Gnosticism & the Demiurge.

Rational discussions on metaphysical and abstract topics.
User avatar
Posts: 956
Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2010 7:06 am
Location: Helsinki

Re: Gnosticism & the Demiurge.

Postby Insanus » Tue Oct 23, 2018 8:28 pm

Does that have to lead to allowing massive amounts of suffering instead of, say, making people study math or do arts better and better and every now and then creating someone really dumb to keep stuff bad enough?
Myrkky sattuu siihen jolla on haava.

Re: Gnosticism & the Demiurge.

Postby Alfalfa » Wed Oct 24, 2018 2:08 am

Insanus wrote:Does that have to lead to allowing massive amounts of suffering instead of, say, making people study math or do arts better and better and every now and then creating someone really dumb to keep stuff bad enough?
This was and is merely a scholastic thought experiment and even as such there were some mistakes. Still a conversation like this can have some value and I will try to solve the problem of suffering you mentioned. To restate shortly the main point I made, if God was all-powerful, this power should be understood as actual and not imaginary power, i.e. my current non-existence is a “possibility“ according to mere imagination, but a real possibility according to time, since “current“ is here understood in two different senses. As a real power, instead of imaginary one, God's all-powerfulness should be understood according to God's e.g. eternity. The all-powerfulness according to eternity is being always the most powerful without an equal. Not having an equal in power consists in having power over everything else, i.e. everything else being weaker than God and so God being able to be overpower anything else. If there was an equal in power, it could resist God's overpowering, e.g. like two opposite movements of equal power cancel each other out. Since this actual power should never have an equal, everything created by an eternal all-powerful God is consistently weaker than Him.
                     Secondly, since an all-good God would use His power only for bettering things, which all must ever remain weaker than Him, creation would consistently begin with something worse than God. Only so God's power would befit His all-goodness. There wont be contradiction in a multiplicity of all-good things, if goodness is not like actual power, i.e. it can be shared even without there being any worse things. Even so, if everything was all-good, God would not be all-powerful, since according to His goodness He would not alter anything, since any altering could only be for the worse and He wouldn't have any actual power over anything.
                     Even though the problem is quite pretentious, solving it could provide some valuable insights in to some concepts. Since God's absolute power needs something weaker and worse than Him to be used on, there should ever be something weaker and worse, but this doesn't have to include suffering, since created beings could be worse according to different conceptions of goodness, e.g. a living thing is better than a dead. This way the only thing an all-powerful all-good God needs always to have, is an unlimited supply of weaker not-living things, e.g. matter. Matter is worse than a living being, since living is more valuable than death, e.g. a bird is in itself more worthy of existence than a rock, and if it should be selected which of these two deserves to exist, it would be the bird and not the stone. The lifeless stone doesn't suffer from being a worse creature. It indeed is “really dumb“ and the infinite expansion of matter could provide God with infinite worse and weaker things which to ever better, i.e. first of all to make them living. This could somewhat agree with our world.
                   There are however some quite difficult questions here to answer, since if e.g. a bird is in itself more worthy of existence than a rock, letting there remain an infinite supply of matter or nothing would infinitely refuse to give extreme worth to it, even though it would not suffer from it. 'Worth' in itself is a difficult concept, since in a way it's right to give things their own worth, i.e. things might be given also a worth they're not worthy of. Worth of existence means in the bird's case that it's better for it to live, but in the rock's case it's the rock's worth to be of less worth and as such deserving nothing, i.e. absolutely worthlessness rather than a bird. It's rather about deserving. It's wrong to deny something it's deserved worth, but not wrong if it's not deserved. Does nothing deserve to be something, or dead matter to live?
                    The problem could also be tackled by infinitely increasing the quantity of all-good weaker beings, e.g. angels, since everyone of them would be all-good, but also weaker than God and the only worse could be e.g. an infinite supply of nothing or matter, which doesn't suffer from it's state, even though since it's not alive it's worse than an alive being, e.g. an angel. Here the incompleteness of the quantity of all-good things wouldn't reduce the goodness of creation, since the mere quantity of it doesn't make creation qualitatively better. It could be argued, that altering the infinity of nothing or matter to all-good beings, e.g. angels would add goodness of the whole, since it would quantitatively have more good, but that's not plausible, since nothing or matter doesn't have a bad quality. It's like the difference between a bad human and a rock, i.e. making a good human from a bad human results up in the same quantity of goodness as making him out of a rock. It wouldn't make a difference in the goodness of creation, if there was always a limited amount of all-good beings and an infinity of nothing or matter in addition. This solution can't agree with our world, so there is a mistake either in the deduction, or the premisses, i.e. the supposed God might not be all-good and all-powerful, if the deduction is correct.
                     This kind of thought experiment at least provides some valuable questions, e.g. can an equal quality of good be multiplied quantitatively without altering also the quality of good? If quality of good grows also according to it's quantity, God would not be absolutely all-good to begin with in comparison to what comes after. God could be all-good in the beginning only as the always most good, which would change the concept of all-goodness, i.e. make it relative like the concept of actual power. If God's all-goodness was relative to the quantity of good He creates in every given moment in comparison to everything else, His remaining always the most good would require measuring His goodness by the amount of creating every moment more good than anything else, i.e. other beings would not only be worse, but they would also be worse because they're weaker, since they couldn't create as much good as God.

Re: Gnosticism & the Demiurge.

Postby Alfalfa » Wed Oct 24, 2018 4:22 am

Then again, the problem would be solved better as following. Since an actual extreme power needs something weaker than itself to work possibly on, that something weaker could still be as good as God, if goodness doesn't presuppose the same thing having also extreme power and the other way around, i.e. extreme power doesn't presuppose the same thing being also extreme good. This is quite plausible, since something could be extremely powerful, but also extremely bad, like many earthly rulers. If so, God could create something weaker in power, but as good as God. Accordingly he would retain His actual power to make the weaker worse, but would not make it worse according to His goodness. This solution has the advantage, that God's goodness would be actual according to His choice , since a choice can only be made where actual power is present, i.e. like a man can't choose not to throw a rock he couldn't throw.
                     However, this again leads to another problem: if good must be a choice according to actual power, the weaker would out of necessity have less actual power than God, so how could it make a choice as good as God? This weaker would have less actual power and if it's goodness had to be a choice like in God's case, wouldn't it also need something weaker to make a choice, i.e. not to make it worse according to his goodness, even though he had actual power to do so. Could the being, e.g. human be as good as God, if he is weaker in power?
                     Furthermore, we usually say that only those are good who choose to be that, but on the other hand we also call things good when they obey our commands, e.g. a master calls a slave good if it follows orders, even though slavery is not good. We also call lifeless things good when they obey our will, e.g. a hammer is good when it can be used well to build a house, but it's not the same as with a slave, since lifeless things aren't harmed by using them because they don't have their own will. A slave obeys because it's weaker in some kind of power, as do lifeless tools and both are called good because they obey commands. On the other hand, most people agree that it's best not to be under anyone's power, so if God is good he must be more like a lord and a ruler who depends on himself, as He is usually portrayed, than a slave and beggar who depends on others.
                    If God's goodness is dependent on actual power and the choice it enables, the weaker would not have as much actual power as God and could not choose to worsen God. However, if the created weaker, i.e. man has the same actual power over himself as God has over man, which is to conserve man out of goodness, man can make the same choice as God and is accordingly as good as Him, even if he has less power. These choices wouldn't contradict each other, since they would be made from equal goodness and be the same choice, i.e. if man is as good as God, who out of goodness chooses to conserve man, man out of equal goodness makes the same choice for himself.
                     Then again, how is the weaker, i.e. man less powerful than God, if they make the same choice out of actual power and goodness? God's actual power and His goodness don't in all cases presuppose each other, if the first alteration of the weaker is to make it more powerful so it can make a choice, e.g. man out of matter, but not absolutely powerful, they could have in the case of conserving man the same good choice in their actual power. However, having eternally extreme power, i.e. having always something weaker to possibly work on, necessitates the alteration of the weaker to be good for something, but not the choice to conserve it. This having to be good for something is necessary because if God had actual power, the one which the power could be used on, needed to be also worse than God, since if it was already as good as God, God out of His goodness would not change it and His power would always be good for nothing. If this alteration in itself was part of God's goodness, man would not be as good, since he couldn't make the same choice. Still, power's being good for something has it's goodness only by the choice made later, so even though God has more power in there, that actual power is not out of goodness. The actual power to choose good comes only later in the choice to conserve man, so God can create something like man, who is weaker, but still as good as God. :roll:

Re: Gnosticism & the Demiurge.

Postby Alfalfa » Tue Oct 30, 2018 7:15 am

Idle hands are the devil's workshop and some people have too much free time rather in their heads, which leads to a ”scholastikē noēsis”, a certain kind of idling — shouldn't this kind of nitpicking be Satan's workshop? Enough of the proverbs though, ”And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested (shabath) on the seventh day from all His work which He had done”. It's told, that the hebrew 'sabbata' means the same as greek 'anapausis' — a pausing from one's labour. Indeed, Septuaginta, which one must never suspect of choosing the wrong word, says that God ”katepausen” on the seventh day. Also this is like 'saturday' as the namesake of the roman god Saturn, i.e. greek Chronos, the day held in remembrance of the golden age, when men filled their stomaches with fattening food and loitered on smooth grass. This is the time, which should always be — but some, like Socrates, would not still deem themselves worthy of happiness:
Well, then, if the foster children of Cronus, having all this leisure (scholēs) and the ability to converse not only with human beings but also with beasts, full use of all these opportunities with a view to philosophy, talking with the animals and with one another and learning from every creature that, through possession of some peculiar power he may have had in any respect beyond his fellows perceptions tending towards an increase of wisdom, it would be easy to decide that the people of those old times were immeasurably happier than those of our epoch. Or if they merely ate and drank till they were full and gossiped with each other and the animals, telling such stories as are even now told about them,
Since we're living the greek dream, heyday of nature made 'automatos' by our 'technē', provided by our great ability for fore-thinking (promēthēs), and since even Jehova has His saturday, ”Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide” for another philosophical dish (satura) — quite an enlightening difference by the way, how romans named their first god after a Dish full of food, while greeks call him Time. This time eats it's own children since it's always coming back to itself.
                 Is it becoming for God to rest? Many people have certainly believed so, and to return to the subject, an all-good, all-powerful God could be resting only with some presuppositions. First of all, it's quite reasonable that an actual power always needs a subject to practice it's power on, e.g. earthly ruler in his realm. An earthly ruler can't begin as a ruler, if he were to create the realm from mere nothing to begin with, even if he later has absolute power over it — an eternal ruler has alway something, rather than mere nothing — even ”nothing” in the sense of nothing for God presupposes a relation to God and relation is not mere nothing, but nothing-besides-God. So, in a sense a sort of first matter or — in the sense of equation — nothing as nothing-for-God is presupposed. This could be like the ”Tohu wa-bohu” of Jehova, i.e. the earth as dark and formless, before the creation of light. Only such a ruler can be eternal.
                 Defining an equal ”axiom” for God's goodness is not as simple, e.g. is power good? At least a greater power can be used to worsen or better a weaker and it doesn't befit God's goodness to make anything worse than it already is. We could say, that power doesn't always presuppose a ”moral” quality, e.g. a rock rolling downhill has certain power. It seems that it's worse having mere power without goodness, than having both, since it's better to be even a small ruler of a small realm, than even the biggest rock rolling downhill. So, it's quite plausible, that it's better to have even a little power living, than to have more power as lifeless. It's not good to be merely powerful, but one must have life also — and resting is a kind of living, which seizes from the active use of power.
              Nevertheless, a power which is never used, is also never good for anything. Some things are good in themselves, e.g. living, but others merely good for living, e.g. a house built of rocks is good-for the good-itself. Lifeless things are not good in themselves, but only for living things. Most living things also needs some lifeless things, e.g. man needs rocks to live. As such, man rules rocks and is in a way their ruler, since they are his subjects. Living in a house is having power over it and such living power belongs to a ruler even if he rules only a pile of rocks.
              First of all, God needed not to create anything from matter or nothing to become a ruler with something good in himself, i.e. living. For all-good God mere something good isn't enough, but He must be all-good and His form of ruling maybe should also be the best, what ever that might be — but is leisure also a form of power? The best kind of ruling isn't perhaps active use of power, but could rather be passive. If God should create nothing or matter better than it already is, His power is in accordance with His goodness. Such bettering of matter or nothing is to liven it, since it's better to live than to be nothing or matter — a living being is worth more than lifeless, since God is all-good and all-powerful and His power can't always be good for nothing. This doesn't mean God should always use His power actively — it should be enough if He uses it actively once to make something less powerful than himself, but also better than lifeless matter. The rest of God's eternity could probably be 'sabbata', since His power is already actively used once for better and the remaining eternity He will use His power passively as a choice not to cancel His work — which He anyways won't do since making an ignorant choice to begin with wouldn't befit God's all-wisdom. :lol:

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest