholars, who have contributed both from the metaphysical point of view and otherwise, to the enigma called “God”

1.6 Methodology

In this work, a research geared towards articulating the views of eminent and well-meaning scholars on this subject matter shall be carried out. The philosophical method of analysis shall be employed to give the work the needed touch. This work is made up of five chapters. The first Chapter is the general introduction, chapter two; review of relevant literature, chapter three looks at the concept of God in Whitehead’s philosophy proper, while the fourth and final chapter attempts an evaluation of the entire work and the conclusion.

1.7 Definition of Terms

God: The being or spirit that is worshiped and is believed to have created the universe.A being or spirit who is believed to have power over a particular part of nature or who is believed to represent a particular quality. The term God has the notion, not only of an ultimate reality, but also of perfection and self-sufficiency.

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Religion: The belief in the existence of a god or gods and the activities that are connected with the worship of them.3 According to Whitehead, “the only proper concern of religions is with the value aspect of our lives and of the universe.4

Philosophy: A particular set or system of belief resulting from the search for knowledge about life and the universe.5 the word philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, value, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on relational argument.6

Nature: The way that things happen in the physical world when it is not controlled by people7.


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