Wednesday, 1 April 2015

The evilness of evil (in a pluralist universe)

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The reason that mainstream theologians have persisted for 2000 years with monism (and an Omni- concept of God) despite the insoluble and fundamental problems these cause for Christianity is that they want to be able to say that God is necessarily good - i.e. that the goodness of God is built-into reality, part of the existence of the universe; and therefore that to oppose God is to be irrational (i.e. they want to be able to state that evil is simply irrational).

(Note: this doesn't actually work, because it makes evil into a kind of insanity rather than a deliberate choice of evil. For instance, Satan could not rationally choose to rebel against God and reject salvation, and because he is a high angel who would know for certain the terrible consequences of rebellion; this framework makes Satan into a kind of lunatic or demented creature, rather than truly-evil).

Pluralism would regard this as a mistaken purpose in theology since it makes a universe where choice is meaningless and Man is a puppet. Such a universe is incompatible with Christianity.

(i.e. Incompatible in a common sense way. But obviously if theology is allowed to get-away-with recourse to paradox and mysticism then anything is possible - and paradox and mysticism have duly been built-into mainstream intellectual Christianity since not long after the death of the Apostles - e.g. in describing the nature of Christ, the Holy Trinity and the operations of free will.)

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As I understand it, pluralism starts with assumptions and a situation that 'just is' and cannot be (or does not need to be) explained further - and the main assumption is the God is God - He is just there.

(And, for Mormons, so is Mother in Heaven 'just there' - because reality is dyadic, male and female are two complementary and irreducible parts that together make unity. ^See note below)

God is inside the already existing universe of reality (matter or 'stuff') which is also 'just there' and has certain properties which are understood by us as the laws of nature including the principles of beauty and morality.

We Men (and other intelligences) were also 'just there' but as some kind of essence that lacked self-awareness.

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God (and, for Mormons, Mother in Heaven) then made us into self-aware 'children of God' so that now we are all related to God and to each other - relationships (or one enormously large family with multiple sub-families) is the reality of the situation in which we find ourselves.

Therefore, 'good' is to choose to live in accordance with these relationships, as established by God; evil is to reject these relationships and aim to live as solitary and self-sufficient gods. (This is pride.)

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So evil is a choice. It is not necessarily irrational, it is not necessarily dishonest - except that it seems always to involve a denial of the true situation and of our debt to God - but evil can be a hatred and rejection of the divine families in which we find ourselves - perhaps a hatred of God for forcing us to become self-conscious (and therefore liable to suffer) and to having saddled us with unasked-for responsibilities to our divine parents and siblings.

I think it is at least conceivable that a person might simply choose to reject self consciousness, and/or family ties  and aspire to live utterly alone. By the mercy of God this state could be made into an unselfconscious bliss; but this state too might be rejected and the person would then live in 'hell' of utter and self-imposed eternal and self-aware solitude.

The evil of this 'hell' comes from rejecting divine relationships but clinging to selfhood; rejecting gratitude and responsibility towards God but clinging to God-given powers.

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The primary moral decision in the history of reality was therefore that God (and Mother in Heaven) unilaterally decided to 'make' us into self-conscious personages, to make us into His children. His motive for this was love and our own benefit, just as the motive of earthly parents for 'making' children should be love and the children's own benefit - nonetheless it was unilateral, and is irreversible.

Consequently, because God is loving; I think it must have been the case that God made provision for us to opt-out of this situation in which we find ourselves, and to return to primordial unawareness and unpersonhood.

This is why I believe God has made provision for 'Nirvana' i.e. what feels-like loss of self/ personhood, and reabsorption into the blissful state of His goodness.

This is not an actual stripping away of our status as Sons and Daughters of God - that is irreversible - but it does allow a non-evil choice to reject the basic situation in which we find ourselves - to reject self-awareness, incarnation, intelligence, power and everything else. 

To 'return' to original un-consciousness.

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But these are all choices: suboptimal, sad - but self-chosen and self-inflicted. They are simply a consequence of the reality of agency/ free will.

The evilness of evil is really about the gratuitous spitefulness of trying to wreck the self-consciousness and divine family relationships which other people want and have chosen; of trying to persuade other people to inhabit 'hell' as some kind of eternal consolation for the misery of one's own choice of hell. 

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^The other explanation for God in a pluralist universe is an infinite regress - i.e. that God the Father and Heavenly Mother are children of previous Gods, are children of previous Gods, and so on forever. But this amounts to the same thing as saying 'just there' - it is merely substituting a process which is 'just there' for entities which are 'just there'.

3 comments:

  1. The reason that mainstream theologians have persisted for 2000 years with monism (and an Omni- concept of God) despite the insoluble and fundamental problems these cause for Christianity is that they want to be able to say that God is necessarily good - i.e. that the goodness of God is built-into reality, part of the existence of the universe; and therefore that to oppose God is to be irrational (i.e. they want to be able to state that evil is simply irrational).

    Actually Good and Evil are a duality - two poles on a spectrum - when a tri-omni deity is considered. Not only that, but both are necessarily aspects of the deity's expression. All things that manifest are both necessary and contingent, and so Good and Evil events find their sole cause in the deity. It is in fact all that was/is/will be, and there are no actual degrees of freedom to deviate. The tri-omni qualities lead to the unavoidable conclusion that only God is, and everything that unfolds is simply the result of iterating - via time - the characteristics of divinity. Now if what is called God is actually finite and bound within the universe as a result of not having the tri-omni qualities, then there is that which precedes or is greater than God. Thinking about this leads to infinite regress, or to t=0 at least.

    Here is the thing though; a tri-omni entity is necessarily unchanging and sufficient. Viewed from the outside it is static, but from the inside it expresses itself as an unfolding instantiation of those properties - as a universe. It is the primal singularity which at t=0 contains the fullness of what instantiation reveals over time.

    Each universe can be looked at as an instantiation of something which is eternal and tri-omni to that particular universe. We could consider the set of all of these universes as the prime tri-omni deity, or to use an Object Oriented programming model; it is the base Class which defines and is inherited by any instantiable tri-omni deity.

    These are the implications that I see arising from a tri-omni deity.

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  2. @NF - The 'Tri-Omni' God precedes Christianity, is 'the god of the Philosophers' - a rationally inferred God. There is no metaphysical incoherence in this God - the problem is making the T-O God compatible with Ancient Judaism then Christianity - whose God is primarily revealed in scriptures.

    "if what is called God is actually finite and bound within the universe as a result of not having the tri-omni qualities, then there is that which precedes or is greater than God. " - This does not follow. In mormon theology, God and the universe are co-eternal - and so are we - always there; and nothing is greater than God - God is of vast and incomprehensible power, knowledge etc - but not infinite.

    However, the greatness of God is (for Mormons) a matter of fact - not a matter of philosophical definition; the greatness of God is not philosophically necessary, it does not 'have to be ' so - it just is so.

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  3. Nirvana and God-consciousness can be unified in philosophy and experience. For those who are interested Autobiography of a Yogi by Yogananda is freely available online.

    I do not believe there is a full rejection of incarnation, intelligence, power, or self-awareness through Nirvana, at least not in Yoga. Rather, each is subsumed to create awakening.

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