God and Creation, Separate but Equivalent
Christian metaphysics holds that God creates "from nothing." But since something cannot come from nothing, this formula seems to defer the question of why there is something rather than nothing.
When we approach such questions, we are digging down to the very bottom of things, so language naturally becomes problematic. In other words, language -- our language, anyway -- is posterior to creation, to being, and to existence, such that it is difficult to deploy it to describe realities that are prior to language. As Schuon writes, error can result from "taking too seriously" such "small fatalities of language."
It's analogous to trying to describe what it was like to be an infant, before one can speak. It can't be done in real time, but it is possible in retrospect to transform the experience into words, as in psychotherapy.
Alternatively, one may simply act out infantile desires, impulses, and emotions, which is why liberal activism will always be with us.
God is the very ground of Something, such that there can be no "nothing" in him. To say that God creates from nothing is to say that there is no pre-existent material with which he creates; or that in God there is no distinction between creativity and creation.
On the human plane, the creator works with sound, color, form, or words that already exist. But imagine, for example, creating color simultaneously with painting.
Is the Creation situated "inside" or "outside" God? This again goes to the "small fatalities of language" alluded to above. The obvious answer is "both," which emphasizes the limitations of language, in which one definition would seem to exclude the other.
This may seem like an abstruse subject, but it goes to a number of practical questions, such as the nature of God's omniscience and the existence of evil. Where is evil located? If there can be nothing outside God, then it must be in God. But there is no evil in God. So where does it come from? And how is God off the hook for its existence?
As hard cases make bad law, such hard metaphysical questions have been responsible for a lot of bad theology.
Herebelow, God manifests in two ways: truth and presence. And yet, falsehood and absence "exist." How do we exit this absurcular argument? I don't have any better ideas than this:
The ontological and hence "neutral" structure of evil is "in God," but not so evil as such; in other words, privative and subversive possibilities are not in Deo except insofar as they testify to Being and therefore to All-Possibility, and not by their negative contents, which paradoxically signify non-existence or the impossible, hence the absurd.
You might say that in God, nothing, which is normally impossible, is indeed possible. If it weren't possible, then God would be denied a possibility.
In the previous post we spoke of the distinction between appearances and reality. On the one hand God is reality and not appearance. But what are appearances but of reality?
For Schuon, this goes precisely to "the mystery of Relativity," which is to say, "the possibility of an 'other than God.'" If we deny this Other Than God, we are in effect denying the world and ourselves, or creation and free will.
Properly speaking, God does not exist. Rather, he is prior to existence, prior even to being. What we call God is the very possibility of existence. Here we may draw a useful distinction, in that existence as such is already "at a distance," so to speak, from God.
For Schuon, the purpose of a religious symbolism is to provide points of reference -- at times paradoxical, and even necessarily so -- for pre-linguistic truths that are "in" our very substance (or our substance is "of" these truths). Again, being that this truth-substance is pre-linguistic, conventional language can go only so far in conveying it without paradox.
With this in mind, Schuon suggests that "there are two 'ontological regions,' the Absolute and the Relative; the first consists of Beyond-Being, and the second, of both Being and Existence, of the Creator and Creation."
From a slightly different vantage point, one may view Being and Beyond-Being on one side, with existence -- i.e., the cosmos -- on the other.
I analogize this to the conscious/unconscious divide in man. Looked at in one way, they are separate. But in reality they are complementary. Just as both are needed in order to facilitate humanness, just so, Beyond-Being and Being are the complementary "sides" of God. Father and Son? I don't know. Maybe.