Monthly Archives: May 2024

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.”