Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

God, gods, and Creation

October 06th, 2017 by G.

To have a coherent metaphysics [of free will] seems to me to entail a coherent and purposive universe – which seems to require a single creation – or else (if there were no creation, or many) everything would ultimately be ‘random’, incoherent, contingent and arbitrary; and agency would have no meaning.

And it also seems to require the participation of agents (e.g Men, in this instance) – that Men are actually engaged with the universe, and can change it by and from their own distinctive natures. This seems to entail that Men are ‘gods’ – in the sense that they are sufficiently separated from reality not merely to be caused-by it (i.e. determined) – and also that Men are able to change reality from themselves, expressive of their nature – and not merely arbitrarily. In other words, these are the characteristics of gods.

-thus Bruce Charlton

To act meaningfully is divine.  Your choice sets in train events that otherwise would never be, for good or for ill.  And so irrevocably that no one can undo what you have done, and only God through death can make up for it.  That is the glory and damnation of Man.

Comments (14)
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October 06th, 2017 06:22:15

October 6, 2017

Bruce has been hitting it out of the ballpark this week. These four are profound, yet short and to the point, hard-hitting, and easy for me to understand. They are going into my BC bookmark folder.

Asking the wrong questions:

Agnostic = atheist:

Evil or just stupid:

Metaphysics vs evidence:

The other two that he wrote this week are too advanced for my level of understanding.

October 6, 2017

Yes, the JG is fortunate in its friends.

You among them, @Books. Yesterday I read the family your post on learning to recognize the Voice. Then we went to family scripture study. Coincidentally, or providentially, we were reading Alma 32 that day.

For me, “coincidences” are another way of recognizing the Voice.

Bruce Charlton
October 6, 2017

Thanks Books! It’s particularly welcome to know the blog is serving a useful purpose for you, since it is clearly being squeezed by ‘the powers that be’ in some way I don’t understand; such that my readership is now less than a quarter of what it was earlier this year (happening in two or three sudden step-down increments). I presume/ guess this is because I am listed by various Alt-Right sites, and have consequently become a bystander victim of the mass media assault on ‘Fake News’, or something of that sort… (I have also had, for the first time, timewasting, multi-identity troll/s – probably paid). But, if present trends toward totalitarianism continue, this kind of thing will happen to all Christians, eventually – so it’s good practice for carrying-on regardless!

October 6, 2017

BC, Bookmarking your short-and-profound posts has been useful when commenting on other blogs. Often, you’ve already answered the questions/issues brought up elsewhere. So the title+link, and maybe a short snippet, can be pasted into the comment, following an introductory “Dr Bruce Charlton has already addressed this issue:”.

My most often used are the two about judging, one about treating different things equally, and the one on constant revolution on the left.

October 7, 2017

Amen to Bruce knocking it out of the park this past week. Funny thing though, the more I actually internalize the stuff he writes, the more I feel I should pull back from reading things on the internet…yes even wholesome things….and more fully participate in my life or engage with slower forms of thought.

So maybe, Bruce, the drop in your readership comes from all your readers simultaneously taking your advice to heart (although I’ll submit that your explanation is more plausible).

October 7, 2017

Here’s the rest of my Charlton bookmark folder:

Thought Prison: The Fundamental Nature of Political Correctness.

Addicted to Distraction: Psychological consequences of the Mass Media.

Calls to treat different things (or people or groups) ‘equally’ are ALWAYS, eventually, *totally* destructive.

The New Left is Permanent Revolution. (Ie, constant triangulation, or moving the goal posts.)

Don’t Judge Me!

It is not un-loving to judge people as having evil intentions – indeed such judgements are absolutely required.

The psychology of abstract suicide deriving from secular altruism – the ‘hypocrisy’ of Western elites is a necessary consequence of self-destructive policies pursued by cowardly and short-termist people. (Or, secular altruism is suicidal.)

The West cannot be saved, because it wants to die; but persons can be saved, and their lives transformed into joy.

Supporting evidence to BC’s claim that medical studies are bogus:

Screw-up or conspiracy, a false dichotomy.

Blogs usually allow 2 links before they automatically filter a comment.

October 8, 2017

I consider Bruce’s blog a profound antidote to the errors of the Zeitgeist, which I personally find very helpful.

October 9, 2017

“To have a coherent metaphysics [of free will] seems to me to entail a coherent and purposive universe – which seems to require a single creation …”

This is basically the thought that I have been trying to formulate in response to Bruce’s contention (if that’s the right word) that the universe or reality is pluralist rather than monist. Even if positing multiple gods all of whom are capable of creating, doesn’t there have to be one ultimate reality in order for there to be a system within which those gods all attain to godhood in more or less the same way, i.e. by being righteous?

Bruce Charlton
October 10, 2017

@Agellius – my contention is that classical theology achieves this – i.e single creation; but not the other – i.e. by single creation ex nihilo there is left no space/ place for agency: everything is *just* an aspect of God.

The paradox of classical metaphysics is ‘solved’ by just stating, as a mystery, that there *is* real agency – but I am striving for a fuller and more common sensical explanation, which does not leave a core attribute as a mystery.

(One problem of having agency/ free will as a mystery is that it is often, in practice, denied – by deterministic versions of Christian theology/ church authority – that become de facto very much like Islamic theology: i.e. near-100 percent obedience, near-zero percent real agency – agency’s role is simply to choose obedience. If that is what is wanted/ believed, Islam does it much better, and explains it much more clearly! This, historically, is the great challenge of Islam for Christians – to put it very starkly: either Christianity makes a coherent and necessary place for agency within the single creation, or else Islam will be superior.)

October 10, 2017

Sorry but I’m not seeing your point. Why does creation ex nihilo leave no space for agency?

Bruce Charlton
October 11, 2017

I mean at a straightforward, commonsense level – if God made absolutely everything from nothing (nothing pre-existed): then there is nowhere for any will to come-from except God.

(With creation ex nihilo…) All will is of-God – it cannot come from anywhere else, because there is nowhere else for it to come from.

October 11, 2017

Agreed, all will comes from God. But as far as I can see, it doesn’t follow logically that since wills come from God, there is no room for agency.

Unless in saying “there is nowhere for any will to come-from except God”, you mean that no one can will anything unless God wills it? But that doesn’t follow from creation ex nihilo. As St. Thomas writes,

“Free-will is the cause of its own movement, because by his free-will man moves himself to act. But it does not of necessity belong to liberty that what is free should be the first cause of itself, as neither for one thing to be cause of another need it be the first cause. God, therefore, is the first cause, Who moves causes both natural and voluntary. And just as by moving natural causes He does not prevent their acts being natural, so by moving voluntary causes He does not deprive their actions of being voluntary: but rather is He the cause of this very thing in them; for He operates in each thing according to its own nature.”

(S.T. I, Q. 83, A. 1.)

(This is in response to the objection that “what is moved by another is not free.”)

Bruce Charlton
October 12, 2017

@Ag – I suppose this is either something one sees as a problem or not.

To me it seems that if God made *everything* about us: the entirety of our substance, the way we are, our character, perceptions, bodies and brains, strengths and weaknesses, how we respond and think, our motivations and gratifications; and also everything about our situation – then there is no room for free will.

(I don’t find Aquinas’s classification of causes to be coherent, at an ultimate level – they just seem like rules of thumb, other classifications being equally plausible – or a unity of causality. They are indeed metaphysical *assumptions* – but of a kind which cannot elicit my intuitive assent.)

October 12, 2017

Do you also think there is no room for natural processes such as physical growth and decay, erosion, tectonics, evolution, disease and healing? Or does it necessarily follow that God, since he made everything, is causing all of those things by means of his supernatural power?

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