Category Archives: Goodness

Production in Paradise: Objections

1. In one account of a near-death experience, the person saw a group of folks with Zeus-like physiques who were playing some kind of game which involved a ball. Where did this ball come from? If humans in paradise acquire a power to simply have things wished for magically appear, then they become equal to the Father who can create ex nihilo. This is impossible; besides, such absolute power would corrupt everyone (but the Father).

(St. Thomas' argument proves this last proposition decisively: "God's power is His goodness: hence He cannot use His power otherwise than well. But it is not so with men. Consequently it is not enough for man's happiness, that he become like God in power, unless he become like Him in goodness also." (ST, II-I, 2, 4, reply 1) But the latter is not possible. Hence, neither is the former, and not even close.)

2. Could those players have asked the Father to create a ball for them? This, too, is grotesque, because humans already have their own power to control the material world. This life is partly about subduing the earth and learning to tame wild nature for our own benefit. The idea that such a major aspect of human existence as mind over matter would just disappear so completely in paradise is difficult to take seriously.

Even worse, we would be dependent on the Father for everything. We'd have to beg Him to give us toothbrushes. But humans are noble and self-sufficient creatures. It is completely unbecoming for us to grovel before God for basketballs.

3. Another possibility is that we won't need any goods at all in paradise. Perhaps life will consist of endless carousing: parties, sex, consuming those nectar and ambrosia (this is really the only way to get food without harming the plants). But I think this would become boring quickly. Everlasting life cannot consist of an endless stream of identical experiences.

4. Finally, perhaps there is no paradise; only heaven, where there is nothing but the Thomistic "contemplation of God seen in His essence." This, however, is a most perverse opinion, because humans are not angels, and they differ from angels precisely in having (and needing) an active life. As such, humans fill a unique niche in the hierarchy of being and essence, and help complete that hierarchy together with the angels.

Nature and Nature’s God

In response to my post, a person on Facebook advanced the thesis that "God does not create anything evil." But God the Father's mission is now finished. It was completed upon creating nature. He no longer creates anything. The world creates or advances itself, due allowance being made for intelligent design and grace by the Holy Spirit.

And nature is for various reasons imperfect, even obscene. It's still merciless, but it can be cruel, else there would not be birth defects or sickness or famines.

I replied therefore with a line from Seinfeld: "Mother nature is a mad scientist!"

Perhaps this is yet another way to understand the necessity of the missions of the Holy Spirit and the Son: to compensate for the obvious incongruity between the ruthlessness of nature and its own scandalously wounded and perverse state.

It is a visible injustice for God to subject us to judgment by something so evidently corrupt and therefore unqualified to be an authority as the nature of the world.

This is also why worshiping material nature, such as by holding that physical phenomena are in the care of spirits, is an unfortunate mistake the ancients sometimes made: in fact, nature is grim and implacable and will not be swayed by either prayers or curses.

Whether God Is a “Hard Man”?

Jesus tells a fascinating (and terrifying) "parable of the talents" which concludes as follows:

Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said,

"Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back."

His master said to him in reply,

"You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?

"Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

"And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth." (Mt 25:24-30)

One striking feature is how well this confirms the essence of the human condition: perpetual improvement in whatever each man is interested in, his soul included. This life requires one, as a rule, to strive for happiness and succeed. Mises puts it this way:

As long as a man lives, he cannot help obeying the cardinal impulse, the elan vital. It is man's innate nature that he seeks to preserve and to strengthen his life, that he is discontented and aims at removing uneasiness, that he is in search of what may be called happiness.

In every living being there works an inexplicable and nonanalyzable Id. This Id is the impulsion of all impulses, the force that drives man into life and action, the original and ineradicable craving for a fuller and happier existence. It works as long as man lives and stops only with the extinction of life. (HA, 882)

I conclude my book with asking, "what is the universe for if not a process of its eternal self-improvement?"

But here I want to focus on another aspect of the parable, which is God agreeing that He "harvests where He did not plant and gathers where He did not scatter."

This much is obvious, given the existence of nature and its secondary causes which interpose between the Father and His creatures. New humans themselves appear on earth through perfectly natural human reproduction and its genetic lottery. God does not determine the make-up of one's body; nature does. God then must take humans as He finds them, with all the (random) defects of their nature, bodies, and -- because of the intimate union of the body and soul -- their spirits / personalities, as well.

So then, does God get what He can from nature and impatiently waves aside the failures? Is He a cold-blooded perfect utilitarian who ushers the successful into heaven and unceremoniously throws the human refuse that proves itself worthless into hell as irrelevant aborted "clumps of cells"? Is life survival of the saintliest?

Earlier I pointed out how unforgiving nature is, and how the Father reflects (or rather causes) this condition of our lives.

In an important book on the vitamins-as-treatment medical paradigm, Abram Hoffer et al. write:

[Bill Walsh's] experiences led him to compare mineral levels in the hair of twenty-four pairs of brothers. In each case, one brother was a well-behaved member of society, while the other was a "boy from hell."

The results were amazing. The hair analyses showed that well-behaved males had normal mineral levels, but the imprisoned delinquents all showed one of two abnormal patterns.

"Boys from hell" had either very high copper and very low zinc, sodium, and potassium levels in their hair or very low zinc and copper and very high sodium and potassium.

In addition, the delinquents also had lead and cadmium levels that were three times greater than those of their well-behaved siblings. (Niacin: The Real Story, Ch. 8)

If the behavior of these boys was influenced (though not caused) by their bodily chemistry, such as poisoning by heavy metals, it seems improper to condemn the boys from hell to hell for moral flaws that flowed from something as obviously irrelevant to the fate of their immortal souls as unusual mineral ratios in their systems. Can God really be so callous as to condemn to eternal horror people whom fully to cure physically and improve morally would take nothing more difficult than prescribing a cheap nutritional supplement?

Are we toys whom God casually tosses aside when they no longer amuse Him? It seems unbecoming of the goodness of God to give up on us so easily.

And that's precisely why the history of the world from the point of view of God is incomplete without the other 2 persons of the divine Trinity, the Holy Spirit and the Son.

We can go even further and affirm that without these two, literally no one would get to the Father, who wants absolute metaphysical and moral perfection from us. The human project would be a 100% failure without (1) grace and progress in charity and (2) forgiveness of sins.

Production in Paradise, 2

Many Christians have propounded fantastic and absurd ideas about the conditions of glorified life (or at best refused to speculate altogether), and as a result caused great embarrassment to the Church, enabling atheists like Mises to dismiss the matter entirely:

There are no such things as perfect happiness, perfect men, eternal bliss. Every attempt to describe the conditions of a land of Cockaigne, or the life of the Angels, results in paradoxes.

Where there are conditions, there are limitations and not perfection; there are endeavors to conquer obstacles, there are frustration and discontent. (HA, 70)

I've already suggested how the glorified life is going to look:

  1. The essence of everlasting life is switching between contemplation and study of the Father in heaven, and active life that uses the knowledge gained thereby for fun and profit in paradise.
  2. Glorified existence is characterized by mighty charity and mutual indwelling of the saints, angels, and God, making interpersonal utility comparisons possible.
  3. Utility monsters (i.e., spiritual giants) should not be a problem.
  4. Production in paradise will make use of prime matter and be 100% efficient; no physical entropy will interfere with work.
  5. Jesus will act as a "central planner"; and we will see why shortly.

Let's fill in the picture further. The truths to be learned from the Father are infinite in number. Moreover, one's glorified life is without end. Yet each person is finite. We therefore face 2 impossibilities: (1) the impossibility, if the Father is uncountable, of choosing which subjects, out of an infinity of all, to pursue and which forever to set aside; (2) the impossibility of planning out the study over the course of the actual infinity of one's everlasting life. But the Son is equal to the Father (rightly understood), and is united with all humanity though His Incarnation and with each saint through the Holy Spirit. He can solve both problems by designing a curriculum for each saint.

Jesus will do so by considering the interests of each person, the pleasure each will derive from his discoveries in heaven, the fun to him of building the things studied in paradise, and the utility to other saints of using the goods thereby created. His goal will be the greatest good for the greatest number, and in particular the most efficient "economic growth" planned out for all eternity. (I realize that the total utility over the whole everlasting life would seem to be infinite, regardless of whether or not it is achieved "efficiently." But I think Jesus could still optimize it in some way.) Note that Jesus could not take over "production" himself and wait on the humans' every whim, because that would greatly devalue and diminish their happiness rightly understood.

Now we come to the most pressing problem, namely the scarcity of the material factors of production. Now basic goods like great climate, nectar and ambrosia, bodies with godlike physiques and physical prowess, will still be there. I suggest that the problem of scarcity will be solved by building Star Trek-like "replicators." Such things are probably impossible as actually depicted in the shows in this world, but why not in paradise? If replicators do not exist in paradise as part of its original furniture, then building them will be the very first task of the first saints. (Since there would in this original state be no other goods to be compete for, scarcity will not exist in a vacuous sense.)

With these machines, the only constraint would be technological knowledge, precisely something that one obtains in heaven. Once programmed in, the replicators will be able to produce any number of copies of objects of arbitrary complexity. (The art of programming them, too, may be one of the things taught by the Father.) The information can then be copied into parcels of matter instantaneously and at no cost.

Even a single replicator can be sufficient, since it can be programmed to output other, perhaps improved, replicators. Of course, with physical perfection, there will be no problem of pollution. Regarding trash, there would presumably soon be machines that would grind unneeded objects back into prime matter.

Scarcity is eliminated; omniscience and "perfect happiness" are still fittingly denied to men, such that their knowledge and happiness can and will increase; and everlasting progress, as time goes on, as the essence of proper human condition, remains.

Why Sins Against the Holy Spirit Are Not Forgiven

As per Lk 12:10. I know there have been cases when people freaked out thinking that they have sinned against the Holy Spirit and are therefore damned.

To avoid such mishaps, this point should be rightly understood. The very purpose of our existence in this world is to achieve unity or unities of different kinds:

  1. between oneself and other people through charity;
  2. between oneself and God through a combination of charity and religion;
  3. between self and the material world through artistic mastery of nature and technological and economic improvement;
  4. with one's own body through health and fitness;
  5. in the "big picture," both complete, coherent, and true, contemplated by the mind through knowledge, understanding, and wisdom;
  6. between one's intellect and will through morally approving of all that one enjoys and through enjoying the things one morally approves of;
  7. between self and existence through (minimally) avoiding suicide and (normally) love and enjoyment of life.

All these unities require appropriate forms of love which is the 2nd-level unitive force. Love is of course a natural power but can be upgraded by God the Holy Spirit through grace.

Now reflect on the sacrifices God the Father has made in order to produce a world in which growth in love is possible.

He sacrificed billions of His angels, including the best created being ever, who became demons.

He sacrificed a massive amount of natural happiness for humans, for suffering in this world is ubiquitous, varied, and enormous.

He sacrificed His Son by bidding Him to receive the grace of charity for humans and then choose whether to accept the grace and love us or reject the grace and essentially destroy the world.

Sinning against the Holy Spirit, i.e., refusing to love or even hating what one ought to love instead, is acting contrary to the very purpose of life. Ignorance (sin against the Father) or weakness (against the Son) can be forgiven, as being obstacles to charity but not the essence of its contrary. Hatred (say, of other men or one's own life), on the other hand, is an explicit act of defiance of God's project and everything that living in this world is about.

The world in which each creature was first created in autonomous natural happiness is now to be unified as per the will of God into what eventually will be a far more astonishing and beautiful creation. Refuse to go along, and you may as well dive into hell right now.

Love Between the Father and the Son

It may be that God the Father and the Son love each other in their own ways and give each other unique gifts.

In other words, the Holy Spirit, known as Love and Gift, can proceed in both directions.

Thus, the Father loves the Son by begetting Him or by giving Him existence (by nature not by will), and He gives to the Son the gift of full comprehension of His own essence.

On the other hand, the Son loves the Father by enjoying His gift to much that He is fully and infinitely happy with His endowment, and also gives the Father the gift of "striving" to be perfect like Him. The Son is "true to the Father," as in: conforms to Him, never falters from reality, never errs, never sins. The Son is the apple of the Father's eye.

Is God the Father Countable or Uncountable?

Can He be fully comprehended by a finite creature such as a human saint in the state of glory in heaven over the entire period of his everlasting life?

Or would all the knowledge thereby gained not diminish the mystery of God at all, just as |ℝ| - ℵ0 = |ℝ|?

Note that in either case, the Father cannot be fully comprehended, because a saint's life is merely potentially infinite: it never ends, but at any moment the saint will have actually lived only a finite amount of time, will have had only a finite amount of experiences, etc.

So, if uncountable, then it's kind of a bummer. Each creature will ultimately trace an infinite path through the Father, but the cardinality of this infinity will be smaller than the "cardinality" of the Father.

If countable, then it seems that the Father is not so big after all, being (almost) within reach.

I don't know what the answer is.

God = Goodness, 3

If I did not believe that God was fundamentally and inimitably good or Goodness in the precise senses described below, [1], [2], I would be an atheist.

If I thought that the question "Why did God create?" made sense, and God created not out of self-diffusion of overflowing goodness but out of some felt need, such as because he was bored or needed company or wanted to improve himself, then I would not bother with such a being.

It would be intolerable that my destiny would depend on the whims of an omnipotent, capricious, and perhaps crazy tyrant. Such a thing wouldn't be my kind of God; it wouldn't be anything I'd be willing to worship. I'd look for another god.

Rather than spend my time figuring out how I could appease such a being or curry its favor, I'd prefer simply not to acknowledge its existence.

It follows, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, that for people who do not understand the nature of goodness or do not ascribe goodness to God and have instead a faulty concept of God as indeed an arbitrary despot, atheism can be a liberating step up.

Why Is God Goodness?, 2

I have outlined why God (the Father) can be called uniquely good or Goodness. This is knowable by natural reason alone, with proofs properly supplied.

But there is a 4th reason why God is good which can only be assented to by a Christian.

The basic idea is that the world, mankind, and each individual are somehow -- mysteriously and even in a stunningly surprising manner -- improving and always will be.

It is obvious that there are numerous disasters, wrong steps, sins, statist gov't policies, and other victories of entropy, both physical and spiritual. Moreover, the ascendance of decay and death seems inevitable to an atheistic or merely deistic mind.

Yet a Christian can cling firmly to the idea of the victory of the good and the triumph of a "world without end."

The feature of the divine providence as having made a world whose purpose is the everlasting process of its own self-improvement is the defining feature of theoretical faith.

The Pride and Envy of the Fallen Angels

According to my story of the second creation, in particular of the sanctification of the angels, it was pride that caused some of the angelic creatures to refuse the grace given to them by the Holy Spirit. These angels would not stoop to serving humans. A war ensued, as a result of which the demons were cast out of their natural heavenly home and entrenched in this world as its rulers and enemies of mankind.

They aim at our destruction which would defy the Holy Spirit's vision of a unified creation. Upon victory over us, the demons further intend to recapture heaven from the good angels and live there in their natural state forever.

However, pride would only ensure that the demons felt contempt for humans. They would still try to destroy us, but they would not waste any emotions on us. They would indeed consider us filth, cockroaches, meddlesome pests, but just as the exterminator does not hate the vermin even as he kills them by the thousands, neither would the demons hate us. They would work rather dispassionately in order to attain a definite end.

Traditionally, however, the demons are motivated by another emotion, viz., envy. The demons realize that the battle is far from being determined. They know they can (and hopefully will) lose and be imprisoned in the demonic hell. If we win, we will obtain 3 things.

First, the kingdom. We will become children of God and fully part of the divine family. No mystery or pleasure of God will be closed to us. We'll inherit both paradise and heaven, from the latter of which the demons were explicitly exiled.

Second, the power. We will have defeated an enemy that is naturally superior to us, in fact led by the most spectacular creature out there, Lucifer, in a no-holds-barred merciless combat. In so doing, we'll have proved ourselves greater than they. We will be raised above them in the exaltation of might, triumph, and dominion.

Third, the glory. While the demons hope merely to keep their natural happiness, humans are promised a far greater destiny: the glory of the saints. Our grace here is the beginning of the glory in the hereafter. It is the clarity of perfection, honor, and charity of the unashamed soul and participation in the inner life of God.

Understanding all this, the demons envy us for the favor shown to us by God. But envy is a species of hatred. The demons consider our good to "conduce to the lessening of their own good name or excellence," as St. Thomas puts it. They sorrow over the fact that the alleged pests could surpass them. And that is why they hate us and are far from dispassionate in their feelings. But this only aggravates their sin.

Filioque

In the previous post I describe the Holy Spirit as proceeding from the Father through the Son into humans.

But the Son after His incarnation is full of the Holy Spirit. His intellect was upgraded just before the giving of the first grace to the angels (which some angels accepted and were confirmed in goodness and some rejected and become demons). His power, upon His conception and birth. His will, upon His resurrection.

As a result, the Holy Spirit can proceed just as effectively from the Son, as well; or indeed from the Father and the Son.

Numbering of the Persons, 2

I have proposed some reasons why the Holy Spirit may be called the 2nd rather than 3rd person of the divine Trinity, and the Son, instead the 3rd person. As of right now, I see no flaws in these particular arguments.

But here is one defense of the traditional numbering. Incidentally, I don't think God cares which number we assign to which person. But insofar as there is a meaning behind such designations, the controversy is valuable.

The Father is the creator of the universe as a whole. That includes stars and planets and trees and ants.

The Son redeems mankind as a whole. His mission decided the fate of the entire human race.

And the Holy Spirit injects unique grace into an individual human being.

This narrowing of the "scope" of the missions of the persons regarding the created world suggests a natural progression: the Father is #1; the Son, #2; and the Holy Spirit, #3.

The Holy Spirit again proceeds from the Father through the Son (who has attached our humanity to the Godhead) into us in the form of grace bearing fruit.

However, I still find it implausible that grace, whether sanctifying or gratuitous, was not given in any measure whatsoever before Christ. I maintain that the Holy Spirit's mission began right after the fall of man and continued, albeit in an upgraded form, after the Incarnation.

On the Fall of Man

Technically, the natural happiness enjoyed by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden was due to a special protection granted to them by God. They enjoyed immortality of the body, perfect health, and a beautiful environment in which to live.

This protection was God's to give and God's to take away; it was a privilege not a right. It was completely different from the perfect security of happiness of the blessed in heaven.

So, when God cast the first parents out of the Garden, He also lifted this unique grace. It cannot therefore be said that God hurt Adam; He merely withdrew an extraordinary benefit to which Adam had no claim in the first place and put him exactly where he belonged in his as yet unregenerated state -- in the wild.

But other than that, the whole thing was a complete setup! And the way it happened, through Eve and the crafty snake and the apple -- it's the stuff of a sitcom. It's hilarious!

In short, the fall of man is marked by both tragedy and comedy; or more precisely, the angelic fall was a tragedy, and the human fall was a farce.

The Trinity’s Missions

It's useful to grasp that the Holy Spirit mission to the world is uniquely His own. He acts without any "supervision." He is fully God, does everything according to His own counsel, and does nor answer or report to anyone, including the Father or the Son whom He is equally great as.

At the same time, when the Father was creating the world, the Holy Spirit's mission was already taken into account and fully calculated. The persons of the Trinity held a discussion, as it were, and the entire course of divine providence, from the creation of the heavens and the earth to the return of the last saint into heaven, was mapped out in complete detail.

So, God does not make mistakes.

We can see that the divine persons' glory is equal in magnitude but radically different in kind.

Numbering of the Persons of the Trinity

Let me suggest that the Holy Spirit should properly be considered the 2nd person of the Trinity, and Son, the 3rd.

First, in regard to the relations within the Trinity. The Father's intellect and the possible worlds He knows and contemplates, and His own act of understanding them, are His own nature. His ad extra power to create is His unique characteristic and also entirely His own. But His love needs to proceed outward and cause effects. The Holy Spirit then is both the means by which the Son is begotten, and, since love is a unitive force, and the Father and the Son love each other through the Holy Spirit, what unites them into one God.

The Holy Spirit then is in between Goodness (the Father) and Being (the Son and creation). He proceeds indeed from the Father through the Son. As a result, He is second according to understanding.

St. Thomas provides reasons for the traditional numbering, but I do not like them.

Second, regarding the missions of the persons to the world. The Father created the original world marked by mutual independence of creatures and their natural happiness.

The second creation, consisting in the breaking down of this "aseity" and indifference of creatures to each other, began right after by the Holy Spirit. The aim is to integrate all creatures into one communion through love. And the process started with the fall of the angels, indeed long before the Son was crowned king of this communion. The good angels are now glorified and as full of charity as they'll ever be. The divine grace, which is teaching humans how to love, has been given to us since the beginning of our species. It has intensified since the coming of Christ, but it was not lacking in the world before.

In addition, the world was carefully prepared for the Incarnation of the Son, starting explicitly with Abraham and the nation of Israel. But the Incarnation occurred within known recorded history, a crowning event of the divine plan. It's true that the Son's mission is now complete, while the Holy Spirit's is ongoing; nevertheless, the latter started much earlier. Hence, it makes sense again to consider Jesus the 3rd person.

The Union of Humans with the Material World

I've already mentioned this point, but it bears further stressing.

Love of friendship people feel for each other results in spiritual interpenetration, mutual indwelling; it is ecstatic; it causes the lover to consider the beloved another self, such that he feels his pain and pleasure; he is prepared to work for the beloved's ends as zealously as for his own, not by compulsion but at his own interest.

Love between humans and their material creations is, of course, entirely different, but it's love nonetheless.

So, our end is not to foster charity just between ourselves, such that we will each other's good and succor each other, but also between ourselves and our art -- not just paintings and statues obviously, but airplanes and lawnmowers and computers and factories.

That requires progress in natural sciences, so we understand how to create complex art. We need to develop new tech to enable building it. And we need to become artists -- master studying, designing, and building cool new things and enjoy our work.

We need an economic system that efficiently connects supply and demand, so that the things we create are useful to the entrepreneurs or pleasant to the consumers.

Collectively, all this involves exercising graceful and extensive control over mother nature. Perhaps in 200 years, we'll be able to prevent earthquakes and tsunamis. That would surely be an awesome achievement and glory to the human race. Some unique new problems have now appeared since we've had considerable success at economic improvement, such as space trash and oceans pollution. I am optimistic that we'll make headway in solving them even in the not-too-distant future.

A man who despises nature or matter or practical trades or does not sharpen or enjoy using his skills in the active life does not qualify for the kingdom of heaven.

Fall of the Angels: The Verdict

I judge my first theory to be interesting but probably false, because it's an attempt to make similar the stories of the fall of angels and men.

And angels are so different from humans that the tragic fate of their kind was rather considerably different from the end of human natural happiness.

So, I hereby endorse the more traditional second explanation.

Fall of the Angels, 2

My account may be a tad untraditional. The more standard understanding follows.

The Holy Spirit did not "bite" the angels but simply gave them the constructive grace of charity for human beings. But charity came with a requirement for the angels to serve, to abase themselves in a sense before humans. And some angels refused to serve.

Now to begin with, charity does not impose an obligation. It is a free movement of the will, and working on behalf of a dearly beloved is like working for oneself. It is not a sacrifice; it is not "altruism." All angels were expected to, and the good angels do now, joyfully help upon coming to love. What was there to rebel against? Extra work?

Moreover, the demons did not avoid exertion, anyway. They are hard at work trying to destroy mankind. Why choose destructive work over creative work, if work must be done one way or another?

So it couldn't have been just an issue of "labor," only of serving something lower in dignity. But if all loved humans, what did it matter that they were lower?

Here's the story then. God gives an angel in his natural state some grace. The angel ponders: shall I accept it and love humans? What's the downside? Well, I have to serve humans. If he is bad, he thinks: "No way am I serving these guys. No, I'm not accepting the grace." But choosing to stay indifferent to the human world and in his natural state and fail to love humans does not entail becoming an enemy of mankind.

But then God said: "Hey, I'm incorporating every creature into a single spirit through charity. No one is excepted. You can't refuse the grace." The bad angel is so crazy with pride that he gets mad and says, essentially, "F--- you, God." I still do not see how any punishment to that angel would turn him into an enemy of humans. God's natural response would seem to be (1) never to have made angels so psychologically perverse, or (2) cast out the rebels into some sort of prison. Why sic them onto humans?

Well, the wicked angel is still at this point in the presence of God. So, he says, "You know, what, Holy Spirit? Those 'humans' I'm supposed to bow to? I'm going to kill all those motherfuckers. Then there'll be no one either to serve or to love. How's that for a response?"

This is still the Father's angel. He created him. The angel has rights. He can do what he wants. Moreover, the Father is goodness which is beyond being. He is an ad extra creative force and Himself not part of the creation. So, it's not His business to "imprison" creatures. But if other angels (and humans) imprison him after perhaps a great battle, then that's just life. So, God says: "Go and do your thing, you little son of a bitch."

Note one uncomfortable thing this means: God created the natural Lucifer already messed up in the head, even though this aberration did not manifest itself until the giving of grace. But so what? "The Lord said to him: Who gives one person speech? Who makes another mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?" (Ex 4:11) God creates everything according to His own counsel, and it is a part of faith to trust that it is wise.

On the Fall of the Angels

To continue with the theme, the angels, created in their natural state, even if they for whatever reason decided to cast their gaze on the human world, would look at it with utter indifference.

They had no need of the humans in any capacity. I think they could look past even God the Son, being connected with the Father directly through their essence as intellectual substances and the immense powers of contemplation of their minds.

We might say they -- all angels, Lucifer included -- were created in their own celestial Garden of Eden, in the state of considerable natural happiness.

That was not part of the plan. So the Holy Spirit bit them, my guess, by deliberately darkening their intellects. He said to the angels: "Now you are weak; so look down upon the earth and the humans upon it. Fall in love with them and serve them as a sign of your love until the happy end for their world. Then your powers will be restored; nay, you will be glorified and exalted 100-fold above your natural capacities."

It may be that the angels grieved of their wound, but finding us as badly off, were moved by sympathy with us and came to think of us as brothers.

But with the creation of the potency to love among the angels came the potency to hate. Some angels rebelled against the Holy Spirit's painful grace and, as I mention below, decided to try to destroy mankind so that there would be nothing for them to love in the first place, and the divine plan would thereby unravel with unknown consequences.

That, too, however, was foreseen and provided for.

St. Thomas taught that the angels' one action of choosing to obey or disobey sealed their entire fate and immediately confirmed them either in goodness or evil. There is no going back for any of them. Christ did not die for the angels. On the one hand, this would then make withholding glory from them pointless. On the other hand, their service to mankind is not yet finished. I think, therefore, that they are glorified and so are equal to or greater than the human saints in heaven, but serve more through charity than obligation.

Two Temptations of Jesus

We read that Jesus was tempted by by the devil in Mt 4. What's remarkable about this episode is that it is clear that Jesus aced the test. Moreover, He defeated the devil simply as a man, through merely human righteousness; thus, St. Thomas writes: "And Christ resisted these temptations by quoting the authority of the Law, not by enforcing His power, 'so as to give more honor to His human nature and a greater punishment to His adversary, since the foe of the human race was vanquished, not as by God, but as by man'." (ST, III, 41, 4)

So that was peanuts for Jesus. But His passion was a different thing entirely. We can get an idea of His anguish from the agony in the garden: "After withdrawing about a stone's throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying, 'Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.' [And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.]" (Lk 22:41-44)

There is no mention of such intensity of feeling or spiritual perilousness of the situation regarding the devil's temptation.

Again, St. Thomas writes that during His passion Christ endured practically all manner of suffering, and the "pain of Christ's passion was greater than all other pains." (ST, III, 46, 5/6) That was now not the devil's intent but the Father's. What the Father wanted was to tempt Jesus with hating mankind. He did all He could to provoke in His Son the feelings of rage, contempt, and hatred for men for the monstrous crime they were committing against Him. This time, the temptation was addressed not to the man Jesus but explicitly to Him as God. It was the temptation of infinite and perfect God the Son. There was no "quoting the authority of the Law" this time to breezily dispose of the matter.

Yet there is no sign whatsoever that the Son ever fell prey to this temptation. His last words to the thief were, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." That is the glory that now belongs to the Son as distinct from the glory of the other two persons of the Trinity: that He loved us despite the horror of our sin against Him personally (as now the vine) then and sins we presently commit against each other (as now the branches).