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September 29, 2015

Comments

This issue came up (in passing) at a Bible study recently. I hold to a creationist perspective and believe that the biblical/theological evidence for traducianism mentioned above can be adequately addressed. But here I just want to mention an argument against traducianism that occurred to me when the topic came up at the study:

1. The soul is a simple substance, not composed of parts.
2. Traducianism would seem to entail that the soul is composed of parts (from mother and father).
3. Thus, traducianism is false.

I haven't given this much thought since it first occurred to me a few weeks ago, so maybe I'm off base in what traducianism entails (or off base in some other area). Maybe W.G.T. Shedd addresses it? It's been a while since I read his DT.

Rejecting the first premise doesn't seem like a viable route to me. The best arguments for the existence of the soul relate to our awareness of ourselves as simple substances (e.g., Goetz and Taliaferro)

The most important is that all the genetic information is present at conception. There is nothing added (genetically speaking) from that moment on.

OK! Let's go!

There are 3 billion base pairs in the genome.

There are 100 trillion synaptic connections in the cerebral cortex.

Not one is present at conception.

The best arguments for the existence of the soul relate to our awareness of ourselves as simple substances (e.g., Goetz and Taliaferro).

LOL! I bet they do.

The stuff you guys get up to!

Generally, I'd look a notion like that up.

But in this case, I guess not.


RonH,

I'm not sure how your neural argument counter's the contention that all the genetic information is present at conception. Neural synapses (the junction between neurons) do not contain genetic information.

Your contention that the nitrogen bases don't exist at conception is incorrect. The most obvious example is mtDNA.

It seems that various "Twin Studies" and the likeness of their personality characteristics would support Traducianism.

If so, it would be marvelous to consider the names of the saved having been written in the Book of Life before the foundation of the world.

And all that it would take for God to match-up each sperm and egg throughout the generations required to produce each distinct person.

Any single different sperm/egg combination would change the genealogy from that point on to the point that the elect would not exist.

Talk about God controlling all things....

Your contention that the nitrogen bases don't exist at conception is incorrect.

I only meant the neural connections were not present.

These conflict.

  1. both creationists and traducianists believe that God creates all souls; creationists claim God does it directly, while traducianists believe He does it indirectly through parents.
  2. Traducianism seems to have overwhelming support from Scripture. First, God said that He had finished His work of creation on day six (Gen. 2:2) and is resting from His work (Heb. 4:4). Therefore, it would contradict Scripture if He is creating souls today.
If it contradicts Scripture for Him to still be creating souls, then it contradicts Scripture for Him to be creating souls indirectly.

The way out is to note that it does not contradict Scripture for Him to create souls today.

A good thing for too, because there's nothing in my soul that can account for its continued existence from moment to moment. God has to keep creating it. The Cosmological Proof of the existence of God is ever new. There must be a Necessary Being creating the contingent things at every moment of every day...not just once a long time ago.

If the soul is a simple substance not composed of parts, as Remington says, then how can my soul be different from anyone else's soul? It would seem there's just one cosmic soul that everyone shares.

Or is it just that the cosmic soul splits off small pieces of itself? In that case, an individual soul won't have parts, but the collection of all souls does have parts. Right?

JM-

A mathematical point has no parts, but there are many.

Neural synapses (the junction between neurons) do not contain genetic information.

Clearly.

But Tim says

There are also scientific arguments demonstrating that every individual human life begins at the moment of conception. The most important is that all the genetic information is present at conception.

Conveniently, he ignores the 'information' in the connectome which, arguably is far more important to our identity and individuality than our genetics.


Arguably true is not the same as actually true.

Basically, it comes down to insufficient information. Until one knows what a soul is, it is hard to describe its construction.

Hmmm - some of this is over my head, but I wonder if it is related to something I've been wondering about.

Let's say that when I was conceived, a different one of my fathers "little swimmers" would have won the race. From an outsider's point of view, the difference is that my parent's child would have had slightly different genetics. However, what can I say about this from *my* point of view? Would this scenario have resulted in *me* having different genetics, or would *I* have never been born, but someone else born instead?

I only meant the neural connections were not present.

But you haven't shown that person = neural connections.

LOL! I bet they do. The stuff you guys get up to! Generally, I'd look a notion like that up. But in this case, I guess not.

If you do ever decide to look it up the two authors I mentioned parenthetical have given a nice summary in their book "A Brief History of the Soul". Bertrand Russell, in his history of philosophy, mentions that an attitude of contempt is not conducive to understanding a person's philosophy.

John Moore,

If the soul is a simple substance not composed of parts, as Remington says, then how can my soul be different from anyone else's soul? It would seem there's just one cosmic soul that everyone shares. Or is it just that the cosmic soul splits off small pieces of itself? In that case, an individual soul won't have parts, but the collection of all souls does have parts. Right?

There is no reason, that I can see, to think that there can't be two or more distinct simple substances. Consider, for instance, Leibniz's monads. These are simple substances, not composed of parts, but also distinct. To my knowledge (which is very limited when it comes to Leibniz) he did not believe that these monads were all parts of some greater Monad. It's also coherent to think of two different types of simple substances. Suppose that we have monads and tonads, both simple substances. Why would that view be incoherent? Likewise you might have the simple substance Being Itself (or God) and then the created simple substances of souls.

Trent,

Arguably true is not the same as actually true.

Basically, it comes down to insufficient information. Until one knows what a soul is, it is hard to describe its construction.

Maybe you're over-thinking it. What a soul is isn't really a mystery. A soul is a self. You are a soul. If you try to push that further and ask "but what's it made out of?" You've already assumed a position that runs counter to our common sense perception of ourselves. See the book I mentioned to Ron for some helpful cashing out of this.

Mark,

That's an interesting question. Assuming that each little swimmer has its own unique DNA then it seems like traducianism one might be tempted to say that a different person would have resulted from fertilization than you. And your DNA is accidental to the creationist perspective. But I'm not sure that traducianism *requires* such a marriage of soul and body. Maybe the mother and father both contribute a soulish part that is distinct from their genetic contribution and the genetic material is only the vehicle for the soulish part. So your same soul-part could have hitched a ride along a number of different little swimmers. That sounds really strange to me, but mainly for the reason I offered above about the soul not being composed of parts.


>Let's say that when I was conceived, a different one of my fathers "little swimmers" would have won the race. From an outsider's point of view, the difference is that my parent's child would have had slightly different genetics. However, what can I say about this from *my* point of view? Would this scenario have resulted in *me* having different genetics, or would *I* have never been born, but someone else born instead? - See more at: http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2015/09/how-did-you-get-a-soul-creationism-versus-traducianism.html#comments

Remington:

I would oppose up top point number 2 and number 1. If you are traducian you would assume that the soul is not created by different "parts" as if it were one part soul from Dad and one part from Mom. Rather, the creation of the physical part of the child also creates the soul for the child. The two are interwoven together. If the body were not created by mother and father, then neither would the soul. It's not like the sperm has one part of the soul, and the egg the other.

Question for Ron: I met some twins the other day. Their personalities were drastically different. Why? They have the exact same genetic material in every way. Yet one was withdrawn, the other very social and open. If they have the same environment, same school, and same everything, then why is one very withdrawn, and the other outgoing? Shouldn't they have the same kind of personality? If we are only physical, then shouldn't determinism mean they would have the same personality?

Traducianism doesn't make sense.

There cannot be a thing that has the metaphysical oomph to stay in existence from one moment to the next without a Necessary Being constantly maintaining it.

To anticipate an objection, since such a being is impossible, logically impossible, no, God is not omnipotent enough to make such a being any more than He is omnipotent enough to draw a round square, or preserve my bachelorhood during my wedding ceremony.

The entire universe is created ex nihilo moment by moment by God. For that reason, my soul is created ex nihilo from its first moment and at all of its moments, by God.

Now, can there be causes of things apart from God? So can we say that my parents caused me to be? Can we say that I cause the actions that are my sins?

Sure.

But understand that everything any cause does is already overdetermined by what God does. And what God does three seconds, three minutes or three trillion years after the first moment of our universe isn't different in kind from what He did at that first moment. He creates it all. From nothing. If He didn't, it wouldn't be.

Remington and John Moore bring to mind the nature of begetting. In principle, it seems both Creationism and Traducianism are possible as neither expressly contradicts this or that scriptural set of premises.

A Soul is a Self ”.

That seems to be the best starting and stopping point and if we find ourselves in a place which annihilates that – then we have actually contradicted some set of scriptural premises.

John Moore your question was interesting because it hints of “one large soul” budding out and each bud is a person, all part of one tree. That works as far as it goes – but it does not seem that I am inextricably tied to, melded with, every other Self such that the Self that is me must in fact Become as they Become. So there is a break there somewhere – as a Self – which a singular ocean cannot account for. The singular ocean of material works that way (at bottom) but in that substance true distinction is an illusion (non-entity in fact). So if we call the Soul, say, Substance-S, we find other properties to account for.

But what if the begetting of the Soul is not created ex nihilo?

(This is not in contradiction of WL's point - God is always the ground of all being - but - the Tree begetting a Tree is, well, some created thing begetting some created thing, and so on, within the circumscribed margins of a created world. To say a tree begets a tree is not to say that it stands-alone.)

Remington seemed (perhaps not?) to hint in that direction with differing substances.

But is it even possibly true that each new Soul is *not* via the ex nihilo route? It seems that in principle it is – as God fashions, say, a Tree to beget other, singular, stand-alone trees. Well that is true, then, of that substance, that essence. We call it, say,“material”.

But can we push that further? Can God also make some other substance, some other essence, say, Substance-S, which (like the Tree) also begets other, singular stand-alone S’s?

God can do “that” with “non-god” substances or with “created substances”. Full Stop. So the question is, can He do it with many substances in one world or are we committed, by Scripture or Reason, to insist that (at least in this world) God can only do thusly with one substance (material)?

It does not seem that either Creationism or Tradusianism offend Scripture or Reason outright, as neither seems to annihilate the Self, neither seems to leave us where all Non-Theists are left standing with Rosenberg declaring that the truth claim of “I Exist” is pure fiction – pure hallucination – even non-entity (metaphysically speaking).


The following quote helps to clarify terms and also reminds us of the principle of proportionate causality whereby “Being Itself” can beget, or create, or birth, “Being” (God alone can create ex nihilo) as it is (simply) impossible for properties to emerge in effects which are not already implicit in the causes. Given that principle to guide us, perhaps “Substance-S” can (logically) beget that which is its own nature (etc.). Traducianism and Creationism both seem to offer something, and both seem to (not surprisingly) be (in part) mechanistically peculiar. Also, both seem to affirm the Self and both affirm the ground of said Self to be, not the incoherent bedrock of the materialist’s continuous stream of particles which factually has no possible points of (actual) distinctions, but, rather, God Himself, Being Itself. BTW, the principle of proportionate causality is why the Materialist never can get from particle to mind, from particle to personhood, from particle to reasoning, from particle to “life here but non-life over there” as there are no factual “emerging properties” in the effects (reverberating chemical cascades) that are not already implicit in the causes (reverberating chemical cascades). As Naturalists of late are now beginning to tell us (forced by science to agree with the Theist), there is no actual, factual difference between “alive” and “not-alive” or between “life” and “non-life” – on Materialism / Non-Theism.


“Here’s one way to understand it. Any of us can easily actualize the potential of the oxygen in the air around us to move, simply by waving our arms. Only someone with the relevant expert knowledge could take oxygen and hydrogen and synthesize water out of them. It would take greater power still to cause the prime matter underlying oxygen, hydrogen, or water to take on the substantial form of a tree. But creation out of nothing requires more power even than that, in fact unlimited power. For it is not a case of drawing out the potentialities that are already there in a thing, but rather causing a thing to exist entirely, together with its potentialities, where nothing at all had existed before. It isn’t a case merely of modifying what already exists, but rather of causing to exist in the first place that which all mere modification presupposes.


Limited causes are limited precisely by potentialities which are not actualized. Hence a sculptor is limited by the degree of skill he has so far acquired, by the limits on his dexterity given the structure of his hands, etc. He is limited also by the potentialities of his materials – their capacity to be molded using some tools but not others, their capacity to maintain whatever shape the sculptor puts into them, and so forth. Now that which creates out of nothing is not limited by any such external factors, precisely because it is not modifying anything that already exists outside of it. But neither can it be limited by any internal potentialities analogous to the limits on a sculptor’s skill. For it is not merely causing a being of this or that sort to exist (though it is doing that too) – modifying preexisting materials would suffice to cause that – but also making it the case that any being at all exists. And only that which is not a being among others but rather unlimited being – that which is pure actuality – can do that.


The idea is perhaps best stated in Platonic terms of the sort Aquinas uses (in an Aristotelianized form) in the Fourth Way. To be a tree or to be a stone is merely to participate in “treeness” or “stoneness.” But to be at all – which is the characteristic effect of an act of creation out of nothing – is to participate in Being Itself. Now the principle of proportionate causality tells us that whatever is in an effect must be in some way in its cause. And only that which just is Being Itself can, in this case, be a cause proportionate to the effect, since the effect is not merely to be a tree or to be a stone, but to be at all.


So only God – who just is pure actuality or Being Itself rather than a being among others – can cause a thing to exist ex nihilo. But why could He not work through instrumental causes in doing so? For all the preceding argument would seem to show is that Being Itself is the ultimate cause of any thing’s existing at all. That is, it suggests that any cause of a thing’s sheer existence that was less than Being Itself would, either directly or indirectly, owe its own existence to that which is Being Itself. But why couldn’t that which is Being Itself impart to other things their sheer existence through such an intermediary – through an instrumental cause which, like the effect, is merely a being among others rather than Being Itself.


Here’s one way to think about the problem with this idea. An instrumental cause causes by virtue of being used to alter what already exists, as a chisel is used by a sculptor to alter marble. But to cause the sheer existence of a thing ex nihilo is not to alter what already exists. In the case of a material thing, it does not involve causing already existing matter to take on a new form (as a sculptor does), but rather causing the matter and form together to exist. Hence while it makes sense to speak of using a chisel in the act of sculpting a statue out of marble, it makes no sense to speak of using a chisel in the act of causing a statue to exist ex nihilo. For before the statue was caused to exist ex nihilo, there was no marble on which the chisel could be brought to bear; and after the statue is caused to exist ex nihilo, there is nothing for the chisel to do, since the marble already is (by hypothesis) a statue. Now any purported instrumental cause involved in any act of creation ex nihilo would be like the chisel. It would be a fifth wheel – it wouldn’t be doing anything, and thus would not be causing anything, and thus would not really be an instrumental cause (because not a cause at all). Hence the very idea of God creating out of nothing through instrumental causes falls apart on analysis.


So, while popular images of God as First Cause have Him knocking down the first domino billions of years ago, and while even Aquinas might seem to make of Him the distant terminus of a regress of simultaneous currently operating causes, nothing could be further from the truth. God’s relationship to the world is in Aquinas’s view much more intimate than that, indeed, as intimate as possible. At least where the sheer existence of things is concerned, He and He alone is directly causing them at every instant. He is, as the Muslims say, “closer than the vein in your neck.”


Once we have exhausted this topic, I have another question for you. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

On Creationism, it does not seem that "God finished His Work" is a "problem", for He must still (inside of Time) pour out, descend, fill, and that is true regardless of Man's condition – as such is true of the Contingent Self in any possible condition. God clearly "does things" inside of Time. In fact, the New Creation actually affirms both Working and God's Rest (which He prepared for us).


On Being Itself begetting Being Itself, and, on Substance-S begetting Substance-S, or, on Soul begetting Soul, and, on Tree begetting Tree, and so on, and, on the metaphysical (factual) insolvency of the Non-Theist to even join the conversation – for there is no difference between "life" and "non-life" – as Non-Theists / Naturalists are now, forced by their bizarre scientism, conceding:


A true physicalism makes no allowance for emergent properties in nature that are not already implicit in their causes. Unless, then, one is positing the existence of proto-conscious material elements, particles of intentionality and awareness that are in some inconceivable way already rational and subjective, and that can add up to the unified perspective of a single conscious subject (which seems a quite fantastic notion), one is really just talking about some marvelously inexplicable transition from the undirected, mindless causality of mechanistic matter to the intentional unity of consciousness. Talk of emergence in purely physical terms, then, really does not seem conspicuously better than talk of magic. (David Bentley Hart)

JBerr,

Concerning 1: As I said, the price for doubting premise 1 would be pretty high. So I really don't think that's a viable option (cf. the book I've mentioned a few times now). If Goetz and Taliaferro are right, then we have reason to think the soul is a simple substance. So what reason do we have to think the soul is *not* a simple substance? From what I can see, the only reason we might think the soul is composed of parts is if that's what our pet theory (traducianism) implies. But then what reasons do we have for thinking traducianism is true? From what I can see, it is only the explanatory power of the theory (which Tim sketches in the article). But I don't think it actually has an explanatory advantage over creationism. So there wouldn't be any advantage to adopting traducianism. And weighing against it would be our evidence of ourselves as simple substances.

Concerning 2: I think you're suggesting that the physical parts from dad and the physical parts from mom combine to create a non-physical, simple substance (the soul). This seems more fantastical the idea that some soulish stuff is carried by dad and some by mom. For one thing, it runs into the same problem as the naturalist does in the mind-body problem: given all that we know of material objects we can see that matter just isn't the type of thing that can give rise to intentionality, qualia, etc. Of course one can give the same response as the naturalist and issue a promissory note to one day hopefully have an answer to that objection... but why? For an explanatory advantage that doesn't seem to me to be much of an advantage. For another thing, this theory has the problem of explaining how the product of parts joining together is a *simple* substance when everything we see in nature would lead us to expect the opposite.

Remington,

But you haven't shown that person = neural connections.
I haven't aimed to.

Are you willing to see my point?

Tim says

There are also scientific arguments demonstrating that every individual human life begins at the moment of conception. The most important is that all the genetic information is present at conception. There is nothing added (genetically speaking) from that moment on. Given proper health and safety, the human zygote will develop into a newborn around nine months later.

Tim hasn't shown that person = genomic information.

In fact, if genomic information is even part of 'person', then connectomic information is probably a far greater part.

3,000,000,000 base pairs

1,000,000,000,000,000 neural connections

And, like I said, none of these neural connections exist at conception.
___________________________________________________________

Bertrand Russell, in his history of philosophy, mentions that an attitude of contempt is not conducive to understanding a person's philosophy.
This is precisely the principle I was referring to when I said
Generally, I'd look a notion like that up.
However, what useful thing lacks limits? So I wrote
But in this case, I guess not.

Ron,

Are you willing to see my point?

I think so, but your often too abbreviated to get a clear idea of what your point is.

Tim hasn't shown that person = genomic information.

In fact, if genomic information is even part of 'person', then connectomic information is probably a far greater part.

3,000,000,000 base pairs
1,000,000,000,000,000 neural connections
And, like I said, none of these neural connections exist at conception.

But Tim isn't arguing that an embryo is a person because it has a certain number of genes. He is simply pointing out that a new human being begins at conception. And a human being just is a person.

Generally, I'd look a notion like that up. However, what useful thing lacks limits? So I wrote But in this case, I guess not.

I don't know what you mean. This is an example of where you're being too terse.

Remington,

But Tim isn't arguing that an embryo is a person because it has a certain number of genes. He is simply pointing out that a new human being begins at conception. And a human being just is a person.

Wait.

He's saying a fertilized egg is a human being because "all the genetic information is present at conception".

And, you say, he's saying a human being is a person.

So, how can you say he's not saying "an embryo is a person because it has a certain number of genes"?


I don't know what you mean. This is an example of where you're being too terse.
I mean "The best arguments for the existence of the soul relate to our awareness of ourselves as simple substances" is silly. It's too silly to look up or say any more about.

Wait. He's saying a fertilized egg is a human being because "all the genetic information is present at conception". And, you say, he's saying a human being is a person. So, how can you say he's not saying "an embryo is a person because it has a certain number of genes"?

Because the *number* of genes is incidental to the point that it is a complete human being. His observation that it has "all the genetic information" is just his evidence for it being a human being. I'm not saying that he is saying a human being is a person (and I didn't say that he said that): I'm saying that Tim thinks a human being is a person.

I mean "The best arguments for the existence of the soul relate to our awareness of ourselves as simple substances" is silly. It's too silly to look up or say any more about.

In other words you're just expressing contempt for a position you find silly. But as Betrand Russell would point out, that's not an epistemic virtue that will help you understand a position (nor is it truth conducive).

RonH,
What's the difference between a human being and a human person?

you say: 'The best arguments for the existence of the soul relate to our awareness of ourselves as simple substances' is silly.
Why do you say it's silly?

Ron,

After looking over my previous comment I think it may be vague, so let me try to clarify:

When Tim observes that "all the genetic information is present at conception" this is his evidence that a human being begins at conception. It's not that a high number of genes leads us to think that an organism is a human being. We don't count the number of genes and say "Wow, that's a lot of genes... I think it's enough to qualify as a human being." *Furthermore* Tim believes a human being is a person (even though Tim didn't say that). And the reason I mentioned that is because I assume you think neural connection is a better candidate for being a person... since it seems pretty obvious that having a certain number of neurons is not what makes someone a human being.

RonH,

I see your why you might confuse Tim’s two prongs, or two statements, as contradictory.


You have to avoid the mistake of thinking that the Theist’s epistemology is the immediate reflection of a materialistic ontology. “Human Being” is the only descriptor the physical sciences can offer us here and that is simply because of the fact that causes cannot gift their effects with properties which they (the causes) themselves do not already implicitly house. Whereas, “Personhood” is something which a pure Scient-ism cannot ontologically locate and hence the Theist overlays those two terms onto a singularity – the embryo.


Tim is simply stating the obvious with two different "directional" statements:


1) The scientifically obvious (embryo = human being).

2) The Theistically obvious vis-à-vis natural theology (embryo = person).


How you should react is simply to ask two questions:


1) "Are those two statements compatible?"

2) “Can physicalism (etc.) go farther, fit better?”


Well, let's see:


Starting with the basics, brain development (neuronal) and additions (again neuronal structures, sheaths, and so on) do not peak until the late teens, and, combined with that, “properties” in materialism do not, in fact cannot, “emerge” if by “property” we mean any nuance whatsoever in the effect which is that which we do not find implicitly within the cause. If there is something the neurons are “doing” which you want to tell us the embryo “can’t do” then you are guilty of contradicting the most basic of scientific facts:


A true physicalism makes no allowance for emergent properties in nature that are not already implicit in their causes. Unless, then, one is positing the existence of proto-conscious material elements, particles of intentionality and awareness that are in some inconceivable way already rational and subjective, and that can add up to the unified perspective of a single conscious subject (which seems a quite fantastic notion), one is really just talking about some marvelously inexplicable transition from the undirected, mindless causality of mechanistic matter to the intentional unity of consciousness. Talk of emergence in purely physical terms, then, really does not seem conspicuously better than talk of magic. (David Bentley Hart)


If we back up a few steps and just grant the often used “Neurons equals Personhood” nuance (of course neurons, scientifically, do not mean or define human being) then we are measurably, factually in a state of affairs wherein the 10 year old is less valuable, less human, less of a person, than is the 17 year old.


But moving on:


There is no difference in property between the embryo and the adult where properties are concerned as far as the physical sciences can tell us. Why? Again, it is a simple fact that a chemical reaction is a chemical reaction. Therefore (again) if one means to claim that something, anything, within the effect’s property (person, awareness, suffering, joy) emerges downstream which was not already implicit in the cause – then one is dead in the water from the start, both scientifically and metaphysically. The Neurons do not (on science) “have something” and they do not “do something” there in themselves (the downstream effects) which the embryo itself (on science) does not “have” and is not “doing”.


That principle reinforces just why it is, of late, more and more Non-Theistic Biologists are affirming that, on their view’s premises, there is no such thing as “life vs. non-life”.


So far nothing that we’ve seen in the materialist’s tool box gives us any ability to tell us there is a downstream property which is not already implicit in the embryo. This does not help the Theist directly – but rather – it merely gets rid of the Non-Theist’s fray of fallacious “definitions”. Indirectly it may help the Theist’s two claims (human being vs. personhood overlaid one atop the other) as follows:


Tim merely states the Christian's claim: At conception there is a person.


Tim then simply agrees with the science: As far as science can go, science claims that, on species, on organism, and so on, the embryo is what we call a human being.


Science cannot say any more.


The arbitrary slicing point in the materialist’s chain of chemical reactions at “neurons” suffers from the fact that it cannot scientifically demonstrate personhood. That leaves one arguing against the Theist’s metaphysical claim with premises which cannot scientifically contradict the Theist’s claim given that future properties downstream (the effects) of the embryo (the cause) cannot magically appear if the causes themselves do not implicitly house said effects.


Whereas, that we observe properties (awareness, personhood, etc.) in the effect downstream makes sense vis-à-vis the Christian’s claim given that the cause and the effect do not have to suffer the pains of circularity, the pains of question begging, which the materialist’s toolbox must suffer in trying to define and account for those downstream properties. The Non-Theist has to “pretend” that there is something in the effect (awareness, personhood, etc.) which is not in the cause (embryo, etc.) and create a fiction by which to claim that sets of chemical reactions over “here” have constitutional properties which sets of chemical reactions over “there” do not, or did not, have.


Now, useful fictions are fine, but, we find then that it is always reasonable to draw that line anywhere for Reason herself hears only the sound of her own voice – and thus cannot be mistaken – for there is no fundamental contour of reality which she shall contradict should she move said line this way or that way by, say, a few months, or years, or decades. It’s all the same and the indifference of “Whatever” ends all sentences.


Whereas, our brutally repeatable experience of the Self affirms the Theist’s chain of continuity wherein we find – downstream – in ourselves all the stuff of person, of “I”, of reason-ing, of awareness, of logic, of the Self, of the Other, of love’s Self-Giving. The Theist is *not* saying that said properties are “happening” in the embryo’s biochemistry (the cause/effect issue) – but the Theist *is* saying that said properties are – vis-à-vis *essence* – fully present.


And that matches both the physical sciences and our undeniable and brutally repeatable experience of – wait for it – reality.

SCBLHRM-

On the statue analogy. To keep it simple, let's suppose the statue goes through three states. In state one it is uncut marble. In state two, it is partially cut. In state three, it is a complete statue. (We can suppose that this is one fantastic sculptor...he can get a statue out of a block of stone with two taps of the chisel.)

Now, God created the uncut marble with the point of the chisel resting on it...ready for the first cut...ex nihilo. Why? because none of the participants in that state have it within them a necessity of existence. The can only exist if a necessary being creates them.

State two is exactly the same. God created the partially marble with the point of the chisel resting on it...ready for the second cut...ex nihilo. Why? because none of the participants in that state have it within them a necessity of existence.

State three is also the same, for the same reasons.

So what do we mean when we say that the chisel, and not God, cut the marble?

I think we just mean this. God has arranged states in the past through the exercise of His ex nihilo creative power, so that chisel tap states have always preceded chipped marble states. And I've come to believe that it is God's will to always have the one follow the other.

WL,

A little more later, but for now, I'm wondering if the Soul, the Self (a human etc.) "must" be simple. Should Souls beget a Soul, all three are, though "Substance-S", still contingent beings, and it's not clear that an entirely simple substance ***that is contingent*** is factually simple to begin with. It's also unclear if Substance-S, should it factually beget, necessarily be - by fact of the ability to beget - non-simple (thus mirroring material), or can two fully simple Souls beget that which is its own nature (a simple Soul). True, in Trinity we may see a way through and affirm Traducianism, but then that would "seem" to mandate that all human beings are "one", which seems to break down.

I don't think it's logically impossible for God to create a simple substance with the capacity to beget, as we shouldn't limit Him to the "pattern" of the material (parts), but I'm trying to be careful and specific with the terms. And, of course, there's that eternally present ground Himself....

More later.....


I don't think it's logically impossible for God to create a simple substance with the capacity to beget, as we shouldn't limit Him to the "pattern" of the material (parts), but I'm trying to be careful and specific with the terms.

I guess it depends on what is meant by "the capacity to beget". Or more fundamentally what does it even mean for A to beget B.

For two contingent beings, A and B. When you say "A begets B" you might mean something like this.

  1. A did something and B followed.
  2. In the past, whenever I've seen things like A do what A did, things like B have always or for the most part followed.
  3. I thus, unless it is revealed otherwise, assume that it is the steady will of God that when things like A do the sort of thing that A did, that things like B should follow.
  4. So when A did what A did, I expected B, or something like B, to follow.
If that's what you mean by "A begets B", then things certainly do have the capacity to beget. That is, they have the capacity to follow the will of God.

But if you mean something else by "A begets B", what exactly is it?

WL,


To beget in the sense of contingent beings would simply be to generate, produce, an offspring, to bring forth in kind, or to issue forth from their own substance that which is what it is – in this case a Soul. And this must be something other than ex nihilo, as, for obvious reasons, God alone is a sufficient cause for that. Creationism is obviously the latter, but I am pressing on this idea of Traducianism to see what leaks out. Regarding the Soul, or, say, Substance-S., D. Oderberg (Real Essentialism) helps clarify the term:


“What, then, of the complex relationship between the soul, the person, and the matter the soul informs to produce the person? The first thing to note is that the soul is not the person. The person is the human being, the substantial compound of matter and form. A person is an individual substance of a rational nature, but the soul is not such a substance – for it *is* the rational nature, not a substance with a rational nature. Hence the fundamental flaw in the Cartesian conception of the person is the illegitimate identification of the person with the soul, taking them to be one and the same substance.” (Oderberg, David)


We know what “bringing forth in kind” looks like for the body – for the material. But what about the Soul? Can two immaterial natures – two rational natures – two Souls – give away of their own being and amalgamate the two natures in such a way as to generate or produce an offspring in kind, or to issue forth from their *own* substance/being and find such to be the very genesis of that which is what they are – a (new, begotten) Soul? Well, if so then the child’s primordial constitution stems directly from other (contingent) Souls.


I’m not convinced of such just yet.


Though, to be honest, I don’t have any way to logically exclude it except to say, “Well, it has to look like material when it transpires otherwise it just cannot be, and conceptually speaking it looks like something quite different may be going on and so it does not look coherent”. But the problem with that is that we have no good reason to expect the two to look alike. In fact, as the end of regress is not *particle* we have very good reasons for the event (if it happened) to look conceptually different.


None of this, either Creationism or Traducianism, needs to commit the errors of either Occasionalism (which threatens to collapse into Pantheism) or of Conservationism (which threatens to collapse into Deism). While Oderberg refers to the third option, what he terms Divinie Premotion, Feser agrees but terms it Concurrentism, or the metaphysical middle man thus avoiding two errors:


“Whereas the occasionalist attributes all causality to God, mere conservationism goes to the opposite extreme of holding that although God maintains things and their causal powers in being, they bring about their effects all by themselves. Concurrentists like Aquinas take a middle ground position according to which secondary causes really have (contra occasionalism) genuine causal power, but in producing their effects still only ever act together with God as a “concurring” cause (contra mere conservationism)…… Concurrentism alone, the Thomist holds, can adequately account for both the natural world’s reality and its utter dependence on God. Occasionalism threatens to collapse into pantheism insofar as if it is really God who is doing everything that creaturely things seem to be doing, it is hard to see how they are in any interesting way distinct from him…… Mere conservationism, on the other hand, threatens to collapse into deism, on which the world could in principle carry on just as it is even in the absence of God. (For if, as the Scholastics hold, a thing’s manner of acting reflects its manner of existing, then what can bring about effects entirely independently of God can in principle exist apart from God.)”


I’m inclined towards Creationism rather than Traducianism, with three qualifications:


1) Some not so minor part of that is because it does not seem to look the way it looks when the material order does it, which is illogical for logic infers that it in fact should look different, and, 2) the problem of the sinful nature (and a few other problems) which Traducianism accounts for are appealing, and, 3) In all of these accountings, whatever is touched on, all that is truly is, in some sense, created at every moment ex nihilo and on the Traducianism front we don’t find any need to void that – it’s there – just as it is in the material mode of bringing forth in kind – as the full essay at the Feser link explains in more detail.

Metaphysically speaking there are a few approaches to defining the word Soul.


A few options can be contrasted:


A Problem For The Hylomorphic Dualist


Defending Hylomorphic Dualism

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