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Process theology

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Process theology (also known as Neoclassical theology) is a school of thought influenced by the metaphysical process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead (1861 - 1947).

 

The concepts of process theology include:

 

God is not omnipotent in the classical sense of a coercive being. The divine has a power of persuasion rather than force.

 

Reality is not made up of material substances that endure through time, but serially-ordered events, which are experiential in nature.

 

The universe is characterized by process and change carried out by the agents of free will. Self-determination characterizes everything in the universe, not just human beings. God cannot force anything to happen, but rather only influence the exercise of this universal free will by offering possibilities.

 

God contains the universe but is not identical with it (panentheism).

 

Because God contains a changing universe, God is changeable (that is to say, God is affected by the actions that take place in the universe) over the course of time. However, the abstract elements of God (goodness, wisdom, etc.) remain eternally solid.

 

People do not experience a subjective (or personal) immortality, but they do have an objective immortality in that their experiences live on forever in God, who contains all that was.

 

If I believe the above and am ALSO a Christian, I would be a Process Christian.

 

If I believe the above and am ALSO a Panentheist, I would be a Process Panentheist.

 

If I believe the above and am ALSO a Buddhist, I would be a Process Buddhist.

 

If I am a Christian or a Panentheist or a Buddhist but DO NOT believe all (or most) of the above, I would be a NON-Process Christian or Non-Process Panentheist or Non-Process Buddhist.

 

I wouldn't call myself Non-Process Christian or Buddhist, etc... , obviously, anymore than todays Christians, who don't have a clue what Process is, would say "Hi, I'm a non-Process Christian". They just say Christian.

 

I took the term Non-Process as meaning NOT-Process. This isn't what you mean though, is it? :huh:

 

PS: The snip from Wikepedia above is NOT the full article. Also, if the definition as provided by Wikepedia doesn't meet with Panta's liking ( :P ), I'm sorry. :D

Edited by AletheiaRivers

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The problem is LANGUAGE and trying to express an experience of God in words. Like Lolly said about the color RED - If you try to tell someone who HASN'T seen red what red is, you WILL FAIL. But like you said - If it is a shared experience, dialog can develop.

Right. And by the way, the experience of God is ineffable for Wilber, but a hermeneutic can still develop, because I can still recognize your faltering words and recognize that they describe the same experience as my faltering words do. No explanation of redness is RED, but if I've experienced RED, I can tell by your description of it that you have too. No description of God is GOD -- that includes substance ones, process ones, and panentheistic ones -- but if I've experienced GOD, I can tell by your description of that experience that you have too. This is Wilber's sociology of religion in a nutshell, and it's one that allows for both ineffability and the possibility of dialogue.

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God is not omnipotent in the classical sense of a coercive being. The divine has a power of persuasion rather than force.

God is omnipotent in the sense that all power (omni - potent) is ultimately God's power, and there is no power in the universe that is not God's. The "coercive" and "persuasive" interpretations are equally anthropomorphic.

 

Reality is not made up of material substances that endure through time, but serially-ordered events, which are experiential in nature.

I think Process Philosophy claims that reality is made up of events which have both a subjective pole and an objective pole. Materialism (reality is objective, experience is a side-effect) and idealism / mentalism / experientialism (reality is subjective, matter is a side-effect) are both false. Incidentally, I take this to be one of the senses of the doctrine of the "two natures of Christ" -- in Christ, the universe is recognized to be both truly spiritual, and truly material, in nature. Both aspects are held to be completely valid.

 

The universe is characterized by process and change carried out by the agents of free will. Self-determination characterizes everything in the universe, not just human beings. God cannot force anything to happen, but rather only influence the exercise of this universal free will by offering possibilities.

I understand the motivation here, but this way of putting it perpetuates the very notion of God's separateness that we seem to be trying so ardently to avoid! All free-will (the exercise of the subjective pole) and lawlike behavior (the exercise of the objective pole) are manifestations of God's being wherever they appear. "God" doesn't persuade "me" to do something good; my choice to do something good just IS God incarnate, "Christ living in me."

 

Because God contains a changing universe, God is changeable (that is to say, God is affected by the actions that take place in the universe) over the course of time. However, the abstract elements of God (goodness, wisdom, etc.) remain eternally solid.

Changeability and unchangeability are attributes of created things. God is neither changeable nor unchangeable, just as God is neither being nor becoming, neither free nor determined, neither existent nor non-existent, and so forth... more precisely, God completely transcends and unites these distinctions in a Reality more fundamental than any of them. One of those mandalic paradoxes that logic cannot grasp.

 

My $.02 is that, in general, process philosophy just emphasizes the opposite pole from classical / substance philosophy, and as such has an important corrective (but relative) value. Ultimately though, I don't think it's any less misleading than classical theism.

 

Now that I've opened that can of worms.... ;)

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The problem is LANGUAGE and trying to express an experience of God in words. Like Lolly said about the color RED - If you try to tell someone who HASN'T seen red what red is, you WILL FAIL. But like you said - If it is a shared experience, dialog can develop.

Right. And by the way, the experience of God is ineffable for Wilber, but a hermeneutic can still develop, because I can still recognize your faltering words and recognize that they describe the same experience as my faltering words do. No explanation of redness is RED, but if I've experienced RED, I can tell by your description of it that you have too. No description of God is GOD -- that includes substance ones, process ones, and panentheistic ones -- but if I've experienced GOD, I can tell by your description of that experience that you have too. This is Wilber's sociology of religion in a nutshell, and it's one that allows for both ineffability and the possibility of dialogue.

Quite true. In fact you could probably say that all of transpersonal psychology and Wilber's efforts have been in part developing a language by which folks experiencing these phenomena can dialogue with one another. While it might not be entirely true, have always thought that the old adage "all mystic speak the same language" was largely true as was the other adage that mystics of various religions often feel closer to mystics of other religions than non-mystics of their own-gets at the differences between esoteric & exoteric religious views. On the level of dogma-many differences; on the level of mystical experiences of the Divine-many similarities: hmm, might that not in part be a reflection of that dynamic of multiplicity & unity; apophatic & kataphatic, etc.? Like lolly, I'm fairly new to the discussion og formal theology & philospohy having spent my learning in other related fields. So, perhaps I, too, am not using language which adequately clarifies what I'm attempting to say. But, that's OK-diversity enlarges and stimulates. Take care, Earl

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Fred wrote: Materialism (reality is objective, experience is a side-effect) and idealism / mentalism / experientialism (reality is subjective, matter is a side-effect) are both false. ... (snip) ... Changeability and unchangeability are attributes of created things. God is neither changeable nor unchangeable, just as God is neither being nor becoming, neither free nor determined, neither existent nor non-existent, and so forth... more precisely, God completely transcends and unites these distinctions in a Reality more fundamental than any of them. One of those mandalic paradoxes that logic cannot grasp.

 

Fred, you and I seem to be on the same page so much that it's scaring me! Hehehehe :P I may get myself in trouble when I say that I UNDERSTAND the paradox.

 

Here is a quote that is similar to what you wrote that I like. I quoted it on the Taoism thread, so I'm repeating myself. The article uses the term MONISM. I am NOT a monist. However, I can interpret the word "Monism" in the article as meaning God or God's nature, which would probably really piss the webowner off, because he seems to be pantheistic humanist atheist. LOL.

 

What is confusing/frustrating/intriguing is that as I read this article, I SEE PROCESS THEOLOGY in it. The "Potential filled nothingness/unlimited potential" I correlate with the "Abstract/Absolute" pole of Process Theism. The NECESSITY of the potential filled nothingness as HAVING to produce the finite, I correlate with Panta's statement about creation HAVING to flow from creativity. It maintains the "ineffable paradox" of God encompassing all opposites.

 

It's long, but it's REALLY GOOD, especially the bold paragraph. I'm hoping you and Panta will REALLY read it.

 

Varieties of Monism

 

In the parlance of philosophy, dialectical monism is a neutral monism. In this sense it is subtly different than the two prevailing monisms of philosophical history - the materialistic and the idealistic.

 

Materialism attempts to reduce all phenomena to matter and its properties, while idealism attempts to reduce all things to some type of 'mind,' however that term may be understood within a given system.

 

Neutral monism, on the other hand, reduces phenomena to something else, a 'basic substrate' generally thought to be more fundamental than either mind or matter, and giving rise to both. Neutral monism has taken a variety of forms and been subject to a number of interpretations since its advent, but here we will talk about only those which are consistent with dialectical monism, briefly defined as the view that unity is duality, as duality is unity.

 

Problems With Other Monisms

 

(Snip) ... At the risk of oversimplifying, we will only say here that the most critical flaw in materialism is the incontrovertible fact that matter is not fundamental even in physical reality. Energy is prerequisite to matter, just as the 'quantum field' or 'potentiality/nothingness' is prerequisite to energy. (Snip) ...

 

It is generally agreed that idealism, on the other hand, suffers from even more grevious problems, none of which we will be able to give adequate treatment here. However, we might touch upon the most serious problems by asking "if all reduces to 'mind,' what is mind?" All attempts to define "mind" meaningfully at this level of abstraction end in the appearance of a nebulous sort of 'nothingness' not much different from the ultimate void of materialism ... (snip).

 

Neutral Monism - A Middle Way

 

So what, then, are the advantages of a neutral monism? First and foremost is the fact that such a view accords with reality as we observe it. (Snip) ...

 

A neutral monism based on our modern understanding of reality must take into account the fact that this 'potential-filled nothingness' is the bedrock of the world and is prerequisite to both matter and mind. ... (Snip) Dialectical monism, although a philosophical rather than a scientific position, demands the greatest respect for the 'real' physics of modern science, considering that it is largely based on interpreting such physics. If dialectical monism is not consistent with physical science, it is without value. (Snip)

 

"An infinite whole cannot possess finite qualities in and of itself. It may contain or encompass finite aspects within itself, but when taken as a totality, no finite qualities can be assigned to it. As a result, the only form which existence can take (in the ultimate sense) is the form of pure potential. Potential, unrealized, is infinite by nature - it is all possibilities with no defined outcomes.

 

This unlimited potential, by necessity, brings about the constant change in form and structure we observe around us. This occurs due to the fact that the infinite must produce finite manifestations (such as our universe and its myriad forms), for if it were not so, there would be no true potential. Potential must be capable of actualizing, or it is not potential at all.

 

If the ultimate sense of existence does not consist of pure potential, it consists of nothing at all, which constitutes non-existence, a violation of the second existential principle [establishing that non-existence cannot, by definition, exist].

 

Therefore, existence in the ultimate sense is not physical (for 'potential' is the opposite of 'actual'), but physicality must necessarily flow from it. This can be somewhat difficult to understand at first glance, but with due contemplation, the meaning becomes clear.

 

The nature of existence is, by necessity, such that the infinite will always produce finite (physical) manifestations which are subject to the overriding principle of physicality, which can best be described as 'constant change.' This principle is most fundamental because if the finite (physical) were not subject to change, it would posess a quality of infinity and could no longer be called finite at all."

 

The Creative Principle

 

Here we see why it should be that this Sunyata or 'potential-filled nothingness' should bring forth anything at all. If it did not, it would not be pure potentiality but actual non-existence, which cannot exist. (Snip) ...

 

So, we see that the infinite must bring forth the finite, and in that sense is the finite. The absolute must bring forth the relative, and in that sense is the relative. The Tao must bring forth the Taiji (the union of yin and yang or 'Universal Dialectic'), and in that sense the Tao is the Taiji.

 

And like I've said before, the especially weird/cool thing for me regarding this webpage is that I thought up my nickname, I thought up the phrase "duality in unity" which I equated with yin/yang, and I thought up the idea of "neutral" MONTHS BEFORE I ever came across the webpage. The Aletheian Institute - The Universal Dialectic

Edited by AletheiaRivers

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I would have to say I can't find much in there to complain about. My sense is that this "neutral monism" takes more seriously the transcendent otherness of God than process philosophy does, but I won't put any official stamp on that. At the present moment, someone better acquainted with Whitehead and/or Process Theology needs to tell me if I'm right or wrong about that. I know that recent proposals like open theism severely limit God's knowledge of, and power in, the world -- in my opinion, by confusing God's transendence and immanence -- and so I don't buy them. (As I said earlier, I think concepts like God's "coersion" or "persuasion" of the world are confused anyway.)

 

I only want to add one thing to the very last part (The Creative Principle) -- not to criticize it, but to emphasize something I think it implies, but doesn't say outright. Logically / structurally, this "Creative Principle" is all we're strictly allowed to say. We can say that the absolute must actualize the relative, in order for it to properly exist as potential; but we cannot say anything meaningful about why this particular universe exists -- and we definitely cannot extrapolate from this particular universe to predicate anything about God, or about what God's "constraints" might have been in creating it. The question of why this particular universe can only have one possible answer -- pure, radical choice.

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I know that recent proposals like open theism severely limit God's knowledge of, and power in, the world -- in my opinion, by confusing God's transendence and immanence -- and so I don't buy them. (As I said earlier, I think concepts like God's "coersion" or "persuasion" of the world are confused anyway.)

 

My current understanding of Open Theism's theological/ontological view towards God's knowledge of and power in the world is not the same as what you seem to be saying. However, I've heard critics of OV say the same thing as what you seem to be saying: that OV limits God's power and omniscience. It's been my experience in my research that critics of OV are actually criticizing MISUNDERSTANDINGS of OV made by Calvinists, other determinists, etc...

 

I've mentioned in several posts that I lean towards open theism in that OV says that God DOESN'T interfere in the world as opposed to CAN'T interfere in the world. I found it ontologically satisfying to say God WILLINGLY relates to creatures and that God won't FORCE us to do anything, but might "nudge" us (persuade).

 

Would you mind telling me how you think OV confuses God's transcendance and immanence and why "persuasion" is a confused concept? When you said free will is a manifestation of God's being wherever it appears - I don't think I understand. Are you saying my free will is not MY free will? :huh:

 

We can say that the absolute must actualize the relative, in order for it to properly exist as potential; but we cannot say anything meaningful about why this particular universe exists -- and we definitely cannot extrapolate from this particular universe to predicate anything about God, or about what God's "constraints" might have been in creating it.

 

So, are you saying that if God had created ANOTHER relative universe, one with attributes/laws quite different from our own, that the sentient beings in THAT universe might be trying to extrapolate ideas/views/ontologies about God based on THEIR universe? And that doing so is not completely true because God COULD HAVE created another universe different from theirs?

Edited by AletheiaRivers

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PS: I differ from OV in a few ways. One of which is that OV says God "willingly forgoes knowledge of future freewill decisions of creatures". To me that makes it sound like God is willingly staying out of our minds and conversations or that God is willingly not looking into the future.

 

I don't go that far. I think that everything that logically can be known by God IS known by God. So if I make a mental decision to do something, God knows it. If there are a series of events happening in the earths crust that will lead up to an earthquake, God knows it. In that sense God can supremely predict what future happenings will be. But I don't believe the future has happened yet and that God can just watch the future happen like a TV show.

 

PS: Of course, I might be misinterpreting what some OV theists mean when they say God "willingly forgoes knowledge of future freewill decisions of creatures". It could be that I'm actually saying the same thing, but that I just don't like the way some OV theists have worded it.

 

PPS: I did NOT come to an OV theologically, I came to an OV on my own philosophically. I can understand the criticizisms against OV when it comes to God bringing his "will" to fruition. However, I never had any "will" of God (from a Christian standpoint) in mind when I formulated my OWN open view of God. :)

Edited by AletheiaRivers

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Would you mind telling me how you think OV confuses God's transcendance and immanence and why "persuasion" is a confused concept? When you said free will is a manifestation of God's being wherever it appears - I don't think I understand. Are you saying my free will is not MY free will?  :huh:

You're actually asking three questions:

 

#3. Sure it is; you're a panentheist right? Your free will is in God. :) I know it sounds like a silly distinction, but it isn't. You are either free in the sense of being free from God's will, or free in the sense of being free in God's will. If nothing exists apart from God, how can you be free from God in any way? But you are free. You are free because God is perfect freedom, and the universe participates in God. That's what I meant by, "free will is a manifestation of God's being wherever it appears."

 

#2. The reason I think "persuasion" is confused, is that it depends on a notion of a God "out there" influencing a decision by me "over here." In the causal realm, events and things influence other events and things; but God isn't an event or thing in the causal realm: God is the eternal Spring of the causal realm itself. God is the Meta-Cause of all causes (like we have any idea what that means).

 

#1. OV says that God in Godself cannot know the future of the causal realm, because the future does not exist, and therefore cannot be known. But the future can only logically be said not to exist in relation to the present. In God's incarnational immanence (i.e. logos / Christ), God would be self-limited with respect to knowledge about the future; but as transcendent, God has no such limitation. That's the confusion. Of course, God's transcendental knowledge of the entire causal realm would have a radically different character than the sort of piecemeal informational knowledge that characterizes immanence, but I'm not going to try to speculate on what can and cannot be known in God's transcendental mode of being. :)

 

So, are you saying that if God had created ANOTHER relative universe, one with attributes/laws quite different from our own, that the sentient beings in THAT universe might be trying to extrapolate ideas/views/ontologies about God based on THEIR universe? And that doing so is not completely true because God COULD HAVE created another universe different from theirs?

Umm... yes, I think? :blink: Really, I just meant to say that the the character of God doesn't logically follow from the structure of the universe. Too much is lost in the translation. :)

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You're actually asking three questions:

I knew that. ;)

#3. Sure it is; you're a panentheist right? Your free will is in God.  I know it sounds like a silly distinction, but it isn't. You are either free in the sense of being free from God's will, or free in the sense of being free in God's will. If nothing exists apart from God, how can you be free from God in any way? But you are free. You are free because God is perfect freedom, and the universe participates in God. That's what I meant by, "free will is a manifestation of God's being wherever it appears."

Ooooohhhh, I get what you're saying and I TOTALLY agree. B) I really appreciate you saying that "God is perfect freedom" because that is a concept I grasped a while ago, but haven't been able to put into words except to say "neutrality". By that I mean that all choices, all freedoms exist within God. As a panentheist, I believe we exist within God, so we have the same perfect freedom. Thank you!

#2. The reason I think "persuasion" is confused, is that it depends on a notion of a God "out there" influencing a decision by me "over here." In the causal realm, events and things influence other events and things; but God isn't an event or thing in the causal realm: God is the eternal Spring of the causal realm itself. God is the Meta-Cause of all causes (like we have any idea what that means).

I THINK I see what you're saying. The term "persuasion" still imparts an "outside in" mode of action. How do you think God is active in the world then? What word besided "persuade" might you choose?

#1. OV says that God in Godself cannot know the future of the causal realm, because the future does not exist, and therefore cannot be known. But the future can only logically be said not to exist in relation to the present. In God's incarnational immanence (i.e. logos / Christ), God would be self-limited with respect to knowledge about the future; but as transcendent, God has no such limitation. That's the confusion. Of course, God's transcendental knowledge of the entire causal realm would have a radically different character than the sort of piecemeal informational knowledge that characterizes immanence, but I'm not going to try to speculate on what can and cannot be known in God's transcendental mode of being.

Hmmm. Let's see how to explain what I intuit. Ummm, in a nutshell, the PRESENT is all that exists. Everything is NOW. There is no "future". I don't mind speculating on what God can know transcendentally because I don't think what I'm "intuiting" is contrary to anything but hard core determinism. I think that anything that can be known by God IS known by God, God having an all encompassing view of, well, everything. :D

 

But I think it's a slippery slope to say that God knows absolutely everything about the future, down to the very last detail, as if God can watch the whole of time like a TV show. If absolutely everything in the future can be known by God, then we don't have any options. We cannot make any other decisions. We can only do what God has foreseen. <_<

 

If, on the other hand, we make a decision other than what God foresees, can it truly be said that God has perfect foreknowledge? Obviously not if we just went contrary to it. :blink:

 

Umm... yes, I think?  Really, I just meant to say that the the character of God doesn't logically follow from the structure of the universe. Too much is lost in the translation.

LOL! :lol: Me being complicated again! :P

Edited by AletheiaRivers

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God is omnipotent in the sense that all power (omni - potent) is ultimately God's power, and there is no power in the universe that is not God's.  The "coercive" and "persuasive" interpretations are equally anthropomorphic.

 

All "actual entities" have power.

'Actual entities'--also termed 'actual occasions'--are the final real things of which the world is made up. There is no going behind actual entities to find anything more real. They differ among themselves: God is an actual entity, and so is the most trivial puff of existence in far-off empty space. But, though there are gradations of importance, and diversities of function, yet in the principles which actuality exemplifies all are on the same level. The final facts are, all alike, actual entities. [/i]

 

God is omni-potent only in the sense that God has the most (internal) power it is possible to have. Internal power is relational power - the power to influence and be influenced. God is influenced by all and influences all. Coercive power can only be possessed by a less-than-all-inclusive individual. It is metaphyscially impossible for God to have coercive power. Confusion arises because coercion and persuasion are often used in a psychological sense. Process Theology generally uses the terms in a metaphysical sense. One way to understand the difference is in terms of self-determiniation or freedom and the difference is either none or some. If the power exercised is coercive, the entity it is being exercised upon has no self-determination or freedom as to the outcome. If the power is persuasive, the entity has at least some freedom.

 

This, by the way, is an important concept for the theodicy of Process Theology. Because God does not have ALL the power, God cannot be indicted for evil.

 

 

I think Process Philosophy claims that reality is made up of events which have both a subjective pole and an objective pole.  Materialism (reality is objective, experience is a side-effect) and idealism / mentalism / experientialism (reality is subjective, matter is a side-effect) are both false.  Incidentally, I take this to be one of the senses of the doctrine of the "two natures of Christ" -- in Christ, the universe is recognized to be both truly spiritual, and truly material, in nature.  Both aspects are held to be completely valid.

 

The "physical pole" is the prehension of objects (past events). The "mental pole" is the prehension of possibilities or forms. "Material" implies substance and according to Process Theology (and quantum physics, for that matter), there is no substance, no "matter".

 

I understand the motivation here, but this way of putting it perpetuates the very notion of God's separateness that we seem to be trying so ardently to avoid!  All free-will (the exercise of the subjective pole) and lawlike behavior (the exercise of the objective pole) are manifestations of God's being wherever they appear.  "God" doesn't persuade "me" to do something good; my choice to do something good just IS God incarnate, "Christ living in me."

 

It seems to me, that this way of putting it denies panentheism and regresses to pantheism. If whatever IS, is God, then how can God be the source of value and ethics. The classical complaint against pantheism is that IS = OUGHT.

 

Because God contains a changing universe, God is changeable (that is to say, God is affected by the actions that take place in the universe) over the course of time. However, the abstract elements of God (goodness, wisdom, etc.) remain eternally solid.

Changeability and unchangeability are attributes of created things. God is neither changeable nor unchangeable, just as God is neither being nor becoming, neither free nor determined, neither existent nor non-existent, and so forth... more precisely, God completely transcends and unites these distinctions in a Reality more fundamental than any of them. One of those mandalic paradoxes that logic cannot grasp.

 

It is not a paradox, it is irrational and meaningless. Why insist that God "transcends" all categories? What is the point, unless it is to completely separate God from reality and our experience? There would be no way to relate to this kind of "Gobbledegook God". How can the concept of this kind of God be the ground of value, a source of comfort, a "fellow-sufferer who understands"? Is there any sense that we can say of this concept of God, that God is love?

 

My $.02 is that, in general, process philosophy just emphasizes the opposite pole from classical / substance philosophy, and as such has an important corrective (but relative) value.  Ultimately though, I don't think it's any less misleading than classical theism.

 

What would be the basis for trying to decide whether process philosophy is more or less misleading that classical theism? Your "God" doesn't fit any rational categories, so what are you going to do? Trust your "intuition"?

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Hmmm. Let's see how to explain what I intuit. Ummm, in a nutshell, the PRESENT is all that exists. Everything is NOW. There is no "future".

I think I know what you think you mean. ;) Remember my blabberings on time and Eternity a little while ago? That Eternity is the ground of time past, present, and future, transcending and radically negating the whole lot? What I think you mean by PRESENT/NOW is the inbreaking of Eternity into time -- not the mundane present moment. In the causal scheme of things, there is absolutely nothing special about the present, it's simply a reference point on one dimension of the continuum of space-time. In the eternal scheme of things, the present moment is the place where God breaks in and claims us. But this sense of PRESENT has nothing to do with time; it has to do with awareness. You are correctly privileging this sense of PRESENT over the mundane past and future; but (it sounds like, maybe?) you are confusing these two senses of present, and incorrectly privileging the space-time present over the space-time past and future. In any case, a denial of the causal realm of space and time is a denial of the objective aspect of reality, in favor of the subjective aspect, and I have to reject that. And you claimed to agree with that rejection earlier today. ;)

 

Does that make ANY sense whatsoever? :blink:

 

But I think it's a slippery slope to say that God knows absolutely everything about the future, down to the very last detail, as if God can watch the whole of time like a TV show. If absolutely everything in the future can be known by God, then we don't have any options. We cannot make any other decisions. We can only do what God has foreseen.  <_< 

 

If, on the other hand, we make a decision other than what God foresees, can it truly be said that God has perfect foreknowledge? Obviously not if we just went contrary to it.  :blink:

This seems to be one of the most difficult problems with free will, and yet it's easy to see that it's a false problem. Why should knowledge of a choice alter its status as a free choice? A choice isn't free because no one knows I'm going to do it; it's free because I choose to do it. My wife knew I was going to vote Nader in 2000 and 2004, but it was still a free choice. Knowledge had nothing to do with it. In fact, one might well reason that the more fully someone knows me, the more they would know what my free choices will be. Interesting... I got my own wheels turning.

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AletheiaRivers:

 

But I think it's a slippery slope to say that God knows absolutely everything about the future, down to the very last detail, as if God can watch the whole of time like a TV show. If absolutely everything in the future can be known by God, then we don't have any options. We cannot make any other decisions. We can only do what God has foreseen. 

 

 

This idea that God knows the future seems to imply, to me, determinism. It contradicts the notion of free will.

 

However...

 

I can imagine a God that knows all possible outcomes and what needs to happen for each outcome to occur.

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Fred wrote: In any case, a denial of the causal realm of space and time is a denial of the objective aspect of reality, in favor of the subjective aspect, and I have to reject that. And you claimed to agree with that rejection earlier today.

 

I did? Where? Seriously, I couldn't find it. Not being argumentative, just trying to understand what I apparently already agreed with. :blink: Sometimes when things are worded differently they "BOING" cause a light to go on. Perhaps you are referring to where I agreed that MATERIALISM ONLY is false, as is IDEALISM ONLY? Does that mean that I'm agreeing that reality is objective ONLY (and not also subjective)? I mean, I believe reality can be known. I'm not Kantian. But I also don't deny that subjective interpretations of reality happens.

 

Fred wrote: A choice isn't free because no one knows I'm going to do it; it's free because I choose to do it. My wife knew I was going to vote Nader in 2000 and 2004, but it was still a free choice. Knowledge had nothing to do with it. In fact, one might well reason that the more fully someone knows me, the more they would know what my free choices will be.

 

Isn't that what I said? :huh:I think that anything that can be known by God IS known by God, God having an all encompassing view of, well, everything.

 

I don't think we are actually disagreeing about anything here. :)

 

God knows I love sushi. God knows that I'm planning to go out for sushi tomorrow. If however, I hadn't even thought of sushi, I don't think God would know that I was going to go on a specific day at a specific time until *I* had decided to go on a specific day at a specific time.

 

Also, God knows my heart so well that she could "know" whether I will stay a Christian or not, but I don't think the DAY I leave Christianity is chosen or known.

 

Lolly wrote: I can imagine a God that knows all possible outcomes and what needs to happen for each outcome to occur.

 

Me too, which is what I'm trying to get across, not very successfully I might add. :mellow:

Edited by AletheiaRivers

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all great thoughts... but if time is a human construct......?????

 

Can God see across time/without time/from outside time, however you want to phrase it. Basically God's omnipotence makes sense if time is not a variable in "His" perspective. Y'think????

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Boy did I screw up the formatting of my last post!

 

Fred,

You continue to put forth the concept of God as being infinite and absolute - a God that is "Wholly Other". But upon what basis should I accept such a concept? If I have a choice between two concepts and one of them makes sense and the other claims to "transcend logic" and involves contradiction and incoherency - why should I accept it?

 

As you know, if there is a thesis and an antithesis, a synthesis is only possible when presuppositions are re-examined and changed. The concept and worship of an "infinite" God has been around for a long time. Why assume its truth? Especially if it leads logically to the denial of our experience?

 

The choice is to either accept the idea that the concrete (actual) can be produced from the abstract (infinite) [which it can be shown to be an impossibility], or the abstract is produced by or abstracted from the concrete.

 

In another post to Alethia, I defined the Ontological Principle. Basically, it is the principle that EVERYTHING must be derived from an actual entity. Is God an exception to this?

 

If everything is derived from an actual entity, it becomes very important to understand the nature of an actual entity. Whitehead's description is very complex and in some ways more complete than Wilber's, but on the other hand, Wilber's description is more complete than Whitehead's. Wilber uses the term "holon" rather than "actual entity":

 

Individual holons are entities that have agency and localized interiority or consciousness—in addition to unified exteriority. (If the interiority was not localized or the exteriority not unified we would be talking about collective or macro, as opposed to individual or micro holons).

 

Every holarchy is composed of holons, each one simultaneously a part and a whole. As a part, we have called the holon a "junior" or "constitutive element"; other names we could use are "primitive" or "root". As a whole, we have called the holon a "senior" or "holonic system"; other names we could use are "evolution" or "development". For example, atoms are "primitives" of the molecule and the molecule is an "evolution" of the atoms. This holonic inclusion refers to the creative emergence of organic components, as opposed to the natural or artificial composition of atoms into bigger but still inorganic structures (heaps or artifacts). As Whitehead would say, when creativity approaches zero there is strict causality. Creativity shifts the balance, making the "transcend" part more important than the "preserve" part. Thus, the novel holon emerges. To explain the universe, Whitehead says that one needs three foundational concepts: one, many, creativity. Wilber's Kosmos can be explained with only two: holon, creativity.

 

Examples of individual holons are the ones in the top two quadrants of SES's AQAL (all quadrant all level) diagram: prehension/atoms, irritability/molecules, etc. (Wilber's model is really all quadrant all levels all lines all states and all types, I'm focusing here only on the quadrant-level pair.) It is important to note that each holon has both an interior and an exterior dimension: prehension is the interior view and atom is the exterior view of the "same" holon. Other examples are the memes from Spiral Dynamics (with their corresponding neuronal patterns). In this theory, the orange meme is a senior holon that transcends and includes the blue meme. Another example is the holarchical nature of time. Each holon, at a particular instant, is a junior holon of itself at the next instant: that is to say that over time, a holon evolves integrating and transcending itself continuously. The whole "this moment" is the part of the whole "next moment". Each moment prehends its predecessors, as Whitehead would say.

 

It seems to me, that your idea of God matches Whitehead's (and Wilber's) CREATIVITY. But CREATIVITY has no agency. It doesn't DO anything. Creativity is exercised by a holon.

 

Anselm defined God as that which is unsurpassable by all others. Unfortunately his concept of God was that of an Infinite and Absolute Whole, and therefore his Ontological Argument failed. But if there are holons which include other holons, we can ask Anselm's question - is there an Unsurpassable Holon? It would be a Holon which included all other Holons (the Kosmos) but would transcend the Kosmos as its "this moment" became part of the next moment.

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Alethia,

 

This is where "dialectical monism" goes astray (other than the fact that dialectical monism is an oxymoron):

 

This unlimited potential, by necessity, brings about the constant change in form and structure we observe around us. This occurs due to the fact that the infinite must produce finite manifestations (such as our universe and its myriad forms), for if it were not so, there would be no true potential. Potential must be capable of actualizing, or it is not potential at all.

 

It denies the Ontological Principle. This Principle is not the invention of Whitehead but has been well-tested by philosophers going back to Aristotle. DesCartes said that, ""For this reason, when we perceive any attribute, we therefore conclude that some existing thing or substance [actual entity] to which it may be attributed is necessarily present"'

 

 

Whoever came up with this "dialectical monism" has to be credited with understanding the dilemna that the "substance monists" are in. However, s/he commits the logical fallacy of assuming that his/her argument is a necessary conclusion because the other's argument fails. Dialectical monism may be found on the internet, but I doubt if it has any history in philosophy.

 

The question which must be answered is whether agency or creativity is an attribute of potentiality. In order for "potential" to be capable of actualizing, it must have the power to do so. John Locke argued that only "substances have the power to produce".

 

Whitehead said of Locke's argument:

 

The notion of'substance' is transformed into that of 'actual entity'; and the notion of 'power' is transformed into the principle that the reasons for things are always to be found in the composite nature of definite actual entities--in the nature of God for reasons of the highest absoluteness, and in the nature of definite temporal actual entities for reasons which refer to a particular environment. The ontological principle can be summarized as: no actual entity, then no reason.

Edited by PantaRhea

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all great thoughts... but if time is a human construct......?????

 

Can God see across time/without time/from outside time, however you want to phrase it.  Basically God's omnipotence makes sense if time is not a variable in "His" perspective.  Y'think????

 

I thought there was general agreement that God is not "supernatural"? Should we begin another topic on Natural Theology vs. Supernatural Theology?

 

Anyway, here's a very interesting post on the subject of "time".

 

From : George Shields <gshields@GWMAIL.KYSU.EDU>

Reply-To : Topics pertaining to Process Thought <PROCESS-PHILOSOPHY@JISCMAIL.AC.UK>

Sent : Wednesday, April 6, 2005 3:18 PM

To : PROCESS-PHILOSOPHY@JISCMAIL.AC.UK

Subject : Re: arrow of time

 

 

Just a quick post in light of the earlier comments by process folk with

a physics orientation regarding temporal asymmetry.

 

Milic Capek presented an argument that seems to me to be unanswerable,

yet it has not quite received the attention it deserves in process

circles. In a paper I published several years ago in the American

Journal of Theo. & Philosophy (May 2001), I call this the 'Capek

Argument'. It is directed against those who, like Gruenbaum, Putnam, and

Weyl, want to interpret relativity physics as supportive of a monistic

'block of being' ontology. I stylized the Argument this way:

 

Premise 1: All partisans accept the notion of A-series temporal

experience as a phenomenological given. The notions of "past," present"

and "future" are intelligible and communicable, because we experience

past and present and anticipate the future.

 

Presmise 2: Parallelism, which denies mind-brain causal influence in

either direction, is inherently mysterious and arbitrary; it is an ad

hoc solution to the difficulties of Cartesian mind-to-brain causation.

 

 

Premise 3: All other models of the mind-brain relation posit at least

sine qua non causal influence in the direction of brain (or neural

system) to mind.

 

Premise 4: If a tenseless monistic ontology holds, then brain "events"

are themselves tenseless and are all present simultaneously somewhere on

a continuum of being.

 

Premise 5: If brain events are at least sine qua non causal influences

upon mental or conscious states, then the conscious states themsevles

should be tenseless.

 

Conclusion: Either we must embrace parallelism (with its mystery and

arbitrariness) or reject the notion that temporal experience is even a

phenomenological fact.

 

These are unpalatable horns of a dilemma that proponents of atemporal

monism surely want to avoid. In effect, how can we explain even the

illusion of temporal experience if we factor in the mind-brain relation?

 

 

One implication of this argument (if sound) is that, special epistemic

pressure ought to be brought to bear against interpreting physical

theories in a way that gives rise to a denial of the arrow of time. We

ought to look for the artificial ontologizing of quantities in our

mathematical formulae and be on the look for the 'fallacy of misplaced

concreteness' (e.g., in the interpretation of the abstract 't' in

formulae of physical theories).

 

Thanks,

George Shields

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all great thoughts... but if time is a human construct......?????

 

Can God see across time/without time/from outside time, however you want to phrase it.  Basically God's omnipotence makes sense if time is not a variable in "His" perspective.  Y'think????

 

I thought there was general agreement that God is not "supernatural"? Should we begin another topic on Natural Theology vs. Supernatural Theology?

 

 

 

I think that many of us agree that time does not exist. It is a construct that is critical to our human experience. I do not believe that it factors into "od's experience". This has nothing to do with supernatural vs. natural. It is a limitation of the human mind. There are many others.

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This is definitely NOT panentheism 101! But I'm listening and trying to glean what I can from the conversation.

Yeah, FredP, what are ya anyways. ;) panentheist?, not process, classical?, ??

I might try the Mesle book then, thanks Panta.

 

"Process Buddhist" ? - My take on that is Buddhists are nontheists and wouldn't even be having the same conversation.

 

Since panentheism #4 is included in the Wikipedia criteria for process, therefore you could not be a process christian without also being panentheist. Technically from the criteria stated in Wikipedia a person could be panentheist but not process.

 

I've been reading more of Clayton's Papers from ctr4process.org site.

 

I do like Clayton better than what I've read of Cobb, Peacocke, Griffin. I still suspect that Clayton is more panentheist than process and/or that he may be a *form* of process that's different than Cobb, etc. But if you asked me to nail that down I couldn't tell ya.

 

The following is From Clayton paper: "The Panentheistic Turn in Christian Theology: Dialog #2" ThePanenetheisticTurninXtianTheology2.pdf

 

God cannot vs God does not. Panentheist Clayton, who Panta says is process, definitely says that God does not. (page 6)

 

I'm not fully understanding the substance ontology versus event ontology issues. Clayton mentions a few reasons to object to substance ontology 1) wouldn't allow for the everything in God yet separate concept and 2) views on power. (page 2)

 

The following from Clayton paper: "Panentheist Internalism: Living within the Presence of the Trinitarian God" PanentheistInternalism.pdf

 

Clayton's views on divine action (page 6)

1) Since everything is in God, then every event in the world is a divine act. Using the world as God's body analogy, he calls this autonomic divine action, like the breathing and blood circulation that our bodies carry out without conscious direction

2) But in other cases God chooses to exercise a conscious influence on events, (intentional divine action) similar to the intentional actions we engage in.

 

Also read: "The Case for Christian panentheism" TheCaseforXtianPanentheism1.pdf

Oh, and I really like the one I mentioned previously, "Can Liberals Still Believe that God (Literally) Does Anything?" CanLiberalsStillBelieve.pdf

 

I'd love it if someone else would read these papers and tell me what you think of them. They'd be good discussion material as they are credible, available to everyone for free, and accessible enough for the average panentheism 101 person.

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Cynthia,

 

I think that many of us agree that time does not exist.  It is a construct that is critical to our human experience.  I do not believe that it factors into "od's experience".  This has nothing to do with supernatural vs. natural.  It is a limitation of the human mind.  There are many others.

 

It has everything to do with supernatural vs. natural. The central concept behind a supernatural God is that of a Being which is outside of time and nature.

 

All concepts are constructs including the concept of time. However, we do not construct our experiences. We experience time because of the process of reality. Time is created by events. If God has no experiences, God cannot experience time, of course. A God with no experiences might be described as infinite and absolute - supernatural. The question is, does such a God exist? If God has no experiences, God cannot experience our existence. Conversely, we cannot experience such a God. Only that which we can experience can have any meaning for us. Therefore, the concept of a God without experience is meaningless.

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panta - with respect and frustration, I give. Clearly our logical processes are so different that what apparently makes sense to you is close to meaningless to me and I gather that works both ways! :P

 

Any chance we can go back to panentheisem 101 on this thread???

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WindDancer,

 

If Clayton is an advocate of Harteshorne as he claims, he is definitely a Process Theologian:

 

I advocate a dipolar doctrine of God in which the eternal nature of God preceded the world and the consequent (personal, responsive) side of God has emerged in the course of universal history. This assertion reflects my debt to Charles Hartshorne, who followed Whitehead9 in distinguishing between the primordial and the consequent nature of God, and to Schelling10, who identified the Ground and the Consequent in God. p. 5

 

There is nothing in this claim which differs from Process Theology. His reference to Joseph Bracken is to subtle differences which would probably only interest a professional philosopher.

 

You are correct, and I was surprised to see Clayton's position on Divine Agency. His argument by analogy that God can "in principle control any part of the physical world to which God is related", is not developed (in that article) and is an exception to the mainstream of process philosophical thought. I would be interested in knowing where and why his understanding differs from Harteshorne and Griffin. At this point, knowing something of his history, I suspect that his understanding of Process Theology is somewhat underdeveloped. A very well developed argument for the idea that God cannot, rather than does not, act in the world so as to nullify an entity's self-determination can be found in Griffin's book, Evil Revisited. My own criticism of Clayton's position is that the reasons he provides for God NOT intervening are not strong enough to counter the argument that if God COULD intervene, God SHOULD intervene to overcome the magnitude of evil we see in the world.

 

In any case, it's somewhat of a moot point (except for a valid theodicy)in that although he believes in principle that God can intervene in a "supernatural" way, it doesn't happen.

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This is definitely NOT panentheism 101! 

 

Definitely not!

 

It strikes me that the polytheist has a distinct advantage over the monotheist in these matters. So much of what I'm hearing here boils down to an attempt to make One God coherent. Ironically, while studying paganism, I couldn't wrap my brain around polytheism. Now, back in Christian circles, I am seeing for the first time the difficulties of monotheism.

 

Polytheists recognize a Meta-Cause that the gods themselves are subject to. This is most often identified as both the concept of Fate and as a Divine Feminine Principle or Goddess, or Dame Fate. Fate can be understood (its a complicated and subtle concept) as a web of interconnected "events" occurring in the NOW and the gods themselves act within it, as do we. Hence in some traditions of Paganism, Free Will, or a separate, *personal* will apart from the Web of Fate is an illusion. Most of the Western Mysteries teach the same thing. The illusion of self and self-will is considered purposive, but still an illusion, and one that Life Itself ultimately proves. In other words there is nothing that can be done or thought or spoken APART from Reality or Fate or Gods Will. Nothing or No one ever acts in isolation or apart from everything else...and so, ones smallest act is a RESULT of innumerable *forces* unfolding.

 

The Future does not exist. Not just in relation to the present, but literally does not exist. There is no future for God to see, even in transcendence. This is NOT to say that the Will of God or the movements of Fate can not be discerned. The gods, to a degree outside our comprehension, are AWARE of the movements of Fate or REality or whatever you want to call it, and thus can act purposively within it....as can mankind (to a much lesser degree). Thus, our goal is not to exercise a free will, but to be Aware of the Will of God as it unfolds, and to "trim our sails" in accordance with it.

 

There is also Persuasion (originally an ancient greek goddess btw) in Paganism, most easily understood by referring to Eros, the Idea of being goaded by mysterious inner forces or drives which can be called Desire. According to this way of thinking (both Pagan and Western Mystery) Desire or Love runs the show. And so we are not forced, but essentially "woo-ed" toward a directionality or becoming as Creation unfolds.

 

I am not conversant (yet) with "process theology" or the language of panentheism, so I can not participate in this discussion at the same level as you guys are discussing. But i do understand the discussion and I can see that the difficulties arise as a result of dualistic thinking in many cases. The effort to avoid contradiction and incoherence is endless...only the language of paradox can suffice...and the language of paradox is metaphor. One can stop at this moment and discern that one is within Reality and not separate from anything, and that there is no "in" or "out"...no God that is "out there" or "in here", but Everything is within Everything within Everything...but it is very difficult to articulate in a way that does not pose the problem of contradiction.

 

I offer these ideas in hopes that they will aid this discussion (not that you guys need any help :blink: ) and not as a statement of my own belief per se. Although I will admit to intuiting (and Panta...you seem to have a problem with non-rational ways of *knowing* which perplexes me. Intuition is built upon reason. *True* intuition arises at the end of thought or as a result of reasoning and not apart from it...and this I learned from the sequence of the 22 Major Arcana of the Tarot. The Emperor, who symbolizes Reason <i>precedes<i/> the Hierophant who symbolizes Intuition) that there is something you guys are not seeing. My problem is that I can not see it clearly either and couldn't put it into words yet if I could, but I know its there in the discussion itself as it is.

 

I hope you guys don't mind this intrusion outside the confines of this discussion. These are things that occur to me in enjoying and learning from this thread and so to avoid bursting at the gills I express it here.

 

lily

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panta - with respect and frustration, I give.  Clearly our logical processes are so different that what apparently makes sense to you is close to meaningless to me and I gather that works both ways!  :P 

 

Any chance we can go back to panentheisem 101 on this thread???

 

 

Wait a minute! Don't leave me frustrated too! :(

 

Where did I lose you? Is it possible you can explain what was meaningless to you and help me to learn to communicate in ways that ARE meaningful?

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