Tuesday 16 November 2021

What does free-will/ agency mean - for God, for Man?

I found it impossible to get a grip on the absolutely core question (for Christians) of human freedom or 'agency' (i.e. being an active, generative, creative agent) until after I had gained an imaginative understanding of divine freedom. 

This needed me to recognize that there must be un-caused causes, uncaused but at the same time characteristic of beings/ selves/ souls. That is, there must exist causes that are not-random and also not-themselves-caused.

Such phenomena are ruled-out by the assumptions of modern science - which regards every-thing that happens as either a product of causes (i.e. determined); or else a thing happening randomly, i.e. for no reason... As with quantum whatsits, or when statistics - based on an assumptions of randomness as spontaneous and primary - are used to 'explain' some-thing happening. 

But for God to be God; God needed to be able to generate (to create, and continue creating) outcomes that were not merely the product of previous causes, yet were also characteristic of God's nature and intentions (therefore not 'random').

I needed to be able to imagine the possibility of thoughts and actions being initiated from within the primary being of God; and these thoughts or actions then 'appearing' outside God's being, to become a part of the observable world. 

In my mind; I imagined myself observing God as-if God was an impenetrable sphere of unknowable inner structure and workings - somewhat like a black hole. And at the surface of this sphere I imagined that thoughts or actions would appear, emerging-from the surface of the sphere - somewhat as if crossing into lights across a kind of 'event horizon'. 

So, this entails that the Being from-which thoughts or actions emerge be of its true nature an un-divisible, un-analysable entity. 

This is therefore a primary metaphysical assumption; that Being is the bottom-line of all analysis, and therefore all possible explanation.   

We cannot go further than the Being. So, we can know the characteristics of God - for instance that God is good; but we cannot know the 'inner pathways' describing how the  being of a Good God generates a particular thought or act. Yet it is not merely that these 'inner workings' are unknowable (which would be analogous to light not being able to escape a black hole); but that reality consists-of Beings

At this point it is wise to get rid of the 'black hole' analogy - because Beings are envisaged as living, conscious, and can be unembodied spirits. Beings exist through time: not as cross-sectional slices in time; they are entities persisting through time, and through transformative changes while remaining the same Being.) 

The reasons that we cannot know the inner causes of Beings is that there are no inner causes; Beings are the primary units - they are not inner divided or inner structured into causes. 

Each Being is an eternally-existing entity, and all causes come from Beings. 

In sum: Causes do not cause Beings - instead causes come after Beings; there were no causes until there were first Beings. 

Once I had got this far in defining what it meant to be 'free'. to have free will, to be an agent; I realized that if Men were also to be free - as is absolutely entailed by Christianity (we ourselves must genuinely be able to choose to follow Jesus Christ) - then Men must be of the same kind as God. 

Men must have the characteristics of creative-divinity - or else Men could not be free. 

Note: The above line of reasoning is a big reason why I regard Mormon theology as the most essentially correct of the systematic metaphysical theological systems I have encountered - since it is compatible with all the requirements for Men to be genuinely free. By contrast; classical/ traditional Christian theology has no space or mechanism for Man's free will/ agency; and must simply assert it as a God-gifted 'mystery' - This is okay, and 'works' for many people; but it does create an incoherence at the level of common sense; and a tendency for Christian theology (in some times and places) to lapse into unfree determinism/ predestination.   

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