Just thinking out loud here. No commitments. Just speculating.
In the immediately preceding post I noted Hart’s criticism of those who imagine God’s choice to create in terms of a deliberation among infinite options. There are some, for example, those of a more analytic bent, who revel in talk of ‘possible worlds’, logical constructs depicting God’s creational ‘options’. Most suppose these to be infinite, since God is infinite. But certainly they’re innumerable. God could have created, say, a world with no sentient beings in it at all. Or he might have created a world populated with beings capable only of doing his bidding, or he might have — and on and on the possibilities go.
I think talk of an infinite number of possible worlds other than this one is mistaken. I do think there are innumerable possibilities this world faces, possible futures this world’s own inherent dispositions and capacities might or might not realize in time. So talk of possible ways this world might be or become is certainly meaningful. But fundamentally other initial states? A pre-creational slate of infinite and contrary ‘options’ of which our world was but one? This all seems impossible talk to me now. Not only does God not choose from a menu of innumerable possible worlds after deliberating the pros and cons, but there are no such possible worlds God, and certainly no (Leibnizian) ‘best of all possible worlds’.
I know this is a big claim. So why make it? The main reason to think God either creates this world or none at all lies in an Incarnational metaphysics of participation. Consider non-human (specifically, non-hypostatic or non-personal) creatures and entities. How do they achieve their end or telos in God? How is God “all in all” (1Cor 15.28) in them? Paul taught (Rom 8.22) that all creation groans “waiting for” the children of God to be revealed, that creation is only finally liberated when it is “brought into the freedom and glory” of humankind. Non-hypostatic realities find their telos not immediately in God, but mediately through human beings. That is to say that creation’s perfection is implicated in humanity’s perfection. I take this to be a fundamental metaphysical principle definitive of created being per se. Romans 8 describes a mediated teleology: all things other than human beings are implicated in humanity’s perfection, and all humankind is implicated in the perfection of the Incarnate One. I want to suggest that this defines the scope of possible worlds because it defines the path of perfection which any creation must take. Why think this?
Certainly no creation is conceivable that is not loved. And nothing is loved by God that is not intended for the greatest possible union with God, i.e., that does not have its end in God, its share in and contribution to God’s being “all in all.” For if God is the summum bonum, all possible worlds end in God’s being “all in all.” But none of this is possible apart from Incarnation. God would not create that for which he would not will himself as end, and as no non-hypostatic reality has its end in God immediately but only through implication as an aspect of the hypostatic existence of another (Rom 8), such created hypostatic reality becomes essential to any conceivable creation as the means by which God brings that order in its entirety to fulfillment in himself. Essentially then,
…there’s only one possible creation—Incarnation. Creation and Incarnation are one and the same possibility in God.
God either creates to bring all he creates to fulfillment in/through Incarnation, or he doesn’t create at all. All other varieties and created distinctions don’t constitute a range of options God chooses between; rather, they are all potentialities inherent in the capacities and dispositions God breathes into his one determination to create for Incarnation, that is, this world. It should then be impossible not just to speak of this creation apart from Incarnation/Christology, but to speak of God’s creating at all apart from the intention to incarnate. Indeed, I’m suggesting that all possibilities for creation derive from and return to the one possibility of Incarnation.
What of Leibniz? We talk of the logic of infinite possible worlds and whether there is a “best of all possible worlds.” But God is the best possible world and whatever God creates has its best possible end in him. When God is viewed as summum bonum defining the end of every world (which must be the case), there can be no one best possible world among an infinite number of possible worlds (if we multiply worlds for the sake of argument) since every candidate possibility has God as its end. And thus,
as the value of anything created ex nihilo derives entirely from God and has its end in God, no world-order God brings into being can be better or worse than any other order God brings to be. Hence, there is no ‘best possible world’. Anything God does is as good as anything else God does.
In the end, there is in fact only one possible world to create—an initial state suitably fitted and sustained for the emergence of sentient-hypostatic/personal life for the sole purpose of Incarnation.
Prayer: Be all in all in me today, Incarnate One. May all I do—my seeing, my thinking, my touching, my speaking be your home.