Friday, February 07, 2014

Notes on God Creating...

Some thoughts I'm putting away for possible later use.

1. God didn't have to create. God is self-sufficient in his own being.

2. The nature of our universe is a matter of God's will, not his "nature." God in his essence is beyond understanding, deus abconditus. The idea of God's "nature" comes from God in relation to this universe. We understand God primarily if not entirely by analogy. The traditional sense of God's nature inevitably mistakes anthropomorphism for literal and reduces God to a big Zeus.

3. Even our understanding of the Trinity is significantly colored by creation. The Holy Spirit relates directly to God's presence everywhere in the creation, although, interestingly, the idea that God is Spirit has also been used in itself to reflect the fact that God is not physically located in the cosmos. Biblical language operates with a relatively small cosmos--land/water, underworld, layers of sky going up until you hit God in the highest layer. Pre-incarnational language of Christ uses imagery of the Logos, in Jewish literature the instrument of creation.

4. Creation ex nihilo implies a radical discontinuity between the universe and God's essence. God did not simply put matter in space, but God created space itself. Much Christian thinking throughout history has unreflectively assumed that God did not invent the rules for the creation ex nihilo as well.

5. If God created the universe out of nothing, then God must have as much power as what he creates. God must therefore be able to "bend" the universe anyway that he created the universe to "bend." God is omnipotent, all powerful.

6. A lot of Christian philosophy has inadvertently located God within rather than apart from the universe. For example, to define God as "the greatest possible Being" or "the most perfect Being" (and especially as God as a "being greater than which cannot be conceived") accidentally means, "in relation to this universe." God is thus inadvertently defined by the way God has made this world. He is contained and made a big Zeus.

Even the notion of divine simplicity is God's essence projected from the perspective of this universe, God reduced to a point because of the implication of him having parts in this universe. By contrast, the essence of God can only be understood by a via negativa.

7. Since God created the universe out of nothing, there is no truth to the universe that he did not create. There is no aspect to the creation that is by accident. God knows every possibility of the creation, because he created it. God created the possibility of evil. God created the possibility of sin. God created the possibility of temptation.

There is no difference between God's experiential and God's "head" knowledge. God created both. God knows what it is like to sin. God knows every feeling Satan has. God created the possibility for all these things. God the Father did not learn anything on the cross.

God cannot literally have emotions--this is an anthropomorphism. Emotions presuppose reaction, and God knows everything entirely at every moment of all time. Images of God's anger are pictures and analogies for our benefit. God cannot change his mind literally because he knew he would "change his mind" at least since the moment of creation and we presume since eternity past.

8. By faith we believe that God not only knows every possible eventuality of this creation but every actuality. We are not in a position to know if this is only one of an infinite number of universes, each one of which plays out the myriad possible eventualities. For the moment, let us assume that there are multiple possible outcomes to the story of the universe and that God knows all of them.

9. We choose to believe that while God knows the actual course of history, he does not overly determine it.  He is not limited by the time constraints of the universe. We use metaphors like: "God exists outside time" and "God is timeless." We choose to believe that God knows the future because he has already observed it, not because he determines it or that it is determined by mere cause and effect.

The notion that if God knows the future, the future must be determined results from an anemic distinction between God and the universe, an inadequate view of creation out of nothing. This line of reasoning unthinkingly assumes that God is only experiencing the passage of time within the creation. God's knowledge of the future comes from his existence "outside" of time.

This is, again, the failing of propositional, syllogistic, analytical approaches to God that are common among analytical Christian philosophers like Plantinga, Craig, etc... The premises used normally implicitly have the qualifier "in relation to this universe" (see #6 above). They therefore undermine the very truth-goals they aim to unfold logically from the very beginning.

10. We choose to believe that God has empowered some degree of autonomy to the creation, including humanity. With regard to creation, God has created the universe to follow what we call natural laws. There is, at least on a macro-level, a certain cause-effect determinacy to the universe. By contrast, there is the wiggle room of indeterminacy on the quantum level, which may allow for creational freedom as well. Humanity is also part of the creation and bears a similar mix of determinacy and indeterminacy by design.

9. God is everywhere present in the creation, especially in terms of the Holy Spirit.

10. God has revealed his disposition in relation to the universe as one of love. He has revealed that the fundamental standard for universal morality is acting for the benefit of others. This fundament of morality is not obvious at present as an inherent structure of the universe. It is a matter of revelation.

Justice or consequence to action seems a more obvious part of the order of things. "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." "If you play with fire, you get burnt."

Love is God's right in the face of justice, God's freedom in the face of determinism.

11. No doubt there is immense stupidity to be associated with this post...


Melissa00Good said...

I've been trying to put the first #9 (you listed 9 and 10 twice) into words for awhile now in context of predestination. Thanks for doing it for me!

Ken Schenck said...

Glad you found it helpful!