Author Topic: Thomist theory of grace and predestination  (Read 9289 times)

Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #210 on: May 21, 2017, 02:22:43 PM »
Hmm. Perhaps this is a better way to explain it...

Actually, saying Thomism entails modal collapse is a perfectly fine explanation which should be clear to everyone.  I give both you and LouisIX great credit for honestly and frankly admitting this is the case and not dancing around it.  Ditto for the adoption of the philosophy of Dr. Pangloss.

Obviously, though, since I reject modal collapse, I therefore reject Thomism.

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His wisdom doesn't confine His liberty of choice; it is the reason for it. His wisdom is that which made this particular world the most fitting one for Him to make, though He could have made others, since, all of them being infinitely inadequate compared to Himself, none of them could necessitate His will. And it is the fitness of this or that object as judged by the intellect that is the very motive of free action.

Of course I reject this as a) being contrary to Divine simplicity and b) containing the unproven assertion that "the most fitting world for God to make" is not a logical contradiction, like "the largest integer".

But assuming His wisdom makes this particular world the most fitting, His will, which is identical to His wisdom, makes this particular world to be in the identical act that makes this particular world the most fitting.  It is impossible that He "could have made others".  His power is not distinct from His wisdom.
 Which is another way of saying that God cannot have a moral defect like creatures can: we can act in a way that is not the most fitting but He cannot.

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In order to speculate as to whether He would have EVER made a different world is to ask whether His wisdom would ever judge the fitness of another possible world differently that we know He judges it now. But if God is Pure Act, He cannot admit an admixture of potency, even within His intellect.

Remember, His will is not capricious. His attributes of omniscience and omnipotence produce His infallible foreknowledge of all possible worlds. In order for His wisdom to judge one to be most fitting, but then a different one to be most fitting, He would [1] have no sufficient motive for willing one rather than another and [2] would be admitting a change of His unchangeable essence, a deficiency in His intellect, and an imperfection of His wisdom.

This is the typical nonsense reply from Thomists which doesn't even attempt to grasp the basic modalities.  What NN was actually asking was is there a possible world in which God acts and judges differently "from eternity" (I don't like that phrase, but everyone knows what I mean), not whether God would "change His mind" in the current one.
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Offline Non Nobis

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #211 on: May 21, 2017, 05:19:16 PM »
...
Hmm. Perhaps this is a better way to explain it...

His wisdom doesn't confine His liberty of choice; it is the reason for it. His wisdom is that which made this particular world the most fitting one for Him to make, though He could have made others, since, all of them being infinitely inadequate compared to Himself, none of them could necessitate His will. And it is the fitness of this or that object as judged by the intellect that is the very motive of free action.

In order to speculate as to whether He would have EVER made a different world is to ask whether His wisdom would ever judge the fitness of another possible world differently that we know He judges it now. But if God is Pure Act, He cannot admit an admixture of potency, even within His intellect.

Remember, His will is not capricious. His attributes of omniscience and omnipotence produce His infallible foreknowledge of all possible worlds. In order for His wisdom to judge one to be most fitting, but then a different one to be most fitting, He would [1] have no sufficient motive for willing one rather than another and [2] would be admitting a change of His unchangeable essence, a deficiency in His intellect, and an imperfection of His wisdom.

First, a terminology question, are we essentially talking about the (famous) "best of all possible worlds" argument here (although using other words)?

I can see how God COULD make a universe that is less good then the current one, but WOULD not.

But I can't see how God COULD make a universe that is better then the current one, but ABSOLUTELY WOULD NOT.

Quote from: St. Thomas, Summa Theologica I

http://newadvent.org/summa/1025.htm#article6

Question 25. The power of God
A6. Could He make better what He makes?
...
Objection 3. Further, what is very good and the best of all cannot be bettered; because nothing is better than the best. But as Augustine says (Enchiridion 10), "each thing that God has made is good, and, taken all together they are very good; because in them all consists the wondrous beauty of the universe." Therefore the good in the universe could not be made better by God.
...
Reply to Objection 3. The universe, the present creation being supposed, cannot be better, on account of the most beautiful order given to things by God; in which the good of the universe consists. For if any one thing were bettered, the proportion of order would be destroyed; as if one string were stretched more than it ought to be, the melody of the harp would be destroyed. Yet God could make other things, or add something to the present creation; and then there would be another and a better universe. 

I just can't see St. Thomas adding, yes, He COULD, but He absolutely WOULD NEVER HAVE DONE SO.

Let me make the analogy of Beethoven creating music (replace with your favorite "practically perfect" human creator).  Someone might reasonably (even if with some exaggeration) say even of a small but exquisite piece, "it's perfect, I wouldn't change a note". Now, Beethoven COULD but WOULD NOT create a piece by throwing rocks backwards over his head at the piano. But he COULD and WOULD have created the 9th symphony if God had inspired him to choose that in the past.

I think there is no "best of all possible worlds" that God would always choose out of His wisdom.  God's wisdom and choice are one and create a world that is perfect in itself; given that it was created, it couldn't have created better.  But no world can be utterly fitting in every possible respect to God's infinite wisdom and goodness; it would need to be as good as God Himself.

It's not denigrating God's wisdom to say He would have created a different universe if He had so chosen.  His wisdom and choices are not bound by some infinite number of possible finite good worlds that are out there, that He chooses among, and must find "the best". He doesn't choose a world because it is the best, it is as good as the goodness He wants to share, always perfect in itself.  His glory is not diminished by creating a lesser but perfect world. Creation has no impact on His goodness.

But since God's motive in creating is to share His goodness, I think that in a world that is "perfect in itself" there would be intellectual creatures who can share that goodness in a marvelous way.  I can't keep Christ out of these considerations...

Comment partly for QMR:  Ultimately God's reasons for creating exactly this world rather than that are rooted in Divine Wisdom, in His being and goodness that we can not fathom. I think "motives" and "reasons" are said analogously of Him. But any such analogy must reasonable on our side, as far as we can go with it.  We can not say that our idea of God's goodness being analogical means that truly perhaps God is evil.  Nor, I think, can we say that our idea of God's motives being analogical means that truly perhaps God's wisdom is "non-deterministic".
« Last Edit: May 21, 2017, 11:57:48 PM by Non Nobis »
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Offline INPEFESS

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #212 on: May 21, 2017, 08:02:13 PM »
NN, I'm glad you brought it up because it occurred to me I should clarify the terminology. "Possible worlds" is a philosophically obscure phrase, because it fails to address the distinction between possible worlds entirely distinct from ours and possible worlds only accidentally or minimally distinct. Take for example a world exactly identical to ours but Venus doesn't exist; a world where there is one fewer grain of sand on the beach; or a world where the constellation Orion is of slightly different dimensions. Technically, a world containing a set of created things that is even the slightest bit different from another is, taken as a whole, a different possible world. This is the sense in which I speak of possible worlds. Given the set of created things of our world, they are most fitting as they are and could not be formally any better. That is not to say, however, that God would not create a materially different possible world substantially distinct from ours. And this world that He would create would be most fitting:  It could not formally be any better. (I apologize for any confusion that lack of specificity caused.)

I should also note that the book you told me you ordered answers this question pointedly. It addresses the possibility of God creating other worlds on Pg. 268. See the italicized subheading that reads: "God could have chosen a better world, but He could not have arranged its elements better than those of the present world." In the language I used above, I would add these parenthetical notes: God could have chosen a better world (materially, substantially), but He could not have arranged its elements better than those of the present world (formally, accidentally). Technically speaking, both of those types of different possible worlds are including in the phrase "possible worlds," which is why a distinction is necessary. To paraphrase Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange in "God: His Existence  and His Nature, Vol. II," God could have created a better world, but He couldn't have created the world better.
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Offline Non Nobis

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #213 on: May 22, 2017, 12:09:48 AM »
NN, I'm glad you brought it up because it occurred to me I should clarify the terminology. "Possible worlds" is a philosophically obscure phrase, because it fails to address the distinction between possible worlds entirely distinct from ours and possible worlds only accidentally or minimally distinct. Take for example a world exactly identical to ours but Venus doesn't exist; a world where there is one fewer grain of sand on the beach; or a world where the constellation Orion is of slightly different dimensions. Technically, a world containing a set of created things that is even the slightest bit different from another is, taken as a whole, a different possible world. This is the sense in which I speak of possible worlds. Given the set of created things of our world, they are most fitting as they are and could not be formally any better. That is not to say, however, that God would not create a materially different possible world substantially distinct from ours. And this world that He would create would be most fitting:  It could not formally be any better. (I apologize for any confusion that lack of specificity caused.)

I should also note that the book you told me you ordered answers this question pointedly. It addresses the possibility of God creating other worlds on Pg. 268. See the italicized subheading that reads: "God could have chosen a better world, but He could not have arranged its elements better than those of the present world." In the language I used above, I would add these parenthetical notes: God could have chosen a better world (materially, substantially), but He could not have arranged its elements better than those of the present world (formally, accidentally). Technically speaking, both of those types of different possible worlds are including in the phrase "possible worlds," which is why a distinction is necessary. To paraphrase Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange in "God: His Existence  and His Nature, Vol. II," God could have created a better world, but He couldn't have created the world better.

Thanks. I edited my post before this considerably after not seeing yours here first.  You can look over it again if you like.   I don't have time any more tonight to thoroughly read yours or Garrigou-Lagrange but I will.

" God could have created a better world, but He couldn't have created the world better".  That is at least similar to what I was trying to say in quoting St. Thomas (and my example with Beethoven).

Will get back to this tomorrow.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2017, 12:15:36 AM by Non Nobis »
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Offline Non Nobis

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #214 on: May 22, 2017, 08:32:46 PM »
NN, I'm glad you brought it up because it occurred to me I should clarify the terminology. "Possible worlds" is a philosophically obscure phrase, because it fails to address the distinction between possible worlds entirely distinct from ours and possible worlds only accidentally or minimally distinct. Take for example a world exactly identical to ours but Venus doesn't exist; a world where there is one fewer grain of sand on the beach; or a world where the constellation Orion is of slightly different dimensions. Technically, a world containing a set of created things that is even the slightest bit different from another is, taken as a whole, a different possible world. This is the sense in which I speak of possible worlds. Given the set of created things of our world, they are most fitting as they are and could not be formally any better. That is not to say, however, that God would not create a materially different possible world substantially distinct from ours. And this world that He would create would be most fitting:  It could not formally be any better. (I apologize for any confusion that lack of specificity caused.)

I should also note that the book you told me you ordered answers this question pointedly. It addresses the possibility of God creating other worlds on Pg. 268. See the italicized subheading that reads: "God could have chosen a better world, but He could not have arranged its elements better than those of the present world." In the language I used above, I would add these parenthetical notes: God could have chosen a better world (materially, substantially), but He could not have arranged its elements better than those of the present world (formally, accidentally). Technically speaking, both of those types of different possible worlds are including in the phrase "possible worlds," which is why a distinction is necessary. To paraphrase Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange in "God: His Existence  and His Nature, Vol. II," God could have created a better world, but He couldn't have created the world better.

I didn't find Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange's text  on page 268 in my book (which was the very beginning of The Special Antinomies Relating to Freedom). I have an old used book, 6th printing 1955.  I did find the text on page 345.

I also have this book on my Kindle, although page numbers aren’t shown and Kindle choked on the book for a while. I finally found the text and then highlighted it, which made it available from my Amazon account, and then copy/pasted it here.  (I know you have it already but this is convenient at least for me).
 
Quote from: Garrigou-Lagrange   God: His Existence and His Nature, Vol II
God could have chosen a better world, but He could not have arranged its elements better than those of the present world. Refuting in advance the theories of Leibniz and Malebranche, St. Thomas (Ia, q. 25, a. 5) wrote as follows: “Some think that the divine power is restricted to this present course of events through the order of the divine wisdom and justice, so that another world could not come into existence. But since the power of God, which is His essence, is nothing else but His wisdom, it can indeed be fittingly said that there is nothing in the divine power which is not in the order of divine wisdom; for the divine wisdom includes the whole potency of the divine power. Yet the order placed in creation by divine wisdom, in which order the notion of his justice consists, is not so adequate to the divine wisdom that the divine wisdom should be restricted to this present order of things. Now it is clear that the whole idea of order which a wise man puts into things made by him is taken from their end. So, when the end is proportionate to the things made for that end, the wisdom of the maker is restricted to some definite order. But the divine goodness is an end exceeding beyond all proportion things created. Hence the divine wisdom is not so restricted to any particular order that no other course of events could happen.” Leibniz considered this problem too much as a problem of mathematics in which there is a fixed proportion between the different elements; he did not sufficiently take into account the end itself of the creative act, that is, the infinite goodness which manifests itself in the communication of its riches; he failed to understand the import of these words of St. Thomas: "The divine goodness is the end which exceeds beyond all proportion created things.
 Leibniz says further: “Supreme wisdom could not fail to choose the best . . . and there would be something to correct in the actions of God if there were a better way of doing things” (Theod., 8 ). St. Thomas (Ia, q. 25, a. 6 ad ium.) provided an answer in advance for this objection, when he wrote: “The proposition: God can make a thing better than He makes it, can be understood in two ways. If the word ‘better is taken substantively, as meaning a better object, this proposition is true; for God can make better the things that exist and make better things than those which He has made. But if the word ‘better is taken as an adverb, implying in a more perfect manner, then we cannot say that God can make anything better than He makes it, for He cannot make it from greater wisdom and goodness.” His answer to the third objection is as follows: “The universe, the present creation being supposed, cannot be better, on account of the most beautiful order given to things by God, in which the good of the universe consists. For if any one thing were bettered, the proportion of order would be destroyed as, if one string were stretched more than it ought to be, the melody of a harp would be destroyed.” This is tantamount to saying that the world is a masterpiece, but another divine masterpiece is possible. The organism of the plant is less perfect than that of the animal, and yet, granted its parts and the end that it must attain, there could not be a better arrangement of its parts. A certain symphony of Beethoven is a masterpiece without any fault in it; however it does not exclude the possibility of a masterpiece of the same kind or of another order. The holiness of the Apostle Peter does not exclude that of St. Paul; both are infinitely far from the holiness of God. The Incarnation alone represents to us the highest possible union of the divine with a created nature, but the problem remains for the degree of grace and glory of the human soul of Christ; however high the degree, there is still an infinite difference between the intensity of the beatific vision which the soul of Jesus enjoyed and the comprehensive vision which cannot belong to any but the divine nature (Ilia, q. 7, a. 12 ad 2um).

Quote from: INPEFESS
Given the set of created things of our world, they are most fitting as they are and could not be formally any better. That is not to say, however, that God would not create a materially different possible world substantially distinct from ours. And this world that He would create would be most fitting:  It could not formally be any better

I'm not clear whether you would agree with this or not:  God could have arranged the same set of created things of our world in a different way.  It would also be most fitting, but not better made (or arranged) than the current world.  Again use the analogy with masterpiece symphonies composed by an infinitely great composer.  Each of two different symphonies (using the same finitely good orchestra) would be most fitting (considered in itself), but not one better made than the other.  Neither symphony would be great in proportion to the infinite greatness of the composer.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2017, 09:25:37 PM by Non Nobis »
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Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #215 on: May 22, 2017, 09:44:22 PM »
This is yet another example of a Thomistic conclusion not actually entailed by the basics of Thomistic ontology and therefore unproven.  What even is "order" in the first place?

Quote
"God could have chosen a better world, but He could not have arranged its elements better than those of the present world." In the language I used above, I would add these parenthetical notes: God could have chosen a better world (materially, substantially), but He could not have arranged its elements better than those of the present world (formally, accidentally). Technically speaking, both of those types of different possible worlds are including in the phrase "possible worlds," which is why a distinction is necessary.

No, they're not.  If He could not have arranged the elements of this present world better, and therefore would not create a world with its present elements but a different arrangement, such a world is impossible, and is therefore not included in the phrase "possible worlds".
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Offline Non Nobis

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #216 on: May 23, 2017, 12:46:44 AM »
This is yet another example of a Thomistic conclusion not actually entailed by the basics of Thomistic ontology and therefore unproven.  What even is "order" in the first place?

Quote
"God could have chosen a better world, but He could not have arranged its elements better than those of the present world." In the language I used above, I would add these parenthetical notes: God could have chosen a better world (materially, substantially), but He could not have arranged its elements better than those of the present world (formally, accidentally). Technically speaking, both of those types of different possible worlds are including in the phrase "possible worlds," which is why a distinction is necessary.

No, they're not.  If He could not have arranged the elements of this present world better, and therefore would not create a world with its present elements but a different arrangement, such a world is impossible, and is therefore not included in the phrase "possible worlds".

I don't think a world that is "a total loss" is truly a possible world for God to make, even if it is "logically possible".  Total loss - e.g. world overall (or its creatures with intelligence) gives no glory to God.

I think God, with the same elements of the world, could have made a world arranged with "view A" of Himself (say the current world), or else could have decided to make a world arranged with "view B" of Himself, or else....  No view is arranged "better" than the others; they are each arranged by the Infinitely good "Arranger(/Composer" and are views of God; they are just different.  Even if one view is grander (like a sonata vs a symphony), the arrangement is perfectly done for the thing that is arranged; in that sense no arrangement is better.  There is no "grandest symphony" because no created world can be in proportion to (or approach) the infinite grandeur of God.

I'm not saying this matches what INPEFESS or LouisIX would say now (or Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, or St. Thomas, although I try to be consistent with him).  These are just my current thoughts.

(A view is how God manifests His goodness in and to the world, His motive for creating it.  No view can encompass the full glory of God.)

Adding Christ to these considerations may well show how feeble they are - there does seem to be a grandest symphony that matches God's glory. But we wouldn't know it by reason alone (or would we at least have a clue that God might get intimately involved with His created world?)
« Last Edit: May 23, 2017, 01:26:12 AM by Non Nobis »
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Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #217 on: May 23, 2017, 11:17:54 AM »
I don't think a world that is "a total loss" is truly a possible world for God to make, even if it is "logically possible".  Total loss - e.g. world overall (or its creatures with intelligence) gives no glory to God.

It isn't a possible world for God to make, which means it is not logically possible.

Quote
I think God, with the same elements of the world, could have made a world arranged with "view A" of Himself (say the current world), or else could have decided to make a world arranged with "view B" of Himself, or else....  No view is arranged "better" than the others; they are each arranged by the Infinitely good "Arranger(/Composer" and are views of God; they are just different.  Even if one view is grander (like a sonata vs a symphony), the arrangement is perfectly done for the thing that is arranged; in that sense no arrangement is better.  There is no "grandest symphony" because no created world can be in proportion to (or approach) the infinite grandeur of God.

I'm not saying this matches what INPEFESS or LouisIX would say now (or Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, or St. Thomas, although I try to be consistent with him).  These are just my current thoughts.

(A view is how God manifests His goodness in and to the world, His motive for creating it.  No view can encompass the full glory of God.)

Adding Christ to these considerations may well show how feeble they are - there does seem to be a grandest symphony that matches God's glory. But we wouldn't know it by reason alone (or would we at least have a clue that God might get intimately involved with His created world?)

I don't think we can even begin to know exactly which of the (to us, epistemically possible) worlds are or aren't in accordance with God's Infinite Wisdom, except for the actual one.  I don't see how we can legitimately come to the conclusion that the present world but with one less oak tree in it would somehow be "deficient" in its order or in the glory given to God or in some other way.  Now it's (epistemically) possible this is the case, but I don't see how we could even  begin to prove it.


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Offline LouisIX

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #218 on: May 23, 2017, 03:06:47 PM »

Which is why I said that, conceptually, one could imagine that God had the power to create otherwise but since His wisdom and power are one, it is the case that no other universe would ever have been truly created.

One could imagine that God had the power to create otherwise but in reality He actually didn't.

So you're actually going to embrace modal collapse (this world is the only possible one).  The implications of this are that whatever evil is in it, including moral evil, is logically and metaphysically necessary.

No, as I would want to distinguish between a universe which permitted evil simpliciter and this particular universe in which these particular evils are permitted rather than others.

Also, there's a distinction to be made between absolute metaphysical necessity and suppositional necessity.
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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #219 on: May 23, 2017, 03:09:23 PM »
You can't imagine willing ad extra because you're anthropomorphizing the divine will. Either you admit that divine willing is at best analogous to human willing or you do not. You're speaking as if willing is univocal between the two.

Not at all.  I'm pointing out that non-determination is precisely why Divine willing is one of the ways it is only analogous to human willing.

Of course, you've now accepted this universe is the only possible one, so you shouldn't be bothered by the conclusion.


Quote
When you say things like "willing ad extra (whatever that means)" although you're being snarky, you're actually beginning to recognize what Thomists believe about the divine transcendence. We can make certain claims of an analogical sort, but no wayfarer can understand the synthesis of the divine perfections nor can he apprehend the ways in which God is good, wills, thinks, etc. Our only experience relies upon divisibility and particulars.

I actually agree, but since you can't apprehend the ways in which God is good, and wills, etc., you have no argument for premotion and for Banezian predestination.  You have to assume something about how God wills and knows in order to make the claim.

We're simply negating potency and divisibility in God. It's not as physical premotion is anything other than this. It's certainly not an exhaustive understanding of the workings of the divine will. Garrigou can hardly get through 3 or 4 pages without reminding us that the positive knowledge necessary to understand the divine will and causality is partially obscured to us now.
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Offline Non Nobis

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #220 on: May 23, 2017, 03:15:44 PM »
I don't think a world that is "a total loss" is truly a possible world for God to make, even if it is "logically possible".  Total loss - e.g. world overall (or its creatures with intelligence) gives no glory to God.

It isn't a possible world for God to make, which means it is not logically possible.

Thanks, I think that you are right.  You can hazily form the idea of a world with just one person whose first and only choice is a mortal sin, but only if you don't consider the idea carefully - that the world is caused by God who is goodness itself. So the idea taken in full is self-contradictory.  Correct?

Isn't Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange implying this when he says "there is nothing in the divine power which is not in the order of divine wisdom"?

Quote
I think God, with the same elements of the world, could have made a world arranged with "view A" of Himself (say the current world), or else could have decided to make a world arranged with "view B" of Himself, or else....  No view is arranged "better" than the others; they are each arranged by the Infinitely good "Arranger(/Composer" and are views of God; they are just different.  Even if one view is grander (like a sonata vs a symphony), the arrangement is perfectly done for the thing that is arranged; in that sense no arrangement is better.  There is no "grandest symphony" because no created world can be in proportion to (or approach) the infinite grandeur of God.

I'm not saying this matches what INPEFESS or LouisIX would say now (or Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, or St. Thomas, although I try to be consistent with him).  These are just my current thoughts.

(A view is how God manifests His goodness in and to the world, His motive for creating it.  No view can encompass the full glory of God.)

Adding Christ to these considerations may well show how feeble they are - there does seem to be a grandest symphony that matches God's glory. But we wouldn't know it by reason alone (or would we at least have a clue that God might get intimately involved with His created world?)

I don't think we can even begin to know exactly which of the (to us, epistemically possible) worlds are or aren't in accordance with God's Infinite Wisdom, except for the actual one.  I don't see how we can legitimately come to the conclusion that the present world but with one less oak tree in it would somehow be "deficient" in its order or in the glory given to God or in some other way.  Now it's (epistemically) possible this is the case, but I don't see how we could even  begin to prove it.

I think I agree.  Did I say something in opposition to this?
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Offline LouisIX

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #221 on: May 23, 2017, 03:16:40 PM »
... I maintain that, while it is possible for God to have created the universe different than He did, He would never have actually done so. So Q's positing of other universes is entirely hypothetical. It's possible in the abstract but under the supposition of an unchanging wisdom, the universe that exists is the one that God would always have created, as it were.

I don't understand this. It seems to be saying if God has unchanging wisdom and creates at all, then He would necessarily create the current universe (because He would never have created another one).

(Or, in other words) If you say God supposedly could have created something less perfect (or different) but never would (because of Who He IS), then I don't see how He really COULD have created something less perfect (or different). Unchanging Wisdom is a given.

God could have created a different universe, but He created this one and "saw that it was good".  He would have created another one if He (from eternity) chose another one, and it too would be good. "Choosing" is said analogously of God; there isn't a pot full of choices or multiple eternities.

Absolutely speaking, God could create any universe which He likes, but that doesn't mean that He would ever actually have created a different universe. What difference could account for God deciding to create a different universe than the one He indeed created?

Under the supposition that God is going to create a universe according to His divine wisdom, it seems to me that He would decide to create this one, but that's not an absolute necessity because God would always retain the power to have made it otherwise.

This is exactly what I was arguing when I was active on the forum last year. I thought you said you disagreed, but perhaps I wasn't explaining myself well.

I think that I agree with you ultimately but want to emphasize that is not an absolute necessity.
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Offline INPEFESS

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #222 on: May 24, 2017, 10:41:32 AM »
NN, I'm glad you brought it up because it occurred to me I should clarify the terminology. "Possible worlds" is a philosophically obscure phrase, because it fails to address the distinction between possible worlds entirely distinct from ours and possible worlds only accidentally or minimally distinct. Take for example a world exactly identical to ours but Venus doesn't exist; a world where there is one fewer grain of sand on the beach; or a world where the constellation Orion is of slightly different dimensions. Technically, a world containing a set of created things that is even the slightest bit different from another is, taken as a whole, a different possible world. This is the sense in which I speak of possible worlds. Given the set of created things of our world, they are most fitting as they are and could not be formally any better. That is not to say, however, that God would not create a materially different possible world substantially distinct from ours. And this world that He would create would be most fitting:  It could not formally be any better. (I apologize for any confusion that lack of specificity caused.)

I should also note that the book you told me you ordered answers this question pointedly. It addresses the possibility of God creating other worlds on Pg. 268. See the italicized subheading that reads: "God could have chosen a better world, but He could not have arranged its elements better than those of the present world." In the language I used above, I would add these parenthetical notes: God could have chosen a better world (materially, substantially), but He could not have arranged its elements better than those of the present world (formally, accidentally). Technically speaking, both of those types of different possible worlds are including in the phrase "possible worlds," which is why a distinction is necessary. To paraphrase Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange in "God: His Existence  and His Nature, Vol. II," God could have created a better world, but He couldn't have created the world better.

I didn't find Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange's text  on page 268 in my book (which was the very beginning of The Special Antinomies Relating to Freedom). I have an old used book, 6th printing 1955.  I did find the text on page 345.

I also have this book on my Kindle, although page numbers aren’t shown and Kindle choked on the book for a while. I finally found the text and then highlighted it, which made it available from my Amazon account, and then copy/pasted it here.  (I know you have it already but this is convenient at least for me).
 
Quote from: Garrigou-Lagrange   God: His Existence and His Nature, Vol II
God could have chosen a better world, but He could not have arranged its elements better than those of the present world. Refuting in advance the theories of Leibniz and Malebranche, St. Thomas (Ia, q. 25, a. 5) wrote as follows: “Some think that the divine power is restricted to this present course of events through the order of the divine wisdom and justice, so that another world could not come into existence. But since the power of God, which is His essence, is nothing else but His wisdom, it can indeed be fittingly said that there is nothing in the divine power which is not in the order of divine wisdom; for the divine wisdom includes the whole potency of the divine power. Yet the order placed in creation by divine wisdom, in which order the notion of his justice consists, is not so adequate to the divine wisdom that the divine wisdom should be restricted to this present order of things. Now it is clear that the whole idea of order which a wise man puts into things made by him is taken from their end. So, when the end is proportionate to the things made for that end, the wisdom of the maker is restricted to some definite order. But the divine goodness is an end exceeding beyond all proportion things created. Hence the divine wisdom is not so restricted to any particular order that no other course of events could happen.” Leibniz considered this problem too much as a problem of mathematics in which there is a fixed proportion between the different elements; he did not sufficiently take into account the end itself of the creative act, that is, the infinite goodness which manifests itself in the communication of its riches; he failed to understand the import of these words of St. Thomas: "The divine goodness is the end which exceeds beyond all proportion created things.
 Leibniz says further: “Supreme wisdom could not fail to choose the best . . . and there would be something to correct in the actions of God if there were a better way of doing things” (Theod., 8 ). St. Thomas (Ia, q. 25, a. 6 ad ium.) provided an answer in advance for this objection, when he wrote: “The proposition: God can make a thing better than He makes it, can be understood in two ways. If the word ‘better is taken substantively, as meaning a better object, this proposition is true; for God can make better the things that exist and make better things than those which He has made. But if the word ‘better is taken as an adverb, implying in a more perfect manner, then we cannot say that God can make anything better than He makes it, for He cannot make it from greater wisdom and goodness.” His answer to the third objection is as follows: “The universe, the present creation being supposed, cannot be better, on account of the most beautiful order given to things by God, in which the good of the universe consists. For if any one thing were bettered, the proportion of order would be destroyed as, if one string were stretched more than it ought to be, the melody of a harp would be destroyed.” This is tantamount to saying that the world is a masterpiece, but another divine masterpiece is possible. The organism of the plant is less perfect than that of the animal, and yet, granted its parts and the end that it must attain, there could not be a better arrangement of its parts. A certain symphony of Beethoven is a masterpiece without any fault in it; however it does not exclude the possibility of a masterpiece of the same kind or of another order. The holiness of the Apostle Peter does not exclude that of St. Paul; both are infinitely far from the holiness of God. The Incarnation alone represents to us the highest possible union of the divine with a created nature, but the problem remains for the degree of grace and glory of the human soul of Christ; however high the degree, there is still an infinite difference between the intensity of the beatific vision which the soul of Jesus enjoyed and the comprehensive vision which cannot belong to any but the divine nature (Ilia, q. 7, a. 12 ad 2um).

Quote from: INPEFESS
Given the set of created things of our world, they are most fitting as they are and could not be formally any better. That is not to say, however, that God would not create a materially different possible world substantially distinct from ours. And this world that He would create would be most fitting:  It could not formally be any better

I'm not clear whether you would agree with this or not:  God could have arranged the same set of created things of our world in a different way.  It would also be most fitting, but not better made (or arranged) than the current world.  Again use the analogy with masterpiece symphonies composed by an infinitely great composer.  Each of two different symphonies (using the same finitely good orchestra) would be most fitting (considered in itself), but not one better made than the other.  Neither symphony would be great in proportion to the infinite greatness of the composer.

Yes, I think I would agree with this.
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