I wish all my readers a holy Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Those who have not seen them might find of interest my posts on “The Meaning of the Passion” and “The Meaning of the Resurrection.” Also relevant to Good Friday are the themes of my post “Putting the Cross back into Christmas” and of a recent post on original sin.
Friday, April 6, 2012
Posted by Edward Feser at 10:39 AM
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Thanks. And you and your family also.ReplyDelete
Y'know, that 'original sin' one bothered me.ReplyDelete
"You might compare the situation to that of a landowner who has sold an unimproved parcel of land to a certain family – which, just to be cute, we’ll call the Adams family... if Mr. and Mrs. Adams do well with the first vines planted, they and their descendents will get to keep them and reap the benefits. If not, the landowner will tear them out and leave the Adamses and their descendents with only the original unimproved parcel, which is all they were owed in the first place."
Of course, God isn't a landowner - or not just a landowner. God's allegedly most like a parent, and in particular with a parent's love.
I know a guy who's generally agreed to be cantankerous and penny-pinching. (Like, to the point of unplugging clocks so the LEDs don't consume electricity when not in use. No joke.) He's been on varying terms with his kids, from amicable to estranged. I'm in a position to know that in his will, he hasn't left anything to any of his kids.
His grandkids, on the other hand... they'll get even shares of his estate, regardless of how estranged their parent is from him.
This guy would be expected to have rather less mercy than Love Itself. And yet...
This is a serious question. Suppose the resurrection story is true. Where is Jesus now? Where is his body?ReplyDelete
Where is Jesus now?ReplyDelete
An to you as well Prof. Feser!ReplyDelete
Ray don't get so caught up in the literal analogy itself but try to understand what the analogy is trying to teach about the concept.ReplyDelete
We don't insist you believe the concept but at least make the effort to understand it.
Maybe the analogy would be better served if
>This guy would be expected to have rather less mercy than Love Itself. And yet..
That is the whole point of the Incarnation redemption thingy. Besides tradition teaches us Christ took Adam by the hand and lead him and Eve to Paradise on the Day of the Resurrection.
Sorry left a dangling preposition there.ReplyDelete
"Maybe the analogy would be better served if..."
I was forming a thought then abandoned it. Nothing to see here.
Happy Easter people.
Also, I copied your entire website into a single generic textfile, and it's close to 23MB.
In other words, your blog is currently a little over 15 times the size of the Bible.
Forgive my incorrigible Luddism, machinephilosophy, but how did you do that?ReplyDelete
A single page is one thing, but the whole site?
OpenOffice Writer and just copying and pasting, beginning with the first post and comments. Generic text editors like Notepad and Wordpad can't handle huge files. I'm going back now and adding the embedded links found in the posts and comments.ReplyDelete
BenYachov - That's my point, though. I don't see how the analogy is supposed to be useful. I mean, it's not about what I "owe" my children. It's about how much I can give them. (Modulo spoiling, of course. But I don't see how the beatific vision, for example, could 'spoil' someone.)ReplyDelete
>BenYachov - That's my point, though. I don't see how the analogy is supposed to be useful.ReplyDelete
Wait for it.
>I mean, it's not about what I "owe" my children. It's about how much I can give them.
Well Aquinas did not believe God has any obligations to his creations.
God is not obligated to give us the Beatific Vision in the first place. So Adam being the Head of the Human Race looses it for the rest of us it makes sense he can't transmit to us an un-fallen nature.
You really have to disabuse yourself of any and all concepts of the Theistic Personalist God.
That God is not believed here. At least not by serious Thomists and devout Catholics.
Ray, you should be careful not to confuse original sin with "original guilt". No infant is born personally guilty 'of' Adam's sin. Yet all are born having inherited a primal stain or spit on the soul which, to varying degrees, blocks perfect enjoyment of God's grace/light. Adam is the ontological principle in each one of us which draws is away from perfect communion with God. The GOOD NEWS is that, in taking on human nature in the most radical and extensive way, God in Christ has redeemed the very nature of mankind which blocks it from its own end. Hence, Catholics have every right to hope that the infants born into Adam's shadow are so.show redeemed by Christ's death which has flushed out that inveterate darkness with His light. So in order to grasp the analogy better, ask yourself why that fellow's grandchildren should need any inheritance at all. In a perfect world, all square quotes applied, we would enjoy a perfect abundance if goodness which would not require personalized wills and mercurial acts of mercy. The very needs fit wills us itself a kind if proof of original sin, since every wil that wishes well on descendants is a personal act of staving off the otherwise complete moral and spiritual decrepit that befits Adam's children. Catholic doctrine is firm in teaching that, while we lack perfect justice (just as plants born in the shadow of their parents lack perfect nutriment), yet we retain the Adamic powers of reason and free will. On the whole Protestantism denies that.ReplyDelete
I'm not drunk, promise! It's just this frickin "smart phone" makes for such goofy auto-correct glitches. fit instead of for, if instead of for, etc.ReplyDelete
Cheers machinephilosophy, thanks for the heads up.ReplyDelete
BenYachov - Well Aquinas did not believe God has any obligations to his creations.ReplyDelete
As I, er, said before... 'I mean, it's not about what I "owe" my children. It's about how much I can give them.'
In other words, I'm not claiming that God has obligations (though I do, in fact, believe that God would have obligations - a topic for another time). In Catholic terms, a woman who bears a child from rape isn't obligated to have a relationship with that child, but she is obligated to make sure the child is cared for and raised properly. Hence, adoption is an acceptable solution.
Love, on the other hand, isn't about obligations, and "God is love". Parents overwhelmingly do a lot more for their children than they are "obligated" to do, because they love them. Sometimes that involves punishing children, of course. But my wife and I, at least, try not to make one kid suffer for the misbehavior of another kid.
1. Are you familiar with the doctrine of "common grace"?
2. Would you ever allow your own kid to suffer for the benefit and pardon of another kid who had done wrong?
3. The penal effects of the Fall are not to be imagined as particular, arbitrary chastisements by God. Rather, given the very nature of Creation and the human family as a unity, the sins of some necessarily have effects on all. It's like saying, "My wife and I try not to reduce entropy in our family at the expense of others." Fair enough, but, well, dat just ain't how da woild's built. Adam's fallenness is an ontological problem, not an ethical dispute. As such Adam's fall should be understood to have a metaphysical, not temporal, primacy in human existence. Just as at every Mass Christ's once-and-for-all redemption is renewed in all its mystical power, so at every conception the corruption typified in Adam is reinstantiated in all its mystical enormity. The Good News is that, by the Incarnation, God has grafted Himself so radically to human nature that it, as an entire metaphysical dimension of Creation, has been and is being and shall be redeemed and restored. Only by freely and knowingly committing sins if one's own does a human immerse or align himself with the punishment due Adam.
>As I, er, said before... 'I mean, it's not about what I "owe" my children. It's about how much I can give them.
Sorry but you are still giving me obligation.
>In other words, I'm not claiming that God has obligations (though I do, in fact, believe that God would have obligations - a topic for another time).
Then what you believe is wrong & it adds the burden of you having to put on the hat of a Theistic Personalist religious apologist instead of an Atheist. You have to convince me a "god" I take for granted can't coherently be said to exist
in fact exists in order to turn around & argue for that "god's" moral inferiority. But then all you are doing is making a vain argument for a "god" neither of us believes in.
Don't fall into that trap.
>In Catholic terms, a woman who bears a child from rape isn't obligated to have a relationship with that child, but she is obligated to make sure the child is cared for and raised properly. Hence, adoption is an acceptable solution.
God is only analigiously compared to creatures not unequivocally or wholely equivocally. I don't think you as of yet understand the difference.
But if I where to take the woman-child-rape thingy & apply it analigously. God has obligated Himself by His distributive Justice to at minimum give us the opportunity to go to either Hell or Limbo(i.e. a state of perfect natural happyness) but he doesn't owe us the Beatific Vision. As Feser correctly points out that is above our nature and God was not obligated in the first place to give it or restore it by the Incarnation in the second place.
>Love, on the other hand, isn't about obligations, and "God is love". Parents overwhelmingly do a lot more for their children than they are "obligated" to do, because they love them. Sometimes that involves punishing children, of course. But my wife and I, at least, try not to make one kid suffer for the misbehavior of another kid.
Which is a good analogy of why God went the route of the Incarnation. But as you said it's not about obligations.
Thus God is no unjust for allowing us to suffer the consequences of Adam's sin.
BenY: Then what you believe is wrong & it adds the burden of you having to put on the hat of a Theistic Personalist religious apologist instead of an Atheist.ReplyDelete
Ben, don't irritate just for the sake of it, this is Easter after all.
Ray said "would", using the subjunctive, indicating that there may be conditions / qualifiers needed to express the full concept. And that is exactly what Aquinas says about God's obligations. Taken simpliciter, God doesn't owe us, and He can (with perfect uprightness) simply cease willing to continue my existence, and I would be annihilated, with no further "oughts" around. However, speaking under condition, granted that God made a promise (such the promise to Abraham), then God is obligated to fulfill the promise. This obligation can be said to stand PRIMARILY as an obligation toward Himself, since He is perfect truth and thus must fulfill His word, but it is ALSO an obligation to Abraham in some valid sense.
Ray, as I understand it, the primary sense of the loss that we suffer from original sin is the loss of the active presence of and participation in God's life in our souls in sanctifying grace, which loss entails as a matter of course the loss of our aptness to or ripeness toward the Beatific Vision. Since all of these are intrinsically above-human-nature gifts, God's making man to be human contains no implicit promise or obligation to make man better-than-human in these ways.
Adam had been given these gifts as a conduit for giving them to all humanity - sort of a God given promise to humanity that as long as His grant of gift wasn't abused He would continue to make it - a CONDITIONAL promise. Once Adam lost these gifts for us, we had no claim to them because the gift was at rock bottom a conditional gift to begin with.
As a good parent (speaking analogously), God doesn't limit himself to merely the original promise of gift-in-continuation. He has added thereto a new grant of life through His Son. But this new gift is also conditional: If you believe in His Word. I don't know why you would think this is less loving than the ways in which human parents deal with their loved children.
I am not disputing God is obligated or more accurately God by necessity must follow His own Will.
God can't annihilate us because He has willed from all eternity that our Souls should be immortal.
God is immutable thus He can't per-say ever change His mind. God can will conditionally but he can't change His mind.
I bring up obligation because in my experience all Atheist (Gnu or non-Gnu) seem to think God is some type of moral agent. In fact all Theodicies presuppose God is a moral agent. All arguments from evil presupose God is morally obligated to preserve us from physical evil.
He simply isn't & given His nature can't coherently be conceived as such.
Ray needs to know that or he will be talking past us. We are Thomist here after all. The moral agent "god" of Plantinga & Swinburne has no place here.
Indeed, I'm inclined to say our postlapsarian state is exactly what most secularists desire: a state of purely natural human functioning devoid of divine "interference" wherein all value is determined by human capacity. The Gospel is a choice: to die in Adam and die with the limits of human nature, or to in Christ and live to the fullness of divine participation.
BenYachov, Tony - But if I where to take the woman-child-rape thingyReplyDelete
That hypothetical wasn't intended to be analogous to God. It was intended to illustrate the difference between the bare minimum a parent is obligated to do, and how much further most parents choose to go out of love.
Thus God is no[t] unjust for allowing us to suffer the consequences of Adam's sin.
Dude, I'm not even contesting that right now.
I'm saying that, by the analogy presented, God's being unloving. Playing lawyer about obligations than being a loving parent wishing the best of everything for their children.
In other words, either it says some pretty bad things about God (and God's love), or else it's a bad analogy.
God is analogously a parent to us not unequivocally a parent to us.
God is unequivocally a Creator to us.
God's Love for us is in Him willing the Ultimate Good(Himself) for us.
God's love is like a parent's love but it is not the same & of course it doesn't involve the obligations a parent has.
So it is a good analogy but only if you are predisposed to understand the difference between analogous comparisons between God & creatures vs Unequivocal ones.
You have the touch of unequivocally in your comparisons between God and Creatures.
Remedy that & we will be solid.
BTW I do appreciate you seem to be making a sincere attempt.
Yes, Ray is a good fellow.
God is not our father at all since we are created and not begotten by him.ReplyDelete
Only if we are reborn in Christ, he would be our father.
His love towards us can be variously analogized as: Artist-his art; man-his dog; a lover-his beloved; father-his child. All analogies, more or less useful in proper context.
Never heard that before. Very interesting.
"We don't insist you believe the concept..."
That sure gets lost in the gnu atheist translation of things.
Any time I meet a new non-theist, I get very up front about that, first thing.
I just don't put it quite as nicely as you did.
Amazing what a few simple one-liners do to the usual stereotype mongers at a cocktail party. And I sincerely believe it makes the martinis taste even better.