Friday, May 17, 2013

More on the Victimhood of God Pt 1

In Whiteheadian philosophy, God exhibits two sides. On the one side, God is an ideal image of all the world could be. God exists in a kind of timeless ever-present now, wherein each thing is full realized as the best 'it' it can be. It is all of the things in the world working together to make a harmonious whole. This image is limited by what came before. God cannot exist as an image of a rock becoming superman. God can only exist as an image of the best rock that rock can be. Of course with inanimate objects like rocks, the options are limited. A rock can't be much more than a rock, at least in the short term.

As you move to greater levels of complexity, more options are available. A galaxy is imaged in God as maximally beautiful. A gorilla as doing something novel, and perhaps caring. A human is imaged as doing the best they can do with the moment.

The other side of God is how that ideal is actualized in the world. All things are graded according to that ideal. Things 'lurch forward' using their limited by real freedom to move closer or farther from that ideal. The ideal limits what a thing can do in the world. The thing in the world also limits what ideal might come next. Whitehead used this framework to explain change and consistency in the world, the growth of complexity and beauty, and the creation of ideals. It was the only way that Whitehead could make sense of a world where freedom is fundamental, as it at the quantum level.

For Whitehead every 'thing' can be looked at from a number of different angles. Every object is both an object, a collection of objects, a self, and a collection of selves. There had to be some center of selfhood for the universe, or else, there could be no way in which there was an all-encompassing unifying vision or ideal that could hold the universe together. Whitehead started out an agnostic but became a believer in God when he saw the necessity of some kind of overarching center of self to make sense of the adjustment of all individual ideals to some uber-ideal.

Charles Hartshorne was a theologian who thought this whole picture could be simplified by accepting divine personalism, the idea that all things are a part of God, who is the mind of all of existence, the universe or 'multi-verse'. Then the overarching vision would come not from some outside realm of ideal 'somethings' but simply from the mind of the universe. The universe sees what it, and thus all of us, should be, and reaches for it. But we do the reaching. The universe would have psychical but no somatic influence. It supplies the vision, we supply the action.

In this way, every moment God dies and is resurrected. For Whitehead, Jesus plays an epistemological, not ontological, role. God gives Himself to the world, and the world's failure to manifest God is God's death. The re-construction of a new ideal image is God's resurrection. I am not an unmodified Whiteheadian. I believe in a more active and revelatory God than he did. But the basic outline here makes a lot of sense to me. This is much of what God be continued

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