Jeremiah Carey presents a version of panentheism which he attributes to Gregory Palamas, as well as other Greek patristic thinkers. The Greek tradition, he alleges, is more open to panentheistic metaphysics than the Latin. Palamas, for instance, hold that God’s energies are participable, even if God’s essence is not. Carey uses Palamas’ metaphysics to sketch an account on which divine energies are the forms of created substances, and argues it is open to Orthodox Christians to affirm that God is in (...) all things as their formal cause. I argue Carey’s reading is premised on a superficial examination of the patristic literature. More importantly, Palamas’ metaphysics is opposed to that of Carey, since Palamas’ distinction aims to uphold that created persons are only contingent participants in God. On this, Palamas and the Latins are in complete accord. In conclusion, I propose panentheistic metaphysics begins from a false dilemma. (shrink)
David Bentley Hart and Jordan Daniel Wood are part of a movement aiming to overcome any separation between divine and human nature, avoiding what they see as a problematic account of grace. As opposed to radical kenoticism which holds that God only exists or has a given character in relation to creation, Hart and Wood appeal to facts about God such that He could not act otherwise towards human beings, given His character. They thereby ground conclusions that God could not (...) fail to create and that human beings could not be otherwise than divinized. Even though they differ on what it is in virtue of the fact that God could not act otherwise, both authors rest their views on such claims. I will argue such views involve serious theological and metaphysical problems, because this strategy entails – as much as radical kenoticism – that God is constituted by His relation to creation. (shrink)
In his Confessions, Augustine says that he achieved great intellectual insight from what he cryptically calls the “books of the Platonists.” Prior to reading these books, he was a corporealist and was unable to conceive of incorporeal beings. Because of the insurmountable philosophical problems corporealism caused for the Christian belief he was seeking, Augustine claims that this was the greatest intellectual barrier he faced in converting to Christianity. As such, the specific contents and effects of these Platonist books are of (...) great biographical and philosophical interest. Heretofore, the explanation of the contents and effects of these books has not been forthcoming. This essay aims to supply it. I argue that Augustine learned the mereological distinction between pertensive and entensive presence in the books of the Platonists. This distinction is required for properly conceiving of incorporeal beings. In support of this thesis, I show that Augustine himself says that he learned this very distinction, that the distinction is present in Platonist texts that scholars agree were among “the books of the Platonists,” that the distinction is present in one of Augustine’s earliest works, and that this distinction is uniquely capable of resolving the philosophical difficulties he faced as a corporealist. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend an unconventional mereological framework involving the doctrine of divine simplicity, to surmount a significant yet neglected dilemma resulting from that long-standing view of God as absolutely, and uniquely, simple. This framework establishes God as literally a part of everything—an “omni-part.” Although consequential for the many prominent religious traditions featuring divine simplicity, my analysis focuses on potential implications for an important formative issue in medieval Islamic philosophy. This problem of principality, with regards to metaphysical primacy and (...) importance, derives from Ibn Sīnā’s celebrated distinction between essence and existence, and involves determining which is genuinely, objectively, real. Instead of supporting the historically dominant opposing viewpoints advancing either the principality of existence or of essence (aṣālat al-wujūd/al-māhiyya), I claim that God as omni-part aids renewed defence of the majority rejected view which upholds the combined principality of existence and essence together. Additionally, my proposal reinforces various theological desiderata including divine omnipresence and God’s necessity across possible worlds, while also supporting new perspectives on Ibn ‘Arabi’s influential notion of waḥdat al-wūjūd, understood as the absolute unity of being. (shrink)
In the recent debate on Christian theism, the position called Open Theism (OT) tries to solve the dilemma of omniscience and human freedom. In OT, the key word of the human-divine relationship is “risk”: in his relationship with us, God is a risk-taker in that he adapts his plan to human decisions and to the situations that arise from them. “Risk” is the fundamental characteristic of any true love relationship. According to OT, God has no exhaustive knowledge of how humans (...) will use their will, and the divine plan for this world is not seen as fixed for eternity. OT distinguishes between meticulous providence and general providence and denies that the former can exist. After illustrating these positions and a particular view of OT called essential kenosis, I highlight some of their weaknesses and conclude by asking whether the concept of mystery (at least in some of its possible interpretations: I outline four “solutions”) can enable a reconciliation between classical theism and OT. By applying an approach to the notion of mystery usually connected to the Trinity, I show that the dilemma of omniscience, human freedom and providence does not compromise the plausibility of theism. (shrink)
The divine attributes of immensity and omnipresence have been integral to classical Christian confession regarding the nature of the triune God. Divine immensity and omnipresence are affirmed in doctrinal standards such as the Athanasian Creed (c. 500), the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), the Council of Basel (1431–49), the Second Helvetic Confession (1566), the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647), the Second London Baptist Confession (1689), and the First Vatican Council (1869–70). In the first section of this chapter, I offer a brief (...) historical overview of divine immensity and divine omnipresence in the Christian tradition. I then offer a brief taxonomy of contemporary models of divine omnipresence in the philosophical and theological landscape. In the second, more constructive section, I aim to gesture toward the retrieval of several classical insights regarding immensity and omnipresence that remain unexplored in contemporary analytic work. (shrink)
In the essay I analyse Micheletti’s three theses concerning: (a) the notion of mystery in relation to the “evidentialistic claim”; (b) analogical metaphysics in relation to “univocist immanentism” and to the importance of developing an analogical theism; (c) the fallibilistic conception of reason in relation to natural law, universalistic ethics and the so-called “essentialism” applied to individual human nature. I will try to show how deep is the intertwining and mutual implication of mystery and analogy – in metaphysics and theology, (...) in epistemology and ontology, in anthropology and ethics – and how Micheletti’s works have been an important step in bringing these two notions back to the center of the discussion that introduces oneself in the “question of God” and in the “question of Human being”. (shrink)
Karl Pfeifer attempts to present a coherent view of panentheism that eschews Pickwickian senses of “in” and aligns itself with, and builds upon, familiar diagrammed portrayals of panentheism. The account is accordingly spatial-locative and moreover accepts the proposal of R.T. Mullins that absolute space and time be regarded as attributes of God. In addition, however, it argues that a substantive parthood relation between the world and God is required. Pfeifer’s preferred version of panpsychism, viz. panintentionalism, is thrown into the mix (...) as an optional add-on. On this account, God is conceived of as a “spiritual field” whose nature can be made more intelligible by regarding “God” as having a mass-noun sense in some contexts. Pfeifer closes with the suggestion that we look to topology and mereology for further development of the position outlined in his paper. (shrink)
Samuel Clarke (1675–1729) profoundly shaped early eighteenth-century European philosophy with an a priori demonstration of the existence of God and influential defenses of substance dualism and human freedom. Throughout his works, he defended absolute space, the passivity of matter, and constant divine activity in the world, which jointly provided a metaphysical basis for the quickly popularizing Newtonian thought.
A number of contemporary philosophers have suggested that the recent revival of interest in panpsychism within philosophy of mind could reinvigorate a pantheistic philosophy of religion. This project explores whether the combination and individuation problems, which have dominated recent scholarship within panpsychism, can aid the pantheist’s articulation of a God/universe unity. Constitutive holistic panpsychism is seen to be the only type of panpsychism suited to aid pantheism in articulating this type of unity. There are currently no well-developed solutions to the (...) individuation problem for this type of panpsychism. Moreover, the gestures towards a solution appear costly to the religious significance of pantheism. This article concludes that any hope that contemporary panpsychism might aid pantheists in articulating unity is premature and possibly misplaced. (shrink)
This essay examines recent attempts to defend holenmerism, or the ‘whole in every part’ doctrine, as the preferred view of God’s relationship to the material world in the work of Descartes. By focusing on the interrelationship between space, matter, and immaterial entities in Cartesian philosophy, I will demonstrate that the textual evidence not only fails to provide support for the holenmerist revival, but that holenmerism also runs counter to many of Descartes’s concepts regarding space and bodily extension.
Basis der Behandlung der Frage nach der Allgegenwart, Zeitlichkeit und Unveränderlichkeit Gottes ist die sogenannte Vollkommenheitstheologie, nach der es logisch unmöglich ist, dass etwas vollkommener als Gott ist.
According to theistic consubstantialism, the universe and God are essentially made of the same stuff. If theistic consubstantialism is correct, then God possesses the essential power to have knowledge de se of the contents of the mind of every conscious being internal to God. If theistic consubstantialism is false, then God lacks this essential property. So either God is essentially corporeal and possesses greater essential epistemic powers than God would have otherwise or God is essentially incorporeal and has a diminished (...) range of essential epistemic powers. In light of this dilemma, I argue that theists should accept theistic consubstantialism. (shrink)
First published Sat Apr 5, 2003; most recent substantive revision Wed Aug 22, 2018. -/- Samuel Clarke (1675–1729) was the most influential British philosopher in the generation between Locke and Berkeley. His philosophical interests were mostly in metaphysics, theology, and ethics.
In classical theism, God is typically conceived of as having the attribute of omnipresence. However, this attribute often falls prey to two puzzles, the immateriality puzzle and the intensity puzzle. A recent explication of omnipresence by Hud Hudson falls short of solving these puzzles. By attending to key narratives in the Hebrew Scriptures, I argue that one ought to conceive of God’s presence at a location as God’s acting at that location. Thus, God’s omnipresence is God’s acting at all locations.
Attributions of omnipresence, most familiar within the philosophy of religion, typically take the omnipresence of an entity to either consist in that entity's occupation of certain regions or be dependent upon other of that entity's attributes, such as omnipotence or omniscience. This paper defends an alternative conception of omnipresence that is independent of other purported divine attributes and dispenses with occupation. The resulting view repurposes the metaphysics of necessitism and permanentism, taking omnipresent entities to be those entities that exist at (...) all regions. This view is then shown to best accommodate attributions of omnipresence to a diverse range of metaphysical posits, like abstract entities, and a more diverse class of religious posits. (shrink)
I first offer a broad taxonomy of models of divine omnipresence in the Christian tradition, both past and present. I then examine the recent model proposed by Hud Hudson (2009, 2014) and Alexander Pruss (2013)—ubiquitous entension—and flag a worry with their account that stems from predominant analyses of the concept of ‘material object’. I then attempt to show that ubiquitous entension has a rich Latin medieval precedent in the work of Augusine and Anselm. I argue that the model of omnipresence (...) explicated by Augustine and Anselm has the resources to avoid the noted worry by offering an alternative account of the divide between the immaterial and the material. I conclude by considering a few alternative analyses of ‘material object’ that make conceptual room for a contemporary Christian theist to follow suite in thinking that at least some immaterial entities are literally spatially located when relating to the denizens of spacetime. (shrink)
I defend Christian classical theism’s view that God is aspatial in the strict sense but omnipresent only in a loose sense. I consider ten different proposals according to which God is strictly omnipresent and reject them all. I then present two arguments for the claim that God is strictly aspatial. Finally, I argue that, given God creates and sustains all else, God is loosely omnipresent.
My goal in this paper is to elucidate a problematic feature of Newton's metaphysics of absolute space. Specifically, I argue that Newton's theory has the untenable consequence that God depends on space for His existence and is therefore not an independent entity. I argue for this conclusion in stages. First, I show that Newton believed that space was an entity and that God and space were ontologically distinct entities. Part of this involves arguing that Newton denies that space is a (...) divine attribute. I then show that Newton endorsed a principle according to which the existence of space is a necessary condition for the existence of any other entity. Following this, I discuss the ways in which this makes God depend on space for His existence and the reasons why this is unacceptable for traditional conceptions of God. Specifically, I show that it is incompatible with the orthodox position that God be entirely independent and self-determining. Finally, I offer two considerations which, I hope, make the problem seem less serious than it first appears. The first consideration has to do with Newton's polemical context and the second has to do with the nature of his theological thought. (shrink)
In the Queries to the Latin version of the Opticks Newton claims that space is God’s sensorium. Although these passages are well-known, few commentators have offered interpretations of what Newton might have meant by these cryptic remarks. As is well known, Leibniz was quick to pounce on these passages as evidence that Newton held untenable or nonsensical views in metaphysics and theology. Subsequent commentators have largely agreed. This paper has two goals. The first is to offer a clear interpretation of (...) Newton’s claim about space and God’s sensorium by situating those claims within Newton’s philosophical thought. The second is to show how my interpretation rescues Newton from Leibniz’s critiques. I show that Newton had a considered position on the sensorium and the role it played in sensation and volition. The primary evidence for this comes from an experiment Newton performed involving after-images; an experiment he recorded in his student notebook and corresponded with Locke about. I also discuss Newton’s views on mind-body causation, divine extension, and divine analogy. My final position is that we should read Newton as claiming that space in the venue in which God exercises his divine will. I also consider the problem of the missing tanquam pointed out by Koyré and Cohen and propose a solution. (shrink)
While nobody will ever know what it may be like to be God, there is a more basic question one may try to answer: does God have phenomenal consciousness, does He have experiences within a conscious point of view (POV)? Drawing on recent debates within philosophy of mind, I argue that He doesn’t: if God exists, ‘He’ is not phenomenally conscious, at least in the sense that there is no ‘divine subjectivity’. The article aims at displaying an incompatibility between God’s (...) being truly omnipresent on the one hand, and God’s having a genuine conscious POV on the other. This is shown by introducing the concept of ‘experiential location’ to clarify what shall be meant by ‘conscious POV’, then by exposing an inconsistency in the traditional concept of omnipresence, and finally by arguing that a consistent though weaker understanding of omnipresence is incompatible with God’s having a conscious POV. This paves the way for a ‘processual’ or computational conception of God, which may have its own metaphysical benefit. (shrink)
It has been argued that God is omnipresent, that is, present in all places and in all times. Omnipresence is also implied by God's knowledge, power, and perfection. A Kantian argument shows that in order to be self-aware, apply concepts, and form judgments, in short, to have a mind, there must be objects that are external to a being that it can become aware of and grasp itself in relationship to. There can be no external objects for an omnipresent God, (...) so he cannot have a mind. (shrink)
It has been argued that God is omnipresent, that is, present in all places and in all times. Omnipresence is also implied by God’s knowledge, power, and perfection. A Kantian argument shows that in order to be self-aware, apply concepts, and form judgments, in short, to have a mind, there must be objects that are external to a being that it can become aware of and grasp itself in relationship to. There can be no external objects for an omnipresent God, (...) so he cannot have a mind. (shrink)
The philosophy of Samuel Clarke is of central importance for an adequate understanding of Hume’s Treatise.2 Despite this, most Hume scholars have either entirely overlooked Clarke’s work, or referred to it in a casual manner that fails to do justice to the significance of the Clarke-Hume relationship. This tendency is particularly apparent in accounts of Hume’s views on space in Treatise I.ii. In this paper, I argue that one of Hume’s principal objectives in his discussion of space is to discredit (...) Clarke’s Newtonian doctrine of absolute space and, more deeply, the ‘argument a priori’ that Clarke constructs around it. On the basis of this interpretation, I argue that Hume’s ‘system’ of space constitutes an important part of his more fundamental ‘atheistic’ or anti- Christian objectives in the Treatise.3. (shrink)
Predominant branches of historic Christianity have traditionally held to each of two doctrines about God: that he is incorporeal and that he is omnipresent. And in the minds of many people, these two doctrines do not simply represent two independent characteristics or attributes of God, but rather they are closely related. A.H.Strong, a conservative theologian active during the early years of this century, writes, ‘God’s omnipresence is not the presence of a part but of the whole of God in every (...) place. This follows from the conception of God as incorporeal.’ 1 More recently, Dr Harold Kuhn put forward a view which similarly links the two notions. 2 When we recite the Apostles’ Creed and affirm our belief in ‘God the Father Almighty’ we are, according to Kuhn, also implying our belief in an incorporeal God, for any imputation of a body to him would appear to entail spatial limitation, since it is thought that only a bodiless being could be omnipresent. (shrink)
A philosophy of language that incorporates the manifestation of divinity shed liberally upon the psyche of humanity without violence or chaos as in that which is common to the powers and sovereignties of human beings is critical to the understanding of Holy Writ. The discourse presented here is primarily intended to foster a better general understanding of the divine directive given to Moses by Yahweh to build the wilderness sanctuary in order to objectify his majestic presence among them and draw (...) their attention periodically to his Shekinah glory. It is the author’s deep desire to encourage ministers of religion, students and teachers of theology, linguistics, philology, and grammar, to develop an approach to biblical studies that take into account the biblical languages that were the sheaths for the sword of the word. A cursory reading of this script should generate active interest in these languages. (shrink)
We can attend to the logic of Anselm's ontological argument, and amuse ourselves for a few hours unraveling its convoluted word-play, or we can seek to look beyond the flawed logic, to the search for God it expresses. From the perspective of this second approach the Ontological Argument might be seen as more than a mere argument - indeed, as something of a contemplative exercise. One can see in the argument a tantalizing attempt to capture in logical form the devotee’s (...) experience of the presence of God in the contemplation of God. It is a peculiarity of the argument that it can seem hopelessly silly or richly evocative depending upon which of these approaches one takes. In this essay I examine the flawed logic of the Ontological Argument, but then attempt to reflect upon the contemplative experience that may underlie it. (shrink)
The topic of the Christian Trinity and its correlation with the omni-qualities of God has been explored by numerous theologians throughout history. Advocates of the Trinity and deductive methodology commence with the claim that each member of the Trinity is entirely divine, thereby possessing all attributes of God. The anti-trinatarians on the other hand point to biblical evidence that implies the members of the Trinity lack certain omni-qualities and subsequently deduce that the Trinity is not divine. The middle ground of (...) these opposing viewpoints likely exists in accepting the divinity of the Trinity whilst rejecting the idea that the members of the Trinity necessarily possess all the omni-qualities. However, this perspective is subject to criticism from both factions in the contemporary theological landscape. In this paper, I shall explore a model of the Trinity that fits within this middle ground. In doing so, I shall explore the possibility that the Trinity has a one-to-one correspondence with the three major omni-qualities commonly ascribed to the God of Classical theism. To do so, we shall use both a deductive approach and the evidence from the scripture. The truth of the assertion that only the Father is omniscient and only the Holy Spirit is omnipresent is presented using specific Bible verses that point to the exclusivity of the quality in the respective members. The truth of the assertion that only the Son is omnipotent is obtained by a deductive approach. (shrink)