Divine Simplicity - What is it and is it correct?

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Kurieuo
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Re: Divine Simplicity - What is it and is it correct?

#31

Post by Kurieuo » Wed Mar 14, 2012 8:35 am

To anyone reading who might be following the discussion, I recommend re-reading my previous post. As something went wrong when I posted and I ended up revising it somewhat.

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Re: Divine Simplicity - What is it and is it correct?

#32

Post by Jac3510 » Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:26 pm

Dom,
Dom wrote:you're being fickle . . . just chill out . . . Yikes! Just Thomism? . . . Send it to the moon . . . I predict 15 pages of pulling rabbits out of the hat . . . I'd rather spend my time taking video of my infant . . . everything you told me about your mode of thought is vague and practically void of ideas that relate . . . I thought it was simple? Hence simplicity? Must be pretty complicated if its 15 pages long
Go spend time with your infant as you won't get any more of mine. I don't have time to take people seriously who don't take the subject matter they are dealing with seriously.

Okay, on to more serious conversation:

K,
Kurieuo wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe some equivocation might be happening here with two different understandings of "Being".
You are probably right. Unfortunately, the English "being" isn't very descriptive. Latin in this case is much more precise. But I'd rather not spend pages doing a word study on ens and esse. Besides, even if we did, it would make the thread almost unintelligible, since we'd constantly be going back to those distinctions to remind ourselves of what we were talking about. So let's see if we can't just figure out how we are using our plain old English! ;)
To understand the two definitions better, let me first provide an example that I can make use of: A human soul might possess a lower capacity that affords us the potential to experience all that human experience can offer (physicality, emotional, touching, sight, hearing, intelligence, moral conscience, etc), however human experience does not become actual until we develop the higher capacity of a physical body with which we can finally experience such things.

Two definitions of "Being":-

1) DS definition of "Being": Actuality without potentiality. God in DS is simply "Being" in the sense of "being actuality". Having a substance, like a "soul" or "body" for you implies potentiality. Thus, in DS God cannot possess such things. Rather God is the actuality of His divine attributes. Such that God is not good in virtue of doing good, but rather God is good. God is not righteous in virtue of doing rightous acts, but rather God is righteousness.

You probably explain it better where you write:
Jac wrote:Lastly, I want to note that when I say "pure being" I am talking of the notion of God as actus purus--strictly speaking, "pure act," where "act" here is opposed to "potency." Act is what something really is, where potency (as you well understand, I know) is how something really could be. Now, in God, there is no composition of act and potency. God is pure act, and He could thus be no other. In this sense, though, we cannot view God as a static being; rather, He is in act. So you have the Thomistic axiom, "God just is what He does." (underlining mine)
Hmm . . .

I think we might be using the terms 'actuality' and 'potentiality' and their derivatives differently. Forgive me if you know all of this already and if it is somewhat elementary, but let me make clear a few distinctions. DS certainly does not define "Being" as 'actuality without potentiality.' One of the rather important ontological points here is that potentiality is real being. It's just not actual being. If you don't believe that potency is real, you are going to have a seriously difficult time explaining such basic notions as change.

Second, we to distinguish between potentiality and possibility. The two are not synonymous. It may be logically possible for a rubber ball to float three inches off the ground and follow me wherever I go. The ball, though, does not have that potential. Potentialities are natural capacities, which are intrinsic to the forms of things. You properly note than in the case of souls, we have ultimate potencies (capacities/potentialities) such as seeing and hearing, but those will remain unactualized potencies so long as lower-order capacities (potencies/potentialities) remain unactualized. But this is important: those unactualized potentialites still have real being!. They still exist. That is precisely why, for instance, it is morally unacceptable to harvest organs from a brain dead person (though that practice is legal and extremely common). Though the individual has permanently lost his ability to actualized certain ultimate capacities (e.g., communication), those capacities still exist. They just exist as potentialities.

So potentialities are not possibilities. Potentialities exist. Possibilities may or may not.

Now, let's return to our rubber ball. It has the potentiality to be spherical or a puddle in the floor. It is right now actually spherical. It's potentiality has been actualized. But suppose I apply to it intense heat. Suddenly, it now has the potentiality to be spherical and its former potentiality to be a puddle on the floor has been actualized. So we see that change is actually just the reduction of a potentiality to actuality. But notice further that the potency for being a puddle didn't actualize itself. It required something else to act on it and to thereby actualize the potency. So we have the Thomistic axiom, that which is moved (changed; had its potentiality reduced to actuality) is moved by another.

This is why we ultimately view God as actus purus (pure act). For nothing can actualize its own potencies (that would violate the law of non-contradiction). If God has potentiality in Him, then any reduction of that potentiality to actuality (that is, the actualization of that potentiality) but be something that happens to God. That is, God would have to be caused to be in a certain state (having potentiality A actualized rather than, say, B). But if God is caused, then He is not the First Cause, since something caused Him!

Thus, we conclude that God is pure act. You and I and everything else (including angels) are admixures of actuality and potentiality. Not God. He simply is what He is, and He can be no other. He is, in a word, perfect.
2) Second definition of "Being": The underlying essence or substance of a living being. Such that "human being" describes a living entity that is a creature of "human" type. A being that is a cat, describes an entity with the properties of a cat.
Now you aren't defining "being." You are defining a being. I can accept that, but that's why I said earlier that on this view, God is not a being. He is being itself.

Notice again what we mean by 'being.' We are not talking about act v. potency, for act and potency are ways we can be. The way God is, is purely actual. I (a being) have being through my substance, where "I" refers to the essence of my person. (This is where, by the way, Latin helps, since you can see that esse is 'to be' and ens is "a being" - not essence comes from the Latin essentia, which you can see is etymologically related to being! You can read much of Armand Maurer's Introduction to Aquinas' On Being and Essence here . . . that may help some). By 'being' we are simply talking about the existence of a thing in whatever form, be it actual or potential.
Now in the second definition of "Being" as I understood you and your quotes of Aquinas, DS has no claim to when it concerns God. For God is without being in this sense of the term being. Given this, I find it is odd that you so readily embrace perichoresis, that is, each person of Trinity indwelling and interpentrating each other, since a critic of DS might rightfully ask: "In what way does such an indwelling really happen if God's being is Pure Act?" Indwelling implies there is a being of the second definition.

It is hard to conceive of and understand how perichoresis is possible within the Trinity if God is simply what He does - Pure Act. A mutual sharing of "Pure Act" (or action), seems to me far removed from the unity expressed by a mutual indwelling. In "act" there is no indwelling one another, only a sharing of.

To put another way, a mutual indwelling implies a crossing over within one another. Such that, the Father abides in the Son and Holy Spirit and yet remains distinct, and vice-versa for the Son and Holy Spirit. Yet, what is it they each abide in? Pure Existience is also a foundational way to percieve God as I understand you on DS. Yet, we need to be careful not eqivicate on two meanings of "existence" here like with "being". For "Pure Existence" also does not entail God has a body or some substance that allow each person in the Trinity to mutually indwell other within (the suppositum). Indeed it is hard to understand what the suppositum consists of, except three persons who each share in Pure Act. Yet, persons cannot indwell each other in pure act. Such makes no real sense. Share perhaps, but not indwell.

Now I underlined a portion of your words on the Trinity, that is, "This isn't just a unity of purpose but actually a unity of being, which is the deepest possible unity there is." Now "unity of being" certainly when understood in the second definition I provide above may be seen as a deep unity. However, God is not "being" in this sense within DS. Rather, understanding "Being" as "Act", I do not even know what "unity in being" means. So for me, what might upon first glance seem like the deepest possible unity in DS with a "unity of being", actually seems a bit hollow when one grasps what DS means by "being".

It is far more enriching, I think, to embrace God having a divine essence. Not that such is accidental, for God's substance (or suppositum) being uncreated is qualitatively different from ours which is of a created genus - creature. Thus, while God is the actuality of many attributes (I'd agree with), God would also the actuality of being -- which I guess could be described as "to be". Yet, this for me implies an underlying essense wherein God's divine attributes have their existence.
God does not have an essence. He is an essence. What he is not is a substance (in the primary sense). As to the perichoresis, a lot of this, I think, depends on how we nuance the terms. I would not be comfortable with saying anyone in the Godhead shares anything, for that implies having something that is external to me that I allow you to also have. But the Persons don't have. The Persons are, and that in virtue of the fact that each is Pure Act. It is vitally important to recognize that the only distinctions between the Persons are in their relations. Filiation is not the same thing as spiration, neither of which are the same as paternity. But that is the only distinctions between the Persons. Each person, for instance, does not have a will and an intellect, and those wills and intellects all happen to agree (unity in purpose). Rather, there is a single divine will which is identical with the single divine intellect, and these are (this is) identical with each of the Persons. But whereas the divine will and divine intellect are distinguished only in our mind and not in God Himself, the Persons really are distinct in God.

So it is extremely evident to me that "interpenetration" is, in fact, too shallow of a word to describe the relationship between the Father and Son and Spirit. These are not three separate beings that abide "in" one another. These are the same being, each with the same intellect, the same will, the same perfections. Indeed, in each of the Persons, the being, will, intellect, and all other perfections are just identical with what they are! There is no deeper unity possible . . . at least, none that I can imagine!

And I would caution strongly here against an easy error to fall into. In trying to "picture" what the Trinity looks like, we may insist that the Persons are, in fact, beings--each with a soul, a will, a mind, etc. We may insist that these three beings are somehow one being, but that's just self-contradictory. The Persons are not beings. That conception (hidden in the back of many people's minds!) is really just Tritheism. Again, I repeat: the Father is not a being. The Son is not a being. the Spirit is not a being. Each are being itself, distinguishable from one another only in their relations; the Father is the principle, the Son filiation, the Spirit spiration. Literally, they are all the same act of being.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Divine Simplicity - What is it and is it correct?

#33

Post by Jac3510 » Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:43 pm

K, as to the post you had made before that:
"Palamite" -- thanks for putting a word to it. I'll have to explore this more, but I definitely seem to always have more in common with Eastern Orthodox theology than the Western.
That's not a bad thing. Do note, though, that Palamas himself insisted His view was compatible with divine simplicity. That's why I said I don't think that panentheism isn't something we necesarily have to get into. We should decide what simplicity is and if we accept it first before we look at other matters to see if they are compatible! ;)
Something I've been meaning to raise, relates the often accept premise "from nothing, nothing comes". If we are comprised of "being" and "act" than how can pure "act" bring about "being"? It might be said God being "pure act" just brought about "being", but there is still an issue. What is the substance of being that God thus created? Where did He get the "stuff" that underlies us? Speaking in terms of substance being an essence with properties (rather than collection of properties or Pure Being as in act) how did God "act" or what did God "act upon" to bring about the subtance of creation -- particularly when God lacks any such substance?
Hopefully my comments above should address this, but we are not comprised of being and act. We are comprised of act and potency. We are beings. The way we "be" is described by our forms, our essences, what is actual, what is potential, etc. But all of this falls under being.

As to your question relating to us, being is not a stuff. It is (by definition!). You're making a category mistake here. Being isn't stuff we are made out of. That would make being the material cause of a thing. But being is not the material cause. Being is the efficient cause! Indeed, the entire doctrine of creation ex nihilo is that God is the efficient and final cause of everything, that creation had no material cause.
Futhermore, if God is not really related to creation, then how is it God could personally create us? You might say we came about by God's word (pure act?). Yet, God's word is still apart of God's nature. Thus, if God's word entered into relations with the created order in order to create (not to mention sustain and preserve), then this still requires a strong relational involvement. The question becomes, if God has no real substance, then what in God's nature was able to relate to the substance/s of creation?
Causality is completely found in the effect.

Let's use the traditional example. Imagine I am a potter shaping a vase. The clay is spinning and I put my hand in a certain shape and press my hand to the clay. I hold it such that a vase is created. Now, the efficient cause of the vase is me; the material cause is the clay; the formal cause is its "vaseness"; the final cause is to hold flowers. Let's focus on efficient cause only. What's going on here? The clay had certain potentialities that really existed in the clay. One of those potentialities was to be a vase. But that potentiality couldn't just actualize itself. It had to be brought about by something in act. So what was in act? My hand! I held my hand in a certain shape, and that changed the clay such that it became a vase. But notice this: did my hand change at all in the process?

No. I just held my hand in one way--I actualized, if you will, one of my hand's potentialities (to be shaped this way rather than that). The change that happened in my hand was, strictly speaking, unrelated to the change that happened in the vase insofar as my own hand is concerned. Logically, of course, we recognize that there is a relation. Namely, that my hand "created the vase." But, again, that relation is logical only. On the other hand, the change in the vase is really related to my hand. My hand really was the efficient cause of its existence, and that as evident by the fact that the vase, and not my hand, changed.

To help make this clearer, imagine (again the standard illustration) my relation to a column. Now I am to the left of the column. I move, and now I am to its right. Who changed in this case? I did. Did the column? Not at all. That is, the change for the column was an extrinsic change, whereas the change for me was intrinsic.

So it is with God. He, by His Act, just is what He is and does what He does. That Act includes creating us (analogous to how the hand creates the vase). But the cause (creation) is completely in the effect (the creature). The creatures is really related to God such that it was created by Him. God is logically related to the creature such that He created it. But there is no change of any kind in God. Any "change"--God moving from a state of "not having created" to "having created"--is logical only, that is, existing only in our minds, completely extrinsic to His nature.
Re: inward procession of the Trinity... do you believe God's acts are all inward? Is this why you say God cannot relate to creation, not simply because he is all act, but also because of His nature when it comes to procession?
Yes. God's inward acts necessarily have external effects, but those effects are not identical with Himself. Again, think of the potter's hand above. It's only an analogy, of course, but it should help nonetheless. But a word of caution. You speak of God's acts in the plural. From our human perspective, that is fine. But strictly, there is only one Act, and that one Act is what God Is.

"I AM" carries with it a lot of meaning . . . ;)
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Divine Simplicity - What is it and is it correct?

#34

Post by Kurieuo » Thu Mar 15, 2012 7:04 am

Jac3510 wrote:
K wrote:To understand the two definitions better, let me first provide an example that I can make use of: A human soul might possess a lower capacity that affords us the potential to experience all that human experience can offer (physicality, emotional, touching, sight, hearing, intelligence, moral conscience, etc), however human experience does not become actual until we develop the higher capacity of a physical body with which we can finally experience such things.

Two definitions of "Being":-

1) DS definition of "Being": Actuality without potentiality. God in DS is simply "Being" in the sense of "being actuality". Having a substance, like a "soul" or "body" for you implies potentiality. Thus, in DS God cannot possess such things. Rather God is the actuality of His divine attributes. Such that God is not good in virtue of doing good, but rather God is good. God is not righteous in virtue of doing rightous acts, but rather God is righteousness.

You probably explain it better where you write:
Jac wrote:Lastly, I want to note that when I say "pure being" I am talking of the notion of God as actus purus--strictly speaking, "pure act," where "act" here is opposed to "potency." Act is what something really is, where potency (as you well understand, I know) is how something really could be. Now, in God, there is no composition of act and potency. God is pure act, and He could thus be no other. In this sense, though, we cannot view God as a static being; rather, He is in act. So you have the Thomistic axiom, "God just is what He does." (underlining mine)
Hmm . . .

I think we might be using the terms 'actuality' and 'potentiality' and their derivatives differently. Forgive me if you know all of this already and if it is somewhat elementary, but let me make clear a few distinctions. DS certainly does not define "Being" as 'actuality without potentiality.' One of the rather important ontological points here is that potentiality is real being. It's just not actual being. If you don't believe that potency is real, you are going to have a seriously difficult time explaining such basic notions as change.
In the DS definition, I was speaking of as it applies to God. Unless, you are here advocating that God's Being has potentiality, but that would make God mutable...?

I thought it would be implied within the context that I was meaning it of God, though I can see reading the first sentence I should have been clearer. So to clarify, the meaning of "Being" as it applies to God in DS understanding is that God is actuality without potentiality. If I'm wrong here, then I have failed to grasp DS.

To respond to your words though, I agree that potentiality is real, in the sense that potency allows for the real possibility of something to be actualised (not to conflate potency with possibility which I too understand there are differences).

Adding the term "being" into the mix (that is, where you say "that potentiality is real being") is probably unnecessary since I understand you to just mean that "potentiality is real" ("being" adds nothing but a little more processing for me to filter out you are not meaning an essence-substance ;)).

Also agree that potency of something is not actual, which should be obvious given such actuality is like the antonym (probably more accurate to say completion though...) of potentiality.
Jac wrote:Second, we to distinguish betwceen potentiality and possibility. The two are not synonymous. It may be logically possible for a rubber ball to float three inches off the ground and follow me wherever I go. The ball, though, does not have that potential. Potentialities are natural capacities, which are intrinsic to the forms of things. You properly note than in the case of souls, we have ultimate potencies (capacities/potentialities) such as seeing and hearing, but those will remain unactualized potencies so long as lower-order capacities (potencies/potentialities) remain unactualized. But this is important: those unactualized potentialites still have real being!. They still exist. That is precisely why, for instance, it is morally unacceptable to harvest organs from a brain dead person (though that practice is legal and extremely common). Though the individual has permanently lost his ability to actualized certain ultimate capacities (e.g., communication), those capacities still exist. They just exist as potentialities.
Agreed. Just again to save me confusion (as my natural inclination is to understand "being" as an "essence-substance"), where you say "those unactualized potentialites still have real being!" I take you to mean "those unactualized potentialities really exist." Not that "potentialities have an essence-substance (although they may reside in one, such as your rubber ball).
Jac wrote:So potentialities are not possibilities. Potentialities exist. Possibilities may or may not.
No complaint with this.
Jac wrote:Now, let's return to our rubber ball. It has the potentiality to be spherical or a puddle in the floor. It is right now actually spherical. It's potentiality has been actualized. But suppose I apply to it intense heat. Suddenly, it now has the potentiality to be spherical and its former potentiality to be a puddle on the floor has been actualized. So we see that change is actually just the reduction of a potentiality to actuality. But notice further that the potency for being a puddle didn't actualize itself. It required something else to act on it and to thereby actualize the potency. So we have the Thomistic axiom, that which is moved (changed; had its potentiality reduced to actuality) is moved by another. (underline mine)
Ok, now we get to some juice...

Where I underline your words, let me say I do agree with this insofar as your rubber ball example is concerned. A ball is not sentient and so cannot change itself. However, concerning an intelligent being who has freedom, a will and power to exercise their will, such a being may change their state or position, however I am prepared to accept that such a being cannot change the nature of their being (essence-substance). I understand Aquinas states that a thing cannot move itself, and whether I'd declare his argument unsounds depends on how extreme he takes it.

For example, sitting down as I am right now, I have the potential of standing. And if I stand, it would be I who moved myself to stand. Thus, Aquinas seems to be wrong if he intends to say I personally cannot actualise a potential state of standing. On the other hand, say I die. I don't have the potential to take up my body again even if my soul has the potentiality to be joined to a body. I require something other than myself when it comes to the existence of my being. So I am prepared to accept that one may not be able to change the nature of their existence, that is, actualising a potentiality in their very being.

Static non-sentient objects on the other hand, cannot actualise any state or change their position without being moved. For they have no will, nor any power to do so. All such objects must therefore be moved by something else. For example, your rubber ball being heated by a fire.
Jac wrote:This is why we ultimately view God as actus purus (pure act). For nothing can actualize its own potencies (that would violate the law of non-contradiction). If God has potentiality in Him, then any reduction of that potentiality to actuality (that is, the actualization of that potentiality) but be something that happens to God. That is, God would have to be caused to be in a certain state (having potentiality A actualized rather than, say, B). But if God is caused, then He is not the First Cause, since something caused Him!
You may be aware, that it is here I really part company with you.

God has a will and the power to actualise potential relations (that is, change His state or position in relation to something else, just like I can actualise standing when it was only potential while I was sitting). However, God's nature, who God is, cannot change. God's nature has no potentiality to be other than the great "I AM". Yet, in virtue of God's true relations with His creation, God must be able to move in time alongside of His creation.

From previous debating, you know I believe God was timeless, and with creation He entered into temporality given up His timeless state or position. If you forget that can be a refresher. However, I do not believe anything intrinsically changed in God when He gave up His timeless state and entered into temporality. Rather an extrinsic change happened in virtue of His true relations with creation.

This also does not necessiate that God required a cause, given He now resides within temporality. The argument of an infinite regress cannot get traction in the timelessness that previously existed. For it is faulty reasoning to say God's entering into time somehow caused (retrocaused) God's prior timeless state to not exist. It is just an illusion we see looking backwards after the fact, that we now "see" a time before time. In actuality, God moved forward and so it is more right and indeed correct to move in this direction to understand how things were... which is God simply moved from timelessness into time when He created. Thus, without creation God was in a timeless state, and with creation God entered into temporality. An extrinsic change, not intrinsic. Thus, God remains immutable, although I'm well aware you may not agree.
Jac wrote:Thus, we conclude that God is pure act. You and I and everything else (including angels) are admixures of actuality and potentiality. Not God. He simply is what He is, and He can be no other. He is, in a word, perfect.
I agree that God's nature has no potentiality to be other than what He is. As such, there is no potentiality in God, and I suppose I can still agree with you that God is pure actuality (is there a difference between "act" and "actuality"?).

I have to stop here, but will get to the rest of your post/s later. However, am I able to believe in DS that God does possess a nature, that is, some divine essence? If not, God just seems hollow to me. Like there is nothing for me to love, I will not spiritually get to see God, hug God or the like (in a spiritual substancey way ;)). It seems like a quite depressive and impersonal view of God to me.

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Re: Divine Simplicity - What is it and is it correct?

#35

Post by Jac3510 » Thu Mar 15, 2012 8:15 am

Kurieuo wrote:Ok, now we get to some juice...

Where I underline your words, let me say I do agree with this insofar as your rubber ball example is concerned. A ball is not sentient and so cannot change itself. However, concerning an intelligent being who has freedom, a will and power to exercise their will, such a being may change their state or position, however I am prepared to accept that such a being cannot change the nature of their being (essence-substance). I understand Aquinas states that a thing cannot move itself, and whether I'd declare his argument unsounds depends on how extreme he takes it.

For example, sitting down as I am right now, I have the potential of standing. And if I stand, it would be I who moved myself to stand. Thus, Aquinas seems to be wrong if he intends to say I personally cannot actualise a potential state of standing. On the other hand, say I die. I don't have the potential to take up my body again even if my soul has the potentiality to be joined to a body. I require something other than myself when it comes to the existence of my being. So I am prepared to accept that one may not be able to change the nature of their existence, that is, actualising a potentiality in their very being.

Static non-sentient objects on the other hand, cannot actualise any state or change their position without being moved. For they have no will, nor any power to do so. All such objects must therefore be moved by something else. For example, your rubber ball being heated by a fire.
For a fuller discussion of this, I strongly recommend SCG I.13.

Here's the essence of it. Wholes are moved in virtue of their parts. You, sitting, have the potentiality to be standing. You move yourself, but only in virtue of moving your parts. One part of you moves, which moves another, which moves another, which eventually brings about the locomotion of the whole body. So Aquinas' argument still works.

Now, let's get more fundamental. Obviously you agree that nothing can be both A and ~A in the same way at the same time. So you are sitting now. You are actually sitting; you have the potentiality to be standing. What this means is that you cannot be both sitting and standing in the same way at the same time. To be actually sitting is to be potentiality standing and vice-versa. Aquinas summarizes this saying, "it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects." (ST Ia.2.3) But what is it, then, that actualizes your potentiality? It must be something in act, for potentiality does not actualize itself. Even if your own example, your potentiality for standing doesn't actualize itself. Another part of you actualizes that potentiality--a part in act. So, again, Aquinas says that "potency does not raise itself to act; it must be raised to act by something that is in act.” (SCG I.13.3) So to state that a thing moves itself (without reference to parts) requires a thing to be both potential and actual in the same respect at the same time, which violates the law of non-contradiction.

BTW, this is one of the reasons I believe in the simplicity of the soul, too (contra Moreland), though obviously, the soul's simplicity is not as radical as God's.
You may be aware, that it is here I really part company with you.

God has a will and the power to actualise potential relations (that is, change His state or position in relation to something else, just like I can actualise standing when it was only potential while I was sitting). However, God's nature, who God is, cannot change. God's nature has no potentiality to be other than the great "I AM". Yet, in virtue of God's true relations with His creation, God must be able to move in time alongside of His creation.
Then God isn't the First Cause. If God is an admixture of potentialities and actualities, then you must explain what it is in God that actualizes those potentialities. You have a composite God that must be caused to be this way rather than that. What, for instance, causes Him to actualize this or that potentiality? You can appeal to His intellect and will, but that only moves the problem back one stage. What caused that potentiality to be actualized? The will, on your view, has the potentiality to will this or that; so what actualizes the will in this way rather than that? The will itself? But that is no more sensical than a ball's potentiality to be blue rather than red actualizing itself.

So you have something of a dilemma here. Either you posit "in" God an unmoved mover that is simply in act, in which case you have reached DS, or you give up God as the First Cause.
From previous debating, you know I believe God was timeless, and with creation He entered into temporality given up His timeless state or position. If you forget that can be a refresher. However, I do not believe anything intrinsically changed in God when He gave up His timeless state and entered into temporality. Rather an extrinsic change happened in virtue of His true relations with creation.
So you disagree with Craig? In that same thread, you said:
  • Further to the above, it seems I may have myself misunderstood Craig's own beliefs regarding God's immutability. It is not only an extrinsic change Craig believes happens with God (as I commented in my previous posts), but also an intrinsic change. This means Craig beliefs God Himself is affected. This changes your argument from what I considered to be nonsense (that an extrinsic change is still intrinsic to God's nature), to more simply an intrinsic change being advocated outright
You can, of course, disagree with Craig, but I was under the impression you held the same position he does.

In any case, the only way to require an intrinsic change in God is to assert that God's relation to creation is real, which I've already denied.
This also does not necessiate that God required a cause, given He now resides within temporality. The argument of an infinite regress cannot get traction in the timelessness that previously existed. For it is faulty reasoning to say God's entering into time somehow caused (retrocaused) God's prior timeless state to not exist. It is just an illusion we see looking backwards after the fact, that we now "see" a time before time. In actuality, God moved forward and so it is more right and indeed correct to move in this direction to understand how things were... which is God simply moved from timelessness into time when He created. Thus, without creation God was in a timeless state, and with creation God entered into temporality. An extrinsic change, not intrinsic. Thus, God remains immutable, although I'm well aware you may not agree.
But it does require God having a cause, for we are causing God to be in this state rather than that. Perhaps you can argue that God's existence has no efficient cause, but there certainly are efficient causes for God's current state of being. That's what we mean when we say that He is affected!

Again, however, the only way for that to be possible is if there are potentialities in God that could in principle be changed. But in THAT case, I don't have to appeal to retrocausation. Those potentialities were in God as potentialities in eternity past. Well now you have to explain what caused God to have these potentialities rather than those in eternity. You can just appeal to mysterious and brute necessity, but there are serious apologetic consequences for that. Specifically, Hume made a rather cogent argument that in allowing for such mysterious, brute necessity, you give away absolutely any and all metaphysical necessity on which to base God's existence, for what is good for the goose is good for the gander. If God's complexity can be explained away as brute metaphysical necessity that is heretofore unknown or perhaps unknowable, there is nothing to prevent the atheist from making precisely the same assertion about matter. Perhaps matter only appears contingent due to our lack of knowledge. To quote him, "[w]e dare not affirm that we know all the qualities of matter; and, for aught we can determine, it may contain some qualities which, were they known, would make its non-existence appear as a great a contradiction as that twice two is five."

This is one of my general problems with people who talk about God as being temporal and composite. I don't think you've seriously considered the ramifications of your view on the cogency of theism. There are other very, very serious problems as well . . . but again, as I said in my opening reply, I'd like to start by making clear how DS stands up. THEN we can move on to why we ought to embrace it.
I agree that God's nature has no potentiality to be other than what He is. As such, there is no potentiality in God, and I suppose I can still agree with you that God is pure actuality (is there a difference between "act" and "actuality"?).
I don't think you understand what you are saying. If there is no potency in God, then God CANNOT be temporal. For to be temporal is to have potentiality to exist later (to take only one example). To actualize a potency is to experience a change; temporality is just the measurement of change (this happened then that happened). If God is pure act, then there is no change (God is strongly immutable). So pure actuality necessarily entails not only divine simplicity, but strong immutability, impassibility, absolute sovereignty, aseity, timelessness, and a host of other doctrines.
I have to stop here, but will get to the rest of your post/s later. However, am I able to believe in DS that God does possess a nature, that is, some divine essence? If not, God just seems hollow to me. Like there is nothing for me to love, I will not spiritually get to see God, hug God or the like (in a spiritual substancey way ;)). It seems like a quite depressive and impersonal view of God to me.
No. In DS God does not possess a nature like you do. He IS a nature. Far from saying there is "nothing" to love, there is EVERYTHING to love, and that rather literally. For God is literally the unlimited act of being. Anything you love, you love to the degree it exists. You cannot love a non-existent thing. You can love things that only have mental existence. You cannot love things with NO existence. But unlimited existence can therefore be loved without limitation.

As to your last line, I think this is a general problem among opponents of classical theism generally, be they modern analytic or process philosophers or whatever: a desire for a God that is in some degree anthropomorphic. I've had more than a few conversations like this, and the motivation eventually always seems to reach this point. We want a God like us. But God is NOT like us. We are like God. He is NOT like us. This is ANOTHER point that is central to classical theism generally and DS specifically: all language about God is ultimately analogical. We have no language used univocally of Him and of creation. You may find that depressing. I find it relieving and absolutely awe inspiring. God is not just a being like us differing only in level of power. He is fundamentally other. The difference between Him and us is not one of degree; it is one of kind.
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And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Divine Simplicity - What is it and is it correct?

#36

Post by jlay » Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:48 am

Jac,

This may be better for another thread. I'm following along closely and one of the issues this rises for me, is Christ himself. For if God is timeless, and immutable, then how do we account for these things in DS....

-For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Heb 2:17
-And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1;14
-but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. Phil. 2:7

All these imply, at least too me, that God entered the creation. Are these not potentialities?
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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Re: Divine Simplicity - What is it and is it correct?

#37

Post by Jac3510 » Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:05 pm

J,

Short answer: Christ is one person with two natures, the human and the divine. Those natures are not mixed in any way, but completely distinct in the man. The person Christ had all the potentialities that any other human does, but that via His human nature. His divine nature, in no way being co-mingled with the human nature, maintains all the attributes of God (immutability, omniscience, etc.). That means that the Incarnation does not affect DS, for nothing in God has changed.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Divine Simplicity - What is it and is it correct?

#38

Post by Kurieuo » Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:03 pm

Jac,

Maybe I take a bit longer to write, or I just have less time on my hands. However, I be will progressively responding to your post (and future posts). You can choose to respond straight away, or hold off until I have finished fully responding to one post of yours. You just seem so much quicker to respond, probably because you have fully developed and thought through your theological postion.

Just giving you a heads up, incase you wonder why I'm not responding to everything. It just takes me longer to respond and I sadly don't have a luxury of time. I also prefer to try and fully grasp what you are saying rather than give your words quick treatment. As this will result in more fruitful dialogue and avoid any talking past each other.
Jac3510 wrote:
Kurieuo wrote:Ok, now we get to some juice...

Where I underline your words, let me say I do agree with this insofar as your rubber ball example is concerned. A ball is not sentient and so cannot change itself. However, concerning an intelligent being who has freedom, a will and power to exercise their will, such a being may change their state or position, however I am prepared to accept that such a being cannot change the nature of their being (essence-substance). I understand Aquinas states that a thing cannot move itself, and whether I'd declare his argument unsounds depends on how extreme he takes it.

For example, sitting down as I am right now, I have the potential of standing. And if I stand, it would be I who moved myself to stand. Thus, Aquinas seems to be wrong if he intends to say I personally cannot actualise a potential state of standing. On the other hand, say I die. I don't have the potential to take up my body again even if my soul has the potentiality to be joined to a body. I require something other than myself when it comes to the existence of my being. So I am prepared to accept that one may not be able to change the nature of their existence, that is, actualising a potentiality in their very being.

Static non-sentient objects on the other hand, cannot actualise any state or change their position without being moved. For they have no will, nor any power to do so. All such objects must therefore be moved by something else. For example, your rubber ball being heated by a fire.
For a fuller discussion of this, I strongly recommend SCG I.13.

Here's the essence of it. Wholes are moved in virtue of their parts. You, sitting, have the potentiality to be standing. You move yourself, but only in virtue of moving your parts. One part of you moves, which moves another, which moves another, which eventually brings about the locomotion of the whole body. So Aquinas' argument still works.

Now, let's get more fundamental. Obviously you agree that nothing can be both A and ~A in the same way at the same time. So you are sitting now. You are actually sitting; you have the potentiality to be standing. What this means is that you cannot be both sitting and standing in the same way at the same time. To be actually sitting is to be potentiality standing and vice-versa. Aquinas summarizes this saying, "it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects." (ST Ia.2.3) But what is it, then, that actualizes your potentiality? It must be something in act, for potentiality does not actualize itself. Even if your own example, your potentiality for standing doesn't actualize itself. Another part of you actualizes that potentiality--a part in act. So, again, Aquinas says that "potency does not raise itself to act; it must be raised to act by something that is in act.” (SCG I.13.3) So to state that a thing moves itself (without reference to parts) requires a thing to be both potential and actual in the same respect at the same time, which violates the law of non-contradiction.
Ok, let me try to ensure I understand correctly.

Are you are saying that I did have the potential within myself for standing and that I set all my body parts in motion? Thus, I caused my potential state to happen. But it was the part of me that is "will" and "body parts working together" which was "in Act" to actualise my standing. I am becoming confused as to the relevance of my example. I think it comes down to who I am is very different from the nature of an inanimate object such as a rubber ball.

With your "rubber ball" there is no part to it really, it just is a rubber ball. Therefore it makes no sense to say that it can actualise itself to melt. This requires at minimum a will, and some capacity within itself to change. This is dissimlar to myself which is comprised of parts as you right point out. Whether or not it matters, I guess one point I want to draw out from this was that it was ultimately "I" who caused myself to stand, and that the "actual" and "potential" states are both related to "me". Whether or not this conflicts with you or Aquinas, please let me know?

Let's say that I accept Divine Simplicity. Say that I am the Divine possessing "Pure Will" as God might, and that there are no parts within me. Then my "acting" to say create a world would just be a "Pure Act" of will that causes creation. Right? But there is something changed. Because now in virtue of my creating, there is a state of existence where I was without my creation, and a state of existence where creation now exists. My question is: How does this affect Divine Simpliciy, and does such change anything within God?

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Re: Divine Simplicity - What is it and is it correct?

#39

Post by Jac3510 » Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:34 am

K,

Sorry, I don't mean to make you feel rushed. As far as my quick replies, there are a couple of reasons. The first is that I wrote my thesis on it and, as such, spent an entire year reading and writing on just this topic. So a lot of this stuff is sort of "at my fingertips" somewhat literally. I have at least as many pages of notes saved on this HD as I have written in the text of the paper. :p

That's not to say that the questions and arguments you are making are bad ones. On the contrary, they are exactly the ones that philosophical theologians and scholars do have, so you are in fantastic company. It just means that I've looked at a lot of these arguments, so I'm just sort of reporting to you the conclusions of my own research at the points you are raising. I also think that's particularly helpful for anyone who is following this, because they can get an idea about how the "real" arguments are going today among who those who do this professionally (unlike how silly and unserious people who will not be named tend to approach this issue).

The other thing is that I am back in school full time and have seriously cut my hours back at work. So I have time to play online. I say that in the sense that I have access to discussions.godandscience.org pretty much anytime of any day. Unfortunately, I tend to be rather undisciplined and I have to admit that I find this conversation much more interesting that a class on world missions. So I'm inclined to do this rather than my assigned work . . . :(

All that said, I want to be sure that we discuss this stuff thoroughly, so I'll make it a point to slow down and let you respond to everything before I respond. You actually have a life! And it's better for a well rounded conversation, anyway. I'll also try to keep the post lengths down, as walls of text are sort of hard to respond to.

Over *click* ;)
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Divine Simplicity - What is it and is it correct?

#40

Post by Echoside » Fri Mar 16, 2012 5:43 pm

off topic, but good to see you active again Jac. I confess I've been rather busy at work, it's good to be able to examine the ideas of people who have done research in these areas, when my own is limited.

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Re: Divine Simplicity - What is it and is it correct?

#41

Post by Kurieuo » Sun Mar 18, 2012 4:53 am

Ok, now onto the next part of your response (thanks for giving me time!).
Jac3510 wrote:
K wrote:You may be aware, that it is here I really part company with you.

God has a will and the power to actualise potential relations (that is, change His state or position in relation to something else, just like I can actualise standing when it was only potential while I was sitting). However, God's nature, who God is, cannot change. God's nature has no potentiality to be other than the great "I AM". Yet, in virtue of God's true relations with His creation, God must be able to move in time alongside of His creation.
Then God isn't the First Cause. If God is an admixture of potentialities and actualities, then you must explain what it is in God that actualizes those potentialities. You have a composite God that must be caused to be this way rather than that. What, for instance, causes Him to actualize this or that potentiality? You can appeal to His intellect and will, but that only moves the problem back one stage. What caused that potentiality to be actualized? The will, on your view, has the potentiality to will this or that; so what actualizes the will in this way rather than that? The will itself? But that is no more sensical than a ball's potentiality to be blue rather than red actualizing itself.

So you have something of a dilemma here. Either you posit "in" God an unmoved mover that is simply in act, in which case you have reached DS, or you give up God as the First Cause.
You're overlooking that if God is eternal, then so is God's will. Thus, if God willed to create, then if follows that God willed to create from eternity (His aseity). So, to ask what caused "the will in this way rather than that" is really on par with novice Atheists who would ask "who made God?" (I'm by no means inferring you're novice! Just you how overused that question is by Atheists, and it shows a lack of understanding on their part)

Now saying God willed something for eternity shouldn't be a stretch for you. Believing is Divine Simplicity as you do, you must commit to the idea the God's actions are eternal (timeless). Thus, what I postulate is not absurd, so if I understand your complaint, it is more that my advocating God's true relations with His temporal creation violates Divine Simplicity.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Aquinas only seems to argue for God's simplicity via his cosmological argument. However, Aquinas' argument from contingent beings at most leads us to accept a being who necessarily exists. This does not commit us to Divine Simplicity however. I believe God still has an essence that is a metaphyscially necessary. Thus we have Aquina's' argument of a necessary being:
Aquinas wrote:The third way is taken from possibility and necessity, and runs thus. We find in nature things that are possible to be and not to be, since they are found to be generated, and to corrupt, and consequently, they are possible to be and not to be. But it is impossible for these always to exist, for that which is possible not to be at some time is not. Therefore, if everything is possible not to be, then at one time there could have been nothing in existence. Now if this were true, even now there would be nothing in existence, because that which does not exist only begins to exist by something already existing. Therefore, if at one time nothing was in existence, it would have been impossible for anything to have begun to exist; and thus even now nothing would be in existence---which is absurd. Therefore, not all beings are merely possible, but there must exist something the existence of which is necessary. But every necessary thing either has its necessity caused by another, or not. Now it is impossible to go on to infinity in necessary things which have their necessity caused by another, as has been already proved in regard to efficient causes. Therefore we cannot but postulate the existence of some being having of itself its own necessity, and not receiving it from another, but rather causing in others their necessity. This all men speak of as God. (Summa Theologiae, I : 2,3)
Jac wrote:
K wrote:From previous debating, you know I believe God was timeless, and with creation He entered into temporality given up His timeless state or position. If you forget that can be a refresher. However, I do not believe anything intrinsically changed in God when He gave up His timeless state and entered into temporality. Rather an extrinsic change happened in virtue of His true relations with creation.
So you disagree with Craig? In that same thread, you said:
  • Further to the above, it seems I may have myself misunderstood Craig's own beliefs regarding God's immutability. It is not only an extrinsic change Craig believes happens with God (as I commented in my previous posts), but also an intrinsic change. This means Craig beliefs God Himself is affected. This changes your argument from what I considered to be nonsense (that an extrinsic change is still intrinsic to God's nature), to more simply an intrinsic change being advocated outright
You can, of course, disagree with Craig, but I was under the impression you held the same position he does.

In any case, the only way to require an intrinsic change in God is to assert that God's relation to creation is real, which I've already denied.
Thanks for pointing this old exchange between us out. I had entirely forgotten about it and appreciate you referencing it.

It might surprise you to know I don't always agree with Craig. While I might respect Craig's opinion on many matters, like everything and everyone else, I always use my own brain to critically analyse before accepting. For example, I currently disagree with Craig when he states that God literally did speak the world into existence from nothing, in the strictest possible sense of the word nothing. Thus, it seems to me when Craig questions Atheists on the absurdity of believing our universe came from nothing (since from nothing, nothing comes) that Craig commits a similar fallacy. But that is off-topic here.

Admittedly, back during our exchange I was surprised that Craig accepted an intrinsic change. However, what Craig calls an intrinsic change, is God's knowledge of temporal facts. As I explain in that previous thread:
  • Kurieuo: If God is able to experience temporality in our world, then more changes than simply his relationship to time (which is purely extrinsic). I did not see this conclusion before, however if God experiences temporality, then as time flows God's knowledge of tensed facts changes. What happens tomorrow for us today, is different from what happens tomorrow if we were a month from now. Thus, God's knowledge of yesterday, the present, and tomorrow (tensed facts) continually changes as time flows forward. As such, God's knowledge of tensed facts is not immutable. Yet, the double-edged sword is, if God does not know what "now" is for us, then God is not omniscient. So instead of embracing a radical and strong sense of God's immutability, Craig embraces a relaxed sense (and I'm inclined to believe more Biblical sense - which is what counts!) that God is immutable when it comes to His 1) character (e.g., goodness), 2) existence (e.g., necessity, eternity, aseity) and 3) being (e.g., omnipresent, omniscience and omnipotence).
Now being surprised yet again by Craig's acceptance of an intrinsic change ( :clap: I will remember third time around! ;)), I reject Craig that God's knowledge of tensed facts does reflect an intrinsic change in God. I didn't give it much thought during our first discussion you referenced, however what is changing in God's knowledge of tensed facts is God's relational position to creation. This is still for me an extrinsic change.

Craig even himself defines extrinsic and intrinsic changes as follows:
W L Craig wrote:An intrinsic change is a nonrelational change, involving only the subject. For example, an apple changes from green to red. An extrinsic change is a relational change, involving something else in relation to which the subject change. For example, Jones becomes short than his son, not by undergoing an intrinsic change in his height, but by being related to his son as his son undergoes intrinsic change in his height. (Philosophical Foundations, Craing & Moreland, p.526)
Based on Craig's on definitions, it seems clear to me that with God's relationship with time, that more than God is involved -- namely time itself. So by Craig's own definition it may not be the case that we have an intrinsic change with God's knowledge of tensed facts. While God knowledge of tensed facts flows with time (such that I exist today in the present, and yesterday is not today), God's knowledge of tensed facts is only a relational change to time that is flowing. Nothing in God is changing. Thus, we have an extrinsic change by Craig's own definition, and not an intrinsic change as Craig seemed to so willingly embrace.

At the end of the day, this is not a major difference. That is, my difference with Craig is not one of any real substance, but rather definition and its proper application thereof. Craig and I still agree in subtance with each other such that I can affirm Craig's following statement on God's immutability:
W L Craig wrote:... God is immutable in the biblical sense of being constant and unchangeable in his character. Moreover, he is immutable in his existence (necessity, aseity, eternity) and his being omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. These essential attributes are enough to safeguard God's perfection without freezing him into immobility. (Philosophical Foundations, p.527)
I fully embrace this definition of God's immutability, so Craig and I are not really in disagreement when it comes to the details.

Unlike you however, and I guess this is an accepted outcome of Divine Simplicity, I reject the notion that God must be immutable as far as His external relations are concerned. That is, God cannot change in relations to something other, even if it is the something other that has changed in relation to God.

So for example, God does not change in His relation to Creation, although we are temporal and flow through time. Thus, as we have previously somewhat covered... for you God stands outside of creation and time such that everything from t1 to the end of time stands before God. Whereas for me, God enters into creation in virtue of His desired true relationship with us. As such, God entered into temporality. On your view, I sincerely question the soundness of God's omniscience and personal relations with us, since if God does not know what day it is today then we have an issue with God's omniscience. And if God cannot be present with me in a situation especially at my very hour of need, then well, God is very much withdrawn from my life (as well as everyone else who exists within time).

I will leave this post here as I've written a lot, but get to the remainder of your previous response soon.

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Re: Divine Simplicity - What is it and is it correct?

#42

Post by Kurieuo » Sun Mar 18, 2012 7:28 am

Jac3510 wrote:
K wrote:This also does not necessiate that God required a cause, given He now resides within temporality. The argument of an infinite regress cannot get traction in the timelessness that previously existed. For it is faulty reasoning to say God's entering into time somehow caused (retrocaused) God's prior timeless state to not exist. It is just an illusion we see looking backwards after the fact, that we now "see" a time before time. In actuality, God moved forward and so it is more right and indeed correct to move in this direction to understand how things were... which is God simply moved from timelessness into time when He created. Thus, without creation God was in a timeless state, and with creation God entered into temporality. An extrinsic change, not intrinsic. Thus, God remains immutable, although I'm well aware you may not agree.
But it does require God having a cause, for we are causing God to be in this state rather than that. Perhaps you can argue that God's existence has no efficient cause, but there certainly are efficient causes for God's current state of being. That's what we mean when we say that He is affected!

Again, however, the only way for that to be possible is if there are potentialities in God that could in principle be changed. But in THAT case, I don't have to appeal to retrocausation. Those potentialities were in God as potentialities in eternity past. Well now you have to explain what caused God to have these potentialities rather than those in eternity. You can just appeal to mysterious and brute necessity, but there are serious apologetic consequences for that. Specifically, Hume made a rather cogent argument that in allowing for such mysterious, brute necessity, you give away absolutely any and all metaphysical necessity on which to base God's existence, for what is good for the goose is good for the gander. If God's complexity can be explained away as brute metaphysical necessity that is heretofore unknown or perhaps unknowable, there is nothing to prevent the atheist from making precisely the same assertion about matter. Perhaps matter only appears contingent due to our lack of knowledge. To quote him, "[w]e dare not affirm that we know all the qualities of matter; and, for aught we can determine, it may contain some qualities which, were they known, would make its non-existence appear as a great a contradiction as that twice two is five."
We might have to agree to disagree. That is, I believe it (God's creating and thereby entering into temporality in virtue of God's true relations with the created) does not require God having a cause. Hopefully some of my previous post has helped to remedy why God would not need a cause, and if not at least provide you with a better understanding of my own position.

Regarding, potentialities in God, I never said that such exist in God. However, I can understand why you might think I do.

In our previous thread you referenced from several years back, you made clear that you see "extrinsic changes" as ontologically-based. This is most likely because you already accept Divine Simplicity, where God's ontology resides in the pure act of "being" rather than "a being". I submit, if I accepted DS then extrinsic change would necessitate ontological change and therefore an intrinsic change. However, with the current way I view God, this is not the case for God still possesses a metaphysical being from which He can really relate to us from.

Now, for the sake of argument, let's assume that an intrinsic change has happened within God. I am open to the idea as long as such change retains God's complete perfection, which is why the doctrine of immutability was proposed anyway wasn't it? Ok, let's assume an intrinsic change happens within God such that His onological being is affected. Now your reasoning of potentialities in God applies and lets investigate your objections.

Firstly, you object because God now needs an efficient cause. I don't see how this applies (although your "brute necessity" argument would follow). We would just need a first cause from which all other causes resulted. Any "retrocausation illusion" now applies within God's ontology, rather than His timelessness with creation. That is, God's first change in Himself by no means predicates that God's being was not necessary prior to that change. It is certainly not obvious if it does. Rather than talking in terms of a "necessary being" (which God can still be in relation to all creation), we are now just talking about terms of God having a "necessary first state" from which changes in His ontology came forth.

So then, what of there being a "mysterious and brute necessity." Well, firstly what is meant by "mysterious"? If it is meant irrational and blind assertion, then no. I don't see how anyone could say a necessary first cause is mysterious in this sense, given they understand the logic and see some soundness to Aquinas' arguments and the impossibility of an infinite regress. On the other hand, if it is meant "mysterious" without any negative connotation, such that God is simply mysterious, well yes, God is mysterious to us in the ways that He works as well as His ontology. Perhaps even more mysterious if Divine Simplicity is true! So mysterious doesn't seem to have much bearing. (Re-reading this, the more obvious meaning of "mysterious" is that we do not know what the metaphyisical necessity was, which my following paragraphs deal with anyway)

What of "brute necessity"? Well, yes, something is required by mere or brute necessity. However, I reject that this takes away from such a metaphysical necessity being God rather than something like timeless matter. I'm not entirely sure how Divine Simplicity makes God's metaphysical necessity more clear, maybe you can elaborate? However, doing a little more thinking and reasoning as to what the necessary entity is, we can quickly deduce a being such as God. It is not really that difficult. Let me explain.

"Timelessness" is essentially a static state "without change" such that nothing causally comes before or after anything else. Let's apply this static state to matter. What would then cause "matter" in a timeless static state, to then change and cause other things to be caused (or come into existence if we're talking our universe)? Matter timelessly ice should remain forever ice. Unless matter possesses a will and power to change, it will forever be trapped in timelessness as ice. Therefore, the "brute necessity" must be intelligent possessing a will, and have the power to break free from its timeless state to bring about the first cause (indeed great power if such a being created our universe and life).
Jac wrote:This is one of my general problems with people who talk about God as being temporal and composite. I don't think you've seriously considered the ramifications of your view on the cogency of theism. There are other very, very serious problems as well . . . but again, as I said in my opening reply, I'd like to start by making clear how DS stands up. THEN we can move on to why we ought to embrace it.
I think the issue is more the lense you are looking through. And I really don't mean that in a negative or pejorative sense since we all do it, and I know I've done it of you in the past (i.e., that other thread it seems).

What I see happens, especially with myself, is I come across some troubling or perplexing issue in life that affects my beliefs. If it pertains to my Christian beliefs, well I need to come up with an answer that best fits the picture of what I already know. Sometimes it means revising what I believe I know to make my beliefs better fit together. Sometimes it means sitting on an issue, until I have to time to explore, or let the answer come to me in time. So as more and more questions become answered, and pieces of the puzzle seem to fit together, such a massive amount of coherency becomes the lense through which I judge the beliefs of others and see any given issue.

So when you judge particularly my own beliefs, your lense is very steeped in Divine Simplicity as well as other doctrines that provide you with your own coherent set of theological beliefs. No doubt you had your own questions and issues to resolve, and as you began to explore, DS is seemed to answer many of these objections. Maybe you tossed aside some of your previously held beliefs, and made them fit around, but somewhere DS became a part of your coherent theological foundation. So now when you look at another person's belief, or an issue that you see is answered by your own set of accepted beliefs that seem to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, you don't fully get or understand how they could answer the questions you had in the same way.

For me, coming from my own set of theological beliefs that have accumulated over time, they work together to answer of lot of questions I once had. They now form my own lense through which I judge other beliefs, and I see many things that just don't seem to add up with the beliefs of others. For example, God entering into temporality helped to answer God's real relations with us, and how God could escape the infinite regress. For once God creates, we now have a tricky question to answer. How can God be timeless if there is a state of His existence without creation prior to His existence with creation? The conclusion many non-Christians draw is God is not timeless, but must also be contingent. Valid criticism I thought. And it puzzled me some time for it made the cosmological argument unsound. So much so I went searching for an answer, and thankfully came across Craig's Time and Eternity book to finally have the missing puzzle piece put into place. God was timeless without creation, and entered into temporality with His creation. Another question I did have is why God, and not something else? Craig answers that too in his many debates, but I also read it in books.

You no doubt have your own responses to these particular questions, and ones you feel are much more fulfilling. That's great, and thankfully, I don't think you're going to burn for them ;) (I hope I don't burn for mine :P).

Given this, I don't think it would be fair for me to say you have not thought your beliefs on DS through properly, because it causes this problem and that problem and has these ramifications. Certainly it seems you have thought through many of the issues and problems I've presented to you. Your answers demonstrate you have developed answers that you are comfortable with. And truth be told, I have not accepted all your responses or found everything to my satisfaction, but I can see how they might make sense to you. And I'm more interested in trying to understand how DS is coherent for you, while becoming more familiar with what it entails, rather than judging it.

So, I guess what I'm getting at here, is we have a whole set of theological beliefs that together they each form a coherent system for us. You have yours, and I have mine. I think mine are more coherent, obviously as I wouldn't hold to them otherwise, since they answer a lot of questions for me. And likewise you think yours are. That is fine, at least I think it is. We all have questions that we need to answer in a manner that is rationally acceptable to ourselves, so naturally there will be differences. So just given your seeming frustration in your comments quoted above, I thought these were important points to make. You might still believe my theistic beliefs aren't very cogent, but I know you intend nothing personal.

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Re: Divine Simplicity - What is it and is it correct?

#43

Post by Kurieuo » Sun Mar 18, 2012 8:14 am

Jac3510 wrote:J,

Short answer: Christ is one person with two natures, the human and the divine. Those natures are not mixed in any way, but completely distinct in the man. The person Christ had all the potentialities that any other human does, but that via His human nature. His divine nature, in no way being co-mingled with the human nature, maintains all the attributes of God (immutability, omniscience, etc.). That means that the Incarnation does not affect DS, for nothing in God has changed.
Do you believe in the communicatio idiomatum?

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Re: Divine Simplicity - What is it and is it correct?

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Post by Jac3510 » Sun Mar 18, 2012 8:14 pm

My turn to ask for a couple days. I should be able to get to this all on Tuesday, as the next 24 hours are going to be extremely busy for me.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Divine Simplicity - What is it and is it correct?

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Post by Kurieuo » Sun Mar 18, 2012 8:37 pm

Jac3510 wrote:My turn to ask for a couple days. I should be able to get to this all on Tuesday, as the next 24 hours are going to be extremely busy for me.
No worries. I was going to respond briefly to the last bit, but that's really just peripheral. Look forward to your response.

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