Sunday, October 11, 2020

The Supreme Being and the Supreme Becoming

It's easy enough to deduce from our world of ceaseless becoming that there must be a Being behind all the change;  similarly, that before all the secondary effects there must be a First Cause.  Therefore, God is the Cause of causes and the Being of beings.  

Is it that simple?  Yes and no.  Yes because God is undoubtedly the First Cause.  But it seems to me that -- bearing in mind what was said in the previous post about the Trinity -- he must also be the "first effect," so to speak.   In other words, if the Father is the First Cause, then the Son must be the First Effect.

However, both the Cause and the Effect are beyond or before time (at least our kind of time).  Therefore, we can't think of these as analogous to atoms or billiard balls. Then again, even in our world we can't really make a radical separation between causes and effects.  Where is the line between the singer and the song, or dancer and dance?  Yes, we can always point to one or the other, but only in an abstract way.  

This is why early Christian thinkers took so much trouble to emphasize that Father and Son are distinct but not separate: two persons, one substance.  Therefore, this relation is and isn't analogous to the relationship between, say, me and my son.  My son came after me, but in time.  In the Trinity the Son comes after the Father, but in eternity.   

How are we to think of this?  Doesn't this negate the meaning of "after"?  Well, first of all, we have to think of it in the vertical sense.  

For example, imagine a chandelier held by a chain.  Each link is held by the one directly above, but this isn't a temporal sequence; rather, it is happening now, much like how the letters you're reading at the moment are conditioned by words, words by sentences, sentences by paragraphs, etc., all in service to the meaning you simultaneously extract from them.  Imagine looking up each word in the dictionary and trying to add them up to the meaning.  You'd never get there.  

You can look up "father" and "son" in the dictionary, but that won't get you far. In fact, it will only enclose your mind in a circle, since each refers to the other.  But what if we start with the meaning of the terms?  What could that be?  

Let me guess... Love?   Holy Spirit?  Here again, we can't think in linear or temporal terms, for each of these three occurs simultaneously.  You could say that the relation of Father and Son is the "cause" of the Holy Spirit;  or, you could say that the Holy Spirit is the cause of the relation.  Just don't think of it as a temporal cause.

With this in mind, I think we have the foundation for a kind of "effect" in God, so long as we don't confuse it with the kinds of effects that occur down here.  Let me just cut to the chase:  yes, God is the First Cause.  But he is also the First Effect.  

Likewise, he is the Supreme Being.  But he's also the Supreme Becoming. 

He is the Unmoved Mover.  But he is also the Eternally Moved (moved by love, or love is drained of meaning; he also loves truth and beauty, without, of course, being separable from them).  

He is one without a second.  But he is also two without separation.  And three with even less.

He is creator.  He is also creativity and creating.  

He is timeless.  And the best time ever (which passes so quickly it might as well be timeless).

Finally, he is Absolute.  But can relate to everyone and everything.  It's why, for example, he wants us to pray.  He wants us to relate to him. You might say it's his weakness, which is his strength.

Let me emphasize here that this is just my opinion, man.  I like to think of God this way, partly because I can't think of him in any other way.  So, I agree with Hartshorne, who writes that

God is neither being as contrasted to becoming nor becoming as contrasted to being; but categorically supreme becoming in which there is a factor of categorically supreme being, as contrasted to inferior becoming, in which there is inferior being.  Both poles have two levels, analogically but not simply comparable.  

If we believe in God we should not say, "I believe in God," but rather, "God believes in me." --Dávila 


Anonymous said...

Great post, very thought provoking.

I heard somewhere that God meets us at our level; if you are all about your emotions, you will find Him in your feelings.

If you are big on thinking and ideas, He will come at you in your thoughts.

The person is is very body oriented and physical, might find Him amidst post-marathon euphoria or in the joy of dancing and movement.

What is your sharpest sense? Smell? God will be happy to approach with wonderful scents.

There's my two cents for today.

-Skunk Ape

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if its just me, but the trinity is hard to relate to. Can't we just let God be one, and take Jesus as equivalent to God, rather than as God's son. Jesus, rather than being the son of God, lets just flat out call him God.

Same for the Holy Ghost; can't it just be God's general vibe and way of doing business. I don't see why we have to tease out some kind of division where none needs to be.

So we are just dealing with one item, God. We don't need to be worrying about relationships among the trinity. We we don't need separate relationships, one for Jesus and one for God. That is a needless distraction.

Opinions on this chunk of heresy?

Peyton said...

Opinions on this chunk of heresy?
Yes, it is heresy. All simplifications are heresy -- including this one!
Seriously, though, every "jot and tittle" of the Creeds is absolutely necessary to keep us out of danger, as our host says.

Anonymous said...

The question on every mind is "What is my part in the Becoming and how best to perform this part?

For the Christian there is ample guidance in the Bible and also from fellow laypersons, priests, pastors, and Bible study teachers. The whole template is there, and each Christian goes about about their business being kind to people, obeying the law, praying, and attending church services. Along with this there is an obligation to say no to temptations and to eschew sinful practices.

There is not much in the way of existential anxiety within the devout Christian. Life devolves into a wrestling match with the Devil while being aided by Grace and personally by Jesus. "Jesus take the wheel."

Done sincerely you just can't go wrong being a Christian. It will get you to the Promised Land every time.

Now the non-Christian is left exposed to a lot of uncertainty. This is not the recipe for the best life. Atheism and agnosticism are not "best practices" for living. People will go that route for as long as they can stand it to squeeze pleasure out of sinning while the getting is good. And it generally isn't good past age 35. Then the tear-drops start.

Or you can try some foreign creed like Hinduism. Actually any creed can get you to the Promised Land.

Choose an established religious creed and follow it sincerely and religiously and anxiety levels should diminish drastically.

Then you you know to be, and what to become, and the Lord your Shepherd will love you for it.

Anonymous said...

I tried being a Sikh once, but people kept looking at my turban funny.

Cousin Dupree said...

That's what the dagger is for.

Anonymous said...

The kirpan is misunderstood here in Texas as Sikhism is a religion of peace. It is for the self-defense and the protection of others. It stands for bravery and protecting the weak and innocent. Yet my fellow Texans call it a "sissy toy" saying that real Texans carry german made handguns and pray to Jesus.

And so I capitulate.

It is wisest for one to choose a religion which is most acceptable for one’s own geographic location. For example, practicing Sikhism in Lubbock can be a challenge. Cowboy hats and turbans don’t always work well together. Done wrong, you may look like a Victorian belle and this is difficult for the bearded Sikh man to pull off gracefully. Cowboy hats also look very wrong in Punjab, and can get one stabbed with a kirpan.

Cousin Dupree said...

I'd buy a rifle and use the kirpan as a bayonet. Then put a brim around your dastār and call it a "ten gallon turban." Nobody will mess with you. In Austin anyway.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for such good advice. Rabb mehar kari, my friend.