7) Non-physicality vs. Personhood:
1. If God exists, then he is nonphysical.
2. If God exists, then he is a person (or personal being).
3. A person (or personal being) needs to be physical.
4. Hence, it is impossible for God to exist (from 1-3). (193)
My reply: First, God is not “non-physical.” He has a 1st fully physical level which is materially simple and efficiently free. This “body” entails no potentiality in God.
Second, insofar as the opposition between non-physicality and personhood is an entailment from materialism, it suffers from all the problems of this doctrine.
Drange himself points out that “not all nontheists would accept 3. … This argument turns on the issue of whether the idea of a ‘bodiless person’ is consistent and coherent. That is a difficult and highly controversial issue, and I shall not pursue it here…”
Well, alright then.
8) Omnipresence vs. Personhood:
My reply: I see no contradiction between omnipresence and God’s personhood. As already stated, the former is not only material but spiritual, as well.
9) Omniscience vs. Freedom:
3. An omniscient being must know exactly what actions he will and will not do in the future.
4. If one knows that he will do an action, then it is impossible for him not to do it, and if one knows that he will not do an action, then it is impossible for him to do it.
5. Thus, whatever an omniscient being does, he must do, and whatever he does not do, he cannot do (from 3 and 4).
6. To be free requires having options open, which means having the ability to act contrary to the way one actually acts.
7. So, if one is free, then he does not have to do what he actually does, and he is able to do things that he does not actually do (from 6).
8. Hence, it is impossible for an omniscient being to be free (from 5 and 7). (194)
My reply: Once again, God ad intra is not free, or perhaps free vacuously, by virtue of not needing freedom to choose between satisfactions. He is perfectly and infinitely happy and wants nothing for Himself other than what He already has.
But ad extra, there is a problem of the seeming inevitability of the inference from God’s foreknowledge to the nonexistence of God’s own freedom of the will. The solution is the same as in the usual variant of this puzzle which deals with human freedom. As a matter of fact, Drange’s version of the problem is even easier, because we don’t need to know how God knows future contingents. God knows what He wills, because He wills it; if He had willed differently, then He would have known differently. In logical moment 1, God has decided to actualize the best possible world, but He does not yet know what that world is. He then crunches some numbers and finds this world. Having found the solution in logical moment 2, God wills it and in so doing learns what it is that He willed.
Regarding creation, the act of willing and the realization of what is being willed are of course “simultaneous” in God’s eternity.
We thus deny the natural ad extra omniscience of God. But omniscience is restored to God in the form of complete free (as distinct from natural and middle) knowledge.
10) Justice vs. Mercy:
1. If God exists, then he is an all-just judge.
2. If God exists, then he is an all-merciful judge.
3. An all-just judge treats every offender with exactly the severity that he deserves.
4. An all-merciful judge treats every offender with less severity than he deserves.
5. It is impossible to treat an offender both with exactly the severity that he deserves and also with less severity than he deserves.
6. Hence, it is impossible for an all-just judge to be an all-merciful judge (from 3-5). (195)
My reply: St. Thomas’ solution is that
God acts mercifully, not indeed by going against His justice, but by doing something more than justice; thus a man who pays another two hundred pieces of money, though owing him only one hundred, does nothing against justice, but acts liberally or mercifully.
The case is the same with one who pardons an offense committed against him, for in remitting it he may be said to bestow a gift. … Hence it is clear that mercy does not destroy justice, but in a sense is the fullness thereof. (ST, I, 21, 3, reply 2)
Rothbard, too, points out in Ethics of Liberty that forgiving offenses or debts is not unjust. (86; 89; 145)
Here’s what seems to be the Christian view. Almost every human who reaches the age of reason will have done things in his life that are both good and evil. Now the effects of sin are threefold: corruption of nature, debt of punishment, and stain on the soul.
Regarding the first, God’s mercy consists in having made human nature self-correcting and self-healing.
Regarding the second, God’s shows mercy by forgiving the debt, because even a single unforgiven sin will prevent a soul from reaching heaven. Unless mercy is shown to a person, he is summarily executed and sent to hell, from which there is no salvation.
Regarding the third, God’s mercy lies in graciously restoring the soul’s beauty after sin.
In short, God is merciful in that for humans, unlike for angels, sins in this world do not fully bar their way to glory. In other words, mercy converts the infinite badness of a sin into merely finite badness, just as the sacrament of confession does. It gives you a second (and sometimes third, etc.) chance and lets your avoid hell; it cannot earn you heaven.
But God is just, insofar as when this life ends, so does forgiveness of sins, and each soul is then judged 100% according to its merits and character.
Hence we can ask God to “have mercy” on ourselves or friends including the dead, but it makes no sense to ask to “give glory,” for the latter is guaranteed to be allotted objectively and precisely according to desert, nor can divine justice be swayed by impetration.