“Steve,__A couple of questions and a couple of observations, if you could clarify:__Did God exist prior to time?”
Strictly speaking, no.
“As near as I can tell (and I could always be missing something) your definition of necessity within causation does not address the problem. “
What problem? If the definition is correct, then primary causality doesn’t presuppose temporal priority, in which case there’s no problem at all.
“Even if Time could not exist without God (and therefore God is the “cause” of Time) we are left with the problem that at one moment there was God and no Time, and the next, there was God and Time. Yet without Time, it is impossible to get from one moment to the next!”
The precise way of expressing the relation would be to say that while time had a point of origin, there was never a time when God did not exist since God is timeless.
“Can you explain the relationship between the spiritual plane (for lack of a better term) and the physical plane? Can one cross-over from one to the next? What is on the physical plane that is not on the spiritual plane and vice versa?”
In terms of the divine mode of spirituality, time and space are absent.
In terms of the mundane (=creaturely) mode of spirituality, space is absent.
There is no literal passage from spirit to matter since literal passage is a spatial category.
Ordinarily, an embodied agent is only directly aware of his physical surroundings because his consciousness is bombarded by the senses.
But in the case of a discarnate agent or in certain altered states of consciousness, the agent can be directly aware of spiritual entities.
“And without empirical evidence, is there any way, really to make any claims as to what is on the spiritual plane?”
1.We wouldn’t necessarily expect empirical evidence for a nonempirical objecst, although it’s possible for a nonempirical object to have a physical manifestation.
2.We don’t demand empirical evidence for the existence of consciousness or abstract objects like numbers.
3.Evidence for the incorporeal would include the usual arguments for abstract objects, the irreducibility of consciousness, the ontological status of qualia, and well-attested case-studies of possession or postmortem survival.
The Bible also furnishes abundant evidence of the incorporeal realm.
“Perhaps two examples, to clarify my question. On the physical plane, we require light to use our optic nerves to observe. If we ‘observe’ other items on the spiritual plane, will that require a source of light? And a participant with optic nerves? As James Lazarus points out, God is indicated to be a spirit—an entity without an eyeball. Does God ‘see’ differently than humans? If so, and we cannot observe how God sees, is any claim as to what God is doing, when God is watching something pure speculation?”
1.God doesn’t literally “observe” what is going on. Rather, God knows what is going on because he foreordained whatever comes to pass.
2.Spiritual apprehension would be like dreaming. A dream simulates sensory stimuli, even though no external stimulus is causing the effect.
“Another example. On our physical plane, we understand “justice” as being in conformance with a standard. A standard that is external to our point of view. Saying ‘I will do whatever my character allows me to do’ is not justice. If ‘God is Just’ is to have any meaning on our plane, it would mean that God is following a standard that is external to His point of view. But that would make something greater (and more necessary) than God. If God is simply following his character, he is not being ‘just’ as we understand it on this physical plane. If there is some other definition of “just” on the spiritual plane, how can we confirm what it is?”
You’re rehearsing the Euthyphro dilemma. I’ve been over that ground with Loftus.
“Can there be more than one plane? What limits us to supernatural and natural? Can there also be supranatural? And quasi-natural?”
Since you don’t even believe in the supernatural, much less the supranatural, the onus is not on me to disprove something that you yourself disbelieve.
“How do we correctly determine the number of planes?”
It’s sufficient that I have a good reason to believe in one thing, but no good reason to believe in another.
I don’t need a reason not to believe in something. Rather, I simply need a reason to believe in something. Absent evidence for a hypothetical, I’m under no obligation to disprove a hypothetical.
“What if there is another plane behind God’s plane?”
That would be excluded by certain monotheistic proofs—not to mention the Bible.
“I do not ask this for some sort of eternal regression, but rather to demonstrate that—as humans—the ONLY plane we can observe is the physical one. To introduce another brings up the question as to why stop at one.”
While humans can only “observe” a physical domain, they can experience a nonphysical domain.
“Further, I am uncertain as to how you “value” God. You first indicate that in our review of the theist’s position, we must consider God as the most valuable. But then you state God is the highest ‘good.’ The word “good” (as I understand it) is a value determination made, in comparison to other objects. How we get the terms ‘good,’ ‘better’ and ‘best.’ It is unclear if you are talking about morality when you use the word ‘good.’ Are there different values of morality? Some ‘good’ some ‘better’ and some ‘best’?”
There are lesser and greater goods. A paradigm-case would be the exemplary goodness of God, which mundane goods exemplify.
“And if God is the highest value of ‘good’ (can I say ‘best’?) then you seem to be saying that suffering (as a ‘second order’) is still a value of ‘good,’ Are you saying suffering is good? Just not as ‘good’ as God, who is the “best”?”
No, I never said that suffering is good. Rather, suffering can be a means to the realization of a second-order good. Suffering is a means, not an end. The end in view is the good, while suffering can sometimes be instrumental to that end.
“Are you saying that we need suffering to understand the value of God?”
I was more specific than that:
i) A knowledge of certain first-order goods does not entail suffering. But a knowledge of certain second-order goods does entail suffering.
ii) I also distinguished between a greater good for a lesser number, and a lesser good for a greater number.
Not everyone is a beneficiary of the greater good, viz. the damned.