Tuesday, December 15, 2020

MSLN Theodicy

The argument

A theodicy is an attempt to justify God, given the evil of the world. I do think it is possible to justify the God of MSLN. Essentially, the argument goes like this:

1. God is good, absolutely.

2. Enough of us begin our existence not yet fully aligned with him.

3. We have to make choices -- real choices -- to become like him.

4. a. For these choices to exist, they have to be arranged to exist, so that we see them.

4. b. And the simantic word of "You can do wrong / choose against legitimacy" has to be spoken to us.

4. c. Enough of the time, 4. a. and 4. b. can't be done by God -- he can't tempt. He is too good, and too loving, to be able to will violations of legitimacy, and to cause us to will them.

5. So temptation must be done by beings other than God.

6. These beings are never more powerful than God, but are needed by God for their role in our salvation.

7. So these beings have bargaining power, and can negotiate a world order that is worse than what a loving God would ordain.

Now, fleshing out each point:

1. God is good, absolutely

This follows from legitimism.

2. Enough of us begin our existence not yet fully aligned with him.

Probably each of us can easily remember some time in our past when we were not aligned with God. It's likely we were born with tendencies which made us painful people, to ourselves and others. We did not do the kind of things that a completely empathic being would be able to bear forever. So we have to become like him somehow. If we see our destination as people as being in tune with him, then we must mature into that final state.

3. We have to make choices -- real choices -- to become like him.

If we are to become like him, it should be we who do so, rather than something else that determines us. So we have to be presented with situations where there is some uncertainty, where something bad seems good enough to be worth trying, or where we seem to ourselves unworthy of doing what is really good, or something else of that nature.

4. We need to be tempted, but God cannot tempt us.

Temptation is when we're put in a position where we are willed to choose to do bad. ("I will you to choose bad" -- you feel a push or pull from that willing, toward doing bad.) We have situations in our lives that seem to have been set up to tempt us. (As though the situation were saying "I will you to choose bad".) Also we can hear a voice speaking the simantic word of temptation to us. (The tempting situation needs someone to speak for it, to point out its potential.) God cannot will us to choose to do bad. He is absolutely good, legitimacy itself. He loves us too much to will that we be opposed to him through doing or being wrong.

He can't speak the word of temptation, or at least, he cannot will it. For legitimacy to will illegitimacy would be to make it legitimate. He can set up situations that tend to tempt us, but he can't will that they tempt us, and he can't set up situations that are designed to tempt us, by his own will. God often does what other beings will him to do (you can demonstrate this by making a decision and acting in the world, which he conveys to the people you interact with). Sometimes he does not approve of what he does on behalf of others. But the will had to come from somewhere. If he allows anything to happen, it's by his will, unless someone else chooses to use the free will granted to them by him, to do something against his will.

5. So temptation must be done by beings other than God.

Other spirits can set up situations where we are tempted, and can also will the speaking of the simantic word of temptation. If there are times where spirits are not available to speak that word, for tempting situations they don't set up, it could be that God speaks it in accordance with the situation's inherent potential for temptation, according to a law that the spirits are able to bind on him.

6. These beings are never more powerful than God, but are needed by God for their role in our salvation.

These spirits are subordinate to God, and God could stop them any time he wanted. But, for us to mature, he needs them.

7. So these beings have bargaining power, and can negotiate a world order that is worse than what a loving God would ordain.

He can't force them to do what they do, or else it would be by his will that the tempting is done. So they can freely choose to not tempt us. But God needs them to tempt us, although he also fights against them, by giving us reasons to disfavor choosing wrong. Because God needs them, and they know this, they can refuse to work unless they have "good working conditions". These "conditions" may include causing suffering beyond what is needed for our maturation. The spirits (enemies of God), want to hurt him, and also know that broken expectations create doubt and decrease motivation in us. Many of us have an expectation (whether supported by our official beliefs or not) that life will go well, make sense, flow, as though a loving God were caring for us. This expectation can be broken by the gratuitous evil in the world, which can then weaken our will to do what we really want to do, and thus makes it more likely for us to choose evil instead.

God puts the spirits in a situation where their evil nature is revealed. They may not really be tempted, in the sense that they experience no inner struggle -- they simply reveal who they are, by doing evil. But for them to take on the role of tempter is a complex thing. God intends them to be tempters according to the legitimate function of a tempter in bringing us in line with God. Their motives are more to pain him and lead us into enmity with him. And we choose how to respond to temptation. There are three stakeholders in the process of temptation: God, the tempters, and us, and each of us has our unique contribution to the question of whether we choose wrong. God does not have full control of reality. That way he can let us really exist as persons. Even though God wills us to be free, and wills the spirits to tempt us, he himself does not say that what is bad is good, as the spirits do. God does not violate his legitimacy by appointing them, in the way that he would if he tried to do what they do.

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