Can God Crank it Up to Eleven?
Let's begin by defining our terms: contingency is "a future event or circumstance that is possible but cannot be predicted with certainty." In philosophy it is basically defined negatively, as the absence of necessity.
Does this mean that contingency is somehow parasitic on necessity, as shadow is to light? I don't think so. Rather, they must be complementary, as Absolute is to Infinite, the latter being the endless iterations of the former.
If Absolute is ontologically prior to Infinite -- or if Infinite is the "first fruit," so to speak, of Absoluteness, i.e., its "radiation" -- then we might say that the Infinite as such is the realm of the many Masks of God. Infinite is also associated with relativity, as is contingency.
Having said that, Schuon adds that while "contingency is always relative," "relativity is not always contingent." In other words, it seems that, God being who he is, contingency "must be"; it is really just another way of saying that God cannot help being creative, any more than he can stop being good. Creation consists (at least in some sense) of God "radiating himself" into relativity and contingency, or terrestrial thrills, chills, and spills.
In speaking of the relative, this also introduces the idea of a dimension that "is either 'more' or 'less' in relation to another reality" -- which goes to Aquinas' fourth way, that "among beings there are some more and some less good, true, noble, and the like" (in Feser). In other words, we can only say "better" and "worse" because of an implicitly known scale of absolute value.
So, I would say that a realm of contingency must exist, even though this or that contingency may or may not come to pass. And our freedom must be located in this world of contingency, in which we may influence "what happens." Toss the fourth way into the mix, and we have the freedom to influence what happens on a vertical scale. Or in other words, we may move closer to, or more distant from, the true, good, beautiful, etc.
"What makes us happy," writes Schuon, "are the phenomena of beauty and goodness and all the other goods that existence borrows from pure Being." Again, as mentioned yesterday, "We are situated in contingency, but we live by reflection of the Absolute, otherwise we could not exist." So, there are reflections of the Absolute in the Contingent, and a big part of our task is to notice and appreciate them. They're actually everywhere, and cannot help being so.
Indeed, Schuon goes on to say that there are "two fundamental virtues to realize," first, "resignation to contingency" and second, "assimilation of the celestial message." "Resignation" hardly connotes "giving up." Rather, is it simply an acknowledgement of our cosmic situation: if we are to exist at all, it must be in a world of contingency, fluctuation, enigma, mystery, and other seeming privations. But these "privations" are ultimately just a function of not being God.
Besides, God makes amends for the privations by... how to put it... by revealing his own fulness, or by filling the gaps with his own being. For example, we alluded above to the inevitable gaps between God and creation, various "degrees of being" that are closer to or more distant from the Principle. What is the Incarnation but a kind of gratuitous gift, a divine descent, that closes the gaps and bridges the abyss? Truly, if there were no Incarnation then God would have to invent one.
Being that we are stuck here in this world of contingency and flux, we must again detect the real within the relative. As Schuon describes, "everything lies in discovering that ontologically we bear within ourselves that which we love and which in the final analysis constitutes our reason for being." Looked at this way, "contingency is but a veil" -- but a veil simultaneously veils and reveals, in that the there is obviously something behind or beneath it, something it is veiling. That is indeed the purpose of a veil.
Now we're getting somewhere, because this implies that there is a bit of absoluteness within us, and that this absoluteness is the witness or arbiter or essence that exists in dialectic with the relative, contingent, and indeterminate. You might say that our task is to identify with the "unmoved mover" at the heart of it all, which goes to Aquinas' first way, which is the argument from motion, AKA change. Raccoons are not "the change we seek." Rather, the changelessness from which we enjoy the seeking.
What is change, anyway? In the Thomist conception it is "the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality" (Feser). If God is, among other things, "all possibility," then what we call the "now" must be its specification of one possibility.
Now, for a relativist there are only veils, with nothing veiled. This can provoke a frantic search from one veil to the next, without ever being cognizant of what the veil is veiling, which is again, reality.
It reminds me of something the Aphorist says, that One must live for the moment and for eternity. Not for the disloyalty of time. In other words, at each moment the horizontal is pierced by the vertical, such that eternity is in the moment and the moment is in eternity; one might say that the moment is simply veiled eternity. And what is eternity but God's own moment?
This is another way of affirming: "Contingency on the one hand and the presence of the Absolute on the other; these are the two poles of our existence" (Schuon).
Which leads me to wonder: is there something analogous to contingency in God? I like to think so. Of course, it can't be a privation, but is rather a reflection of the divine plenum, which is like an infinite goodness and creativity that eternally surpasses itself, so to speak.
I suppose even God can't go up to 11, because that would imply that he was lacking something when he was only at 10. Therefore, it is an endless succession of 10s. And this is why no one is bored in heaven. But also why no one need be bored on earth.