Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Thursday, April 04, 2019
[previous post here]
I just stumbled upon a blog post that states how God can be said to be an eternal Creator, through a scholastic distinction between what can be called "absolute necessity" and the "necessity of consequence." Put simply, there is no absolute necessity for God to be Creator, and thus creation is indeed contingent. However, as seen in the content of the immutable will of God, creation is necessary since creation is in God's will. Therefore, since creation is necessary through the necessity of consequence, creation is contingent yet also God is the eternal Creator.
The problem with this scholastic solution is that it just does not work. We must remember who God is. God is a simple being, immutable and thus pure act (purus actus), and omnipotent. Since God is all these attributes and more, to claim a necessity of consequence not resulting in an absolute necessity de facto is not tenable, a point which will be proven below
The point at which a necessity of consequence does not imply an absolute necessity is seen as Chia's exposition:
(2) If P-->Nec P.
In this case, the consequent itself (or apodosis) is necessary. If I will work tomorrow, it is then necessary that I will work tomorrow – which is not true!
(1) does not imply (2), nor does (2) follow from (1). Even if I will work tomorrow, it is a contingent event and not logically necessitated. Confusing (1) and (2) is to confuse necessitas consequentiae with necessitas consequentis, what logicians would call a modal fallacy.
The argument is sound, in the sense that it is true that the logical form 2 is not valid. However, we must remember that we are dealing with God here, and therefore we need to factor in who God is. The argument of the form logical form 2 is invalid, precisely because it is looking at the entire situation in the abstract. But once we put in other premises stating who God is, then the argument becomes valid, as follows:
P1: If God wills to create, then God wills to create.
P2: Whatever God wills, God has the power to make it happen (omnipotence).
P3: Whatever God wills, it cannot be a potential event but must really happen (pure act).
C: Therefore, if God wills to create, then it is necessary that God wills to create
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!
It can be seen that Chia's solution, as taken from Aquinas and Richard Muller, does not seem to work. But what about God's decree and will, some might ask? Surely, God's decree is necessary? 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. 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.
In conclusion, the idea of God being the eternal Creator, while it may have an impressive history, does not seem philosophically or theologically tenable. God being who He is means that anything necessary in any sense must be necessary to Him, for He alone is the Almighty God, the one who does all that He pleases to do whenever, wherever, and however He wishes to do them.