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Friday, October 28, 2016

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Perhaps another way to answer your question is to bring up a distinction Kant and Schopenhauer make between relative and absolute nothing. Nothing can be said of the latter, not even that it is not (nothing can be said of nothing, in addition to the fact that nothing comes from nothing), but the former is defined by and presupposes that which it negates. We can then apply this to what John of the Cross says, which is that the world, compared with God, is nothing, while God, compared with the world, is nothing (literally no "thing"). To say God created the world ex nihilo doesn't contradict the principle of ex nihilo, nihilo fit, since both God and the world are nothing, relative to each other. From nothing (God), comes nothing (the world).

One potential problem with this is that I may be taking a mystical doctor's metaphor too literally. In any case, to me, the main problem is with the verb "create," not with the word "nothing." God is not in time, so he could not have created the world, including time, for this would have to occur at a specific point in time, implying that there was a time before time, which is absurd. Nor, of course, does God change, so God, in creating, cannot be doing anything other than what he has always ever done. But if God has always ever created, then we posit something co-eternal with God, and thereby limit his freedom and autonomy. Finally, there is the pessimist's or anti-natalist's contention that if the world need not exist, being freely created by God, for example, then it ought not to exist, since non-existence is preferable to existence. Why would God drop a stone into the calm repose of nothingness, in full knowledge of the violent waves that will result? "Because he will bring about a greater good later in time." Yes, but God here is still putting out a fire of his own deliberate making (to switch the element metaphor), which is irrational, and God is supposed to be a rational being. He ought not to be starting fires to begin with.

So forget "ex nihilo;" wherefore "creatio?" If God created the world freely, then he is capricious and cruel. If he was compelled to create the world for whatever reason, then he is not free. Either way, an "essential" attribute will have to be dropped, unless I'm missing a clever answer found in a scholastic disputed question or what have you. As was said in a previous reply to me, even if, like the Incarnation, creation is inherently a mystery, it must be free from contradiction if one wishes to save its status as a genuine revelation (which I take it you are here assuming).

Any thoughts as to how a property, existing in the divine mental life, becomes instantiated physically? As, presumably, creatio ex Deo would require?

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