Monday, 29 October 2018

Implications of resurrection

I hadn't thought much about the implications of resurrection; but they are far-ranging.

It isn't just a matter of the self being reunited with a body that (this time) doesn't die; because the self and body are (this time) permanently united; and the resurrected self-body is an indestructible unit.

Indestructible, and changing; because dynamic, loving, creating... indeed only that which is dynamic can be permanent - because self-generating.

(Anything static would, over eternity, erode-away.)

Since there is no disease, corruption, ageing, trauma or death - this presumably makes much else permanent. Resurrection is therefore, presumably, the necessity of that choice between heaven or hell, creation or chaos, family or solitary self.


Chiu ChunLing said...

Resurrection is a necessity to have certain choices. But it is not a necessity to the possibility of both outcomes in most cases, usually only one outcome (the more desirable one) requires resurrection to be possible. But the existence of a desirable alternative to an undesirable outcome is necessary for any real choice.

It is certainly true that much less is possible to disembodied spirits than is commonly supposed. Consciousness as we understand it, for starters. Persistently directed coherent thought, perception of physical reality with immediacy that makes it overtly distinct from imagination, awareness of the self as distinct and yet related to other selves.

Some things that bodies make possible are not themselves necessary in eternity. But usually those things are analogous preludes to something that will (or at least can) be more fully experienced in eternity.

Bruce Charlton said...

@CCL - The comment disussion a while back about the nature of demons made me consider the possibility that the prime choice they made as (pre-mortal) spirits (as described in the account of Satan being 'ejected' from Heaven) was actually the choice to leave Heaven.

I could imagine that demons would make this choice in order to escape from the immersive environoment of Goodness; to express and act upon their evil natures.

(Why are they evil? Some would probably have always been tending that way, from before becoming children of God; others become that way in pre-mortal life.)

The separation from Heaven would (presumably) be necessary in order for demons to have any kind of agency distinct from that of God - yet that would be less than the agency of incarnates (such as ourselves) - which would me a strong motivation for demons to 'possess' incarnate mortals - to 'use' their agency.

Chiu ChunLing said...

Bit of a bootstrap problem there, though.

After all, leaving God's presence (or taking an attitude incompatible with remaining there) would have to have been voluntary.

I do think that it is right to say that God, by virtue of His divine nature, necessarily excludes overt enactment of evil from His presence. But one can still do things that could be for good or evil, even with evil motives in mind. That is to say, there are possible good reasons to leave God's direct presence, such as to participate in mortality, and this means that those in rebellion could also leave for the sake of their evil motive of carrying out opposition to the divine. On the other hand, it is not possible to bring into God's presence anything that is overtly evil. Such would be an overtly evil act, regardless of motive. Those who leave, even for good reasons, and become stained with evil must be truly cleansed before it becomes possible to return.

Demons cannot use mortal agency by possession, possession suppresses mortal agency by making the demonic possessor the effective cause of the bodily acts and their consequences. However, diabolical temptation is a different matter. By generating attractive-seeming motives to engage in what ordinary carnal nature would forbid, demons can indeed make use of mortal agency (sometimes as a prelude to possession, but not usually). A diabolically tempted human can do all a demon might wish without needing to be possessed, and thus continue doing it much longer and more effectively (true possession is a messily short-lived affair, one way or another).

It is not quite clear that demons actually prefer temptation to possession. Temptation is easier to accomplish and has more gains, it is much more common. But it seems that demons simply like possession despite the difficulty and limited utility for their purposes. It may also be just a result of stupidity.

Bruce Charlton said...

@CCL - There is always some degree of agency; even in a lump of granite; so the bootsrap problem is not decisive. If it is borne in mind that each of us is an eternal being and is unique in our composition; I think it follows that some of us would be intrinsically hostile to the plan of creation.

The model of possession I envisage here is a kind of symbiosis; which uses the human 'equipment' of incarnation, rather like a focusing and amplifying device. Or, the human body could be seen as akin to a localised radio that picks-up and amplifies delocalised elecromagnetic waves (This idea comes from Rupert Sheldrake). The human body might be 'useful' in an analogous way for a spirit being.

Chiu ChunLing said...

Well, that's why I was saying that even in the presence of God we must still have agency distinct from God's agency, but it is constrained. Of course, our agency is always affected by that of those around us, but usually the constraints are more complicated and less morally principled.

Overt demonic possession can hardly be described as "symbiotic" in any normal sense of the term. I think you must be speaking of persistent temptation, which usually does at least appeal to the biologically defined self interest of the tempted in some way (particularly in the short-term). Or possibly of oppression, though that still leans towards the "not symbiotic" side of relationships. Just not as far as possession.

While it is true that the human body picks up "signals" of various types that are usually not accessible to demons, most demons don't want to pick up those signals. But exceptions do exist, demons may despise knowing a lot of things about human affairs, but they still find it useful in some instances.

So I think you are talking about voluntary hosting of a tempting demon, the situation in which a person has yielded to a demonic tempter to the degree of making it habitual. This is in fact the intended goal of many occult practices, keeping a demon as a familiar. Though occult literature acknowledges that there is a danger of the human practitioner becoming the subordinate in such a relationship, this is a gross lie by understatement, it is a certainty that the human will always become the pawn of the demon.

Hrothgar said...

Resurrection only began to make sense at all to me (indeed, it presents itself now as a near necessity), once I had examined the fundamentals of existence enough to reach significant conclusions that made me feel reasonably confident that I knew what the universe was actually created for.

The physical universe is in my view an environment created expressly for the evolution of beings - these perhaps begining with God's own, possibly including other beings rather unfathomable to us, due to being incarnated in other types of vessel (such as those we percieve as, for instance, celestial bodies), but certainly now including humans.

The superposition of Matter (with its necessary concomittants, Energy and Space) and Time on what I think we must assume is the ground state of existence, timeless, spaceless Eternity (which is only capable of accomodating pure Being, and the infinite, tappable potential of primal Chaos) are the two most essential means by which this is achieved. Matter (and specifically the incarnation of beings in matter) enables separation, clear distinction of things from each other, and Time enables change. This combination allows beings incarnated into the physical universe firstly to have distinct and meaningful individual experiences at all, and secondly to undergrow growth and change in response to these experiences.

A Being that has undergone the experience of incarnation will be a much stronger, more distinct individual than before, more advanced in personal wisdom and understanding if it has used its opportunities wisely, more clearly separated from other spirit beings by its unique experiences – and yet, without some form of further incarnation, this progress will then halt upon transition to the timeless, changeless Eternity of pure Being.

Whether this state is pleasurable or quite otherwise is rather besides the point, in comparison to the seeming futility of going to the great labour of creating Beings to undergrow such an intensive process of growth and testing, and the whole vast physical universe to accomodate them – only to cast them back whence they came once their mortal time is done, where their individuality and accumulated knowledge will count for little, except to make their endless spirit-dreaming in Eternity more vivid and personalized.

If on the other hand God wished to make beings simply for the purpose of rewarding or punishing them for their obedience, or otherwise, to his will, he could create them as pure spirits, endow them with free will appropriate to their natures, then allow them to choose to follow his way, or their own. Something similar has apparently happened already with angels and demons, but this does nothing to justify the existence of this universe we inhabit, or the quite different nature of our own participation withn it.

It therefore seems to me fairly certain that the possibilities for individuation and growth offered by incarnation within Time and the material universe are in fact integral to God’s plan for us – and that some form of resurrection or reincarnation, resulting in a soul being contained within a physical body, and experiencing the passage of time, are the only available options to further this plan, for those who continue to adhere to it post-mortally.

The really important questions then become – What form will that resurrection take? And what exactly is his ultimate plan, to which it will continue contributing?

Hrothgar said...

Just to chime in on the discussion here regarding demonic possession, which I forgot to do before:

I agree that demons are capable of extending their own rather limited agency by tapping into human agency, but I think this is more of a parasitic than a symbiotic process - they make use of it for their very specific purposes, while providing no real benefit to the human host.

Futhermore, I think we have to remember that if we assume (as I think everyone involved in this conversation does) that demons are essentially undeveloped beings that have (or had) the potential to become incarnate humans which they have refused or been found unworthy of, this has important consequences regarding agency.

Specifically, when they rejected incarnation, they also rejected its attendant goods, one of which is the vastly increased scope for exercising personal agency which human beings possess by virtue of their incarnation and attendant self-development. This means that a demon simply does not value agency as a human does, and in fact is incapable of doing so while it stays in its discarnate, evil-aligned form. It has literally no use for such human agency as it is able to parasitize, except to serve the purpose of further corrupting the human in question.

A human's ability to take and plan meaningful actions, to direct himself to specific constructive goals, to retain and purposefully use a coherent, systematic body of knowledge, to orient himself within the material world and through the progression of time, etc - all such qualities, to the demon, are simply weakenesses that may be turned against him to further its own ends - of corrupting the human in question and finally reducing him to something close to its own level. It does not want them for itself, and would not in fact know how to use them if it had them.