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.

Categories: What Is God?


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