Augustine continues with the Platonists. In chapters 6-7, he looks at Plato’s thinking on natural philosophy (the nature of the universe) and logical philosophy (how we think and distinguish between what is true and untrue). Augustine says that the Platonists believe in body and soul; that the body and soul are changeable; that they must come from something unchangeable; that God is immutable and “simple”, meaning that all of His attributes are always true of Him and that He has no “accidents” (unnecessary characteristics) in His nature; that everything comes from this immutable and simple God; and, that God was not made but made everything. Augustine then compares the Platonists’ logic to that of other philosophies. He critiques other philosophies (he names the Epicureans and the Stoics): “those who located the faculty of discerning the truth in the bodily senses, and who supposed that all that we learn is to be measured by such untrustworthy and deceptive standards.” The Platonists, on the other hand, locate the faculty of discerning in the mind and place the mind above the senses of the body: “the light of the mind, by which we learn all things, they [the Platonists] have said to be that selfsame God by Whom all things were made.”
Augustine gives us a nice quote on God’s simplicity: “For, to Him, it is not one thing to exist and another to live, as if He could exist without living; not, to Him, is it one thing to live and another to understand, as though He might live but not understand; nor is it one thing to understand and another to be blessed, as though He might understand and not be blessed. Rather, to Him to exist is to live, to understand and to be blessed.” God cannot be or do something that He is not always being or doing. If this principle of simplicity is right, then there cannot be a disagreement between God’s love and justice, for example, because He is always all love and all justice. His justice is love and His love is justice. When we pit these two against each other, then we deny His simplicity and suggest that there is a battle raging within the Godhead.
Thank God that He never changes and that His love and justice win, together, because they are one in Him.