Monday, 31 March 2014

Why are things-in-general set-up the way they are?


Christians have several kinds of explanation for why things-in-general set-up the way they are:

1. They could not be otherwise.

2. This is the best way. (Things could be otherwise, but this is the best of the alternatives.)

3. This is the best that can be managed, at the moment, given the constraints.

The third explanation sees God as working within constraints such as time, process and substance - also the existence of purposive evil (Satan and demonic activity).


The kind of answer we are looking for to this question of why things-in-general are set-up he way they are also varies.

1. A physics-type reason in terms of fundamental structures and processes. This is the view of Classical Theology.

2. A relationship-type reason in terms of the purposes, desires, affections and aversions, wishes and needs of the personages involved. This is the view of Mormonism.

3. A psychological/ therapeutic reason to do with individual well-being. This the the view of Liberal 'Christians'. 



The Crow said...

It must be very difficult to be an intellectual.
As one who has an abiding interest in the metaphysical, intellect is the landslide that blocks access to the way.
Intellect is ego, and the barrier to humility.
It processes everything into something one is comfortable with, and that appears to give one more value than one has.
Intellect changes what it is applied to, into something it is not. The answers it manufactures are thus not answers, but artifacts.
The answers are floating before one's awareness, requiring no questions to be asked.
Pluck them freely from the tree.
That is what the tree is there for.
But do not take that apple away with you!
It may be partaken of, but not removed.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Crow - You are presumably aware that writing blog posts and comments makes you an intellectual guilty of all you outline above, and that you are describing a rival metaphysical scheme and morality?

But I agree that the intellect cannot be allowed to be master - and if reality is assumed to be explicit and comprehensible, then one will get the explicit and comprehensible - but not reality.

The Crow said...

I am in no way an intellectual, Bruce, which is why I observed what I observed.
I am perfectly capable of being one, but voluntarily choose not to be, having discovered how counterproductive it is.
Intellectuals constantly try to lure me into their own chosen MO. I fell for it until I didn't.
Intellectualism obscures, which sorta defeats its purpose, no?

zippy said...

This is the best way.

I've long looked at this theodicy in a way similar to the anthropic principle: it isn't that this is the best way in some general sense, and for all I know there may be other worlds than this one. But this is the only world that gives rise to me. Change things just the tiniest bit and I wouldn't even have come into existence. So in a sense the evil is all my 'fault', that is, it is something that God tolerates, in His infinite love and mercy, for my sake. It is I, myself, who am utterly dependent upon things being the way they actually are.