Sir Tom, Old Bean,
Let us clear a few things up before we go on.
Firstly I think we should steer clear of the Trinity for now so as not to muddy the waters (and that doctrine has some muddy waters to explore!) and I think it is something none of us have a clear understanding of and therefore not a good way of explaining God at this point.
Secondly, you say that you have not considered your faith philosophically, but all doctrine is philosophical. If you can even a quick squizz about the Nicene Creed you’ll see ‘Neoplatonism’ and ‘Stoicism’ bandied about. Ultimately for us to understand the things of God we have to think philosophically. What I’m saying is, I think you have without realising.
So, back to the big question: What are God’s characteristics that do not have to exist simply in relation to us?
Well what are some of his characteristics?
Love, justice, mercy, anger, wrath, compassion, righteousness, jealousy; what of these would we say are innate and which are dependent?
If one was stranded on a desert island could you be called compassionate? Or righteous? Do these qualities only exist when there is someone to be compassionate or righteous to? If you are alone then the only just thing to do is whatever you want. Whatever you do will be just because you are the definition of Justice.
It is a tough call because we can never see ourselves outside of a society to know whether justice or jealousy etc are innate characteristics.
Love is innate, I believe. I think you can trace back a lot of your attributes to whether you are, at heart, a loving person. The Bible says that God is love and I believe that that is a characteristic one can have whether alone or in community. I think it is possible for God to be a loving entity whether creation exists or not. An innately loving being is going to be a just and compassionate being when confronted with society.
So why is this important?
- it doesn’t exist and that’s madness.
- Our current understanding of God comes from the Early Church Fathers who were both Catholic (we wouldn’t accept their teachings on Apostolic succession today, why should we accept their other doctrines?) and Neoplatonists.
- I think it affects our understanding of other doctrines such as the Trinity and the existence of evil. For too long we have placed doctrine as our blueprint and twisted and stretched the Bible to fit over it, rather than the other way around.
Finally to address two other points of yours; I agree with your explanation of the existence of evil, though I feel the matter is complicated with God’s admission to a knowledge of good and evil in Genesis. The idea that God could exist in a space with other similar beings that are promised not to interfere in this Universe (thus making God true when He says there are no other Gods) is something I considered for the last letter, but left it out as I thought it was hardcore philosophy enough already.