Why God Is Ineffable

God is a 3rd-grade being, consisting of the 3rd-level goodness; the 2nd-level spirit as Father-Son-Holy Spirit; and 1st-level matter that’s materially simple and efficiently free. Goodness is beyond being; it is less a thing than Creator of things. Goodness is therefore purely an ad extra force whose own existence is inseparable from its self-expression in creatures.

The Father is an intellect that knows and contemplates itself, which includes all ideal abstracta which in part take the form of possible worlds and possible things.

The Holy Spirit is the ideal procession from the Father as a thought. It is timeless.

The Son is the real procession from the Father as the thing known and grasped by the thought. It is eternal, combining within itself infinite past, fully seized present, and endless future.

The Father combines in Himself both the ideal and real as all 4 time periods.

God wills good to all, creating and infusing being — He loves without there being any object the non-possession of which gives Him displeasure.

Goodness seeks nothing for itself other than to diffuse itself into creatures. While the 2nd-level God’s power is ad intra and directed toward finding and maintaining His own happiness within Himself, goodness grants God the ad extra power to create other things, things distinct from Himself (also real and ideal), whoever they may be.

Therefore, ascribing straightforward existence to God is problematic. The 2nd-level God exists in the ordinary sense as being united with essence — in fact, as something whose essence is existence. Goodness exists as a creative force. The personality of the Son — and therefore of the other persons, as per Jn 14:9 — was revealed to us in part in His Incarnation. 3rd-level goodness is utterly mysterious and impenetrable to us.

But language is useful only about 1st- and 2nd-level substances, rather than about things that transcend being, like goodness. Language falters when referring to God’s 3rd level. God is good and goodness itself, but its nature is far beyond our grasp.

Goodness: A Problem

It seems that goodness compared abstract timeless possible world W in God’s mind and W willed into solid reality and concluded that the latter state of affairs was superior to the former.

Now suppose the actual world is the best possible one. What about the next-best possible one, NW? Isn’t an actually existing NW superior to a merely abstract such world? Why not create it, too?

Goodness then seems to be driven forever to be devouring nothingness, populating it with good things. It’s always creating. Googols of worlds are already out there, and googols more are in the making. Seems a little grotesque, doesn’t it?

The solution involves paying attention to the mode of the First Cause or rather out complete ignorance about this mode.

We know of 1st-level physical causation: billiard balls striking each other, etc.; 2nd-level teleological causation: human actions that have reasons for them and that satisfy desires; but the 3rd-level self-diffusion of goodness is an impenetrable mystery.

God did not have to create according to physical causation: He would have remained God if He had failed to create. Nor according to teleological causation: there was nothing missing in God’s life, no dissatisfaction that could be remedied by a “divine action.” The causation was 3rd-level, and we must leave it at that.

But this immediately puts the problem in a new light. God is not “bound” to fill nothingness with worlds, as though He were a horn of plenty vomiting out “good” things. If 3rd-level causality is beyond comprehension, then perhaps this one world was enough for goodness.

Goodness Is Beyond Being

My very first formal course in philosophy in 2005 was a graduate-level course in Continental Philosophy which was at the time far beyond my meager capacities.

An author we were studying expressed the opinion that “goodness was beyond being.” Now this view is actually 100% correct and in fact, the most important insight you can achieve about God. (I do not know, though, whether the author meant by this statement what I mean by it.)

I, however, heady with St. Thomas, wrote, critiquing this position: “He might as well have proposed that cats and dogs are beyond being and been admired as a ‘sublime’ thinker.”

The instructor, Jeffrey Wattles, commented on the margin: “Abusive.”

At the time, I imagined I was deflating a pompous fool, but this eventually taught me very clearly that there are levels of understanding that might be completely opaque to me and seem absurd when in fact they are very much correct when rightly understood. And right understanding can postpone arriving into my mind for a very long time.

Another memory about that course was a paper which I completely failed to understand. I had no idea what the author was talking about. And then Wattles started reading the paper aloud and explaining each sentence in it, one after another. And I understood his explanations perfectly. I was extremely impressed with Wattles at that point.

Varieties of Goodness

Thomas Morris purports to solve the problem of why God created.

It is asked: how can one improve upon the divine perfection? Why would a 100% happy God act? Morris replies: God was motivated by a better “state of affairs” that would prevail with the 2nd-level God + the universe than with the 2nd-level God alone.

That implies that humans are “good things” that add to the goodness of the overall reality. It is better for them to be than not. But this attempt at understanding fails to come to grips with the 3-leveled nature of God. At the 3rd level, God’s mode of causation is not physical; hence the question “What necessitated the creation?” is meaningless; nor is it teleological; hence the question “Why did God create?” is meaningless, too. There are no physical causes nor teleological reasons for our existence. As such, this issue is incomprehensible. We say “goodness diffuses itself” just in order to say something rather than keep silent in the face of an utter impenetrable mystery.

3rd-level goodness is a creative principle that transcends both the created universe and even the 2nd-level Father-Son-Holy Spirit.

Now to be sure, (a) God wanted me to exist — I am not a bastard child; (b) I think that life is worth living, I prefer to exist; and (c) I want other people to exist, as well.

(b) can be interpreted that I bless goodness for creating me; I thank it. I affirm that it is good and that it is knew what it was doing. There is still no reason, however, for me to call myself good. We might even say that the only thing goodness “wants” is to be recognized by its creatures for what it is. (This is a metaphor, of course, and a dangerous one, too. Acknowledging that God is absolutely good serves only our human interests.)

(c) is obtained through love; as the beloved is another self, I similarly bless God for creating, redeeming, and sanctifying others.

(a) may give rise to an objection: If God loves us, are we not worthy of love and therefore good? Wouldn’t God fail to love bad things? The reply is that for God to love X is to will good to X. What is good for us is everything that contributes to and constitutes our true happiness. But that does not entail that we ourselves are good.

The only sense in which a creature is metaphysically good is as a secondary cause, having the power to affect things around it and dignity of not being irrelevant, whereas God is good as first cause.

St. Thomas argued that (1) everything that exists is good and (2) good to the extent that it exists. This, however, was a confusion, or at least it needs to be rightly understood.

Regarding (1), nothing has to exist. Anything can choose to die at any moment, where to die means to lose its nature, to have its essence corrupt. The very fact that a thing exists signifies that it has chosen life and is affirming life at this very moment. So, whatever exists likes it this way. (Insofar as a thing is in potentiality, it prefers a future good to an inferior present good; so, it is rejecting the present — for the sake of the future — but is still not rejecting existence as such. Being in motion and being dissatisfied do not equal wanting to die.)

Therefore, existence for any human is a means to an end which is happiness. Whatever exists counts existence as an indispensable condition for the pursuit of happiness.

Regarding (2), a noble nature is marked ultimately by the sophistication of its experience of happiness. The greater the “extent” to which it exists (the nobler it is), the more intense its feelings are, the more the fact of existence enters into its happiness, and the more it is grateful to goodness for life and the opportunity to seek happiness.

In this sense, a human being is metaphysically better than an ant.

The sole unique exception is perhaps 2nd-level God Himself. An apple is good for me as food. But God suffices for Himself. He is the sole means to His own happiness. In this sense, even the 2nd-level God may be called “good” simply.

In short, then, 3rd-level goodness is good sui generis; no creature is good in the sense in which it is good; but 2nd-level metaphysical goodness can be predicated of them.

Uniqueness of the Divine Goodness

Another objection: Wouldn’t goodness create good things? Aren’t we a testament to goodness’ glory?

It is obvious that this question presupposes that the world has a purpose: to serve as a reminder to any rational being that goodness through the Father (and later the other 2 persons) made it.

But goodness, insofar as anything can be affirmed of it, is not so petty as to require worship from us and demand recognition or obeisance. The world as a whole has no purpose separate from it other than to exist and to enjoy existing.

Reflecting the Father faithfully is merely one way station on each creature’s pursuit of happiness.

In particular, our love for the God is something that we actually feel; not something that we “ought” to feel (or else go to hell, say). God is perfectly lovable and is impossible not to love when beheld face-to-face. Hence, any ought is implied by must.

Moreover, “any rational being” is part of the created reality in the first place. It is surely strange to argue that I am a “reminder” to myself of the divine goodness.

I live and strive and am content that God and goodness are forever beyond me.

That is enough.

Whether God Creates “Good Things”?

The question is whether everything is good by virtue of its mere existence, a kind of metaphysical goodness. In the posts below, I reluctantly conclude that this does not make sense. Why should the mere presence of a slab of lard or a dude make either the lard or the dude “good”?

However, the intuition that the world is good kept gnawing at me.

Again, there are three objections to the idea that all things just “are” and are neither good nor bad:

  1. It would seem to belong to divine goodness to create good things.
  2. If God loves us, and that which is loved is good, then we must be good in some sense.
  3. If our human nature, when appropriately uplifted, is a means to our true happiness, then is not humanity itself good?

There is a way to arrive at what seems to be the demanded conclusion in a more roundabout way.

Humans’ final cause, unlike the final cause of merely material things, is within them. It is their own happiness, whereas the goodness of matter consists in its ability to assist men in their search for happiness. So, no individual can be essentially a means to an external end. (To be sure, on the free market, social cooperation can be viewed as people using each other efficiently. But the end of such mutual help is greatest overall happiness. It is still the happiness of individuals, even if aggregated somehow.)

Suppose I plant flowers in spring, and when they bloom, I say: “They are very beautiful.” Am I not therefore attributing some form of goodness to them that goes beyond a mere means to my ends? The flowers are not “tools”; they are “works of art.” They are not functional but expressive. In this sense, humans have no external purpose to them as means but are nevertheless expressive of God’s artistry.

In other words, even if we admit that humans are not essentially useful goods, they can still be virtuous goods.

In short, humans, as well as many other things, are if not good then certainly beautiful. Now unlike goodness which is objective real, beauty is subjective real. This means that it belongs to us (to paraphrase St. Thomas, we are beautiful by our own beauty not by divine beauty) but only insofar as other people or God delight in us. However, we are not “good” as in good independent of God’s or other people’s opinion.

Humans are beautiful to the extent that they evoke loving feelings from others and God. Our beauty as things by virtue of our mere presence is determined by others.

But with respect to God’s opinion it can be affirmed that God’s sense of beauty is perfect; hence, we may argue in favor of a “divine command theory of beauty”: X is beautiful if and only if God finds it so. With this, beauty becomes more objective and convertible into goodness. Moreover, no creature is condemned to hell; so, all things are more or less beautiful.

Again, the preeminent condition of human beauty is the extent to which a person is truly happy. The reason still to invoke God’s external perception of us is that He is in many ways the Author of our happiness, discerns an individual’s beauty most competently, and beauty’s subjectivity need not mean there are no right answers.

In sum, the world is good insofar as it is beautiful in the eyes of God and even a non-divine rational creature. To the extent that beauty is convertible with goodness, the world is also good simply as existing, in its own self.

Whether We Are Good by Virtue of Being Loved by God?

The previous post deals with the first objection and proposes that divine goodness creates beautiful things. To the extent that beauty is goodness, every rational creature that exists is good and good in proportion to its beauty and true happiness.

What about the second objection? First, we need to determine how God loves people.

I believe that God loves us by rooting for us, cheering for us, egging us on, saying: “Come on, do something interesting! Accomplish something! Have fun! Go!” He takes our search for happiness to heart and even assists whenever necessary.

I analyze humans into component parts, such as essence (nature), accidents (virtue), and acts (happiness), where by acts I mean the answer to the question “What fun and exciting thing are you doing right now?” But God, if He loves, loves the whole of man. The question then becomes: What is the essence of human identity?

Moreover, it’s not that I have a nature, as though a separate object or property from me; I am in part my nature. It’s not that I have character traits; I am my character. And it’s not that I am enjoying something; I am in act.

The essence of identity is to build it up self-consciously on the virtue tier and then forget all about it on the happiness tier. Identity is its rejection or perhaps transcendence, when rightly understood, as one focuses no longer on perfecting oneself but on mastering and enjoying what he is doing, being so caught up in the moment that he forgets about himself.

The more in act or truly happy we are, the more enthusiastic God becomes at supporting us. God has no patience for mere states (more permanent like nature or even more changeable like virtue); He wants and loves action.

Thus, the more in act one is, the more God delights in him.

Then I do not so much enjoy true happiness as I am my own true happiness. But since true happiness is a definite good, then God does not so much will good to me as wills me to be — overall — good. It is true that man acts for an end; but the end is he himself!

As I become in part true happiness (only God is wholly pure act), I become good, and this is the sense in which I and all human beings are good by virtue of their mere existence.

The syllogism is as follows:

(1) Happiness is good.
(2) I (= what I am + who I am + what I am doing) am somewhat my own happiness.
(3) I am good.

By what has been said the third objection may be easily solved.

Whose Good Is “the” Good?

All of a sudden on p. 99 Moore starts talking about “absolute” and “Universal” goods without ever defining either term.

His argument is as follows. Hedonists argue that pleasure is the sole good. But whose pleasure? Well, Egoists say that Smith’s pleasure is the sole good for Smith. But, Moore objects, then Jones’ pleasure is the sole good for Jones. The “fundamental contradiction of Egoism is that immense number of different things are, each of them, the sole good.”

If Smith’s happiness is good, then “everyone has an equal reason to pursue it, so far as they are able and so far as it does not exclude their attainment of other more valuable parts of Universal Good. In short it is plain that the addition of ‘for him’ ‘for me’ to such words as ‘ultimate rational end,’ ‘good,’ ‘important’ can introduce nothing but confusions.”

But wait a minute. There is no such thing as an absolute human good. The only good that may contend for this quality is “true happiness” as an abstract type of good that all humans pursue. Smith pursues true happiness, and so is Jones, etc.

Of course, each person pursues his own version of true happiness. Eating vanilla ice cream makes Smith happy but not Jones who likes chocolate ice cream. So, all good is relativized to individuals. Now consider Smith’s actions. He seeks his own true happiness. Which is good. But is not Jones’ object of his own search a good even from Smith’s point of view? Yes, but only to the extent that Smith loves Jones and wills good to him. In which case, Jones’ happiness overflows into Smith and becomes Smith’s. So, from Smith’s point of view, there is no good other than his own true happiness, which, since it involves perfected nature, entails also charity for neighbor and rejoicing in their true happiness, as well. If Smith instead hated Jones, then Jones’ happiness would in no way be Smith’s good; if Smith was, say, an avenger of blood, then he would suffer upon seeing Jones happy.

Who Smith will love, how intensely, etc., is Smith’s free choice, but generally speaking, people who love their fellow men are much happier than those who do not.

The universal good is also relativized, except this time to an “impartial observer” or to the Ruler of the universe, such as God, whose pleasure consists in maximizing the total true happiness over all people.

The human good then is relativized, but within each compartment, “for” Smith, “for” Jones, etc., there is only one supreme sole good: true happiness. Each person is a “microcosm” containing a unique ultimate good for its own self.

The absolute good belongs to the 3rd-grade God only and consists not in true happiness (though the 2nd-level Father-Son-Holy Spirit possesses it in an infinite amount) but in that principle whose self-diffusion creates things-that-seek-and-enjoy-true-happiness.

If there is no Smith in the first place, then there is no happiness for Smith. It is a straightforward deduction from this to set apart the Creator of Smith as something sui generis.

Other Scientism

Paul Copan falls victim to a nowadays unusual error. He realizes clearly that the nature or essence of a human being is fundamentally different from the nature of rock, a merely material object.

Natural sciences have acquired such prestige that they have almost entirely eclipsed the contributions of moral and social sciences. It is considered a manifestation of the philosophical virtue of “tough-mindedness” to be a champion of exact quantitative sciences. Studying man has degenerated into a pissing contest of which philosopher is more thereby tough-minded. Human sciences have all but disappeared; those that have not have tried to imitate physics at least in their methodology if not always conclusions. The fallacy of reducing humans to inanimate nature or plants (in the extreme, humans are “really” “just” bags of chemicals or “just” colonies of fungus) or at best, to animals is known as “scientism.”

This is an infelicitous term, to be sure, because economics, ethics are sciences, too — as in, theoretical edifices, but we’re stuck with it, and that’s what I’ll be using.

Mises, on the contrary, as a preamble to economic reasoning recommends if not metaphysical than at least methodological dualism:

In the present state of our knowledge the fundamental statements of positivism, monism, and panphysicalism are mere metaphysical postulates devoid of any scientific foundation and both meaningless and useless for scientific research. Reason and experience show us two separate realms: the external world of physical, chemical, and physiological phenomena and the internal world of thought, feeling, valuation, and purposeful action. No bridge connects — as far as we can see today — these two spheres. (Human Action, 18)

Copan’s objections to scientism are different: they center not on what humans beings somewhat obviously are but on how they apparently came to be. Our author keeps hammering on that point throughout his paper:

affirmation of human dignity, rights, and duties is something we would readily expect if God exists — but not if humans have emerged from valueless, mindless processes. (143)

Why think impersonal/physical, valueless processes will produce valuable, rights-bearing persons? (146)

So anyone can know that humans have rights and dignity and obligations. But, more crucially, how did they come to be that way — particularly if they are the result of valueless, cause-and-effect physical processes from the big bang until now? Theism offers the requisite foundations. (146)

In the case of morality, we are still left wondering how value and obligation came to be thrust upon a valueless context of unguided matter in motion to have a context for the truth of “Murder is wrong.” (148)

How then do we best account for the existence of valuable, morally responsible, self-aware, reasoning, truth-seeking, living human beings who inhabit a finely tuned, beautiful universe that came to exist a finite time ago? Is this best explained naturalistically — namely, the result of disparate valueless, mindless, lifeless physical processes in a universe that came into existence from nothing? (149)

Thomas Nagel puts it candidly: “There is no room for agency in a world of neural impulses, chemical reactions, and bone and muscle movements.” (155)

If humans are simply more developed animals, why think there are moral duties to which they must subscribe — or that they are even morally responsible? (156)

I think these quotes are sufficient to bring to light Copan’s argument. He is obsessed with the problem of “where we came from.” Unfortunately, since little is known about it, Copan’s case is built upon sand as judged by his own standards. Theism, for him, is little more than inference to best explanation: if man could not have arisen by blind evolution, then he must have been created. Hence, God. QED, apparently.

We shall deal with this line of reasoning shortly; I, at any rate, agree with the atheist philosopher David Stove that “Such questions strike me, in fact, as overwhelmingly uninteresting: like the questions (say) where the Toltecs came from, or the Hittites, and how they came. They came, like our species itself, from somewhere, and they came somehow. The details do not matter, except to specialists. What does matter is, to see our species rightly, as it now is, and as it is known historically to have been: and in particular, not to be imposed upon by the ludicrously false portrayals which Darwinians give of the past, and even of the present, of our species.” (Darwinian Fairytales, vii, emphasis mine)

Not only is the question of our origins uninteresting, it is supremely irrelevant for theology.

For example, when challenged with an argument that the world must have began and was therefore created by something or someone, a skeptic may reply that for all he knows, the universe has existed forever. Recent empirical evidence from physics is inconclusive and is of little philosophical value. Leave physics to the physicists. The kalam argument, too, is unsatisfactory: it tries to show that it is impossible to traverse an actual infinite year by year or second by second. But, since time is neither infinite multitude (of real objects) nor magnitude — which I admit cannot exist — perhaps the infinitude of time was traversed in some other way. If there was no such way, then unfortunately, Copan (and Craig) would prove too much: that God, who is actually infinite, is also impossible. The argument is that if eternal existence is possible, then a fortiori, something much less amazing and spectacular that it, viz., everlasting existence, is possible, as well. Modus tollens.

That the universe has a beginning is not a deliverance of reason but an article of faith.

Now let’s take a further step. I hereby claim (purely philosophically) that humans, too, have existed forever. There is an endless cycle of deaths and rebirths. Each individual upon death goes to some sort of afterlife where he might linger for a few years or a few billion years, until he is reborn unto this world anew. Then Copan’s argument is immediately undone. The “impersonal/physical, valueless processes” have gone on forever, but so have the “personal value-laden” processes. Both will perhaps continue to do so.

It can no longer be said that a valueless world has mysteriously yielded values; for according to this particular skeptic, values have always been around, since human souls are naturally immortal and have been subject to this cycle from all eternity. Whence, then, God?

For example, the Nagel quote above assumes in a grotesque reduction that humans are “really” “nothing more than” neural impulses, chemical reactions, and bone and muscle movements. This assumption is false, but theism has no influence on refuting it.

Let’s continue to “objective moral values” (OMVs). I would use the term “metaphysical” values, reserving “moral” for personal character traits (whether virtuous or vicious) one might cultivate (perhaps at the expense of other traits) to make his soul lovely, rather than natural law like “You shall not kill.” And that’s what OMVs are: they are propositions of natural law as elucidated by, say, Rothbard in The Ethics of Liberty.

On the one hand, to say that God, as conceived by classical theism, is the cause of OMVs is to do God injustice: God is the source not only of those fine things but in fact of everything, whether of objective moral values or of subjective metaphysical ideas.

Consider that level 1 creatures such as rocks, have their material and efficient causes deep inside of them. A rock is made of this-and-that and functions so-and-so.

Level 2 creatures, humans especially, have in addition their final cause inside: they live for the sake of their happiness. “What a man is for” is his own happiness. A 1st-level machine, on the other hand, has no purpose of existing other than to serve man in pursuit of this man’s happiness. A machine is a perfect slave; a man has no external to him purpose, and ethics rightly recognizes that “using” a person without giving proper consideration to that person’s own values is very wrong. A human being is (or has) an (or his) “end in himself.”

There are other differences between man and machine, such as than man has unique intelligence and a genuine personality or “traits of character.” Mises points out:

It is arbitrary to consider only the satisfaction of the body’s physiological needs as “natural” and therefore “rational” and everything else as “artificial” and therefore “irrational.” It is the characteristic feature of human nature that man seeks not only food, shelter, and cohabitation like all other animals, but that he aims also at other kinds of satisfaction. Man has specifically human desires and needs which we may call “higher” than those which he has in common with the other mammals. (HA, 20)

… reason, man’s most characteristic feature, is also a biological phenomenon. It is neither more nor less natural than any other feature of the species Homo sapiens, for instance, the upright gait or the hairless skin. (176)

But an exploration of these would take us too far afield.

As anyone can see, I have figured all this out without engaging in any theological reasoning. If we want, we can continue by saying that level 3 “Goodness” has at last the formal cause inside it, too. God is what He is, and His essence is uncaused. Yet humans are made by God, and God ultimately decides who shall become what. But only if we want.

If moral values are objective, then they must have a ground in something that is objective, too. I have suggested that it is human nature. Moral facts are part of our human nature and are inseparable from it. Hence, there is no “unexplained huge cosmic coincidence between the existence of these moral facts and the eventual emergence of morally responsible agents who are obligated to them.” (148) Moral facts come into existence with humans and go out of existence with them. This is a proximate cause. An ultimate cause may well be God, though that’s not saying much, because God is the ultimate First cause of everything. Why though go that far? At any rate, having gone that far, Copan produces no interesting attributes of God that his theologizing has revealed.

His output is that “humans have been made in the image of a faithful, truthful, rational, morally excellent, worship-worthy Being.” But humans, too, can be faithful, truthful, rational, etc. How does this description differentiate between humans and God?

Is God “really” “just” an unusually saintly person, according to Copan?

In a strange diversion, Copan shifts away from physics to psychology, declaring even it beyond the pale! A psychologist, he argues, would say that “Hitler, being bitter and angry, held many false beliefs about the Jews (for example, that they were responsible for Germany’s defeat in WWI). Hitler sought to destroy the Jews as a way of releasing his hostilities.” (156) Doesn’t he see that this explanation, though not involving OMVs, is already human, not material? Hitler’s bitterness is not the bitterness of caffeine. Anger is an immaterial subjective mental state. Moreover, this explanation actually seems enlightening. “Hitler was morally depraved” merely condemns Hitler without understanding him, though I’m sure there is room for both of these.

Even if humans are not “simply more developed animals,” and even if we properly reject scientism, I still do not see any reason in order to do ethics to wax theological. I might want to at some point, but the human and divine sciences are separate and distinct. Contributing to one science need not involve using the other.

Copan concludes: “If, however, we have been created in the image of a good, supremely valuable, and free being and have been endowed with moral value and ‘certain unalienable rights,’ then the theist is able to offer a much more plausible context for affirming human dignity, rights, and responsibility than the naturalist who wants to be a realist but doesn’t quite know how.” (157) That we are so created needs to be proven not just asserted as self-evident. “The idea that God could be evil or command evil is utterly contrary to the very definition of God (who is intrinsically morally excellent, maximally great, and worthy of worship).” (160) But we are not supposed to define God but to unfold His attributes one adequate argument after another and in such a way as to draw undeniable conclusions about the difference between Creator and creatures.

God is as much above me as I am above rocks. Nothing like this follows from Copan’s flawed theology and “reverse scientism,” wherein he confuses ethics with theology.

Goodness: Triplism

Dualism as a metaphysical system that distinguishes between matter and spirit is incomplete. There is a third type of substance that belongs to God only and is called goodness. Its mode of causation is neither physical nor teleological but is expressed as “self-diffusion” of goodness. The proper metaphysics is then triplist.

As I write in my book, God as “3rd-grade” goodness engages in two distinct acts of self-expression. First, it begets the absolutely best thing, which is the 2nd-level God the Son; second, it creates a universe filled with numerous creatures of every rank, from the worst to the best, exclusive on both ends. Goodness then is the primal creative force that is beyond being.

The goodness’ exploration of being is lila, a divine game. Yet it is played exceedingly seriously and competently. Perhaps as the mind recognizes itself only as a thought or interpretation in progress, so goodness is realized only as the ground for being, i.e., for good things.