Is the Unmoved Mover of Aristotle’s Teachings God?

Not only did God create the world, but he existed before everything else existed. It’s difficult to wrap our minds around the concept of eternity. But God has always existed. Creation only happens to finite beings and worlds.

Is the Unmoved Mover of Aristotle’s Teachings God?

We have heard that God doesn’t change.

That he stays the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Malachi 3:6). His immutability does seem to remind us of a certain Grecian philosopher’s ideas about God.

For those of us who took a philosophy class in high school or college, we may have familiarity with Aristotle’s concept of the Unmoved Mover. For those not familiar, I’ll break down our terms below.

The idea behind the Unmoved Mover: Everything is changing and constantly in motion. We see that everything has a cause and effect. But there first needs to be a cause that sets everything into motion, an immutable, all-powerful being.

That does sound like God in some ways. After all, God set everything into motion in Creation (Genesis 1) and he doesn’t change (Hebrews 13:8).

In this article, we’ll dive into what Scripture says about God’s immutability, how God is and isn’t like Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover, and what we can learn from this.

Verses on God’s Immutability

Immutability essentially means “unchangeable” or “unalterable” 

Let’s explore some passages that talk about how God never changes:

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change (James 1:17).

Not only does God grant us every good and perfect gift, but God does not experience any variations. False dichotomies we hear about the Old Testament God versus the New Testament God fall flat here. God doesn’t shift or change over time.

Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God (Psalm 90:2).

Not only did God create the world, but he existed before everything else existed.

It’s difficult to wrap our minds around the concept of eternity. But God has always existed. This shoots down the argument of, “Well, who created God?” No one, because our all-powerful God didn’t need a creation. Creation only happens to finite beings and worlds.

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made (John 1:3).

John, here, hits the nail on the head in terms of the Unmoved Mover. Nothing on earth could exist without God to set it into motion.

As finite beings, we cannot create in the same way that God does. We can use existing materials to make art such as paintings, music, writing, etc.

But God makes everything out of nothing, ex nihilo.

For more verses on God’s immutability, check out this article here. 

Similarities and Differences Between the Unmoved Mover and God

Aristotle does seem to get a few things right about the Unmoved Mover in terms of our God.

He seems to nail down a few attributes: everlasting, unchangeable, unalterable, and even loving and wise. Furthermore, we rely on God’s existence to survive; he has a necessary existence

Aquinas, himself, influenced by Aristotle’s teachings, set forth to prove the existence of a first cause, that cause being God, the cause that set everything into being and motion.

With that said, we know Aristotle likely did not believe in Yahweh, so let’s explore some places where his theology falls short.

First of all, the unmoved mover lacks personality and was most likely, in Aristotle’s mind, pure energy, and not a personal being. Even if it was, it lacked the enormous agape that we experience from Jesus.

Secondly, we can’t ignore Aristotle’s theology. If he had hit the nail on the head in terms of our God, he didn’t have a saving relationship with him, and therefore, had a limited understanding.

Growing up in a polytheistic culture, Aristotle likely faced other influences that affected his theology.

Why Does This Matter?

Knowledge of Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover argument can serve as a great jumping-off point for those who love philosophy but may be turned off by the Bible’s teachings.

We can draw a parallel between Aristotle’s arguments and the argument for God’s existence.

Secondly, this matters because it shows that the knowledge of God’s existence permeates God’s creation. Aristotle, who likely had not encountered an Israelite who followed Yahweh, had an understanding of God.

This seems to echo the sentiments in Romans 1:20 “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from His workmanship, so that men are without excuse.”

Therefore, even those who do not hear the gospel have an innate understanding of God’s nature.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/ipopba

headshot of author Hope BolingerHope Bolinger is a multi-published novelist and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 1,200 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her modern-day Daniel trilogy is out with IlluminateYA. She is also the co-author of the Dear Hero duology, which was published by INtense Publications. And her inspirational adult romance Picture Imperfect releases in November of 2021. Find out more about her on her website.