God as ‘meaning-maker’

themeaningoflifeWe’d like to continue engaging Alan Rhoda with a few more observations. We began our response with positing ‘Aesthetic Value’ as a transcendental a priori (along with Truth, Beauty, and Goodness). By ‘aesthetic value’ we mean ‘experienced value’ (‘satisfaction’, ‘beatitude’ or ‘existential fullness’) which in light of the other transcendentals would be an experience of truth, beauty and goodness, or, arguably, an experience which just is truth, beauty and goodness, or again, in other words, an experienced beatitude the perfection of which is the fullness of its knowledge, beauty and benevolence. This is what we take God’s being the summum bonum (greatest good/highest value) to mean and which is the antecedent actuality for the possibility of all other experiences and valuations.

Our second observation was (though not directly a response to Alan’s points) to represent Greg’s summary of how it might be conceivable that such a divine experience is also open to experiencing a contingent world. Thirdly, then, I explored two possible models for thinking of divine passibility, which to summarize briefly are:

(1) Segregated (non-integrated) divine aesthetic experiences of the world. Here there is no overall divine experience which integrates all the world’s joys and sufferings into a single aesthetic experience. The divine feeling for each particular occasion is not itself qualified by any other experience God is having. But this, we observed, fails a common passibilist criticism of non-passibilist views in that it fails to maintain the integrity or unity of experience which many passibilists believe must define God’s experience of created joys and suffering. There would remain that joy in God which was not, for example, defined by the Christmas Day Tsunami that swept through Sri Lanka. This is generally thought to be morally objectionable to passibilists. It would be wrong of God to possess a happiness not vulnerable to determination by the world’s suffering.

(2) An integrated (synthesized) divine aesthetic experience of the world. On this understanding, discrete instances of creaturely joys and suffering are integrated into a single, indivisible aesthetic appreciation. God’s overall aesthetic experience is just the synthesized unity of all the world’s sufferings and joys. This synthesized unity is, as we’ve described elsewhere, the difference of an equation (all worldly joys minus all worldly sorrows equaling the felt quality of God’s experience). But this model, we observed, also fails to deliver on the depth or intensity of suffering which a strong passibilist wants, for it may be that when some horrible injustice occurs, God’s overall integrated experience remains unspeakably blissful.

In this post we’d like to work toward a third possible model for thinking about the felt (aesthetic) nature of God’s experience of the world, one which argues the integrity and unity of God’s experience but also admits God’s triune relations as summum bonum. Is this third alternative a passibilist or an impassibilist model? We don’t know. Some passibilists we know will dismiss it as impassibilism. Some impassibilists we know will dismiss it as heterodox.

We suggest, first, thinking through the notion (emphasized by Alan) of our making a “difference” to God, of our “meaning something to God,” in terms of a well-established understanding of evil and its suffering that we know to be Orthodox as well as advocated by Greg in Trinity & Process. And as far as we can tell it’s equally a Whiteheadian/Hartshornian (Process) conviction. In fact, it might be the one concept that all the disagreeing parties in this debate have in common. The notion we’re describing is that understanding which views evil and its suffering as privation, namely, ‘privation of being’. We suspect that if we approach the aesthetic question from the conviction that aesthetic value is a transcendental a priori (God as summum bonum) and with a concept of ‘privation of being’ in hand, we may find a helpful way to express things to the satisfaction of a few more people. Whether it’s compatible with open theism or not is for others to decide.

We have one other iron in the fire:

The Maximian (Orthodox) doctrine of the logoi (‘meanings’) of created beings. One could express this doctrine in Process terms as those “divine subjective aims” which prescribe for and extend to all occasions that particular value each is capable of instantiating. Greg expresses this Maximian doctrine (without knowing it) in Trintiy & Process, equating “divine subjective aims” with our essential disposition for that “aesthetic value” God offers for realization in creaturely experience. It’s a fundamental Process concept as well. In Maximus these logoi seem to be conceived exclusively in terms of our final telos or end (our glorified state), they can easily be conceived as divine intentions for our progress en route to that state.

The interesting take-away we’d suggest here includes:

(a) viewing the logoi of created things in aesthetic terms as “divine subjective aims” reflective of the Logos in whom they inhere, from whom they derive, and in whom we participate (2Pet 1.4’s “participating in the divine nature”),
(b) viewing the logoi as our God-given “meaning,”
(c) viewing these logoi as eternally pre-existent in God (the summum bonum) and expressive of his beauty and goodness contingently by us free creatures.

Alan’s concern for our “meaning” to God is something we can hardly ignore. The search for meaning is wired into us. And if what we’re describing is the case, then our “meaning” is God-given. Essentially, our “meaning” isn’t the difference we make to God but the difference God makes to us, a difference we freely partner with God in realizing—yes—but a “meaning” which in the end is just our logos which God offers us as the aim/telos of our being. In this way God is the end of all things—from whom, through whom and for whom are all things. Creation is that gratuitous, for apart from God’s preconceived contingent expression of himself, his dreams for our free creaturely participation in his life—we literally are meaningless.

How would the traditional notion of ‘privation’ help qualify things here? Privation is an ancient concept that describes the extent to which an entity fails to achieve its telos, to realize its logos (meaning), or here to actualize its ‘divine subjective aim’. Metaphysically speaking, ‘privation’ is ‘meaninglessness’, not an alternative meaning that competes with our logoiAll things exist in virtue of their God-given logos, which we
Word_of_God_hugging_usmight think of simply as God present in us saying “be this…” as the ground of our being. Absolute aesthetic failure, strictly speaking, is non-being or non-existence (and thus non-meaning). Hence, the measure to which we fail to conform to our logos is the measure of our meaninglessness, not our meaning, while the measure to which we conform to God’s subjective aims for us is the measure to which we achieve our God-given meaning. But must not the extent to which our existence is privated make a ‘difference’ to God on par with the extent to which we conform to our logos? In an important sense we’re arguing for here, no. We don’t see why these ‘differences’ must be similar. But this needn’t be taken as bad news. What metaphysical difference can such privation have? It has no substance, enjoys no meaning, offers no space to being. Its truth is the truth of darkness which is only describable with reference to that light which is real.

There is one question within Boyd’s reconstruction of Hartshorne that’s appropriate here: How are we to imagine the failure of a thing to be all it might be as diminishing that divine experience which is every thing’s aim and possibility of being to begin with? If God offers an occasion a particular divine subjective aim which is irreducibly aesthetic in nature, how can that occasion’s failure to achieve its possibilities diminish that divine experience which itself determines every occasion’s aesthetic aim and against which every occasion is measured? This brings us round to Alan’s stipulation that God’s affective diminishment (on account of us) should not be thought of as functionally impairingWe wouldn’t disagree, of course. The problem — from a modified Process view such as Greg’s trinitarian reconstruction of Hartshorne — is that it is among God’s ‘functions’ to offer every being in the world its aesthetic aim (its logos). God’s beatitude grounds and informs this function (as much as I dislike using the word ‘function’). Thus if God is aesthetically depreciated or diminished in his experience, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that he is functionally impaired.

There has also been concern over our favoring Alan’s suggestion that our ‘difference’ or ‘meaning’ to God may very well be ‘infinitesimal’. Infinitesimal describes a perspective on a comparison between things. Of course our pain is not infinitesimal from our perspective, and God knows this. But it would arguably be infinitesimal from, say, the perspective of the fullness and necessity of God’s existence. In any event, our point in picking up on Alan’s term is not to suggest that God takes infinitesimal notice of us or our finite perspectives. Quite the contrary. The point is that if our meaning to God is the difference he makes to us, if our significance and worth are God-given and God-derived, then we enjoy the same attention and affections with which God pursues Godself. We’re suggesting that our true ‘meaning’ to God is our ‘worth’ or ‘value’ to God and as such is derived and unchanging. He loves us as he loves himself, not infinitesimally. So we receive the full measure of God’s attention, affections, desires and resources. To say our pain, suffering and all other forms of privated being are ‘meaningless’ to God, then, is not to say God doesn’t recognize or care about our well-being. It’s to say he cares only about our well-being, and that he is our well-being.

One final note, and a speculative one, forgive us. It expresses no judgment of character in the slightest. We are only thinking out loud about why people hold the positions they do. Take Moltmann for example. His influence looms large over the (im)passibilism debate. But for all his emphasis on a cross-centered theology, it doesn’t seem to us that Moltmann begins with the Cross at all. It seems more the case that Moltmann begins with Moltmann (i.e., his experience and pain from WWII), and he settles in his own mind on just what kind of God it is that he (Moltmann) is willing to worship and serve, and the condition God must satisfy is Moltmann’s own pain as he defines and identifies with it, not any rational or obvious, biblical criteria about the Cross. We apologize to our Moltmann fans. The same may be true we suspect for Greg. Before his hermeneutic is cruciform, it may be egoform. That is, Greg may have already told himself what the Cross has to mean for God to satisfy his pain and earn his worship. Greg has shared a good deal (publicly) about crisis moments in his faith and how they all reduce to theodicy. If our speculating here seems out of turn, we apologize, but there’s an important point we seek to illustrate, namely, that Greg may not be interpreting his pain in light of the Cross. That would indeed be a cruciform hermeneutic. Could it be rather that he’s interpreting the Cross in light of his pain? That, Kierkegaard warned, is despair.

(Picture here.)

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18 comments on “God as ‘meaning-maker’

  1. nelsonct says:

    I have a problem with the definition of God’s perfect bliss as an unsurpassably intense aesthetic experience. There is no such thing as an unsurpassably intense aesthetic experience. However intense an aesthetic experience is, we can conceive of an even more intense aesthetic experience. In other words, the range of aesthetic intensity is infinite and any point in the intensity spectrum can be surpassed.

    Now, in God’s atemporality sans creation, God can be said to be the happiest He could be in such “circumstances”. And you insist that such happiness cannot be improved upon. Why not? I can imagine God feeling happier if He can share that happiness with more subjects. So in reality, God’s bliss sans creation would be the least happy God can be. I then think of God’s happiness as eternally improving and never diminishing. Think of it as “the more, the merrier”.

    But then, what about suffering? Can God suffer? I could imagine God feeling disappointment when His plan to include a certain subject (a creature) in His happiness doesn’t work out (due to that creature’s freedom of choice). That would include God’s negative reactions against ills in His creation like death, violence, suffering and sin. God’s telos is to constantly improve His happiness by creating other subjects who He can share that happiness with. Our God-given telos is to share in God’s happiness. Whatever hinders us from sharing in God’s happiness God hates (utterly disapprove of).

    So in my thought-experiment, God’s happiness cannot be diminished, diluted or stretched thin. God is happy and He wants to share that happiness. Nothing can diminish God’s happiness. God can improve His own happiness. The way God improves His own happiness is by sharing it with His creatures, which He created with the purpose (telos) of sharing in His own happiness. When something or someone disrupts God’s plans to grow His happiness, God is motivated to act to remove the disruption. Maybe an illustration would help.

    A king was so happy that he decided to throw a party and invite everyone in his kingdom. When he sent the invitations, many accepted but others did not. Some didn’t have the means to come. Others didn’t want to come. A few didn’t want anybody to come. The king really wanted all the people to come to the party. He provided whatever was necessary for everyone to come to the party. He even went to get them himself. In the end, everyone who wanted to come to the party came and had a good time. Those who didn’t want to come, missed it.

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    • tgbelt says:

      nelsonct,

      Thank you for the comments.

      What I’d want to ask you is, Would you agree it’s God’s nature to maximize his own happiness (or at least attempt to maximize his own happiness)?

      Tom

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      • nelsonct says:

        I would say it is in God’s nature to maximize the good. Sharing happiness with others is good. Therefore, it is in God’s nature to share His happiness with others. The more subjects (creatures) God shares His happiness with, the better. And because God delights in the good, His happiness improves the more subjects He shares it with.

        Regarding suffering, it would be good to risk suffering if such suffering would ensure a greater good, provided that good outweighs the suffering. God is maximally good, therefore He must be passible (able to suffer) and willing to suffer if it’s required to ensure a greater good that outweighs the suffering.

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      • tgbelt says:

        Hi nelsonct,

        Hope you have a wonderful and blessed new year.

        It won’t surprise you to know that my struggle with your answer is that it destroys God’s freedom and posits the necessity of God’s determination to create. If it is God’s nature to maximize the good, and it is better to create and share the divine goodness with created beings than not to do so, then God can hardly be free from creating; that is, it cannot be consistent with his nature not to create, for not to create would be to fail to maximize the good.

        This is not a view I can hold because it ends up destroying what it is concerned to secure, namely, God’s perfect goodness/benevolence. It also seems to entail the conclusion that God will never be completely good or benevolent, for if his goodness is increased in expanding the number of people who share it (“the more the merrier”), and it’s God nature to maximize his goodness, then it will never be complete, never full. The best God can be can always be improved upon.

        Tom

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      • nelsonct says:

        Happy New Year to you, too, Tom. And to Dwayne.

        Regarding God’s perfect goodness and freedom:

        God is free to do what he wants. Being maximally good, God always wants to do the best. It’s best to share goodness with more subjects/beings. It’s good to give life to more beings in order to share the happiness with them. God is free to do what He wants and He eternally wants to create because creating is good. It is not an imposition on God that He wants to create, nor does it undo God’s freedom, because the desire to create originates in God’s own self and He’s free to realize it. What I posit is God’s self-determination to create. As a comparison, think of our own moral perfection once we are completely redeemed from sin. It’s not that we won’t be able to sin, but that we won’t be willing to sin because it would be against our new God-like nature. In the same way, it isn’t that God cannot abstain from creating (whatever that means in a timeless reality) but that He isn’t willing to abstain from creating. Creating is consistent with His nature and that is divine freedom. Otherwise, he would not create if creating was inconsistent with His nature.

        Now, the fact that God will always create more beings with whom to share His goodness doesn’t entail an imperfection in His goodness. Rather, it shows that God’s goodness is infinite. God is never finished doing good. The only way to conceive of God as done with His good work is actus purus. And I think you would agree with me that the god of actus purus is a dead god, as inert as dumb idol. The God we love is the living God — always doing good things.

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      • tgbelt says:

        Thanks Nelson (I’m going with that as your name!).

        You clearly summarize the problem for me. And I’m sure you recognize that the (divine) freedom you describe is compatibilistic, which cannot ground creation ex nihilo (as far as I can see). You’re conceiving of God’s goodness as perfect because it always acts in accordance with its nature, and that’s fine so far as it goes. I wouldn’t suggest it can violate its nature. But then that nature is conceived as requiring the existence of an ever-increasing number of created beings through whom God’s goodness is in fact constituted. As far as I can see that does entail an imperfection. God’s goodness requires a world and arguably, evil itself (since no created beings capable of engaging in such goodness can do so apart from freely choosing to do so, the inevitability of evil is entailed in God’s very existence and goodness, for if God could have created a responsive loving creation in such a way that precluded the possibility of evil, given your view of God’s nature [i.e., he always maximizes good] he would have; but he didn’t). In the end creation grounds God’s goodness as equally as does God ground creation. That’s my problem.

        I don’t see that viewing God in traditional terms as actus purus is the only other alternative to your view. There’s no contradiction in supposing that God’s goodness is an absolute and unimproved goodness, neither depreciated by creation’s absence nor improved upon by creation’s presence, without God being actus purus in the classical sense. I agree that God’s being love means God ‘does good’ (your “does good things”). But I think it best to conceive of God’s own divine being (as opposed to the being of the world) as the “doing” which essentially constitutes the “good” which is “love” in the fullest conceivable (relational, personal) sense. Creating ‘expresses’ this goodness, reveals it, but does not ‘constitute’ it (as with your view).

        I’m curious, though, Nelson. You mention God’s being timeless several times alongside discussing this. That’s quite strange. Given your view that God is never without some temporal creation to which he relates, in what sense do you take him to be timeless then?

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      • nelsonct says:

        Nelson’s my name.

        Regarding God’s relation to time, I believe God created time just by thinking. A mental change, a new mental state, is all that’s needed to create a sequence. Now that could be how God created God-time, which I believe is different from our universe’s time. That timeless, changeless reality in which God existed is now a past reality since the creation of time. Now, God is irreversibly temporal. God has a past (with memories), a present (with experiences) and a future (with telos).

        In regards to God’s goodness, goodness is the will and disposition to do what’s good. If almighty God has the disposition and will to do good, then He must. God’s blissful experience sans creation must be the source of His good disposition. But God’s goodness, His disposition to do good, cannot ever be realized. It must go on and on, always realizing but never realized. If it’s ever realized then it’s not infinite. Now, you say that this would make God’s will compatibilistic. I would say that that’s the only kind of freedom a maximally good God has, unless you think God can act against His own perfect nature. Our freedom is different from God’s freedom because we come out of nothing and must develop into our full self. God is a perfect self and doesn’t develop.

        About creatio ex nihilo, I must appeal to William Lane Craig when he explains that what this means is that God is the efficient cause of the universe’s existence and that there’s no material cause. Creatio ex nihilo doesn’t mean that God cannot be affected by the universe, but that God is the initiator of the relation between Him and the universe by creation. Once the universe exists, it effects God immediately by interaction — God enters time irreversibly.

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  2. formerlyjeff says:

    Tom: “It’s to say he cares only about our well-being, and that he is our well-being.”

    J: Tom, I’m not sure what you mean by saying God IS our well-being. It seems to me that you’re saying “g-o-d” just means the same thing as does the phrase “our well-being.” But if that’s so, then an atheist believes in “g-o-d” too, as you define it, right?

    But you also say “g-o-d” “cares” “about our well-being.” But that seems to mean “g-o-d” isn’t identical in import with “our well-being.” Unless of course “our well being,” by definition, also “cares about” “itself.” But I’ve never heard of such a definition of “our well-being.” Indeed, I can’t even find that definition intelligible unless I “our well-being” means something quite different than I currently mean by it. So I’m not sure how you’re using the word “is” in the statement of yours that I’ve quoted above.

    Tom: …. as much as I dislike using the word ‘function’ as it seems to place God at my disposal.

    Jeff. In the past you’ve said everything God does he does freely. But you’ve also said God is not impassible with respect to knowledge. But how do we make sense of God’s freely choosing to know an event that has actually occurred? If we mean by “free action” an action that didn’t/doesn’t have to happen, then are we saying the God doesn’t have to know events occur? If so, then there goes Alan’s view of omniscience, I would think. If we can’t define what we mean by a “free” act of God, then there’s nothing for Alan to engage with respect to God’s free, but passibilistic, knowledge. One can’t engage the indefinable.

    It seems to me that the only way Alan could engage the claim that God is passibilistic with respect to knowledge, consistently with his current view on omniscience, is if we mean that God necessarily knows events that occur in our world rather than freely comes to know them. But if God has no choice in knowing what I freely choose to do, and that therefore God is “at my disposal” in that sehse, then why is it problematic that God has no choice in feeling sympathy with me as I experience diversely over time?

    Either I can cause God to experience something (a change in knowledge, etc), or I can’t. If I can, why would I posit a limitation in that respect except so far as a specific positing doesn’t provide a way of predicting (at least probabilistically) how to best advance my long-term and over-all “well-being?” Theoretically, my motivation to advance my well-being is God-instilled isn’t it? So I will posit God’s passibilism precisely where it seems to amount to conditions for predicting how I can advance my well-being, and I will do so in the full confidence that this is the very will of God.

    As I see it, this is why many open theists don’t posit that God has absolute foreknowledge. Not only does it seemingly fail to help us predict how to best advance our well-being, but it seems to imply that we aren’t free in the first place. And if we aren’t free, then the seemingly non-serendipitous correspondence of our seemingly free, belief-based actions and our experienced well-being can’t be accounted for non-serendipitously; i.e., as the AIM or INTENT of God. Indeed, if we aren’t free, then any human suffering that occurs has no relation to any real accountability that is definable in terms of the existence of human freedom.

    The real reason Greg can’t make sense of impassibilistic theism, I think, is what he admitted was problematic in T&P–it doesn’t allow us to explain events or aspects of events in terms of theism. Theology ends up being no “ology” at all, for impassibilism renders all logical language void of logical import. All impassibilistic theistic claims lie at the level of axioms. None of them, when the terms thereof are well-defined, imply any of the others or any world events.

    We have to cause aspects of God’s experience if we are to explain aspects of our experience in terms of God. Otherwise, divine “motivation” has no meaning specific enough to correlate it to any actual event whatsoever. This is why Greg ended up stuck with a “spontaneous” God that acts completely unpredictably. Teleological motivation, on the other hand, is highly predictable because “end/aim” states are bona-fide CAUSES of the “end/aim” experience of the teleological agents whose motivational natures are defined relevantly. This is why we can causally relate teleological agent motives to events with true “if… then …” language/import.

    But granted, theodicy is related to certain aspects of our predicted/explained experiences. I.e., theodicy is part and parcel of of certain kinds of explanations/predictions of certain aspects of our experiences because of it’s relation to specific versions of teleology. This is why deism isn’t a plausible theism. It explains creation itself, because a deistic God can be posited to be interested in the novelty of free-will choices per se, per an open-theistic deism. But since a deistic God doesn’t intervene in the world history, it provides no conditions for belief in a better or eternal future that is grounded in the motivational nature of such a God. I.e., deism has no theodicy entailed in it and hence can’t explain what a theism with a theodicy CAN explain/predict.

    So deism doesn’t explain a seemingly non-serendipitous correlation between our progress-seeking nature and progress we seem to cause/predict. Such a correlation argues for divine motivation that motivates to more than the mere experience of novelty.

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    • tgbelt says:

      J: Tom, I’m not sure what you mean by saying God IS our well-being.

      T: I mean that the experience of God is our well-being, and God’s well-being is not his experience of anything other than himself.

      J: But you also say “g-o-d” “cares” “about our well-being.”

      T: God cares that we come to fullest experience of our well-being in our fullest experience of him.

      J: But I’ve never heard of such a definition of “our well-being.” Indeed, I can’t even find that definition intelligible unless I “our well-being” means something quite different than I currently mean by it. So I’m not sure how you’re using the word “is” in the statement of yours that I’ve quoted above.

      T: I don’t know what to say to help you that I haven’t already said.

      —————-

      T: …. as much as I dislike using the word ‘function’ as it seems to place God at my disposal.

      J: In the past you’ve said everything God does he does freely. But you’ve also said God is not impassible with respect to knowledge.

      T: I can’t imagine ever saying ‘everything’ God does he does freely. And ‘impassible’ has to do with ‘emotions’ or ‘feelings’, not knowledge. “Impassible in knowledge” is Creel’s way of expressing things. Alan picks up on it. He means ‘mutable with respect to knowledge’.

      J: But how do we make sense of God’s freely choosing to know an event that has actually occurred?

      T: I don’t think God freely chooses to perceive or know the world, and I’m positive Alan would agree.

      Don’t make anything of my “at my disposal” comment. All I meant was that in describing something God does as a “function” he fulfills could come across as a bit mechanistic and I don’t mean to reduce God to machinery.

      J: Theoretically, my motivation to advance my well-being is God-instilled isn’t it?

      T: Certainly.

      J: So I will posit God’s passibilism precisely where it seems to amount to conditions for predicting how I can advance my well-being, and I will do so in the full confidence that this is the very will of God.

      T: As will I posit the view I do because it amounts to conditions I feel best secure my well-being.

      I can’t explain the relationship between what I posit and my well-being to your satisfaction. And you’ve considered my view long enough to have concluded that it doesn’t secure conditions for advancing your well-being. So there we are.

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      • formerlyjeff says:

        Tom: God’s well-being is not his experience of anything other than himself… God cares that we come to fullest experience of our well-being in our fullest experience of him.

        J: But that leads to a need for another definition: the definition of the sense in which God “cares.” Typically, when we say we “care” about this or that, it’s because we have an interest in it. And that is to say that the state of “it” can cause a change in our own felt experience. E.g., the father has an interest in his daughter’s well-being and thus PREFERS that her knee be “whole.” In short, to care is to prefer, per conventional parlance. And to prefer is to realize that different states of affairs cause different felt experiences in us that can be ranked in terms of “better” and/or “worse,”, right? And this doesn’t seem to apply to what you’re saying about God.

        Tom: I can’t explain the relationship between what I posit and my well-being to your satisfaction.

        J: It’s not a matter of my satisfaction, Tom. It’s a matter of true “if … then … ” relationships. Mine and your satisfactions are the effects to explain if indeed they’re caused in such a way that we can predict how to choose our way TO those satisfactions. If, like the atheist, we posit that conditions sufficient for our frequent choosing unto better states of well-being just came to be serendipitously (from our perspective, at least), then Greg’s T&P “spontaneous” divine action would be one way to render that merely coherent. Atheism is another. Deism is another. But the minute we try to explain it non-serendipitously, none of those seem to work with true “if … then…” explanation; not even probabilistically. My satisfaction or lack thereof doesn’t change that one iota. The relevant syllogisms are doable or not.

        Tom: I can’t imagine ever saying ‘everything’ God does he does freely.

        J: Well, you’ve definitely claimed God’s felt experience is necessary. But I remember you seeming to agree with the EO view that God freely does most everything else. I’m glad to hear that you think God doesn’t freely choose to become aware of world events. But there we have it, then: in that sense, we can cause God to experience something once he freely creates us. And that’s what Alan was contending. God freely creates a world that affects him. And in that sense, we’re not making God do anything. Because God freely chose to bring into existence that very relationship between himself and creatures. But in another sense, we truly are affecting God’s experience.

        The only reason why I think it makes sense to say we cause God to feel sympathetically is because positing divine sympathy enables us to account for the warrant of using human preference in our teleological interpretations of the world order (apart from which induction would be arbitrary). Apart from divine sympathy, it seems that “warranted” human belief (never mind actual human knowledge) itself can’t be accounted for. At least I’ve never seen that accounting done otherwise.

        And so I’m doubting that Moltmann and Greg are as self-oriented as you’re guessing in their reason for positing that we can cause God to experience feelings as well as knowings. It truly accounts for something that atheism, deism, and divine spontaneity doesn’t. The fact is, the same divine sympathy that accounts for a moral order accounts for the rest of the inductively-rational order. So though some emphasize the moral over the other inductively-rational relations of the world order, and hence become more touchy-feely than they need to be in their rhetoric, divine sympathy at least seems to be a necessary condition of both.

        So to get rid of divine sympathy as a way of accounting for the non-serendipitous correspondence between our choosing to increase our well-being by acting off of inductive inferences and our success thereof, you have to show that logical induction is not important to human well-being after all. And that’s what is quite difficult. Even philosophers I’ve read/heard who try to do so also admit that we couldn’t survive without it.

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  3. tgbelt says:

    Jeff,

    Not all ‘caring’ requires a felt depreciation. The father ‘prefers’ his daughter not be in the pain she’s in when she scrapes her knee, but he does so without any perceivable loss or depreciation in his own felt experience, and he’s able to do so not uncaringly but because he has a perspective on her pain that enables him to world-construct transcendent of it. I simply deny the claim that we have no concept or experience of differential preferences that involve no loss or depreciation of felt experience.

    ————————-

    T: I can’t explain the relationship between what I posit and my well-being to your satisfaction.

    J: It’s not a matter of my satisfaction, Tom. It’s a matter of true “if … then … ” relationships. Mine and your satisfactions are the effects to explain if indeed they’re caused in such a way that we can predict how to choose our way TO those satisfactions.

    T: All I meant by satisfaction is what you describe here as “explaining in such a way that” we can predict how to choose our way to those satisfactions. I’m saying I can’t “explain my way to my satisfactions” in a way that satisfies as an explanation to you. I’m not saying it doesn’t satisfy as an explanation to me or that my view on the transcendence of God’s essential triune delight leaves me unable to predict how I’m to choose my way into his satisfaction. On the contrary. We’ve described a lot here how we live in the truth of this transformatively. And we’ve relayed stories of others through history who testify to the same kind of thing. I know, you don’t find it sufficiently rational, logical, or coherent. The definitions don’t work or fit for you, or there’s an absence of any definition at all. THAT is what I can’t help you with beyond what we’ve already said.

    ————————-

    T: I can’t imagine ever saying ‘everything’ God does he does freely.

    J: Well, you’ve definitely claimed God’s felt experience is necessary.

    T: Yes, divine being is, I think, irreducibly an (aesthetic, conscious) experience.

    J: But I remember you seeming to agree with the EO view that God freely does most everything else. I’m glad to hear that you think God doesn’t freely choose to become aware of world events. But there we have it, then: in that sense, we can cause God to experience something once he freely creates us. And that’s what Alan was contending. God freely creates a world that affects him. And in that sense, we’re not making God do anything. Because God freely chose to bring into existence that very relationship between himself and creatures. But in another sense, we truly are affecting God’s experience.

    T: Once God creates, I don’t think his loving what he creates is a matter of libertarian choice. And I wouldn’t define the ‘freedom’ by which God creates as equivalent to our ‘libertarian’ freedom (i.e., the result of a temporal process of deliberation between competing goods by which God is motivated to create after having convinced himself that he would overall be better off creating).

    I also don’t think the EO as a rule would deny the sort of causality that simply posits our free actions as ‘occasioning’ God’s knowledge of those actions. He can’t know them if we’re not doing them. Sure. I think the EO’s beef here is with a notion of ‘causality’ that makes God an item among items in a causal chain (the way any two or more created items in a causal relationship would relate), each item of which can be said to obey the laws of causality, as if there is an overarching ontology or metaphysical law that embraces both God and Creation within its reach such that ‘God’ is one instantiation of those laws, ‘humanity’ is another, ‘plant life’ another, etc.

    The Orthodox would remind us that God doesn’t know what we do the way you know what I do because your knowing what I do is the product of a causal chain that depends upon the speed of light relayed via links in a causal chain that hand off their effects until finally what is a distant event registers in your brain. God doesn’t depend upon intervening links that causally relay the world to him. There’s an immediacy to his presence (and thus his knowing) that’s unlike any causal relationship between created entities. There’s a ‘dependency’ of sorts, surely, for we have to be doing X for God to know we’re doing X, and I’ve never heard an Orthodox (though I have heard Thomists) argue for the reverse (i.e., that we’re doing X ‘because’ God knows we’re doing X, which entails determinism). But given that the utterly unique and unrepeatable sort of relationship the uncreated God has to the created world can’t be repeated in how any created thing relates to or knows other created things, the God-World relationship can’t be simply explicated in terms of the latter as if God were just another item among items in a causal chain.

    Tom

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  4. formerlyjeff says:

    Tom: I simply deny the claim that we have no concept or experience of differential preferences that involve no loss or depreciation of felt experience.

    J: I’m covered up for the rest of the day. So I’ll try to digest the rest of your response tomorrow or later tonight. And I appreciate it, because I’m really curious to understand how the EO’s got to where they are to the extent that it’s something other than the mysteriousness of the “trinity.” And I take to Hart to mean that it is more than that.

    But let me just say I agree with what you say there in my quote of you above. But the reason why this agreement per se doesn’t resolve the issue was partially addressed in my previous question:

    “And to prefer is to realize that different states of affairs cause different felt experiences in us that can be ranked in terms of “better” and/or “worse,”, right?”

    In other words, if I’m right about the claim implied in that rhetorical question, then the next question is, “how do we come to ‘realize’ that different states of affairs cause different felt experiences in us that can be ranked in terms of ‘better’ and ‘worse’?” I answer it thus: Because we remember those temporal correlations and (this is very important!) we interpret them as being causally related. I.e., the pain I felt after sticking my hand in the fire was in some sense “caused” by the fire. But we would never interpret the fire as a cause of the pain if there was no apprehended “patterned” or “uniform” temporal correlation between the two. But “patterned” and “uniform” temporal correlation is quite unlike the radical spontaneity Greg attributes to God in T&P. The former is predictable to some extent while the latter is not.

    Anyway, so can I thereafter be aware that I prefer that I not feel that fire-caused pain again without concurrently feeling worse for being aware of it? I don’t see why not. And that’s the sense in which I agree with you. But it’s still the case that my preference is only intelligible in terms of the following beliefs:

    1) beings other than myself can cause me to have diverse felt experiences, and
    2) some specific being or beings other than myself already has/have caused me to experience a distinguishable/different feeling at some time in the past and will again under analogous conditions.

    So if my preferences can’t exist or be intelligible apart from the very sentient causal relations you’re denying of God, then my preferences are not the same thing as what you’re calling preferences of God.

    So sure, we agree on what need not be entailed in an awareness of a preference per se; i.e., a concurrent awareness of a depreciation of felt experience. But that is a mere denial of what is necessary to an awareness of a preference. It is not a definition of preference that applies intelligibly to only God or to both God and us.

    I think Greg realizes this now and sees the problem with a theism that is as non-explanatory of specific events (i.e., in the true hypothetico-deductive sense of explanation, qualified by inductive criteria where applicable) as is atheism. He said as much in the earlier part of T&P (I quoted him thus on Alan’s blog article). But he didn’t seem to realize at the time that positing a purely spontaneous causality provides no more predictability for those events we believe we remember (and that we believe will occur in the future) than does the positing that events are simply uncaused.

    And thus, an impassibilist theism doesn’t imply that any temporal correlations are due to the causality of God or even probably due to the causality of God. Because utterly spontaneous events can conceivably be, so far as we could tell, just like inductively predictable events if the causal “structure” of the world isn’t just teleological in the first place. Induction is seemingly a teleological way of doing causal accounting. Hart is spot on in this regard when he admits (The Experience of God, p.239):

    “… you could not make cognitive sense of a glass of water or a tree on a hill apart from the action of your mind toward some end …”

    IOW, it seems to me that we are wired to think teleologically. And as far as I can tell, that teleological thought has no accountable validity as either knowledge or warranted belief if the world we mentally “create” thus ( by “thinking God’s thoughts after Him”) isn’t itself teleological and designed by a teleological agent in whose image we are such that our ends will have at least some tendency to be oriented to his.

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    • tgbelt says:

      J: But let me just say I agree with what you say there in my quote of you above. But the reason why this agreement per se doesn’t resolve the issue was partially addressed in my previous question: “And to prefer is to realize that different states of affairs cause different felt experiences in us that can be ranked in terms of “better” and/or “worse,” right?”

      T: I don’t see that you agree with what’s in your quote of me. If you agree, you wouldn’t assume, as you do here, that “to prefer is to realize that different states of affairs cause different felt experiences in us that can be ranked in terms of ‘better’ or ‘worse’.” This latter claim is the claim I deny in your quote of me above.

      What I was trying to get at in the post was that if all creaturely value is God-given, something ought to follow with regard to the (im)passibilism debate. God doesn’t recognize a value we possess and then seek to affirm it, he gives us our value and invites us to realize and enjoy it as God-given. You might even say our value to God is God’s own value to himself. Evil and its consequent suffering aren’t of ‘less value’, they’re of ‘no value’ (i.e., have no meaning). Inasmuch as we conform to our logoi (our meaning), we reflect back to God his own beauty. So, the “preferences” of a summum bonum are simply his divine subjective aims (desires) extending and offering himself to us as value, not God seeking value from us.

      J: But “patterned” and “uniform” temporal correlation is quite unlike the radical spontaneity Greg attributes to God in T&P. The former is predictable to some extent while the latter is not.

      T: But (creation’s) being unpredictable on the basis of uniform temporal patters doesn’t make its goodness or telos unpredictable or arbitrary. It just makes ‘that’ creation is at all gratuitous while ‘how’ it is and ‘what it is for’ may be perfectly predictable.

      J: So if my preferences can’t exist or be intelligible apart from the very sentient causal relations you’re denying of God, then my preferences are not the same thing as what you’re calling preferences of God.

      T: Alan provided the phrase ‘differential preferences’. I don’t mind it. I think it can work, as long as we don’t assume divine preferences are equivalent across the board to our preferences. For us preferences express the mode by which we achieve our telos. We’re drawn and moved by desire to ‘become what we are not’, and preferences are a fundamental mechanism by which we are moved by God-given desire to realize our truest identity and fullest existence. None of this holds for God, nor could it. As self-existent, God cannot be ‘moved’ from without to ‘realize’ or ‘achieve’ some truer form of his identity or fuller existential realization of the telos of his being. So our language — which is all we have to work with, granted — has to always humbly confess this ‘difference’.

      J: So sure, we agree on what need not be entailed in an awareness of a preference per se; i.e., a concurrent awareness of a depreciation of felt experience. But that is a mere denial of what is necessary to an awareness of a preference. It is not a definition of preference that applies intelligibly to only God or to both God and us.

      T: I’m not speaking of concurrent realizations accompanying preferences. I’m speaking of the act of preferring itself.

      J: [Greg] said as much in the earlier part of T&P (I quoted him thus on Alan’s blog article). But he didn’t seem to realize at the time that positing a purely spontaneous causality provides no more predictability for those events we believe we remember (and that we believe will occur in the future) than does the positing that events are simply uncaused.

      T: I think this is clearly false. It doesn’t follow from an original spontaneity of a ‘personal’ nature that nothing can be known of the regularity of creation’s laws, the predictable nature and character of creation’s cause (God) as personal, or of the purpose of creation.

      J: IOW, it seems to me that we are wired to think teleologically.

      T: It just dawned on me, Jeff, that you must be of the opinion that spontaneity of a personal nature cannot be purposeful/teleological, cannot yield effects that behave predictably according to law. If this is your view, then our differences are irreconcilable.

      Let me ask this. Let’s say it was the case that God (crude example) thought to himself something like…

      “What the hell, let’s do this! Let’s incarnate ourselves in material finitude to share our life with a non-divine world. Won’t improve or better us at all, and it’ll be risky for them and full of pain, and we’ll end up sharing their suffering through incarnation, but what the hell, the worst parts of their journey won’t even be comparable to their end. Hell ya! Let’s do it!”

      Do you think that since the ‘decision’ to create is ‘spontaneous’ (in the sense that nothing about conceiving creation or its end could be construed by God as a reason for preferring to create over not creating as you describe preference) that all teleology comes crashing down, that nothing about God, the world or the relationship between the two could be predictable? All teleology, purpose and predictability come tumbling down unless God is understood as believing himself improved upon in some sense by creation(‘s end) and this perceived improvement (whatever it is) be understood as motivating God’s preference for creating over not creating?

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  5. formerlyjeff says:

    Tom, I answer your last question last. So you may want to start there.

    T: I don’t see that you agree with what’s in your quote of me. If you agree, you wouldn’t assume, as you do here, that “to prefer is to realize that different states of affairs cause different felt experiences in us that can be ranked in terms of ‘better’ or ‘worse’.” This latter claim is the claim I deny in your quote of me above.

    J: I think you’re right that I’m not emphasizing the specific issue. As I conceive of it, what is preferred by the one preferring is one felt experience over another felt experience OF that preferring one. I can say idiomatically that I prefer that a person in China that I’ve never met be maximally happy for the totality of his conscious experience. And that sounds like I’m saying I prefer something other than a distinguishable felt experience of my own.

    But as I conceive of it, I’m not saying that at all. I’m still talking about my own felt experience. It’s just that I believe that the greatest long-term well-being of any other is a necessary condition of my own greatest long-term well-being, regardless of the fact that I have no clue how that will play out in the future. That’s just the kind of “order” I believe we exist in. And if we don’t exist in such an order, I’m at a loss to see why I should act unto the improvement of anyone else’s felt experience, unless I can see HOW it maintains or advances my own. But apart from the order I believe in, what I mean by “God” explains nothing about my experience.

    So per my limited logical analysis, there is no such conceivable thing as the kind of disinterestedness you’re talking about that renders words like “care” and “prefer” intelligible. To my mind, the only kind of disinterestedness that there is other than the kind I’m describing is just absolute “couldn’t-care-less” indifference. And indeed, these are the two that seem to show up on the on-line Merriam-Webster dictionary:

    Definition of DISINTERESTEDNESS
    : the quality or state of being objective or impartial
    Examples of DISINTERESTEDNESS

    Note the first example is basically that of dispassionateness. And we don’t equate dispassionateness with an absolute absence of self-interest. Nor do you seem to be advocating disinterestedness of that kind. You seem to be saying you believe what you believe precisely because it makes you feel bliss’ed out.

    T: You might even say our value to God is God’s own value to himself.

    J: This is the kind of language that confuses me. If God’s felt experience is necessary, there’s no event that happens “in time” that has anything to do with it, is there? So a teleological infinitive like “to himself” when applied to anything about a contingent state of affairs seems to smuggle a time-conditioned element into a place where it has no logical role.

    T: But (creation’s) being unpredictable on the basis of uniform temporal patters doesn’t make its goodness or telos unpredictable or arbitrary.

    J: Regarding predictability, I wasn’t talking about the very act of CEN, but historical events of that creation. With regard to CEN itself, we need only show that it’s conceivable that it’s not IMpossible. And we can, because we know that free-will, while unpredictable, renders events not IMpossible so long as we can conceive of the free agent with the relevant capacities to act and the relevant motivation unto the action.

    This is just standard teleological explanation. But once we posit divine attributes that render CEN not impossible, so long as aspects of my historical experience require a social-transcendent explanation, benevolent theism is the only thing I can think of that fits that bill.

    But if there is no aspect of our historical experience that requires a social-transcendent explanation, then I don’t see how theism has any relevance to our decision making.

    T: It just makes ‘that’ creation is at all gratuitous while ‘how’ it is and ‘what it is for’ may be perfectly predictable.

    J: But “what it is for” has no intelligible meaning for me apart from a self-interest of God in that act of creating. But I have no way to make sense of that if God’s felt experience is immutable. I have no analogy for it whatsoever for the reason I gave above: If the long-term maximal happiness of any other is not a necessary condition of my own, then I don’t see why my experience requires anything social and transcendent as a necessary condition of it either. It’s hard to even make sense of the golden rule without believing in that kind of order.

    T: As self-existent, God cannot be ‘moved’ from without to ‘realize’ or ‘achieve’ some truer form of his identity

    J: I would say it like this. As a necessary being with necessary attributes, no accidental attribute of God (like God’s new awareness of what we choose as we choose) in any way diminishes or augments his necessary attributes.

    T: … or fuller existential realization of the telos of his being.

    J: I don’t see how there can be a telos of God’s being. Free-will, to me, is a corollary of what we mean by an “end” or “telos.” But free choices occur in time, and as such, a telos is the final temporal state unto which a free-choice set in motion a series of means UNTO. Thus, there is a finite amount of time entailed in what I mean by “telos.” So, to my mind, God exists from eternity and never “arrives” at any “end” state in which there remains no more potentiality for himself.

    T: It doesn’t follow from an original spontaneity of a ‘personal’ nature that nothing can be known of the regularity of creation’s laws, the predictable nature and character of creation’s cause (God) as personal, or of the purpose of creation.

    J: Nor does it follow from total spontaneity of action that something CAN be known of any regularities. We’d need additional premises for that. The question then is this: What are the axioms of induction that supposedly warrant such inferences? To my mind, it’s what Hart seems to imply: standard teleology.

    T: Let me ask this. Let’s say it was the case that God (crude example) thought to himself something like…

    “What the hell, let’s do this! Let’s incarnate ourselves in material finitude to share our life with a non-divine world. Won’t improve or better us at all, and it’ll be risky for them and full of pain, and we’ll end up sharing their suffering through incarnation, but what the hell, the worst parts of their journey won’t even be comparable to their end. Hell ya! Let’s do it!”

    Do you think that since the ‘decision’ to create is ‘spontaneous’ (in the sense that nothing about conceiving creation or its end could be construed by God as a reason for preferring to create over not creating as you describe preference) that all teleology comes crashing down …?

    J: My answer to your question is “no,” because you supplied the necessary ingredient to make sense of it by saying, “and we’ll end up sharing their suffering.” But if by “sharing their suffering” you don’t mean God is passible, then I certainly don’t see how teleology is involved in it. In fact, if by “sharing their suffering” you don’t mean that God is sentiently passible, then I have no idea what that phrase even means. But if God is passible, then teleology is conceivable. Because an “end,” as I conceive of it, is a conceived future sentient state one is acting UNTO (successfully or not) which is not yet experienced, but which one believes will be satisfying if experienced. This is why I can’t make sense of teleology in terms of impassibilism.

    My “Christian” conception of how that works is this: The Father realizes that he can, by risking suffering (not assuring his own suffering, mind you, but risking it), instantiate a novel and satisfying felt experience in the Son. The Father, being necessarily sympathetic, realizes that if all turns out ideally, he too will experience a satisfying, novel sentient state sympathetically. The Father has to choose this risk since it is a bona-fide risk; i.e., there are motives for and against it. But he chooses to risk, and here we are. And because the Father is necessarily sympathetic, he is sympathetic to us as well as to his Son. Hence, we can do true teleological explanation to make sense of the validity of induction and its axioms, etc. Because that divine sympathy AND God’s competence to assure the order I described above is maintained in its integrity TOGETHER constitute the necessary conditions to render our own greatest long-term well-being a valid criteria for plausibility itself.

    Hart has that exactly right. He just thinks it can work with impassibilism, and I’m not seeing how it can be done apart from divine sympathy. It’s that sympathy that allows true “if… then ….” accountings of specific events. Divine spontaneity that isn’t teleological in nature (i.e., motivated unto yet unexperienced sentient states) can’t imply with syllogisms, even probabilistically, one specific event. Sympathy is what ties it altogether in induction. A world without divine sympathy need not be one where human preference/satisfaction is a necessary condition of plausibility at all. Indeed, plausibility can’t even be accounted for in such a world. And this means that all belief is just intuition with no discursive reasoning that can be deemed more or less plausible than any other.

    A motive is UNTO a state that has YET to be instantiated, is it not? For a sentiently impassible God, that can seemingly only be UNTO new divine knowledge since an impassibilist God can’t have a sentient state that has yet to be instantiated. But a motive to new knowledge per se doesn’t imply that any yet unknown future event will have any particular quality, like satisfactory experience of a creature. This is the problem that sits like an elephant in the living room. In other words, how do we conceive of a future divine state that is not only motivating to God, hence yet-to-be instantiated, which also conditions the ability to predict specific aspects of future events without positing divine sympathy? DO A SYLLOGISM without positing divine sympathy and see if you can get a “therefore I will be happy/happier in the future” implication. That’s the only test that is relevant.

    Granted, we can always just have a theism that amounts to a set of propositions that all sit at the level of axioms. But people will always find it difficult to speak of God without true logical language. This is why, I think, the EO’s admit that, per their view, language “fails” to communicate anything true about God. Because they can’t quit using logical words like “therefore,” “because,” etc, that mean real predictions about world events are possible in terms of their impassibilism.

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    • tgbelt says:

      Well, we did our annual reconciliation summit to see if there were any breakthroughs between us. Not happening. As far apart as ever. 😀

      I don’t have anything to add.

      Love and respect you Bro. Have a wonderful New Year, and blessings on you and your family.

      Tom

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      • formerlyjeff says:

        Same to you and Dwayne and your families, Tom! And for the record, I can’t make sense of Greg’s current articulated view any more than you can. But I think we can compare it to what wrote he in T&P about needing to explain in terms of theism to see that he may be driven by that more than is apparent in his other articulations. The inductive drive in humanity makes that a relatively plausible explanation for why all passibilists are passibilists whether they’re consciously thinking about it or not.

        Because as far as I can see, no prosecutor could ever use “motive” in a court case and argue plausibly for any explanation of the relevant events if he/she had to start with the assumption that the defendant’s “motives” were to be conceived of as consistent with the defendant being sentiently impassible. Alternatively, arguing that the defendant was sentiently passible, but only in a drop-in-a-sea-of-bliss fashion, would not help the prosecutor’s case, either. If Alan can argue to the contrary, I’m all ears.

        Thus, I think we can grant all passibilists a benefit of the doubt for a much more understandable motive for holding to passibilism than egoism, regardless of how over-egoistic one might otherwise be. If anything, egoism probably plays more relevantly in the constructions of the specific theodicies rather than the positing of passibilism itself.

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      • tgbelt says:

        Wow, even the judicial systems of the civilized world require divine passibilism. It’s that bad!

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  6. formerlyjeff says:

    There are surely atheists in the judicial systems of the world who don’t posit “divine” anything; but passibilism of sentient causal agents is required to explain events with any specificity in true “if … then …” fashion in terms of any motivation they putatively have. And there’s nothing “bad” about it. It’s just a limitation of logic. If the prosecutor and the defense attorney both just posit one specific cause (or lack of cause) per event, their cases are equally plausible (or implausible; it matters not which you call it since the equality renders each of them no more plausible than the other).

    But that’s the whole point of using motive in a trial; it’s to show how one motive correlates relevantly with a multiplicity of the relevant events because of how we believe a single, specific motive correlates with specific actions in specific circumstances. This is what logicians call “breadth of explanation” (alternatively, “breadth of predictive power”). If we didn’t have that kind of knowledge/belief about the nature of motivation, a specific motive couldn’t be inductively-inferred to be a cause of specific events.

    Note, that’s not the same thing as saying that induction is a valid way of inferring causal relationships. That’s a different question altogether. But apart from applying inductive plausibility criteria to explanations, you would, to be clear, need to define what criteria you’re using in its place or, alternatively, what other than inductive plausibility you mean by the word “plausibility,”

    Atheists say atheism is more “plausible” than theism all the time. But who knows what that means since it has nothing to do with inductive plausibility criteria or a supposed foundational “truth” of the axioms of induction? I’ve asked some of them to define the term, and they can’t do it. But no string of words constitutes a proposition unless all those words have definitions.

    But the kind of specific motive->specific action correlations that are used to explain specific events or specific aspects of humanly-caused events can run you into a necessary god-world relationship when applied to God if you don’t posit freedom in God. We don’t suppose that motives always result in observable actions, because we know we can have conflicting motives that we have some freedom to regulate.

    E.g., Peter could want the cup to pass from him and also want to do the Father’s will, even if it required the drinking of the cup. To explain Peter’s drinking of the cup, we posit that the one motive was stronger than the other. When reasoning inductively, we weigh all of the causal relationships in our explanatory tool-kit derived from our own experience to see which synthesis accounts for the events most parsimoniously and/or with the greatest explanatory/predictive breadth. Typically, parsimony and greatest explanatory/predictive breadth apply to the same explanation/predictive heuristic.

    But when you apply parsimony and/or explanatory/predictive breadth to the positing of either radically spontaneously caused events or uncaused events, you end up with a tie. Because there’s a one-to-one positing-to-event ratio for both cases. In short, you can’t predict with one any better than with the other, and they are identical in parsimony. That’s why you can’t do a true “if… then…” deduction in either case where the required premises contain information about a causal agent’s essential properties. Each posited proposition (e.g., “event x was caused utterly spontaneously by a causal agent that only causes utterly spontaneously,” vs. “event x wasn’t caused”) is posited axiomatically in both cases. There’s no logical structure in those accountings that provides a clue as to how BEST to choose in the future, even though one is causal-historical and the other is anti-causal-historical.

    This is why induction is used in court trials to at least some extent. To reject induction altogether in a trial is to punish people with no LOGICAL evidence at all. And that is what would be “that bad.”

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