Appeared-to-Blogly

January 27, 2012

If God is Pure Act…

Filed under: Philosophical Theology,Philosophy of Religion — camcintosh @ 5:37 pm

Several arguments against divine simplicity can be spun off of the assumption which motivates divine simplicity: that God is pure act. If God is pure act, there is no potentiality in God. If there is no potentiality in God, then there are no things God could have done but has not done. This is because if there were things God could have done but has not done, then there would be unrealized potentialities in God. But there are no unrealized potentialities in God, because God is pure act. So:

(1) God is pure act (P)
(2) If God is pure act, then if God could do x, God does x (P)
(3) If God could do x, God does x (1, 2, MP)
(4) If God does not do x, God could not do x (3, trans)

If (1)-(4) are true (well, really just (2)), then all sorts of absurdities follow. For example, consider the following three arguments, each of which begin with a putatively true proposition:

A1:

(5) God could have created infinitely many universes other than this one
(6) If God could have created infinitely many universes other than this one, God has created infinitely many universes other than this one (3, EI)
(7) If God has created infinitely many universes other than this one, then Lewisian realism is true (P)
(8) Lewisian realism is true (5, 7, MP)

A2:

(5*) God has not refrained from creating this universe
(6*) If God has not refrained from creating this universe, God could not have refrained from creating this universe (4, EI)
(7*) If God could not have refrained from creating this universe, God is not free (P)
(8*) God is not free (5*, 7*, MP)

A3:

(5**) For any x such that x exists and x is not God [hereafter (∀x)(∃x · ~G)], God has not refrained from creating x
(6**) (∀x)(∃x · ~G), if God has not refrained from creating x, then God could not have refrained from creating x (4, EI)
(7**) (∀x)(∃x · ~G), God could not have refrained from creating x (5**, 6**, MP)
(8**) (∀x)(∃x · ~G), if God could not have refrained from creating x, then x exists necessarily (P)
(9) (∀x)(∃x · ~G), x exists necessarily (7**, 8**, MP)
(10) (∀x)(∃x · ~G), if x exists necessarily, then necessitarianism is true
(11) Necessitarianism is true

These are just a few examples. And, of course, more could be said in defense and clarification of each of the arguments’ key premises, (7), (7*), and (8**), respectively. But they’re roughly intuitive for now. One could generate any number of other absurdities, including contradictions, from (1)-(4). This leads me to think that (2) is dubious. But why? What do Thomists say that makes (2) a dubious implication?This posts was inspired by R. T. Mullins’ excellent paper, “Simply Impossible: A Case Against Divine Simplicity.”

Advertisements

1 Comment »

  1. Yes, premise (2) is the dubious premise. Barry Miller deals with the objection (which is also found in works by Leftow and Christopher Hughes) in his book _A Most Unlikely God_ pg. 99-105. He basically distinguishes between two types of contingencies (between an understanding of “God can…” and “It can be that God…”) and is critical of the opinion that God creates from a host of possible worlds (or at least how that’s sometimes understood). The DDS stipulates that in creating God wills His own Goodness and yet his goodness can be brought to bear in a number of contingent ways. That’s the really basic gist of a response, Dolezal’s _God Without Parts_ summarizes Miller’s arguments on p. 205-206.

    Comment by Noah — January 28, 2012 @ 12:36 pm | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.