Philosophy The Name of Love's Philosophy Essays

The Doctrine of Divine Conservation (Or: Why Everything That Exists Depends on God's Existence)

The Name of Love

Far Right Nutjob
Joined
Aug 26, 2019
Reaction score
1,334
So, I hope to post here a series of essays on Natural Theology, both to generate interest in the topic on this forum and get my own thoughts out there. Disclaimer: My own religious beliefs are Roman Catholic Christian and my philosophy tends towards Thomism as interpreted by contemporary analytic philosophers like Edward Feser, David S. Oderberg, and Brian Davies.

Too often, online debates about theism versus atheism are sidelined into debates about which side has the burden of proof and whether atheism is a “belief” or a “lack of belief,” about whether godlessness or religion are immoral, etc. These topics, I feel, are obfuscations about what I take the theism versus atheism debate to be. In truth, the question of God is a question of the nature of existence: can something exist without God’s conserving it at all times, if only in principle? Or does existence itself presuppose a divine being conserving something at all times?

Let us spell out the debate in these terms: the debate is between those who believe in the Doctrine of Divine Conservation (a group that includes those to adhere to the religions like Christianity and Islam, as well as philosophical theists in the vein of Aristotle or Plotinus) and those who believe in the Doctrine of Existential Inertia (a group that includes all atheists, “hard” or “soft”, all agnostics, and a great many deists). Let us go over each theory.

The Doctrine of Divine Conservation (DDC) holds that the world could not exist for an instant, even in principle, apart from the continuous sustaining action of some first cause, which I will henceforth refer to as “God” for convenience. St. Thomas Aquinas described this doctrine like this: “[T]he being of every creature depends on God, so that not for a moment could it subsist, but would fall into nothingness were it not kept in being by the operation of the Divine power.” This line of thought is repeated by Scriptural passages such as Wisdom 11:25 (“How could a thing remain, unless you willed it; or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?”), Hebrews 1:3 (Christ “sustains all things by his mighty word”), and Colossians 1:17 (“in him all things hold together.”) as well as The Catechism of the Council of Trent and the First Vatican Council. Suffice to say, the DDC is essential to Christian orthodoxy. You can also find the DDC within Islam, Judaism, and certain pagan philosophies.

By contrast, skeptics of theism generally and Christian orthodoxy specifically are committed to the Doctrine of Existential Inertia (DEI). According to DEI, the world of contingent things, once it exists, will tend to continue in existence on its own at least until something positively acts to destroy it. It thus has no need to be conserved in being by God.

It is my contention that even so-called “soft” or “lack of belief” atheists and agnostics implicitly adhere to the DEI insofar as they hold that the world does not in principle need God to exist. Certainly, they (in theory) allow that God could be a cause, but they would reject the idea that created existence, in principle, requires God’s existence. There is not some in-between position here. Either you believe in the DDC or in the DEI. If you refuse to take up either position, then you are not being serious. A debate is between two sides, two rival worldviews, not between one worldview and one psychological condition like “lack of belief.”

Having framed the debate properly, I will now demonstrate the implausibility of DEI and the impossibility of natural objects possessing existential inertia.

First, there’s no reason we should assume that material objects have existential inertia. What internal mechanism could possibly cause a given material object to exist at any given moment? Some might be tempted to state that what causes this is some kind of physical law, similar to Newton’s concept of inertia in motion. Certainly, the law of conservation of mass seems to imply that matter in a closed system cannot be created or destroyed. However, the nature of laws of physics is a matter of controversy. If one holds that they are somehow something external to matter guiding the operations of matter, then we cannot really say that objects have existential inertia, but that they are kept into being by some law of physics, an external force, and not found within the matter itself. If you hold that laws of physics are merely abstractions of matter’s nature (as an Aristotelian like myself would say) or regularities in nature (like a Humean would say), then physical laws would be mere descriptions of what matter does and could not be an explanation for a thing’s existence.

Perhaps, one could say, existence is a property of things that are currently existing, and what it means to exist could be found within the essence of currently existing things, similar to how redness is found within apples or wetness is found within water. This line of reasoning is erroneous because these properties and the essences from which these properties are derived presuppose the existence of the objects in question. If an object’s properties depend on its existence, and its existence is one of its properties, we have a vicious regress that fails to explain anything. This shows that existence cannot be merely one property among others a given object possesses. Nor would it do to say that a thing could preserve its own existence at any given time once it does exist, for the same reason.

What if existence wasn’t some property that a thing had, but comprised the entirety of what it was? What if a thing’s essence was just existence itself? Such a hypothetical being would not need any outside force to keep it in existence because to be that thing would be uncaused rather than self-caused, and would thus avoid the vicious regression inherent to self-causation. But then this hypothetical, uncaused being would not just have self-sufficient existence, but an absolutely necessary existence. Such a being could never fail to exist by definition, because what it is to be that thing is just to exist. There would be nothing within it that would allow it to go out of existence. Furthermore, such a being would be incapable of existing in multiplicity. If some thing’s essence and existence are not really distinct, then they are identical. Now, say we had two such beings that have a self-sufficient existence, one labelled A and one labelled B. What would differentiate them? They couldn’t have any additional qualities, because then neither would be just existence itself, but “existence itself plus some differentiating quality.” So, supposing this uncaused being could exist, there would only be one of them. None of the natural objects we know of have these qualities, so none of them could be this uncaused being.

From this analysis, we can show that, at the very least, existential inertia could not exist within any known part of material objects. But we can go even further to show that the DDC must be true. Consider, as I’ve mentioned above, that, even though there is a real distinction between the essence of a given material object and its existence, the essence of a thing could not exist apart from the existence of that thing. A thing whose essence and existence are distinct must then have its existence imparted onto it by some external cause, since, as I explained above, a thing cannot be the cause of its own existence because self-causation requires existence to be a property of a thing, and properties always presuppose the existence of the things they are properties of. This would lead to the above vicious regress.

Now, if a given material object has a concurrent cause C, then C’s existence must also be explained. And if C is something whose existence and essence are really distinct, then its existence must be explained in some further cause B. And so on and so forth. This infinite regress demands a first cause because this is not speaking of temporal causal series, but hierarchical causal series, which must end in a first cause in order to be fully explained. The reason for this is that each part of the series presupposes some concurrent cause in its existence. An infinite regress here would be like a house without foundation, an utter affront to reason. This first cause could only be something whose essence just is existence, and this is what we would call “God.”

Now, God would have the qualities of something whose essence is just existence itself, meaning it would be absolutely necessary and utterly unique. But if God is utterly unique, that would mean that only he would be just existence itself and everything else that existed would have distinct essences distinct from their existences and would rely on God for their existence at any given moment. So, God is the unique, necessarily existing, uncaused cause of everything other than himself.

There is more to be said about this (such as talking about the different divine attributes), but suffice to say, I think I’ve sufficient established the DDC and refuted the DEI. Given this, it would seem that it is the hardline theists that have the credible, rational position, not the “lack of belief” atheists.

I cite Edward Feser's paper "Existential Inertia and the Five Ways" as well as his book Five Proofs of the Existence of God as my two main sources. His website is here. Feedback is appreciated.
 
Last edited:

Tyanna of Pentos

The King's Raven
Super Moderator
Founder
Hetman
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Reaction score
7,956
Location
The Tower
Orthodox Filyani also take the Doctrine of Divine Conservation as a matter of Truth. So, as an aside, do most religions of the East, though it can be hard to tease out doctrinally. But Filianism is quite explicit and it was easy enough to see the congruence even though I had never heard that exact term before. Thank you for taking the time to write this, I appreciated the succinct exposition on the Catholic position in this regard.
 

The Name of Love

Far Right Nutjob
Joined
Aug 26, 2019
Reaction score
1,334
Orthodox Filyani also take the Doctrine of Divine Conservation as a matter of Truth. So, as an aside, do most religions of the East, though it can be hard to tease out doctrinally. But Filianism is quite explicit and it was easy enough to see the congruence even though I had never heard that exact term before. Thank you for taking the time to write this, I appreciated the succinct exposition on the Catholic position in this regard.
I expect a monotheistic religion of a traditionalist bent to tend towards DDC. I have no doubt that Filianism would benefit from the work of Thomas Aquinas. As the Angelic Doctor made use of Islamic, Jewish, and Greek philosophers to his benefit, so it would be to your benefit to make use of the Angelic Doctor.

Do you have any requests for topics I should cover? Anything you'd like to ask me?
 

Hlaalu Agent

Nerevar going to let you down
Founder
Sotnik
Joined
Aug 11, 2019
Reaction score
2,469
Location
Rethan Manor
I expect a monotheistic religion of a traditionalist bent to tend towards DDC. I have no doubt that Filianism would benefit from the work of Thomas Aquinas. As the Angelic Doctor made use of Islamic, Jewish, and Greek philosophers to his benefit, so it would be to your benefit to make use of the Angelic Doctor.

Do you have any requests for topics I should cover? Anything you'd like to ask me?
What about religions or belief systems which posit that the universe itself is god, or god is the universe?
 

The Name of Love

Far Right Nutjob
Joined
Aug 26, 2019
Reaction score
1,334
What about religions or belief systems which posit that the universe itself is god, or god is the universe?
Interesting question, though I do think I hinted at why I am not a pantheist in the above essay, when I talked about how no material object could be "just existence itself" while God is "just existence itself." Whatever applies to any given material object applies to the universe as a whole. How could God be the universe if no constituent part of the universe is capable of being God?

Next time, I'd like to go over the divine attributes, and why God cannot be the universe.
 

Tyanna of Pentos

The King's Raven
Super Moderator
Founder
Hetman
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Reaction score
7,956
Location
The Tower
The correct term to a Filyani for this system is Panentheism, meaning the Almighty is the soul of the universe and is greater than and unbounded by the universe.
 

The Name of Love

Far Right Nutjob
Joined
Aug 26, 2019
Reaction score
1,334
The correct term to a Filyani for this system is Panentheism, meaning the Almighty is the soul of the universe and is greater than and unbounded by the universe.
In what sense is God "the soul of the universe"? What does that even mean?

And perhaps my next post can be about this topic. Why it is most appropriate to refer to God using masculine pronouns. But at a later date.
 

Tyanna of Pentos

The King's Raven
Super Moderator
Founder
Hetman
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Reaction score
7,956
Location
The Tower
In what sense is God "the soul of the universe"? What does that even mean?

And perhaps my next post can be about this topic. Why it is most appropriate to refer to God using masculine pronouns. But at a later date.
As you wish, of course, it’s your thread.

“The soul of the universe” means that the Almighty is the animating force of reality itself—nothing less than a poetic way of describing your very post, at least to me—a Creatrix without whom nothing could exist for even a single heartbeat.
 

The Name of Love

Far Right Nutjob
Joined
Aug 26, 2019
Reaction score
1,334
“The soul of the universe” means that the Almighty is the animating force of reality itself—nothing less than a poetic way of describing your very post, at least to me—a Creatrix without whom nothing could exist for even a single heartbeat.
I would say, then, that insofar as God is responsible for anything at all, including the movement of material things, he is like a soul. But insofar as he united with the universe as a soul is with a body, he isn’t. The soul is the formal cause of the body’s motion. It is to the body what the eye is to seeing. A soul is dependent on its body as a body is dependent on its soul. By contrast, God is the efficient cause of the universe, and the universe may be dependent on God, but God in no way depends on the universe.

To say that God is the soul of the universe is to introduce confusion at best and collapse into pantheism at worst.
 

Tyanna of Pentos

The King's Raven
Super Moderator
Founder
Hetman
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Reaction score
7,956
Location
The Tower
I would say, then, that insofar as God is responsible for anything at all, including the movement of material things, he is like a soul. But insofar as he united with the universe as a soul is with a body, he isn’t. The soul is the formal cause of the body’s motion. It is to the body what the eye is to seeing. A soul is dependent on its body as a body is dependent on its soul. By contrast, God is the efficient cause of the universe, and the universe may be dependent on God, but God in no way depends on the universe.

To say that God is the soul of the universe is to introduce confusion at best and collapse into pantheism at worst.
I have understood our teachings to deemphasize the material, since we don’t suppose the material has always been the same through the ages. Thus it isn’t as problematic for us as a soul cannot be dependent on the material, but only on God. So that’s a subtle point of difference, though not out of sort with Christian thought entirely, and @Mia Koro would be able to speak on it better than I.
 

The Name of Love

Far Right Nutjob
Joined
Aug 26, 2019
Reaction score
1,334
I have understood our teachings to deemphasize the material, since we don’t suppose the material has always been the same through the ages. Thus it isn’t as problematic for us as a soul cannot be dependent on the material, but only on God. So that’s a subtle point of difference, though not out of sort with Christian thought entirely, and @Mia Koro would be able to speak on it better than I.
The soul is dependent on the material in the sense that it isn't complete without the material. The view that human souls are like angels trapped in flesh is mistaken. To separate a soul from its body is like separating a limb from its body. The body lesser for it.

Therefore, to say God is the universe's soul is to say that God is equal to the universe and dependent on the universe, which is incorrect. I'm not sure how you can avoid this.
 

Tyanna of Pentos

The King's Raven
Super Moderator
Founder
Hetman
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Reaction score
7,956
Location
The Tower
The soul is dependent on the material in the sense that it isn't complete without the material. The view that human souls are like angels trapped in flesh is mistaken. To separate a soul from its body is like separating a limb from its body. The body lesser for it.

Therefore, to say God is the universe's soul is to say that God is equal to the universe and dependent on the universe, which is incorrect. I'm not sure how you can avoid this.

Being careful because I am not a thealogian, my understanding is that the material is just a reflection of the spiritual. We are definitely Neo-Platonists.
 

The Name of Love

Far Right Nutjob
Joined
Aug 26, 2019
Reaction score
1,334
Being careful because I am not a thealogian, my understanding is that the material is just a reflection of the spiritual. We are definitely Neo-Platonists.
Understandable, as I am an Aristotelian. But to my knowledge, Plato too held God to be utterly transcendent. In fact, the Neo-Platonists had a hard time with Christianity precisely because they believed God had absolutely nothing to do with his creation, in contrast to the Christian doctrine of divine revelation. Hence why they invented a hypostasis of God that would allow him to interact with us through an intermediary, what they called the demiurge. I also don’t see how you can reconcile Neo-Platonism with God being the soul of the universe given how, in Platonic dualism, human souls are trapped in our fleshy body and need to be freed. Is God “trapped” in the universe as its soul?

I think that the idea of God being the soul of the universe, again, cannot escape the problem of making the divine more creaturely. You must admit transcendence. You must admit God has no need for his creation to be complete.
 

Tyanna of Pentos

The King's Raven
Super Moderator
Founder
Hetman
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Reaction score
7,956
Location
The Tower
Understandable, as I am an Aristotelian. But to my knowledge, Plato too held God to be utterly transcendent. In fact, the Neo-Platonists had a hard time with Christianity precisely because they believed God had absolutely nothing to do with his creation, in contrast to the Christian doctrine of divine revelation. Hence why they invented a hypostasis of God that would allow him to interact with us through an intermediary, what they called the demiurge. I also don’t see how you can reconcile Neo-Platonism with God being the soul of the universe given how, in Platonic dualism, human souls are trapped in our fleshy body and need to be freed. Is God “trapped” in the universe as its soul?

I think that the idea of God being the soul of the universe, again, cannot escape the problem of making the divine more creaturely. You must admit transcendence. You must admit God has no need for his creation to be complete.
God has no need of Her creation to be complete. But nor does Maid need her body to be complete because otherwise you cannot really say we have an existence after the death of our mortal existence because if the body were required for you to be really real, then your death would, in that sense, end part of the essence of you (I admit you could reconcile this by following the Orthodox teaching to a certain degree in which the soul is in a waiting period until the judgement when there is an actual physical resurrection). To the Filyani Our Mother is the Light of the Universe, and our souls are reflections reilluminated when they were separated from Her by the darkness of nonexistence, the distance from Her being what we call "Khear", separation. All of creation is contained within Her omnipotent power and She is so far beyond that in turn.

As @Mia Koro put it once:

Put very crudely, pantheism holds that God and manifestation are ultimately identical. When you have probed all there is of manifestation (which need not be solely the physical) you have also probed all there is of God. Panentheism holds that all of manifestation is "contained within" God, if you will, but that there is more to God than that.
To be quite frank, if I contradicted myself by saying the Almighty was the soul of the universe, then that was an error of laity in the imperfection of my knowledge of Our Mother, and @Mia Koro 's statement is more absolutely correct. It is a commonly used description of Panentheism, but it may be strictly speaking to some degree inaccurate since while the human soul and the Almighty may be of the same nature, Maid is isolate and imperfect by isolation, and Our Mother is total, perfect, universal, and supra-universal.
 

The Name of Love

Far Right Nutjob
Joined
Aug 26, 2019
Reaction score
1,334
God has no need of Her creation to be complete. But nor does Maid need her body to be complete because otherwise you cannot really say we have an existence after the death of our mortal existence because if the body were required for you to be really real, then your death would, in that sense, end part of the essence of you (I admit you could reconcile this by following the Orthodox teaching to a certain degree in which the soul is in a waiting period until the judgement when there is an actual physical resurrection). To the Filyani Our Mother is the Light of the Universe, and our souls are reflections reilluminated when they were separated from Her by the darkness of nonexistence, the distance from Her being what we call "Khear", separation. All of creation is contained within Her omnipotent power and She is so far beyond that in turn.

As @Mia Koro put it once:



To be quite frank, if I contradicted myself by saying the Almighty was the soul of the universe, then that was an error of laity in the imperfection of my knowledge of Our Mother, and @Mia Koro 's statement is more absolutely correct. It is a commonly used description of Panentheism, but it may be strictly speaking to some degree inaccurate since while the human soul and the Almighty may be of the same nature, Maid is isolate and imperfect by isolation, and Our Mother is total, perfect, universal, and supra-universal.
The immaterial human soul, absent of its body, is like a person that has had a full body amputation. They persist, as the human soul is partly immaterial and, thus, not dependent on the body for its existence, but it is diminished. God sustains and nourishes this soul after death until the Last Resurrection, when all the departed will be given new bodies, completing them. Of course, that last bit is divine revelation.

I think the only conception of God's relationship to the universe is one where the universe and God are utterly distinct and separate, the universe is utterly dependent on God for its existence, and God is in no way dependent on the universe for his existence. If your version of panentheism makes these distinctions, then that's fine. But saying the universe is somehow "a part of God" implies that God needs the universe to be complete.

I understand your not expressing yourself well. Lord knows, I've been there. I'm not the most articulate person myself.
 

Tyanna of Pentos

The King's Raven
Super Moderator
Founder
Hetman
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Reaction score
7,956
Location
The Tower
The immaterial human soul, absent of its body, is like a person that has had a full body amputation. They persist, as the human soul is partly immaterial and, thus, not dependent on the body for its existence, but it is diminished. God sustains and nourishes this soul after death until the Last Resurrection, when all the departed will be given new bodies, completing them. Of course, that last bit is divine revelation.

I think the only conception of God's relationship to the universe is one where the universe and God are utterly distinct and separate, the universe is utterly dependent on God for its existence, and God is in no way dependent on the universe for his existence. If your version of panentheism makes these distinctions, then that's fine. But saying the universe is somehow "a part of God" implies that God needs the universe to be complete.

I understand your not expressing yourself well. Lord knows, I've been there. I'm not the most articulate person myself.
God is in no way dependent on the universe for any part of Her existence, that is thealogical teaching and obvious, objective reality. I merely, without reference to women and men wiser than I am, have not so far succeeded in explaining the distinction which keeps this true, and have written a few communiques about it to my more learned correspondents for clarification. I will certainly share the answers when I get them, or else they will directly, here.
 

The Name of Love

Far Right Nutjob
Joined
Aug 26, 2019
Reaction score
1,334
That’s understandable. You are talking to someone who has read a lot of theology papers for fun.
 

Mia Koro

Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2019
Reaction score
7
If I may, it might be important to contextualize Filianic "panentheism" within that theology's absolute monism. Ultimately, Filianism holds that the existence of a physical universe at all is, from an absolute perspective, illusory. If I may be forgiven for quoting at a little length from our Scriptures, I believe this passage helps to make the meaning plainer:

"Cry Marya! Mother! and in the mists and vapours of illusion thou hast seized the Real. For She alone existeth. The world is false, and only She is true. ... Like to the sea is the Spirit My Mother, and like to the waves upon the sea are all Her creatures. No thing existeth that existeth not in Her. All things are in Her, yet She is not in any thing. The Awakened seeth not things, but seeth only the Spirit My Mother, for no thing is outside Her, and all things are nothing save She. The unawakened is she who seeth but fragments: who seeth the waves, but not the sea; who heareth the voice, but not the word; who seeth the light, but not the sun. These fragments, contradictory, impossible, these are the severed substances of the world. How should the Awakened one see these? Cry: Mother, I know that I am one with Thee and that all things are one in Thee. Awake me from the dream of separation. ... If thou wouldst find union with our Mother, know that thou hast never left Her. If thou wouldst escape the veil of matter, know that there is no matter and no veil." (Teachings 14)

Our particular rendition of the DDC is thus closer in manner of expression to the Advaita Vedanta of many Hindu sects, for example, but I don't think it is incompatible in fundamental meaning with Abrahamic articulations of Creation's utter dependence on God, at least not in the form those assume within highly esoteric branches of Abrahamic thought, such as St Paul's concept of the total union of humanity in the body of Christ, or Ibn Arabi's "wahdat al-wujud".

Where we seem to be getting mixed up on the metaphor of God as the "soul of the universe" (which is, admittedly, technically imprecise) is, I suspect, more about a difference of anthropology. Filianism does not hold to a resurrection of the body and regards the human state as only one of many the soul is likely to assume on its journey back to God. Thus, while we hold to the mutually complementary necessity of soul and body in forming a human being, we do not hold to a mutually complementary necessity of soul and body in the abstract. It is fully expected that the soul has previously existed in bodiless states and will do so again. The body is viewed more under the metaphor of clothing--it has genuine meaning and value within its context, and is genuinely necessary in order to perform certain kinds of roles one may need to assume, but no violence is done (ordinarily) to the body by removing clothing and we do not regard a body without clothing as being incomplete in itself.

Some Filianic teachers actually held that, in the distant Golden Age, clothing was not physical, but was instead an extension of the personal "aura" of the soul, and that physical clothing originated as an imitation of this mode of expression when the subtle faculties that permitted it were lost to souls amidst the growing consolidation of the Decline of the Ages. Whether or not one believes that this was "historically" true, it is a useful parable for expressing an analogy with our idea of the manifest cosmos as arising from "divine play" (Sanskrit: lila). Within a framework that views the illusion of matter as an epiphenomenon of spiritual Reality, the dear Captain-General's use of the phrase "soul of the universe" might become clearer. It is simply to say that the universe as we perceive it is a continual outpouring of grace from the spiritual activity of God--one which is utterly dependent on Her and could be withdrawn without ontological injury to Her, but which She maintains for our benefit and Her own delight--like the smile on a Turkish girl's lips (to paraphrase Hafiz of Shiraz).
 

Tyanna of Pentos

The King's Raven
Super Moderator
Founder
Hetman
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Reaction score
7,956
Location
The Tower
@Mia Koro I thank you most kindly for that clarification and explanation which served both the illuminate me deeper into doctrine and to explain it succinctly to our cordial friend. You are as usual immensely wise in these matters of thealogy.
 

The Name of Love

Far Right Nutjob
Joined
Aug 26, 2019
Reaction score
1,334
Ultimately, Filianism holds that the existence of a physical universe at all is, from an absolute perspective, illusory.
Hm... well, that's one area of disagreement. Orthodox Christian belief dictates that the physical universe isn't illusory. This was spelled out by Albertus Magnus and St. Thomas Aquinas. To quote an online Catholic encyclopedia:

New Advent said:
From the thirteenth century, through the influence of Albertus Magnus and still more of St. Thomas Aquinas, the philosophy of Aristotle, though subjected to some important modifications, became the accredited philosophy of the Church. The dualistic hypothesis of an eternal world existing side by side with God was of course rejected. But the conception of spiritual beings as opposed to matter received fuller definition and development. The distinction between the human soul and the body which it animates was made clearer and their separability emphasized; but the ultra-dualism of Plato was avoided by insisting on the intimate union of soul and body to constitute one substantial being under the conception of form and matter.
The Thomist view is that differences between species of a thing can only be distinguished between bits of matter. According to our metaphysics to say "here is this rock, and here is that rock, and neither are material matter" because specific difference can only happen between things that are material. Our view is that matter is entirely dependent on God for existence, but this doesn't make matter illusory any more than it makes us illusory.

There are also other philosophical problems with idealistic monism that I'd get into later, if you'd like. What I'd allude to is this paper here entitled "Kripke, Ross, and the Immaterial Aspects of Thought." The argument here is one against materialism, but it can easily be employed against idealism if reworded. The way I'd reword it as a defeater of idealism is like this:

  1. No physical process is determinate.
  2. But ideas are determinate.
  3. Thus, no physical process is an idea.
The word "determinate" here means "having determinate content." No physical symbol has determinate meaning. All physical objects we experience have their meanings dependent on context. In contrast, our thoughts, our ideas, do have determinate content. Otherwise, we wouldn't be able to tell what we are even thinking, the idea of which is incoherent. So we have a fundamental difference between thought and the physical world that cannot be collapsed into monism of either kind. If you wish to defend idealistic monism, you must reject one of the two premises. But given how premise one is widely accepted to be one of the jewels of modern analytic philosophy and has been known since ancient times, and denying premise two leads to incoherence, the conclusion in favor of dualism seems solid.

In any case, I'd like to thank you for illuminating a bit more about your metaphysics. It sounds like you have a lot in common with monotheistic forms of (what is today called) Hinduism, which does indeed have a lot more in common with Western-style classical theism than the modern theistic personalism found in many Anglosphere theology departments. Your view of God has more in common with myself than I have fellow Christians like William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantinga, or Richard Swinburne.
 
Top Bottom