1) If I may reflect on this Sun-Sunbeam analogy that has been presented by adherents of the Grail Message to explain the nature of God, I’ll have to say that I am not convinced that the sunbeams or the sunrays are essentially different from the sun. There is no sensible way to talk of the sun (crudely put, a hot burning radiating ball of fire) existing without its sunbeams or rays. I contend that the sun’s rays have always existed together with the sun. In other words, there was never a time a pre-existing sun suddenly decided (as it were) to produce emanations.
When the star called the sun was born, that same instant did it begin to radiate away its beams. The nature of the sun is such that it produces emanations; it is incandescent. The sunbeam essentially flows out of the sun containing the very essence of the sun. To put it differently: it would be a strange star, indeed a star not worthy of its name, if it could be demonstrated that the Sun did not have its rays or beams co-existing with it at all times. If we then cannot properly speak of the sun without the sunbeams, I think the analogy that portrays God as the Sun and Creation as the Sun’s beams (sun’s radiations or emanations) is altogether faulty.
2) I also have a philosophical disagreement with any view that essentially reduces God to energy. The word energy has a rich physical meaning which can be brought to bear in these discussions as they provide an illustrative framework upon which to anchor concepts. God is not to be conceived of as merely some inanimate, unconscious, driving force or energy or motivating principle. He is not to be thought of as some primordial energy that somehow dissipates into Creation. To be fair, the human language can prove to be inadequate to convey our deeper thoughts on the subject, nonetheless we should really try and simplify our definitions as much as we can, taking care not to conflate ideas. The view of God as “primordial energy”, or “primordial light” or “primordial time” may sound very poetic and numinous but they are altogether mistaken in that these qualifiers essentially depersonalize or de-animate God. The only way to redeem this view or to imbue it with any merit is to say that these descriptors are to be regarded as God’s attribute in some poetic or metaphorical manner of speech. Ontologically speaking, these descriptors fail hopelessly in establishing the nature of the being we are talking about because on that view God is some nebulous inanimate or non-sentient entity.
3) God is first and properly speaking, a mind or a sentient (conscious) being. You can also call him the Primordial Consciousness or Primordial Life. He is personal—which is to say that he has self-will, free will, rationality, and consciousness. I must point out rather quickly that when I say that God is personal, you shouldn’t take that to mean that he is a human being or a human person. Personhood is not limited to Homo sapiens or for that matter, any other physically instantiated particulars. Philosophically speaking, personhood involves a self-conscious and rational being, or a unit of self-consciousness; and thus the expression cannot be straitjacketed and appropriated solely to evince some naturalistic presuppositions. Once you have established this, you can then go ahead to speak of other divine attributes that he properly possesses. Some of these attributes are that God is metaphysically or logically necessary, immaterial or incorporeal, eternal, non-spatial, immortal, omniscient, morally perfect, omnipresent or ubiquitous, and maximally powerful. So please let us stop borrowing excessively from the rich language of physics here in analogizing God to some Primordial force, energy, pressure, light, magnetism, singularity, electricity, gravity, momentum, etc. In my opinion these analogies to physical phenomena can be altogether counterproductive and belittling.
4) God’s infinite attributes are qualitative rather than quantitative. I find that often when people talk about divine infinity, they picture a God that has parts or components, and/or is spatially extended. Thus, they imagine that while speaking of God’s infinity, you are talking about some mathematical concept of infinity. For example, the set of all numbers (if you successively count upwards from 1) is infinite. God is not said to be infinite in that quantitative sense. He is not proposed to be made up of an infinite array of discrete or finite particulars; his infinite power is not to be understood as saying that he possesses an infinite amount of quantized energy; his omnipresence is not to be understood as saying that God literally physically occupies every inch of space-time. Infinity as it applies to God is merely qualitative as it seeks to express the total, undifferentiated and maximal nature of God. Indeed, as some have already pointed out, one can readily see vestiges of God’s superlative or infinite divine attributes in human beings and in the created order.
Trite, superfluous and mundane as internet chat room discussions usually are, there are occasionally flashes of real serious and interesting debate or dialogue. It is usually at times like that that I would start paying very close attention to what different people often say when they start waxing philosophical. It is usually at times like this that you would be truly impressed or disappointed at the astonishing depth or shallowness of arguments or viewpoints that one may not have bothered to contemplate closely.
One of such discussions was taking place recently, when a usually infrequent but popularly known regular of the chat room started a much-needed and thematic deconstruction of Christian Theism. If you asked him, he would deny that he was launching any personal attacks – as a matter of fact he simply maintained that he was just philosophically analyzing popular belief and pointing out the fatal flaws and inconsistencies of the positions advocated by Christians. This sort of critical analysis of faith-based or religious claims are usually seen by the majority Christian theists in the room as a premeditated attack on their faith, but I beg to differ. I welcome such philosophical ruminations, because it helps to strengthen and bolster theistic belief when it is properly understood and seen to be free of some self-referential incoherence.
At any rate, the young man – I’ll just call him Kendoll – made a statement to this effect:
God’s Omniscience negates Free will. They cannot both exist. It is either human beings have free will or God is not omniscient for both cannot exist at the same time.
That statement was very confusing to many people at the time, as I noticed. Indeed, it was of a sufficiently complex nature to many people that he actually had to stop typing his viewpoints in order to get on the room’s audio feature to speak on it. When he did, he seemed to be quite passionate about the topic that he set out to discuss.
Before he got up to speak though, I had been partially engaging him on the subject to get a feel for how he would actually explicate the position. I have to say, in retrospect, that his answers to me were unusually brief and curt, and lacked the enthusiasm which I had expected of one who had decided on a philosophical interjection in a room dominated by theological banter.
But if we examine the claim critically, is it really the case that God’s Omniscience negates human free will? Is it really true that if God knows everything in the past, present and future then it is not possible for human beings to exercise their choice as free moral agents? Read the rest of this entry