Saturday, August 2, 2008

Perfect being Theology and Eastern Orthodoxy

This Post is planning to look at a modified Anselmian model of Divine Essence. I will argue that this modified version is more reasonable than not and that it is wholly incompatible with the Eastern view of the Divine essence.

Here are some ontological arguments and then afterwards I will briefly show how these are incompatible with the Eastern view of the Divine Essence:

The Three best ontological arguments:

The one that is falsely attributed to Anselm, but it is still valid and sound:

1) I can think of the greatest possible being (or I define God as the greatest possible being)

2) It is better to exist in reality and in thought than just merely in thought

3) Since the greatest possible being is the greatest then he will have everything that is better to have rather than not to have those great things

4) If the greatest possible being does not exist in reality and in thought then he is not the greatest possible being

5) The greatest possible being would not be the greatest possible being which is a contradiction

6) Therefore, The greatest possible being exists in reality and in thought and this is what we call God

Answering the most popular objection: It is often objected to this argument that just because I can think of the greatest possible thing doesn’t mean that it exists because I can think of the greatest possible Island, animal, house, or girl but that doesn’t mean that those things exists. The problem with this counter argument is it over looks the definition of God as being the greatest possible being. If God is the greatest possible being then he would have only those attributes that would be great to have rather than not have those attributes. One of those great making attributes is that God is entirely unique from the creation which is his creation is lesser than God in many ways. One of those ways in which his creation is lesser is that God is the only being that in his definition or nature there contains a claim of existence. In other words God would be better if he was the only being that could be shown to exist merely by contemplating him rather than not. Since God is the greatest possible being then he is the only being that could be shown to exist merely by contemplating him since this displays a great making property of God, namely his utter uniqueness from the lesser created things.

This is the one that Saint Anselm used (Brian Davies interpretation of Anselm as well as the argument he endorses from Anselm):

1) I can think of the greatest possible being (or I define God as the greatest possible being)

2) It is better to exist necessarily than not

3) Since the greatest possible being is the greatest then he will have everything that is better to have rather than not to have those great things

4) If the greatest possible being does not exist necessarily then he isn’t the greatest possible being

5) Then greatest possible being would not be the greatest possible being which is a contradiction

6) Therefore, The greatest possible being exists necessarily and this is what we call God

Here's Moreland’s formulation of the ontological argument:

1. A maximally perfect being possibly exists.

2. If a being is a maximally perfect being, it exists
in all possible worlds.

3. The actual world is a possible world.

4. Therefore, a maximally perfect being exists in the
actual world.



Now let's get to the incompatibility with this reasonable and ontologically robust view of the Divine Essence's with the Eastern view of The Divine Essence.

The Divine Essence in Eastern Theology does not exist but it is not true that it doesn't exists (the way of negation), but in Anselmian perfect being theology God's essence exists because this is true by definition thus the eastern view is necessarily false since they believe that God's essence doesn't exist. Furthermore, The East doesn't think the Divine Essense is contigent or necessary, but on perfect being theology and philosophy (the second and third argument) the divine essence exists necessarily thus if one holds to perfect being theology he would be most reasonable in thinking that the conception of the Divine essence in Eastern Orthodoxy is necessarily false. From these conclusions it is more reasonable than not that eastern orthodoxy in necessarily false if one wants to think that God is the greatest possible being.


NPT

3 comments:

Acolyte4236 said...

I deny premise 1. So the argument only goes thru if the premises are granted. Try again.

Congrats, you've figured out that Orthodoxy and Anselmianism are incompatible. From that it doesn't follow that Orthodoxy is necessarily false, except if Anselmianism is necessarily true. Do you have a proof that Anselmianism is necessarily true? I don't think you do.

Even Aquinas denies premise 1, so plenty of western Christian thinkers take Anselm's ontological argument to be false.

Further, if Anselm were right, revelation would be unnecessary since one would know God in this life. Practically everyone would have the beatific vision now, but even Anselm denies this.

Lastly, define "being."

Good luck.

Searching for the Church said...

Acolyte et al,

Does the Anselmian view successfully establish the (necessary) existence of Divine Energies?

Nathanael Taylor said...

I deny premise 1. So the argument only goes thru if the premises are granted. Try again.

Response: Okay, that's alright. If you don't think God is the greatest possible being and your completely comfortable with that then obviously you wouldn't think this argument is very good. But I think you are clever enough to figure that out.

Congrats, you've figured out that Orthodoxy and Anselmianism are incompatible. From that it doesn't follow that Orthodoxy is necessarily false, except if Anselmianism is necessarily true. Do you have a proof that Anselmianism is necessarily true? I don't think you do.

Response: I don't have a proof for that just like I don't have a proof that 1+1=2.


Further, if Anselm were right, revelation would be unnecessary since one would know God in this life. Practically everyone would have the beatific vision now, but even Anselm denies this.

Response: We do know God in this life but we don't know everything about God through natural theology, there are somethings we have to find about God through his Word. So revelation is not unnecessary since it tells how we must be saved and how we enter a right relationship with that God that we know through natural theology.

Lastly, define "being."

Response: Existence

Good luck.

Response: I am a determinist with creatures...no such thing as luck :)