Thursday, 11 December 2014

Did God Choose to Create This World?

Consider this quotation from Alexander Jensen:

God does not have a gnomic will. As the omniscient being, God does not need to weigh options, but wills according to God’s nature. This means that the modern notion, generally accepted in the West since Duns Scotus, that God’s intellect puts all possible worlds before God’s will, and then the will chooses and creates one of them is absurd, because it assumes that choice and deliberation have a part in God’s mind. This would require a sequence of events in God’s decision making process, which means that at one stage God did not know what God would want later. This limits God’s perfect self-knowledge, restricts God and turns God into a being that needs to weigh up options and plan ahead just as we humans do. In effect it denies God’s immediate omniscience and omnipotence.

So when we say that creation is contingent on God’s will, this does not mean that God could have chosen another world, but it means that creation is not necessary. . . . According to the Christian understanding God does not have to create because this would limit God’s freedom. But God wills to create, and thus does create, out of gratuitous love. . . .

As the world participates in God’s being, it also participates in God’s nature. Thus the world is an expression of the divine being, of divine reason, goodness and love.

Alexander S. Jensen, Divine Providence and Human Agency: Trinity, Creation and Freedom (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014), pp. 143–4

Jensen’s point is not that God couldn’t have chosen to create a different world from that in which we live, but that any world God chose to create would have to participate (necessarily?) in the divine being and nature. The idea that God chooses between possible worlds severs the link between God and the world.

I’m slowly working my way through Jensen’s book, and I continue to find it illuminating in many respects. However, I’m slightly disappointed that despite his insight, Jensen basically appeals to mystery when discussing divine action. This is perhaps required by his insistence on apophatic approaches to God and God’s activities, but it still feels a little anti-climactic to me!

1 comment:

  1. But what is the true nature of the world?
    Is it a solid objective thing "out there"?
    Two references:
    Plus the "trinity" which really patterns, and profoundly diminishes everyones mis-understanding of Reality.