A measure-modality rational theology

1.) Start with the question why would God create? Problem: how does creation have a positive value that is not an additional value over and above what one already has in God? How does God create without giving rise to a God-universe compound that is greater than either of its parts?

2.) We divide existence from a modality of existence. We exploit the longstanding belief that God is the fulness of existing without existing in every way (like an accident, a mollusk, or a potted plant), just as he has the fulness of knowledge without knowing facts in every way (by using radar, infrared sense organs, or living as a horse) or just as he has the fulness of power without exercising power in every way in which it can be exercised (since the power to sense or give off radioactive isotopes is one kind of power).

3.) Modalities are relations to a paradigm measure or ideal. The first property of this relation is asymmetry. The ways in which a horse falls short of an ideal involve a real relation to the paradigm or ideal of what it should look like but the paradigm involves no such intelligible dependence on the things for which it is the measure. Don’t be deceived into assuming the superlative is just the last stage of the comparative, as though 100% were existentially just the next unit after 99%. 100 percent is a moment when the measure and the measured are identical (100 is the “cent” of percent) and therefore the ontological status of the relation changes from real to merely logical. It is merely logical in two ways: 100 is measured by percentages only logically, and 100 relates to any of its subordinate measures only logically while they relate to it really. 100% would remain itself if it measured nothing less than itself. There is a perfectly intelligible class of all perfect-10 Olympic gymnastic performances. There’s even a video.

4.) In one sense measures do not have to exist. There was a long Olympic history before any perfect-10 performance. It is even possible to measure things relative to what cannot exist (physics does this all the time with frictionless surfaces, test particles, black boxes, etc.). But the proper interpretation of this is the one in line with what’s just been said: there is an existential asymmetry between measures and what they measure. If you take it as a given that what is measured exists, then the asymmetry of existence along with the principle of contradiction puts the measure on the other side. But all this amounts to is the claim that if the relative is assumed to exist then the absolute can be considered as non-being. This sort of hypothetical description is a the bottom of the claim of classical theism that God is not a being.  Note paradoxically that it is precisely because the relative depends asymmetrically on the existence of the absolute that, given the relative, we can treat the absolute as though it need not or even could not exist.

5.) The paradigm measure exists as a paradigm for action. Though only the divine acts by and for itself, both narcissists and those seeking theosis through virtue take this as a goal of action; only the divine can live entirely for others but this does not keep both those with Borderline disorder and the martyrs from trying to do so. In this sense “God” is the paradigm of human action both in its ultimate exaltation and degradation. The drama of beatitude and perdition is the human modality of taking God as paradigm or measure. This drama plays out in different ways for each part of the universe and for the whole thing. The universe is both sublime and monstrous, hospitable and hostile, provident and indifferent, super-intelligible and cruelly stupid in the same way the human race is, depending on whether its finite action of the universe universing is an approximation or defect of its paradigm. In the beginning there must be both creation and the dark chaos of the “waters of the deep”, simply because there is a relative being acting.

6.)  In God there are two sorts of processions: one of the infinite to itself which terminates in the persons of the trinity and the other of the infinite to the finite which terminates in creation. The first relations are existentially symmetrical and intrinsic to divinity, the second asymmetrical and extrinsic. Creation is God’s way of being other than himself by way of finite modalities of perfections that are, of themselves, infinite, and even the two uses of “self” used previously in the sentence are instances of the perfections in question. In this way creation is both from nothing and from God, depending on whether one takes it as a relative modality (since relations are not relative to relatives) or a relative modality of the infinite. 



1 Comment

  1. David said,

    April 17, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    This is a little beyond me for the moment, but very insightful.

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