Objective And Irreducible Evil Exists Therefore Objective and Irreducible Good Exists Therefore God Exists

Evil exists. Therefore God. More to the point, Objective Evil exists and therefore God vis-à-vis Being Itself vis-à-vis The Good exists.

The horrific evil which exists is precisely that — it is irreducibly horrific and it is irreducibly evil. Anyone who has witnessed cancer knows/perceives this. It is, painfully, undeniable.

The damning claim upon the irreducible preciousness of all men, of our beloveds, is that everything which the above paragraph just stated is fiction at bottom — which is — ultimately / cosmically — the claim of Non-Theism.

Intellectually honest Non-Theists more and more of late concede their paradigm’s failure to deliver objective moral facts given its lack of means with respect to the convertibility of the necessary transcendentals. “…there is no irreducible Moral Fact at Reality’s rock-bottom…”

Objective Evil testifies — loudly — of the fact of both The Good and of The Good Minus Something. Non-Theism is therefore left without even a single witness testifying on its behalf.

Both that which is truly (ontologically) Beauty/Good and that which is truly (ontologically) Ugly/Evil compel the rational mind to the fact of their irreducible reality, and thereby all such transcendentals compel the rational mind Godward.

“…since the problem of evil does not arise until we already know that God exists and is infinitely good, it is therefore a given that the problem of evil can be rationally resolved…”

Following Through:

Does Non-Theism/Atheism (1) cause Cosmic Indifference? Does Non-Theism/Atheism (2) comport with Cosmic Indifference vis-à-vis Non-Theism’s/Atheism’s explanatory terminus?

The answer is that clearly (1) is fallacious and equally clear is that (2) is absolute and unavoidable. Whereas, it is logically impossible for Being Itself vis-à-vis indestructible love vis-à-vis Timeless Reciprocity vis-à-vis Ceaseless Self-Giving vis-à-vis the Trinitarian Life to 1. cause Cosmic Indifference or to 2. comport with Cosmic Indifference vis-à-vis the explanatory terminus of Life’s “A” & “Z”.

Ultimately reality is going to be, and *is*, defined by that which exists irreducibly, by the “Always & Already”. Not by frail and mutable contingencies such as me or you or some other relative or friend or enemy.

Begin Preliminary Framework

The Problem of Evil is the problem of perceived evil and that problem cannot be undone except by an explanatory power outside the reach of Non-Theism. In fact the problem just is Non-Theism’s own metrics of “better/worse design” & “bad design” & “less good” & “better/worse” & “evil/good”. If there are “Degrees” of “X” in a Universe which is necessarily void of X — then God. “Just a little intentionality” ((Etc.)) is a cheat, an equivocation akin to “Just a little bit of being from non-being”. There is no room for “Degrees” of “Irreducible Mind / Intentionality” in the universe of Metaphysical Naturalism’s Necessary Conservation of [No-I-AM] whether we move from the bottom up or from the top down.  Animal Suffering houses “non-being” with respect to any appeal to “degrees” of “evil” or “design”. The notion of any such “Ontic Incline” collapses into a metaphysical absurdity given that aforementioned Necessary Conservation. Else God.  Appeals to perceived evil in suffering will again and again force all semantic intent into the perception of non-being/no-thing — as in illusion — else God. We must avoid the fallacy of so many hijacked versions of the Greater-Good theme which essentially land in a surreal mix of Utility and Occasionalism ((…more on “Gratuitous Evil” several paragraphs down etc…)).

“…all theodicies fail because they provide a possible explanation for which we have no independent reason to believe is true….or the explanation is not probable on the assumption that theism is true…..” (J. Lowder)

—&—

“…since God knows what each of them would do in every possible situation, he gets to decide, so to speak, what the upshot will be – which world will be actual…” (..other..)

—&—

“Every worldly good that permits or requires evil is greatly exceeded by a pure good of the same type existing in God prior to creation…. What it forces us to notice and take seriously is that since (say) instances of courage and compassion presuppose evil or its permission, these goods cannot exist in God prior to creation. And yet God is then unsurpassably great!” (Schellenberg)

Seven Observations:

Ob-1 The part which says “…a possible explanation for which we have no independent reason to believe is true…” hinges on the explanatory power of Identity/Logical Necessity afforded by Theism over the Identity/Logical Necessity afforded by Non-Theism.

Ob-2 The part which says, “…the explanation is not probable on the assumption theism is true….” hinges on both Law of Identity and the logically necessities and logical impossibilities which arrive given this or that Theistic Metaphysic ((…the Hindu’s Pantheism vs. the Christian Metaphysic and so on…)).

Ob-3 One must account for the fact of the Law of Identity and of Logical Impossibility and of Logical Possibility all converging and forcing Possible but not Necessary Evil. Should one encounter an Irreducible state of affairs ((…forced by said convergence…)) in which the [Highest Good] in fact logically necessitates [Possible but not Necessary] Evil then one’s only possible rebuttal is to turn one’s semantic intent 180° and damn the [Highest Good] by calling it Evil “…in this World but not that World…”  Notice the self-negation which the Non-Theist must posit — for he must posit something akin to, The highest Good is in fact the Highest Good and so my Non-Theism has Non-Illusory Moral Facts but The Highest Good is NOT The Highest Good in and through [All] [Sets] of [Possible Counterfactuals] || [Possible Worlds] and the Proof of that is that in THIS mutable and contingent world or [Set] it is the case that The Highest Good is NOT The Highest Good.  Notice that one is left without an actual Ontic with respect to an actual Metric of The Good even as one also forces a Reductio Ad Absurdum.

Ob-4 One is in need of one’s own logical proof for one’s Moral Realism vis-à-vis one’s [Highest Good]. If we discover that one’s semantic intent when one speaks of Good and Ought and Better and so on reveals that its ontological referents regarding this or that “X” in the end land on something that is Contingent & Mutable – as opposed to Necessary & Irreducible/Immutable – then one is not speaking of an actual Ontic with respect to Realism vis-à-vis reality’s rock-bottom. One is left in the Reductio described in Ob-3 ((…also see the two sections further down titled “Platonism & Moral Facts?” and “[All] [Sets] of [Possible Counterfactuals] & Moral Facts & The Moral Dilemma”…as well as https://metachristianity.com/platonism-and-be-ing-and-do-ing-and-pure-act-and-counterfactuals-and-moral-facts/ …)).

Ob-5 Such an outcome as per Ob-4 leaves one with a “Good” which does not and in fact cannot Even-In-Principle retain Being and Identity and Irreducibility||Immutability through [All] [Sets] of [Possible Counterfactuals] || [Possible Worlds]. Any Moral Realism which cannot or will not speak of all Worlds and all Realities but instead must only be found within Contingent Sets of Counterfactuals vis-à-vis mutable and contingent metrics such as Time and Circumstance ((and so on)) is NOT rising to the level of Moral Realism and leaves one with the Arbitrary & Mutable. Additionally one therein affirms Hume all over again as Reason finds no Factual/Ontic contradiction against REALITY ((un-reasonable as per contradicting [All] [Sets] of [Possible Counterfactuals] || [Possible Worlds] vis-à-vis reality)) should she ((Reason)) pursue one Goal or some other Goal vis-à-vis Preference.  It is uncanny but notice that we cannot avoid the fact that [Death] is the # 1 Killer in the World. To cure one’s spouse of cancer now only to lose them ten years from now is not “Ending Evil”. We find that Eternal Life — *and *nothing *less — is the # 1 Dissolution of our # 1 Problem. In fact BUT FOR Eternal Life there is no Ontic Resolution ((Closure)) for/of the # 1 Killer in the World.

Ob-6 One cannot posit Objective Closure vis-à-vis a logically necessary / logically compelled path to the End Of Evil until one posits the logically necessary / logically compelled Objective Evil. Similarly one cannot posit a logically necessary / logically compelled path In-To||Out-Of that which just is Objective/Irreducible Evil if one has no logically necessary / logically compelled path In-To||Out-Of that which just is Objective/Irreducible Good.

Ob-7 Should one fall short in ANY of the above  observations then one’s Map is incoherent and following said Map only leads one into the pains of Circularity.  The Objective/Irreducible End of Evil is either Illusion or else Noble Lies or else Autohypnosis without the Objective/Irreducible Good.

If and only if one has navigated and satisfied Reason’s relentless demands for logical lucidity vis-à-vis Observations 1—7 above can one then ask the pressing question which we all ask:

What is the most efficient path to the End of Evil?

On Christianity “Ending Evil” just is “Ending Privation”.  What is it that will rise to the level of [Necessary & Sufficient] with respect to the “MEANS” to achieve that “END”?  Well that depends on the nature of Evil ((…see Observations 1—7…)) and in the Christian Metaphysic that depends, then, on the nature of “Evil as Privation”.

Further, we find that we must speak of Worlds and Realities and not merely of Sets of Counterfactuals vis-à-vis mutable and contingent metrics such as Time and Circumstance. That is to say that we find that we must speak of Ending Evil vis-à-vis Ending Privation vis-à-vis the Privation of an entire Paradigm||World||Possible World. But of course for an entire Reality/World to be found IN Privation and/or to ascend OUT-OF Privation necessarily entails that The-Good be found OUTSIDE-OF||INDEPENDENT-OF any of those particular Possible Worlds or Sets of Counterfactuals. That Wider-Lens insists that we must avoid hijacked versions of the Greater Good theme which land in a surreal mixture of Utility and Occasionalism. The Greater Good umbrella does not find God allowing [ABC and/or the Possibility of ABC] “….in order to get to….”  XYZ. Instead we find [ABC and/or the Possibility of ABCnot as a Means by which God is to gain or to get to some End but, rather, because it is a logical outflow/logically necessary given His Decree of the Imago Dei vis-à-vis His Decree of The Blueprint reducing to irreducible Reciprocity vis-à-vis Self-Giving vis-à-vis the singularity of Self/Other vis-à-vis the  Trinitarian Life.  To (first) Decree “Square via World X” just is to (secondly) find “Round via World X” a logical impossibility/absurdity.

One more time for the sake of the logically necessary / logically compelled:

For an entire Reality/World to be found IN Privation and/or to ascend OUT-OF Privation necessarily entails that The-Good be found OUTSIDE-OF||INDEPENDENT-OF any of those particular Possible Worlds or Sets of Counterfactuals.

Our Non-Theist friends have no idea what such a thing looks like or even could look like. In fact they ((…perhaps willingly… perhaps in the light of logic’s Day…)) commit themselves to their own Ceiling beneath which they rummage about “Nothing-But” different “layers” and “arrangements” of frail and mutable contingencies.

If God heals my cancer today and I die in ten years from cancer is that “Ending Evil”? Is it Evil in all possible worlds/universes? Is it Evil in the Stasis/Non-Change of a 4D-Block Universe such that Evil is therein on ontological par with Good which is therein on ontological par with Indifference? If so then one finds David Bentley Hart’s “…metaphysical armistice of eternally colliding ontological equals….”

Evil is not a positive substance but is instead a deficiency of substance ((…deficiency of Being, of Good, of Life, of Mind, and so on…)) or we can say that Evil is a Hollow or Vacuum of said Substance/Ontic. That is what the Christian Metaphysic means when it speaks of The-Good and then in turn speaks of “The-Good-Minus-Something” which is to say “Evil is Good’s Privation” or “Evil is a privation of Good”.

The Christian Metaphysic posits a cure for Evil — for Privation. By force of Identity/Logic we find that the cure is nothing less than the *only* *logically* *possible* *Means* by which the aforementioned Hollow or Vacuum or Deficiency could be brought to Non-Existence. And what is that Only-Logically-Possible-Means? Well once we know what is MISSING we then know what must be POURED into said Hollow/Vacuum/Deficiency.

If we say that it is “X” which is missing in said Void/Hollow then we find that ONLY that which “Is Itself X” ((so to speak)) or we can say ONLY that which is “X Itself” ((so to speak)) can Pour-Out||Pour-Into and so thereby Fill-Up||End that Void/Hollow which is itself the Deficiency of “X” ((so to speak)).

Here Again Logical Necessity presses in through all possible worlds with respect to Evil as we find that said “X” amid said Deficiency by force of Identity/Logic *cannot* *be* anything less than Being Itself poured out — or Goodness Itself poured out — or Life Itself poured out — or All-Sufficiency Himself poured out — or God — vis-à-vis His Own Self-Outpouring — to the bitter Ends of Time & Physicality vis-a-vis all things Adamic — and that is Christ.

We can say it this way: Should one want to know what “all of the above” in fact “Looks Like” ((…from here within pains of Privation vis-à-vis our particular set of counterfactuals and logical possibilities…)) one need only turn one’s gaze towards Christ. Don’t worry about the question of “Fall or No-Fall” with respect to the necessity of “…nothing less than X Itself.…” as the Imago Dei vis-à-vis the Adamic finds the SAME Logically Necessary Means/Ends inside of “The Edenic” as the Imago Dei vis-à-vis the Adamic finds within “Privation” and in fact the Imago Dei vis-à-vis the Adamic finds the SAME Logically Necessary Means/Ends in [All] [Sets] of [Possible Counterfactuals] || [Possible Worlds] and in fact it is necessarily the case that it cannot be otherwise.

But of course all of that is the Groom’s Proposal amid His Beloved’s Reply. The beautiful Freedom called Permanence can only come later ((…again by force of Identity/Logical Necessity)) vis-à-vis the ontics of “Weddings” and “Births” — all of which is found in another Chapter up ahead — by force of Identity/Logical Necessity.

Closure — we cannot avoid the fact that [Death] is the # 1 Killer in the World. To cure one’s spouse of cancer now only to lose her ten years from now is not “Ending Evil”.  We find that Eternal Life — *and *nothing *less — is the # 1 Dissolution of our # 1 Problem. In fact BUT FOR Eternal Life there is no Ontic Resolution ((Closure)) for/of the # 1 Killer in the World.

“No Good Reason For Possible Word X / Possible Worlds”?

The problem with the Non-Theist’s “No Good Reason For Possible Word X / Possible Worlds” is not difficult to see assuming one interacts with the Trinitarian Metaphysic and not some other, Non-Christian, Metaphysic. Basically that looks like the following:

Evil is a Deficiency of Being vis-à-vis Being Itself vis-à-vis Goodness Itself as per “Privation”. Evil is not a Positive Substance but is instead “The Good Minus Something”. That is one of the many reasons why the Non-Theist’s “Degrees Of X” somehow existing in a Reality which is necessarily void of X just won’t do. Non-Theism’s Necessary Conservation of [Irreducible Indifference] from A to Z affords it no concept of what Good/Deficiency might even “look like” — and therein no Metric or Tool to employ and by which to “Map”. The term “Suffering” has no Ontic Referent which can even in principle sum to “Evil” on Non-Theism.

Therefore our Non-Theist friends are forever self-negating here in between their own ontological “A” and “Z”. It is that simple. Again: it is that simple as Objectivism of ANY Good/Evil necessarily entails The-Good Full-Stop as one cannot find a coherent definition of “Evil” but for The-Good vis-à-vis Being vis-à-vis Closure. “Degrees of X” is gibberish in Non-Theism simply because we must finally end either with Being or with Non-Being — not with Degrees-Of-Philosophical-No-Thing ((…a Reductio…)).

The category of Moral Objectivism includes the category of Objective Evil and we rationally count Moral Objectivism — and hence Evil too — as one of the many positive ((Perceptible)) evidences of God ((The-Good as Being Itself)). That is also one of the reasons why we rationally & morally reject Non-Theism’s terminus of Indifference.

“No Good Reason For Possible Word X / Possible Worlds” Notice here that far worse than the Non-Theist’s self-negation and inexplicable belief in “Degrees Of X” somehow existing in a Reality which is necessarily void of X is the fact that the sum of Groom/Bride vis-à-vis Self/Other makes a metaphysical necessity out of the Edenic IF God Decrees the Imago Dei. The reason why is because the Blueprint for that just is Irreducible Reciprocity viz. the Trinitarian Life and the Map of any such Self/Other or I/You or Groom/Bride which houses the Contingent/Created must and does – from A to Z – subsume all Ontological Possibilities “therein” and therefore all Possible Worlds “therein” are necessarily found as Permissible/Possible yet not Necessary. There the full-on semantic intent of “Possible But Not Necessary” vis-à-vis the Contingent/Created arrives on scene and all of that Heavy-Weight Ontic Real Estate is ((so far)) found merely at the initial/start of the Christian Metaphysic vis-à-vis “Let Us Create” as per the Blueprint of the Trinitarian Life – never mind all that “Necessarily Can” ((then)) follow/actualize.

End Preliminary Framework

Definition 1 of 2: Gratuitous

gra·tu·i·tous
ɡrəˈt(y)o͞oədəs/
adjective
adjective: gratuitous
1. uncalled for; lacking good reason; unwarranted.
“gratuitous violence”

synonyms: unjustified, uncalled for, unwarranted, unprovoked, undue; indefensible, unjustifiable;
needless, unnecessary, inessentia || “there was one moment of violence in the movie, and it was ridiculously gratuitous” || antonyms: necessary

Definition 2 of 2: Principle of Proportionate Causality

Quote: …..To be a tree or to be a stone is merely to participate in “treeness” or “stoneness.” But to be at all — which is the characteristic effect of an act of creation out of nothing – is to participate in Being Itself. Now the principle of proportionate causality tells us that whatever is in an effect must be in some way in its cause. And only that which just *is* Being Itself can, in this case, be a cause proportionate to the effect, since the effect is not merely to be a tree or to be a stone, but to be at all. [Only] pure actuality or Being Itself rather than a being among others – can cause a thing to exist ex nihilo….. (E. Feser)  End quote. ((…from http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/07/first-without-second.html …))

Five Background Data/Segues For This Essay:

  1. Why Create If Possible Evil at https://metachristianity.com/why-create-if-possible-evil-metrics-of-to-create-metrics-of-to-not-create/
  2. Love, Reason, Reality, And The Golden Thread Of Reciprocity at https://metachristianity.com/reason-reality-golden-thread-reciprocity/
  3. Moral Ontology Vis-À-Vis The Ontological History Of Reason Itself at https://metachristianity.com/moral-ontology-vis-a-vis-the-ontological-history-of-reason-itself/
  4. Divine Command Theory Collapses Into A Metaphysical Absurdity at https://metachristianity.com/divine-command-theory-collapses-into-a-metaphysical-absurdity/ 
  5. Imago Dei and Closure In An Actual Human Nature And Rejecting The Eternally Open Ended at https://metachristianity.com/imago-dei-and-closure-in-an-actual-human-nature-and-rejecting-the-eternally-open-ended/

Various Lenses — What About Calvinism & Platonism?

First let’s lok at Calvinism:

The point of this section is not to refute Calvinism’s Five Pillars ((…T.U.L.I.P…)) but rather to demonstrate that “Even If” we simply “Grant” the Non-Theist his wish that he ONLY had Calvinism to contend with we find that “Even Still” Non-Theism fails where that branch within Christendom succeeds with respect to the Problem of Evil.

Briefly, for references on correctives to those five pillars perhaps the following four items for a basic framework:

[1] https://soteriology101.com/2018/06/03/tim-keller-3-objections-to-the-calvinistic-doctrine-of-election/

[2] https://www.reasonablefaith.org/podcasts/defenders-podcast-series-2/doctrine-of-man-part-17/doctrine-of-man-part-17/

[3] https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer/does-the-atonement-imply-universalism

[4] https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer/gods-unconditional-love/

[5] 1 through 5 as per:

  1.  https://disqus.com/home/discussion/standtoreason/can_genuine_love_only_be_a_product_of_free_will_video/#comment-3591245231
  2.  https://disqus.com/home/discussion/standtoreason/can_genuine_love_only_be_a_product_of_free_will_video/#comment-3591240731
  3.  https://disqus.com/home/discussion/standtoreason/can_genuine_love_only_be_a_product_of_free_will_video/#comment-3591259515
  4.  https://disqus.com/home/discussion/standtoreason/can_genuine_love_only_be_a_product_of_free_will_video/#comment-3591342407
  5.  https://disqus.com/home/discussion/standtoreason/is_the_gospel_central_stand_to_reason/#comment-3297824378
[6] The following quote:

Quote:

“God sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise moral choice, and man from the beginning has fulfilled that decree by making his choice between good and evil. When he chooses to do evil, he does not thereby countervail the sovereign will of God but fulfills it, inasmuch as the eternal decree decided not which choice the man should make but that he should be free to make it. If in His absolute freedom God has willed to give man limited freedom, who is there to stay His hand or say, ‘What doest thou?’ Man’s will is free because God is sovereign. A God less than sovereign could not bestow moral freedom upon His creatures. He would be afraid to do so.”

End quote ((– A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God))

Any traces of Calvinistic jargon (…or other overtones housed within Christendom…) are (radically) irrelevant to the problem at hand (as in Evil, as in, say, Auschwitz), and I say that as one who has several theological & philosophical disagreements with Calvinism per se and in fact as one who has a list of such disagreements. Why are any traces of such jargon irrelevant to the problem at hand? Because of this: Christendom has the means and “ontic-reach” to rationally reject Non-Theism’s metaphysical terminus of [[Evil Sums To The Illusory Shadows of Non-Being]] which is Non-Theism’s fundamental and irreducible ground of Auschwitz as Auschwitz – full stop. The intellectual and philosophical megastructure asserted here by Non-Theism is untenable in any “layer” we happen to find.

Calvinism & the Problem of Evil” – Edited by David E. Alexander and Daniel M. Johnson. An introduction begins with — “….Contrary to what many philosophers believe, Calvinism neither makes the problem of evil worse nor is it obviously refuted by the presence of evil and suffering in our world……. The collection includes twelve original essays by….”

Again, I say that as one who has several theological & philosophical disagreements with Calvinism per se and in fact as one who has a list of such disagreements.

What About PLATONISM & Moral Facts?

If Abstract Objects exist how are we (as causal agents) obligated with respect to those (non-causal) Abstract Objects? If the Abstract Objects in question are Causal Objects such that they cause to “be” or “happen” various beings and events ((and so on)) and yet are NOT Intentional|| Volitional, then again how are we (as intentional / volitional causal agents) obligated with respect to those (non-causal) Abstract Objects? If the Objects ARE not only Abstract but also Causal, Intentional, Volitional, such that they cause to “be” // “happen” various beings/events ((and so on)) then which Abstract Object is the Metaphysical Fountainhead of the other Abstract Objects? Also, and this is key, how would THAT state of affairs end up as NON-Theism and/or how is it NOT Polytheism?

“[Erik] Wielenberg on Moral Realism and Theism” has 3 parts. In “Part 3 — Mysterious Floating Values” (linked below) it seems to end in Brute Fact. First of all, even IF we grant Platonism, the problems described earlier remain unaddressed. The linked essay on Wielenberg wrongly equates both Platonism and [God] to Brute Fact and leaves out the element of the Self-Explanatory vis-à-vis Being. Edward Feser is easily accessible and comments on what Brute Fact actually entails and why reality’s rock-bottom // self-explanatory terminus isn’t a Brute Fact.

Additionally we find that [The Necessary Being] & [The Necessary Universe] are two radically different statements. Further, it seems that for Wielenberg it is the case that Abstract Objects v. Platonism DO in the end FAIL to rise above the level of Brute Facts. Here’s the link to part three: https://philosophicaldisquisitions.blogspot.com/2010/05/wielenberg-on-moral-realism-and-theism_8454.html

A telling quote from Erik Wielenberg is from God vs. ‘Just Because’: Two Explanations for Objective Morality ((…see https://strangenotions.com/god-vs-just-because-two-explanations-for-objective-morality/ …))

Quote:

Given that these laws exist, why do they exist? Steven quotes Erik Wielenberg, who treats these laws as an effect without a cause:

“Such facts are the foundation of (the rest of) objective morality and rest on no foundation themselves. To ask of such facts, “where do they come from?” or “on what foundation do they rest?” is misguided in much the way that, according to many theists, it is misguided to ask of God, “where does He come from?” or “on what foundation does He rest”? The answer is the same in both cases: They come from nowhere, and nothing external to themselves grounds their existence; rather, they are fundamental features of the universe that ground other truths.”

This is not an answer. It’s a shrug of the shoulders and a “Just because.”

That’s not the case in the Christian answer that God is uncaused. We argue that God must exist, since you cannot just have an infinite series of conditional and created beings. For example, St. Thomas Aquinas’ Third Way proves the existence of a Being (who we call God) who must exist necessarily, and who relies only upon Himself for His Being. Without Him, there couldn’t be a universe. We don’t assume that God must exist: we show that He must.

Further, this conclusion makes sense. After all, God is Subsistent Being (ipsum esse subsistens). Being could no more not-be than non-being could be. Asking who caused the Uncaused Cause is contradictory, and it makes sense to say that a necessarily-existing Being necessarily exists.

That’s quite different when we’re dealing with moral principles: there’s no apparent reason or explanation why we would assume that they’re uncaused (other than the alternative requires God).

And asking who or what causes these truths isn’t contradictory. On the contrary, it’s a question that……”

End quote.

Highlights From Debate with Erik Wielenberg. Part One https://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/reasonable-faith-podcast/highlights-from-debate-with-erik-wielenberg.-part-one/

Highlights From Debate with Erik Wielenberg. Part Two https://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/reasonable-faith-podcast/highlights-from-debate-with-erik-wielenberg.-part-two/

Platonism & Moral Fact & Rule-Setting?

Twitter’s @robertdryer makes the interesting observation about the logically prior. He states that Abstract Math ((Etc.)) in Platonism may exist ((he offers a hypothetical/question)) and so, well, OK let’s say we grant Platonism but in order for us to (verb) abstract any numbers one must FIRST be able to apply (verb) rules in order to then SECONDLY access (verb) any Platonic like system of numbers. Notice that neither the VERB of Apply nor the verb of ACCESS logically or necessarily precedes the other IF both are contingent & mutable because…. because why? Well because “rules” of the Rule-Setter ((our own contingent minds)) and the Rule-Doer ((our own contingent minds)) can be forced onto the other by either part side of such mutable and contingent “termini” – we must make up Blind Axioms and fall victim to the Münchhausen Trilemma.

So IF Platonism is granted THEN the rules have a causally inert set of numbers in that they “are” but they don’t “do” and all of that is just sitting there and so the Rule Setter||Rule-Doer is now // are now me and you — the mutable and contingent. There is no Setting nor Doing but that which we do and the nature of Verb-ing/Reason-ing/Think-ing our way to the very Source of our very Being eventually collapses into incoherence.

Additionally that all fails because not only can we have no coherent Do-Ing amid Be-Ing vis-à-vis Verb-ing but, also, and just as bad, it is the case that Meaning ((rule setting)) cannot flow FROM the contingent & mutable ((contingent minds)) INTO the Necessary ((Platonism’s Causally Inert Numbers)).

So now what?

Well so then the Absolute Mind vis-à-vis Absolute Consciousness forfeits nothing, retains all, and that false direction of rule-setting||doing is left behind even as Do-Ing amid Be-Ing is rationally affirmed and is also found ontologically prior to and logically prior to our own Do-Ing//Be-Ing. How? Well that becomes obvious now as conceptually all of that semantic intent lands within the express topography of Pure Act as the only coherent Be-Ing((Setting))||Do-Ing((Procession/Logos/Communique)). The odd part of Platonism is that all such objective objects are causally inert. They “exist” but are void of “Act” but of course Pure Act ((…Thomistic brands etc…)) provides the Whole-Show and does so seamlessly. David B. Hart speaks of the Divine Mind housing “The Infinitely Known & The Infinite Knower”. Uncanny.

Platonism fails in other ways too and when we come to specifically Moral Facts we find the following:

One’s own “motion in being” ((so to speak)) a. ultimately converges with or else b. ultimately runs against the Objective or Irreducible Grain of reality — whatever that is. If Reason as Truth-Finder is not obligated “there” with respect to love then Hume wins and Non-Theism fails to afford us an ontology for Moral Realism.  All vectors short of love vis-à-vis Reciprocity vis-a-vis Being as Self-Giving vis-à-vis the meta-ontological question: “…what determines one’s ontological commitments…?” actually fail to obligate Reason in her role as Truth-Finder. This is one of the many reasons why the many capricious Greek gods/termini come up short.

Abstract Objects reach further – yes – but there’s a problem if one means to tell Reason that reality’s rock-bottom is — qua Truth — Love vis-à-vis Timeless Reciprocity vis-à-vis Ceaseless Self-Giving vis-à-vis Being in totum. Reality’s “concrete furniture” as some physicists like to put it.

For another thing — Reason *as* Reason finds her obligation in seeking/chasing that Irreducible Grain ((whatever it is)). But Hume got it right and set Reason free because the term “morally un-reasonable” collapses once we realize that ((on Non-Theism)) Reason never can find said Concrete Furniture vis-à-vis Reality offering her Being *as* Irreducible Self-Giving.

There is only one Metanarrative infused into the consciousness of Mankind wherein Being Itself *as* Self-Giving just is Reason’s final satisfaction. All Progressions vis-à-vis the Trinitarian Life arrive as “The-Always” & “The-Already” and no other Sub-Narrative, Narrative, or Meta-Narrative infuses the collective consciousness of Mankind with said transcendentals with more clarity than the uncanny Trinitarian Metaphysic.

In the Christian metanarrative we find the Trinitarian metaphysic and therein “….that eternal one-another…” and therein love’s timeless Self-Giving in and by and of nothing less than the irreducible diffusiveness of the Ontic-Self in totum with respect to …being itself… and, thereby – once again – The Always & The Already, or that which is ceaselessly Beneath and Above – namely “Love & Necessity” as an ontic singularity.

It is there that we find in the Christian metaphysic the intellectual and moral grounds for affirming the term, “Love Himself” vis-à-vis the A and the Z of the Trinitarian Life / Trinity with respect to the Decree of the Imago Dei (…and all which comes with “that”…). That is to say, it is there that we find nothing less than the immutable love of the Necessary Being (…and all that comes with “that”…).

That is to say, it is there in nothing less than Being that we find The Always and The Already constituting love’s timeless reciprocity and Self-Giving diffusiveness of the Ontic-Self in totum (…and all that comes with “that”…). It is *that* explanatory terminus which is reality’s rock-bottom, reality’s irreducible substratum – the A and the Z of every possible ontic, of every possible sentence.

That uncanny A — Z finds the immutable with respect to, not “only” Being Itself (as it were) but instead Being Itself as love’s timeless reciprocity and therein we find Ceaseless Self-Giving revealing the fundamental fabric of reality’s concrete furniture. See “Malleable Truth? The Christian Ethic Shifts With Culture?” at http://disq.us/p/1wq6j96 which is also linked to with https://randalrauser.com/2018/06/okay-so-laura-ingalls-wilder-was-a-racist-now-what/#comment-4155674874

  1. WRT Platonism we have both https://metachristianity.com/platonism-and-be-ing-and-do-ing-and-pure-act-and-counterfactuals-and-moral-facts/ and also https://disqus.com/home/discussion/standtoreason/did_god_create_evil_video/#comment-3518528830 
  2. WRT the Laws of Nature there is https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer/what-are-the-laws-of-nature/
  3. WRT Moral Realism there is http://disq.us/p/1yf4p2u which is also linked to with https://randalrauser.com/2018/11/do-bad-children-go-to-hell/#comment-4258045686

Moving Into The Ontic-Fraud

Auschwitz is Non-Theism’s unavoidable fatality — that by which she (Non-Theism) is revealed as a sheer Ontic-Fraud. Inventing [Moral Axioms] never can sum to [Moral Facts] there at the end of reality – that which reason is obligated in her (reason’s) role as truth-finder to chase after. Reason is obligated (…in her fact-role as truth-finder…) to chase after facts, after the fundamental/irreducible nature of X, whatever X is.  Reason as Truth-Finder therein finds Obligation to chase after, say, [“A” || “Non-A”] and not after, say, [A = Non-A] with respect to her Fact-Role as Fact-Finder vis-à-vis Reason in her proper role as Truth-Finder such that we find:

Option A— Reason’s obligation should Reality’s Rock-Bottom of Indifference begin and end all syntax

Option B— Reason’s obligation should Reality’s Rock-Bottom of Self-Giving begin and end all syntax.

Hume understands the nature of Reason and its connection to Obligation and its connection to Reality as he reminds us that regardless of which Goal/Preference she (Reason) might chase after “out there” or “in here” it is the case that no Target/Tangent exists which can rise to the level of  “Morally Contrary To Reason” — and that is simply Hume’s way of describing Reason’s obligation in “Option A” above and with respect to the following:

“– Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger. -Tis not contrary to reason for me to choose my total ruin, to prevent the least uneasiness of an Indian or person wholly unknown to me. -Tis as little contrary to reason to prefer even my own acknowledg’d lesser good to my greater, and have a more ardent affection for the former than for the latter.” (Hume, Treatise of Human Nature 2.3.3.6)

“Hume was right. We have no objective guidance on how to distinguish right from wrong: not from God, not from nature, not from the pure force of reason itself….Morality exists only insofar as we make it so, and other people might not pass judgments in the same way we do.” (S. Carroll)

“The lack of an ultimate objective scientific grounding for morality can be worrisome. It implies that people with whom we have moral disagreements—whether it’s […insert any evil here…] or schoolyard bullies who beat up smaller children—aren’t wrong in the same sense that it’s wrong to deny Darwinian evolution or the expansion of the universe….But that’s how the world is.” (S. Carroll)

The false identity claim of [A = B] with respect to the Irreducible-Ontic of ANY Normative X need not request her seat at the proverbial Table as we discover that the perfection of love necessarily entails the perfection of reason, which itself entails the perfection of consciousness, which is the perfection of being. We are inherently relational beings — for a reason ((…let the term inherently do its full “ontic-work” vis-à-vis the Trinitarian Life…)). For more regarding Reason’s Obligation as reason vis-à-vis Reality’s Irreducible or Concrete Furniture ((so to speak)) and Moral Fact ((…Non-Theism’s Indifference vs. Being vis-à-vis Ceaseless Self-Giving vis-à-vis the Trinitarian Life…)) see https://metachristianity.com/reason-reality-golden-thread-reciprocity/

The immutable love of the Necessary Being grounds the Evil of Auschwitz but it does NOT do that by grounding “the evil of Auschwitz as Auschwitz full-stop” — and in fact NO “grounding” of ANY Thing/Nature can find ANY closure in ANY contingent and mutable ontological cul-de-sac full-stop for the obvious reason that the very concept of “Isolated Bubbles Of Ontology” with Metaphysical Immunity is a concept which itself collapses into a metaphysical absurdity. Instead the immutable love of the Necessary Being begins and ends all Syntax with something so radically and irreducibly alien to Non-Theism’s megastructure that Non-Theism can only stand with her dumbfounded stare as she is permanently removed from reason’s affairs.

As we interface with Non-Theism’s ((…distinct from Non-Theists…)) horrific claim that there’s nothing factually / irreducibly “wrong” with Auschwitz – and thereby assumes the intellectually absurd and emotively sickening role of the metaphysical ground of Auschwitz as Auschwitz – full stop, Christendom speaks what is to Non-Theism the unintelligible.

When we come to Auschwitz and all Ontic-Metrics by which we “measure” Auschwitz it is going to be the Immutable Love of the Necessary Being vis-à-vis Timeless Reciprocity vis-à-vis Ceaseless Self-Giving vis-à-vis Being Itself vis-à-vis the Trinitarian Life — or else the Ontic-Metrics will sum to Non-Theism’s illusory shadows of OnticNothing with respect to Irreducible Moral Fact. Another way to say that is to say that all such Ontic-Metrics of WHAT Auschwitz IS will by necessity begin and end in Vacuity/Indifference or else in the Triune-God/Love. And if it is vacuity, if it is nothing, then all of Non-Theism’s supposed “metrics” with respect to “Evil” and “Lack” and all of its “metrics” about it / in it / on it / and around it in fact do not exist literally — and it is “there” where we begin to spy the divergence between the Subjective and Objective with respect to Reason and Reality and Obligation. Reason as Truth-Finder therein — again — finds Obligation to chase after [“A” || “Non-A”] and not after [A = Non-A] with respect to — again — her Fact-Role as Fact-Finder vis-à-vis Reason in her proper role as Truth-Finder such that — again — we find:

A— Reason’s obligation should Reality’s Rock-Bottom of Indifference begin and end all syntax

B— Reason’s obligation should Reality’s Rock-Bottom of Self-Giving begin and end all syntax.

In short: If anything – then immutable love. If anything – then the uncanny syntax of the Triune God — else all syntax A-Begins and Z-Ends in Non-Being. More context on that is in both Love, Reason, Reality, And The Golden Thread Of Reciprocity at https://metachristianity.com/reason-reality-golden-thread-reciprocity/ and also at Moral Ontology Vis-À-Vis The Ontological History Of Reason Itself at https://metachristianity.com/moral-ontology-vis-a-vis-the-ontological-history-of-reason-itself/

In David Bentley Hart’s, “The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth“, there is a much longer comment surrounding the interface of divine love and horrific evil. To offer just parts of it, we find in “Part Two” of that book the “Section 1” entitled Trinity and the first sub-part there is “Divine Apatheia”. Obviously that section in whole gives a fuller picture than these few excerpts here as we discover that the pure dynamism that is God’s love is —

“….pure positivity and pure activity, that His love is an infinite peace and so needs no violence to shape it, no death over which to triumph: if it did, it would never be ontological peace but only metaphysical armistice…”

Further in and by the Trinitarian landscape we discover that not only is there no necessity of Evil but there is also no necessity of the actual history of Evil. Moving further —

“….the cross of Christ does not determine the nature of divine love, but rather manifests it, because there is a more original outpouring of God that – without needing to submit itself to the order of sacrifice that builds crosses – always already surpasses every abyss of godforsakenness and pain that sin can impose between the world and God: an outpouring that is in its proper nature indefectible happiness….”

Again, in 12 pages there’s more but this is only to introduce a landscape where we find that love’s ceaseless outpouring in the triune God reveals that  —

“….crucified love is precisely what makes the entire narrative of salvation in Christ intelligible. And second, it is an almost agonizing irony that, in our [misguided] attempts to revise trinitarian doctrine in such a way as to make God comprehensible in the “light” of Auschwitz, invariably we end up describing a God who – it turns out – is actually simply the metaphysical ground of Auschwitz….”

Indeed, ultimate reality void of the triune cannot sum to immutable love and the potential errors looming there on evil are many. The section closes looking at that which —

“….is divine beauty, that perfect joy in the other by which God is God: the Father’s delectation in the beauty of his eternal Image, the Spirit as the light and joy and sweetness of that knowledge. As Augustine says of the three persons, “In that Trinity is the highest origin of all things, and the most perfect beauty, and the most blessed delight. Therefore those three are seen to be mutually determined, and are in themselves infinite, that is, infinitely determined as the living love of the divine persons – to “one another” – to which infinity no moment of the negative or of becoming or even of “triumph” can give increase. Hence God is love” …….”

 And again:

“[The] very action of kenosis is not a new act for God, because God’s eternal being is, in some sense, kenosis – the self-outpouring of the Father in the Son, in the joy of the Spirit. Thus Christ’s incarnation, far from dissembling his eternal nature, exhibits not only his particular proprium as the Son and the splendor of the Father’s likeness, but thereby also the nature of the whole trinitarian taxis. On the cross we see this joyous self-donation sub contrario, certainly, but not in alieno. For God to pour himself out, then, as the man Jesus, is not a venture outside the trinitarian life of indestructible love, but in fact quite the reverse: it is the act by which creation is seized up into the sheer invincible pertinacity of that love, which reaches down to gather us into its triune motion.” (D. B. Hart)

The longer excerpt/quote surrounding those from David Bentley Hart’s The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth is copy/pasted further down at the end of this essay.

There’s far more of course as we describe where and how the Christian metaphysic ushers in coherence amid evil and the God who is love, but from the get-go we leave Non-Theism’s megastructure behind. Within the proverbial House that is Christendom such dialogue ensues and the intellectual price tag needed to even comment on nature(s) within ontic-layer(s) is paid in full by those beneath its robust canopy ((…contra Non-Theism’s assertion of No-Objective-Moral-Fact…)). As for Auschwitz – given reason’s proper role as truth-finder – given love’s timeless reciprocity within the irreducibly triune – it (Auschwitz) is irreducibly – cosmicallyultimatelyEvil–Full–Stop.

Begin Evans’ Quote:

What must remain clear is that this has been a project in grounding the good; it has not been a project in grounding moral obligation — the topic of Taylor’s quote. But I bring this up to highlight a very important feature of our discussion. God offers the best account of moral values as well as offering the best account of moral obligations, especially when compared to rival naturalistic theories. Why is this nuanced discussion important for a book on the problem of evil? The title of the chapter indicates the significance of this topic, for if one’s worldview cannot establish the moral foundation by which we may indict obviously heinous human behavior, then that worldview fails to launch a meaningful discussion on a phenomenon of our experience that requires explanation.

Given the pervasiveness of evil in our experience, and the failure of naturalism to provide the ontological grounds for moral values attendant to the issue, one rightly questions the rationality of naturalism— at least regarding the problem of evil. This observation brings about a startling turn of events, for evil is traditionally considered to be the weightiest objection against the existence of God. How might one turn the table on the atheist objector and suggest that evil is actually an argument for the existence of God? William Lane Craig pares it down nicely:

– If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.

– Evil exists. Therefore, objective moral values exist — namely, some things are evil!

– Therefore, God exists.

A person may be fully committed to this line of reasoning without any indication as to what God is up to in permitting atrocities, for example, in [Auschwitz]. But at least the theist has the metaphysical grounds to claim that the atrocities in [Auschwitz] really are atrocities. As such, even the atheist must concede that theism has great explanatory power. The claims to the demise of theistic belief as derived from the existence of evil are too quick, especially when those proclaiming its demise are borrowing from its principles to reject it.

End Evans’ Quote. (by Evans, Jeremy A., “The Problem of Evil: The Challenge to Essential Christian Beliefs”)

Briefly, a satisfactory definition of Evil would be The-Good Minus-Something or more specifically….

Evil As Privation

Overlapping segues are found in “How To Approach The Problem Of Evil” at https://strangenotions.com/how-to-approach-the-problem-of-evil/ The author of that is also the author of Aquinas’ Proofs for God’s Existence — St. Thomas Aquinas on: “The Per Accidens Necessarily Implies the Per Se” ((…Dennis Bonnette Ph.D…)) and a brief excerpt regarding “Evil” as “Privation” or as “The Good Minus Something” is helpful:

“Since the good is equivalent to being and good and evil are diametrically opposed, it would appear that evil must be simply non-being. But, evil is not simply non-being. Rather, evil is the lack of being or perfection that should belong to a given nature… It is self-evident that the infinitely-good God could never directly will moral evil for the sake of any end whatever — however good….”

[…in addition to Bonnette’s book there is also Edward Feser’s Five Proofs of the Existence of God providing helpful content…]

Notice that over inside of Non-Theism “Evil” in fact does end in the illusory shadows of Non-Being as the term “Illusion” only begins the complete and total reductio ad absurdum which all “Moral Fact” undergoes given Non-Theism’s Means and Ends — whereas — over inside of the Christian Metaphysic “Evil” as “Privation” sums to “Something Missing” or as Being-Minus-Something as “Evil” is ((still)) not a positive substance but is instead a deficiency of substance ((…a deficiency of Being, a deficiency of Good, and Etc…)).

Evil is therein a Hollow or Vacuum of said substance — and that is Evil as Good’s Privation — as “The Good Minus Something”.  The Christian Metaphysic posits a cure for Evil — for Privation and that cure is nothing less than the only logically possible Means by which the aforementioned vacuum or deficiency or hollow could be brought to Non-Existence. And what is that? Well in concrete terms we have a “Vacuum Void of X” ((so to speak)) and only that which “Is Itself” that which is “X” ((so to speak)) can Pour & thereby Fill that Hollow which is itself but the void of “X”. Such cannot be anything less than Being Itself poured out — or Goodness Itself poured out — or All-Sufficiency Himself poured out — or God — via His Own Self-Outpouring — to the bitter Ends of Time & Physicality vis-à-vis all things Adamic — and this is Christ.

Before moving over to J.L. Schellenberg’sA New Logical Problem of Evil” and other topics a brief segue from the Ob-1—Ob-7 and why the following removes Moral Facts from Non-Theism:

[All] [Sets] of [Possible Counterfactuals] & Moral Facts & The Moral Dilemma: 

Here’s reality “as it is” given the landscape of the aforementioned Privation (…or instead that Incline Godward / Upward and so on…) vis-à-vis the proverbial moral dilemma:

“…in a hypothetical war we find a few hundred people hiding and the crying baby will give away the hiding place of the 100 adults, hence they’ll be found and killed. The options: we can kill the baby and save the 100 or we can let the baby cry and sacrifice (thereby) all the adults and the baby too in the end…..”

In the middle of war’s hell we find that killing the crying baby in said time of war to save the many isn’t “Morally Good”, but it might be justified given this or that horrific impact of doing otherwise – with the catch that there is no World-Contingent Metric which can satisfy “justified” in that syntax given that there is only One True Ideal. Just the same, sparing the baby and sacrificing the many in said time of war isn’t “Morally Good”, but it might be justified given this or that horrific outcome of doing otherwise – again with the catch that there is no World-Contingent Metric which can satisfy “justified” in that syntax given that there is only One True Ideal with respect to The-Good, or as some say The-Always & The-Already.

Regarding The Illusive World-Contingent Metric:

Before we shout Consequentialism one must push through to the End of any Contingent World and get beyond all possible Possibilities and Counterfactuals such that one lands in, not this or that Contingent Fact but, instead, in the Necessary vis-à-vis Ending Evil vis-à-vis The Good vis-à-vis Ending Privation (…..in short one must arrive at Closure irrespective of a. Privation or b. Incline Godward….).

It is only “there” where we find That-Which is not and cannot even in principle be the-consequence-of this or that World Contingent Vector or Metric.

Just the same it is logically unavoidable in all of this that there are no options which rise to the level of Moral Excellence in such a world. And in fact Scripture expressly defines the pains of Privation (…which is “The-Good-Minus-Some-Thing“…) as that which constitutes – not just a few ingrained mindsets in a few cultures – but reality itself. Even further, we find that such a reality sums to that very same category of World unless/until/pending nothing less than the “ontic-fact” of the only logically possible dissolution of a Vacuum (….as in “The-Good-Minus-Some-Thing”….) which is to In-Fill said Vacuum with nothing less than All Sufficiency’s Own Self-Outpouring into, and through, and to the bitter ends of that category of reality world. As another Christian once pointed out to our Non-Theist friends:

“….As a side note, I don’t think executing child-molesting cannibals is, in your words, morally good….”

Now, how in the world would that act not be “Morally Good”? Because there is a Moral Better – or – a Higher Moral which does *not* include the destruction of the Man (….all narratives in Scripture converge in the Cross, in Christ…) and as such the Non-Theist has no rational grasp on what is actually being discussed here with respect to any coherent ontic in and of The Good. It’s almost as if fictions really do matter to our Non-Theist friends rather than the bitter reality of the pains of Privation with respect to, not a few ingrained mindsets, but of reality itself. That seems to motivate the unfortunate posture behind our Non-Theist friends with respect to their odd habit of beginning and ending all related analytics with “But Sinai…. But Sinai …..But…but… BUT SINAI…!!”

The Christian reply to that fallacious “Sinai Is God’s Eternal Ideal & The Means To Moral Excellence” is straightforward:

“You’re struggling over a very simple fact, which is that you won’t find any Morally Excellent vector within Privation (..or “The-Good-Minus-Some-Thing“…). Notice that if one posits that Incline Godward then the syntax does not change as, all over again the problem is that of “The-Good-Minus-Some-Thing“. Hence either way we find the following simple fact: You just won’t find any Morally Excellent vector in any such Landscape. None. Zero. Every vector will, at some seam somewhere, come up as lacking good. That’s the whole show, and, so, though you suggest there is “parsing out” needed by the Christian, there is not and in fact cannot be any such need for any such “parsing-out.”

It’s not clear but it seems that our Non-Theist friends STILL want to claim that Scripture’s Metanarrative tells them and us to look to Sinai for the Means and the Ends of The Good – for the Means to the actualization of Moral Excellence in and through All-Things-Adamic. The reason that is the case is because they seem to have merely recast the entire question in this or that Non-Christian set of premises.

Unfortunately for such Straw-manning Scripture is quite clear about the means and the ends of [A] Laws in all/any time/place, including Sinai, with respect to all possible explanatory termini and also of [B] All-Sufficiency’s Own Self-Outpouring as the only logically coherent explanatory terminus.

What men do – Christian or not – Theist or Atheist – never can be “enough” with respect to any ontology of the Immutable & Necessary. We have to be careful about stopping our unpacking at the metric of normative shifts, else this or that action (…say… slavery or whatever…) forces the logical absurdity of A. condoned and a slice of the Good rather than B. tolerated and a slice of Privation. Rather, our metric must both precede and outdistance all such normative shifts.  The necessary and sufficient “Means” to the “Ends” of that which is “The Good” is not, and never can be, the hard fist of Law, which is why God meets us right where we live such that Sinai is, according to the OT and the NT, anything but God’s Ideal for mankind as He works and speaks with us beneath our own conceptual ceilings. Now, that mode of tolerance on God’s part is a means towards the restraint of death rather than a means into The-Good.

J.L. Schellenberg’s “A New Logical Problem of Evil”

“Every worldly good that permits or requires evil is greatly exceeded by a pure good of the same type existing in God prior to creation…. What it forces us to notice and take seriously is that since (say) instances of courage and compassion presuppose evil or its permission, these goods cannot exist in God prior to creation. And yet God is then unsurpassably great!”

That is a chapter inside The Blackwell Companion to The Problem of Evil. Before looking at that ((A New Logical Problem of Evil)) there are other items in the list of Schellenberg’s works such as:

“The Hiddenness Argument: Philosophy’s New Challenge to Belief in God” by J.L. Schellenberg

“The Hiddenness of God” by Michael C. Rea ((…a rebuttal of Schellenberg’s Hiddenness argument…)). Another look at that is “A New Response to the Problem of Divine Hiddenness” at https://capturingchristianity.com/responding-to-the-problem-of-divine-hiddenness/

As we unpack the proverbial Map of Schellenberg’s “A New Logical Problem of Evil” we will navigate the following landscapes, so to speak:

1— That of the Nonresistant Nonbeliever & Rational Disbelief ((…much farther down hear the end…under the section Schellenberg’s Nonresistant Nonbelievers & Aliens & Clever Skeptics…))

2— That of Logically Possible Worlds given Maximal Goodness which is to say Maximal Greatness with respect to Reality’s Highest Ethic – namely love and self-giving and reciprocity and so on – which is to say given Reality’s Concrete Furniture as per Processions of Timeless Reciprocity and Ceaseless Self-Giving vis-à-vis the Trinitarian Life ((…wherein we find that Being Itself in fact “is” “Love”…)).

3— That of the following, which is almost right, but which contains a fundamental, and therefore fatal, error:

A— If P were in S1, P would do A.
B— If P were in S2, P would not do A.
1— If Adam were in S1, he would obey God.
2— If Adam were in S2, he would not obey God

4—That of  the common flaw in the new logical challenge to Theism – namely that of insisting on a Logically Impossible World & God. Briefly put, Schellenberg’s Maximally Great God is fine as a starter, however, Schellenberg expunges Maximal Goodness from that Maximal Greatness and so posits a logically incoherent definition of God. He also defines such things as “Courage In The Face Of Grief” as something other than Privation and so as something other than Lack with respect to a Particular Decreed Nature’s Perfection of Being. We find that Schellenberg moves too fast there ((more later with Thomistic Casuality)) and finds not Lack but instead a part of Non-Contingent-Good and therefore Part Of God as in Moral Perfection and then in his next breath — Schellenberg again moving too fast — charges that God Can/Ought Create Moral Perfection ((absence of sorrow is possible but he conflates that with The Edenic)). He seeks to Fashion / Birth / Yield the Bride/Groom amid love’s Self/Other ((…[Highest God] / see 6 below..)) by expunging/gutting the Actual Content and “from the get-go” just “Create” the Round-Square of the “Already-Freely-Married-Bride” ((…more in other sections…)).

5—That of the complete failure of all of that to address Necessity of Being vs.  Contingency of Being vs. Divine Simplicity vs. Moral Perfection and Logical Possibility. Of help there is the section of quotes titled Divine Freedom In Creating & “Does God Change If He Creates?” which is in https://metachristianity.com/why-create-if-possible-evil-metrics-of-to-create-metrics-of-to-not-create/

6—That of Schellenberg’s move to expunge Reciprocity and Self-Giving vis-à-vis Self/Other and this he does BOTH with respect to God ((….such is found only in the Trinitarian’s God…)) AND with respect to God & Man ((…Groom & Bride…)) which forces Schellenberg to leave Maximal Greatness void of Maximal Goodness. All of which leaves Schellenberg faulting love as “that which” sums to evil and/or to the asinine. ((…see Ob-1 through Ob-7 as described above…)). Despite Schellenberg’s hopes he can only retain coherence by damning the very thing he ((rightly)) seeks to defend ((love)) and, therefore, Schellenberg’s Maximal Greatness ends up being just Nothing-Great-At-All.  Additionally he sets up Knowledge/Belief-States in Contingent Beings as “The Thing” which Maximal Greatness must ((in order to be Maximally Great)) Keep/Maintain and that Without-Interruption in all Possible Worlds ((…there ought never be the Non-Resistant Non-Believer in his Modeling when in fact what he is faced with is Ob-1 through Ob-7 as described above and with the section of quotes titled Divine Freedom In Creating & “Does God Change If He Creates?” which is in https://metachristianity.com/why-create-if-possible-evil-metrics-of-to-create-metrics-of-to-not-create/…)).

Again the complete failure of all of that to address Necessity of Being and Contingency of Being and Divine Simplicity and Moral Perfection and Logical Possibility and more is only in part addressed here but “in part” is enough as we will see.

All of that with Schellenberg will be looked at in various parts & slices as we go along here through other “headings/titles/topics” rather than in “one big chunk” and, so, let’s start with something quite general and work our way to that and into other concerns and premises:

Under the Umbrella that is Christendom there are three discussions with respect to Cosmic Fairness or Cosmic Justice or Cosmic Love and those three are a. Conditional Immortality and b. Hell as Eternal Conscious Torment and c. Universalism. Schellenberg’s entire body of earlier arguments are dissolved by Universalism alone ((…that’s the short answer…obviously there’s more…)). That is NOT to affirm or reject Universalism NOR is to say that Schellenberg’s Map is not out-performed by the other two NOR is it to say the content in “4—That of  the common flaw in the new logical challenge….” described above does not itself  dissolve BOTH Schellenberg’s earlier arguments AND his new argument — but, rather, that is mentioned only to point out the most obvious slice of the wherewithal of the Christian Paradigm in relation to J.L.S.’s earlier works. Regarding Schellenberg’s more recent items such as “A New Logical Problem of Evil” ((which is a chapter inside The Blackwell Companion to The Problem of Evil)) he fashions a Logically Impossible God and a Logically Impossible World by which and in which his new logical argument can push through ((…as per 1, 2, 3, and 4 above etc…)).

Let’s pause to recall the following definition and short list of references:

Definition: Principle of Proportionate Causality

Quote: …..To be a tree or to be a stone is merely to participate in “treeness” or “stoneness.” But to be at all — which is the characteristic effect of an act of creation out of nothing – is to participate in Being Itself. Now the principle of proportionate causality tells us that whatever is in an effect must be in some way in its cause. And only that which just *is* Being Itself can, in this case, be a cause proportionate to the effect, since the effect is not merely to be a tree or to be a stone, but to be at all. [Only] pure actuality or Being Itself rather than a being among others – can cause a thing to exist ex nihilo….. (E. Feser)  End quote. ((…from http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/07/first-without-second.html …))

Five Background Data/Segues For This Essay:

  1. Why Create If Possible Evil at https://metachristianity.com/why-create-if-possible-evil-metrics-of-to-create-metrics-of-to-not-create/
  2. Love, Reason, Reality, And The Golden Thread Of Reciprocity at https://metachristianity.com/reason-reality-golden-thread-reciprocity/
  3. Moral Ontology Vis-À-Vis The Ontological History Of Reason Itself at https://metachristianity.com/moral-ontology-vis-a-vis-the-ontological-history-of-reason-itself/
  4. Divine Command Theory Collapses Into A Metaphysical Absurdity at https://metachristianity.com/divine-command-theory-collapses-into-a-metaphysical-absurdity/ 
  5. Imago Dei and Closure In An Actual Human Nature And Rejecting The Eternally Open Ended at https://metachristianity.com/imago-dei-and-closure-in-an-actual-human-nature-and-rejecting-the-eternally-open-ended/

Schellenberg’s A New Logical Problem of Evil hinges on logically possible worlds ((…as do all metaphysical topographies of course…)) and the array of Possible States of Knowledge/Belief within Contingent Minds given the Divine Mind as the Maximally Great ((which just is the Maximally Good)) all of which includes Non-Resistant Non-Believers ((Darkness, the Fragmentation of Knowledge, Etc.)) and to that end he does what he is forced to do — namely he goes about Re-Inventing the Christian Metaphysic by expunging the Trinitarian Life and thereby inserting a Non-Christian Blueprint for Possible Worlds with respect to the Imago Dei.

Schellenberg assumes that one can Model/Create Motion amid Self/Other vis-à-vis Reciprocity/Self-Giving/Communique ((…the Trinitarian Life…)) by just inventing the Round-Square of the “Already-Freely-Married-Bride” and so he quite blithely and haphazardly and carelessly and anti-intellectually equates and/or conflates all logically necessary // irreducible distinctions amid the metaphysical content and yield of Proposal/The-Edenic for/with the metaphysical content/yield of Wedding for/with the metaphysical content/yield of Birth for/with the metaphysical content/yield of Eternal Life and, also, makes the sloppy mistake that any/one/some of all of that is somehow NOT Logically Necessary. More on this is in various parts but again see the referenced “Five Background Data/Segues For This Essay” listed earlier.

Schellenberg also makes the Non-Resistant Non-Believer the “End Of All Progressions” and thereby makes Knowing-The-Right-Facts his End-All/Be-All in the sense that the Cure or the “Thing” which God would FORCE/KEEP “in-place” in all possible worlds without interruption is Knowledge/The Right Facts – in the sense that what The Adamic needs in all Possible Worlds is Knowledge – rather than Being Itself – rather than Goodness Itself – rather than Life Itself – which is to say rather than God/All-Sufficiency Himself. This is unraveled by exposing several key flaws.

The first basic point is the fact that God’s Decree of, Creation of, the “Y” that is the entire Adamic Landscape ((…the trio of 1. the Necessary place of the Edenic wherein Man ((the Potential Bride)) has not yet chosen Eternal Life and 2. the Possibility of but not necessity of Privation ((…that of Self void of Other…)) and 3. God’s Eternal Ideal for all things Adamic – namely Eternal Wholeness in Being/Life…)) is not a Decree of, Creation of, three separate created realities ((plural)) but is/was *one* created reality ((singular)) or landscape – and the blueprint for that singular Creation is the Trinitarian Life amid love’s Self/Other vis-à-vis the Divine Decree of the Imago Dei. To expunge THAT Singular Landscape’s topography just is to expunge the Singular Blueprint’s topography which just is to expunge Love’s Necessary Progressions amid Self/Other. Despite Schellenberg’s hopes he can only retain coherence by damning the very thing he ((rightly)) seeks to defend ((love & logic)) even as it is to foist Maximally Great void of the Maximally Good.

The second basic point is the tempting but fallacious move of landing within a set of Counterfactuals which looks something like P|S1+S2+S3+S4|G as we unpack a. [If P were in S1, P would do A] and b. [If P were in S2, P would not do A] and c. [If Adam were in S1, he would obey God] and d. [If Adam were in S2, he would not obey God]. Notice that P|S1+S2+S3+S4|G is defined/explained in https://metachristianity.com/why-create-if-possible-evil-metrics-of-to-create-metrics-of-to-not-create/ 

The third basic point is that of the distinction between the Infralapsarian Christology vs. the Supralapsarian Christology as each reveals the same “Final Solution” regarding the “Thing” which God would ((and does)) FORCE/KEEP “in-place” in all possible worlds without interruption ((…those two Christologies are looked at in https://metachristianity.com/why-create-if-possible-evil-metrics-of-to-create-metrics-of-to-not-create/ …)).

Recall from earlier what we find in BOTH the Infralapsarian Christology AND the Supralapsarian Christology:

Notice that over inside of Non-Theism “Evil” in fact does end in the illusory shadows of Non-Being as the term “Illusion” only begins the complete and total reductio ad absurdum which all “Moral Fact” undergoes given Non-Theism’s Means and Ends — whereas — over inside of the Christian Metaphysic “Evil” as “Privation” sums to “Something Missing” or as Being-Minus-Something as “Evil” is ((still)) not a positive substance but is instead a deficiency of substance ((…a deficiency of Being, a deficiency of Good, and Etc…)).

Evil is therein a Hollow or Vacuum of said substance — and that is Evil as Good’s Privation — as “The Good Minus Something”.  The Christian Metaphysic posits a cure for Evil — for Privation and that cure is nothing less than the only logically possible Means by which the aforementioned vacuum or deficiency or hollow could be brought to Non-Existence. And what is that? Well in concrete terms we have a “Vacuum Void of X” ((so to speak)) and only that which “Is Itself” that which is “X” ((so to speak)) can Pour & thereby Fill that Hollow which is itself but the void of “X”. Such cannot be anything less than Being Itself poured out — or Goodness Itself poured out — or All-Sufficiency Himself poured out — or God — via His Own Self-Outpouring — to the bitter Ends of Time & Physicality vis-à-vis all things Adamic — and this is Christ.

There is more ahead regarding [A] the Necessity of Eden’s Freedom amid the Groom’s Proposal and the Potential Bride’s Reply to that Proposal and of [B] how/why “THAT” is ontologically/irreducibly distinct from “Wedding” and [C] how/why “THAT” is ontologically/irreducibly distinct from “Birth/Eternal Life” and [D] how/why “THAT” carries us into “Permanence & Freedom & Yet No Sin In Eternal Life” ((…again also see https://metachristianity.com/why-create-if-possible-evil-metrics-of-to-create-metrics-of-to-not-create/ for more…)). Notice that from [A] to [B] to…. and so on is ONE SINGULARITY – that is to say it is not the Creating of 3 different Worlds but instead it is the Creation of ONE Metaphysic – or ONE Landscape – or ONE Adam and the reason that is ONE seamless progression vis-à-vis ONE Adam moving Amid/Among progressions from A to B to C to… and so on is because of the ONE Singularity that is the Trinitarian Life vis-à-vis Self/Other.

To expunge THAT Singular Landscape’s topography just is to expunge the Singular Blueprint’s topography which just is to expunge Love’s Necessary Progressions amid Self/Other. All of which leaves Schellenberg faulting love as “that which” sums to evil and/or to the asinine. Despite Schellenberg’s hopes he can only retain coherence by damning the very thing he ((rightly)) seeks to defend ((love & logic)).

Two Fallacies: Occasionalism and The Greater Good

As we work through all of that we find that the claim “God’s reasons for allowing evil are inscrutable & unintelligible…” is incoherent and even demonstrably false as all vectors converge within our discovery of (1) the fact that it is the case that Gratuitous Evil is a metaphysical impossibility ((…see #1 in the aforementioned list which is “Why Create If Possible Evil” and its subsection bolded/titled “MISUNDERSTANDING 1 — The Fallacy Of The-Greater-Good Theodicy”…)) and (2) our discovery that all vectors land in in a full-on contradiction that is the error of Occasionalism and/or peculiar mixtures of Utility.

For a basic framework on the errors within “Occasionalism” see 1. E. Feser’s “Metaphysical Middle Man” at https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2013/01/metaphysical-middle-man.html and also 2.Causality, Pantheism, and Deism” at  https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2014/12/causality-pantheism-and-deism.html

With respect to “The Greater Good” the following example is correct for that fallacy but it is NOT quite accurate with respect to the wider Chritian Metaphysic:

“…..God allows various evils to occur because they will result, ultimately, in a surfeit of goods which outweighs the evils endured. Perhaps the simplest way to put the idea is as follows: no pain, no gain…..”

The reason that is NOT quite accurate is as follows:

We must avoid hijacked versions of the Greater Good theme which land in a surreal mixture of Utility and Occasionalism. The Greater Good umbrella does not find God allowing [ABC and/or the Possibility of ABC] “….in order to get to….” XYZ. Instead we find [ABC and/or the Possibility of ABCnot as a Means by which God is to gain or to get to some End but, rather, because it is a logical outflow ((…it is logically necessary…)) given His Decree of Love vis-à-vis His Decree of the Imago Dei vis-à-vis His Decree of The Blueprint reducing to the Trinitarian Life.  This or that Possible World or Possible Reality require what Schellenberg specifically avoids – namely to interact with the Christian Metaphysic – meaning the specifically Trinitarian Metaphysic. It is remarkable how so many can muddy the waters with this concept which is no more complicated than the following:

To Decree “Square via World X” just is to find “Round via World X” a logical absurdity.

William Hasker and Kirk R. MacGregor are referenced later but a brief quote here:

“…The absurdity of the Greater-Good Defense is multiplied by its transformation of the universe into a philosophically overdetermined system….. Gratuitous evils are simply a logically unavoidable necessity of contingent living in a freedom-permitting world…… While God can [and does] surely use [even all] of those individual acts of evil for our good, it does not follow that every act of evil that God allows, He allows for the purpose of accomplishing some greater good….. He allows acts of evil, even gratuitous acts of evil, because He values and honors the freedom of our will….”

From “there” we discover Schellenberg’s terminus – namely that by Re-Inventing “God” and expunging the Trinitarian Life one is ((thereby)) left with a Non-Christian Blueprint for all things Adamic.  Schellenberg’s logical argument works by tearing down that New & Non-Christian Blueprint with respect to Possible Worlds.  In the end what Schellenberg actually does is to set about Faulting-God vis-à-vis Faulting Love’s Logically Necessary Metaphysical Content. All of which leaves Schellenberg faulting love as “that which” sums to evil and/or to the asinine. Despite Schellenberg’s hopes he can only retain coherence by damning the very thing he ((rightly)) seeks to defend ((love & logic)) and, therefore, Schellenberg’s Maximal Greatness ends up being just Nothing-Great-At-All.  And additionally he sets up Knowledge/Belief-States as “The Thing” which Maximal Greatness must ((in order to be Maximally Great)) Keep/Maintain and that Without-Interruption in all Possible Worlds.

((…again by that we mean various lines of syntax as discussed in “Why Create If Possible Evil – Metrics Of To-Create – Metrics Of To-Not-Create” which is at https://metachristianity.com/why-create-if-possible-evil-metrics-of-to-create-metrics-of-to-not-create/ and also discussed within that essays own links, including but not limited to the link to True In All Possible Worlds —PART 1— True Pre-Eden – True In Eden – True In Privation Pre/Post Christ – True Until Wholeness/Heaven – True Always & Already — which is at https://randalrauser.com/2018/08/can-violence-ever-serve-a-redemptive-purpose/#comment-4353198247 …))

Schellenberg has insisted on a set of counterfactuals in which he leaves out the uniquely Trinitarian Life vis-a-vis the Necessary Being & Timeless Reciprocity as reality’s Blueprint. He posits creating a Blueprint based in Imago Dei vis-a-vis The-Good in and of Irreducible Reciprocity and in/of Being in Ceaseless Self-Giving – all of which is fine – but then he presumes to do so WHILE Creating a Landscape void of the necessity of all things Edenic – which of course forces a reductio ad absurdum in the form of God Creating the Round-Square – or in this case specifically in the form of God Creating the [Already-Freely-Married-Bride]. Inroads into “all of that” is unpacked more fully in Why Create If Possible Evil  at https://metachristianity.com/why-create-if-possible-evil-metrics-of-to-create-metrics-of-to-not-create/

A brief excerpt: 

A quote which expresses a key error:  “….since God knows what each of them would do in every possible situation, he gets to decide, so to speak, what the upshot will be – which world will be actual….”

We’ll get to the errors in that and why it is not accurate a few paragraphs down but first the general ((…and fallacious…)) Frame/Syllogism off of which that error springboards:

A— If P were in S1, P would do A.
B— If P were in S2, P would not do A.
1— If Adam were in S1, he would obey God.
2— If Adam were in S2, he would not obey God

But First — The Wider Framework: 

By which metrics will we Ask/Answer the question of Why Create If Evil Is Possible? By love’s metrics? Well yes – of course. But then how……

End Excerpt. 

Schellenberg’s error is that he sets out and describes a set of Counterfactuals which looks something like P|S1+S2+S3+S4|G and, again, that error ((…which is not unique to Schellenberg…at all…)) is unpacked more fully in #1 from the earlier list of 5 Background Data/Segues For This Essay which is Why Create If Possible Evil  at https://metachristianity.com/why-create-if-possible-evil-metrics-of-to-create-metrics-of-to-not-create/

Schellenberg fails to notice ((or account for)) that the Blueprint for the Imago Dei houses key vectors specific to the Trinitarian Life and thereby logically necessitated all things Edenic and that the Edenic logically necessitated not permanence in Eden but rather Two Options and only Two Options — namely either Privation or else Eternal Life — which is either Self (Isolation) or else Self-Other (Community). We speak of course “The Adamic” as Mankind vis-à-vis the Contingent & Derived “Self” and we speak of God as the Uncreated/Underived “Other” and as “Goodness Itself” and Being Itself ((and so on)) and we speak of “Eternal Life” of course as Man-In-God//God-In-Man as ANYTHING LESS of course necessarily falls short of logically necessary contents with respect to Man’s True Good // Man’s Final Felicity.

Schellenberg also fails to notice ((or account for)) the fact that we find three irreducibly distinct Metaphysical Landscapes with respect to Content and Yield regarding all things Adamic – namely all things vis-à-vis The Groom’s Proposal || The Beloved’s Volitional/Free Reply ((…which is all things Edenic…)) and all things Wedding ((…either from within Eden or from within Privation makes no difference…)) and all things Birth/Eternal-Life.

Schellenberg fails to notice ((or account for)) the fact that God’s Decree of,Creation of, the “Y” that is the entire Adamic Landscape ((…the trio of 1. the Necessary place of the Edenic wherein Man ((the Potential Bride)) has not yet chosen Eternal Life and 2. the Possibility of but not necessity of Privation ((…that of Self void of Other…)) and 3. God’s Eternal Ideal for all things Adamic – namely Eternal Wholeness in Being/Life…)) is not a Decree of, Creation of, three separate created realities ((plural)) but is/was *one* created reality ((singular)) or landscape – and the blueprint for that singular Creation is the Trinitarian Life amid love’s Self/Other vis-à-vis the Divine Decree of the Imago Dei. To expunge THAT Singular Landscape’s topography just is to expunge the Singular Blueprint’s topography which just is to expunge Love’s Necessary Progressions amid Self/Other. Despite Schellenberg’s hopes he can only retain coherence by damning the very thing he ((rightly)) seeks to defend ((love & logic)) even as it is to foist Maximally Great void of the Maximally Good.

Schellenberg fails to notice ((or account for)) the fact that it is the case that The Adamic necessarily cannot find Eternal Life, God’s Eternal Ideal, other than by traversing that landscape of God’s//His love’s Proposal amid the Adamic’s Reply which then necessarily carries forward into the syntax of a Wedding and that then carries forward into the syntax of a Birth.

Schellenberg’s Modeling/Creating “Map” never arrives at the Decreed Imago Dei within 1. a proposal, 2. a reply, 3. a wedding, and 4. Birth/Permanence and the necessary *distinctions* between each of those. They are all constitutions of *one* landscape and yet they are irreducibly distinct.

[[…an interesting observation is that the causal-ecosystem in 2 is not, either in content or in yield, that of 3, and, similarly, everything in 2 is *necessary* (…or cannot be otherwise, by Decree…), and yet nothing in 2 is *sufficient* (..by force of logical impossibility…), and so on…and so on…]]

Schellenberg’s Map Sacrifices Both Maximal Greatness/Goodness 

The Christian is left reminding Schellenberg that he must bring in not only Goodness Itself but also Irreducible Self-Giving vis-a-vis Self/Other vis-a-vis the Blueprint of the Imago Dei.  Schellenberg does well to quote others speaking of the fact that all goods are already contained fully in God – and so foists Maximal Greatness ((okay)) only to then Damn/Expunge Maximal Goodness ((not okay)). A brief excerpt from “Why Create If Possible Evil” linked to earlier:

By which metrics will we Ask/Answer the question of Why Create If Evil Is Possible? By love’s metrics? Well yes – of course. But then how does the Critic rationally damn love’s begetting of love EITHER within The Trinitarian Life (…God Not-Creating….) OR within the Divine Decree of the Imago Dei (…God Creating…)?

Is it Good of us and is it Logical of us and does it sum to our factual Valuing-Of-Love on our part if we fault God for begetting love vis-à-vis the Trinitarian Life wherein we discover Timeless Reciprocity vis-à-vis Ceaseless Self-Giving with respect to Being in totum? How is it that one can rationally claim (there) that “God Is Un-Loving? Just the same if we turn it 180 degrees: Is it Good of us and is it Logical of us and does it sum to our factual Valuing-Of-Love on our part if we fault God for begetting love in the Creative Act vis-à-vis the Decree of the Imago Dei?

Divine Freedom seems blurry in Schellenberg’s Map ((to be fair he does not affirm/deny Divine Freedom)) only because it hints at a kind of God of Pure Power being unable to Not-Create as hints of determined ends leak into the landscape as a consequence of another side of the P|S1+S2+S3+S4|G problem. But of course the Creative Act is Free rather than Necessary & Determined and the Can-Do-Otherwise of Divine Freedom amid Self/Other is found within the Imago Dei.

Schellenberg’s Map Seems To Need As-If & Fake Memories

Modeling & Creating in this new logical problem finds God creating an [Already-Freely-Married-Bride] from the get-go — and of course that is logically impossible. The phrase “Already Freely Married-Bride” refers to creating a contingent agent (Man) capable of loving God and freely motioning amid Self/Other there amid God/Man BUT creating that Beloved/Bride/Adamic “as-if” Man had “already freely chosen/replied” to All-Sufficiency/All-Goodness ((…the Groom / God…)). THAT “AS-IF” yields the Inverse of ANOTHER “AS-IF” the former As-If yields the illusion of the Possibility of Self/Privation/Fall for the Bride-To-Be with respect to her reply to said Groom while the latter As-If yields the illusion of the Possibility of Eternal Life for the Bride-To-Be with respect to her reply to said Groom. The Edenic is bypassed and the Automaton is given “Fake Memories” ((…see https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer/why-didnt-god-create-only-those-who-he-knew-would-believe-in-him…))  Note that in the Christian Metaphysic Eden is NOT Perfection or Heaven or Eternal Life but is instead the Landscape of the Groom’s Proposal ((…not a Wedding… and not a Birth…)). Recall that WHY/HOW that is the case is looked at more closely in “Why Create If Possible Evil” at https://metachristianity.com/why-create-if-possible-evil-metrics-of-to-create-metrics-of-to-not-create/

Schellenberg’s Map Succeeds In One Area

Schellenberg presents a well formed Non-Theistic argument against a Non-Christian Metaphysic and a Non-Christian God and a God who is neither Maximally Great nor Maximally Good. Logical Proofs against a Non-Christian Metaphysic are fine – but they’re not of any relevance to the Meta-Narrative actually in question. Schellenberg’s Logical Proof regarding evil DOES make a subset of [Theisms] logically incoherent with respect to “…Given God-X it is *not *even *in *principle *possible that [Evil As Privation] coexists with God….” But that Subset is of Non-Christian Metanarratives. However, that claim with respect to any sort of full-on ontological possibility fails once one encounters the specifically Christian Metaphysic.

But The Map Fails Elsewhere

There is no demonstration of the [Logically Impossible] coexistence of Privation/God. There is no demonstration that Knowledge/Belief-States are necessarily “The Thing” which Maximal Greatness must ((in order to be Maximally Great)) Keep/Maintain and that Without-Interruption in all Possible Worlds. Further, Schellenberg’s Map extinguishes Can-Do-Otherwise & Intentionality & Self-Giving with respect to Possible Worlds as his own discussion of Modeling/Creating insists that God MUST Create the Non-Edenic Proposal ((…atop of which he builds his logical argument…)) and by that we mean that in Schellenberg’s Modeling we find that God as the Groom Proposes but the Bride-To-Be is simply bypassed as God by raw fiat must create the Already-Freely-Married-Bride ((….the round-square…)). What is left is a knot of equivocations given that Divine Freedom with respect to Possible Worlds and Intentionality and Self-Giving and the Trinitarian Life are all “left out of” Schellenberg’s versions of Modeling and Creating.

IN SHORT

In short Schellenberg employs both Greatness void of Goodness and logically impossible worlds and just assumes and foists the fallacy of P|S1+S2+S3+S4|G as his Model ((described elsewhere)). He then uses that Logically Impossible World & Incoherent God as an argument against the logically possible worlds which we find streaming out of the landscape of The Edenic. Additionally there is the fact that he does all of that while fallaciously equating all of those logically impossible worlds ((Etc.)) to the Christian’s own definitions of what is “in-play”. Again see such definitions as discussed in “Why Create If Possible Evil – Metrics Of To-Create – Metrics Of To-Not-Create” which is at https://metachristianity.com/why-create-if-possible-evil-metrics-of-to-create-metrics-of-to-not-create/ and also as discussed within that essays own links, including but not limited to the link to True In All Possible Worlds —PART 1— True Pre-Eden – True In Eden – True In Privation Pre/Post Christ – True Until Wholeness/Heaven – True Always & Already — which is at https://randalrauser.com/2018/08/can-violence-ever-serve-a-redemptive-purpose/#comment-4353198247

Schellenberg’s Nonresistant Nonbelievers & Aliens & Clever Skeptics

First, the intent here is NOT to unpack the very real ((valid)) landscapes of in the following:

  1. Rational/Irrational Belief
  2. Rational/Irrational Non-Belief
  3. Culpable and Non-Culpable Belief
  4. Culpable and Non-Culpable Non-Belief

Those are all valid and at any point one may be interacting with someone who is ((truly/actually)) working/replying from within one of those. Despite Schellenberg’s hopes he can only retain coherence by damning the very thing he ((rightly)) seeks to defend ((love &logic)). Of importance is that his Map gives no demonstration that Knowledge/Belief-States are necessarily “The Thing” which Maximal Greatness must ((in order to be Maximally Great)) Keep/Maintain and that Without-Interruption in all Possible Worlds.

That said, this brief section is primarily about the odd and almost magical removal of The Will from what goes on inside of the affairs of Rationalization and Self-Deception. To “insist” that God “must” non-coercively overcome a disbeliever’s doubt when He (God) first gives this or that contour of the light of day ((…Christianity does not affirm “Being Lost” for Non-Culpable Non-Belief…)) and the disbeliever knowingly persists in the light of day to value this or that known Reductio/Falsehood over this or that known Lucidity/Reality – and so on – is to again Re-Invent the aforementioned Blueprint of Self/Other as per the Trinitarian Life ((…and therein the necessity of all things Edenic…)).

Man is not Immaterial/Immaterial & The Fact-To-Face: The logical Necessity of Can-Do-Otherwise amid the Immaterial-Self||Immaterial-Other within the Edenic ||the Groom’s Proposal is a key which stands in stark contrast to the fallacy of ANY set of Counterfactuals in the form of P|S1+S2+S3+S4|G ((…as alluded to earlier Etc. via https://metachristianity.com/why-create-if-possible-evil-metrics-of-to-create-metrics-of-to-not-create/ …)). Whether Man is Fully Dualistic such that “I”/“Me”/“Self” ((and so on)) CANNOT be Alive With God//Absent From The Body or whether Man or “I”/“Me”/“Self” CAN in fact be Alive With God//Absent From The Body makes no difference to the Core Fallacy within P|S1+S2+S3+S4|G and the reason why is because there is NO POSSIBLE MAP in the form of [Material Full Stop] or [Covalent Bonds Full Stop] which can “in fact” or “in principle someday” Map the Whole of The Adamic ((….the defense of the map of the philosophy of mind and refuting eliminative maps and fallacious “non-reductive” equivocations and so on is not / are not the topic here….)).

Begin Brief Digression:

Perhaps before leaving the topic of Schellenberg’s New Logical Problem we can pause to list a few references with respect to The Will and Rationalization and Self-Deception and Faith and Trusting the Knowns while Navigating the Unknowns. Keep in mind the key point that the Christian Map does not affirm “Being Lost” for “Non-Culpable Non-Belief“. So with that said:

  1. Part 1 of 2 on Self-Deception http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2015/10/walter-mitty-atheism.html?showComment=1444541683395&m=1#c5184040431704814012
  2. Part 2 of 2 on Self-Deception http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2015/10/walter-mitty-atheism.html?showComment=1444541694376&m=1#c6385469427809387454
  3. Reason & Truth-Trading in the Human Stock Exchange at http://disq.us/p/1yd8pwb also linked with https://randalrauser.com/2018/11/do-bad-children-go-to-hell/#comment-4254874139
  4. Truth-Trading: Another Approach at http://disq.us/p/1yzx1sq also linked with https://randalrauser.com/2018/11/do-bad-children-go-to-hell/#comment-4292960858

You Cannot Just Will Yourself To Believe That The Sky Is Not Blue:

  1. http://disq.us/p/1b297md also at https://strangenotions.com/is-free-will-real-or-are-we-all-determined/#comment-2845699285
  2. http://disq.us/p/1b5se9j also at https://strangenotions.com/is-free-will-real-or-are-we-all-determined/#comment-2851633207
  3. http://disq.us/p/1b1fyfg also at https://strangenotions.com/is-free-will-real-or-are-we-all-determined/#comment-2844334348
  4. https://disqus.com/home/discussion/standtoreason/nine_early_church_fathers_who_taught_jesus_is_god/#comment-3026985210
  5. https://disqus.com/home/discussion/standtoreason/nine_early_church_fathers_who_taught_jesus_is_god/#comment-3021183881

Rational Disbelief & The Enabler

  1. Rational Disbelief Exists – at https://str.typepad.com/weblog/2015/10/a-response-to-edward-feser-on-romans-1.html?cid=6a00d83451d2ba69e201bb08867c22970d#comment-6a00d83451d2ba69e201bb08867c22970d
  2.  “The Cocaine Addict Has A Friend — The Enabler” — about half-way into https://str.typepad.com/weblog/2015/10/a-response-to-edward-feser-on-romans-1.html?cid=6a00d83451d2ba69e201bb08867e57970d#comment-6a00d83451d2ba69e201bb08867e57970d
  3. Typo Correction which is at — https://str.typepad.com/weblog/2015/10/a-response-to-edward-feser-on-romans-1.html?cid=6a00d83451d2ba69e201bb088681c0970d#comment-6a00d83451d2ba69e201bb088681c0970d
  4. The previous three are consolidated in the comment at http://disq.us/p/21x2cxa which is also linked with https://randalrauser.com/2018/06/overcome-your-cognitive-bias-with-the-50-50-rule/#comment-4469568238  Basically those initial three are copy/pasted which may be a bit easier to navigate – the comment has six sections and it is in sections 5 and 6.

Faith & Science & Trusting In The Knowns While Navigating The Unknowns

The Christian’s Actual Definition of Faith:

First http://disq.us/p/1w3r23n which is also linked with https://randalrauser.com/2018/06/overcome-your-cognitive-bias-with-the-50-50-rule/#comment-4118001251

Second At https://metachristianity.blogspot.com/2018/04/faith-evidence-hebrews-11-trusting.html there are a few initial primers and then there are 40-something comments each of which is headed/labeled with “[Comment #1]” and so on. See the first four or “[Comment #1]” and “[Comment #2]” and “[Comment #3]” and “[Comment #4]” with respect to the Christian Metaphysic vis-à-vis categories of Knowledge as it relates to Faith and so on.

Third Also with respect to the Christian definition of Faith see a. http://disq.us/p/1w3sjkh and b. http://disq.us/p/1yh7bgt and c. http://disq.us/p/1yhjehw and d. http://disq.us/p/1yh3ruo and e. http://disq.us/p/1yh3gim

The following which is from elsewhere and while it is only tangentially related to Rational Disbelief it still suggests interesting segues and it’s a bit entertaining as well:

Quote: 

“…On another note, one of the essays in that volume linked above drives home the very clear point that no matter what type of “evidence” God might choose to give us, the clever skeptic can always seek to rationalize it away. Let’s say that God were to inscribe into the moon in shimmering gold letters a passage from scripture every night, or some such thing. I think that if someone really wanted, they could conclude that the existence of aliens who might try to commandeer us by doing such a thing is a “more likely” explanation than the existence of God as the ontological grounding of reality itself, and so by “occam’s razor” would still dismiss the existence of God.

You say, “But if Golden passages of scripture appear on the moon every night…” – That seems to fall apart as the skeptic could easily suggest the possibility of observing and manipulative aliens. Since the belief in such aliens doesn’t involve a paradigm shift in understanding the nature of reality as contingent upon a divine mind — they would probably not find it very difficult to go with “aliens”. In fact, I think skeptics would tout that reasoning as evidence against Christianity. “See, you used to think that there was a God, but this recent business with the moon shows that it was probably aliens all along.” They’d probably suggest that Jesus was an alien all along.

Likewise with a “voice” appearing in everyone’s head. Likewise with some sort of “alien artifact” which would probably be the easiest to dismiss for anyone who is familiar with video editing and special effects.

Consider instead what I think is evidence that we actually have available to us, the existence of our own consciousness which seems inexplicable on a philosophical naturalist paradigm. The existence of us as volitional beings seems to directly imply something about the nature of reality. To say (as we can with those others above) “ah well maybe there are other contingent, conscious aliens out there who made us” doesn’t actually seem to get us anywhere with consciousness but kicking the can down the street a little way.

You say, “Schellenberg’s nonresistant nonbelievers need not successfully rationally undergird their nonbelief. All they need to do is be nonbelievers, and be both epistemically and personally open to changing their minds.”

If one cannot rationally undergird their position (irrationality?), then how would one be epistemically and personally open? It seems relatively intuitive to me based on my personal observations that nonbelievers often have an innate resistance to having their mind changed that has very little to do with reason. For many there quite obviously seems to be an emotional stumbling block which prevents them from making an accurate assessment of the data….” (by T. Wakeman)

End quote.

Quote:

“…no amount of evidence that God could provide would ever be sufficient to non-coercively overcome a disbeliever’s doubt if the disbeliever did not wish to be convinced. Indeed, given the ability for hyper-skepticism to create doubt no matter what the evidence is, it must be pointed out that no matter what God did, a skeptic could always — if he wanted — attribute the event to aliens, or a hallucination, or that he was in a computer simulation, etc. And skeptic Michael Shermer even has a “law” which states that any sufficiently advanced alien intelligence would be, to us, indistinguishable from God; as such, atheism and naturalism are thus unfalsifiable if they wish to be given that any seemingly miraculous event could always be attributed to aliens rather than God. In fact, I know a prominent atheist who admitted that even if the stars spelled out the Apostles Creed and the whole world saw it, he would likely go mad or believe everyone had gone mad rather than believe that God had made a miracle occur. So, the point here is that even God could not freely convince certain unbelievers to believe in Him no matter how much evidence He might provide…” (by R. Initiative)

End quote.

End Brief Digression.

Leaving Schellenberg And Moving On To Wider & More Robust Vantage Points

Four resources with respect to the problem of evil ((…the “PoE”…)) are listed here:

“As regards the problem of evil, then, what is in need of justification is God’s allowing suffering. This is a book about the problem of suffering…….”

[1] “Divine Hiddenness: New Essays” by Daniel Howard-Snyder (Editor) and Paul Moser (Editor).

[2] “The Elusive God: Reorienting Religious Epistemology” by Paul K. Moser.

[3] “The Problem of Evil: The Challenge to Essential Christian Beliefs” by Evans, Jeremy A.

[4] “Wandering in Darkness: Narrative and the Problem of Suffering” by Stump, Eleonore.

Begin Quote from the fourth title:

“As regards the problem of evil, then, what is in need of justification is God’s allowing suffering. This is a book about the problem of suffering…….”

No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief,
More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring.
Comforter, where, where is your comforting?

· · · · O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne’er hung there……

Introduction:

My topic in this book is the problem of evil. Only the most naive or tendentious among us would deny the extent and intensity of suffering in the world. Can one hold, consistently with the common view of suffering in the world, that there is an omniscient, omnipotent, perfectly good God? Some philosophers who were influential in the earlier twentieth-century discussion of the problem of evil answered this question in the negative and went so far as to claim that the existence of evil is logically incompatible with the existence of God. But, as the subsequent philosophical discussion of the problem of evil has made clear, such a claim is much harder to support than its proponents originally supposed.

The propositions:

(1) there is suffering in the world

(2) there is an omniscient, omnipotent, perfectly good God are not by themselves logically incompatible. At the very least, for a sound argument from evil against the existence of God, we need to add this premise:

(3) There is no morally sufficient reason for an omniscient, omnipotent, perfectly good God to allow suffering in the world.

But this premise is eminently debatable. In fact, a theodicy can be thought of as an attempt to show this premise false by providing a morally sufficient reason for God’s allowing suffering.

I have formulated this expression of what is commonly called ‘the argument from evil’ in terms of suffering rather than evil, because suffering, not evil, seems to me the salient thing.

It has become customary to divide evil into natural evil and moral evil and then to focus discussions of theodicy on one or another or both of these sorts of evil. But so-called natural evil would not raise the problem of evil if there were no sentient creatures who suffered from hurricanes, viruses, and the rest. It is the fact of suffering, not its origin, that raises the problem of evil in connection with so-called natural evil. As for moral evil, the phrase ‘moral evil’ is confusingly ambiguous as between ‘moral wrongdoing’ and ‘suffering caused as a result of human agency.’ But both of these referents for the phrase ‘moral evil’ raise the problem of evil only because of suffering. The second obviously does, and the first does so in only slightly more complicated ways.

When Jesus says about the person who will betray him that it would have been good for the betrayer himself if he had never been born, [1] he gives voice to a commonly felt but less commonly expressed intuition. Even if a malefactor feels no pain over the moral evil he does, his life suffers because of it. [2] None of us (well, virtually none of us) would willingly trade lives with a moral monster such as Herman Goering, even if Goering had in fact been jovial or content, even if Goering had died before the Nazis lost the war. Just because Goering was a moral monster, we would not want to have had a life such as his. So, even if Goering felt no remorse over the moral evil he did, his life suffered because of it, as our virtually unanimous unwillingness to trade places with him testifies. As regards the problem of evil, then, what is in need of justification is God’s allowing suffering. This is a book about the problem of suffering.

End quote. ((…from Stump, Eleonore. “Wandering in Darkness: Narrative and the Problem of Suffering” Oxford…))

Any theodicy of purpose must begin and end all vectors with irreducible intention. And that is precisely what the Christian metaphysic does.

The middle, in between that “A” and that “Z”, can assume who-knows-how-many forms and shapes and combinations and permutations. What is evident is not always the immediate tie or link to that “A” and that “Z”. We cannot always see said “A” and said “Z” by looking through the knotted-up maze. We must in those times look up to see such Ends. What is evident is the unstoppable continuum itself which is, on force of logic, inescapable. It thereby transforms the term “gratuitous” into a logical impossibility. Or, to put it another way, it thereby transforms the term “gratuitous” into a claim based upon the content of an ontological cul-de-sac. But there are no such things as ontological cul-de-sacs. Such a thing would be, on force of logic, a metaphysical absurdity.

The eternally open-ended nature of Non-Theistic paradigms ruins the Non-Theist’s claims of purpose, irrespective of any path taken. Ontological cul-de-sacs need not apply. For the same reason, the ontic-closure within the Christian metaphysic ruins the Non-Theist’s claims of the gratuitous, irrespective of any path taken. Ontological cul-de-sacs need not apply.

Segue:

Is Occasionalism metaphysically necessary? Given the principle of proportionate causality it clearly isn’t. So the real question is what has God created. An interesting question is *how* can God decree such things as irreducible being or irreducible intentionality or irreducible reason and so on. With respect to the metaphysics of the creative act, that all brings us to the “principle of proportionate causality“. How can the Created X traverse the abyss of non-being and cross over into being?

Quote:

…..To be a tree or to be a stone is merely to participate in “treeness” or “stoneness.” But to be at all — which is the characteristic effect of an act of creation out of nothing – is to participate in Being Itself. Now the principle of proportionate causality tells us that whatever is in an effect must be in some way in its cause. And only that which just *is* Being Itself can, in this case, be a cause proportionate to the effect, since the effect is not merely to be a tree or to be a stone, but to be at all. [Only] pure actuality or Being Itself rather than a being among others – can cause a thing to exist ex nihilo….. (E. Feser)

End quote.

Gratuitous Evil?

The error of Occasionalism is obvious and layered over that we’re reminded by A. Stanley that “God will use what He chooses not to remove.” Recall earlier that we looked at the hijacked version of the Greater Good theodicy and that is relevant because far too often the concept of “All Things” is tossed around without clarity.  In “Why Create If Possible Evil” at https://metachristianity.com/why-create-if-possible-evil-metrics-of-to-create-metrics-of-to-not-create/ there is a brief section with a list of 1 — 11 which opens with the following with respect to the metaphysical impossibility of gratuitous evil:

Begin Excerpt:

Evil and the Goodness of God:

[1] The Greater Good reality (with respect to [All Things]) is true and is a valid statement about [All Things].

[2] Scripture affirms possible but not necessary evil given God’s decree of the Imago Dei with respect to the Adamic’s volitional authority to choose possible *worlds*… See both [5] and [7].

[3] Minus God: [All Things] whether good or evil or any amalgamation thereof which stream out of The Adamic in number [2] *are* fundamentally and ontologically gratuitous “at bottom”. Indeed, but for God and His Hand, “purpose” finds no grounding, and hence “Minus God” leaves all lines gratuitous.

[4] But God. Full stop. And God is the Necessary Being. Hence, this [4] *necessarily* subsumes [3] which *necessarily* subsumes [2] which *necessarily* subsumes [1].

[5] Creating and decreeing a coin is not decreeing or creating two separate faces, so to speak. It is creating *one* ontological reality with multiple sides. It is *one* creative act, *one* decree. Trinity is like that. Love is like that. God’s decree guarantees that, grounds that.

[6] In all directions, there can be no such thing, no such creation, no such decree, as a one sided coin. God cannot do nonsense. It is no insult to God to state that He cannot do nonsense.

[7] God……((and so on through 11))

End Excerpt.

Privation (or evil, or suffering, or lack, our current state of affairs) is a lack of Good, and going about “filling up” said hollow with more lack, more want, more hollow, is logically impossible, an outright contradiction. Also, given the principle of proportionate causality it is obvious that Occasionalism is not metaphysically necessary. In the same vein, “necessary privation” is both contrary to scripture and to the requisites of love and necessity with respect to Man/God. That said, we are, now, in privation, so, which semantics to use?

Though God did not cause evil (our privation streaming out of Eden) He can and does use, place His Hand upon, “All Things” and use them for, well for what? Well, for “The Good” of course. And there it is. On the ultimately purposeless (gratuitous), whether one takes the route of “The Greater Good” (Cannot do otherwise in Eden, perhaps Calvinism, perhaps others…. Perhaps…) or whether one takes the route of free will and consequential freedom-bearing worlds (Can do otherwise in Eden, perhaps Arminianism, perhaps others… Perhaps…), we find [All Things] taken and used by *God*, by “The Good“, and – therefore – wherever we may find not only evil, not only good, but *anything*, we cannot find the ultimately gratuitous.

It is *not* the route which makes that an irreducible “ontic-fact”, but God. In other words, it is not the Greater Good route/path nor the free will and freedom-bearing consequential world route/path which makes the difference. The difference-maker with respect to gratuitous/purposed is the irreducibility of love vis-à-vis Being with respect to The Good, namely, *God*.

Now, the irreducibility (non-illusory, ever present, that which precedes all) of love vis-à-vis Being with respect to The Good, namely, *God* is exactly what Non-Theism has rejected. Hence it has embraced, for some unstated reason, that [All Things] are ultimately, cosmically, gratuitous.

Given Non-Theism: We find that [All Things] end in the gratuitous for all “purpose” is non-ontic, illusory. In part because, as discussed earlier, the metaphysical absurdity of ontological cul-de-sacs.

Whereas, if the Christian God: We find [All Things] taken and used by *God*, by “The Good“, and, therefore, wherever we may find not only evil, not only good, but *anything*, we cannot find the ultimately gratuitous.

The difference-maker with respect to gratuitous/purposed isn’t Man’s path into this world, or any possible world, but, rather, the difference-maker (…the meaning-maker…) is the irreducibility of love vis-à-vis Being with respect to The Good, namely, *God*.

Notice that Free Will is NOT the End-All/Be-All just as the Greater Good is NOT the End-All/Be-All. Notice ALSO that in all of that we still arrive in a place where we find in Eternal Life BOTH Freedom AND the Inability To Sin, but we do NOT and in fact CANNOT find that Duo/Combination in The Edenic. The reasons why in all of that have to do with logically necessary distinctions between Proposal and Wedding and Birth ((…and the Blueprint of the Imago Dei vis-à-vis the Trinitarian Life…)) are looked at more closely in a few places as per the list in 5 Background Data/Segues For This Essay near the beginign of this essay.

So, once we are aware of the fact that the Meta-Narrative in play does NOT Live/Die to “Maintain/Keep” EITHER the Free-Will End Of Things ((so to speak)) NOR the Greater-Good End Of Things ((so to speak)) we can then, and only then, add the following content with the proper lens:

Granting gratuitous evil, in a manner of speaking:

If we center the discussion on the consequences of freedom rather than what freedom is, it is far from clear that God has not faltered in his providence.

It’s either “The Greater Good” route into this world or it’s the freedom-bearing consequential world route into this world. Two PDF’s which are available are “THE NECESSITY OF GRATUITOUS EVIL” by William Hasker and also “The Existence and Irrelevance of Gratuitous Evil”, by Kirk R. MacGregor

A brief excerpt:

“…The absurdity of the Greater-Good Defense is multiplied by its transformation of the universe into a philosophically overdetermined system….. Gratuitous evils are simply a logically unavoidable necessity of contingent living in a freedom-permitting world…… While God can [and does] surely use [even all] of those individual acts of evil for our good, it does not follow that every act of evil that God allows, He allows for the purpose of accomplishing some greater good….. He allows acts of evil, even gratuitous acts of evil, because He values and honors the freedom of our will.”

End excerpt.

Now, what he is referring to there with “gratuitous” is that which is not caused by God (rejecting Occasionalism), and has no bearing on the fact that God does still use All Things and therein, by the ground of Being, of Good, of Love, as in God, we find no such possibility of the gratuitous in the wider sense.

Before the quote looking at consequential freedom bearing worlds, a brief clarification:

First, moves which equate the ontological condition of Man in Eden, Privation, and Heaven, are simply fallacious (at worst) or uninformed (at best). These comments are conditioned primarily by privation and the semantics “therein” and simply are not meant to (meaningfully) address Man in Eden nor Man in Heaven. It is noteworthy that we find two outward facing Doors both within Eden and within Privation. The unavoidable ontic-change which all things Adamic must traverse regardless of which Door (…which possible world…) is chosen is a proof that Eden was not God’s Ideal for Mankind forever in the same sense that Sinai was not God’s Ideal for Mankind forever in the same sense that Privation is not God’s Ideal for Mankind forever. The necessary metaphysical landscape of love’s Proposal (….which cannot fail to reach all men….) cannot be the same metaphysical landscape as the Wedding (..in content or in yield, and so on…), and the necessary metaphysical landscape of the Wedding cannot be the same metaphysical landscape of Gestation (..in content or in yield, and so on…), and the necessary metaphysical landscape of Gestation cannot be the same metaphysical landscape of Birth downstream vis-à-vis the New Creation as such relates to the Door into God’s Ideal, a Door which faces outward from both within Eden and from within Privation.

So then, having given that clarification:

Scripture affirms possible but not necessary evil given God’s decree of the Imago Dei with respect to “Man’s” volitional authority to choose not only possible *worlds* with respect to Eden (apparently) but also (obviously) actions. Regarding those actions: clearly Man is contingent and therefore his choices are not infinite, but constrained (limited), however real freedom amid a few million real possibilities will do just fine. Minus God we find that the proverbial box called [All Things], whether good or evil or any amalgamation thereof, which stream out of those acts/choices (on Eden’s implications we can even say worlds apparently) *are* fundamentally and ontologically gratuitous “at bottom” in the relevant sense (ultimately or cosmically illusory meaning-makers). Indeed, but for God and His Hand, “purpose” finds no grounding, and hence “Minus God” leaves all lines gratuitous. However: But God. Full stop. Therefore, whether one takes the route of “The Greater Good” or whether one takes the route of free will and consequential freedom-bearing worlds, we find [All Things] taken and used by *God*, by “The Good“, and, therefore, wherever we may find not only evil, not only good, but anything, we cannot find the ultimately gratuitous.

It is not the route which makes that an irreducible “ontic-fact”, but God. In other words, it is not the Greater Good route nor the free will and freedom-bearing consequential world route which makes the difference. The difference-maker with respect to gratuitous/purposed is the irreducibility of Being with respect to The Good, namely, *God*.

Then there is this:

If we center the discussion on the consequences of freedom rather than what freedom is, it is far from clear that God has not faltered in his providence.

That’s from the following:

Begin Quote:

The second theodicy is the free-will theodicy. According to the free-will theodicy, God is justified in permitting evil and its consequences because “he has to do so if he is to bestow on some of his creatures the incommensurable privilege of being responsible agents who have, in many areas, the capacity to choose as they will, without God, or anyone else (other than themselves), determining which alternative they choose.”

When Adam partakes of the fruit in Genesis 3, the most severe charge brought against God is not that he caused Adam to sin, but that in making Adam significantly free God brought about the possibility that Adam might misappropriate his freedom and choose a course of action that is morally wrong. God is not responsible for Adam’s choices given that Adam was endowed in creation with self-determining free will.

The ground for denying God’s causing evil is that human freedom is conceptually incompatible with divine determinism (not divine sovereignty).

Otherwise stated, determined choices are not free. Solidifying a free-will theodicy usually requires assent to the idea that being significantly free is intrinsically valuable rather than fleshing out the value of freedom from how people exercise it, that is, from freedom’s instrumental value. If it is intrinsically better to be significantly free than not, then questions concerning divine decisions in creation are asked and answered; objections from the abuse of freedom are derived from a category confusion regarding freedom’s intrinsic value with the ends that come as a result of misappropriating it. Even so, we value human freedom instrumentally in that it enables us to choose a path for our lives, allows for unique contributions to the human story, and is the source and origin of relationship development. The dissonance about freedom is that we love its benefits and hate its deficits, at least as far as instrumental value is concerned.

If we center the discussion on the consequences of freedom rather than what freedom is, it is far from clear that God has not faltered in his providence. After all, God could allow immoral actions and then remove the harmful consequences of those actions. Freedom is preserved, and intense suffering is avoided. While such a view agrees that freedom is valuable, it denies that allowing actions to have harmful consequences justifies permitting the free act. For example, if I freely burn down my neighbors’ house while they are on vacation, God can miraculously rebuild the house so that my neighbors never knew or dealt with the ramifications of their house being burned down. Freedom is preserved, and consequences are avoided. Consider the rape and murder of a five-year-old girl. There is nothing logically problematic with asserting that God permits the rapist to commit the rape and to succeed in her subsequent murder, during which God disables the girl from ever being conscious of her rape and strangulation— and revives her upon her death without her ever knowing anything happened to her. Freedom is preserved, and consequences are avoided. Since the visceral reaction against the free-will theodicy centers on the negative consequences of freedom’s application, let us call this new construal of God’s activity a “non-consequence world.

Several problems attend a nonconsequence world. First, the objection does not address the free-will theodicy at all but questions the lack of divine intervention. Notice that each suggestion indicates something God can do to mitigate the effects of free decisions, which says nothing at all about the nature of human freedom or the agent performing the act in question. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that we allow the question about divine intervention to remain, and we suggest that God override the consequences of our actions while still permitting our freedom to exist full force. The scenario envisioned here makes our world much like the famous pleasure machine scenario — where all of our experiences are either directly pleasurable or transformed into a pleasurable experience. In such a world we would not have any recourse from committing horrendous evils because we would not know the seriousness of the ensuing harm from acting in such a way.

Admittedly the moral status of actions is not governed solely by the ends of our actions; however, we certainly deliberate about the consequences of our actions upon the well-being of others and ourselves. In other words, the suggestion that God stamp out bad consequences, albeit a freedom preserving proposal, undermines our ability to make significant moral choices. Proponents of a non-consequence world should expect God to make acts such as rape a pleasure for the victim either directly through the sex act or indirectly through psychological manipulation. In doing so, another critique is leveraged; the proposal effectually strips the moral accountability between the perpetrator and his victim [*relational* contours are expunged of *love*] as well as what the definition of rape entails. To use a less chafing example, suppose I steal my neighbor’s birdfeeder after a squirrel breaks my own. Before choosing to steal the bird-feeder I recognize that my action is morally wrong — I am not confused about the moral status of the action. Sometime after I steal the birdfeeder, my conscience gets the better of me; I return the birdfeeder to my neighbor (with a bag of birdseed as a gesture). The only discernible response I should receive from my neighbor upon my returning the birdfeeder is one of utter perplexity; for if God replaces the stolen birdfeeder to prevent the material and emotional harm caused by the action, then my ability to set things right will be completely undermined. My neighbor will have no concept of ever having been wronged or perceive any need for apology or remuneration.

What is more, it is hard to see how I could ever actually discern that my action was worthy of reproach to begin with, for if God “undoes” the negative consequences of evil choices, then presumably the wrongdoer will benefit from this undoing as well. The line of thought is as follows: one of the harmful consequences of my choices is the effects these choices have on me. Not only is it true that malformed decisions adversely affect my character; the ability to concede one evil action makes it more probable that I will make another concession in my future deliberations and choices. In an effort to stall this decline of character, God must undo the harmful effects of my own choices on me. Such an action would be a literal divine recreation of my character such that any of my future wrong decisions would have nothing to do with my previous deliberations and choices. For this suggestion to pass muster, God would have to be the ultimate revisionist historian. These reasons, and more, provide compelling grounds to question the claim that God can undo the harmful nature of free decisions while guarding the integrity of freedom itself.

End quote. Evans, Jeremy A. (2013-03-01). The Problem of Evil: The Challenge to Essential Christian Beliefs (B&h Studies in Christian Apologetics).

…In Closing….

Lastly, as introduced earlier, here is the longer excerpt/quote from David Bentley Hart’s The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth as we look at Objective Evil & the metaphysical ground of Auschwitz and reason’s demands for lucidity through and through in the interface of Divine Love and Objective Evil:

—Begin Quotes/Excerpts—

“The freedom of God from ontic determination is the ground of creation’s goodness: precisely because creation is uncompelled, unnecessary, and finally other than that dynamic life of coinherent love whereby God is God, it can reveal how God is the God he is; precisely because creation is needless, an object of delight that shares God’s love without contributing anything that God does not already possess in infinite eminence, creation reflects the divine life, which is one of delight and fellowship and love; precisely because creation is not part of God, the context of God, or divine, precisely because it is not “substantially” from God, or metaphysically cognate to God’s essence, or a pathos of God, is it an analogy of the divine; in being the object of God’s love without any cause but the generosity of that love, creation reflects in its beauty that eternal delight that is the divine perichoresis and that obeys no necessity but divine love itself. Thus Rahner’s (utterly necessary) maxim can serve a genuinely theological end only if taken to mean that the Trinity who is economically revealed is indeed, without remainder (such as some Sabellian singularity prior to all hypostatic identity, or a fourth divine person, or a nature distinct from the one assumed in the order of relations within the mystery of salvation), the true and everlasting God as he is in himself: for God is not a finite subject, whose will could be other than his being, and so is truly fully himself in all his acts ad extra, and the taxis of his salvific activity toward us is the same taxis that is his triune life. The maxim stands then as a guard against any kind of nominalism on the one hand, and on the other, any tendency to forget that the dogma of the Trinity is required and defined – and permitted – by the narrative of Christ.

But, one might ask, how can the temporal event of God in our midst be the same as God’s event to himself in his eternity if so absolute a distinction is drawn between the enarrable contents of history and the “eternal dynamism” of God’s immutability, apatheia, and perfect fullness? How can the dereliction of Christ, his self-outpouring, truly be the same action as the eternal life of blissful immunity from suffering that classical Christian metaphysics insists upon? These are the questions that largely animate the Hegelianizing project in modern theology, and have long inspired theologians to reject aspects of the tradition that they see as a metaphysical corruption of the Bible’s “narrated” God: the distinction between being and becoming, between eternity and time, between the Logos as eternally begotten in the bosom of the Father and the Son of Man begotten “this day” (of course, in truth, it is never a matter of whether such distinctions are to be made, but how to make them, without compromising the narrative of Scripture and the unity of God in Christ). Immutability, impassibility, timelessness – surely, many argue, these relics of an obsolete metaphysics lingered on in Christian theology just as false belief and sinful inclinations linger on in a soul after baptism; and surely they always were fundamentally mentally incompatible with the idea of a God …….. of love who proves himself God through fidelity to his own promises against the horizon of history, who became flesh for us (was this not a change, after all, in God?) and endured the passion of the cross out of pity for us. Have we not seen the wounded heart of God, wounded by our sin in his eternal life, and wounded by it again, even unto death, in the life of the flesh? This is why so much modern theology keenly desires a God who suffers, not simply with us and in our nature, but in his own nature as well; such a God, it is believed, is the living God of Scripture, not the cold abstraction of a God of the philosophers; only such a God would die for us. At its most culpable, the modern appetite for a passible God can reflect simply a sort of self-indulgence and apologetical plaintiveness, a sense that, before God, though we are sinners, we also have a valid perspective, one he must learn to share with us so that he can sympathize with our lot rather than simply judge us; he must be absolved of his transcendence, so to speak, before we can consent to submit to his verdict (and, after all, in this age we are all rather bourgeois about such things and very jealous of our “rights”).

At its most commendable, though, this appetite testifies to our capacity for moral rage and perplexity, our inability to believe in a God of perfect power and imperturbable bliss in the wake of the century of death camps, gulags, killing fields, and the fire of nuclear detonations. We long for a companion in pain, a fellow sufferer; we know we have one in Christ; and we refuse to allow any ambiguity – metaphysical, moral, or theological – to rob us of his company. All of this I shall address when I discuss Christology, particularly in section 111.2, but I shall make two observations now. First, as valid as all such concerns are in their way, they entirely miss the point: the Christian doctrine of divine apatheia, in its developed patristic and medieval form, never concerned an abstract deity ontologically incapable of knowing and loving us; far from representing an irreconcilable contradiction or logical tension within Christian discourse, the juxtaposition of the language of divine apatheia with the story of crucified love is precisely what makes the entire narrative of salvation in Christ intelligible. And second, it is an almost agonizing irony that, in our attempts to revise trinitarian doctrine in such a way as to make God comprehensible in the “light” of Auschwitz, invariably we end up describing a God who – it turns out – is actually simply the metaphysical ground of Auschwitz…

…Logically speaking, “absolute consciousness” cannot simply find itself in one object among other objects, even if it includes those other objects secondarily, as its context or ambience, or simply as objects of grace; all other objects, however they are arranged around the unique object of “absolute” attention, are implicated in and indeed determine that object and so the contents of the absolute. Everything that allows Jesus to be who and what he is, all the historical determinations before and after, belong to that identity, as does every condition of cosmic and historical becoming. And this does not cease to be true even of the most tragic historical consequences of the event of God in Christ (but for the coming of the gospel, would the division within covenant history, between Jews and Gentiles, have occurred, would that division have become a division fixed in the heart of the West, and would the Holocaust have come to pass?).

This is not simply a matter of God allowing sin to exist and shape history: Jenson’s trinitarian theology cannot work unless one posits not only the necessity of evil, but indeed the necessity of the actual history of evil. The first part of this equation Jenson acknowledges; he accepts the “supralapsarian” understanding of the incarnation in its depressing [….] Calvinist form: for God to act in the fashion he does, the conditions that require redemption must be in place, for “the goal of God’s path is just what does in fact happen with Jesus the Christ, and sin and evil belong to God’s intent precisely – but only – as they appear in Christ’s victory over them”. For God to be the God he has determined that he will be, “a mystery of suffering, of an interplay between created regularities and evil, must belong to the plot of God’s history with us and to the character of its crisis and fulfillment”. The first problem with such a formulation is that, in depicting God as one who in any sense intends sin and evil, it reduces God to a being whose nature is not love (even if at the end of the day he turns out to be loving, having completed his odyssey of self-discovery, for a being can possess love only as an attribute); and one might justifiably wonder if a God who chooses himself so – should one say “dispassionately”? – over against the creatures who suffer the adventure of his self-determination should evoke love in return. But the second problem is the other half of the equation mentioned above: if God’s identity is constituted in his triumph over evil, then evil belongs eternally to his identity, and his goodness is not goodness as such but a reaction, an activity that requires the goad of evil to come into full being. All of history is the horizon of this drama, and since no analogical interval is allowed to be introduced between God’s eternal being as Trinity and God’s act as Trinity in time, all of history is this identity: every painful death of a child, every casual act of brutality, all war, famine, pestilence, disease, ease, murder ……all are moments in the identity of God, resonances within the event of his being, aspects of the occurrence of his essence: all of this is the crucible in which God comes into his own elected reality.

One risks here converting the Christian God into a god of sacrifice in the ultimate sense, the god of Stoicism or Hegel, in whom the divine identity and the offering made to the divine have been conflated in one great process of arrival and destiny, negation and triumph. And a god forged in such fires as these may evoke fear and awe, but not genuine desire. If, speculatively, Jenson’s theology seems to fail Anselm’s test, morally it seems to fail the test of Ivan Karamazov: If the universal and final good of all creatures required, as its price, the torture of one little girl, would that be acceptable? And the moral enormity of this calculus is not mitigated if all of creation must suffer the consequences of God’s self-determination.  Nor can one get around these problems by speaking of God as an infinite identity, in which the finite can participate without determining the final truth of that identity: a genuinely transcendent infinity can assume the finite into itself without altering its own nature, but any “consciousness,” however “absolute,” that determines itself in a finite object is always a finite consciousness, even if the ultimate synthesis of its identity is, in its totality, “infinite” in the circular Hegelian sense. This can be only the infinite of total repletion, the fullness of ontic determinations in their interrelated discreteness and dialectical “yield”; only thus can being be one with becoming. The God whose identity subsists in time and is achieved upon history’s horizon – who is determined by his reaction to the pathos of history – may be a being, or indeed the totality of all beings gathered in the pure depths of ultimate consciousness, but he is not being as such, he is not life and truth and goodness and love and beauty. God belongs to the system of causes, even if he does so as its total rationality; he is an absolute causa in fieri, but not a transcendent causa in esse. He may include us in his story, but his story will remain both good and evil even if it ends in an ultimate triumph over evil. After all, how can we tell the dancer from the dance? The collapse of the analogical interval between the immanent and economic Trinity, between timeless eternity and the time in which eternity shows itself, has not made God our companion in pain, but simply the truth of our pain and our only pathetic hope of rescue; his intimacy with us has not been affirmed at all: only a truly transcendent and “passionless” God can be the fullness of love dwelling within our very being, nearer to us than our inmost parts, but a dialectical Trinity is not transcendent – truly infinite – in this way at all, but only sublime, a metaphysical whole that can comprise us or change us extrinsically, but not transform us within our very being. Were this the trinitarian mystery, we would indeed be unable to speak of God or faith in terms of original or ultimate peace; the postmodern suspicion would prove well founded, for in our story violence would prove necessary, belonging to who God is, and our faith would indeed be metaphysics after all, in the frightening sense: a myth of necessity, of ultimate grounds, a transcendental reconciliation of all contingent suffering in an ultimate structure of meaning, and another invitation to homo sacer to yield to his taedium deitatis and not only lay down his knife, but erase all faith from his heart…

…Theology must, to remain faithful to what it knows of God’s transcendence, reject any picture of God that so threatens to become at once both thoroughly mythological and thoroughly metaphysical, and insist upon the classical definitions of impassibility, immutability, and nonsuccessive eternity. This is in no way a contradiction of the story of God as creator and redeemer and consummator of all things: because God is Trinity, eternally, perfectly, without any need of negative probation or finite determination. God does not have to change or suffer in order to love us or show us mercy – he loved us when we were not, and by this very “mercy” created us – and so, as love, he can overcome all suffering. This is true in two related and consequent senses: on the one hand, love is not originally a reaction but is the ontological possibility of every ontic action, the one transcendent act, the primordial generosity that is convertible with being itself, the blissful and desiring apatheia that requires no pathos to evoke it, no evil to make it good; and this is so because, on the other hand, God’s infinitely accomplished life of love is that trinitarian movement of his being that is infinitely determinate – as determinacy toward the other – and so an indestructible actus purus endlessly more dynamic than any mere motion of change could ever be. In him there is neither variableness nor shadow of turning because he is wholly free, wholly God as Father, Son, and Spirit, wholly alive, and wholly love. Even the cross of Christ does not determine the nature of divine love, but rather manifests it, because there is a more original outpouring of God that – without needing to submit itself to the order of sacrifice that builds crosses – always already surpasses every abyss of godforsakenness and pain that sin can impose between the world and God: an outpouring that is in its proper nature indefectible happiness. These are matters to be addressed later, but here I can at least offer a definition of divine apatheia as trinitarian love: God’s impassibility is the utter fullness of an infinite dynamism, the absolutely complete and replete generation of the Son and procession of the Spirit from the Father, the infinite “drama” of God’s joyous act of self-outpouring – which is his being as God. Within the plenitude of this motion, no contrary motion can fabricate an interval of negation, because it is the infinite possibility of every creaturely motion or act; no pathos is possible for God because a pathos is, by definition, a finite instance of change visited upon a passive subject, actualizing some potential, whereas God’s love is pure positivity and pure activity. His love is an infinite peace and so needs no violence to shape it, no death over which to triumph: if it did, it would never be ontological peace but only metaphysical armistice. Nor is this some kind of original unresponsiveness in the divine nature; it is divine beauty, that perfect joy in the other by which God is God: the Father’s delectation in the beauty of his eternal Image, the Spirit as the light and joy and sweetness of that knowledge. As Augustine says of the three persons, “In that Trinity is the highest origin of all things, and the most perfect beauty, and the most blessed delight. Therefore those three are seen to be mutually determined, and are in themselves infinite, that is, infinitely determined as the living love of the divine persons – to “one another” – to which infinity no moment of the negative or of becoming or even of “triumph” can give increase. Hence God is love.”

End Quote.

Quote:

“[The] very action of kenosis is not a new act for God, because God’s eternal being is, in some sense, kenosis – the self-outpouring of the Father in the Son, in the joy of the Spirit. Thus Christ’s incarnation, far from dissembling his eternal nature, exhibits not only his particular proprium as the Son and the splendor of the Father’s likeness, but thereby also the nature of the whole trinitarian taxis. On the cross we see this joyous self-donation sub contrario, certainly, but not in alieno. For God to pour himself out, then, as the man Jesus, is not a venture outside the trinitarian life of indestructible love, but in fact quite the reverse: it is the act by which creation is seized up into the sheer invincible pertinacity of that love, which reaches down to gather us into its triune motion.” (D. B. Hart)

End Quotes/Excerpts.

 

—End—

 

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