Sunday 9 December 2018

Incarnation is part of the ordering of creation

For there to be order (rather than chaos) there is organisation. Part of this is Time, and the other part is Space.

We began as spirits, living in Time; and when we become incarnated - as mortal Men on earth - we become organised in Space.

Initially, it is only possible to incarnate in mortal form, with bodies that change, decay, are subject to disease and death; but - thanks to Jesus Christ - we may choose to be resurrected into Life Everlasting, with immortal and indestructible bodies.

This represents a further - and sufficient - ordering of reality.

As mortals we grow in consciousness, experiencing change in the environment of other beings, and also in our selves, our bodies; after resurrection we continue to experience the first but not the second.

This is mostly a great enhancement, and sets-us up for eternity - but there is also a closing-off of certain possibilities that we have in mortal life - the experiences of living with internal change due to our own bodily growth, development, disease, degeneration and death.


Seijio Arakawa said...

Hmm, that doesn't sound exactly right to me....

I doubt that you have the same understanding of immortality as Aquinas/Aristotle -- so would you be able to clarify what you mean by the resurrection body lacking internal change?

Aquinas asserted something very similar, and had great trouble in applying Aristotelian metaphysics to the doctrine of the Resurrection as a result... but that seems to be because of false assumptions which you probably don't share. In particular, Aristotle drew an equivalence between change and decay... so a body that was immune to decay would thus be incapable of changing. But Aristotle also assumed (plausibly) change to be essential to basic bodily operations like seeing and hearing. This results in a lot of tedious epicycles in Summa Theologica as to how a resurrected body would function without changing under these assumptions.

Personally I assumed the state of the body reveals the state of one's consciousness -- to a limited and indirect extent even in this life and to a more perfect extent in the next. So if one's consciousness 'grows' and changes, so too would the body. And of course in spite of changes to one's consciousness one remains the same person -- so, of course, while certain things change others would stay the same and recognizable.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Seijo - Aquinas has mostly zero relevance, because his metaphysical assumptions are completely different from mine.

And I don't say that the" resurrection body [is] lacking internal change". Indeed, it *must* change, for there to be life and consciousness.

However, a mortal body is 'crumbling' from the moment it is formed, linearly - whereas an eternal body must be wholly self-repairing, constant regenerating.

That's all I meant - but the implication is that there are possibilities and experiences and possibilities for leaning from living with a mortal body that are absent when living with an eternal body.

This may be related to the fact that some people, including you and I, have extended periods as mortals. The reason may be that some things we can learn while as mortals may be much more difficult to learn as immortals.

Chiu ChunLing said...

A body that does not change at all is a dead one, though not all dead bodies are unchanging.

But a living body changes, even if only by movement. The question is whether the changes are generally irreversible, and if so, whether they are generally reversed.

But any change that is reversible might not be reversed even if it usually is. To not have the capacity for deciding whether or not to keep a particular change is to lack freedom, and freedom is the entire point of life, even if it is not life itself.

A body in which dramatic changes are irreversible will have some probability to eventually change so that it is no longer living, and thus would not be immortal in the sense that should apply to the resurrection, even if those changes are avoidable rather than inevitable.

As for why some people must live past infancy, it is largely so that anyone else can live at all. There are more and less direct ways to be involved in making it so that everyone gets a chance at living, especially a meaningful chance. But the biggest difference in difficulty of learning something in mortality as compared to afterwards is whether you'd rather learn something sooner or put it off for later.

Things that you choose to put of learning till later tend to end up being harder to learn, simply as a result of having chosen to put them off even if the difficulty of learning them wasn't why you chose to put them off in the first place.

To prefer a shorter span of life to a longer, all else being equal, is not a good indication of having a marked preference for life. Not all else is always equal, there are many situations which occur in mortality which make a long life in mortality not quite worth the cost (including the mere dollar cost, for end of life medical treatment). There are choices by which you might extend your life decades or years (or mere hours) which involve the sacrifice of something worth more than a finite span of time to enjoy mortality (as much as it can be enjoyed with the loss of what you paid for it).

What you're willing to give up to gain a short time longer in mortality is a matter of taste as much or more than one of morality, usually. Morality is usually more concerned with how much of someone else's life you're willing to sacrifice to get what you want. Because in the long run, you're going to be required to pay that back somehow. The intersection is when you're taking away part of someone else's life so you can live a bit longer.

Or rather, taking it without paying. Since we all do end up taking bits of everyone else's life.

Seijio Arakawa said...


I believe I understand now how the post was meant to be read and I agree. The learning possibilities of a mortal body are based on the unique circumstance of being required to make-choices subject to a finite lifespan, frailty, and decay.