There Ought to be Something Rather than Nothing

In construction of a model of what it would be like for there to be Satan in which I represent Satan as a disobedient deputy creator, I need to answer why God creates at all; let alone creates a deputy creator capable of insubordination. So, we confront the question: Why is there something rather than nothing? But I have transformed the question into: Why ought there be something rather than nothing?

The transformation is based on a model of reality in which what ought to be the case – the Deontic- is more fundamental than what is the case- the Ontic. Values are more fundamental than facts; obedience is a more fundamental correct response to reality than knowledge of facts. I have not yet presented this model.

Consider the following argument in which moral necessity is logical necessity when the major premisses are deontic statements, viz., statements of what ought to be. or ought to br done.

If there were nothing, there would be nothing good.

What is good ought to be.

Hence, if there were nothing there would not be what ought to be.

So, by moral necessity, there ought not be nothing.

Or by moral necessity, there ought to be something.

Conceptual Models are Models of HavingTruth Conditions.

In my efforts to construct a conceptual model of what reality would be like if there were a Satan, I am concerned about the purpose of such an effort. See: The Value of Conceptual Models of Satan The purpose for the model is found in a realistic or correspondence understanding of truth, under the constraints of a presupposition that thinking of justified belief, let alone the thinking of knowing, is reflective. Here “reflexive” means “thought about thinking.”

The reflective interpretation of thinking assumes that what we are aware of in thinking is something produced by thinking and not things in-themselves apart from thought. There might be some thinking which is directly about things-in-themselves But whenever we have the least concern about the correctness of our thinking we think about our thinking. The support for the representational understanding of thinking is that whenever we try to think carefully we reflect on our thinking. We cannot think of ourselves not thinking of our thinking. For any attempt to think of ourselves not thinking about our thinking leads to our thinking about our thinking.

What we think and say can be true or false depending upon whether we say of what is that it is and of what is not that it is not. This realist interpretation presupposes that our thoughts and words are a type of dependent reality – dependent upon humans- and real – independent reality- to which our thoughts and words refer, viz. things in themselves apart from out thinking.

The fundamental challenge to realism based on a correspondence theory of truth points out that we have no concept of things in themselves. For whenever we try to think of things apart from out thinking, we think of them whereby we fail to guarantee their existing apart from thinking of them. This challenge leads me to hold a mitigated skepticism about truth. See Confession of a Truth Skeptic .

We must acept the result that a conceptual model of reality independent of our thought is not a model of reality independent of our thought.

The mere possibility of thinking of reality apart from our thought seems illusory.

However, the possibility of the way we think corresponding to conditions apart from our thinking can be shown by distinguishing two types of our thought. Let us call them empirical and abstract. The distinguishing feature of empirical thought is that we can imagine what we think about. The distinguishing feature of abstract thought is that any imagery of what is thought about is dismissed as misleading. Now we cannot really think without imagery. So, completely abstract thought is an idealized type of thought that we cannot attain. Abstract thinking requires keeping always in the background an intellectual conscience to criticize any recourse to imagery. So, idealized abstract thought can be used as a substitute for a reality beyond our thinking which can be compared with our normal ways of thinking. Of course, constructing the abstract model requires showing the abstract way of thinking more or less accurately represents the empirical way of thinking. Hence for the case of Satan, I need to display how my ways of talking about Satan with abstract moral and theological concepts is in accord with religious talk of Satan with all of its imagery.

Some realists, let us call them “classical realists,” assume our thought can match reality apart from thought. This assumption holds that the structure of empirical thoughts can be the same as the structure of things-in-themselves. We have truth when the structure of empirical thoughts we obtain by abstraction from our images corresponds to the structures outside human thinking. I do not accept this type of direct realism. For when we try to think of abstract structures outside our minds we are thinking of our thought in constructing that abstract structure.

The important message of this post is the conceptual models show the possibility of truth by correspondence with a reality apart from truth claims. But this all takes place within our thinking.

Basing the Reality of Satan on the Problem of evil

This post begins the actual construction of a Conceptual Model of what it would be like for Satan to be a reality. We begin with a variation of the familiar problem of evil.

If God is all-good and all-powerful and the sole creator of reality as we experience reality and we do not deserve reality as we experience reality to have sin and suffering, then reality as we experience it would not have sin and suffering.

But: God is all good and all powerful.

And: Reality as we experience it has sin and suffering.

Hence, God is not the sole creator of reality as we experience it or we deserve reality as we experience it to have sin and suffering.

The disjunctive conclusion is an inclusive disjunction, viz., both disjuncts can be true. Here, it is plausible, as we shall see, that if both are true they are connected. First, though, we should note that a creator other than God is not equal to God. For, a creator equal to God would be God. So, the creator other than God is only a deputy creator created by God with the capability of acting against what God would have in reality as we experience it. In other words it has the greatest possible Free Will .

For the remainder of this post, I will not us the phrase “reality as we experience it” but only the word “reality.” I mean by “sin” choosing reality to be different from the way a perfect creator would have it be. Since, in another post, I interpret moral laws as Divine Commands , I use “sin” above to refer to the evil brought about by choices of beings capable of choosing to obey or disobey God, viz. beings with Agenct Causality,

If the deputy creator acted against God’s will in creating reality choosing it to be different from God’s way, then we could say this deputy creator, and our candidate for Satan, comitted a cosmic sin. Why, though, should the sin of the deputy creator, viz. Satan, be inflicted on humanity by having reality be so full of sin and suffering? Why should any sins of humans bring about such a cosmic catastrophe unless some original human sin is linked with Satan’s cosmic sin? The plausible link is that Satan led humans to choose to commit its sin. So, humans deserve what Satan deserves for its sin. (I prefer to use”it” to refer to Satan. The evil intentions of an agent cause seem more uncanny when it is simply some being capable of choosing evil. )

This linkage of Satan and humanity in a choice for reality not to be as God would have it be entails that reality with its sin, suffering and death is as it ought to be. For choices that what is good ought not be are choices that some harm ought to be. Hence, the cosmic choice of Satan and humanity that the highest possible created good, viz reality as God would have it, is a choice that harm, destruction of what is good ought to be in reality.

Put it this way. For the construction of my model I assume that the original choice for the deputy creator was binary: Choose the greatest good, which is what the Creator would have, or choose the greatest harm which is total annihilation of the greatest good. What Satan chooses is a condition contradictory to what god would choose; not merely contrary to it. Even if the deputy creator would have reality be a little bit different than God would have it, the deputy creator would first have to make the cosmic choice to set aside, to disobey, the plan of the creator. That choice to set aside the good of the creator is the choice of the cosmic harm that the good God wills be destroyed. Our Genesis Myth puts it well. First Satan tempted Adam & Eve to set aside God’s plan. That disobedience is Adam & Eve’s original sin which brings upon them the same cosmic curse as that upon Satan. The subsequent choices of Adam and Eve – choices of humanity- have not been for total annihilation. They have been choices of how reality ought to be according to human inclinations and desires. Satan, the deputy creator, had no choices beyond the first choice: To create as God wills or will for no creation at all.

Of course, the preceding requires justification of many assumptions. A major assumption is that God created a deputy creator. Some reasons for creating a deputy creator are in Rationality of Belief in Satan. Another major assumption is correctness of a Retribution Punishment. This is an assumptionthat choice of what is wrong is a creation of an ad hoc moral norm that some harm ought to be. It is an ad hoc norm because it was created by a choice and can be removed by some suffering of the harm that ought to be. I have called these ad hoc norms that some harm ought to be Moral Harm. I will now start to call a moral harm a curse.

But elaboration of this curse is for another post. Here I conclude by noting how the structure of my model for the reality of Satan is set by a way of “solving the problem of evil. The model is built by elaborating upon, although not fully justifying the many crucial assumptions in the above “solution.”

The Supernatural is for Love & Freewill

Thesis:The human capacity to love reveals the supernatural dimension of humanity.

The argument for the thesis of this post develops the thesis: Freewill Necesaary and Sufficient for Love .

The purpose of this thesis for my project of modeling Satan is to justify creation of the supernatural, although the supernatural requires the possibility all of the evil initiated by intelligent agents. However, creation of the supernatural creates the possibility of love. The possibility of love outweighs all of the actualized possibilities of evil initiated by intelligent agents, which amongst other things are capable of love.

A case for love’s supreme goodness is made at the end of this post.

This is the gist of the argument that love is supernatural.

What is obligatory is supernatural. Love is obligatory. So, love is supernatural

Terminological clarifications will be needed as we procede. For “nature” and “natural” are used equivocally. Consider. In the phrase “human nature,” the term “nature” signifies what a human being is. Within the term “supernatural” the second part “natural” is an adjective which goes with “nature” where “nature” signifies the features of human beings which are studied by physics, chemistry, biology, psychology and sociology, viz. natural sciences. So, “supernatural” signifies features of human beings which cannot be studied by the natural sciences. However, in another sense of “nature,” clarified in: The Supernatural is not a Super Nature,, the term “supernatural” does not signify a type of nature different from that studied by the natural sciences.

I use “humanity” to signify what a human being is. Hence, I write of natural and supernatural dimensions of humanity. In light of Where is the Supernatural?, it would be better to write “The supernatural and natural dimensions of reality intersect in humanity.

Our subjection to moral imperatives points to the supernatural dimension of humanity. The scientific study of human nature explains why people naturally pursue what is good: Basic goods or lesser goods when not thinking clearly. We naturally seek what is good because we have inclinations for what is good. More generally, the natural goal for humans is happiness because an inclination for happiness is in the natural dimension of humanity. However, no facts about our pursuing what is good show that we ought to pursue what is good. David Hume’s observation that “ought” does not follow logically from “is” is not a philosopher noting a logical distinctions. It calls our attention to a profound reality about humanity. We have a supernatural dimension.

Am I proposing that good can be defined as that for which we have an inclination?

We must persuade ourselves and others that a condition is a basic human good.

For one, we can intelligibly say something is good for which I, at least temporarily, have no inclination. The point of bringing out that we have inclinations for what is good is to bring out that conditions for which few, if any is inclined for, are not candidates for being good. Being suitable objects of choice for humans is a limiting condition for what can be called good.

Also, the fact that basic goods, such as commuity can be commanded regardless of any inclination of to choose otherwise shows that good and that for which I have an inclination are not synonymous.

Why say that humans have a supernatural dimension, instead of saying that humans have a dimension which cannot be understood by natural sciences?

Hume’s logical point supports a metaphysical conclusion, which Hume himself would have considered “sophistry and illusion.” The metaphysical conclusion is that there is a type of reality different from nature wherein obligations are the fundamental realities. Hume assumed that there is no reality other than the reality of nature. Hence, obligations had to be explained as dependent upon nature. Roughly, obligations would be explained as what people construct to insure they get that for which they have natural inclinations. So, there would not be obligations to act regardless of any inclinations to do otherwise. There would be no categorical imperatives.

There are categorical imperatives. (The Satan modeling project assumes moral realism. Moral realist should accept that there is a moral reality.)

Being subject to categorical moral imperatives shows that humans have access to a reality different from that acessible by the thought processes needed for natural science. It’s a reality whose basic laws states: Do good, avoid evil. Such a reality warrants the title “super.” Moral realism entails supernatural agency. Why?Imperatives specify what ought to be done. What ought to be can be. If there were no agents obligations could not be carries out. So, the assumption of moral realism carries with it an assumtion that there are moral agents. These are agents with the Free Will of Love. The thesis that love requires us to be supernatural agents is, in effect, a corollary of the thesis that obligations entail that we are supernatural agents. For we cannot love if we are not moral agents. The two greatest commandments are commands to love. See Mt 22:36-40 If love is commanded, love is the sort of activity for moral agents. If such love came totally through nature, it would not make sense to speak of it as commanded.

For those who do not want to use scripture as the source of the command to love, can consider the first natural moral law: Do good! This law tells us to will the good for the sake of good itself. Willing good for the sake of good itself is certainly willing the good for another since no creature is good itself. So, in effect, the first moral law states: Love! In creation, love is necessary for good to be pursued as it ought to be pursued. Thus, love is only behind the good in terms of being valuable.

Supernatural Reality is Not a Super Nature

The purpose of this post is to support a negative thesis that the supernatural has not the the reality of a nature. In Deontic Structure of Supernatural Reality a postive thesis that the supernatural is the reality of morality. There it will be brought out that realm in which moral laws are realities is more than a bleak realm of “Thou shalts” and “Thou shalt nots.

The spiritual dimension of humanity is not a special field of study for those who enjoy the occult or spiritualists. The supernatural is not “spooky.” For the most part, trying to understand the supernatural is trying to understand ourselves; not trying to make contact with spirits. The supernatural is a dimension of each and every person. But the methods of natural science are not the way we become acquainted with and understand our supernatural dimension. Perhaps most become acquainted with the supernatural when “our conscience bothers us.” Our consciences bother us when we believe that we have done something really wrong. Here “really” means “real;” not something such as “seriously.” Our violation of a moral law is an existing and pernicious reality.

The so-called humanities and art are ways to experience the supernatural when our own experience is limited. The German term die Geistwissenschaften might refer to the kinds of studies I have in mind. However, if I am correct about love, the experience of willing the good for another regardless of any inclination is experiencing what is supernatural. Reflecting on that experience of love is a significant way of understanding the supernatural.

As “supernatural dimension” has been characterized, many thoughtful people, I believe, will accept the concept as marking out important areas of humanity; but with a tendentious label. Why, it might be objected, use the term “supernatural” which hints at the occult? Why not simply call it the moral dimension of humanity?

However, I do not accept reducing the supernatural to the aspects of humanity which cannot be understood by the methods of natural science. For my larger project of modeling Satan,I need to do more than make a case for using the concept of supernatural to apply to humans. Beyond the conceptual case, I need to make an ontolgical case. The ontological case is that there is a supernatural reality, albeit no supernatural nature. At some point in my Satan model building, I need to make a case that: Satan is a reality.

Grant that what I have called the supernatural is real. Why go on to assert that this reality is not a nature?

To answer we return to David Hume’s logical point about the logical gap between “is” and “ought.”

In my answer “nature” is understood as what can be correctly described by saying what is the case. A nature is what Wittgenstein called a world when he wrote: The world is all that is the case. To tell the whole truth about a nature or a world is to tell all of the facts. Statements of what ought to be done, what ought to be and for what purpose something ought to be done are not statements of fact. To be sure, some factual statements about nature studied in the natural sciences, especially psychology and sociology, report what is the case with obligations and goals humans have created. But these facts about human constructions do not give us moral laws or ultimate goals. For instance, Hume’s logical point reminds us that “Thou ought not kill” does not follow from “It is the case that people have a rule that we ought not kill.” In the nature studied in the natural sciences, man is the measure of all things, viz., measure of all norms and goals, as Protagoras taught long ago.

Suppose the supernatural signified a nature; perhaps a realm of spirits and their activities. How could there be norms and rules binding these spirits? The spirits could invent them. But inventions are not categorical moral rules: rules binding us regardless of whether or not we choose to be bound by them. Even if the spirits heard the voice of God command “Thou shalt not kill,” they know only the fact about the spirit realm expressed in “It is the case that God commanded thou shalt not kill.” Hume’s logical point about “ought” not logically implied by “is” holds for this supposed spiritual nature as well as for the familiar nature studied by the natural sciences. The spirits are not entitled to infer “Thou ought not kill” from”It is the case that God said thou ought not kill.”

In the early twentieth century, philosophers diagnosed a naturalistic fallacy. The gist of the accusation of a fallacy was as follows. Regardless of the nature of a nature, the nature only offers facts and not values. Or: the objective truth about a nature is expressed with statements of facts. In a world of facts, expressions of value are subjective; expressions of sentiments by humans.

We have reached a point where we need to make a decision about ontology. We can dismiss norms and goals as having objective reality and thereby dismiss morality as fundamental. Or we can accept them as having objective reality and try to understand a reality which is non-factual: a reality whose fundamental features are not properly reported with statements of the form “It is the case that______”

For the project of modelling Satan as a reality, I need to make the decision about ontology to model a non-factual reality in Deontic Structure of Supernatural Reality.

Agency, Ordinary Free Will, & Free Will of Love

This post elaborates on Example of Agency At Work. One main contention of that post is that we as agents, as agent causes, are a crucial factor in both making a decision about how to act and then initiating the action. For all that we know, agents are basic entities in reality. Even if agency emerged after living systems reached a certain level of complexity, the point of recognizing them as emergent is to recognize a new type of entity in reality. What emerges is not reducible to that from which it emerged. The basic property of agents is to form intentions, i.e., to will, to seek goals. At a first level the agent is not conscious of it’s agency. Conscious agency emerges from at a greater degree of complexity than elementary forms of agency. The type of agency capable of love as spelled out in Freewill Necessary and Sufficient for Love emerges at some high level of complexity.

A second crucial contention of Example of Agency At Work is that consciousness of choosing is not always the operation of agency. Rather it is the consciousness of the working of agency after the working of agency. At the end of this post, it is brought out that consciousness of the choosing in the highest type of choosing, the choosing in love or choosing the good of the other for the other, is inseparable from choosing to satisfy an inclination for the good of the other. It is only by an inference that we can make a probable judgement that we chose the good of the other for the sake of the good of the other.

As a Catholic philosopher untrained in physics, chemistry, biology, psychology or sociology , I have no objection to accepting so-called emergent features as directly created by God when the appropriate level of complexity has evolved. I think that direct creation of types of goal seeking is preferable to saying the new feature emerged from complexity. “Emergence” suggests that the new feature was already present potentially and, if so, something genuinely new did not come into existence. In any event, I will continue to use “emergence.”

Very importantly for my task of modeling Satan, direct creation of agency by God does not require agency to be based on physical complexity. For natural organisms God chooses to link agency with physical complexity. However, God need not choose to link all agency with something physical. Hence, the concept of agency is logically consistent with the concept of disembodied agents, viz. angels.

I appreciate, though, that people working in a scientific field, should be very reluctant to accept any phenomena as emergent. I believe that if I were a scientist, apparent emergence would be a challenge to” explain away.” Bertrand Russell once quipped about postulating least upper bounds when trying to construct the real number system from a rational number system “it has the advantages of theft over honest toil” People working in a science might well say the same of accepting emergence. I acknowledge that my discussion of agency and freewill assume the scientifically controversial reality of emergence1.

If we grant genuine agent causality, we cannot hold that prior to any decision of an agent factors determined the intentions the agents would produce. That is tantamount to denying that there is agency or setting agency aside as an irrelevant epiphenomena. Now any case of agent causation is a type of freedom of action. It would be inaccurate to say “freedom of will” when there is no consciousness on the part of the agent. For instance, the various bugs which go scurrying for shelter when I pick up a flat rock in my garden are freely seeking their various goals to restablish the security they had under the rock. It is not inaccurate, though, to say that the bugs intend to get wherever they are going

The disturbed bugs just select one of several choices open to them. The selection of one of the options is the new contribution of the agent. It is unpredictable from the state of the agent and inputs into the agent. The essence of agency is selecting an option. Agent causation fills in the gap between state of the agent, its inputs and its action outputs. To accept agency is to accept these gaps and that selecting of the agent is the causal factor, the efficient cause, in filling the gap. Acceptance of agent causation is acceptance of some very significant factors in any philosopher’s metaphysics. It may not require accepting that nature as a whole has goals. But it does require accepting that some systems within nature have goals: final causes.

Individuals in a type of organism which exercises agent causality are agents. Agents are agents from their beginning: when the DNA, genes and epigenetic factors which sets their level of complexity is formed. Thus, a human is an agent from the moment of its conception. It is far simpler to assume that there is direct creation of a type of agent once a level of complexity evolves than assuming a direct creation for each organism as it grows to a level of complexity. Thus, I assume that agency is inherited.

This is not the forum to investigate all types of of agency. This is a form for characterizing two types of human agency: Ordinary human choices and the choices in love. Ordinary human choices are the vast majority of our choices. They are choices we make to satisfy our inclinations. “Inclination” should not be construed as indicating what satisfies our sensual desires. Humans are frequently inclined to choose what even the most prudish would consider noble. Most of the time, people are conscious of their choices and they are free to carry them out. So, a type of freewill is very common in human affairs. Our choices a free in a twofold sense. As simply being agent choices they are free and as not being compelled by any physical or mental force. The reality of ordinary freewill is not problematic. It is almost the type of freewill that so-called soft determinists accept. However, soft determinist do not accept the elementary freewill of simply being an agent because they are determinists who reject emergence of agency. So, the problem of freewill is not a verbal problem. There is a disagreement about what can be in reality. It is an ontological disagreement about the possibility of agent causality.

The freewill of love, freedom to love, is different from ordinary freewill because it assumes a different input into human agents. The novel input is the good of the other. The goodness of the Basic Human Goods is an input available to for ordinary choices. For instance, the goodness of life is readily recognized. People naturally desire these basic goods. In most cases, the final cause, the goal, of a choice of basic human goods is to satisfy our inclination for those basic goods. For instance, a father who chooses to promote the education and health of his children has an inclination toward having those goods in his children. With ordinary freewill he seeks satisfaction of those paternal inclinations which pursuits have the side effects of those goods existing in his children. We can imagine some ungrateful adult children dismissing the efforts of their father by saying “He didn’t really love us. Given his traditions and inclinations, he was just doing what he wanted.” We have to concede that those ingrates have a point.

The freewill of love requires a higher level of agency than that needed for ordinary freewill. For ultimately, all choices of ordinary freewill are to satisfy inclinations. A capacity to select a goal regardless of any inclination for it is required.2 We need a capacity to choose the good of an other regardless of any inclination for the good of the other. This capacity for love is a condition of these higher level agents. There is also a need for inputs for this higher level of agency. What is good for the other needs to be presented to agents as good regardless of any inclination for it. For a man to love a woman, he needs to perceive what is good for her regardless of any inclination for her having that good, the capacity to choose that good in her regardless of any inclination to do so and then to carry out a course of action with the intention bring about that good in her. This freewill of love usually occurs in a context in which he acts lovingly with ordinary freewill. He has an inclination for her to have the good and he acts with the intention of satisfying his inclination for her happiness, i.e., rejoicing in the good he provides for her.

Love’s imperceptibilty now confronts us. We cannot be conscious of any difference between willing the good of the other regardless of any inclination for it and willing to satisfy an inclination for the good of the other. The free choices of love, if any, are free choices of which we are not conscious. when we make them. It is in retrospection of fairly long periods of our past about which the best explanation is that the choice we made for the good of another would have been made regardless of any inclination. I don’t like philosophical aphorisms. But: Love is inferred; not perceived.

A subsequent post brings out that an inference to a judgment that humans can love carries with it an inference to the supernatural dimension of human nature.

  1. From reviews I have read, viz. “The Fate of Free Will,” by James Gleick in Jan. 18, 2024 New York Review of Books, the metaphysics I sketch may have resemblance to that of Kevin J. Mitchell in his book Free Agents: How Evolution Gave Us Free Will, Princeton U, Press 2023. But Mitchell’s rigorous work is not to be blamed for my speculations.
  2. I will not digress into any Kantian interpretation. But Kantian moral freedom is analogous to what I am calling freewill of love. Kantian moral freedom requires a capacity, sense of duty, to choose what is right regardless of any inclination to so choose.

Example of Agency At Work

In my construction of a model of what it would be like for there to be Satan, freewill is a fundamental “buliding block” of the model. For any Satan worthy of the name has to exercise freewill in defiance of his Creator. The notion of personal agency is crucial in the concept of freewill. So, a paradigm of agency is helpful. I chose this example from my experience because on this occasion I realized that an act of agency, free choosing, is separable from being conscious of it.

On Wednesday afternoon, January 3, 2024, while standing for about an hour ironing some clothes I started to feel very tired with aches throughout my body. I thought that I might be getting a flu although I had been recently vacinated. I did not sleep well Wednesday night. I frequently awoke and noticed that 5:55AM, the time at which my alarm was set, was rapdily approaching. I dreaded the prospect of getting out of bed to began my schedule for Thursday morning. I outline my schedule to bring out that I have the character of a man who pushes himself hard at 88. That outline supports a prediction about how I might likely respond to a challenge about facing a physical hardship. But plausible predicatability is not evidence against freedom of a decision; let alone that it was not I who made the decision.

The schedule was to bring my wife coffee at 6:15AM, talk a bit, recite Matins with my wife, walk about two miles, bike a mile to my parish church for 8:30AM mass and then bike six miles to work until 1130 AM at a St. Vincent de Paul free clothing store. Then I would bike another six miles to home. The temperatures were in the low 30s. I felt very sick but I could not say clearly what was wrong: no sore throat, no fever, no coughing.

I chose to go back to bed at 6:30AM. But that is not the free choice I want to exhibit. Before going back to bed, I asked my wife to wake me up by 8AM; at which time I would decide whether to bike to mass and then to the Clothing Center or stay in bed and have my wife contact the Clothing Center to report my absence. (She planned to drive to the Center to drop off some clothing donations.) It was warm and comfortable in bed. But I slept fitfully thinking about whether or not to stay in bed all morning or bike to mass and work at the Clothing Center.

Myriad pros and cons went through my mind. I thought about being comfortable. Staying in bed would be comfortable but boring if I could not sleep. On one hand, I worried that I would be giving into weakness. On the other, I worried that I would be giving in to vanity about being tough if rested all morning. Irealized that vanity should not mislead me into prolonging whatever this sickness might be.There were moral thoughts about not spreading whatever my sickness was. There were contrary moral thoughts about the need for people to staff the Center. There was, however, no decisive moral claim. This was not to be a moral decision. I simply could not decide what I was going to do. Or better: I was not conscious about how I was to decide

About five minutes to eight, I heard my wife coming up the stairs to get my decision. What was I going to do? I was not sure even as she came through the door. Then I threw the blankets back, sat at the edge of my bed and said that I was going to bike to mass and the Clothing Center. I had the intentions of facing the cold and going ahead with my regular Thursday morning plans. That was my choice and I was conscious of it. I was not so much conscious of it as a free choice. I was mostly conscious of it as the choice I made. I was even a bit surprised that I made the choice to keep my schedule; and rather proud of myself for making the choice to confront physical discomfort.

What is the relevance of this example for freewill? Most importantly, the example shows that consciousness of the choice does not make it my choice; let alone make it a free choice. Self consciousness only reports that I made the choice and apparently could have chosen otherwise, viz.,formed an intention to stay in bed. Conscious choosing, or better, consciousness of choosing, could occur after I have chosen, as some controversial research suggests.1 The important fact reported by consciousness is that of my agency: I was conscious that I stood up with the intention of carrying on my regular Thursday routine. I was not conscious of any freedom to carry out my intention. I could have fainted upon standing, as has happened. Then my wife would seriously restrict my activities that morning. If I had fainted, I would not be the agent of my fainting. (One could be the agent of their own fainting by standing up quickly to produce orthostatic hypotension.)

What is my interpretation of my behavior? Although we consciously entertain many thoughts while deliberating, making the choice is not another conscious thought in the deliberation. The thought of making the decision comes after we make the decision. The choice is made by ourselves as agents. As agents we create something new in reality, viz., an intention to act a certain way. The intention is created ex nihilo by the agent. An intention is a thought but a thought with causal force; intentions are dynamic. Thoughts of the pros and cons of getting up do not get me up or keep me down. The thought which is the intention to get up is the thought which gets me up. The previous thoughts or physical states are relevant to the intention I form. The previous thoughts and physical states are necessary for whatever intention I form; they set severe constraints on the kind of intention I form. But they are not suffficient for it. Action of me as an agent is the factor which is the efficient cause in this situation.2

It would be inaccurate for me to say that my brain formed the intention and made the decision.

It would be inaccurate to say that an entity apart from my brain, which is my self, formed the intention and made the decision. My awareness that I made the decision is not awareness that warrants any analysis of what kind of being I am; only that I am the agent, the maker of certain decisions.

I close with an aphorism: Consciousness of choosing freely is not freely choosing. Consciousness of freely choosing only reports the fact of an agent freely choosing.

1 Libet, B., Gleason, C.A., Wright, E.W. & Pearl, D.K. ‘Time of conscious
intention to act in relation to onset of cerebral activity (readiness-potential).
The unconscious initiation of a freely voluntary act’, Brain (1983)106: 623-642. A clear summary of this investigation is in Faraday Paper 17 by Peter G.H. Clarke

2. I have been influenced by John Mackie’s notion of an INUS condition. It is a term” coined byphilosopherj John Mackie to describe a condition that is necessary but not sufficient for an outcome, and is part of a complex condition that is sufficient but not necessary for the outcome. For example, an electric short circuit is an INUS condition for a house fire, because it needs flammable material to cause the fire, and the fire could also be caused by other factors. In the case of my example, the forming of the intention to get up is like the short circuit. I formed the intention to get up before I became conscious of my intention.

Freewill Necesaary and Sufficient for Love

This post makes a case that freewill is necessary and sufficient for love. My understanding of freewill is frequently called: Libertarian freewill or contra causal freewill. In a way, I am making a case for Libertarian freewill by arguing that true love is possible if and only if there are agents with Libertarian freewill.

I do not use the term “contra-causal” because I accept agent causation. Free choices are caused by agents.

Throughout, I assume that there is love. My line of argument reveals that a critic who denies freewill,not only denies that there is love. He also denies that there is a creative God.

This post is in my project of constructing a conceptual model of Satan. So, in places, I write rather abstractly of agents choosing because I want eventually to distinguish the freewill of angels from that of humans.

I  use Aristotelian concepts of causality. The notion of final cause is crucially used in my argument that the good of the other cannot be sufficient for bringing about an agent willing the good of the other. The Aristotelian causes can be understood by common sense. We can ask of anything: What is it?(Formal Cause), What is it for? (Final Cause) What is it made of? (Material Cause), What put it here, now(Efficient Cause.)

I assume love is properly characterized as willing the good of the other. As noted in the next paragraph, this characterization of love  gives the formal cause of love.

Freewill is the material cause of love.  In other words, love is made from freewilling, The final cause of love is the good of another. In other words, the purpose of loving is to bring about what is good for the other.1   The formal cause of love is willing the good of another. The efficient cause of love is the willing of the agent, i.e., a being who can choose. Nothing acting on the agent is sufficient to bring the agent to choose the good of the other. In the spiritual or mental realm, an agent creates an intention to act for the good of an other. It is not the good of the other which brings about the choice of the good of the other.  Why not?

I use the philosophers’ stylistic device of a formal argument with numbered premises and conclusions.

The gist of the argument is that assuming that the good of the other suffices to bring the agent to choose it requires assuming that the good of the other satisfies something in the agent. The satisfying of this something in the agent becomes the efficient cause of the agent choosing the good of the other.

1. The good of the other is the final cause of choosing the good of the other, i.e., the final cause of loving.

 2. If the good of the other sufficed to lead an agent to choose the good of the other, then the agent would have an inclination for the good of the other sufficient to bring it to choose the good of the other.  (There would be some feature of the agent with an appetite or desire for the good of the other.)

3. If an agent has an inclination for the good of the other sufficient to bring it to choose the good of the other, then choosing the good of the other is doing what the agent is inclined to do.

 4. If the agent chooses what he is inclined to do, the agent is choosing to satisfy his inclination.

 5. If the agent is choosing to satisfy his inclination, the good the agent chooses is his satisfaction.

6. If the good the agent chooses, even in his choice of the good of the other,  is his satisfaction, then the final cause of his choice is not the good of the other but the satisfaction of his inclination.

 So, putting (2) through (6) together, we get:

7.  If the good of the other sufficed to lead an agent to choose the good of the other,  then the final cause of his choice is not the good of the other but the satisfaction of his inclination.

 But  the assumption (1) is that the good of the other is the final cause of choosing the good of the other. Hence, by logical step called modes tollens  (7) with (1) yields:

(8) The good of the other does not suffice to lead an agent to choose the good of the other.

  What then suffices for the agent to will the good of the other? The agent is aware of the good of the other and takes that good as a reason for choosing it for the other. When the agent takes the good of the other as a reason for choosing the good of the other, the agent forms an intention to act for the sake of getting the good of the other. The agent taking the good of the other as a reason for choosing the good of the other along with the correlative intention is the sufficient condition for willing the good of the other. This is not to say that the agent does not want or desire the good of the other. It is to say that the agent does not choose the good of the other to satisfy his wants or desires, viz. inclinations.

Why say that freewill is a necessary condition for willing the good of the other?

If we deny freewill, we assume that in any choices apparently for the good of the other, the good of the other suffices for the choice. If the good of the other suffices for the choice of the good of the other, then the agent’s choice of the good of the other is made to satisfy an inclination of the agent. If the agent’s choice of the good of the other is made to satisfy an inclination of the agent, then the good of the other is not the final cause of the agent’s choice of the good of the other. If the good of the other is not the final cause of the choice of the good of the other, then the agent’s choice is not a choice of love. Hence, if we deny freewill, any choice of an agent which is apparently a loving choice, is not a choice of love. Or taking the so-called Contrapositive: If any choice of an agent which is apparently a loving choice is indeed a loving choice, we cannot deny freewill.

So, the goal of the post has been attained.

  1. To say that the final cause in loving is to satisfy our inclination for good in the other is to deny that love is for the good of the other. It is to say that love is ultimately for our own satisfaction with the good of the other being only a side effect.

What is Supernatural Reality?

This post is part of my effort to write a booklet on Rationality of Belief in Satan

The first step in providing a model of what it would be like for there to be a devil is to construct a model of the kind of reality that Satan would be. Satan is not a transcendent being as is God, when properly understood. Satan is a creature of the transcendent. The objects and processes of the supernatural are the angels and their processes. Because there are angelic processes, angels have a history. They are not eternal even if they are everlasting. They are in a time.

I adapt thoughts of Augustine and Aquinas to develop a model of the angelic reality. The natural comprises material objects, material forces plus the feelings and thoughts of animals and humans. The material is complex and we do not have a coherent model of it as is brought out by the mind/body interconnection problem. The supernatural is even more difficult to model because any image must be rejected as distorting. We do not not have mind body problems with respect to angels. However, constantly have to remind ourselves that the type of abstract we use in modeling angels is not the same type of abstracting we use when we think abstractly to pull something out of reality to think more clearly about it. The abstraction of angels is not the type of abstraction of which we can say”It is not exactly this way, but for sake of clarity let’s not think of it as it is in reality.” The abstraction of angels from what we can imagine is to think of them as they are in reality.

Preface: Rationality of Belief in Satan

Nullus diabolus, nullus redemptor

This is a draft Preface for a short e-book on the rationality of professing the reality of a devil – Satan. I will be preparing the first draft of this booklet in a series of blog posts.

Why use “professing” rather than “believing?” I make claims implying the reality of Satan primarily as part of endorsing the belief system of the Catholic Church. I rarely think of Satan in my religious life, moral life; let alone in my day-to-day practical affairs. However, my not denying the reality of Satan and professing that Satan exists is more than only professing Satan’s reality with my lips without believing it in my heart. Honesty requires preparing myself to let events bring it about that the reality of Satan is, for me, a sincerely held religious belief. In Mere Christianity, C.S.Lewis makes it clear that belief in Satan is basic in Christianity. Dismissing Satan as an outdated superstition implies that Jesus as portrayed in the Gospels was a superstitious fool. Believing Jesus to be ignorant and superstitious, is incompatible with professing a Christian religion. I would become a better Christian and, perhaps, morally better if belief in Satan became more significant in my religious and daily life.

We cannot have obligations to do what we cannot do. “Ought” implies “can.” We cannot simply choose to belief; especially on a religious topic. Faith has to be given: by God or life experiences. We can, however, choose to prepare ourselves to receive a gift of faith. What is it to prepare for faith? There may be many ways. The mathematician and philosopher, Pascal, proposed a religious way. But at least learn your inability to believe, since reason brings you to this, and yet you cannot believe. Endeavor then to convince yourself, not by increase of proofs of God, but by the abatement of your passions. You would like to attain faith, and do not know the way; you would like to cure yourself of unbelief and ask the remedy for it. Learn of those who have been bound like you, and who now stake all their possessions. These are people who know the way which you would follow, and who are cured of an ill of which you would be cured. Follow the way by which they began; by acting as if they believed, taking the holy water, having masses said, etc. Even this will naturally make you believe, and deaden your acuteness. (Pense III 233)

I take an explicitly philosophical way: Construction of an ontology. One way is to profess what is to be believed all the while trying to construct a model of what it would be like for the belief to be true.“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” is from William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. It is spoken by the title character, Hamlet, in Act I, Scene 5

This booklet outlines my preparing myself for openess to genuine belief in the reality of Satan.

This is an essay in the philosophy of religion. In philosophy of religion a major task is to show how crucial religious beliefs can be held without superstition or fanaticism. So, the task of this booklet is to show that people can let themselves become convinced of the reality of Christian religiously adequate notion Satan, without superstition or fanticism. However, there is no scholarly work showing that my outline of what it might be like for there to be a devil conforms to theological and dogmatic claims about Satan. I have recently read two books on Satan which I am sure have influenced me although I do not cite them as sources. The books are Robert J. Spitzer’s Christ vs. Satan in Our Daily Lives: The Cosmic Struggle Between Good and Evil (Called Out of Darkness: Contending with Evil Through The Church, Virtue and Prayer,) Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2020 and Jeffrey Burton Russell’s , Prince of Darkness: Radical Evil and the Power of Good in History, Cornell U Press, Ithaca NY. 2016. Spitzer’s empirical case for the reality of Satan requires showing how a conceptual model of Satan, a model abstracted from what we can imagine experiencing, allows for people experiencing the phenomena for which a contender for best explanation is demonic possession. Russell does not argue for the reality of Satan. However, he reminds us that there is no established metaphysical scheme that prohibts us from trying to develop a notion of Satan as an explanation for the facts that there seem to be evil done simply for the sake of evil, viz., radical evil.

The second purpose of this post is list links to previous posts on the reality and nature of a Devil. I develop these posts to draft chapters for the booklet.

A December 2022 post points out that the problem of evil leads to an assumption of a created evil creator in oppostion to God

<h4>The Problem of Evil as the Cornerstone of a Christian World View </h4>

<h4> The Value of Conceptual Models of Satan </h4>

<h4> Seriously: Have We Been Rescued From Satan? </h4>

<h4> Pope Francis on the Role of Satan in Sexual Abuse</h4>

Why Does Satan Want Us to Go to Hell?

What Is Satan’s Sin?

<h4>There is a Satan In Opposition To God!</h4>

God cannot destroy Satan

<h4>The Transcendent vs Nothing</h4>

Therefore the real question is whether the concept of
the Devil makes any sense p, 2 See posts on Overview of Posts Confronting Nihilismsatan

Quotations from: Jeffrey Burton Russell’s , Prince of Darkness: Radical Evil and the Power of Good in History,

Inflicting suffering for the sake of suffering, doing evil for evil’s sake, the
Devil is by definition the personification of cosmic evil p2

Often people assume that in the modern world the idea of the Devil is
old-fashioned and therefore false-an objection that assumes that “the
modern world” (however defined) has discovered some metaphysical
truth (however defined) that makes the existence of the Devil less likely
now than it used to 2

Whether or not the Devil exists outside the human mind, the concept
of the Devil has a long history and the most fruitful approach to it is
historical. p. 4

In this way, the Devil is defined by the historical tradition. Efforts to
say that the Devil “really” is something different from the historical
tradition are self-contradictory p 4