February 22, 2011

Restrained Power Model of the Incarnation

The mystery of the Incarnation is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, remained fully divine while becoming fully human. Almighty divinity became a human.[1] Many philosophers say that such an incarnation is "impossible, self-contradictory, incoherent, absurd, and unintelligible" because the divinity that supposedly created the universe with almighty power cannot also be a human with finite power.[2] This brief introduction of the "restrained power model of the Incarnation" proposes an analogy of how an almighty deity can temporarily restrain himself to use only finite power.

As stated above, many philosophers claim that an almighty deity is incapable of temporarily limiting himself to human finiteness. However, there are many examples of power with temporary restraints. For example, a particular power ratchet wrench has a maximum torque of seventy foot-pound force while the wrench torque adjusts from one to seventy foot-pound force. In some uses of the wrench, the seventy foot-pound force would destroy the bolt so the wrench is sometimes set to a lesser torque such as ten foot-pound force. Likewise, for a particular job, the wrench operates at no more than ten foot-pound force while the wrench was fully compatible with working at seventy foot-pound force. The wrench never lost its full power, but temporarily used a setting of a lesser power. Also, when the wrench goes back to it full power, it never loses its ability to operate at lesser powers.

The example of the adjustable power ratchet wrench is a powerful analogy for the Incarnation. The Son of God, the Almighty, temporarily limited his power to human limits on earth while remaining fully capable of creating new universes and knowing all possibilities. There is no impossibility, self-contradiction, incoherency, absurdity, or unintelligibly in this analogy of the incarnation. In fact, it appears absurd to insist that a maximally powerful deity could not temporarily limit himself to a finite human life on earth.
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1. The term almighty requires a caveat. Almighty means "all power within the context of consistency." For example, an almighty deity cannot make an unbending rod that he cannot bend because this scenario is logically impossible and physically inconsistent. In other words, an almighty deity has maximal power, all possible power.

2. Murray, Michael and Rea, Michael, "Philosophy and Christian Theology", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2008/entries/christiantheology-philosophy/.

3. Murray, Michael and Rea, Michael, "Philosophy and Christian Theology."


Copyright © 2011 James Edward Goetz

February 14, 2011

I Believe

Revision:

I believe in one God, the only uncreated. God always enjoys inexhaustible love, perfect power, and knowledge of all possibilities. God is three persons who share identical indivisible original nature. God made the substance of all creation and revealed the three divine persons as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, remained fully divine while becoming fully human. He ministered teaching, prophecy, and miracles. He died on a cross for our salvation from sin, resurrected from the dead, ascended to the heavenly dimensions, and poured out the Holy Spirit while establishing the church of saints. Christ will return, judge the living and the dead, and fully establish his glorious kingdom on earth.



First version:

I believe in one God, the only uncreated, always existing with perfect power, knowledge of all possibilities, unlimited love, justice, and as three persons of one indivisible divine nature. The three divine persons eternally and equally share the same indivisible glory, honor, and ability.

I believe God made the substance of all creation. And God revealed the three divine persons as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Christ remained fully divine while becoming fully human. He ministered teaching, prophecy, and miracles. He died on a cross for our salvation from sin, resurrected from the dead, ascended to the heavenly dimensions, and poured out the Holy Spirit while establishing the church of saints. Christ will return, judge the living and the dead, and fully establish his glorious kingdom on earth.



major revision 9/5/14, minor update 9/7/14

Copyright © 2011–2014 James Edward Goetz

February 6, 2011

Divine Omniscience and Probabilistic Events

I submitted a question to William Lane Craig (http://www.reasonablefaith.org):

Dear Dr. Craig,

I'm a trinitarian and assume Molinist divine omniscience (middle knowledge [MK]) and exhaustive definite foreknowledge [EDF]). My Molinist assumption recently included that EDF in a universe (spacetime continuum plus possible hyper-dimensions for the heavenly realms and perhaps gravity) with probabilistic mechanics is possible for an omniscient deity when the deity creates the universe with static time, but EDF is not possible when the deity creates the universe with dynamic time. For example, I suppose that God could foreknow the outcome of a fair coin toss only if the fair coin toss occurred in static time. Moreover, if God doesn't know the outcome of probabilistic events such as a fair coin toss, then God doesn't know what circumstances his free will creatures would face unless God actually determines the outcome of most probabilistic events. Additionally, I assume that there is no middle ground between EDF and open theism. Given these assumptions, I felt surprised when I read your God, Time, and Eternity (2002) speech and saw that you're a Molinist who holds to a dynamic theory of time. Could you help to explain how God knows the outcome of probabilistic events in a universe with dynamic time?

I will clarify that I hope to find a better answer than saying that the Bible clearly teaches that God knows all truth about the future while philosophical evidence points to a dynamic theory of time. Perhaps somebody might argue that God knowing all truth about future events doesn't necessitate EDF, but I would need an explanation of that. I will also clarify that until I recently reread your 2002 article, I supposed that a dynamic theory of time necessitated open theism while a static theory of time necessitated closed theism, while Molinist closed theism appears to me as the best description of divine omniscience. However, I agree that there are major problems with static time according to your critique and the critiques of others. Likewise, I will try to humbly broaden my imagination of divine omniscience and time.

I suppose that I would reject Molinism if it insisted that most apparently probabilistic events are actually determined. (Hey, I made a counter factual prediction about myself.:) For example, Molinism implies that that God knows the truth about all future probabilistic events. Perhaps we should merely accept this mystery, but I suppose that the cat is out of the bag and the paradox needs an attempt of an explanation.

On my part, I'm contemplating a model that combines MK, EDF, and a dynamic theory of time. I also suppose that since the creation decision, God exists both transcendent to and immanent in the universe. I additionally suppose that God's decision to create the universe included foreordination of all divine intervention during the literal endless temporal progression of the creation that endures. Furthermore, this decision occurred in an instant, while decision making of an omniscient deity in regards to a universe with a literal endless temporal progression would never take longer than an instant. For example, no amount of time and temporal experience could ever help an omniscient deity make a better decision. Given these assumptions, perhaps in some way the creation is in quasi-static time only in the perspective of God's transcendence while the creation is in dynamic time in the perspective of God's imminence. Granted that I need a lot of work on this, but at least I have a thesis statement. Anyway, as I asked above, Could you help to explain how God knows the outcome of probabilistic events in a universe with dynamic time?

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

James Goetz