Possible Worlds theism vs. classical theism

Axiom: God the creator is the first cause of creation and in no way a secondary cause. This is common to rationalist and analytic theologians like Leibniz or William Lane Craig and to Classical theists like Thomas. It follows from this that divine wisdom is antecedently causal of created goodness, and so at least one strand of rationalist and analytic theology is absurd. Here’s my argument for that conditional, and clarification about the strand I’m thinking of:

An antecedent cause does not take an alternative as good but makes it good. This is simply what antecedent causality (or just causality) means. God does all things in wisdom, and all wisdom is objective, but divine wisdom differs from ours in its stance to its object. A wise man is not wise qua man but as caused to be such by his habitual possession of certain objects of thought and choice. God too is wise by the same objective possession, but the causal arrow runs from him to the object and not the reverse. Approached from another direction, while good is the intrinsic feature of an object as perfective of an appetite, created things only have such a feature given the causal priority of divine goodness since (a) God loves things other than himself for the sake of his goodness and (b) the object perfective of the created will simpliciter is God himself while all else is good so far as one specifies that he is talking about the desire of will under some limitation or qualification (like ignorance or desiring warmth.)

So while God certainly created and it was fitting that he did, under the supposition he did not create it would be just as fitting that he not do so. Said another way, the fittingness of creation cannot prescind from its existence. As Thomas puts it in De potentia Q. 1 a. 5 ad 7, if God had done something other than what was right (or fitting) then by his very act of doing it, it would be right and fitting (cf. also ST 1.25.5 esp. ad. 2 or II SCG XXIII-XXVII)

If we begin with the actual existence or motion or causality etc of the universe we can conclude to the necessity of God and proceed to determine his attributes, but if we prescind from the actual existence of the universe and try to adopt a stace where the existence and non-existence of the universe are equipossible or features of different possible worlds we are compelled to say that there is absolutely no reason at all for one state of affairs over another, even given the existence of God. Note the crucial distinction between Thomistic theology starting from the contingency or possibility of the world given its actual existence and the rationalist/analytic theology that seeks to start from the possibility of the world as such, whether by way of a possible worlds ontological argument or a criticism of divine simplicity from a divine free choice among different possible worlds. In the first, God and his action are a real and necessary explanans of given explananda, in the second he is no longer an explanans of anything since there is absolutely no reason at all for him to choose one state of affairs over another. Positing God before two possible worlds is positing Buridan’s ass in excelsis between two bales of hay.

There are times in Classical theology when we posit God as acting “by simple will.” Creation would be such a case, as would the decision to predestine this man. The difference is that if we make the divine will antecedent to the possibilities then his choice is both truly good and truly wise for reasons laid out in ¶2 whereas if we make his choice consequent to given possibilities it is necessarily arbitrary or even irrational. This is why I say that such a theology must be of something fundamentally absurd or irrational.

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