Category Archives: Goodness

Why Recite the Articles of Faith?

In Chapter 6, Landsburg makes a number of claims, some of them false, and others rather good.

He begins by describing his Orthodox Jewish friend Misha proclaiming every day that "I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, and though he may tarry, nevertheless I believe." Landsburg objects in reply: "I believe with perfect faith that the square root of two is an irrational number, but I have never felt an ongoing need to announce that conviction to the Universe. That's why I suspect that Misha is a liar." The reason is that Misha must be brainwashing himself: "the 'beliefs' I echo are those I might want to believe, or those I'm trying to talk myself into, or those that I'm trying on for size. But when I pass the threshold to actual belief, I stop reviewing the matter." (55-6)

But this confuses reason and faith as sources of belief. Thus, I believe that Christ is Lord with "perfect" faith, while Landsburg believes that "the square root of two is an irrational number" not with perfect faith but with perfect reason.

What is faith? It's an assent of the intellect to the revealed knowledge of God. Specifically, "to faith those things in themselves belong, the sight of which we shall enjoy in eternal life, and by which we are brought to eternal life." (ST, II-II, 1, 8) There are secret things that are of God that humans cannot discover by reason alone but that can only be known through divine revelation. Thus, the Bible relates: "Jesus spoke to them only in parables, to fulfill what had been said through the prophet: 'I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation [of the world].'" (Mt 13:34-35) Of course, Christianity itself is not an esoteric religion at all; all its gems are hidden in plain sight.

St. Thomas writes that faith stands midway between science and opinion. This becomes clear if we compare the relative strengths of the influences that impel a person to come to believe. A scientific demonstration of a conclusion will move the mind to accept the conclusion as true inexorably. Scientific evidence is seen either by sensation or reflection and hence has intrinsic power to convince. For example, seeing chlorine produced from salt is sufficient to persuade anybody of the correctness of the chemical reaction

2NaCl + 2H2O → Cl2 + H2 + 2NaOH.

On the other hand, faith requires an act of choice to give in to God-given disposition to believe and to accept the unseen knowledge revealed to one by God -- knowledge that cannot be obtained by scientific investigation. One can go either way, but when the assent is given, the falsity of the propositions opposite to those that are the object of faith is not in doubt, precisely as is the case with scientific demonstrations.

By contrast, opinion is changeable and readily accepts the possibility of the opposite and so can at any time be swayed by new arguments: "the intellect assents to something, not through being sufficiently moved to this assent by its proper object, but through an act of choice, whereby it turns voluntarily to one side rather than to the other: and if this be accompanied by doubt or fear of the opposite side, there will be opinion, while, if there be certainty and no fear of the other side, there will be faith." (ST, II-II, 1, 4)

Here is the clincher: this choice must be made anew every day, and therefore the confession of faith must be recited every day as a sign of one's preference.

I find no need to keep declaring that God exists, either; I know it in the same way in which Landsburg knows the properties of the square root of two. I do not "announce to the Universe" that "there is a God, and He is simple, eternal, perfectly happy, all-knowing," and so on. I already have excellent reasons for believing all this, having proved it to my satisfaction through philosophy. I may still invoke these facts in my prayer, anyway, insofar as "things which can be proved by demonstration are reckoned among the articles of faith, not because they are believed simply by all, but because they are a necessary presupposition to matters of faith, so that those who do not known them by demonstration must know them first of all by faith." (ST, II-II, 1, 5, reply 3) Note, however, that the Nicene creed is only about faith-based knowledge, e.g., "We believe in... the Father, the Almighty, Maker of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God..." That God is a Trinity is a revealed truth.

Again, "the existence of God and other like truths about God, which can be known by natural reason, are not articles of faith, but are preambles to the articles; for faith presupposes natural knowledge, even as grace presupposes nature, and perfection supposes something that can be perfected," says St. Thomas (ST, I, 2, 2, reply 1). This natural foundation for faith requires perfect intellectual consistency and coherence of natural theology. Any flaw in our metaphysics, concept of God, meaning of life, and so on can cause the entire structure of nature + grace to collapse. An intelligent person already suspicious of faith who perceives mistakes in our reasoning is unlikely to believe.

The choice to believe is neither irrational nor a type of violent self-brainwashing. It is aided from below by lack of contradictions in the purely rational conception of God and related matters, by how well the faith builds on natural knowledge, and by personal virtue that does not cloud the intellect through sin and hypocrisy; and from above by divine grace which creates a lyrical enchantment with the articles of faith. Faith and science are similar in the sense that assenting to true beliefs and rejecting false beliefs, as a rule, leads to happiness, while the opposite actions lead to misery.

Now science is amenable to new evidence. But then so is faith. Like science, faith improves with time and always has, both "in the number of articles believed explicitly, since to those who lived in later times some were known explicitly which were not known explicitly by those who lived before them" (ST, II-II, 1, 7); and in our understanding of them.

Finally, faith is not a purely speculative subject but is also a master plan of the life-long project of saving oneself, of earning heaven. Reciting the confession is a way to re-affirm one's commitment against every temptation and evil. We can see that Misha, though a Jew and not a Christian, is acting 100% reasonably and honestly.

Intellect of God; the Multiverse

Mises talked about the "logical structure of the human mind." The human thinking process is rule-bound.

So is God's, except in Him, there prevails an identity between the intellect / its structure, God's thought, the thing understood, and His act of understanding. Somehow the entire structure of God's mind is equivalent to a thought that comprehends this mind.

What does God know ad intra, in Himself?

First, all possibilities of finite existence.

Second, necessary truths like axioms and theorems of logic and mathematics. It may be asked, if truth is correspondence of thought to reality, then to what does the proposition "2 + 2 = 4" correspond? It corresponds not to "reality" as such but to a fundamental limitation on reality; not to what reality is but to what reality must necessarily be. No world in which 2 + 2 = 5 is possible; nor is God the Son irrational in this sense.

Thus, logic and math are neither in space nor in time and are the same across possible worlds.

Geometry is not in time but in space and therefore different across possible worlds; even in this world there are different geometries.

Certain propositions, such as "Christ will be born," are not in space but their truth values depend upon the moment in time at which they are uttered.

Laws of economics are neither in space nor in time but depend on human nature. Since God knows that humans are possible, He likewise knows all that can be predicated of them.

God is free to create a world in which 2 + 2 = 5, but limited in power by math; God is powerful enough to create a world in which saints went to hell, but His goodness does not allow that.

Just as a cat would know all the ways in which a man is like a cat (say, in having a stomach) but be ignorant of how a man exceeds a cat in perfection, so we do not know what God is (and thereby knows) that is above man by natural reason.

We do know a few things from special revelation, either Biblical or private, such as the Trinity;

we can speculate on the conditions of glorified life;

we can extend dualism into triplism by asserting that God's goodness is a third kind of substance beyond both matter and spirit;

we can admire the majesty of divine providence and the middle knowledge of the Holy Spirit;

we can stress the supreme importance of Christian charity and the many unions to be achieved by man;

we can marvel at the perfection of the Son's both utilitarian governance through disinterested benevolence and His enormous personal love for each human being.

However, the above list hardly exhausts God. We might even venture to propose that God is a universal set of all truths which miraculously comes alive as self-aware mind. Since the universal set is for humans a self-contradictory notion (would this set be a member of itself?), this may be the reason why God is incomprehensible. God instantiates in His own nature what we humans cannot for the life of us countenance.

If the universal set could be grasped, then one would be God. That it's impossible suggests the impossibility of humans reaching divine status.

The hypothesis in physics of the "multiverse," far from being atheistic, is in fact a backhanded concession that God exists. The multiverse itself as an infinite collection of actual worlds is a crude and distorted idea of God. I argued that God knows possible worlds, but these worlds, except our own, do not exist. Moreover, ideal things, such as the set of all natural numbers, can be infinite in number; actual things, such as the number of atoms in the universe, are always finite. The "multiverse" idea ignores this elementary distinction.

The multiverse therefore is a bizarre and primitive perversion of God the Father and a lamentably pantheistic view at that.

Whether God Knows Evil Things?

Evil is a privation of perfection that ought to be there. Consider the idea of a perfect knife. It's extra sharp and easily sharpened, durable, comfortable, well-balanced, weighs just the right amount, will cut anything, and so on. Suppose now that I have an imperfect knife. We can say: the knife is at 65% of maximum possible goodness. I know the good by seeing it by vision, and I know the knife's evil 35% through its goodness, by understanding intellectually how or in what ways precisely it falls short of perfection.

Similarly, a perfect man would presumably be Jesus. Human saints approach but never reach moral perfection. Most people have both good and evil qualities about them. Again, however, evil is a privation, a lack of fitting virtue or wisdom. I know the actual evil by "subtracting" the actual good from the ideal perfection.

This, too, is how God knows evil things: by considering to what extent their good is below perfect.

Main Difference Between Angels, Humans, and Animals

Angels lead contemplative lives but not active lives.

Animals have active lives but do not contemplate. (As a result, their souls are corruptible unless explicitly preserved in being after death by an act of God.)

And humans can enjoy both contemplative and active lives, as they themselves prefer.

Awakenings of Persons of the Trinity

All of the Father's faculties were fully mobilized before His creative act.

Moreover, the intellects of all three persons were uplifted before creation.

Regarding the Holy Spirit, His power was awakened immediately after creation; and His will, just before the giving of the first grace to the angels.

Regarding the Son, His power was uplifted at His conception during the Incarnation; and His will, upon His death on the cross.

Trinity: Ad Intra and Ad Extra

God's intellect, will, and power are each divided into 3 kinds for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

First, ad intra.

God is an infinite mind that thinks itself into existence and in so doing becomes self-aware.

The Father is intellect, the subject that knows, which is a union of everything real and ideal. The Holy Spirit is thought, self-knowledge, intelligible species, a simple and comprehensive act of full self-understanding, which is ideal. Hence "the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God" (1 Cor 2:10), as a thought penetrates to the essence of a thing being examined. The Son is the object known, which is real.

St. Thomas argues that "in God, intellect, and the object understood, and the intelligible species, and His act of understanding are entirely one and the same. Hence when God is said to be understanding, no kind of multiplicity is attached to His substance." (ST, I, 14, 4)

The Father wishes to grasp His own essence. The Holy Spirit's will is Love and Gift. The Father loves the Son by giving Him being / existence, and gives to Him the gift of perfection of essence and full access to and comprehension of the Father. The Son in His turn loves the Father by enjoying the Father's gift perfectly and infinitely, and gives to Him the gift of perfect fealty and justice to His reality. The Son's will consists in self-love, specifically to seek, obtain, and enjoy perfect and unconditional happiness.

The Father's power is to beget the Son, to self-actualize or to realize Himself, to attain perfect cognition of Himself. The Holy Spirit's power is to comprehend the Father, to envelop Him in thought. The Son's power is to be begotten. The Son has no inner contradictions or opposing forces within Him. Nor is the Son in any way composite at all but is 100% simple. He has His being by His very nature, and it is in this supreme integrity that His power to "come to be" and endure forever consists.

Of course, the power is God identical to its exercise within His act of self-understanding.

Second, ad extra.

God is Creator, Sanctifier, and Redeemer.

The Father possesses the natural knowledge of all possible finite worlds. The Holy Spirit possesses the middle knowledge of the potential worlds and the counterfactuals of freedom. For this reason, it is the Holy Spirit who is able to "speak through the prophets," as per the creed. The Son possesses the free knowledge of the actual world. For this reason, it is "through Him" that the world was made; i.e., the Son decided by and for Himself which world was the best possible one and was to be created.

The Father's will is to manifest His goodness. The Father does not Himself seek happiness; He wills that creatures-who-seek-happiness exist. The Holy Spirit's will is to unite all rational creatures into one communion of angels and saints through charity. The Son's will is personal love for each individual. I have already proposed that the Holy Spirit ought rightly to be considered the 2nd person of the Trinity, and the Son, the 3rd. I mentioned an objection to this in regard to the scope of each person's mission to the created world. But now we can see how this objection can be answered: the Father is concerned with the entire universe as before; the Holy Spirit, while giving unique graces to individuals, is concerned with the union of mankind; and the Son, while uniting the human race to Godhead, is concerned with the salvation of each individual human being.

The Father's power is to create ex nihilo; the Holy Spirit's power is to bestow grace; and the Son's power is to rule the created world with perfect and abiding competence for all eternity.

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. of the intellect itself through avoiding or curing mental illness, as psychosis, for example, is as if the mind is falling apart
  8. 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.

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: An Objection

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.

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.