On the fifth week of the AT Seminar Series Sameer Yadav, Assistant Professor of Religious
Studies at Westmont University, delivered a paper titled “Love: Creaturely and Divine.” In his paper Yadav dealt with Schellenberg’s divine hiddenness argument by providing what could be called a “Plantingian Divine Imaging Defense.”
An Overview of “Love: Creaturely and Divine”
Although not new, the problem of Divine Hiddenness (DH) became the subject of extensive philosophical discussion when J.L. Schellenberg published his book, Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason, in 1993. Schellenberg and others who put forth this argument appeal to existence of non-resistant non-believers as evidence for the non-existence of a perfectly loving God. We can summarize the main idea of DH as:
If God is perfectly Loving, then non-resistant non-belief does not exist. But it seems as though non-resistant non-belief does exist. Therefore, a perfectly loving God does not exist.
You can read the rest of this post over at Fuller Seminary’s Analytic Theology Blog.
On 1/18 the Analytic Theology Seminar was treated to a talk by Michael Rea. Rea, who is giving this year’s Gifford Lectures presented the seminar with a version of one of the lectures he will be presenting in that series. Here are some notes from his talk.
Divine Love & Personality
Goal: Examine the nature of divine love with an eye to the problem of divine hiddenness.
- The fact that God has a personality give some reasons to doubt the divine hiddenness problem.
Main premise: If a perfectly loving God exists then there is a God who is always open to a personal relationship with everyone.
- There is no non-resistant non-belief (God will always do something the remove all obstacles for non-belief/relationship.)
- Schellenberg – the minimum God could do is give people evidence that he exists.
- There should be no one who is non-resistant and non-believing. But there is non-resistant non-belief. (i.e. I wish I could believe, but I can’t)
- Therefore there is no perfectly loving God
Support for the Main Premise
- Divine love is an idealized version of some important kind of human love
- (Transcendence undercuts our reasons for accepting this claim)
- Divine Love is not ideal human love
- Focusing on the best kind of human love, whatever that is… specifically whatever kind is most apt to be identified in its ideal form, with divine love.
- Eleanore Stump ID’s two desires as being part of love:
- Desire for the good of the beloved & desire for union with the beloved
- Two Stipulations:
- God desires union with human beings
- God desires our good
- At least one of these desires is essential to the best forms of human loves
- Divine Love = whatever kind of love a perfect being would have for a person or group
- Ideal love = kind of love 1 person would have for another if she were to have an ideal way the property of loving that particular person
- Idealization of simple traits – removal of relevant limitations
- Idealization of complex traits – removal of relevant limitations + idealization of competent properties
- Limitless desire for the good of the beloved, desire for union with the beloved, or both.
- Limitless desire – One who limitlessly desires something desires it in a way that eclipses in priority and strength desires focused on anyone or anything else
Ideal Human Lovers
- We have limited capacity to endure interpersonal union
- So…. Desire for union with someone can conflict with desire for their good.
- We have limited cognitive and causal powers
- In the divine case these are not a problem
Divine Love as Ideal Love
- If God loves us ideally, God is maximally oriented toward our good or maximally oriented toward union with us or both.
- Wessling on Supreme Love
- When God has supreme love for a person, He desires her highest good, and his character generates no contradictory desire of equal or greater strength….God therefore does all that is morally permissible and metaphysically possible to fulfill this desire.
- Susan Wolf on Moral Saints
- Someone maximally devoted to improving the welfare of others to the exclusion of the promotion of her own interests – (sainthood is not rational or desirable for human beings)
- Could God be a Moral Saint?
- God has unlimited resources
- God has unlimited cognitive capacity
- God does not need anything
- So what is the problem?
- The Problem is Divine Personality
- Sainthood Implies Self-Annihilation
- “The pursuit of Moral sainthood seems to require either the lack or denial of the existence of identifiable, personal self.”
- IF God is genuinely personal, and has distinctive personality, it stands to reasons that God has interests, desires, and projects not necessarily oriented around he interest of others.
- IF God has personality, then divine interests might conflict with human interests.
- Opportunistic Sainthood?
- If God is devoted to our good just so long as there are not conflicts between divine and human interests, then God is not maximally devoted to our good.
- God is Not a Saint
- If divine & human goods do conflict, it is no more rational, good, or desirable for God to pursue sainthood than for human beings to pursue it…. In fact, it would be bad for God to pursue sainthood. It would be irrational.
- Maximal Devotion to Union?
- Could God be limitlessly devoted to pursuing union with each of us?
- There is no reason to think we are fitting objects for unlimited desire for union
- Even if we are fitting objects, we are not maximally fitting objects for such a desire
- A perfect being would not be maximally devoted to pursuing our good or our union
- A perfect being would not love human beings in an ideal way
- In fact, we have good a priori reason to think that a perfect being would priorities our good or union with us at all.
- That God loves human beings at all is an article of faith, not philosophy.
An Unexpected Conclusion?
- The Christian tradition never affirmed that union with human beings is the proper object of maximal devotion… or of human goods either.
- Is the conclusion unpleasant? A God who prioritizes divine good over human goods doesn’t seem like a God who loves us enough.
Whence the Conflict?
- What divine projects might take priority over the promotion of our good? We can speculate, but this is precisely the corner of space of possible goods about which we can most expect to be in the dark.
No Possible Conflict?
- It is by no means obvious that the best interest of one person can conflict with another, because love creates a common set of real interests. – Thomas Talbott
- If Talbott is right, then lovers quite literally lose themselves in their relationship. So this seems implausible.
How non-ideal can divine love be and still be called love?
- There have to be some boundaries on what behavior can plausibly count as loving.
- Why think we can identify those boundaries a priori?
- We should ask instead what signs of love can be identified in God’s (alleged) ways of relating to various kinds of people, and what narratives can be told about these relationships to support positively valanced analogies.
“God is justified in permitting Divine hiddenness even if it doesn’t promote any human good.”
Last week at 2016 Analytic Theology Seminar Series at Fuller Seminary Thomas Ward presented a paper on love for God in Duns Scotus’ works. For interaction with this paper
see a forthcoming blog post by JT Turner on Fuller’s Analytic Theology Blog. In the meantime here are some notes on Thomas Ward’s Lecture.
Love, Obedience and Moral Obligation: Reflections on Scotus
- Scotus – Divine Command is not the source of our obligation to Love God above all things. Love of God entails an obligation to obey his commands.
- This might not be a actually a divine command theory
- Scotus – so widely believed to be DCT & V
- Scotus’s views do not comfortably bear these labels
- Quinn: V – thesis that morality depends on the will of God
- Murphy some moral status M stands in dependence relationship D to some act of the divine will A
- If this is true – Scotus is not V – some moral obligations that don’t dpend on God’s will, i.e. the moral obligation to love God.
- Scotus & Ockham were more liberal about what they thought it was logically possible to do.
- According to Kent he is V, Williams he is not, Under Quinn & Murphy he is not, According to Evans he is not either.
- A Mitigation Interpretation
- A mitigating interpretation – giving reasons why God legislated what he did, etc.
- Thomas William’s unmitigated – God can do whatever is logically possible
- Scotus – there are necessary moral truths over which God has no control:
- Necessary moral truths – are logically necessary
- This affects how we should think of the claim that God can do logically possible for God to do (as opposed to logically possible simpliciter)
- Scotus – God must be loved
- This is independent of the command to love him
- From this obligation to love God, we can derive an obligation to obey God’s commands
3.Scotus on the Natural Law
- If its part of natural law: first practical principles known in virtue of their terms or as conclusions that necessarily follow from them. If some precept p is part of the natural law then p is necessary in a very strong sense: God cannot make P false
- Loose sense natural law – not entailed by but highly consonant with natural laws
- He thinks some of the 10 commandments are part of natural law – the first table belong to the natural law in the strict sense, the second table belongs to the natural law in the loose sense
- Augustine – we love our neighbor for God’s sake. Scotus might be seen as continuing the Augustinian intstrumentalization of the great commandments.
- Second Table – If that good were not commanded, the ultimate end could still be attained and loved (beatific vision), the attainment of the ultimate end would still be possible.
- Second table conformity is at best contingent upon achieving the ultimate end
- Second table is contingent in the fact that God could have put forth other commands or none at all
- First table commands describe precisely what natural law requires
4.The logical necessity of the practical necessity that God must be loved
- Deus est diligendus… is a practical truth preceeding any act of the divine will
- Conclusion: Scotus thinks that God’s doing or willing anything in any way contrary to Deus est diligendus “includes a contradiction” and is therefore impossible.
5.Logical Modalities a la Scotus
- Real possibility: something is really possible if there is a power to bring it about
- Logical Impossibility: defined in Scotus’s terms as a certain way in which terms cannot be combined by the mind because of the relationship of terms in a proposition, namely that they are opposed to one another
- Logical Necessity IFF its contrary (or subcontrary) and contradictory are logically impossible.
- God must be loved is necessary in this sense.
6.God must be loved
- A logically necessary practical necessity
- What should be loved the most is the best – so God should be loved the most
- If we grasp the meanings of these terms we just “see” that God should be loved the most
- There is a normative connection between love and the good
- God has not choice but to be the highest God, thus he has no choice to be the object of greatest love
7.Logically Possible for Whom?
- Its logically possible to hate God, but God can do anything which does not entail a contradiction, God should be able to hate himself. Why not?
- A command to hate or to fail to love God is prima faciaie logically possible
- Needs to be qualified: Humans, robots, elepthans can kick a soccer ball but pens and parameciums can’t. So do determine logical possibility we need to consider the PHI-ing in relation to the x.
- Hating God is logically possible for humans and angels, but for God it is logically impossible.
- The terms God & failing to love God are opposed to eachother.
- God’s power means – God can do whatever is logically possible for God to do
8.God must love God
- His radical voluntarism is more moderate if understood as “God can do whatever is logically possible for God to do.” Vs. “God can do whatever is logically possible.”
- God by nature has intellect and will & is therefore capable of happiness + God has no potentiality, so he is happy. Only by knowing God can a person be happy. So God loves God.
9.God can’t command you to hate God
- Also God cannot dispense anyone from their obligation to love God.
- Where God to issue a command – never love me
- Either it would generate a moral obligation or it wouldn’t
- JERK MOVE
- If so, he would have a moral obligation to love him and NOT love him. This would be an command in which one would be determined to fail
- This is a jerk move, so God cannot possibily will to obligate some never to live him
- OR… FRUSTRATION MOVE
- God would be frustrated in his legislative obligation
- But God cannot be frustrated: he gets what he wants
- So He could not possibly issue a command which could not generate a moral obligation
- If so, he would have a moral obligation to love him and NOT love him. This would be an command in which one would be determined to fail
- From Love to Obedience
- Loving God, is “to repeat in our wills… God’s will for our willing. But willing what God wills for our willing is obedience. So it is necessarily true not just that God is to be loved, but that God is to be obeyed.”
- One of the problem of DCT – is that they can’t show there are obligations to obey the command
- What we need then is some other obligation to obey divine commands
- We are required to love God, but not simply because it is commanded, but because it is logically necessary.
- We have this moral obligation that does not depend on God’s will, because it is logically necessary that we love God.
- This helps w/certain objections to DCT
- God could command horrendous things
- DCT is circular
See the message below from Allison Wiltshire
Saturday’s first plenary was delivered by George Hunsinger. He is the McCord Professor of Systematic Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. He earned his degrees at Stanford, Harvard, and Yale. He is most noted for being a leading expert on Karl Barth. His paper brought together two, (to my knowledge) conversation partners that have never been brought together, namely Tolkien and Barth.
- Tolkien as “author of the century”
- Like Tolkien, Barth can be considered “century’s greatest theologian”
- Little work has been done to compare the two
- 1st – how Barth understands agape, 2nd – meaning of evil, 3- eschatology of agape
Meaning of Agape
- Not benevolence, beneficence, compassion
- Agape has these but adds – a desire to give oneself, union w/other, self giving for the sake of koinonia
- Summary of Agape
- God’s loving is concerned w/a seeking and creation of fellowship for its own sake by loving us in JC – God take us up into fellowship/communion that God enjoys as Holy Trinity
- God’s loving us is concerned is w/o reference to aptitude or worthiness of the object of love. God’s agape is not conditioned by any prior reciprocity of love. God doesn’t love us b/c we are lovable, lovable because he loves us.
- God’s loving is an end in itself. God doesn’t even will his own glory for his own sake, but for the sake of his agape. God loves b/c he loves. His agape is the supreme end which includes all other ends in itself.
- God’s agape is necessary. It belongs to him primordially and by definition. Its eternal as God is eternal in his triune life.
The Mystery of Evil in Barth and Tolkien
- Convergences exist in their depiction of evil. See Barth and Nothingness vs. Witch King of Angmar – the Lord of the Nazgul
- Nothingness – act of cosmic power, destruction, chaos, ruin. Its inexplicable, can’t be explained only described. Origin is obscure, but effects are not. The impossible possibility. Actual yet empty at the same time. God did not create it. God defeats it at great cost to himself. No right to exist, serves no greater good. Not means to some higher end.
- The answer to the problem of evil is not an argument but a name
- Tolkien’s Lord of the Nazgul captures something of Barth’s Nothingness.
- Conflicted and absurd, actual and empty simultaneously,
- Good symbol of Barth’s impossible possibility
- Image for the paradox of evil, powerful yet hollow at the same time.
Eschatology of Agape
- Tolkien writes w/ idea that evil must be fought w/knowledge that we cannot ultimately defeat evil. “We have fought the long defeat.” No victory is complete, evil rises again, even victory brings loss. But the long defeat is not the last word.
- There can be no true theology of glory divorced from the theology of the cross.
- For Paul agape cannot be divorced from longsuffering
The third plenary session at this year’s CCT annual conference was given by Lynn G. Underwood. Dr. Underwood has published widely in areas such as quality of life, cancer, stress, compassionate love, and the understanding of ordinary spiritual experience in a multicultural context. Originally trained in medicine, she holds a PhD in epidemiology, and is an elected member of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine. She is currently a consultant on projects for Harvard University, the Cleveland Clinic, the University of Connecticut and a variety of social services organizations, and is a Senior Research Associate at the Inamori International Center for Ethics at Case Western Reserve University.
- Working definition of compassionate love.
- Qualitative interviews about compassionate love
- Trappist Monk Study
- Qualitative work in developing the DSES
- Quantitative Work
- The Daily Spiritual Experience Scale
- A model to help connect science research with life
- A few examples of research
- The Arts (Poetry, film/tv, fiction, visual art)
- A way to get at the essence and complexity of self-giving love.
- Other-centered love, self-giving love, apage, altruistic love, etc.
- Focus has been on human experience of self-giving love, love centered on the good of the other, with the motivation of supporting their flourishing, not only relieving suffering.
Key Qualities of Compassionate Love
- Some elements of free choice
- Some degree of cognitive understanding of the situation
- Some understanding of the self
- Valuing the other
- Openness and receptivity
- A response of the heart (core, where emotions and cognitions integrate)
Qualitative Research: Structured Interviews
Features of Compassionate Love
- Asked the Monks, here is what they said:
- Humility, unselfishness, receptivity, setting aside your agenda for the sake of the other, being present to the stuation of the other, a mature view of reality, sense of detatchment, trust, openness, acceptance of self in order to accept others, listening, suffering with another, helping the other become fully themselves, being aware of our emotions
Internal process for giving compassionate love
- Weighing individual actions
- Attitude of heart
Practices for Strengthening Love
- Quite time, strengthening self-identity, prayer, spiritual reading, critique of aware community, listening, doing compassionate things, cultivating awareness of motives,
- Daily Spiritual Experience Scale (DSES)
- Designed to transcend religious boundaries but still address theistic experience within particular religious contexts.
- Measures perception of ordinary interactions with God.
- How often do you experience the following on a scale of 1-6 (examples):
- Spiritually touched by the beauty of creation
- Feel thankful for blessings
- Feel deep inner peace/harmony
- Find comfort in my religion or spirituality
- I feel God’s presence
- I feel God’s love for me directly
- I feel God’s love for me through others
- I feel a selfless caring for others
- I accept others even when they do things I think are wrong
- Higher scores on the DSES predicts lower burnout rate for pastors, nurses, parents.
- People under high stress tend to be less loving, yet when they have higher DSES they are able to be loving even in stressful situation