Tuesday 11 April 2023

Explaining demonic spirits and the damned souls; as the consequence of choices related to love, mortal incarnate life/ entropy/ death, and resurrection

We must die in order to be remade - to be resurrected

This is salvation. 

Damnation is the other choice: to reject salvation. 

We must be resurrected to enter that state called Heaven*; because for Heaven to be 'heavenly' - all within it must have-been remade, wholly-good - without disposition to evil. 

Or, to enter Heaven, we must make a permanent commitment to repent and repudiate all sin - all evil, all that opposes divine harmony - and the way that this permanent commitment is made is by resurrection -- in which all that is Good (God-harmonious) in us is retained; while all that is not is left-behind and discarded.

Such a permanent commitment is made from love; and therefore must freely be chosen - cannot be compelled; and can only be made by those capable of love who choose to make love their eternal foundational principle. 

(Only thus can Heaven be a place that is wholly Good (a place without any evil-motivation) and also wholly-free - inhabited by beings with divine powers of creation; who will always and spontaneously use their godly-powers harmoniously with God and other Heavenly beings.)  

The need for death is true for men and women - and for all other beings. 

Which is why this incarnated mortal life on earth is dominated by entropy: because every-"thing" must die, if there is to be a possibility of resurrection. 

In other words: If every being on earth is to have a chance of attaining and choosing Heaven - they all must die, sooner or later. 

Pre-mortal spirit life, although wholly-good, is very imperfect - especially in terms of freedom, of agency. 

The harmony and goodness of pre-mortal life is dependent on the passivity and obedience of spirits; because pre-mortal beings are not innately wholly good (in the way that God is wholly-good, or resurrected beings are wholly good). 

Because pre-mortal spirits are not-wholly-good, the harmony of goodness in pre-mortal life is attained top-down, by the direction and control of God

In effect, so far as pre-mortal spirit life goes; God is the wholly-good parents of a mixed bunch of children - some mostly-good, some mostly-evil - none wholly good. It is only by the obedience of these children that goodness prevails. 

But pre-mortal spirits mature, they grow-up, they change... Sooner or later, they get to a point where they must throw-off the passive goodness of obedience to parental authority and control. 

Then these pre-mortal spirits have a choice...

Either the spirits can incarnate on earth - some time afterwards to die, and make the choice of resurrection, or not. 

(This is God's plan - because God wishes to make and inhabit Heaven with resurrected (incarnated everlasting) beings, who have have by their choice of resurrection made an eternal commitment to live in harmony with divine creation.)

Or else those pre-mortal spirits who do not want to die and be resurrected; or who simply do not want to die - and those who reject the divine plan for an harmonious Heaven of free-beings who have chosen to be remade without evil... 

These spirits can escape their previous state of obedience to divine goodness, and enter the sphere of earth while still spirits - and therefore immortal. 

These are the demons

(This explains why demons are spirits - not embodied; and why they are immortal. They are spirits because they have refused temporary mortal incarnation, and are immortal because they are spirits, and unaffected by 'entropy'.)

If the pre-mortal spirits choose mortal life on earth, they must choose temporary incarnation and death (as necessary pre-requisites for resurrection); but if they reject this package, then such spirits have rejected even the possibility of Heaven.

This is why all demons are evil, and why demons are worse than incarnated Men - because demons, by their rejection of mortal incarnation, have all chosen to reject the possibility of that death which makes salvation possible

(If demons changed their minds and repented, and wished to prepare for the choice of Heaven; they would need first to incarnate and die. Whether this this is possible or ever actually happens I do not know.) 

So - demons have rejected the passive ('secondhand') good of pre-mortal spirit life under the parental influence of God; and they have also rejected that mortal life on earth which is a necessary stage to prepare for remaking-by-resurrection, and Heaven.   

The ruling principle of creation (that which makes creation cohere) is love; and love is the reason why the dead choose resurrection and heaven.  

The essential reason why demons have rejected mortal incarnation, and why some dead mortal Men reject the offer of resurrection into Heaven and instead choose damnation; is that demons and the damned are either incapable of love, or have rejected love as the basis of life and chosen... something else.    

Differently phrased: Demons are those never-incarnated beings who have rejected living under the domination of entropy (i.e. mortal earthly life); and by doing so rejected God's plan of salvation. 

The damned are those who chose to live and die as mortal incarnate Men on earth, and have become dis-carnated beings (i.e. souls severed from their bodies); and who die and then reject resurrection and Heaven; instead choosing some other fate.

*Note: Why our final God-destined state-of-being is embodied, incarnate - rather than spirits - is a topic I have considered elsewhere  


William Wright (WW) said...

Agree that whether a Being is a demon or not is a consequence of choice, but have some other thoughts on whether that was due to wanting to incarnate or not.

I actually believe that many, if not a majority, of Beings we would call demons were at one time incarnated on this earth, and that some of them were also incarnate prior to its creation.

In Mormon theology, Abraham is shown a vision of the state of affairs leading up to the creation of this earth. In that vision, he sees 2 groups of Beings: Souls and spirits. The souls I take as being those with bodies (this being consistent with the definition of a soul in other parts of Mormon teachings). I am unsure as to whether the spirit-group may have had bodies prior to when Abraham sees them, and so wouldn't be able to definitely say at this time whether they had always been spirits, or at some point also had bodies and through events and circumstance found themselves without them now. Regardless, it seems at the time of the creation of the earth they were spirits.

The embodied souls (which Abraham was told he had been a part of) were tasked by God to be 'rulers' for the spirits, and as I take it, learn from and work with God to bring about the salvation of those spirits. Part of that commission was in the creation of this world for those spirits to inhabit. How that played out, I think, is very similar to what Tolkien wrote of in the Ainulindale, and I would be comfortable using terms like the Valar, Maia, and even the Eldar/Elves to describe the different groups of the embodied individuals who assisted with that creation. The spirits, however, did not participate in the creation, and would become Men here, at least in the beginning.

Just as in both the Ainulindale and in Mormon teachings, Satan-Melkor (and embodied soul) rebelled and sowed discord, ultimately drawing away a significant number of Beings to his cause, which I think consisted of both other embodied souls as well as spirits. It is these Beings who I believe became demons. Balrogs would be an example of an embodied soul turned demon, as would other rebellious Maia like Sauron.

In terms of what became of the rebellious spirits-demons, I believe being incarnated as Orcs was their original fate.

I agree with you, Bruce, that if the choice was up to them, many of these spirits who became Orcs would have rather not incarnated at all on this Earth, and so remained damned in that sense. But the choice was not theirs to make. They had became slaves to Satan-Melkor, and so had to come when he called them to his service.

Drawing again on Mormon theology, it would appear that the bodies that housed Elves and Men were originally created with 'enmity' or protection that prevented evil spirits from being born into them. As Tolkien relates, however, Melkor imprisoned, tortured, and twisted Elves and Men from the beginning, and, one line of thinking at least, has this resulting in the creation of the Orc. I believe what this means more clearly was that he found a way to design around the original protection put in place, and that he could create bodies in which those evil spirits could inhabit and thus join their master as incarnate beings on Earth. Sauron and even Saruman continued and expanded on this practice of housing evil spirits and demons in Orc bodies in the 2nd and 3rd age. "Orc" is actually Old English for Demon, interestingly enough.

In the years following the 3rd age and the War of the Ring, the Orcs were made extinct. With Melkor, Sauron, and Saruman all gone, there was no knowledge left, apparently, on how to create bodies to re-house their spirits. But their spirits remain attached to this earth, and thus we have the situation from that time to the present day where, even though they are not and are unable to become incarnate, they nonetheless have the ability to afflict our minds and spirits. In fact, in some ways they are capable of more evil and influence on us today in their current form than if they were still embodied.

Bruce Charlton said...

@WW - Very interesting comment.

Without wanting to wrangle over nomenclature, it might be reasonable to reserve demons for the never-incarnate and thus immortal spirits; and then to discuss the various things that can happen to such spirits - including a kind of simulated-incarnation that does not actually die.

This would be like a real 'ghost in a machine' - the apparent incarnation would be like a 'dead body' animated by a separate spirit, and at death the spirit might just find another 'shell' to inhabit, or not, but be fundamentally unaffected by that death. And could not be resurrected.

Whereas our bodies and spirits are parts of a whole, which is why death is a qualitative change, and resurrection is possible.

Something like the distinction between an emanation or avatar, and a real 'being'.

William Wright (WW) said...

Bruce - Yes, very likely could be nomenclature and I am not using 'incarnate' consistently (or even correctly).

I am not sure exactly what changes Melkor-Satan would have needed to make in order to twist the original creation of God to enable these evil spirits to inhabit bodies, but I see no reason why it couldn't be as you suggest - almost a zombie-type of situation. Could be other means, also, I suppose. In any case, your larger point I agree with if I read it correctly, in that the 'incarnation' or whatever we would call it of these demons would fundamentally have been something different than the incarnation or birth that the Children of God experience through the 'normal' or divine path.

And I would agree also that Orc-Demons are not resurrected. I believe that resurrection is reserved only for Men, since Jesus came as a Man and established that as the path. Demons have no path to be born as Men, and so no resurrection in their future. Even souls and spirits who are/were something 'greater' then Men (Ainur, Eldar, etc.) will at some point, if they haven't already, need to also be born as Men to be resurrected like Jesus.

Bruce Charlton said...

@WW - The question of how Melkor corrupted so many elves into orcs is interesting - Tolkien's view was not consistent.

But there is plenty of evidence of evil motivations among elves, especially in The Silmarillion - Feanor, Thingol, and Maeglin became corrupted - and the first two were among the very greatest of elves.

yet there is also evidence that an elf could die if/ when life seemed intolerable - such as Feanor's mother Miriel who died of grief/ exhaustion. I suspect that the really good elves captured by Melkor would have died, and those who became orcs were already bad enough to be corruptible by increments.

My understanding of God's creation is Not that of the classical theologians who believed God created everything from nothing. I take a more Mormon view (and more like ancient animism) that God created from already existing 'materials', which were 'beings' who already had individuality and distinct dispositions.

Classical theology has great 'difficulty' (ie I think it fails) in explaining how there can be evil in a creation wholly made by a wholly good God. But I regard divine creation as an ongoing and developing process; by which God gradually recruits and develops already-existing beings, into to a creation rooted in mutual love.

Evil was already present (i.e. those who act against creation and first selfishly, then to restore pre-creation a purposeless meaningless chaos of uncoordinated beings). By my understanding God's problem was not to introduce freedom to creation, but to voluntarily harmonize innate-freedoms.

William Wright (WW) said...

My current hypothesis is not that elves were corrupted into orcs, but rather that their bodies were corrupted sufficiently by Melkor to be vessels for demons to inhabit. So, yes, agree that a good elf would rather die than serve Melkor, but in so dying, their bodies would have been useful for Melkor's purposes in what he was aiming to do.

Given that Melkor was only able to mar and twist creation and matter, then it makes sense to me that if housing his spirit-slaves into some sort of body on earth was an objective of his (and I believe it was), gaining knowledge of how to do this from experiments with existing bodies of Elves and Men for that purpose may make the most sense given his abilities and limitations.

I also think one of the reasons Sauron was known as the Necromancer is that he continued on this work of summoning evil spirits to inhabit bodies here on earth, and thus rebuilt and expanded the orc hordes through those dark arts. This knowledge, I believe, was also shared with Saruman (Saruman learned of it at least) which allowed him to also practice this in Isengard with the creation of the Uruk-hai. Some accounts suggest these orcs were the result of cross-breeding among orcs and men, but I feel that the conjuring of evil spirits to inhabit twisted and manufactured bodies to make the most sense.

Agree also on evil motivations among elves, but would argue that for those 'good' and great elves, such as Feanor and Thingol, such motivations did not spring up from within themselves but were planted there by Melkor. They, like all of us, were born into a marred world, and so were susceptible to Melkor's evil influence. I don't think those intentions originated from them or their Being.

I also share your world view regarding creation, aligning with the more Mormon take on things, and actually consider the account given of Abraham's vision to be a great example of what you've just articulated with respect to already-existing beings (which include us) being recruited by God to take part in loving creation.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Ww - WRT the question of orcs being demon inhabited, or that Tolkien intended this. We have three pretty detailed conversations reported between orcs in LotR; Merry and Pippin's kidnappers, Gorbag and Shagrat overheard by Sam, and the warrior and sniffer orcs that Frodo and Sam overhear in Mordor.

From what we hear, the striking thing is that 'official' orc morality is very much the same as for humans and elves, and they are always accusing *each other* of theft, cowardice, treachery etc - but *never* judging themselves by the principles they advocate. They are ultimate hypocrites, in effect.

But not qualitatively different in their motivations from bad Men that we all have known. The main thing seems to be that they never repent or reform.

Interestingly, orcs never surrender and allow themselves to be taken prisoner, either. They either run away (quite easily, usually), or else fight to the death. I can't really explain this, but it was clearly deliberate by Tolkien, because evil-affiliated Men behave very differently - eg Dunlanders, Easterlings.

My best guess is that orcs assume (and cannot be persuaded otherwise, because they cannot even imagine otherwise) that prisoners will for-sure be tortured to death and/or eaten - which is what they themselves always do - so surrender would be the worst possible option.

Is this the behaviour of demons? Well insofar as they never repent (and apparently cannot) - yes. Insofar as their 'theoretical' morality is the same as Men (or elves or dwarves); I'm not sure. Maybe there is only one morality, so there is no option. I suppose that demonic values might be inverted - as they propagate nowadays in global totalitarianism - but maybe that is just a way of manipulating humans?

Tolkien could never satisfy himself about the nature of orcish evil, exactly because he felt that ruined elves/ Men ought sometimes to be able to repent - so maybe, if he had thought of it, Tolkien might have seized on your demon possessed/ 'necromantic' idea as a possible coherent solution?

William Wright (WW) said...

Interesting thoughts and a good test concerning Orc morality, choice, etc, and whether they are consistent with demonic behavior.

It may be that just as there is a 'core' to ourselves - our own being and personality - that persists through time and various transformations but may be altered (sometimes significantly) depending on the bodies we take up and circumstances we come into, that orc behavior and morality may have also altered with them taking on bodies, and so one wouldn't expect that their behavior to be perfectly consistent between their spirit and embodied states.

In other words, we, as fallen Men, might in many ways be unrecognizable to our former (and future) selves were we to see ourselves in those states, and so the demons who became orcs might have been altered similarly during their mortal experience, particularly with being subject to pain and all other things a body brings. Theirs does not seem to be a particularly happy experience, obviously, perhaps both due to the nature of their spirits but also the nature of the cruel bodies that were made for them to take on, which may not have been very pleasant for their owners.

In an interesting conversation between Treebeard and Pippin and Merry, Treebeard suggests that orcs are counterfeits of elves, created by the Enemy, just as Trolls were counterfeits of Ents. But in saying this, Treebeard seems to state that Trolls were never Ents, don't possess their same strength, etc., and so one might infer that elves are referred to in that same sense. A cruel mockery of God's initial creation, but not actually the beings of Elves turned into Orcs, which wouldn't be referred to as a counterfeit, I don't think.

Lastly, and just thinking out loud, if the orcs were living beings, and born, bred, etc., just as Men and Elves, then I can't imagine that Eru would have allowed any of his children or the spirits aligned with good to be forced into those bodies. They would have had to come from somewhere else, and perhaps that would be an argument for demons... in that Melkor, and later Sauron and Saruman, would have had to draw from existing evil spirit-slaves (made slaves due to their choices before this creation) to incarnate as orcs.

In any case, a bit of a puzzle to be sure. I guess just conjecture at this point until some other information is made known... although I sure hope that there are more uplifting topics to focus on first when that time comes than orcs and demons!

Bruce Charlton said...

@WW - These are excellent ideas!

If you'd like to assemble the ideas of your comments into some kind of coherence, I would be pleased to publish them as a guest post on the Notion Club Papers blog - with your pseudo- or real-name, as you prefer.

William Wright (WW) said...

I can try to give it a go... might be a good forcing mechanism to tie some of these threads together and see how they fit.

Bruce Charlton said...

@WW - It does not need to be a polished essay; but stuff in comments does not come up in Google searches - whereas if you post the ideas under a suitable title, then those who are interested will be able to find them.

William Wright (WW) said...

OK, that seems much more doable - I was feeling overwhelmed at the thought of turning that jam session into an essay, but collecting them under a title is something I can do.