See, this is what happens when I think "I'll answer that later" and then completely forget. Sorry! Believe me, nothing is too strange for me to discuss! I like your reasoning but I wouldn't agree with it: Theists disagree with each other over whether God is atemporal or not. Some think that God is eternal in the sense of everlasting: he never had a beginning and he will never have an end. So he fills time, as it were. Other theists say that God is eternal in the sense of not being in time at all. He exists in an atemporal sort of world of his own. This has odd consequences - for example, if this is the case then it is true now that God exists, but it is not true that God exists now. I think that most theists who take the former of these options and think that God is temporal believe that time as we know it began with the creation of the universe, which happened a finite amount of time in the past, but that there was time before this event. However, because nothing happened during that (infinite) period of time, it wasn't really time as we know it. It was unmeasured and unmeasurable. So it was rather like eternity. This is Richard Swinburne's view, at least. So he would agree with you that the creation was change of a kind, but he would disagree that this means there must be some kind of super-temporal time which contains both God and time as we know it. Rather, there was a weird sort of time which preceded time as we know it, and God persisted through the change from the one to the other. Theists who believe God to be atemporal (I think they are in the majority) would say that there was no change when the universe was created. There was no time before that; time per se (not simply time "as we know it") began at that point. Wondering what God was doing before the beginning of the universe is rather like wondering what J.K. Rowling was doing before the birth of Harry Potter. She doesn't exist within the world of Harry Potter - the timeline of the story is her creation, and it does not even roughly correspond to her own timeline. She might have written the last part of the story first, and the first part last, but from Harry's point of view they occur in the opposite order. Similarly, God does not exist within our timeline. The idea that God's infinity means that nothing can contain him is very ancient (Gregory of Nyssa used this insight as the basis for his argument that God is infinite, something that most Christians did not believe before the fourth century AD). But for this argument to work you'd need to suppose that time is a sort of container that temporal beings exist within, like a fishtank. Some people have had that sort of view of time (notably Newton), but others have rejected it for a relational view (notably Leibniz). I don't know enough about physics to know which one is currently in vogue, although naturally I support Leibniz out of a leaden sort of sense of duty. Your interpretation of Descartes reminds me of Alvin Plantinga, who devised a version of the ontological argument which apparently proves that God necessarily exists simply from a definition of "God", but who at the same time insisted that he didn't mean it to be a proof, only an illustration of the rationality of belief. That doesn't seem to me to be a very useful position. In Spinoza's case, I do think that he intended his proof of God's existence and nature, as well as his proofs of everything else, to be taken quite straightforwardly as proofs. Otherwise I don't really see what the point of them would be. I think that he did mean his initial definitions and axioms to be taken as intuitively true. Spinoza wasn't just using the Cartesian method as a sort of rhetorical display; remember that he was quite a devoted disciple of Descartes before striking out on his own, and wrote expositions of Descartes' philosophy using the geometrical method. Although he obviously came to disagree with Descartes over many matters, I don't think he abandoned that basic approach to philosophy. Of course. But I don't think that his proofs fail simply because his definitions are contentious - I think that they are formally invalid as well, which is an additional problem. A valid proof with false (or dubious) premises is of some logical interest even though one may not accept its conclusions, but an invalid proof that also has false (or dubious) premises is as weak as an argument can get! Ah, now why do you say that? Personally I don't see anything intrinsically absurd about the notion of proving God - at least, no more so than the notion of proving anything else. I'm not sure I can really think of any examples of that. Perhaps Plato, sometimes. But I don't think I've ever found philosophy especially moving. Ah well, picking holes in the ontological argument is something all philosophy undergraduates like to do at some point! I think what's of more historical (and philosophical) interest is trying to understand why anyone might have been convinced by it in the first place. That goes for all arguments or ideas which seem daft to us today. That seems a somewhat simplistic analysis to me - while it's always tempting to draw strong parallels between different traditions, one shouldn't allow the similarities to blind one to the differences, or indeed see links where they don't exist. In this case, there is, as far as I know, no evidence whatsoever that Akhenaten's version of sun-worship had any influence upon Judaism, or indeed upon Greek philosophy, another tradition where one can see the emergence of monotheism from a polytheistic backdrop. It's also begging the question, somewhat, to call the doctrine of the Trinity just a paganist residue. That's for two reasons: first, I don't think that one can plausibly trace the historical origins of this doctrine to pagan polytheism; and second, most Christians have considered it to be one of the central and defining features of their faith, not a sort of slightly embarrassing add-on. Spinoza is normally classified not as monotheist but as a monist. That is, he doesn't believe in one God so much as in just one thing. His God is not really very similar to God as understood by any of the religions you mention, all of which would consider it absolutely central to their faith that God be distinct from the created world. This is why Spinoza was regarded as an atheist, because he denied that there exists any God distinct from the universe. The fact that he chose to call the universe (or the substance in which it inheres) "God" did not make much of an impression upon his detractors. That seems rather harsh... surely you can at least see why the image of Christ on the cross has been so powerful and so important to so many people. It represents the faith that God is not a distant demiurge, regulator of the cosmos, or unseen hand in history, but a personal being who cares about his creation to such an extent that he chooses to become part of it and suffers terribly in solidarity with it. You may think that this isn't true but I don't see how that is an abomination. Erm, probably, but I'm not sure I can think of any other than the obvious, Aristotle-inspired ones (John of Damascus, Thomas Aquinas, etc). I think you'd have to define phronesis before I can answer that. A bit, but not much, because I don't really know all that much about Stoicism. Stoic ethics influenced early Christian moralists such as Clement of Alexandria. And Stoic metaphysics also influenced some - such as Tertullian, who shared the Stoic belief that only material things exist - but not so much, because most early Christians thought that non-physical things exist and were more influenced by Platonism. Stoic epistemology was rather more influential, I think; Augustine recycled Stoic arguments against scepticism in his Against the Academics and these were endlessly repeated in later centuries as a result (it didn't make them decent arguments though). And of course the term logos, referring to the immanence of God in the world, is Stoic, and that idea had rather a long afterlife in Christianity. I don't know!