Divine Freedom In Creating And Does God Change If He Creates?
The following are quotes which speak to questions which naturally in topics dealing with Divine Freedom and “Can God Create X / Not Create X?” and “Does God Change If He Creates?” and also with “Cambridge Properties” in God. While most are from Dr. D. Bonnette who is Thomistic in his approach one quote is from E. Feser (also Thomistic) and one quote is from Dr. W.L. Craig, and three are from Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange OP The Trinity and God the Creator.
“My reply is based on the idea that moral perfection is a uniquely divine property. To be morally perfect is to embody goodness itself, to be maximally good. If you agree… that being the Supreme Good makes a being worthy of worship, then it immediately follows that that being is God. For by definition God is a being worthy of worship. Nothing else but God is worthy of worship (as opposed to just admiration). So if a being is morally perfect and therefore God, it must have all the essential properties of God, including omniscience, omnipotence, eternity, necessity, and so on. My answer implies that a human person cannot be a morally perfect being, or he would be God. Dave asks, What about Adam? In Christian theology, Adam is not morally perfect. He is morally innocent prior to the Fall but not morally perfect. Even in heaven, free from sin, our righteousness will be finite, not like the infinite goodness of God. So I suspect that people’s reservations about my claim were based on a different understanding of “morally perfect.” Perhaps they interpreted it to mean something like “sinless.” In that case God can (and did) create a sinless human being. But sinlessness should not be equated with moral perfection, which is a positive quality of infinite magnitude.” ((W.L. Craig))
End Quote 1.
Quote 2: “With respect to goods less than his own being and goodness, God is completely free to create or not create. Is there a particular problem? The whole point of divine freedom is that it is not necessitated! It was the Neo-Platonists that got involved in God having to create by some sort of necessary emanation. As you know, that logically entails forms of pantheism, since you cannot then define God without reference to creatures on whose creation his very nature depends.” ((Dr. D. Bonnette / https://strangenotions.com/how-cosmic-existence-reveals-gods-reality/#comment-4510255558 …))
Quote 3: “By “prior,” do you mean ontologically or temporally prior? My suspicion is that you mean temporally prior, which is the standard understanding of causation among those who follow physics, rather than metaphysics. For the metaphysician, the only true causality must be such that the influence of the cause on the effect is immediate, which means that anything happening at a time prior to the effect cannot actually be the cause. Generally speaking, the cause is said to have to be simultaneous with its effect. If that is the case, then prior efficient and material causes are not true causes of the effect needing explanation.”((from https://strangenotions.com/how-cosmic-existence-reveals-gods-reality/#comment-4512590847 ))
“This is the same error we had on this site some months back — and the refutation of it remains the same. This view assumes that whatever God wills he wills of necessity because he is the Necessary Being. But God’s necessity pertains solely to the necessity of his existence and certain essential properties, since his essence and his existence are identical. This view also arises from the belief that God’s unchangeable eternity is identified with his own will and will act, such that if his will were otherwise he would be a different God.
But, as I said above and as St. Thomas also says, God’s necessity pertains solely to those things that are essential to his nature, such as his own goodness. Thus, God wills his own goodness of necessity, while lesser goods are the object of his free choice, such as to create this world or some other world or no finite world at all. It is true that God is eternal and unchangeable. But what the critics miss is that he is identical with his own eternal free choice, including the choice to create this world and no other. I find Christians have little trouble understanding this simple truth, while atheists find it a mortal stumbling block.
While it is true that God cannot change his will to create this specific world, it is, as St. Thomas points out, a suppositional necessity. That is to say, given that God chose to make this particular world, it is true that he must make this particular world. But nothing makes him have to have chosen as he did. (Note here the misunderstandings that can arise from our need to speak in tensed predication, while God is entirely outside of time in his eternal now in which all his activity is timeless.)
Suppositional necessity means no more than something like the fact that I have chosen to rob a bank means that I now necessarily am choosing to rob this bank — but nothing makes me rob the bank in the first place. So, too, once God in timeless fashion chooses to create this world, it is true that he must choose to create this world — simply a matter of the principle of identity.
Still, Christians easily grasp that God is his own eternal absolutely free choice and that whatever he chooses less than his own goodness can be chosen freely by him. God remains absolutely free with respect to his having created and continuing to create this world.” ((Dr. Bonnette at https://strangenotions.com/how-cosmic-existence-reveals-gods-reality/#comment-3796910069 …)).
End Quote 4.
“I had determined not to add further comments to this thread, but will make one last attempt to address what I see for some of you is a serious question: How can God’s free creation avoid flatly contradicting the principle of sufficient reason? Then I will leave further comments to others. I think I grasp the essence of the objections several have raised. Simply put, the argument is that, if God freely wills to create the world, either:
1— This is a brute fact, having no sufficient reason, and therefore shows that the PSR is not universally true.
2— There is a sufficient reason for this choice and God is not actually free, but rather this “choice” flows from his nature necessarily.
St. Thomas argues that God being a necessary being does not entail that his choices flow from his nature necessarily :
“Although God necessarily wills His own goodness, He does not necessarily will things willed on account of His goodness; for his goodness can exist without other things.” Summa Theologiae I, q. 19, a. 3, ad. 2.
The key objecting insight seems to be that, if the free choice has a sufficient reason, then it cannot be really free. While St. Thomas shows that such a free choice need not flow necessarily from the divine nature, one still wonders then from what it does flow, unless there is some sufficient reason for this choice rather than that one, and then the “freedom” appears to be illusory.
The answer lies in the fact that God is truly the First Cause and that his eternal free choice is not moved to act at all. It is never not in act. So, there is no problem of reduction from potency to act. There is no unfolding “decision process” to be gone through.
God exists necessarily because his essence is one with his act of existence. He is his own sufficient reason for being. In light of the divine simplicity, God’s nature is one with its acts. This perfect unity entails, as St. Thomas says, both necessary and non-necessary aspects. Therefore, his non-necessary act to create is no more lacking a sufficient reason than is God himself. Since a brute fact is defined as something that has no sufficient reason, there are no brute facts here.
What flows from that eternal Pure Act flows necessarily with respect to necessary things and non-necessarily with respect to non-necessary things, which latter aspect of the divine being means the same thing as being free and acting freely. The sufficient reason for both necessary and non-necessary aspects is the same divine nature. God’s will flows necessarily from his nature in that he has a will. By definition a will is free with respect to what it can choose, and God can freely choose non-necessary goods.
God’s choice to create this unique world is not random or without reason, since good reasons for this particular world can be posited and God would certainly know them. But why are these reasons selected as the basis for this actual creation as opposed to other possible ones – or even the choice never to have created anything at all? The sufficient reason for that selection is the free choice that necessarily flows from God’s non-necessary relation to goods that are inferior to his own necessarily willed divine goodness.
The demand for a God A vs. God B explanation is not legitimate, since it assumes that all that is in God must flow necessarily from his nature. This misses the non- necessary choice of lesser goods. To demand to know whether God acts necessarily or not is to demand a yes or no answer to a question requiring a complex answer. God acts necessarily with respect to those things that he wills necessarily, such as the divine goodness, but he acts non-necessarily with respect to those things that are not necessary, such as goods less than the divine goodness — including creation of the world.
As St. Thomas points out, the only necessity respecting God’s free creative act is a suppositional necessity. If God has freely chosen to create this unique world, then it is necessary that he has made this choice as opposed to any other. But that does not mean that he had to make this choice, since from all eternity, he has freely chosen this particular creation in a non-necessary manner.
There is but one true God. Any hypothetical “God B” may sound like a logical possibility, but it is not a real possibility. You cannot prove any conclusion against God if one of your premises entails the hypothesis (God B) of something that does not and cannot actually exist, and is in fact metaphysically impossible — given that the one true God can be proven already to have existed from all eternity and that his free will choice to create this unique world is already manifest. You can only have one God at a time — and eternity had no “time” at which this unique God did not exist! No other “God” was ever even an hypothetical possibility in fact.
God necessarily exists and necessarily is free with respect to creating lesser goods than his own goodness. We now know what choice he makes, since we are among the creatures he has elected from all eternity to make and we now see his creation in act.
But this in no way affects the fact that his choice to create this world of lesser goods is both perfectly free and perfectly in conformity with the principle of sufficient reason.
I was taught always to give the best possible reading to any text. I can understand how hard that must be in this case for those who think the Christian God is absurd to begin with. Still, a careful reading of the above depiction of how God can freely create this world without any violation of the principle of sufficient reason should find it coherent, unless it is misread.” ((Dr. Bonnette at https://strangenotions.com/are-metaphysical-first-principles-universally-true/#comment-3490150487 …))
End Quote 5.
“…a thing might be its own reason for being. But that is not to say that it lacks any reason for being. If a thing is not fully self-explained, then it needs something else to complete its explanation. That is the classical meaning of “cause,” not to be confused with the ignorant errors of David Hume. That every being must have a reason for being or becoming does not say whether the reason must be intrinsic or extrinsic to that being. If it is extrinsic, it is called a “cause.” But that in no way rules out the possibility that the reason for being is intrinsic to the being itself. Metaphysicians advance a concept of God in which his essence or nature is identical with his own act of existence, making him the Necessary Being. But a brute fact has no reason at all, which is entirely other than for something to be its own reason…” End quote ((~by Dr. Dennis Bonnette))
End Quote 6.
Quote 7: See “Divine Necessity And Created Contingence In Aquinas” by Peter Laughlin – at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1468-2265.2009.00476.x
Quote 8: “…God can know and cause to be a kind of creation in which there is a beginning and an end, and in which reality progresses through the passage of time in such fashion that at every moment of that passage, the past no longer exists and the future does not yet exist. If such a reality itself is possible, then God can create it and know it as such….” ((Dr. Bonnette))
“Once again, despite my intention not to re-argue the metaphysical first principles, you have raised the claim that somehow the “logical possibility” that God could have made some other choice for creation than he did as a proof that a brute fact exists, since there is no reason why he would have made this choice rather than that one. And, since the divine simplicity implies that God’s very essence is identical to his own choice, this would be tantamount to allowing that we would have a God B as opposed to a God A with no reason why one existed rather than the other. Hence a brute fact exists.
A single brute fact undoes the universal validity of the principle of sufficient reason. Or else, you argue, if there was a necessity that forces that there be only God A with his choice to create this particular world, then God’s creation would be necessary, which contradicts the Christian dogma of free creation.
Your whole argument is based on pseudo-logic. Notice, it starts with “logical possibility,” not a real or ontological possibility. Logical possibility is the weakest form of possibility, ruling out nothing but self-contradictory claims. As long as the terms of the hypothesis are not evidently self-contradictory, something is claimed to be “logically possible.”
By this standard the following claim is “logically possible:” The Ringling Brothers Circus will hold an encore performance in the atmosphere of Jupiter on next Christmas Eve.” Nothing in the terms appears evidently self-contradictory, but would you really think any of it is possible? No, because the reality implications are clearly impossible and contradictory – not the terms themselves. The standard of real possibility is not playing with words, but presenting an hypothesis that is metaphysically possible, that is, it could really happen.
You try to spin a web of seemingly logical terms, like “necessary” and “contingent,” as if they had the same signification and referents in each and every case, ignoring ontological complexities, such as how God is necessary with respect to his existence, but not necessary with respect to the choice of lesser goods than his own goodness. Reality is not just a game of logic, but must conform to the real being of the world and of God as they actually exist.
If you look back at my article on Metaphysical First Principles as well as the first of my comments in the newest order, you will see that the traditional concept of God is entirely coherent. You use the term, “necessary,” in a logically sloppy manner, trying to conflate God’s necessity of existing with an exclusion of freedom, but this was fully explained by me on the First Principles web page in terms of him being necessary with respect to existence and the divine names, but not necessary with respect to creation of goods lesser than his own infinite goodness. The distinction between necessary and non-necessary objects of his will pertains solely to a diversity in the objects of his will, not to a composition or contradiction in his own essence. Hence, God is properly conceived as eternally identical to his unchanging free choice to have created this particular world.
As an eternal free choice to create this world, it becomes suppositionally necessary that he has eternally made this choice and no other, but that supposition in no way inhibits his true freedom. It is merely a matter of noting that, since he did in fact make this choice, it is necessary that this choice is made.
Since there is one and only one true God whose eternal act of free will is factually identical with his eternal being, it is metaphysically impossible that God could ever have existed in any other manner. That is, the so-called “God B, C, D, or whatever” is not a metaphysical possibility at all – even less so than the Ringling Brothers Circus on Jupiter I described earlier. In fact, to suggest that such an “alternative God” or “alternative choice for God” is a logical possibility is, in fact, a logical impossibility – given the factual existence of the one and only true God with his one and only free act of will – since the supposition of another God contradicts the factual existence of only one possible God, the one who exists in actual fact. His existence as the only true God is not a mere assertion, since it is the product of careful demonstration in the science of metaphysics. I postulate its validity for purposes of this argument.
You claim, “Since multiple wills are logically possible, multiple gods are logically possible.”
This is a perfect example of the logical sloppiness of treating God like a logic lesson for beginners. Multiple wills sound “logically possible,” but they are not ontologically possible, since God has de facto and eternally exercised his will in a specific way with respect to the willing of lesser goods than his own goodness. It is a done deal. So, the fact that the “wills” do not contradict each other does not make them all equally related to actual existence. Solely the one that actually exists is real, and therefore, possible. No other act of will is ontologically possible. Since no other will is really possible, the same applies to your “multiple gods.” One will, one true God. No other “Gods” are actually possible. Remove them from your assumptions.
Moreover, there is no need for a reason why God A exists as opposed to God B, since God B was never possible at all, and you don’t need a special reason to be different than something that does not exist. God is his own reason for existing, and his free will is its own reason for his free choice.
God being his own sufficient reason for existing does not violate the principle of sufficient reason. The principle merely affirms that there must be a reason, not where it must exist. Metaphysically, God is his own reason for existing because he is the only being in which essence is identical to existence. Hence, he exists necessarily. Again, this is the classical concept of God that you are attacking as allegedly “logically” incoherent.
Incidentally, how do we know God exists? That is not the proper topic of this web page, but it is the product of the entire subject of metaphysics applying the principle of sufficient reason, among other principles and truths, to the evidence presented by the world in which we live. I strongly suspect that the reason why atheists so vehemently wish to reject the principle of sufficient reason is simply because they realize that, once you grant its validity, it becomes much more difficult to prevent the human mind from being led from the evidence of this world back to the existence of an Ultimate Sufficient Reason for all that exists, namely, the traditional God.
And it is perfectly kosher to use the PSR to prove God’s existence and properties, since your argument against him here fails if we can use reason to prove that he can exist as is proposed by classical metaphysics. I have shown that his existence is not a brute fact, since it is your logic that has proven false as show above. Hence there was no exception to the PSR and it can be used freely to prove God’s existence.
Moreover, in intellectual honesty, you should face the fact that once you destroy the principle of sufficient reason in any single instance — as you falsely claim you have, you can never be sure that it applies anywhere or at any time. You don’t get to pick and choose. The entire order of science and common sense and human thought becomes Alice in Wonderland, since you can never know when anything has a reason or not. No convenient assumptions that it works for just science when you think you need it. It can never be trusted again.
I made the case for this in my previous OP on first principles, but it needs to be faced squarely by those who would deny it. Never again can the mind ask “why” of anything and be confident that a reason exists. The logic of all mental inferences becomes useless, since reasons need never be given or even expected. And if the real world does not conform to the way the mind works, then we have a name for that: psychosis.
The price for abandoning the principle of sufficient reason is to abandon reason itself, since the human mind reasons by giving reasons for all its truth claims. No reasons given, no reason to take any claims seriously. No reasons needed, no need or ability to reason. Atheists are literally willing to abandon reason to get rid of God.
See my original article on the Metaphysical First Principles and first comment as ordered by “newest” mentioned above.” ((…Dr. Bonnette at https://strangenotions.com/what-is-the-true-understanding-of-causality/#comment-3505746293 …))
End Quote 9.
“I will respond for now only to the first two arguments given above. I am sure many more are to be forthcoming anyway – but I would point out that a careful reading of my entire paper above should answer most of them. The claim that everything must be either necessary or contingent respecting God has been refuted by me several times before and with sufficient distinctions needed to clarify the matter.
God is the Necessary Being, but that means solely that his existence is necessary. It does not mean that everything he does he must do of necessity. Yes, his essence is identical with his act of existence which is why he must exist. And yes, he necessarily must will his own infinite goodness. But, with respect to lesser goods, such as the creation of a finite universe, he is perfectly free, as St. Thomas Aquinas points out, since none of these lesser goods add to or detract from his infinite perfection and goodness. And it is the finite creation that is contingent with respect to its existence, not God.
While there are other aspects which I have explained at length previously, the only thing one needs to know here is that the distinction between what he wills necessarily and what he wills eternally and freely lies in that these acts of divine will are specified as to different objects. As long as God does not will necessarily the same objects as he wills contingently, there is no contradiction involved. So what on earth is the problem?
The real problem appears to be that some simply cannot admit the clear distinction made above and therefore reject the Christian God because he does not fit perfectly into a preconceived logical trap designed to preclude his existence.
The claim that the only two possible choices are either an infinite regress of contingent explanations or a brute fact is simply a false dilemma. There is a third choice, namely, a being who is his own reason for being and is therefore (1) not contingent, but necessary, and (2) not a brute fact either, since a brute fact has no reason at all.
Again, this is simply a matter of trying to force a false logic on the Christian God who is his own reason for being. For some reason, the logic being used appears blind to the possibility of a thing or being being its own reason for being (and for choosing freely) – otherwise why isn’t this logical possibility included in the choices? After all, “sufficient reasons” are logically divided into intrinsic or extrinsic. As I said in the OP, if a being’s reason is extrinsic, the extrinsic reason is called a cause. The Uncaused First Cause is not his own cause, but rather is his own reason for being.” ((…see https://strangenotions.com/brute-facts-vs-sufficient-reasons/#comment-3588243879 …))
End Quote 10.
“You cannot believe all three of the following at once:
1. God is necessary.
2. God is identical to his free choices.
3. God didn’t have to make the choices that he did.”
Dr. Bonnette replied:
“You see, you are imposing certain preconceived notions to your understanding of what it means for God to be necessary. He is the Necessary Being, meaning he cannot no exist. But this does not mean that he is lacking free will and free choice.
Yes, his free choice is eternally identical with his nature or being. From your conflating “necessity” with “determinism,” you have imposed a false notion of what “necessary” means in God.
God is necessary in that he must exist. But it is also necessary that he exist with freedom of choice. What you cannot understand is that, being Eternal, God does not sit there, and then later on, decide to do something — so that his later “choice” is somehow determined by his prior state of existence. It is hard for atheists or agnostics to “get” this, but God is an eternal substantial act of free choice, so that while his existence is necessary, he is also eternally freely determining the things that he chooses to create or not create.
Once again, you are imposing your very faulty metaphysical assumptions into your “flawless” logic about God so as to come up with your desired conclusion — which happens to be totally invalid.” ((…from https://strangenotions.com/existential-inertia-vs-almighty-god/#comment-4981973447 …)) [….bold mine….]
End quote 11
“….It seems to me that Davies’ point about negative theology here is correct as far as it goes, though incomplete. (In general, it seems to me that Davies’ work perhaps overemphasizes negative theology a bit – as I argue in Aquinas, I think this is true, for example, of his reading of Aquinas’s doctrine that God’s essence and existence are identical.) More could be said in response to the claim that divine simplicity and freedom and incompatible. For example, as I explained in the earlier post on divine simplicity, God’s creating the universe (or just Socrates for that matter) is what Barry Miller (following the lead of Peter Geach) calls a “Cambridge Property” of God, and the doctrine of divine simplicity does not rule out God’s having accidental Cambridge properties. (In fairness to Davies, though, he does make similar points in his other writings on this subject.) There is also to be considered the Scholastic distinction between that which is necessary absolutely and that which is necessary only by supposition. For example, it is not absolutely necessary that I write this blog post – I could have decided to do something else instead – but on the supposition that I am in fact writing it, it is necessary that I am. Similarly, it is not absolutely necessary that God wills to create just the world He has in fact created, but on the supposition that He has willed to create it, it is necessary that He does. There is this crucial difference between my will and God’s, though: Whereas I, being changeable, might in the course of writing this post change my mind and will to do something else instead, God is immutable, and thus cannot change what He has willed from all eternity to create. In short, since by supposition He has willed to create this world, being immutable He cannot do otherwise; but since absolutely He could have willed to create another world or no world at all […no Good is added to / subtracted from God…] He is nevertheless free…..”
End quote 12 ((……from http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/05/davies-on-divine-simplicity-and-freedom.html || [brackets mine] || bold mine……))
The first reason is found in St. Thomas: “The knowledge of the divine persons was necessary for right thinking about the creation of things. For when we say that God made all things by His Word we avoid the error of those who say that God made all things necessarily because of His nature. But when we discover in God the procession of love we see that God produced creatures not because of any need, nor because of any extrinsic cause, but because of the love of His goodness.”
This is to say, as Scheeben points out, that the revelation of the mystery of the Trinity perfects and confirms our natural knowledge of God the Creator and of creation as an entirely free act of God < ad extra >. This will be all the more apparent when we remember that many philosophers denied the freedom of creation because of the Platonic and Neoplatonic principle that the good is essentially diffusive of itself. But God is the highest good. Therefore God is essentially and to the greatest degree diffusive of Himself even as the sun radiates its light and heat everywhere by its very nature.
Reply: That good is diffusive of itself according to its particular aptitude, I concede; that it is always so because of its actuality, I deny. On this principle St. Thomas showed that creation was fitting and proper, but in his following article he went on to say that, although creation is fitting it is entirely free because “the goodness of God is perfect and is able to be without other beings since nothing of perfection accrues to it from other beings.” Some obscurity remains, however; for if God had created nothing, how would the principle that good is diffusive of itself be verified in God? In the first place how could there be an end eliciting the action of creation, and secondly how would creation be effected? Here Leibnitz erred by saying that creation is not physically but morally necessary, and that God would not be perfectly wise and good if He had not created, and moreover if He had not created the best of all possible worlds. Such was also the teaching of Malebranche. This obscurity is clarified by the revelation of the mystery of the Trinity, for, even if God had created nothing, there would still be in Him the infinite fecundity of the generation of the Son and the spiration of the Holy Ghost.
Thus the principle that good is diffusive of itself is perfectly verified in God. Indeed the highest good is necessarily diffusive of itself within itself but not by causality; by a communication which is not only a participation in its nature but a communication of His entire indivisible nature, of His entire intimate life in the generation of His Son, who was not made, and in the spiration of the Holy Ghost. Thus from a higher plane comes confirmation that creation is an entirely free act by which God communicates without Himself a participation of His being, His life, and His knowledge. Thus also it is more evident that God is not the intrinsic cause but the extrinsic cause of the universe, the end for which it was created, the being that created, conserves, and keeps it in motion. If, therefore, God created actually, it was through love, to show in an entirely free act His goodness, and not in any way by a necessity of His nature, as St. Thomas taught in the passage cited above against the pantheists and against that absolute optimism which is found in the teaching of Leibnitz and Malebranche.
Garrigou-Lagrange OP, Reginald. The Trinity and God the Creator.
End Quote 13.
State of the question. The question is proposed in the form of three difficulties. 1. It appears that there are no processions in God because a procession implies motion without; but in God there is no motion, since He is the prime immovable mover and pure act. 2. He who proceeds differs from Him from whom He proceeds, but in God there can be no such difference. 3. To proceed from another is to depend upon another, but this is repugnant to the idea of a first principle. If the Son depends upon the Father, He is not God. Such are the principal difficulties.
Reply. In God the processions are not by local motion, nor by transitive action, but by the intellectual emanation of an intelligible word from Him who enunciates. At the end of the body of the article, St. Thomas says, “And thus Catholic faith holds that there is a procession in God.” From this last line it is evident that we are concerned here with an explanation of faith and not with a deduction of a theological conclusion. Proof. It is clear from the Scriptures that it is of faith that there are processions in God. In his argument St. Thomas quotes the words of our Lord,” or from God I proceeded” (John 8: 42). In the < Contra Gentes > St. Thomas quotes other texts: Jesus said, “The Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from the Father” (John 15: 26). Besides this, in the Scriptures the Son of God is called “His own Son, ” that is, of God the Father (Rom. 8: 32), and “the only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father” (John 1: 18). It is the Son who is truly “His own” who proceeds from the Father and not the son who is only adopted. Again we read, “The Father loveth the Son: and He hath given all things into His hands” (John 3: 35), and the only-begotten Son of the Father is called “the Word, ” by whom “all things were made,… and without Him was made nothing that was made” (John 1: 3; Heb. 1: 1).
From this it is clear that the Son proceeds from the Father from all eternity. This truth is explicitly contained in the creeds. In the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed we read: “Begotten of the Father, God of God, light of light, true God of true God”; and of the Holy Ghost: “who proceeds from the Father.” In the Athanasian Creed: “The Son is from the Father alone, not made, not created, but begotten; the Holy Ghost is from the Father and the Son, not made, not created, not begotten, but proceeding.”
Procession (< ekporeusis, probole >) is the origin of one from another, as light proceeds from the sun and a son from his father. St. Athanasius and St. Augustine explained that the imperfections inherent in human generation are not found in the divine processions.
In the divine processions, for example, there is no diversity of nature (the nature remains numerically the same) but only a diversity of persons according to the opposition of relation. In the body of the article, St. Thomas intended only to explain this truth of faith by a conceptual analysis of the word “procession, ” discarding at the same time any false interpretations. His process, therefore, is not illative but explicative. This is clear from the first words of the paragraph, in which he explains the idea of procession, as used by the Scriptures, and from the following article, in which St. Thomas explains the idea of generation.
Garrigou-Lagrange OP, Reginald. The Trinity and God the Creator.
((…see quote 15…))
End Quote 14.
Q: The dogma of the Trinity is a violation of the principle of efficient causality, according to which nothing produces its own being. But in this dogma the person who produces, the Father, and the person produced, the Son, have the same divine essence. Otherwise the Son would not be God. To put it more briefly: Nothing produces its own being. But the Father in begetting the Son would be producing His own being since it is the same as that of the Son. Therefore the Father cannot beget the Son. This objection is made by many rationalists, by the Unitarians and the Socinians.
Reply: I concede the major. I distinguish the minor: if the divine being were caused in the Son, I concede; if it is communicated to the Son, I deny. The conclusion is distinguished in the same way. Thus begetting in God is not a change from non-being to being, but implies the origin of one living being from a living principle conjoined to it. This principle is not a cause.[ 366] Aristotle pointed out that a principle is more general than a cause.[ 367] Thus the point is the principle of the line, but not its cause; the aurora is the principle of the day, but not its cause. So in God the principle does not signify priority, but origin, and the Father does not produce His own being; He communicates it only. The term “communicate” transcends efficient and final causality. Thus in God to beget is not more perfect than to be begotten because in God begetting is not causing. That which is caused does not exist before in act, whereas that which is communicated exists before in act. For example, the first angle of the triangle communicates its surface, already existing in act, to the other two angles.
Q: The third objection (by way of insistence) states that this dogma distorts the notion of person. For personality renders a nature incommunicable to another suppositum. But the nature which is in the person of the Father is communicated to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. Therefore this dogma distorts the very idea of personality.
Reply: I distinguish the major: absolute personality renders the nature incommunicable, I concede; relative personality renders the divine nature incommunicable, I sub-distinguish: nature in itself, I deny; nature as personified, I concede. I contra-distinguish the minor: the nature which is in the Father is communicated as nature in itself, I concede; as personified, namely, the divine nature in the mode of the Father, I deny. Thus there cannot be two Fathers or two Sons in the Trinity. Similarly in an equilateral triangle the first angle constructed renders the area of the triangle incommunicable inasmuch as it belongs to that first angle; nevertheless this same area remains communicable and is communicated to the other two angles. I insist. But the person renders incommunicable a nature that is numerically the same even considered in itself. But this would not be true in God. Therefore. Reply. A person absolutely renders a finite nature incommunicable which, since it is finite, is filled by the one personality. On the other hand, a relative personality, for example, the person of the Father, does not render an infinite nature incommunicable to other persons. The divine nature, being infinite and infinitely fecund, is not adequately filled by one relative personality; or, I say please prove the contrary. Personality in God differs from human personality inasmuch as it is not something absolute but something relative, and it is of the nature of relative things that they have a correlative. The Father cannot be without the Son, to whom He communicates His nature, not by causality but by the principle of origin.
Garrigou-Lagrange OP, Reginald. The Trinity and God the Creator.
End Quote 15.
—End quotes dealing with Divine Freedom.
—Somewhat Overlapping Segues:
That Beautiful Freedom Called Permanence
Part 1 of 4: https://disqus.com/home/discussion/standtoreason/can_genuine_love_only_be_a_product_of_free_will_video/#comment-3591259515 That will open to (…should…scroll if not…) the comment which opens with: “Continuing — A Qualification: Addressing a fear which some seem to have with respect to losing Permanence or with respect to losing Irresistible, which, as we’ll see, is unwarranted……”
Part 2 of 4: https://disqus.com/home/discussion/standtoreason/can_genuine_love_only_be_a_product_of_free_will_video/#comment-3591342407 That will open to (…should…scroll if not…) the comment which opens with: “Continuing – Permanence: That beautiful Freedom called Permanence is still to come, up ahead. The syntax of such Freedom and such Permanence houses some, not all, but some, of the syntax of Irresistible but such has less to do with TULIP proper and much more to do with the fact that, on the other side of that radical ontic change which is yet to occur (…in the blink of an eye as Scripture puts it…) we find, well, we find several contours. First, we find…..”
Part 3 of 4: https://randalrauser.com/2018/11/do-bad-children-go-to-hell/#comment-4224953310 That will open to (…should…scroll if not…) the comment which opens with: “Whence Free Will in Heaven? Whence that beautiful freedom called Permanence? To begin with: A Proposal ≠A Wedding……”
Part 4 of 4: The Simplicity of I-Thee-Wed as per the content of https://randalrauser.com/2018/05/if-god-wants-to-save-us-why-isnt-salvation-simple/#comment-3906669116 That will open to (…should… Scroll if not…) the comment which begins with: “The Simplicity of I Thee Wed  Why The Cross?  What Is The Minimum Requirement For Salvation?  Why Not Create Perfected Man From The Get-Go? All of those source to the same misunderstanding about the nature of what it is that God Decrees when He Decrees “His Own Image”, as in the Imago Dei. As in “Adam”. As in “Mankind”. Many of the…..”
Christ Is The Thematic Melody Uniting All Scenes And Acts:
“The Scriptures are an opera, with Christ as its central leitmotif. He is the thematic melody uniting the scenes and acts of the various books together. This is what the Christ meant when He said “they are they which testify of me.” And this inspiring melody is what ignited the passion in the disciples saying “did not our heart burn within us when He opened to us the Scriptures?” The text is opened like a curtain call. In operas the curtain call occurs at the end of a performance when individuals return to the stage to be recognized by the audience. And this is precisely what Christ does. He comes before us the reader upon the stage of thematic narrative to be recognized as the main actor. To put this into perspective, when you read about Jonah coming out of the whale, or Lazarus coming out of the tomb, the paschal melody of “Christ is Risen” should be ringing in your ears. Scripture has an instrumental soundtrack, except for when Christ the lyric enters the scene. For hundreds and hundreds of years, mankind sought the meaning of this melody, and what words would be inserted therein. Man wished to know this melody. Christ, the “Word made flesh,” is both the melody itself and its meaning.” (By Ambrose Andreano)