Saturday, July 20, 2019

Against Chia's derogatory "response" on the issue of the Eternal Creator

It has been some time, but I have chanced upon Chia's "response" to my article on the issue of the Eternal Creator. While I have tried to deal with the issues concerning the topic of the Eternal Creator in an objective and impassionate manner, it seems that the other side is not so inhibited. It is really extremely disappointing, and it only strengthens my conviction that those on the other side do not have any actual case to make.

First of all, here is the "response," posted as a comment on that particular blog post:

There is a critique of this post from a budding theistic mutualist at http://puritanreformed.blogspot.com/2019/04/revisiting-issue-of-eternal-creator.html

He fails to grasp the modal fallacy, and implied that Classical Theists have no choice but to concede panentheism, that is, if creation were necessary for God, then God is dependent upon His creation. If creation were necessary to the divine essence, it would be the divine essence, for that which is necessary to the divine essence is necessary for the divine to be. God will cease to be God. He is now a part of creation, which is necessarily His being.

Nevertheless, Chew writes:

“Indeed, God's decree and God's will is necessary. But it is a necessary decree and a willing of contingent things. In other words, we must say that creation is not necessary, but becomes necessary in light of God's willing and decree. Note the language of "becoming" here, which is a process not a state. Since creation becomes necessary in light of God's eternal decree, God cannot be called the eternal Creator, but rather that He becomes the Creator, from eternity in light of the decree to be sure, yet still not an eternal Creator. This "becoming" does not make God mutable, because the title "Creator" is a role of God working ad extra, not ad intra.”

The writer doesn’t seem to be aware of what he is writing about.

For God to become (“becoming”) something He wasn’t before is to attribute predication concerning His being. It is an ontological predication.

In Thomistic terminology, it is an essential or substantial “becoming,” not merely accidental (by the way, God being simple has no accident!). He writes, “God cannot be called the eternal Creator, but rather that He becomes the Creator.” Here, the writer states that God “becomes the Creator,” and then insists that it is a “working” of God ad extra. He exclaims with gusto, “This "becoming" does not make God mutable.”

But for God “to be” or “to become” via “a process” of becoming – for Him to become something He wasn’t – is an ontological predication. It is a change in His being, therefore an assignation and attribution of mutability concerning His being and ontology.

God is simply “to be.” He is not “becoming.” He simply IS.

The writer continues, “Just like God becomes my personal Savior only when I trusted in Christ in time, yet He remains immutable, thus the ad extra works of God do not change Him in any way.”

And no, oh no. God doesn’t “become” your Saviour. He is your eternal Saviour by virtue of His eternal decree to redeem you. Although you believed in time, He didn’t “become” a “Saviour of Chew” in time. Furthermore, He didn’t amass predications upon Himself in time by being the “Saviour of X,” “Saviour of Y,” etc ad infinitum ad nauseam. God the Father chose from all eternity past, in His eternal and unchangeable decrees, to save some people. God the Son, from all eternity past, agreed to redeem those people from the fallen state that God ordained, from all eternity past, they would be in.

What is more amusing is that the writer takes my reasoning that creation is a necessitas consequentiae (the necessity of the consequence), and reiterates it in his critique of my article. He writes, “In other words, we must say that creation is not necessary, but becomes necessary in light of God's willing and decree.”

Yeah right. Creation “becomes necessary in light of God's willing and decree.” Thus, this is the ideal “solution” for a theistic mutualist – a “solution” stolen from Classical Theists in defence of his mutable God who add accidents ad infinitum to His being.

As one looks at the "response," note just how personal the "response" is. I am described as a "budding theistic mutualist," even though I totally deny the label as slander. I am said to "not know what I am talking about," when actually he is the one who fails to comprehend my position. I am said to have "his mutable God," even though I fully affirm the immutability of God. This kind of cheap rhetoric not only shows us the type of person Chia is, but it also proves the point that many "classical theists" who are militantly against ESS are uncharitable and unwilling to actually understand and interact with their opponents, and absolutely willing to misrepresent what we and others who are not classical theists believe in.

But, ignoring the cheap and un-Christian rhetoric exhibited by Chia (a fine speciman of how certain segments of Reformed theology has gone cultic it seems), let us move to the substance of the "response." Is there anything to the response? I would suggest not, and not because of a failure of trying. I will go through the points of critique where they are, and point out why they are wrong.

The first critique by Chia is that my argument "fails to grasp the modal fallacy." That is true ONLY IF I did not prove that the first type of necessity, in light of the entirety of who God is and what He desires to do, would necessitate the second type of necessity. Chia totally ignores the syllogism that I had constructed in the early part of my argument proving why the first type of necessity would result in the second type of necessity, and then waves his wand and claims that I (DHC) fail "to grasp the modal fallacy." Such conduct is unbecoming of someone who prides himself as an intellectual, as thinking that somehow ignoring the opponent's argument and then making a false statement that said opponent did not do what he just did (which he ignored), is actually a valid form of argumentation.

The next critique of Chia is seen in the following set of statements: "For God to become (“becoming”) something He wasn’t before is to attribute predication concerning His being. It is an ontological predication." But that is a false set of propositions. To predicate "becoming" as always ontological only applies to attributes of being. Even the most hard-core classical theist must (I hope) agree that if we say that God becomes the enemy of Lucifer, that this "becoming" is not ontological at all, for Lucifer is not eternal! If person X becomes my enemy because I decided to hate her, not for what she has done but because I just decided to do it autonomously, did person X change ontologically? Something might have changed in me if I decided to make person X my enemy, but if she contributed nothing at all, how can it be said that she changed ontologically?

And that is the problem I have with many classical theists, who think that any talk about "becoming" implies ontology, a proposition which I simply deny! In fact, that has been my sharpest critique of classical theism all the time: that they think only about ontology and being, being, and more being! It is almost pathological to behold! I am not talking about "relational properties" or other such weird ideas, for I would claim that relations and actions are not "properties" (properties being ontological). Actions are actions, and relations are relations, and properties are properties.

Since Chia refuses to actually interact with what I had said, let me repeat the main argument against his attempt at thinking that the first type of necessity does not necessitates the second type of necessity:

Since God is a simple being, we cannot split God's will into a will that ignores His omnipotence and pure actuality, and His will that affirms His omnipotence and pure actuality. Therefore, knowing the attributes of who God is implies that anything that is necessary to His will is in fact necessary in all possible worlds, i.e. God cannot not create in all possible worlds. And if something is necessary in all possible worlds, then it is absolutely necessary, and we are back at the problem of creation being a necessary and not contingent thing!

The doctrine of divine simplicity implies that all attributes are one, and God's being is His act. Chia fails to recognize that the very bane of his argument is the doctrine of divine simplicity itself, for simplicity is the link between the two types of necessities. The only way to avoid a necessary creation is to posit a division between the decree to act and the act itself, which I do, but Chia does not. But if what I say is too brief, here is an extended discussion of the topic by Ryan Mullins which might be clearer. Where Mullins talk about divine freedom, I mention possible worlds, but it seems that they amount to the same thing.

In conclusion, I am once again not convinced of the "classical theist" position. It seems that even a response specifically to me cannot escape the temptation of misrepresentation. As long as classical theists (1) misrepresent their opponents; (2) fail to actually interact with the real philosophical and theological issues, I do not see any need to take them seriously. All their name-calling is just that: name-calling. And since their rhetoric in effect questions the salvation of their opponents, they are slanderers of the brethren, schismatics, and will answer to God one day for their malicious lies.

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