Friday, 29 March 2013

Free will entails a plurality of gods

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By which I mean that free will makes each Man into something very much like the God of the philosophers: an unmoved mover, an uncaused cause; and thereby pushes theology in a pluralistic direction, towards a universe filled with little gods (that's us).

Whether God is conceptualized as having gifted free will to each Man and binding Himself not to intervene in its usage; or whether Man 'always' had free will (in a pre-mortal existence) and God cannot affect its usage...

(indeed, from this perspective, God could not ever eliminate the little gods - they are all co-eternal - except that the little gods could almost, but never completely, eliminate themselves)...

Either way, the fact of the matter is that each Man's free will is like a tiny domain of autonomy is an otherwise God-controlled world.

(A hermetically sealed and insulated micro-ecosystem in the vast climate of the universe.)

Which leads (sooner or later) to the bimodal choice of the angels and the first Fall - the recognition of oneself as radically Free, the choice either of pride in being autonomous, followed by will to exert one's autonomy against the greater; or else humility before the greater autonomy and a desire to align with it.

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5 comments:

  1. "will to exert one's authority"

    A perfect description of lucifer. This was also the motivation that Tolkien ascribed to Melkor. Evil really is banal. A cosmic teenage rebellion that refuses to grow up, too proud and bitter to admit a mistake and be forgiven. Instead wallowing in self pity and ruining it for as many other people as possible.

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  2. I also noticed the connection between free will and the idea of an unmoved mover -- which is why, when I came to accept the necessity of agency, one immediate consequence of that change in thought was that I also began to believe in God. None of the "first cause" arguments make any sense without the concept of agency -- but, once you've already granted the existence of free agents (unmoved movers), it's perfectly natural to assume that the universe as a whole was created by such an agent. Clear thinking about the nature of man causes the concept of God to come into focus.

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  3. "... free will makes each Man into something very much like the God of the philosophers: an unmoved mover, an uncaused cause; and thereby pushes theology in a pluralistic direction, towards a universe filled with little gods (that's us)."

    "Very much like..."? Well, somewhat similar, I grant (thus, made in His image). But really, the point of the Unmoved Mover argument is that unlike us, He moves but is never moved.

    "... the choice either of pride in being autonomous, followed by will to exert one's autonomy against the greater; or else humility before the greater autonomy and a desire to align with it."

    But whence the standard which judges one autonomy "greater" than another?

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  4. This has always puzzled me. If we really are autonomous, micro-ecosystems in a larger whole, then how can the whole thing fail to be likewise determined in countless ways by human free choices? If I freely choose to marry Jane rather than June, that has all kinds of effects on the rest of the universe -- e.g., on which children exist in the future, and then, presumably, on how those children behave... If I freely choose to build my house in one spot rather than another, I affect the physical make up of the planet. And so on, multiplied by the billions down the generations. How can it be that we're all doing this free, autonomous stuff with effects on the rest of reality outside of ourselves while at the same time God has control over the rest of reality outside of ourselves? It would seem that, if we're free, we impose massive constraints on God's power over the whole of reality (and not just over ourselves)...

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  5. @Ambrose - I agree that this is logically implied. But I didn't properly recognize the fact until after I read Sterling McMurrin's Theological foundations of the Mormon religion.

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