Baby I'm For Real
-- US citizen for the last six months
-- have a public school diploma
-- pay a $1.50 initiation fee
-- vote for One Cosmos for best religious blog
Also, the indulgence situation was getting out of hand, so in the future, it will be one indulgence for seven votes, one for each day of the competition.
Otherwise, we pretty much talked about the nature of the self, the ontology of free will, the aesthetics of neo-doo wop, and the playoff picture this weekend. I think I'm pulling for San Diego, since they have the worst record and their best player is injured. Plus, I like that little dude, Sproles. Who couldn't pull for a professional football player who's only 5'6"? He's as rare as a Jewish rodeo rider.
Here's the deal. Freedom must in some sense -- every sense, actually -- be synonymous with "real." I touched on this idea on p. 72 of my book, where I mentioned Kierkegaard's pre-bobservation that the necessary cannot come into existence, because coming into existence is a transition from not existing to existing. The purely necessary doesn't really (or essentially) change at all, because it is always itself in a deterministic manner. Ice may look different, but it's really just frozen water. Furthermore, it doesn't have any choice in the matter so long as the temperature dips below 32˚.
But there are degrees of freedom and therefore reality. Looked at this way -- and I'm pretty sure Aquinas said the same thing -- God would be the only completely real reality, as only God is not caused or conditioned by something else. But when he breathed a living spirit into Man, darn it, he sophishly exwholed a bit of his own unnarcissary being into us. Which is why we both partake of God's reality and can know about it. In turn, I'm pretty sure this is what Eckhart had in mind when he cracked about the "uncreated" ground of the soul.
You see, if God were actually the direct cause of everything, that would again be just another way of saying that nothing really exists except for God. And predestination doesn't work for me, unless it is understood as our final, not efficient cause. In this sense we can understand the paradox that our purpose in life is to become what we "already" are; and how it is that in all of creation, humans, and only humans, can fail to accomplish this task (at least in this life).
Bolton points out that if God were the actual cause of our illusionary acts of free will, "this would mean that God did not delegate any causal power to created beings. In this case, God would be the only real agent in existence, such that when wood, for instance, appeared to be burned by fire, it would really be burned by God, under the guise or veil of visible fire." Isn't this the position of the Mohammedans? Among other things, it completely obliterates the space of moral freedom and responsibility, does it not? For whatever happens, you can just plead that it was "God's will." Kill a Jew? "Wasn't me. The rock did it."
But the whole freaking paradoxical point is that the very possibility of creation -- it's first act, so to speak -- is God's "withdrawal" in order to create a potential space for existence to exist. Otherwise, you're essentially a pantheist, whether you admit it or not. This potential space is critical, for it is not just the space of free will, but also the space of morality, of truth, and of "evolution," understood in its metacosmic sense as the journey back to God.
In this regard, one formula that we must always bear in mind is that God is transcendent in his immanence, and immanent in his transcendence. This is sort of a byway, so.... well, just a little more. Eckhart would agree that the more "out" of the world God is, the more in, and the more in, the more out. In other words, his radical transcendence is the very condition of his immanence, since transcendence spills over into everything -- which is why every existent testifies to the transcendent God shining through it. This is why Blakey could see eternity in a grain of sand, which suddenly becomes transcendent when you realize God's immanence in it. Transcendence and immanence are just two necessary sides of the same coin, like absolute and infinite: because the Absolute is, it is necessarly infinite.
We'll have to come back to that topic later. The point is, if we oversimplify God and see him as only transcendent or only immanent, various absurdities, or "intrinsic heresies," follow. Now, an intrinsic heresy is anything that I don't agree with.
Here's what I mean. If God is the direct proximate cause of everything, then "there would be only one real substance, that of God, and the resulting reality would be conceptually that of Non-Dualism or 'substantial monism'" (Bolton). In turn, it would mean that the Vedantins and Buddhists were correct, in that we would be intrinsically unreal, so the only point of life would be to realize that fact on a deep level, by eliminating that impediment to the one reality: us. If such is the case, why even bother? Which, when you think about it, is precisely the entrenched attitude that prevented economic and scientific development in most of the Eastern world.
Nope. Doesn't work for me. If human existence is to mean anything at all, "it must involve some sharing in the divine attributes, these including causality." If this isn't the case, then one must either turn man into god, or else "maintain an absolute and final barrier between God and man, which would subvert orthodox teachings about participation in the divine nature...." In reality, the closer man is to God, "the greater must be his degree of being or substance" (Bolton).