Driven by a concern to protect the absolute divine sovereignty and omnipotence and, presumably, to chasten the pretensions of human modal intuitions, a minority of theologians down through history have followed William of Ockham in rooting the divine attributes not in the divine nature but rather in the divine will. God is so because God chooses to be so. This seems to be Katie’s position: “I’m saying that it is not necessary that God be a perfect being. He is perfect by virtue of his own choice to be perfect.” Having staked out this territory Katie then launches an incendiary volley over the walls of those who root the attributes in the necessity of the divine nature: “do you believe there are uncreated, eternal standards like goodness and rationality to which God is subject?”
The answer is no. I am not a platonist. The better route for a Christian theist is to affirm a form of divine conceptualism, a view proposed by Augustine, according to which universals are divine thoughts. And because God thinks them in every possible world they have a metaphysical dependence on God even as they have a necessity in contrast to concrete particulars that exist in some worlds but not others. (Thomas Morris wrote a good essay on this topic some years ago called “Absolute Creation”; Brian Leftow, Richard Davis, and a number of other Christian philosophers have addressed the topic since.)
This allows us simultaneously to affirm God’s sovereignty (he is not subject to “eternal standards”) while avoiding the bracing skeptical implications of the Ockhamite thesis.
And what are those skeptical implications?
Well consider but one. Let’s say that fidelity is something God chooses for himself. This means that God could have given himself the attribute of being the maximally perfect liar. In other words, there is a possible world in which God is the maximally perfect liar. But God opted not to make that world and instead made himself the maximally perfect truth teller. In other words, in the actual world God is the maximally perfect truth teller.
Do you see the problem yet? If not, let me explain:
How do we know that the world where God is the maximally perfect truth teller is the actual world? How do we know God did not, in fact, create the world in which he is the maximally perfect liar and even now he is demonstrating his superior skills by deceiving much of the human race? On this Ockhamite view there simply is no way to know that God actualized the world where his nature is truthful and thus there is no way to know that God is truthful, and thus there is no way to know, or rationally believe, anything about God (or anything else for that matter since God the maximally perfect liar could have misled us in more ways than our finite minds can imagine).