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Monday, April 20, 2015

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[A]nd the only plausible ground is the identity in God of essence and existence.

I am very interested to hear a "theistic personalist" response to this point.

But you say (or is this part of your interlocutor's response? I can't tell), The discursive intellect simply cannot 'process' any such claim as that God is identical to self-existent Existence.

I agree, but because this is the case I wonder if your "positions" (V1-V5) can be meaningfully parsed this way. It seems to me that a classical theist (i.e. someone who accepts that God's existence and essence/nature are identical) is well within her logical rights to accept both V1 and V2--and perhaps even all the others, for that matter. The point is that V1 and V2 are not truly contradictory propositions (nor can we modify them so that they can be contradictory), since in order to produce a contradiction we need to be able to wield the "meaning" or "essence" of Existence (ipsum esse) to such an extent that we can produce two univocal instances. But this is precisely what we can't do. Any univocity we might surmise is already an affront to Existence.

Epic post, Bill. My first reaction is that it is both fair and well-reasoned. Am visiting family this week, but will try to respond soon @ trinities.

Thanks for the comments, Josh.

The claim *The discursive intellect simply cannot 'process' any such claim as that God is identical to self-existent Existence* is one I am pretty sure Dale will agree with, and I am inclined to endorse it as well.

I am afraid I don't understand your point. Can you explain it more clearly?

You say that V1 and V2 are not contradictory. But surely they are. The first is true iff Existence exists, and the second is true iff Existence does not exist. Now *Existence exists* and *Existence does not exist* are logical contradictories. They can't both be true and they can't both be false. If one is true, then the other is false, and if the other is true, then the one is false.

What does this mean: >> since in order to produce a contradiction we need to be able to wield the "meaning" or "essence" of Existence (ipsum esse) to such an extent that we can produce two univocal instances.<< ??

Hi Bill,

Good post. You lay out the dialectic very clearly.

My own views are similar to Dale's. Even apart from the question of whether divine simplicity is intelligible and coherent, I think it has undesirable consequences for creation (e.g., I think it rules out future contingency).

Of the 5 possibilities concerning divine existence that you list, my view is closest to P4, though I'm a little uncomfortable with the "real distinction" language as that seems to make more of the notion of Existence itself than I think is warranted without begging the question. At any rate, as I see it, Existence itself is merely an abstraction--it's what all existents have in commmon. Since God is not an abstraction, God is not identical with Existence itself. (Of course, you can argue in reverse that Existence itself is not an abstraction, but then I find myself without any clear grasp of what we're talking about.)

Against this way of thinking you ask what God's necessary existence could consist in if not the identity of God's essence with Existence itself. Or, conversely, what could Socrates' contingency consist in if not the fact that his essence is really distinct from Existence itself?

Those are sensible questions to which I would like to gesture at one possible reply. God's necessity, I'd like to suggest, consists in God's essentially being the infinite and ultimate source of all goodness and power. Nothing can cause God to be, for only a being of infinite power and goodness could do that, in which case God would already exist. Likewise, nothing outside God can cause God not to be, for only a being with more power than God could do that, which is impossible since all beings other than God have their power on loan from God. Finally, God cannot cause Himself not to be (by committing deicide, say), for as supremely good God essentially values His own existence. In line with this way of thinking, Socrates' contingency follows from his finitude. Because Socrates is not an infinite and ultimate source of all goodness and power, he can be caused to exist and caused not to exist.

The above suggestion is obviously just a sketch and raises many further questions, but I'm curious to know what you think.

Warm regards,

Alan

Thanks for the good post, Bill. And thanks to Dale for his thoughtful contributions.

(P1), (P2), and (P3) are rightly rejected. But I find it difficult to decide between (P4) and (P5). I see the force of your argument for (P5). I also see the strength of the response you offered on Dale's behalf. However, one who takes this response would need to be careful to avoid a non-sequitur.

It seems to me the response is really this:

"You have reasoned logically toward a conclusion that makes no logical sense *to me, a finite and discursive intellect*."

If it were the case that a human intellect can't understand or process claim x, that fact wouldn't disprove x. For example, if it were the case that it's impossible for a human intellect to understand exactly how a true proposition corresponds to reality, that fact wouldn't disprove the correspondence theory of truth, nor would it make it unreasonable to believe the correspondence theory.

Now, (P5) isn't illogical like, say, (P1) is illogical. And there is no practical reason to deny (P5) merely because one can't understand it, as there would be a practical reason to reject a claim in a court of law if that claim were beyond the grasp of judge and jury.

If one were able to conclusively show that a claim is illogical, then one would have a good reason to reject the claim. However, if one believes a claim makes no sense to him at a given time, but that the claim is not obviously illogical, and if the claim is a competitive option in a group of assertions about a highly difficult topic, and if the other assertions in the group are clearly false, then it would seem wise to remain open about the claim.

Perhaps this problem leads to a genuine aporia, but I wouldn't want to reject a possible answer too quickly.

Hi Elliot,

Yes, it seems to come down to (P4) vs. (P5), and it is not easy to decide between them.

I agree to your addendum, "to a finite and discursive intellect." That was implicit in what I was saying. I should add that a discursive intellect need not be human. There could be a race of extraterrestrials having discursive intellects more powerful than our own or less powerful. I am talking about discursive intellects as such. I also don't assume that beings having discursive intellects are not also capable of intellectual intuition.

>>Now, (P5) isn't illogical like, say, (P1) is illogical.<<

Very interesting, but I don't agree. *God causes God to exist* is necessarily false, but it is syntactically in order and is not a formal-logical contradiction. The form is *a R's a to be F.* But this has a true substitution instance. Substitute the name of a proposition for 'a,' 'entails' for 'R,' and 'true' for 'F.' The result is a true sentence. Every proposition entails its own truth, but nothing causes its own existence.

So (P1) is not illogical or contradictory. It is necessarily false because only something that exists can exercise causality -- which is not a formal-logical truth.

But *God = Existence* appears to entail the contradiction that Existence, which is common to everything that exists is yet identical to one of the things that exists.

Note also that if a 'proposition' is self-contradictory, then there is no proposition to affirm or deny.

Bill,

In regard to P4 and P5:

I'm not sure I understand your view of simplicity (though it is with mighty trepidation that I make these remarks to the man who wrote the SEP article on Divine Simplicity.) Do you think that God has properties? On one way of understanding, e.g., Aquinas, as you probably know, God isn't identical with the property of being omnipotent, for then either God is an abstract object or the property of being omnipotent is concrete. God has no parts and God has no essential properties. Rather, we should think that God is the truth-maker of the proposition that God is omnipotent; and the same story holds for all of the other propositions describing God's essence including the proposition that God has no parts or essential properties. I will assume for the moment that you hold a similar view and will assume that when you say that God is identical to existence you are not saying that God is a property.

IF the truth-maker account above is correct, then this is at the very least misleading:
"But if God is a necessary being, what is the ground of his necessity if it is not the divine simplicity?"

If God is simple and has no essential properties, simplicity (which is purportedly a property) cannot be the ground of anything with respect to God since God has no properties. Rather, we should say perhaps that the true proposition "God is simple" grounds the truth of the proposition "God necessarily exists" (assuming necessary truths can ground/explain other necessary truths.) Still, ultimately it is God that makes it true that "God is simple," i.e., has no parts/properties.

But then why can't one who denies divine simplicity (and I'm agnostic about simplicity though perhaps lean in that direction) say as well that God's nature is the truth-maker for "God necessarily exists"? Perhaps there is an aseity worry here in terms of God's nature (which is not identical to God) grounding the truth of the proposition that God necessarily exists, but you didn't seem to be pushing that particular issue above.

But let us suppose that God has no parts but does have essential properties. Further, let us assume that God instantiates the property of necessary existence because God instantiates the property of being simple. But what grounds God's instantiation of the property of being simple? Is God's instantiation of the property of being simple ungrounded? If so, does the simplicity view fair better than the alternative?
Yet if we say that it is God (a simple being) which grounds God's necessary instantiation of the property of being simple, why can't the one who denies simplicity say something similar with respect to God's necessary existence short-cutting the appeal to God's simplicity?

Always good to hear from you, Alan.

>>At any rate, as I see it, Existence itself is merely an abstraction--it's what all existents have in commmon. Since God is not an abstraction, God is not identical with Existence itself. (Of course, you can argue in reverse that Existence itself is not an abstraction, but then I find myself without any clear grasp of what we're talking about.)<<

Dale would agree with this. One point I would urge is that if x is common to the ys, it does not follow that x is common to the ys in the manner of an abstraction, by which I take you to mean an abstract concept that we form. For example, x might be a common empirical cause of the ys. Ipsum esse subsistens is a common metaphysical cause of all else.

As I see it, Being is what makes beings be, where this 'making' is not an empirical causing, but a metaphysical grounding. It is nothing abstract or conceptual. Things exist and they certainly don't exist in virtue of our subsuming them under a concept.

>>God's necessity, I'd like to suggest, consists in God's essentially being the infinite and ultimate source of all goodness and power. Nothing can cause God to be, for only a being of infinite power and goodness could do that, in which case God would already exist. Likewise, nothing outside God can cause God not to be, for only a being with more power than God could do that, which is impossible since all beings other than God have their power on loan from God. Finally, God cannot cause Himself not to be (by committing deicide, say), for as supremely good God essentially values His own existence. In line with this way of thinking, Socrates' contingency follows from his finitude. Because Socrates is not an infinite and ultimate source of all goodness and power, he can be caused to exist and caused not to exist.<<

I agree that God is essentially infinite, ultimate, all-good, and all-powerful. I'll go you one better: he is not just essentially these things, but necessarily these things. That is, he has the attributes not just in every world in which he exists, but in very world period.

But I don't see that this explains God's metaphysical necessity of existence. What you say seems consistent with God's being a contingent being, one that exists in some but not all possible worlds. For in every world in which God exists, he cannot cause himself, commit deicide, or be caused by another to cease existing.

Fundamentally, I do not see how God's having certain properties explains the necessity of his existence. His having the properties essentially does not do the trick since that is consistent with God's being a contingent being.

I think we are driven to the conclusion that only the identity of essence and existence in God could ground the necessity of the divine existence.

But this involves a leap into the Mystical which may explain why sober evangelicals such as you and Dale balk. Either that or some doctrine of analogy which Dale at least finds extremely murky.

Thanks for the kind reply, Bill.

I wish I had time right now to pursue these issues with you at length. I plan to do a couple blog posts on God's necessity in the next week or two. I'll try to lay out my thinking more fully there.

Briefly, though, I would make a sharp distinction between logical and metaphysical necessity. God (I say) is not logically necessary, but He is metaphysically necessary. And I don't take metaphysical necessity to be analyzable in terms of existence in all (logically) possible worlds. Rather, I understand metaphysical necessity in terms of actuality. Something is metaphysically possible iff it either is (actually) the case or could (in virtue of what is the case) come to be (actually) the case. Something is metaphysically impossible iff it neither is the case nor could (in virtue of what is the case) come to be the case. And something is metaphysically necessary iff it is the case and cannot cease to be the case. The foregoing is a *relative* notion of metaphysical necessity--what things are metaphysically necessary can change over time. But God needs to be metaphysically necessary in a non-relative sense. I would say that something is *absolutely* metaphysically necessary iff it is metaphysically necessary and has always been metaphysically necessary.

I realize that I've got a thoroughly temporalized and rather idiosyncratic way of framing the issue that needs to be argued for and not just assumed. And I'm sure you'll want to say that my notion of absolute metaphysical necessity is still far too weak to explain God's necessity, at which point I will beg to differ and do my best to argue for the adequacy of my view. At the very least, however, I would like to suggest that a worthwhile place to explore the impasse between P4 and P5 is to reexamine the notion of metaphysical necessity.

Cheers!

Alan

Hi Tully,

Thanks for the comments. If properties are abstract objects, then of course God cannot be identical to his properties. Aquinas, however, is not a relation ontologist but a constituent ontologist and that changes things considerably.

You seem to be taking the Brower line. >>Rather, we should think that God is the truth-maker of the proposition that God is omnipotent; and the same story holds for all of the other propositions describing God's essence including the proposition that God has no parts or essential properties.<<

Although I agree with Brower that some truthbearers need truthmakers, I don't see how truthmakers could be ontologically structureless individuals or 'blobs' as opposed to 'layer-cakes' in Armstrong's terminology. By 'ontologically structureless' I mean lacking in propositional or proposition-like structure. Consider the following true intrinsic essential predicative sentences: 'Socrates is human,' 'Socrates is an animal,' Socrates is a material object,' 'Socrates exists,' and 'Socrates is self-identical.' (It is not obvious that 'Socrates exists' is an essential predication inasmuch as Socrates exists contingently, but let's not enter into this thorny thicket just now.)

Brower's claim is that in each of these cases (which parallel the true intrinsic essential predications of divine attributes) the truthmaker is the concrete individual Socrates himself. Thus Socrates is the truthmaker of 'Socrates is human' just as God is the truthmaker of 'God is omniscient.' As I see it, no individual lacking propositional or proposition-like structure can serve as a truthmaker. Just as it makes no sense to say that Socrates is true, it makes no sense to say that Socrates entails the proposition expressed by 'Socrates is human.' If I am not mistaken, Brower sees truthmaking as a species of entailment.

More tomorrow perhaps. It's getting late.

By the way, you have some good posts over at your blog. Keep it up!

Bill,

I am somewhat unclear about your position that God and Existence are identical. Do you mean identical in the strong sense of being one and the same thing (perhaps, something like numerically identical). If so, then the intelligibility of the position depends on how you view existence.

For instance, if Existence is a property, then it follows that God is a property, which I think is not a palatable position. For then since Socrates instantiates the property of existing, Socrates will also instantiate God. But the later conclusion makes no sense.

On the other hand, if you take Existence to be a concept, then due to the identity of God and Existence, God turns out to be a concept, a view which I think you reject.

Clearly, Existence cannot belong to the metaphysical category of individuals, like Socrates or the number two. So it is not clear to me how to think of the claim that God and Existence are identical without knowing what sort of metaphysical entity you take Existence to be.

Moreover, consider the following: 'Existence exists' and 'Socrates exists'. Do the two occurrences of 'exists' in the two sentences mean the same? i.e., 'exists' in its two occurrences means that Existence and Socrates "do exist in the very same way." If so, then since Existence is identical to God, then by substitution of 'God' for 'Existence' in the first sentence you get that 'God exists'; hence, God and Socrates exist "in the very same way."


Of course you may hold that the metaphysical category of Existence, in the sense in which it is identical to God, is so unique that nothing else belongs, or could belong, to this category. Moreover, since this concept of existence is not the same as, nor is it related to, the concept of existence which applies to individuals such as Socrates and the number two, I wonder whether we can even have a grasp of such a concept. But if we cannot, then in what sense could you claim that this incomprehensible concept of Existence is identical to, or not identical to, God.

Thanks, Bill. When I said (P1) is illogical, I was using 'illogical' in the loose sense of "unreasonable" rather than in the strict sense of "logically contradictory." My apology for the imprecision. I agree that (P1) is necessarily false for the reason you noted. And I see that (P1) is not formally contradictory.

>>But *God = Existence* appears to entail the contradiction that Existence, which is common to everything that exists is yet identical to one of the things that exists.<<

If 'existence' means the same in each case (God's existence and common existence), then the contradiction appears entailed. Maybe the contradiction is avoided if God's way of existence (His existence = His essence) differs from common existence. E.g., if 'common existence' is "the property of possessing properties," God seems not to be that kind of existence. But then we get into analogical conceptions of being, the turbidity of which you briefly addressed.

Maybe a pantheist or a panentheist can escape the contradiction. Or maybe not.

You referred to the mystical and to intuition. I wonder: do you accept the position that there are at least three kinds of knowledge: propositional, know-how, and acquaintance/direct awareness? Maybe discursive intellects are best able to know existence by acquaintance, by attentiveness to the reality, although the problem is propositionally insoluble for us. Analogy: Plausibly, no discursive human intellect could provide an exhaustive propositional account of the experience of a soccer player dribbling a ball down a soccer field to score a goal. But Pele knows ball-dribbling and goal-scoring quite well, both by acquaintance and by know-how.

Elliot,

You have a good handle on the dialectic. The next step is a doctrine of modes of Being, which is connected with the *analogia entis.*

I would put it this way. God's mode of existence, or way of existence, is different from Socrates' where S. stands in for any creature. God alone is simple. No creature is simple. So we have at least two modes of existence, simplicity and non-simplicity.

As you know, modes of existence are not to be confused with categories of existent. God transcends all categories and all genera. As Aquinas says, God is not in a genus. He is trans-categorial and trans-generic. That's part of what is means for God to not be a being among beings.

Given the distinction between two modes of existence, we avoid the contradiction consequent upon saying that Existence is one of the existents. Existence exists, but in a different way than creatures.

As for pantheism, if there is exactly one existent, then that one existent could be identified with Existence with no contradiction.

A correct metaphysics would have to avoid both radical ontological pluralism (explained in the entry above) and radical ontological monism, e.g. Shankara. Onto-theology is that middle path.

I accept your three-fold distinction. You are getting at the problem of the ineffable. The what-it-is-like of ball-dribbling and the smell of cooked onions are ineffable. The sensory qualia cannot be captured propositionally. If there can be a sub-propositional Ineffable, why can't there be a supra-propositional Ineffable?

Now one of the objections Dale Tuggy made to divine simplicity (in conversation) is that it renders God ineffable. God reveals himself as a person, Dale rightly insists. But if God is a person, then he is effable, in which case God cannot be simple. Hence God is a being among beings. That is a powerful argument.

I would say that God is neither sub-personal nor personal, but trans-personal. But what does that mean?? So we reach for some doctrine of analogy, which is the best we can do this side of mystical insight which delivers the thing itself beyond the duality of the discursive intellect.

As the story goes, when Thomas had his major mystical experience, he stopped writing and viewed what he had written as so much straw.

Thanks for your educative reply, Bill. I agree that radical ontological monism is to be avoided, for reasons I won't go into now. If God is trans-personal, I'd take that to mean He is at least personal (i.e., at least mental and volitional) but also beyond what we can categorize as 'personal.'

I've read and thought about onto-theology -- particularly with regard to Dallas Willard's conception of theo-ontology, as he put it. And I appreciate analogical reasoning. It may not offer what deduction offers, but analogical reasoning is fundamental for human life.

I've heard about Aquinas' mystical experience. It reminds me of Job's experience in Job 42:1-6. I take such experiences very seriously -- at least the veridical ones.

Bill, I've been thinking about the titular question of this thread and I think it presents a false dichotomy.

As you know, I reject the view that God is identical to Being Itself (ipsum esse subsistens).

But I also reject the view that God is merely a being among other beings, or, as you put it, that "God is ontologically on a par with other beings". Rather, I think God is essentially a uniquely special sort of being in at least 3 respects. (1) He is metaphysically necessary. (2) He maximally exemplifies all pure perfections. And (3) He is the most fundamental being, i.e., He is that in virtue of which all other beings have their being.

The question that divides you and I is whether God can be "special" in those ways without being identical to Being Itself. Of course, if God *is* identical to Being Itself, then those 3 special features of God naturally follow, but I don't think the converse entailment holds. On my view (1) and (3) are corollaries of (2). But (2) doesn't entail that God is Being Itself. For maximally exemplifying all pure perfections, e.g., having maximal power and goodness, is compatible with *contingently* expressing those perfections in this way and not that way (e.g., by freely choosing to create this sort of world and not that sort of world). But if God's essence is identical with Being Itself, then whatever God is, God is essentially, which not only rules out contingency in God but in creation too (for if God is a Creator of this world and not that world, then Being Itself is essentially a Creator of this world and not that world). That, to my mind, is a reductio ad absurdum of the God = Being Itself thesis.

Good comment, Alan.

I took some pains at the beginning of my post to attach a precise sense to 'being among beings.' Only if we agree on the precise meaning of that phrase can we fruitfully discuss whether God is a being among beings. Now what you say is logically consistent with God's being a being among beings in my precise sense.

You say, correctly, that God is essentially unique in three respects. I agree that God is metaphysically necessary. I agree with your second respect too, except that I would say, if I were you, that God exemplifies all pure perfections, and to the maximal degree for those that admit of degrees. (Not all perfections admit of degrees.) I also agree with your third respect.

But these three points taken singly or together do not show that God is not a being among beings. As I said right at the beginning: "to say that God is a being among beings is to say that God is no exception to the logical and ontological principles (pertaining to properties, property-possession, existence, modality, etc.) that govern anything that can be said to exist."

I don't think you paid sufficient attention to the subtle point I was making.

You say, or rather imply, that God exemplifies perfections. I suppose you would agree that a perfection is a great-making property, in Plantinga's phrase. So you think of God as exemplifying (instantiating) properties, and I suppose you also think that Socrates exemplifies properties. So you think that the ontology of property-possession is the same for God and Socrates. But that is part of what I am denying. I am saying that God has properties in a different way than Socrates has properties, and that because of this God is not a being among beings in the precise sense I defined.

The same goes for properties. You think that there are some properties that God and Socrates share. But great philosophers have denied that. In denying it they are denying that God is a being among beings.

I said, in explicating 'being among beings,' that if God is a being among beings, then God is on an ontological par with other beings. I said ontological par, not quidditative par. Obviously God and Socrates are vastly different. No question about that. And no question that you can accommodate that vast difference on your way of thinking. The question is whether they univocally share some properties, whether they have properties in the same way, and whether they exist in the same way. If you return a negative answer to each of these questions, then you are saying that God is not a being among beings in the precise sense that I have defined -- which, I claim, is the only possible decent definition. I am open to correction on this point, however, though nobody in this thread questioned my explication of 'being among beings.'

We agree that there is a vast difference between God and Socrates. But the difference is vaster than your ontology allows.

So I say it is not a false dichotomy. Assuming that God exists, as we are all assuming here, either God is a being among beings (an existent among existents) or God is not a being among beings, in which case he is self-subsistent Being itself.

So, Alan, your point that God is essentially unique in the three respects mentioned is logically consistent with God's being a being among beings.

Part of what I am saying is that God is unique in an even stronger sense than you think. He is not just necessarily one of kind; he is so unique that in him there is no real distinction between instance and kind.

Tell me what you think.

Thanks for the reply, Bill.

I can agree with most of what you say by way of explicating God as "a being among beings" but I have a few reservations about your explication that make me hesitant to affirm that God is a being among beings in your precise sense.

My biggest reservation is when you say (by way of explication) that God and other beings are "ontologically on a par". I hold that all other beings are ontologically dependent on God and that God is not ontologically dependent on anything else. That suffices, in my mind, for God's *not* being ontologically "on a par" with other beings. By your response I gather that you probably meant by "ontologically on a par" merely "having properties in the same way as other beings". If that's all you mean, then I suppose I can accept it, though I don't much like the "ontologically on a par" way of phrasing it.

Secondly, regarding points (a)-(f) of your explication, I would affirm with perhaps only minor nuances (a)-(b) and (f). But I find myself not quite clear enough on (c)-(e) to confidently affirm them.

Your (d) seemed to me to be saying that God is really distinct from *all* of His properties and that *all* of His properties are really distinct from each other. If that's what you meant, then I would not accept (d). I think God is really distinct from *some* of His properties, but not really distinct from others. Thus, I would affirm that God is really distinct from the property of being a Creator of chickens (since I suppose that God could have refrained from creating any). But I do not think God is really distinct from the property of being Perfect Love or the property of being a Trinity. (I suppose something similar could be said of Socrates. He is really distinct from the property of being snubnosed, but not really distinct from the property of being Socrates.) So if we take the implicit quantifier in (d) to be "some" rather than "all", then I can accept (d).

With respect to (c), you say "God is in the same way that creatures are." Again, I'm not sure I would accept that way of putting it. I think there's a purely extensional sense of "exists" that applies univocally to anything that, well, exists--God, humans, rocks, and trees alike. For something to "exist" is this sense is simply for it to be included in the ontological inventory list. If that's all you're saying with (c), then I can accept it. But I also think there's an intensional and analogical sense of "exists" according to which God exists in a divine way, humans exist in a human way, etc., where "in a ... way" is an adverbial qualifier. In that sense, of course, God does not exist "in the same way" that creatures do.

Finally, with respect to (e), while I accept that God is really distinct from existence, I don't think I want to say that God is really distinct from His existence. I'm not even sure I want to say that Socrates is really distinct from his existence. It seems to me that for God's existence to obtain just is for God to obtain. And likewise with Socrates.

At any rate, I have a question for your view. Does God have any contingent or non-essential properties? If so, then how can divine simplicity be true? If not, then how can we avoid the consequence that everything is necessary?

Alan,

You are using 'ontologically on a par' in a way different than the way I defined it. Agreed, what is other than God depends on God for its existence, while God is not dependent for his existence on anything. But that is entirely consistent with one and the same general-metaphysical schema's being applied to both God and creatures.

I'll be going over this in more detail in further replies to Dale Tuggy.

>> Does God have any contingent or non-essential properties? If so, then how can divine simplicity be true? If not, then how can we avoid the consequence that everything is necessary?<<

DDS does not require that God be identical to such Cambridge properties as being worshipped or being believed by Dawkins not to exist. The claim is only that God is identical to his real properties such as the omni-attributes. So yes God has contingent properties, e.g. the property of being worshipped. But this is no threat to DDS.

Bill,

You write, "DDS does not require that God be identical to such Cambridge properties as being worshipped or being believed by Dawkins not to exist."

I agree re Cambridge properites, but I was thinking of *non-Cambridge* contingent or non-essential properties like willing to create (a world of such and such a sort), knowing that Peter is denying Christ, or being Incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth. Such properties (assuming they hold of God) would seem to be *intrinsic* properties of God, not merely extrinsic or Cambridge properties.

So my question to you still stands. Does God have any contingent or non-essential (intrinsic) properties? If so, then how can divine simplicity be true? If not, then how can we avoid the consequence that everything is necessary?

Perhaps your view is that *all* of God's contingent or non-essential properties are Cambridge properties. If so, I'm curious to see how you would defend that view, especially since it strikes me as highly implausible.

Thanks for the dialog.

Bill,

You may be planning to address this topic, but I'm wondering how libertarian free will (LFW) for contingent rational/moral agents squares with DDS. I'll try to concisely articulate my state of wonder.

I believe there are good reasons to affirm human LFW. Classical Christian theism holds that God is necessary, omniscient and a se. DDS seems to say that since God exists a se, God is ontologically simple.

Now, if omniscience is "knowing all truths and believing no falsehoods," and future-tense propositions about the LFW actions of contingent creatures are true, then those propositions are known by God. If that is the case, then they would seem to be necessary true beliefs innate to God in His ontological simplicity. But then how could they be about LFW actions for human beings?

I understand the importance of avoiding the fallacy of confusing the necessity of the consequence with the necessity of the consequent. However, if all God's items of knowledge are necessary to His being, and God necessarily knows all future actions of creatures, it's hard to see how creatures could be free.

Maybe one response is that omniscience is "the capacity to know all truths," so that the knowledge of a contingent truth is not actualized until the corresponding contingent state of affairs occurs. Perhaps God's knowledge of a contingent truth is counterfactual knowledge until the corresponding contingent state of affairs occurs, at which point the counterfactual knowledge becomes factual. As such, the factual knowledge of contingent truths is not innate to God's simple nature, but the capacity for that knowledge is innate to God.

It's not clear to me why identifying God with Existence Itself would confer necessity on either God or Existence Itself. It seems possible that Existence Itself could not exist.

Courtesy pingback: http://goo.gl/dbMtG7

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