Making the Most of Our Cosmic Home
Right. But this assumes the possibility of creatures "wholly without freedom, able to make no decisions except those duplicating what God decides for them." Thus, they wouldn't actually be creatures at all, just extensions of God. So it seems that if free human persons are to exist, evils must come.
Okay. But what about nonhuman evil -- if it even makes sense to attribute evil to natural phenomena such as hurricanes, viruses, and gardening accidents? This, I think, actually poses more of a problem for the traditional view, since human evil may only contribute a small percentage -- depending on the case -- to the evils experienced by man. Do the existence of these evils preclude a good God?
Here I think the process view is the only one capable of adequately addressing this question. That is to say, in process philosophy, we don't begin with a rigidly deterministic cosmos that inexplicably manifests freedom with the appearance of human beings.
There is no materialistic explanation for such a shockingly discontinuous development, which is why scientism can cope with neither freedom nor ethics. Rather, it tries to eliminate the former entirely and reduce the latter to some sort of glorified animal instinct or impersonal genetic strategy.
But process philosophy begins with the principle of creativity, and therefore freedom. Thus, a degree of freedom is present in every process, every occasion, every event. Of course, it is much more attenuated in the quantum world than in the human world, but still, over time, we see what the cosmic creativity brings forth.
If there were no such creativity latent in matter, then it couldn't bloody well come to life, now could it? Likewise, if there were no creativity in the genes, they'd just produce more effective killing machines, certainly not poems, novels, and symphonies.
Creativity, like freedom, cuts both ways. For example, think of the tricky flu virus that each year finds a new way to get around our immune system. So, with the existence of freedom and creativity comes "risk as well as opportunity."
Now, there appear to be three long-term cosmic possibilities: either the cosmos is unchanging; it is getting "worse"; or it is getting "better." Physicists such as Einstein insist -- appearances to the contrary notwithstanding -- that time is just a "persistent illusion," and that the cosmos is really just a big brick.
Traditionalists adopt the view that everything is necessarily going downhill since the creation, as if subject to a kind of metacosmic entropy. Therefore, the past is better than the present, because it is "closer" to the first cause. Time in this view is essentially corrosive.
The converse of this is the evolutionary view held by people such as Teilhard de Chardin and various new age yahoos, in which the cosmos is "winding up." It's not getting older, it's getting better!
These three positions are entangled with the nature of God -- or of the absolute principle, if one denies God.
For example, Aristotle posits a First Cause, the Unmoved Mover, which was later incorporated into Christian metaphysics. Such a view implicitly argues that to cause is intrinsically superior to being caused. And if we consider this temporally, it "implies that the past is in principle better than the present," since the present is wholly caused by the past.
This, it seems to me, accounts for the romantic gnostalgia of traditionalists who exalt the past and denigrate the present. Like the "block universe," it is a highly problematic view, because it means that what looks to us like creativity is just a form of decay.
Ultimately it must mean that "whatever the creative process produces is in no way an enrichment of the divine reality, who must be cause only, in no way effect." Thus, "the creation is literally of no value to God."
This comes close to the Gnostic heresy that creation itself is a fall -- that existence as such is a sin, since it implies separation from God. In other words, sin isn't located in human freedom, but way before that, in the mere act of creation.
To insist that to cause is superior to being caused is also to say that necessity is intrinsically superior to contingency. Is this possible? If true, it would mean that a machine is superior to a human being. It would essentially define freedom as a bad thing, something wholly deviant, with no upside.
The third view, of an evolutionary cosmos, is also problematic, because it essentially embodies a mirror image of the fallacies of the second.
Indeed, this is why it is so compatible with a bonehead progressivism that denigrates the past -- tradition -- and exalts the future. Just as the implication of traditionalism is that people of the past were "better" than us, the implication of evolutionism is that we are just stepping stones to the future human beings who will be superior to us.
More ominously, it reduces human beings to a means to some future end. And this is precisely where the genocidal left jumps in to accelerate the process.
In my opinion, the only way out of these metaphysical muddles and nul de slacks is the Raccoon way, because it balances and harmonizes conservation, creative surprise, and evolutionary adventure.
(All of the quoted material in this post is from Hartshorne's Insights & Oversights.)