Sunday, December 05, 2010

Bodging Up cont.

This is the eleventh of 17 posts, which are collectively Eternity, etc.
......How closely would such interventions as we might expect under Open Theism have to resemble Mawson’s scenario (see previous post)? Why, to begin with, should the world’s aggregate happiness have decreased? The immediate consequence of Adolf’s birth was a little more joy in the Hitler household. And surely God would have intended to intervene further, as necessary to ensure that aggregate’s continued increase, if that had been His motivation. (Making such interventions would hardly cause further problems, as simply making evermore planets or heavens of inherently happy animals or angels might suffice.)
......But in any case, a more plausible motivation for an Open divine intervention would be that aggregate’s eventual perfection [i], e.g. by our becoming a communion of saints. Rather than the Open God intervening to ensure a baby’s birth [ii], He would more plausibly have answered Mrs. Hitler’s prayers in order to help her to relate to Him more fully [iii]. And had He done that, then the satisfaction of His desire would hardly have depended upon how her child grew up. It would have depended upon her free choices—to some extent (He would definitely have so helped her)—but that amounting to luck is generally rejected by libertarians [iv]. Furthermore, even if Mrs. Hitler did not respond by becoming a saint, the Open God could surely try again, and again. And His attempts might become irresistible, as Mrs. Hitler wised up, or perhaps she might become very undeserving.
......So in short, Mawson’s scenario did not show that the satisfaction of the Open God’s most beneficial desires—perhaps that everyone (who is not too undeserving) should end up somewhere heavenly forever—could not be inevitable. So we are left with no reason why we should think of the Open God (of any variety) as a “well-intentioned buffoon[v], rather than as Jesus [vi], and hence no reason why God should know all about the future (cf. end of section IV). So although there are statements about the future that would not be known by the Presentist Open God despite them being in a sense correct, that sense has not been shown to be significant enough to obstruct divine omniscience.
......[i] Keith Ward, Divine Action (Flame, 1990), pp. 134–9.
......[ii] Swinburne, Is There a God? pp. 114–5.
......[iii] Robert M. Adams, “Theodicy and Divine Intervention,” in Thomas F. Tracy (ed.), The God Who Acts: Philosophical and theological explorations (Penn. State Univ. Press, 1994), pp. 31–40.
......[iv] Timothy O’Connor, “Is It All Just a Matter of Luck?” Philosophical Explorations 10 (2007): 157–61.
......[v] Mawson, “Divine eternity,” p. 48.
......[vi] Richard Swinburne, Was Jesus God? (Oxford Univ. Press, 2008). If Jesus is, like us, a continuant, then it’s hard to see how he could be, not just the signature, but the identity of a timeless God. But clearly an everlasting God could incarnate as fully human, e.g. if we are essentially spirits that produce human minds because we animate human brains.

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