Meaning of the Resurrection

To continue with the previous post, in the highest heaven, wherein one is a child of God and is a full-fledged member of His family, it is possible to trade off love for power and vice versa, while fully preserving one’s intellect.

A physical equivalent is that an object with a mass can be converted into its rest energy, becoming thereby pure energy; and can possibly coalesce back into a material thing.

So, one can “expand” his being fully into love and subsist in everyone and everything while forsaking the ability to manipulate matter; or one can “solidify” and acquire a body, trading off for this feature some ability to indwell in things by love.

This is done by the blessed at will, as per their enjoyment.

Before the Incarnation and before the Resurrection, souls did not acquire new bodies upon death. Did they therefore exist as pure love? Surely not. Christ had not yet come, and neither, therefore, had the Holy Spirit. So, they must have existed as ghosts, unable to exercise any power over anything; unable even to move! Imagine how your life would be if you were suddenly completely paralyzed yet remained conscious. It (1) would be a horror, and (2) would drive you insane. I’m serious; you’d end up 100% psychotic in no time.

Consequently, the souls of the dead could not have been conscious. They were sleeping, in what is often referred to as the Limbo of the Fathers, the difference being that all the separated souls were there, not just the righteous, and none were in hell.

What Jesus did for us was awaken these souls, gave them lightsome new bodies in whatever lower heaven they ended up, and prepared them for new adventures in this world.

Those who died after the Resurrection and those who die now get such bodies instantly upon death. If they are done here and qualify for the highest heaven, then in addition they acquire the ability to expand and contract as described.

Paradise vs. Heaven

Paradise and heaven are different manifestations of the same blessed life.

The difference is that in paradise one has a body, while in heaven he exists as pure love.

Paradise is the perfection of active life: beauty of the body, gracefulness of motion, effortless power over nature, guilt-free physical pleasures.

Heaven is the perfection of speculative life: one contemplates the mysteries of God.

As I pointed out before, this trade-off is fully under control of a saint. As a result, he can switch between the two happy places at will.

“Selfishness” and “Scarcity” As Sources of Private Property

Hume suggests that the cause of the institution of property is a combination of (1) “selfishness and limited generosity” and (2) scarcity of resources. If either failed to hold, there would be no need to distinguish between “mine and thine.”

Regarding (2), even if apples, say, are superabundant, once I pick one off a tree, I’ve mixed my labor with it, and it would need to count as “mine.” An attempt by another person to grab it while I ate it would be unjust. The same goes for air in my lungs and, most crucially, for the physical space my body occupies and my personal space. Further, maybe houses are plentiful, but only a few houses are on the beach, while most are not. There would be competition even within our Eden for such well-positioned houses.

Regarding (1), we might imagine a heavenly society marked by universal perfect charity. All people’s wills are intertwined into a single vine-and-branches, with each loving everyone else as strongly as himself, such that each person feels not only his own pleasure but that of the whole. Interpersonal utility comparisons could then be made as easily as ranking one’s own satisfactions by each person within his own heart. In such a society, Smith might labor not only to enjoy the fruits of his labor himself but also so that Jones can spend his money. Yet Smith still would enjoy the improved well-being of the whole union. We might indeed imagine all income going into a common storehouse, with distribution being made according to “need,” i.e., according to the single universal values scale. Thus, Smith may produce an apple, but if Jones wants it more than Smith, then Jones gets it. Smith, loving Jones, would still appreciate a stronger desire being satisfied, even if it’s not his own desire but Jones’. (It’s a weird, but once in paradise, you’ll get used to it.)

However, this alone does not obviate the need for private property in the means of production, as we’ll see in the next post.

Trouble in Paradise?

If my vision of the society of paradise is correct, then do utility monsters ruin it?

It seems that the especially saintly people, marked by the greatest charity, would be most suited for happiness, as well. Are the less virtuous folks, then, though willingly loving these saints in the heavenly communion, nevertheless still in a sense conscripted to serve them, because the saints’ desires are so strong, pure, and intense that within the universal values scale they outweigh the desires of the non-saints?

There is, however, a benefit to the strangeness, as in it introduces holy competition between people. I have mentioned the difference between heaven and paradise; so if, when moving from the former to the latter to enjoy some active life, you want the goodies of social cooperation yourself, then strive to be saintly! Each saint still contributes to the welfare of the whole vine-and-branches, so even non-saints benefit from more saints, but the non-competitive competition, if I may put it this way, exists nonetheless.

Or I may be completely off here. Well, I see through a glass darkly.

Utility Monsters in Paradise

I think utility monsters, i.e., saints, would not present a problem in the heavenly communion.

On the one hand, their feelings are stronger than those of the regular folks and so are ranked higher on the universal values scale. On the other hand, their charity is also greater, which means that they feel the whole and other people’s feelings more poignantly and so would be willing to experience their happiness more, i.e., to yield goods to others with greater alacrity.

Conversely, a non-saint’s feelings are duller, such that he is less suited for eternal happiness, but he is more selfish, feeling the welfare of the whole vine-and-branches less strongly and so is less willing to let go of his own enjoyment for the sake of others.

Thus, there is a parity between saints and non-saints, and tendency toward equality of “distribution,” though again the saints feel greater pleasure overall than the non-saints.

Everlasting Life in the Kingdom of Heaven / Paradise

I’ve distinguished in regard to the state of glory between the contemplative life in heaven and the active life in paradise.

I think the life of a saint will be something like this: he’ll study some interesting to him subject (let’s say, computers) in heaven with the Father for a million years, or however long; then move to paradise and design, create, implement, or put into solid reality what he has learned for the entertainment and edification of fellow saints. The machine will provide a million years worth of fun and games, at which point it will have been fully mastered. Then the saint will move to heaven again to learn something new.

One’s task in heaven would be to make a possible thing, such as our super-complex computer, conceivable to oneself (and not just to God).

Since the Father is infinite, and His mysteries can never be exhausted, neither contemplation nor action should ever become boring.

Production in Paradise

In my post on everlasting life, I suggested that a saint would learn cool stuff in heaven straight from the Father, and build it for his own and fellow saints’ fun and profit in paradise.

Now God is infinite, and the new things to be learned under His tutelage can never be exhausted. But once solidifying into a body upon arriving into paradise, what sort of material world will surround us to enable “production”?

For one, I think the external environment will be exceedingly beautiful and pleasant and entropy-less and permitting 100% efficient machines to be built.

But secondly, I think we’ll have full access to prime matter, which is a word for material pure potentiality, a kind of matter out of which it is possible to construct any material object whatsoever with no limitations. Even quarks and electrons, let alone chemical elements, say, in this universe have a definite nature which restricts the nature of the devices built ultimately from them. Prime matter has no nature and can become anything we please, or at least anything we discover from our previous sojourn in heaven.

In this world, prime matter is an abstraction, used, for example, to grasp the idea of creation ex nihilo. God, in creating the world, would hardly consent to being constrained by the pre-existing material essences. So, He must’ve created and used prime matter to manufacture all those quarks and electrons in the first place.

But in paradise which is as much part of God’s kingdom as heaven, I see no reason why we won’t be able to use prime matter directly, thereby imitating in small part divine omnipotence.

Equality with Angels Is Promised to the Saints

So says St. Thomas on a number of occasions. But certainly not equality in nature; the angelic nature will remain superior to the human nature.

Could it be equality of dignity or importance in the eyes of God? But we have this equality even now. The good angels serve us as the condition of their beatitude; the evil angels suffer defeat at our hands, and so must acknowledge our greatness.

Further, if Mary is the queen of heaven, then she is above the angels, as well. I think the equality spoken of is of ultimate happiness. It will be impossible to predict, by picking an arbitrary angel and arbitrary human saint, who will be happier. Some angels will be happier than some saints; but some saints will also be happier than some angels. If there is a “hierarchy of happiness,” then both angels and humans will be interspersed within it.

Perhaps in regard to the purely contemplative life in heaven, angels will remain superior to and hence happier than humans, but when the happiness from the human active life in paradise is added to happiness from human contemplation, the overall pleasure of glorified life will not necessarily be smaller for a man than for an angel.

Further, our glory is gained ultimately by defeating the demons. But humans and good angels cooperate in equal measure in this battle. Hence, we’ll have equality in friendship with each other and in honor, as allied warriors of equal strength and determination.

Another possibility is that equality refers to the good possessed by each, which is God, though the capacity of enjoying Him will be unequal for all creatures.

Ethos of Family vs. Economy

Cohen can babble all he wants about how one ought to treat fellow citizens in a communist society like relatives. (225)

But none of the problems plaguing socialist egalitarianism afflict the family.

The incentive problem is overcome, because the husband and wife love each other with intense, personal, and intelligent charity-love. Their wills are intertwined: such love is marked, as St. Thomas teaches, by union, mutual indwelling (of souls), ecstasy, and zeal (in acting for the sake of the beloved). Each spouse considers, nay, feels the welfare of the other to be as important as their own. They have no general duty to sacrifice for each other, because they are to a great extent one heart not just one flesh.

The computation problem is overcome, because a typical household economy is technologically exceedingly simple.

I will even grant to him that if one could treat citizens like relatives, then it would have to be done. Imagine a society of paradise, a communion of saints in which “there is no loss of individuality, yet such an interdependence that the saints are ‘members one of another,’ not only sharing the same blessings and exchanging good offices and prayers, but also partaking of the same corporate life…” Imagine further that the omniscient Jesus is the chief central planner for whom the computation problem is not an obstacle. Then, if there is any sort of production going on in paradise, it could well be perfectly efficient socialism.

(It’s a rather grotesque example, though, and I don’t actually think that’s how the heaven / paradise system works.)

Cohen may regret that earth is not heaven; he may even insist that “justice” calls for earth to be heaven; but as he himself fully realizes, reality and facts of life can make justice unattainable.

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.