When crimes are called “finite,” it is implied that their magnitude is limited. Smith murdered 2 people, stole $100,000, and tempted Jones to commit 1 adultery. Those are finite numbers.
But life has not only magnitude but direction, as well. It is a vector. And one can be moving upward toward the light or downward into the darkness.
These opposing directions specify where a person really, by his own preference, wants to be. And opposite directions of spiritual motion result in opposite destinations, namely, heaven or hell.
There is no coercion, no being “thrown” into hell against one’s will. One just sort of ends up in that place or in that state of the spirit toward which he’s been voluntarily drifting all his life.
If that’s heaven, then the magnitude of the upward vector determines the amount of glory earned. If that’s hell, then there may be second chances, or there may not be. It is permissible for a Catholic, I think, to hold any theory of the afterlife, even pre-existence of the soul and some sort of reincarnation. (For which there is some evidence.)
Consider a previous post of mine in which I discuss Craig’s idea of “transcircumstantial depravity.” It may be that Craig has simply added a pinch of utilitarianism to the Calvinist doctrine.
It’s not that there are subhumans and supermen; rather, everyone is a subhuman whose salvation depends on God alone and in no wise on himself; moreover, God saves people until a Pareto-optimal state is reached, in which for all damned persons X, saving X would cause at least two other saved persons Y and Z to end up damned.
God cannot create any more good without a greater amount of evil being created ipso facto. The reason is that the damned, like the devils, are needed to challenge or tempt the saved. This, of course, implies that X suffers positive reprobation,
the absolute will to condemn to hell and, in order to obtain this end effectually, also to sin… those who are reprobated positively are directly predestined to hell from all eternity and have been created for this very purpose.
What else can we conclude from the fact that God created Smith a subhuman, used him for external to Smith ends, and when Smith has outlived his usefulness, threw him in the gas oven? The Catholic Encyclopedia calls this a “repulsive doctrine.”
However, Craig would say in his defense, this is the best possible world, and a world in which a better outcome is achieved is “unfeasible” to God. For example, the only way to ensure the salvation of everyone might be for God to create a world with just 5 people in it. Clearly, such a world is worse than this one, despite the fact that in our world, some are damned.
In addition, the principle of double effect may permit positive reprobation. God foresees that X will be lost but does not intend it; what He does intend is for Y and Z to be saved, and the loss of X is the cost of doing business; besides, X’s failure is his own fault, anyway.
Be that as it may, let’s stay with my own interpretation. Heaven is only potentially infinite good, whereas hell is actually infinite evil. The difference between them is then actually infinite. Now suppose the contrary: Smith is damned (or damns himself) given the circumstances of his life C yet would have been saved, had he been surrounded by D. C and D are not infinite at all but finite. Hence, the difference between them is finite, too. Hence, a finite cause, namely, a change from C to D, would generate an infinite effect, namely, a change from hell to heaven. Which is impossible. QED.
But it follows from the previous post that a finite change (180°) in “direction” produces an infinite change in the final destination, heaven or hell. Is my argument therefore compromised?
I don’t think so. The direction specifies the end held dear, even if implicitly. These ultimate ends are infinitely apart. The magnitude reflects the intensity of desire to arrive to either end.
But “circumstances” have neither direction nor value. They are just “stuff that surrounds one,” including one’s body. Therefore, a change in circumstance can have no predictable effect on one’s moral vector.
Now there is the question of whether even saints would have spiritually perished if tested beyond their ability. Job was brutally afflicted yet remained faithful to God. But suppose he was tortured by the US government. Is it a given that he would have persevered even in those circumstances? In general, are circumstances completely irrelevant regarding one’s moral direction in life? If so, then my argument holds; if not, not.