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If God cannot choose evil, does that mean He does not have free will? My answer to this weeks challenge:
Posted by Brett Kunkle on November 01, 2012 at 06:58 PM in :Brett Kunkle, Apologetics, Challenge Q&A, Video | Permalink
5:23-5:44 <--awkward silence. :-)
I think that last part is a good summary. God is free to do whatever he wants, and he never wants to do evil.
November 01, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Brett asks, "so what?"
And Brett's question is a good one, because the so-called challenge isn't really a challenge at all as it stands.
But it might be relevant to conversations about the morality of God creating beings which he knows are going to end up tormented for all eternity in Hell. The typical Christian response to this is that God needs to give us the ability to choose evil, resulting in some significant portion of the population going to Hades. Why does God need to give us this ability? Apparently to deny us this ability is to deny us free will, and hence to make robots out of us, or some such, which apparently means that we would be made unfeeling and/or nonmoral agents.
Of course, on its face this is nonsense. But nevertheless it persists as what seems like the most common answer to why God creates souls he knows will be damned.
So I would frame the challenge thusly: Is the Christian willing to say that God is unfeeling and/or nonmoral (or whatever exactly is meant by the term "robot")? Presumably not. But then what is so bad about not having the free will to do evil? For if there's nothing particularly bad about not having free will to do evil, then it sure seems like God dropped the ball when he endowed us with that free will, because it has lead directly to a bunch of needless suffering.
The Christian can always invoke ignorance. I can't prove that there being nothing wrong with God not having free will means there's nothing wrong with us not having free will. But it does undercut the typical response to the problem of God creating souls he knows will be damned.
November 01, 2012 at 03:28 PM
I agree with you, Ben. I don't think that's the right answer. Particularly since God will change us completely into beings who will never sin again after the resurrection. He promises there will be no sin.
But I think you're making a mistake when you say it has led to "needless suffering." It depends on what God's goal was when He created, what will come out of the suffering, and whether or not He had morally sufficient reasons to create the world He did create. My answer is more along the lines of this and this. And if you want to listen to this, I heard it the other day and thought it was very close to my understanding of this issue.
November 01, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Sam, thanks for the heads-up! Brett's going to fix it.
November 01, 2012 at 04:40 PM
God can't choose evil like I can't fly whilst a bird can. Flying is not part of my nature.
Likewise, according to the Christian Tradition, evil is privatio boni, privation of the good, and therefore privation of Being.
Now birds and I are both creatures, so that analogy breaks down at this point, because only being can suffer evil, but God is not a being at all - not even the supreme one - but Being in and of Itself - Ipsum Esse Subsistens - the source of being.
God is not part of creation, and evil is only a feature of created being. God is not one being among many in the world, and so when the Russian cosmonaut joked, 'I'm up in heaven, but can't see God', he was making a category mistake.
The problem of (moral) evil is only a problem for those who think God is like a Flying Spaghetti Monster: the Evangelicals and Atheists I know who conceive him as a supreme being - and so talk about him as if he is the highest thing in creation - when he's outside it altogether.
To talk about God choosing evil is simply to project created being, or more accurately, privation within the realm of being, onto God.
It's a problem for those who prioritise the Analogy of Faith over the the Analogy of Being.
Read David Bentley Hart.
Paul Rodden |
November 02, 2012 at 02:51 AM
I'm not sure Evil is a problem for ANY Christian, Catholic or otherwise. By "problem" I mean either unaccountable or wholly contradictory. Atheist's obviously cannot ground "good" nor "evil" but that is a seperate discussion.
I know many Catholics. I know many Christians who are not Catholics. We all suffer terrible pains. Terrible losses. No one I know laughs when their loved one dies. We lean into Him. Dive into Him. And in Him, in that 'Other and Outer' we find all solutions. (I like your description of Him as wholly Outer) It is not an unsolved problem for any Christian, that I can see. We have the most-perfect solution.
Must we really accuse one another of even this? Of even being somehow unhurt by evil or of being somehow un-problem-ed by evil and "Oh but my hurt is a better hurt than YOUR hurt!"?
Sometimes being obedient to Love is more important than being right. Love made Flesh could have spent his 3 years, in perfect correctness, with *every* one He met, saying, "I AM right, you are wrong, I-AM, and you are guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Each and every one of you." For three solid years.
But He doesn't do that.
We have to be careful on these "Christian" blogs.
Or at least I have to be careful.
(Wisdomlover and Brad, great comments. I have many thoughts, but, economy of words is not my strength by any means, so I'll refrain lest I weary the reader's eyes with 1000 words....)
November 02, 2012 at 03:33 AM
By puting the word Christian in quotes with "Christian" blogs above, I did not mean this blog is somehow un-Christian. STR is one of the best. I meant only that we AS Christians on our blogs must mirror Christ, etc.
November 02, 2012 at 03:39 AM
Well to be more precise, I should have said that the suffering appears to be needless. Similar to before, I cannot prove it is needless. But what I can do is show that the supposed reasons for the existence of suffering, damned souls and the like offered by theologians over the years either have failed to constitute satisfactory explanations. The only road left to Christians is an appeal to ignorance. In other words, a Christian can but say, "I don't know why God allowed and/or ordained suffering, but he surely has his reasons."
If memory serves, you and I discussed before the supposed possibility for a causal reason, and I tried to convince you that since God is not bound by causality, no causal reason will make sense. Allow me to recap:
Suppose that X occurs, and we wish to know why God allowed it to occur. Suppose further that X causes Y, and that Y is clearly very good. So it might make sense to say that God allowed X to occur in order to bring about the good thing Y, right?
The problem with this would-be explanation is that God, being omnipotent and omniscient, can bring about Y without allowing X---provided merely that it is coherent to talk about Y occurring without X also occurring. So at the very least, it couldn't just be that God wants Y to occur. Instead, it must be that God wants X and Y both to occur. The question then becomes, why does God prefer X and Y to just Y? In this way, invoking God's desire for Y will not explain what we want to explain; that is, it won't explain why he also wants to bring about X.
So when you say that God wanted to have us suffer in order for him to reveal to us his goodness or perfection or whatever else, that explanation won't work since he could have revealed those things to us apart from the causal lattice of sin, suffering and Jesus' sacrifice leading up to that revelation.
(It also doesn't work since it's quite selfish and horrible for any being to create other beings he knows will be tormented for all eternity just so he can show off his greatness.)
But this is quite a bit afield of the current topic. My original point is that if God doesn't have free will to do evil, then there isn't anything inherently bad about not having such free will. Hence we cannot appeal to it (by itself) to explain why God created damned and tormented souls.
November 02, 2012 at 05:11 AM
It is not possible to bring about Y, if Y is immutablity, without X, if X is the Created Self's Agency which, by defintion, mandates the Created Self's Choice/Agency to dive into the I-You (and thus Immutablity as it is now joined to God) or into the imprisonment of the Pure Self, the Isolated-I, and thus necessarily void of the I-You, and thus void of Life, for no created self is self-sufficient. "I" in God is Life, Life, and Life. Multiple Perfects. "I" for ANY created Self is Death, for it necessarly depends on Other (the Uncreated Other) for Life.
Power cannot create a Self-Sufficient Self.
Power wills Love.
Power wills Immutablity.
You must remember: God is Triune with Multiple Perfect Distincts, and, God is Love, and, God Wills to make *this world* into *that* Image.
Love's I, You, and I-You or Singular-We and the Movement among and Between Real Selves, will not be sacrificed for Immutablity. Rather, both Love's Triune *and* Immutablity will, ultimately, come about. Both are Perfect Options. Multiple Perfect Wills. He is not Triune "just" in Personhood, but *through and through*.
November 02, 2012 at 05:41 AM
The move into the Self is a valid, present, and good option within the Triune's Multiple Perfect Distincts. I. You. We. All are Perfect. There are no bad options. Evil is impossible.
Power wills *that* Image in *this* world; that of I, You, We.
Actual Agencies. Actual Options. Actual Self. Actual Other. Actual We. Actual Personhood. Actual Volition of Will. "May they be one as We are One, I in You, they in Me, Me in them...." And on and on.
Love's Image is that Image.
Thus, the created self will have the move into the Uncreated-Other (which is Life) available to it by default. The created self will have the move into Self (which is death, isolation, or seperation for it is not self-sufficient) by default.
It cannot be otherwise *if* Power wills His Own Image. And He does.
It can be otherwise *if* Power wills some other image. He does not.
Power cannot create a self-sufficient self.
Power wills Love.
Power wills Immutablity.
How then Immutablity without violating Love's Image?
The Created Self must dive into the Uncreated Other.
That is Life.
There are not evil fruits in Eden. The Tree of Life is Good and we will one day eat of it. Evil is not "out there" in Eden. It is "in here".
Eden is Self and Other. Eden is I. You. We. Or not. It is Love. Or not.
The Eternally-Sacrificed Self is the Way into Life for any created self. "Thine and not Mine. You and not Me. Other and not Self.
Love Manifests this Image and tells us, "Do it this Way!"
November 02, 2012 at 07:05 AM
I was not trying to trivialise evil, not was any accusation or offence intended. Sorry if it came across as such.
The growing collapse of non-Catholic Christianity is of deep concern for me, as I work for an Evangelical Church, and I observe the divisions between the ministers and strange ideas some of them are buying into that, when I was an Evangelical, would have been called 'Liberalism'.
It's just the fact that in any discussion with non-Catholics now about these sorts of things I get as many views of God's nature as the non-Catholics I discuss these matters with. But one thing they do hold in common is that they talk 'as if' God is a Supreme Being.
Their language is that of a Christian equivalent of a Flying Spaghetti Monster, 'brooding over' his creation, having more in common with the Greek and Roman Gods, than the Christian one, as I understand him. For them, God is like a puppet-master - Luther's 'Bondage of the Will', predestining people to hell.
Evil is our problem. We caused it. It is a thing of the created order. God is not created. He did not create evil. Evil is his absence. Evil is where we have pushed him out.
The existence of Evil, to me, teaches me humility. It is the thing which makes me realise I cannot judge these matters, for they are matters of providence, despite my pain, but must submit in obedience to Christ - the Church He is, here on earth. Hence the Catholic notions of Redemptive Suffering and Reparation.
As an Evangelical, I believed in the Bible, but what I couldn't get my head round was denominationalism and pervasive interpretive pluralism, and that once one moved beyond the absolute basics of the Kerygma (and even there there were such differing and contradictory views), there was no codified doctrinal content whatsoever (on the nature of God, Trinity, etc), except the tin-pot ideas of heretics like Shelby-Spong and Ehrman, etc..
In a similar way, I came to realise I would have no principled arguments against Mormonism, Rob Bell on Hell, or Brian Maclaren as an Evangelical because there was no 'third position'. All I would be able to do was argue proof texts forever, or use reason - both resulting from, and in, subjective judgements - and the best I could achieve was attaching myself to a coterie of like minds.
Paul Rodden |
November 02, 2012 at 07:28 AM
"...and the best I could achieve was attaching myself to a coterie of like minds. ..."
Which I realised made truth subject to human judgement.
Paul Rodden |
November 02, 2012 at 07:32 AM
What about this:
Whatever God does is good. Therefore, if God does something, that something must be good. But, suppose God does something that we consider evil; does that something then become good simply because God did it?
Or, suppose God does something that actually is evil (regardless of what we think about it); does that something then become good simply because God did it?
My point is that along with God only wanting to do that which is good all the time, He is also the author of whatever is good; so, in the first case I mentioned, I think that points to our flawed view of morality, that we might think some things are evil when in fact we are wrong and God is right (e.g., today many think that "intolerance" is evil, but in fact this is wrong).
In the second case, that is impossible, because since God is also the author of whatever is good, and we know from Scripture that God is unchanging, then whatever is good must not change.
Anyway, I thought this was an interesting thought.
November 02, 2012 at 09:04 AM
Somehow, I missed this challenge.
If God does not always do that which is good, God is not too wise. Omniscience demands that God freely chooses to always do good.
Mark Henninger |
November 02, 2012 at 02:15 PM
The Problem of Pain is actually OT here, but I can't resist pointing out something that, I think, is an error in the line of thinking you present here:
God wanted to have us suffer in order for him to reveal to us his goodness or perfection or whatever else, that explanation won't work since he could have revealed those things to us apart from the causal lattice of sin, suffering and Jesus' sacrifice leading up to that revelation.
Part and parcel with our understanding that God is righteous and loving is, I think, the idea that pain is, all things equal, bad. And to know that, you have to know what pain is. There is of course, more to be revealed in revealing the righteousness and love of God, but just this little truth, what pain is, is enough to require the existence of pain in every soul.
That is because the only way to know what pain is is to feel it.
That's not causally necessary, it's logically necessary.
I can tell you all about nerves and brains and all that claptrap, but I haven't told you one thing about pain. I can talk all day long about damage to the body and the great efforts people take to avoid it, but you still don't know one thing about pain. I can make analogies and show you films, but you still don't know what pain is.
There is only one thing God could ever do to make you have knowledge of pain, and that is to create pain in your mind. That is, He has to make you feel it. So if knowledge of pain is essential to having the goodness of God revealed to you, then I think your experiencing some pain is also essential to that end.
The only complaint, then, that can be raised is about how much pain is actually created and about the efficiency of the means by which it is created.
Since God is omniscient, and because knowledge of pain cannot be had without actually feeling it, there is one being who will feel every pain suffered by every individual, and that is God. God's omniscience implies His perfect sympathy with the suffering of all creatures.
Since God is also perfectly rational, He will minimize the pain He needs to experience and use the most efficient means possible of reaching His goals.
So there really cannot be any complaint about the quantity of pain or the means by which it is produced either. This is not in spite of, but because of God's omnipotence, omniscience and perfect rationality.
This, BTW, includes the suffering of the damned. The gates of Hell cannot block the Perfect Sympathy of God. He feels their every suffering as well. If there were any way He could have made it less, He would have.
November 03, 2012 at 07:26 AM
Of course evil is not Good-And; it is Good-Minus. If and when one knows the Whole one knows the parts necessarily. Knowing will be: it will not be otherwise. God expressly grants Eden's inhabitants two Doors through which Insufficiency will taste itself & His All-Sufficiency in which Love's Eternally Sacrificed Self pours Himself out and therein offers us the All- Sufficient Cup. Having thus swallowed Him, and He us, we will see Him, and thus become like Him, and thus know All (God) even as we are known by Him. Knowing the Good, we will by default know the Good-Minus.
November 03, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Do you think it's logically possible for God to give us false memories of pain which are indistinguishable from true memories?
November 03, 2012 at 03:14 PM
"If God does not always do that which is good, God is not too wise. Omniscience demands that God freely chooses to always do good."
And he does. But that does not mean that with our limited vision, we always see the good in what he does. Sometimes, we only see what we want to and hear what we want to because those are more pleasant sights and sounds we prefer.
Louis Kuhelj |
November 03, 2012 at 03:31 PM
"Do you think it's logically possible for God to give us false memories of pain which are indistinguishable from true memories?"
Hi Ben, I'm not sure how W/L will answer, but I think that it is possible for God to deceive someone with a false memory that mimics an experience of pain that has actually been felt as pain. However, as a free agent moral being, who has responsibility for their actions it is essential that they are free in their decision making.
That kind of deception is quite different from the kind of involvement God is attributed to have engaged in when He used false prophets to entice Ahab to go to battle or David to count his men. In those cases, Ahab and David had ownership of their decisions because the they had free agency. Real free agency requires real experience.
I believe that the typcial rejection of the doctrine of predestination using the "puppet master" charge against God would have legs if He did what you ask.
Brad B |
November 03, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Do you think it is logically possible to have a memory of pain, true or false, that is not, well, painful?
Maybe a false memory of pain would be less painful than the pain that gives rise to a true memory...but it's still painful.
And so the whole discussion again settles down to one of ways and means and amounts. Something God is in a far better position to deliberate about than we are. And, again, one in which God will deliberate in perfect sympathy with every suffering soul.
November 03, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Well I have memories of pain, and yet I am not experiencing pain right this moment. This may be due to the fact that I am not dwelling on my memories of pain.
But now let me do just that. I'm thinking of some stomach pain I experienced earlier this week. But I'm still not experiencing pain right now, thinking about it.
Do you think I am mistaken about my experiences? Do you think that I really am experiencing pain in thinking about my memories of pain, even though I don't realize it?
November 04, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Yes, I think you are mistaken. I think you are referring to a small pain and calling it not-pain because you are comparing it to a larger pain.
Do you prefer thinking about your stomach ache to thinking about a tasty steak you ate last week (or substitute whatever pleasure you actually had)?
Are you even indifferent?
November 04, 2012 at 03:32 AM
There are memories I enjoy more than others, certainly. But enjoying X more than Y does not mean that Y is unpleasant or painful. And it is possible to fail to enjoy Z without Z being unpleasant/painful/etc.
So I don't see that it's logically impossible to dwell on memories of pain or suffering without again experiencing pain or suffering.
But let's say for the sake of argument that these memories are painful or otherwise unpleasant. Why, then, is it good to have such memories? In the context of the previous discussion, why would God want to reveal something to us that involves us suffering?
It seems to me that the suffering would have to enrich our experiences right here and now in order for them to be worthwhile, i.e. in order to get God off the hook for giving them to us. But it's hard to see how suffering can enrich anyone's present experience in a good way.
Remember that pain is not always a bad thing. Sometimes---not often, but sometimes---I genuinely enjoy certain kinds of pain. And when I experience this enjoyable pain, I do not say that I am suffering. But I cannot think of any examples where I suffer, and where I would not be having a happier, more joyful and pleasant experience without that suffering. Yet in order to get God off the hook for giving us experiences of suffering, you would have to say that I'm mistaken, so to speak, about those experiences.
The thing is, I can't really imagine what it would mean to be so mistaken about that. I don't know what it means to say that such and such experience of suffering is good in and of itself.
November 04, 2012 at 04:13 AM
Well, obviously, you may enjoy a memory of pain more than a memory of pleasure simply because of the current feelings of gratefulness that the pain is over. Or maybe you can tell a better story about your horrible stomach ache than your tasty steak, and your current enjoyment of the story outweighs the memory of the bellyache.
But now you are not comparing the painful memory of a pain to the pleasant memory of a pleasure, you are comparing a painful memory of a pain with a current pleasant experience of gratitude or of telling a story (or whatever).
My fundamental premise is that in order for God to reveal his goodness, one of the things we have to know is what suffering is. Something we can't know without actually having suffered.
Everything else you raise is a question about the quantity of suffering and it's overall usefulness. But on those questions, we're not really in a position to lay any charge against God. He knows so much more than we do about how things must fit together. And He is as fully aware of all the pains that people ever experience as the people themselves are.
For example, you say that pain is sometimes a good thing. Well, my contention is that, all things considered, it is always a good thing. The pains are good in the sense that they are necessary means to a good end. Why? Because God feels all pains, and he would not tolerate even one of them if there were not something better that He achieved that would have been impossible without the pain.
The reason I think that God would not tolerate even one unnecessary pain is that, all things equal, pain is never a good thing. If you could get the same thing you get with a pain, but without it, then you'd prefer not to have the pain...as least you would if you were rational. I think this is true of every case where one might say that pain is sometimes enjoyable. It might not be possible to have the pleasure without the pain, but you sure would if you could.
November 04, 2012 at 05:04 AM
I actually think that pain can be a good thing even with all else being equal, which is why I have steered the conversation instead to suffering.
The problem is, it doesn't help to invoke the idea that suffering is a means to an end because God doesn't require any means. He can simply bring about the end through his omnipotent will.
Instead, you have to say that suffering is part of the end that God wants to bring about. And this is what you have been doing, by arguing it's not logically possible for us to have the good without the suffering.
My main point is that we have to focus on each experience in its isolated moment. This is because the chains of causality do not bind God. If God wants us to have experience X one moment and experience Y the next moment, then it will happen by God's omnipotence, regardless of whether X would ordinarily cause Y not to occur.
So you have to say something like this: Understanding the goodness of God logically requires us to suffer. Unfortunately, if you say that, then it just means that God has reason not to reveal his goodness.
To the extent that understanding suffering requires us to experience suffering, it is a good thing for us not to understand it. For God to force that understanding on us only causes us to have worse experiences in the present, with no better experiences in the past or future.
November 04, 2012 at 05:34 AM
We're probably using the term "pain" differently. I'm going to leave that to one side and simply agree to your proposal to use the word "suffering".
It is still true that remembering suffering is a form of suffering. It is still true that you can't know what suffering is without suffering.
You are right that the need for us to suffer is a reason for God not to reveal His goodness to us.
It does not follow from that that His revealing His goodness to us isn't worth it.
This is because there are other reasons God is aware of. There might even be an outside possibility that you and I are not aware of some of those reasons.
Obviously, though, God would not force any experience on us if it weren't necessary, for He feels the same experience.
November 04, 2012 at 06:28 AM
Let me ask you this: Do you think that we are suffering all the time, every moment of every day?
It seems reasonable to suppose that this is not the case. But if not, then what do you say about our understanding of suffering between experiences of suffering? Do we lose our understanding of suffering during that interim period? Perhaps we lose some of our understanding. But we still understand it to some extent, right?
If so, then I don't see why you should think we can't know what suffering is without actually suffering. We'd only have to say that our knowledge wouldn't be quite so robust as when we reflect deeply enough upon it. But that seems fine to me. Why would I want to reflect on something so unpleasant, to the point of bringing about suffering in the present moment? Far from making it better, it seems like that would worsen my present experience!
Anyway, if you think that there are such things as experiences without suffering, then God can just give us those, without giving us the suffering experiences.
November 04, 2012 at 06:45 AM
You have to be careful about your concept of “necessary”. Don't forget that Power ordained Man's Agency among Self/Other there in Eden (God's Image). Power thus determined the means, and the end. The Means *necessarily* involves Man's Agency (what BradB eluded to). Also, Power cannot create any such thing as a Self-Sufficient Self. That has implications on Life and Death and on the move of a created self either into the Uncreated Other or out. Love's Image "just is" Movement Among and Between Selves. "I" (apart from God’s You) for the Created Self is Death (Suffering) for it just cannot be sufficient in itself while "I" in the Triune is Life, Life, and Life. Movement of those sorts, into and out of and unto are *necessarily present* in Eden for Power Ordained it to be in His Image. And, of course, His express Will clearly revealed by His Own Words to Man there in Eden is that he may eat of any Tree, even a Tree called Life, and dive into, thereby, the Uncreated Other. ‘Knowing’ is a Palindrome for God is All, and there is No-Thing that is God-And, thus, to Know *Him* is to Know all, and evil is but less of Good, and thus there are more than one modes of acquiring Knowing. Which end of the Palindrome we dive into was left up to us, or, Power ordained that it would be, there in Eden. One way or another, whichever Tree we choose, Insufficiency meets All-Sufficiency and tastes to the full both. What Insufficiency “is”, and, what All-Sufficiency “is” will be known by any created self: it cannot be otherwise, and, further, Love’s Eternally Sacrificed Self Who forever pours Himself into and unto Other, for Other, and, even what evil "is" are Always and Forever found within Him (evil is less Good) and thus to Know *Him* is to Know every bit of all of those Realities "in full". "We will know Him even as we are Known". If you mean to chastise the Christian notion of Necessary, you may want to do so from "within" its own properties rather than from without. Knowing “evil” (that part of Goodness that is “I” rather than I-You-We) is Necessary, only, Power has Ordained one part of the Very Good Means (Good because it mirrors His Own Interior Image) by which man will acquire that knowledge: Agency.
And through that Ordained Means (which is Good) man will either Dive into the Uncreated Other and thus see Him, and seeing Him thus Know Him and Knowing Him, thus Know the A to Z “in full” (one end of Knowing’s Palindrome), or, man will Dive into the imprisonment of the Pure-Self, the technical term of which is Death (Suffering) (the other end of the Palindrome) and therein is This-Now where all of those very same Realities are, right now, becomming known in full. Power ordained, and even expressly stated, Man’s Freedom to eat of Life there in Eden. That is because His Multiple Perfect Wills (Perfection’s Triune Topography) had (has) all inclines, slopes, and tangents fully contained within His Singular Hand, and thus it cannot be otherwise that He Himself *will be* made fully Manifest and we will, upon seeing, know, and upon knowing, we will release Him from all culpability and declare, “Holy-Most-Perfect! Holy-Most-Perfect! Holy-Most-Perfect!” of that Lovely and Perfect Triune-One Whose very Name is Love. Again, If you mean to chastise the Christian notion of Necessary, you may want to do so from within its own tenants rather than from outside of them looking in.
When Power declares that W1 *will be* in *that Image* then there just is no possiblity of W2 or W3, or any other world, for Power has determined it. God Wills us Himself, His Image. And this in Love.
Ben if you cannot fathom that the bedrock of all of reality, every bit of it, is not only Love (God) but is also Power and what Power Ordains, and is also comprised of Love’s (God’s) Triune Topography *through and through* then your logic, your mathematics on possible W’s, and all your conclusions about both possibilities and about actualities will always be, though nanometers from the truth of something, still light years away from reality’s epicenter.
November 04, 2012 at 06:56 AM
By the way, I agree that, at least as far as we know, it is logically possible for God to have morally sufficient reasons to bring about our suffering. As I said, my main point here is that those reasons cannot be causal, but instead must be due to logical necessity.
But I have in the past made a second point, which is worth reiterating here: Whatever God's reasons are, we do not know them ourselves---at least, not in the sense of them providing an explanation. So for instance, perhaps God's reasons really do have something to do with revealing his goodness to us. That's fine as far as it goes, but it hardly shows us why it is logically necessary for us to suffer, which is the question we really want to have answered.
November 04, 2012 at 06:58 AM
God has His Imgage. Thus when Power ordaines that W1 will be in "Our Image" (God's Image) there is no such thing as some other possiblity.
November 04, 2012 at 07:02 AM
You cannot reflect adequately on the magnitude of your rescue unless you have, very clearly in mind, the depth of your predicament. And you probably need that clearly enough to make you squirm.
So yeah, I think you need to suffer, probably more than a little bit, to get the goodness of your redemption. And if you are not suffering as you think about it, you're not getting it.
Now, Ben, you've gone on quite a bit about the remembrance of suffering. Suggesting, I suppose, that God could have simply given us the (less painful) memory of suffering without the actual suffering. And that that would have been enough to accomplish His purpose.
There are two answers to this other than the fact that you are presuming to tell an omniscient, perfectly rational and perfectly sympathetic being His business (and good luck with that).
The first is that I'm not sure that the end in mind can be brought about by such a fraud. I'm pretty sure it can't, but if it could, the fraud would have to be complete. It's not enough that the falsely remembered suffering perfectly mimic the real memory. You'd also have to always believe that the suffering you remember was real...forever
Second, I'm not sure what the fraud really buys. If the memory of the suffering is the same either way, then the fact of the suffering is utterly irrelevant. I mean, it seems to me that if your argument is successful, then you've just undermined the contention that suffering is bad in any moral sense.
November 04, 2012 at 07:44 AM
Why W1 (in God’s Image) is better than W2 (a fake world of fake memories) necessarily:
Power’s Three Perfect Wills for Man:
A) Love’s (God’s) Image in Man. Personhood. Agency. Freedom among Many. Constraint within Many.
B) Wedding: Motion into Union, Seeing, Knowing, Becoming.
C) Birth: Immutability. Full Manifestation of Himself.
What God Wills in B has Two Wills in play there, and this is where the heat comes. This is where the weight comes. His Will ultimately is C and He insists that A be present, and that leaves some portion of B in the hands of the Created-Self. Ben you can’t miss this for if you mean to charge God with a crime you must see the Good of A and of C: A is *necessary* because Power ordains it and it is Good for it is the very Image of Love (Self/Other Agency and so many other properties). That means inside of B there *must be* two wills in play. Now, regardless of the fact that B has two wills in play (Power will not forfeit A), it is impossible for C to fail to come about: C will not be otherwise. What *cannot be otherwise” is A and C in utter, concrete reality. Inside of B comes the very Substrate that makes A even possible: Actual Agency and Self/Other and Love of Self and Love of Other. Power limits B necessarily by Ordaining A. This is why your Mathematical approaches to “Creating World 1 and W2 and W3” just don’t work: they are all based on the Non-Triune and on an Image that does not mirror Love (God). Analogy: if I am Power, and I Will C, and I mandate that C is a Birth of a Child, and, I also mandate that the path to C is “Pregnancy” which is B (Two Wills, Two Bodies…..the analogy breaks down) then it now becomes impossible for C to arrive without the very real possibility of Two-Perfect, Two Ordained ends of a Perfect, and Good, Palindrome: a Painful Pregnancy, or, a Hemorrhaging Pregnancy. Because A is Ordained (Self/Other Agency,) it is necessary that B *actually involve* that A in a very real way. This “very real way” shows why Brad’s and WL’s responses to your hypothetical “fake” memories are accurate: “fake” is impossible simply because such would violate A (which Power ordained) and make God a Puppet Master as Self/Other Agency would then be “fake”.
If His-Image is thus sacrificed, then Love’s Image is thus sacrificed, for He is Love, and thus we have a fake, loveless, and, as it turns out, even a Godless world by definition and necessarily, and, even worse, we have a world where Man really does not “know” anything *at all* for he was denied not just one end of Knowing’s Palindrome, but *both* ends of Knowing’s Palindrome (from my post above). No Actual Agency. No Actual Choice. No Actual Love. No Knowing: fake memories cannot “know” God, or, Fake Memories cannot Know, do not Know, anything at all. Utterly, well, Godless. That is the Fake world of Fake Memories. Of course our Agency there in Eden was not “fake”. It was very real and what makes that “possible” and “left in Man’s hands” is the simple fact that Power so Ordained it *that way* and the simple fact that Perfection’s Topography is Triune and not Uni-linear. Multiple Perfect Distincts. Love is not fake, nor is our Knowing of Him. Love is not such a cheap affair. God’s Image and Love’s Interior is a far, far better W than any W you or I could ever conjure up. God is Good. Love is Good. And it turns out God is Love. It is a Good thing to create the sort of World which can claim, “Made in the Image of God”. In fact, there can be no higher Good for any W, for, God is Himself the Highest Good. And further, there is only one sort of world possible, and not many. Either end of His Palindrome gets us to that stark realization of Insufficiency and All-Sufficiency in the full awareness of A to Z in which we relinquish all our charges against Love’s Plan and shout “Holy! Holy! Holy!”
Why Create: Love begets yet more Love. That is just what Love does. And so on forever. That is a Good Action. There is no better Action.
November 04, 2012 at 08:25 AM
Oh, I'm not presuming to tell God his business. If he really is omniscient and omnibenevolent, then no doubt he is in the best position to decide whether we shall suffer.
But what reasons could he possibly have? Well, they couldn't be causal reasons, because God is not bound by causality. Instead, his reasons would have to trade in something like broad logical necessity.
Since you are arguing for logical necessity, we may not completely disagree here. In particular, I'm quite willing to acknowledge that, as far as we know, it may be logically necessary for us to suffer in order to achieve the greatest well-being.
If we can agree that the reasons are not causal, then my next concern is that some Christians think they understand God's reasons. For example, Amy suggests that God has to bring about suffering in order to reveal to us his goodness. But even if she is not thinking along causal lines, this would-be explanation won't do. For it only serves as an explanation in case we already know that, first, it is better to understand the goodness of God than to avoid suffering, and second, that it is logically necessary to suffer in order to understand the goodness of God. But we know neither of these prerequisites.
You have tried to argue that we do know at least one of them---you think it really is logically necessary to suffer in order to understand the goodness of God. I don't think you have made your case here, as explained previously. But you have argued for it, at least, and I cannot disprove your conclusion, even though I am not persuaded by your reasoning.
In contrast, you have not argued for the other prerequisite. In particular, you still have to show that it is better for us to know the goodness of God than to avoid suffering. So for instance, you wrote that "if you are not suffering as you think about it, you're not getting it." Suppose that's true. But then, given that it's going to require us to suffer, why should we want to get it? Wouldn't that just give us a reason to remain ignorant?
Also, I am curious, what end exactly is it you doubt can be brought about by false memories? If I am having experiences right now of remembering suffering, what difference does it make to that present experience whether the memory is authentic? And if we are concerned merely about understanding suffering, what difference does it make whether or not I believe the memory is authentic? As long as I believe it is indistinguishable from authentic memories, that seems quite sufficient.
Finally, I don't see how you conclude from my argument that therefore the suffering itself is irrelevant. Granted, it's irrelevant in assessing the impact of our present experience on our well-being. But we are concerned about more than just that, right? For example, it's not irrelevant to our past well-being. And to the extent we care about the authenticity of the memory, it's not irrelevant in the present experience either.
November 04, 2012 at 09:21 AM
Hi Ben and W/L, following along I have two observations to mention.
One is regarding Bens contention that God doesn't require means and that memories can be immediately implanted. I think my earlier post addressed this [maybe not clearly], and W/L's use of the word fraud highlights a problem with this view that leads me to ask Ben, why stop at pain, why not God implant every memory of experience? I think once the well is poisoned with an artificial experience, it is poisoned completely in regards to authentic experience.
Observation two has to do with the premise that God doesn't require means. How do you come by the knowledge of this [divine]characteristic? You chastise Amy's statement whereby having made use of the revealed Word of God, [that if in fact it is Gods word, it is relaible] that He did speak in His word about the point Amy had referred to.
So one one hand you argue as though the revelation God gave to man regarding is omnipotence is trustworthy, but deny Amy's fair use implying that the scriptures aren't reliable. Your ability to argue a topic like this is severely limited since there is an obivous double standard and without malice I'm sure you are arguing strawmen because you use your understanding of the Christian doctrine without a full understanding. I'm not suggesting that you cannot argue, or that you shouldn't argue, just suggesting that you at least question the depth of your understanding of authentic historical Christian doctrines that demonstrates that you see coherency even if you deny the prior commitments.
Brad B |
November 04, 2012 at 01:55 PM
I'm working under the assumption that there are such things as good experiences and bad experiences. It would be nice if we could just have good experiences and avoid the bad ones, right? Well, if memories of bad experiences are required in order to have good experiences, so be it. But we don't need to actually have the bad experiences to have the memories of the bad experiences.
So when you ask, "why not God implant every memory of experience?" the answer is that we still want the good experiences, even though we want to avoid the bad ones.
You also ask me how I come by the knowledge that God doesn't require means to achieve his ends. Well, that's because God isn't bound by causality---which is in turn a consequence of his omnipotence.
Also, I think you may have misunderstood my criticism of Amy. I'm not saying she is wrong that God wants to reveal his goodness to us. She may even be correct that God uses suffering as a means to that end. The problem is, even if God uses suffering as a means to an end, this still doesn't explain why he wants suffering to occur, because he can bring about any given end apart from any and all means. He is omnipotent, after all. He need only wish for the end to occur, and it will, quite apart from any means to that end.
So Amy may be factually correct insofar as God uses suffering for such and such causal purposes. But this is no explanation for why God wants us to suffer.
November 04, 2012 at 02:43 PM
“….he can bring about any given end apart from any and all means….”
In other words, Power, the Uncreated, can copy Himself, in one creative act?
Now, He does create Man in His Own Image, and Immutability seems suggested in Revelations. But, again, Power cannot create the Uncreated, and, Power has set His Own Means and His Own Ends (some in Eden, some elsewhere).
It seems to me Brad is correct. You are chastising or describing Christian tenants from without, not from within them.
How does Power create an Immutable and Perfect Person, in His Own Image, and copy Himself, by sheer Power? Can the Uncreated be Created? If the answer to that is “yes” (we hold that it is) then we must wonder how on earth the Uncreated can be created, and by Uncreated we mean nothing less than this: Perfect, Immutable, Actual Self, actual Other (our God, each other), Capacity for I-You (both with each other and with God), Actual Agency between Self/Other (which births Choice), Actual Will and its Volition, Capacity for Delight, Love, actual Worth, Freedom of Movement among Many (which births motion into Self, out of Self, into Other, out of Other), Rigid Constraint within that same Many, Choice among Many (which births Agency), Personhood, actual distinctness, actual knowing (not fake knowing).
This ties into Suffering (Life/Death for any Created Self before its willful amalgamation with All-Sufficiency) but, first, it seems you are stating Power can create the Uncreated by sheer power, in one step, which is an odd assertion. Power has declared “In Our Image”. Power, thus, has determined, utterly, both the Means and the End for what ought to be impossible for Him to do (copy Himself). It seems you are saying, “Power can do anything” but that must submit to *some* logic, it seems. Round squares and all that………
How does the Uncreated copy Himself?
The story of that process is the whole Christian story. Logic and Love both rigidly mandate a process, not a single creative act, and that *necessarily*, and if one knows what “triune” and what “love” are, one readily sees such rigid necessity.
November 04, 2012 at 03:41 PM
I have to admit that scbrownlhrm speaks a little cryptically, or should I say speaks in symbolism where words are loaded, but some of his points are valid if one takes the time to try to see with spiritual, or an idealist lens. That said, it would be hard for someone who's not already familiar with biblical concepts to understand him and thus be completely disconnected with what he's trying to convey.
Ok Ben, I understand what you are saying that you'd be ok with false memories of pain/suffering, but not with false memories of good experiences, my question is why?
I think wisdom tells us that people value pain/suffering because it can yeild much more valuable long term experience than good experience since much of what people consider good is experienced as pleasure instead of the experiences that yeild happiness. Temporary pleasure is oftentimes a liar.
Widsom comes from a process of experiences, it is the product of realizing that sometimes what looks good is really a long term poison, and what looks less appealing is actually a gentle salve or an ointment to the body and or soul.
Brad B |
November 04, 2012 at 04:12 PM
I am not backing off on anything I said. We are arguing about ways and means and quantities, not about the conceptual possibility of pain in a world under the control of an omnipotent and good God.
But I also, I do not agree that God can achieve His ends and at the same time simply violate causality willy-nilly.
That is to say, I do not think it is logically possible that He do so.
The reason for this is that causality exists for limited beings. It is the guarantee, upheld by God, that the future will be something like the past so that it will be possible for us to learn from the past. Without causality, the universe and our observation of it is chaos. We are effectively blind without it. So we could not know anything at all.
As such, God must maintain some causal order in order for us to know anything at all. And for all I know some of that causal order may involve a causal connection between suffering and the learning of certain moral lessons.
Now, I know what the response is: Why not implant false memories about the past experiences so that there is no need to include the suffering?
First, even if that were so, you would still reproach God...after all you'd have all those false memories with which to do so.
Second, there seems to be a difficulty about when the simulated reality implanted within us ends and when real reality starts. Now?...or maybe now?
It looks like all of our history will need to be simulated.
Finally, as we start relegating more and more of our reality to a simulation within God, that simulation becomes more and more entitled to a certain description. That description is reality. And what we call 'reality' starts to take on the aspect of a dream.
And there is still another problem...I take it as a form of evil, or at least a serious limitation that's liable to lead me into all sorts of errors and even sins, that my memory is weak.
That I cannot remember all the details of an experience at will is something I might tend to blame on the Fall from grace. It seems that your effort to mitigate one kind of evil--suffering--by exiling to weak false memories, just ushers in another kind of evil: error. Even if we allow that no error or evil follows from the memory being false (and that's a big allowance), there is another kind of error that flows from the very thing that diminishes the suffering in the memory: its weakness.
November 04, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Brad I couldn't agree more. The crisp, clear and economical word-smithing of the RonH's and WL's and Darron's (and yourself) is a (very fruitful) style which, if I tried, I think I would loose much of the simple joy of writing, which for me is a sort of real-time pontificaton, and even prayer.....I sort of "stare" into His various attributes and just write......not always the most precise (or even reliable) method.
Ben, another reason that the notion of Programmed-Mentation may be off base is, yet again, God has said we will be in His-Image, and, I suppose, He Knows things in the most full, tragic, glorious, and "real" mode possible. Now, I know of no other species other than Man of which these next two things are said:
1) Wiil be made in His Image
2) Will Know even as we are Known
Those two things are the Christian tenants of Man and of his Knowing.
Now, my description above of Knowing's Palindrome there in Eden allows more mode than one to traveling, but only one mode of knowing, and only one final Thing to know (The A to Z of that All Sufficient One by this Insufficient One).
Power has declared His Own End, our own end, or, He has Willed something to Man, and it is "Himself".
His Knowing is not Programmed-Mentation, therefore, ours, being in His Image (ultimately) will not be, cannot be, that sort of knowing either.
I haev to keep coming back to getting us "within" Christianity's own tenants of Image, Power, Triune, Immutability, and Love.
And again, "His Image" mandates not one creative act but a *process* and *necessarily* so, given what Logic, Love, and the nature of the Triune bring to the table.
November 04, 2012 at 05:48 PM
"The reason for this is that causality exists for limited beings. It is the guarantee, upheld by God, that the future will be something like the past so that it will be possible for us to learn from the past. Without causality, the universe and our observation of it is chaos. We are effectively blind without it. So we could not know anything at all."
Brad B |
November 04, 2012 at 10:16 PM
That makes perfect sense. A few thoughts on that if I may. In Revelations it seems some sort of Amalgamation of God-In-Man, Man-In-God, Word made Flesh, will have finally come to fruition and by that I mean that that Book trails off into some sort of “No more Death, no more Sin, and on and on, etc….” Insufficiency, having willfully swallowed the immutable contents of Love’s All Sufficient Cup, and, having also been swallowed up by All-Sufficiency Himself, seems to (there in whatever ‘condition’ that is) be, not in gesture, but in actuality, in His Image.
I think what Ben may be trying to say is that “that” final condition could just be created in one creative act. Now, Time I believe may not be what it is “here” once “there”, I have no idea really, though, for all I know that thing that is Man may perhaps forever need that sort of “Frame” and after all Man does have a starting point “in himself” whereas God does not.
Having said that, it is clear that in Eden, Man DOES have that ‘Frame’ and so Time, and thus your notion of Causality, are, at the very least, “there to start with”. I really do not see a way for that to ever end for us, though, in that Amalgamation yet to come, who knows, I can go either way “once there”. ‘No Time’ and all of that may come into play for us “then”. I have no idea.
On Power’s limits:
We find in “His Image” this: The Uncaused Volition of Will. His Will is constrained, yet, it is not utterly constrained, and has what we would call Volition (the boundaries of which we can guess at). Having “that” brings in this: To fashion, or copy, His Own Image, Love must, it seems, create a species with (among other necessary properties) “that” necessary property, and then Stop. That species must then do what our Living God does: Willfully Act. That is just one of (there are others) the Necessary Parts and if your Programmed Mentation were to be employed it seems God’s Image, Love’s Image, would be sacrificed in what amounts to a fundamental way, as that Motion into and out of both Self and Other “just is” part of the Triune and thus to “block” (and replace the real with the fake) the Created Self from the Motion into the Self, and thus out of Other (out of God) would violate Love’s Image. And Ben, the reason the move into Self is Life for the Triune is because in Him all Selves are Holy-Most-Perfect, Holy-Most-Perfect, Holy-Most-Perfect, yet Distinct. There are no bad Options, though there are Options (and that Distinct one from the other) and the reason the move into Self is Death (Suffering) for the Created Self is because there just is no such thing as a Self-Sufficient Being other than God (Power *cannot* create such a thing) and so any Created Self who willfully moves out of the I-You (union with God) and into the Isolated-I by default cannot know Life, for it is God alone who sustains All. This is why “Good” is Love’s Triune of I-You-We whereas “Evil” is Good-Minus-Two: The Pure I (and that is also ‘how’ God ‘knows’ Evil to the fullest for whatever ‘I’ is is known by Him to the full).
Power’s limit: this is why (there are several other reasons that come readily to mind) Power cannot copy Himself in one creative act. Whatever He creates must have Volition of Will, and, that thing, being not “Himself” is necessarily dependent on Him. Now, if a Created Self is *both* in possession of Will’s Volition (which is necessarily so) *and* is also dependent on the Uncreated-Other (which is necessarily so), there is *necessarily* the Capacity (which is a Good Capacity) for that Created Self to delight in Self (the imprisonment within the Isolated-I) rather than in the Uncreated Other (the Community of I-You and joined to God). “Somewhere” in the creation of His Image the Created-Self must have “a role” or “a free move” or, more precisely, “actual volition”. Should it delight in the I-You, willfully, there comes, then, that bridge to Revelation’s Immutability: that Amalgamation that just is the Singular-We, which “completes” the Triune I-You-We, which is this: Word made Flesh, Man-In-God, God-In-Man. “That” species (if it is to mirror His Image) cannot be created in one creative act. God cannot “bypass” or “block” that open door into/out of the Self and into/out of the Other for such removes the very Image He is creating by removing Volition. Both “Know” and “Knowing” are found in His Image and, in His Image, both are “real” and not “programmed” and thus our own Know, to copy His Image, must also be “real”.
RonH (or maybe it was Ben?)
I believe you asked if God’s Will is determined by some other thing within Him, and thus is not Free. Cause/Effect, so to speak. This is the question which the Un-Linear must necessarily ask of the Triune, as the Uni-Linear’s perspective cannot fathom the Multidimensional and thus by default cannot fathom the sorts of Motions and Movements which occur inside of that very same Multidimensional. The very concept of “Uncaused Cause” strains us, yet we know such a thing must, ultimately, exist. We who are imprisoned (for now) within the Uni-Linear, we who are a ‘straight line’ strain to peer into what lies within that ‘Cube’, as it were (Lewis). Can there be, in God, more than one Perfect? More than one Actuality? More than one Will? More than one Person? And on and on and on. The Cause of Good within God? Of Choice within God? Of Love within God? Will’s Volition is not the whole of the Uncaused Cause for the Uncaused Cause is God Himself, All-Of-Him in His Fullness, and not one part of Him, for in Him we find no such thing as just the Isolated-Will, but also Wills (Being’s Cubic Topography), and not just Person, but also Persons (Personhood’s Cubic Topography) and not just Know but also keeps-on Knowing (Epistemology’s Cubic Topography), and not just Sight but also Seeing (Ontology’s Cubic Topography), and not just Desire but also Desiring (Joy’s Cubic Topography), and not just Love but also Loving (Love’s Cubic Topography), and not just an Option but also Multiple Perfect Options (Agency’s Cubic Topography), and not just Agency but also Multiple Perfect Agencies (Option’s Cubic Topography), and not just One but Three and not just Three but One (Perfection’s Multiple Perfects which are Distinct from Each-Other, which is Perfection’s Cubic Topography, Multiple Bests actually coexisting, ‘Holy-Most-Perfect! Holy-Most-Perfect! Holy-Most-Perfect!’). And also we find Self, and also we find Other, and also we find the Singular-We, and all of these Multiple Perfect Distincts comprise the very Singular Triune whose interior Motions and Movements live within, among, and between all of these perfectly exerted combinations and permutations forever flowing within the immutable semantics of an eternal language which is to us the singular Word yet which is to Him countless Words and we here in love’s delight embrace that singular Word now made manifest to us and are promised that one day, having thus swallowed Word, having thus dived into Him, and He into us, we will also, then, begin to read on past this ‘Title Page’ and delightfully devour the endless Words of a Book whose theme we cannot now even begin to see, or even think, or even imagine.
November 05, 2012 at 03:25 AM
If an experience is good, then it is good that I have it, right? Well, that's why I want to have my good experiences---because they are good.
But even if I did not desire my own good experiences, I don't see how that would make a difference. It would still be good for me to have those experiences, whether or not I consciously desire to have them. In other words, it's not about desire. Instead, it's about what's best for people. And all else being equal, having a bunch of bad experiences is not best for anyone.
As for pain and suffering being "valuable," it seems like you're still thinking along causal lines. Given that we are bound up with causality, I agree with you that suffering is quite valuable sometimes (though not all the time). But if God exists, we don't have to be bound up with causality. God can violate any causal relation he likes, via omnipotence. In particular, to the extent that it is logically possible to do so, God can get for us all that is currently valuable about our suffering, except without our suffering!
Now, some might argue that it is not logically possible to achieve those ends without involving some measure of suffering. That's what WisdomLover has argued. But whether or not you want to go down that road, there is no question that the reasons God has cannot be causal, for the simple reason that God is not bound by causality.
November 05, 2012 at 04:42 AM
"But if God exists, we don't have to be bound up with causality. God can violate any causal relation he likes, via omnipotence. In particular, to the extent that it is logically possible to do so.."
This is false *if* God means to make Man in His Own Image.
If you want to dive into Power, the Triune and its very present properties, Love and its I, You, and We, and into Immutablity out of Mutablity, I would be happy to do so with you.
If not, then just keep insisting that God can make round squares.
I can't stop you from doing that.
November 05, 2012 at 05:08 AM
Ben a clarification:
Your assertion is false if you mean to say that God can, in one creative act, by Power, create a species that is both in His Image and also Immutable.
There is a *necessary* means there, which includes the Created Self and its own properties, and, God's own properties, and, a necessary Mutable-Immutable arena.
But, again, if you merely want to assert that Power can make "anything", even round squares, then very well.
So much for any Christian notion of Triune, Love, and Immutability.
I suppose we can discuss some Non-Christian God then, as you seemed determined to do so.
November 05, 2012 at 05:15 AM
I agree with you and Brad that without causality, knowledge of the external world is impossible. (However it would still be possible to know certain analytic truths.) But your point is a good one as far as it goes, about us needing to live in a world where causal relations hold in order to have knowledge. That's because knowledge isn't alway defined by merely present experience. Instead, knowledge involves relations between the present and past experiences.
That's why I've been careful to use the term "understanding" instead of "knowledge." (Note that understanding can also involve relations outside the present experience, but nevertheless it does so to a lesser extent than knowledge.) We can be given an in-moment understanding of certain things without requiring causal order. Just consider whatever present experience is involved with such understanding, and take away the past experiences that caused it to occur.
Even so, I do not suggest that God suspend all causal order. I'm only pointing out that, as far as we know, it's logically possible to violate those causal relations involved with experiences of suffering. That is, apparently it's logically possible for us to have all the experiences we actually do have, minus all the suffering experiences. And if that really is the case, then God, having the ability to make that happen for us, ought to do so.
Anticipating something like this answer, you raised four objections. First, you suggest that even if God did this for us, I'd still "reproach" him. But this is not the case. I'm not reproaching him at all, neither here and now nor in my hypothetical scenario. Rather, I'm simply observing that whatever reasons God has for wishing us to suffer cannot be causal.
Second, you think there is a problem deciding "when real reality starts." But I'm not suggesting that reality has to stop or start. Instead, I'm just pointing out that, as far as we can tell, it is possible to skip over our bad experiences.
It's hard for me to make sense of your third objection. I guess you see my hypothesis as involving some kind of simulation of reality, but that's not what I'm proposing. Again, I'm just suggesting that we skip over our bad experiences. Nothing else.
Fourth, you "take it as a form of evil" that our memories should be inauthentic and/or weak. But I'm not sure how this helps. If you think that it's inherently evil for our memories to have those properties, well, I for one just don't care about that kind of so-called evil. I mean, what else is one to say in response to something like that? For instance, imagine if I told you this: I take it as a form of evil that a conscious being should willfully create another conscious being. Please note, I do not actually think this. But imagine that I did, and that I told you so. What are you supposed to say in response? Well, I don't think there's much you could say, except that you don't care about whatever it is I have in mind when I talk about that kind of so-called evil.
November 05, 2012 at 05:20 AM
"it is possible to skip over our bad experiences"
Good and Bad are not the goal: His Image is. Again, you are using an Non-Christian definition of Necessary, given what we see in Eden and in its Palindrome of Knowing.
In other words, what you are saying, really, is that God would have to slice out a portion of His Image from Man's Image, whom He means to create in His Image. That portion would be the real (not fake) capacity to do what our Living God does: Willfully Act, and, therein, move into /out of Self and into /out of Other. That is just one of (there are others) the Necessary Properties and if your Programmed Mentation were to be employed then God’s Image, Love’s Image, would be sacrificed in what amounts to a fundamental way, as that Motion into and out of both Self and Other “just is” part of the Triune and thus to “block” (and replace the real with the fake) the Created Self from the Motion into the Self, and thus out of Other (out of God) would violate God's Own Image (the goal).
The reason the move into Self is Life for the Triune is because in Him all Selves are Holy-Most-Perfect, Holy-Most-Perfect, Holy-Most-Perfect, yet Distinct. There are no bad Options, though there are Options (and that Distinct one from the other) and the reason the move into Self is Death (Suffering) for the Created Self is because there just is no such thing as a Self-Sufficient Being other than God (Power *cannot* create such a thing) and so any Created Self who willfully moves out of the I-You (out of union with God) and into the Isolated-I by default cannot know Life, for it is God alone who sustains All.
Power cannot create a Self Sufficient Self.
Although, as it turns out, such a self can be birthed in an amalgamation.
As for Immutability (His Image), that too comes into play. Only, it must house both the Created-Self (and it's Self/Other Volition, real, not fake) and the Uncreated's Own Self/Other Volition (real, not fake).
"In Our Image" necessitates that one creative act cannot bring you to a Created Self in the Image of the Uncreated, although, it can bring all sorts of Non-Christian gods and "their" images into the arena.
There are lots of those gods to toy with I suppose.
November 05, 2012 at 05:42 AM
Limiting my response to just the final two points.
What do you call it when God gives us simulated memories of a reality that never existed?
I'd call that a simulation. I'm willing to use whatever term you'd prefer.
Error as Evil
So error isn't bad?
OK, if you want to go with that, that's your privilege.
November 05, 2012 at 08:57 AM
What do you mean, "a reality that never existed"? Certain experiences won't exist on my hypothesis, it is true. But why are you calling these experiences collectively as "a reality"?
As for error being evil, I didn't say error isn't bad. Obviously, error is quite often very bad indeed. But it is not inherently bad, i.e. it is not bad in and of itself. Instead, it is generally regarded as bad because it causes us to have bad experiences. But remember, God can intervene in any causal relation.
November 05, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Why would God, the Christian God, who states He means to make Man in His Own Image, not make Man in His Own Image?
You entire thesis thus far on Programmed Mentation is predicated on that assumption on your end.
Or, are you meaning to discuss some other god, perhaps one of the monolithic ones out there?
November 05, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Make that, "Your entire thesis thus far on Programmed Mentation is predicated on that assumption on your end."
Not that error matters.
November 05, 2012 at 03:08 PM
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