25 Paul Davies God and the
New Physics, Dent (London), 1983, p223.
26 The capital letters are not
essential - they are only used to remind the reader.
27 David Hume Dialogues Concerning
Natural Religion, part IV. His Philo, however, uses this validity to
draw the opposite conclusion, as he continues ''and the sooner we arrive
at that Divine Being, so much the better.''
28 It is
this error which is schematically portrayed in Genesis 3.5ff, as a forseeable
but avoidable mistake. To make this mistake is to argue from appearances,
and to appropriate life and wisdom to oneself, to become 'as God'.
29 I am not discussing here the
problem of how evils arise in the first place: see note .
30 It may seem that we have the
paradox of 'double agency' discussed by Jeffrey C. Eaton in ''The Problem
of Miracles and the Paradox of Double Agency'' Modern Theology, 1
(1985) pp 211-222. Eaton suggests the solution is to see that ''God acts
upon the world in such a way as to cause the world to make itself''. The
DDI solution is more specific, explaining how God's (principal) agency
acts according to our own (instrumental) 'agency', giving rise to
the appearance of a paradoxical 'double agency' only if principal and instrumental
causations are conflated.
31 Item 10 above
gives a more satisfactory view of (non-arbitrary) Divine Omnipotence. Further
discussion, however, will be continued elsewhere.
33 See A.J. Freddoso ''Medieval
Aristotelianism and the Case Against Secondary Causation in Nature'', pp.
74 - 118 in T.V. Morris (ed.) Divine and Human Action, Cornell U.P.,
1988. For more discussion see notes 4 & 12 in van Inwagen (ref. ).
Theology: The Divine and Creation
This web page and the previous one
clarify the previously given article
The Consistency Of Physical Law With Divine Immanence
in the light of the principles of Theistic Science.
Changed sentences are in red.
Here is an outline of the theistic
theological case and the arguments for its support. As the case begins
by an identification of God as Life Itself, a few words about what I mean
by 'life' are in order. We postulate that
'life' is essentially dynamic, akin to a set of causal and dynamic powers,
rather than a static entity. This means that 'life' is also in the dispositional
category, although it is clearly not a simple example of this category.
Note that according to our postulates, God's Life is not just Divine
Omnipotence, but is something like Love and Wisdom Themselves, from which
Omnipotence can be derived.
Thus, analogously to the way the theistic
thesis has particular dispositions derived from Divine Omnipotence according
to actual circumstances, it could be that Omnipotence is derived from the
essential Love and Wisdom according to the 'spiritual circumstances'. This
possibility enables the meaning of 'derived disposition' to be extended,
and allows natural dispositions (and 'natural life', as sets of dispositions)
to be as a whole derivable from the Divine Life Itself. The terms 'life'
and 'life itself' are used here as nouns, but again they should be regarded
as dispositional words referring to intrinsic capacities to love, understand
and act etc.
It is important here to remember also the distinction between 'component'
and 'derived' dispositions as presented previously
and here. I am not
considering the thesis that the Divine Life is composed or consists of
natural dispositions, only that, since the Divine may have to use such
dispositions in certain circumstances, God should be able to
these 'derived dispositions' where appropriate.
Summary of the Argument
The assumptions in this argument derive from the
To describe God as Life Itself is to give one of His lesser known perfections,
but it is a perfection because, as we know
in theistic science, with God this Life consists
of Love and Wisdom Themselves. Note that we are not identifying
God as the sum of all finite lives, as some kind of 'world soul', or as
the 'supreme holistic concept', but as the source
of all life (love and wisdom) in the world. There might not have been a
world, but God would not necessarily be different in that case. That God
is Life Itself is consonant with the Christian belief ''All that came to
be was alive with his life'' (John 1.2f), as in John 14.6. It is also presupposed
by John 5.26 (''For as the Father has life in himself, so has he given
to the Son to have life in himself'').
God is Life Itself. He thus lives from himself (in the sense of not living
as a consequence of anything else).
God cannot make created things have life in themselves, as then they would
not be distinct from Him. For suppose
God did create something that lived from itself. Then
That thing would have as one of its attributes life itself. So
That thing would have as one if its attributes God. Thus
That thing would not be distinct from God.
There are beings (e.g. human beings) distinct from God, yet with the appearance
God can 'provide' our life, which is our set of dispositions to
act, think, and will.
All our life is provided by God, and there is no life apart from God. If
we take the principle that 'one is at least where one acts', God would
be immanent in His creation. Being eternal Life Itself, He is also
transcendent of His creation.
God does provide our life 'in accord with what is actual about ourselves',
by the DDI thesis
"The dispositions of an object are those derivatives of Divine Power
that accord with what is actual about that object"
Once our life is provided, we have to choose which dispositions to realise
(using our understanding of consequences, purposes etc). This is a freedom
(given also by God): to act for good or for bad purposes. The result of
exercising that freedom is something actual about us, and makes us (by
the DDI thesis) into what we are.
The distinction between the transcendent God and the finite creation depends
on the distinction between the actual forms of created things and their
received life. Thus we have neither pantheism nor deism, but what is I
hope a thorough-going theism: 'God in everything'.
Life with God may be Infinite Love and Wisdom, but with progressively simpler
actualities, simpler and more rudimentary dispositional derivatives of
this Life can be operative. The dispositions of physical objects are thus
simple, as their actual forms are simple.
God is omnipotent in the sense that He is able to do
all things from Himself, and the power of all others is derived from Him.
This omnipotence is more specific than the power do to anything logically
possible. Rather, since he is the source of all rules how powers operate,
he always works within his own rules, according to His own Nature.
The next step is to see that such a God is logically unable to make
distinct beings have life in themselves. For if there were any life itself
in created things, this would be Life Itself and
hence continuous with God, and that which is continuous with God is God.
This is a logical consequence of God being all Life Itself, and thus cannot
be regarded as a limitation of Divine Omnipotence.
Of course, this does not mean that it is a priori inconceivable
to talk of natural things having life itself as one of their properties,
and thus acting from themselves. It is only that if there is a God
who is life itself, then anything distinct from him does not in
fact have such a life. The validity of this inference was seen by Hume:
''By supposing it [the present material world] to contain the principle
of its order within itself, we really assert it to be God''.
God's provision of our life is logically possible, and thus could be
within the range of His omnipotence. The logical consequence of God being
life itself is thus that all our life must be provided by him, and that
there is no life, of any kind, apart from him (cf. Christian belief in
John 15.5 ''Without me you can do nothing'', and John 3.27 ''A man can
receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven''). Note that this
means it is an error to think we live entirely from ourselves, from our
life, though perhaps an error easy to make as
it certainly appears 'as if' that were the case.
The thesis of Divine Dispositional Immanence
is that God does provide life, and that the variability of the reception
is according to some actual feature of the recipient. This
process is implied by the theological doctrine of life according
to works (Matthew 16.27: ''He shall reward every man according to his works'',
and in many other places). The 'reward' here is
be 'life from God', and this follows the pattern
of the DDI thesis, as this 'life' is provided
'according to what one actually does'. In fact, it is amusing to note that
this is more in agreement with the quantum mechanical version of the DDI
thesis, than with the Newtonian version. For in quantum theory too, the
dispositional state (the wave function) is given according to past events:
the 'life' of a quantum object is 'rewarded' according to its 'works',
not according to its spatial shape. Note that in this overall theory,
the 'according to' relation is used in (at least) two stages: dispositional
'life' is first provided according to spatial form and/or past events,
then these dispositions act
according to circumstances to produce
new actual events. It is these definite historical events which are the
final effects, and are what is terminal and permanent with respect to Divine
The Problem of Evil
Perhaps the main theological objection to the present
theistic postulates (indeed to any theistic account) would be that
it seems to involve God in some way in
all physical processes, including
those that might be random, destructive, or even evil. This is a problem
if we believe that God is wholly benevolent.
As a preliminary step, I use the 'free will' defence: even with the
DDI thesis, God is not 'acting through' the world, but gives all natural
beings (whatever their kind) freedom and life to act as they wish.
As Christian belief has in Matthew 5.45, ''he makes his sun rise on the
evil and the good, and sends his rain on the just and the unjust''. Of
course, this does not mean that 'the just and the unjust' are treated identically
and have the same sets of dispositions and intentions. Rather, as they
will perform different acts and have different actual forms, by the DDI
principle they will have different dispositions, and then lead the different
lives of their choice. Just because He sustains the consequences of many
actions does not mean that He wants them to happen that way,
only that He seems to prefer continued existence of people concerned, rather
than their non-existence.
We may also ask how certain beings have dispositions which tend to act
contrary to the Divine intentions, given that all dispositions derive from
the Divine, and given that there are no evil or contrary intentions in
the Divine Life. We certainly agree that a benevolent God would permit
certain contrary intentions, but wonder how these could ever persist
in a universe governed by the DDI principle. One
may wonder for example how selfish dispositions could be sustained, when
there is no selfishness in God. I believe that the answer lies in seeing
that certain dispositions, to look after oneself for example, have a good
use in certain contexts, and may well be derivable from the Divine Life
at certain stages. They only perform good uses, however, when they are
coordinated and governed by prior derivative dispositions, such
as intentions to be useful to others. This is the way they may be linked
in the Divine Life, but it is possible that some persons may be such that
they can only 'receive' the dispositions to look after oneself, and not
the prior dispositions that are supposed to govern them. If these persons
are still to live, then they can only be alive with a restricted fragment
of the Divine Life, a fragment that in this case will act with regard to
one person only. This fragment by itself, and derivatives from it in its
'uncoordinated' state, may well be disposed contrary to the original Divine
intentions. These subsequent contrary derivatives are only indirectly generated
from the Divine Life, via the continued existence of the persons
concerned. The Divine benevolence is maintained, provided we do
not forget that these contrary dispositions are derived via the
(good) disposition to give (some kind of) life to all persons, and that
they are not a permanent component of the original Divine.
Does not God only provide spiritual
Another objection to the theistic thesis might
be that we would expect the life provided by God to be only 'spiritual'
and/or 'rational', and that these are completely different from the natural
dispositions under discussion here, which have physical consequences. The
reply is that God does provide these kinds
of life too, but, by the DDI thesis nevertheless, since
there are corresponding spiritual or rational 'actualities' for
their reception. Discussion of these distinct
actual forms - how humans have 'souls' and
'intellects' - is started in the web page on discrete
degrees. In any case, since God is 'God of heaven and
earth', we know that extremely simple derivatives
of His power are the physical dispositions:
''All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth'' (Matthew 28.18).
Theism and Pantheism
A third objection might be that nature can now no longer be properly distinguished
from God, and thus it is too easy to say '' ... really, nature is
God.'' Against this, we have all the distinctions between Source and receptacle,
between Life and act, between cause and effect, and between principal cause
and instrumental 'cause'. As discussed in previously,
there is no identity between the categories of dispositions and of events,
even though dispositions are within and give rise to all events. Nature
must be taken to be the collection of finite actualities in the world,
and it is only by the theistic thesis that
this nature is that which has its source of change within itself. As long
as we distinguish these sets of events from their received dispositions
'within', then there is no difficulty. Problems only arise when dispositions
themselves are regarded not only 'as if' natural, but also
natural. As remarked above, this is a mistake easily made, for, given the
thesis, a great deal of what is called natural is in fact continually
derivative from God.
Kinds of Omnipotence
It may seem that the strict application of the theistic
postulates is a restriction on Divine omnipotence and freedom. Why
should God not have the power to do whatever is conceivable?
Why should He not do what He likes with His creation, giving as much life
as He pleases to any or all beings, irrespective of their actual form,
spatial shape, or past deeds? Apart from the question of whether it is
'fair' to treat different beings in such a erratic manner, to raise this
objection is to ask the long-standing question of what it is (if anything)
that humans in their present condition can do to receive God's 'reward'.
For if there is nothing they can do, then any reward or reception must
in the end be arbitrary. I think it might be generally agreed that faith
without works is dead, and this dependence on works could be in accordance
with the DDI thesis as suggested above, with 'what is actual' being the
historical events actually performed by a being.
It is necessary here to distinguish between
acts as agents and as patients, where acts of agency are those performed
from the agents own loves. This distinction relies
on distinct spiritual and rational degrees to render such loves
actual and permanent as distinct from the physical events themselves, as
Concurrentism and Occasionalism
There have been long debates concerning the
relation of Divine and natural causations. Aquinas has followed Aristotle
in asserting that physical objects have their own powers, and that God,
in his sustaining of the world, cooperates with these powers. al-Ghazali
and later Malebranche, however, held that all natural powers are really
God acting, so that He is the only cause of natural processes. Previous
natural events are only the occasion for God acting, hence the name
The present theistic thesis lies part way
between these two views. According to it, the natural powers of an object
do arise on the occasion of its past events. But then these are the powers
of the object, which function in an Aristotelean fashion as the nature
of that object, and which science can investigate. By having in this manner
two (or more) stages between the Divine source and actual events, a initial
occasionalism can give rise to physical objects having real natures which
can act as true causes.