The Evangelical Universalist Forum

JRP's Bite-Sized Metaphysics (Series 426)

This series is part of Section Four, Ethics and the Third Person. An index with links to all parts of the work as they are posted can be found here.

This series constitutes Chapter 47, “The Sinner Before the First Sinners”, which also will end the Section.

This chapter mainly reiterates and spells out in some more detail how I arrived metaphysically at the conclusion that rebel supernatural entities exist, but it also arrives at the conclusion that these devils need the same help any of us sinners do: to be saved from their sins. Since that is a rather controversial position, and since I can’t quite figure out where plausibly to split the chapter into two entries, I am redirecting my normal Cadre Journal posting of chapters here (so as to avoid problems posting this chapter on a site dedicated to ecumenical apologetics among Nicene trinitarians, most of whom will not want to even consider that devils also need God’s salvation from sin, much less that God would even try to provide it to them!); and I’ll post the whole chapter, about 16 pages, as bite-sized entries below rather than do my usual two or more series of it.

[Entry 1]

I ended the previous chapter inferring the existence of something rather more disturbing to modern Western tastes than the existence of God–namely the existence of devils. While most people across human history (and even today across the world, even a majority in North America) will already be comfortable believing such things exist, my book is after all primarily written for sceptics. So let me go back and retrace how I got to this point again.

If I have inferred the Fall of humankind correctly, then I am left with the strange and frightening question: why in the world would God have allowed these first fallen progenitors of ours to breed??

Closely linked to that question, is this: even if these first human sinners had managed to dig their species a hole into which their children would now be born, why would God not have corrected the problem within one or two subsequent generations by miracle?

In previous chapters, I argued that God lets me myself sin, and lets the consequences of my sin be played out in the world, even if it hurts myself and other people, due to the love He has for me, a sinner: a love for me as a derivate personal creation, though not a love for my sin! He will treat me as a person, and He will treat my contributions to history–to His story–seriously, even if I mess up the story.

This principle might be enough to explain why God would allow our first rebellious progenitors to set the synthetic standard for future generations. Yet, I still find myself with problems concerning such a theory.

[Entry 2]

That the first children would be allowed to be born with a twisted synthetic shape, might be allowed to help hammer home the necessity of repentance to the first rebels. The innocent would suffer for the sake of the guilty–not so that the sin of the guilty will continue, but that the guilty may have all reason and opportunity to repent of their sin.

But further twisted generations would make this point redundantly. God could have fixed the problem at birth at any point. And it does seem to me that He ought to have fixed it by the second generation at the latest. Yet history, even the current history of this very moment in which I write, shows that this did not happen.

God allowed us to breed–to breed twisted men and women–including myself, and the people I love!

Why in the world would He do that!?

‘This shows He does not exist; or at best He is not “good”’, my non-Christian opponents will say. But I have already deduced on prior grounds that He does exist, and is good, and moreover is even essentially love and justice (as the interPersonal unity of the Trinity). Perhaps my logic is incorrect on those prior grounds; and this would be a time to check. But if my logic is correct, then I am faced with a strong discrepancy now. It is either a contradiction–or a paradox. If it is a contradiction, then I have made a mistake. But if I have not made a mistake (and I don’t think I have), then I should search for a solution to the paradox.

[Entry 3]

Is it fair that I should have been born like this–that the people whom I love should be born like this? My logic says, no. God shall always be just and shall always work to fulfill love even to sinners; this is clear from previous logic. Yet here is a clear injustice–upon whom can I blame it?

Our original ancestors? They have some blame, but they do not exist alone in reality.

Upon God? He could have fixed the problem, but the problem is not fixed. And He is always just and loving: therefore I conclude that He would have fixed the problem within the first or (at latest) second generation after our original ancestors.

But He did not. Why would He not?

And so I turn the question again back upon myself, the sinner. Why does God not instantly, or very shortly afterward, fix everything sinful that I do? For my own sake, to remind me of the consequences of my rebellion; and again for my own sake, so that my actions and choices will have importance in history–in His story.

[Entry 4]

But of course, I can repent and try to work with Him to fix the problem: this is something I have not yet discussed, and I will not go into particulars yet, but I do not need to go into particulars merely to recognize that I have free will and so I can try to atone.

And if I try to atone, to be ‘at one’ again, God will help me to fix the problems I have created. In fact I could not even possibly choose to atone with God if God did not in many ways empower and lead me into atonement with Him first. God first loves us, sinners though we are; without that there would be no salvation, for we have no ground of appeal beyond God Most High (nor any way to be led to repent and seek atonement beyond God Most High.) It is not God Who needs to be atoned to me, the sinner: God first acts in reconciling me, and so acts already toward (as the term meant when originally coined in English) at-one-ing me to Himself. It is I, the sinner, who needs atoning to God–and so who needs salvation from sin.

But further twisted generations would be redundant for such a reminder to atone.

And let me admit, when I do try to atone with those I have sinned again even now, consequences do not instantly snap back into better circumstance. I have seen some striking examples of change through working with God to atone, even in my own life; but there are limits to the effect. What can cause those limits?

To a degree, the prior commitment of God to let Nature be Nature (the common neutral field of endeavor for you and I–and for God when He works with us), must serve as some self-constraint on God’s part. Yet intuitively, it seems to me that a wide scope for correction easily still exists, where correction has not (yet) taken place.

I think a sceptic would also see this quite clearly: we (the sceptic and I) can both, without too much trouble, imagine situations where God could have mitigated more of the evil effects from our actions than what we see from our repentance, even accounting for the continuing viability of Nature per se.

[Entry 5]

Now, I can also easily see one factor that would, by its character, further hamper any attempt to fix the evil I do.

If I fly an aircraft off course, then I can work with ground control to help fix the problem, at the cost of fuel reserves and other resources (such as time) that would otherwise not have been spent on this. And of course the help of God in such an ‘atonement’ should be much more great than that.

But–what if I keep trying to fly the aircraft off course?

If I am continuing to contribute to the problem–even if I stop contributing, and then start again–then I am creating new situations. God could just make me a sock-puppet (if even for a little while), and fix the problem without my further interference. And God could shut me away from the situation to prevent me from contributing further to that particular situation–which, I testify, sometimes He does!

But God does not make me a sock-puppet, because that would not be showing love to me as a person. And although God can (and sometimes does) shut me away from the situation, it may be better for me not to be shut away. My best opportunity to really learn to try to do better, could possibly require that I stay in a position where I might still ruin the situation.

And, I testify… sometimes God has given me this situation, too.

He often lets me stay where I can further ruin a situation–and sometimes I have further ruined it.

[Entry 6]

So, putting these principles into play:

At the dawn of human history (not merely our recorded history, but the actual history of our existence), not too long after ‘daybreak’ of that ‘dawn’, our first ancestors rebel, and so fall into a condition that may be considered essentially analogous to our own condition today. (There would likely be some physical differences between us and the first fallens, as well as spiritual ones, depending on any alterations contributed by the choices of future generations combined with natural selection during the ages since this event. I won’t speculate further on this; but the possibility is worth keeping in mind, I think.)

They are allowed to breed; and their first children are of their sort–God has not miraculously fixed the problem from the womb, as He created our first ancestors in the first place. If our progenitors did not want to repent yet, these children would be a reminder of the consequences of our first ancestors’ actions, not only upon themselves, but upon innocents they hurt in passing. Yet these children grow, and mate (either among themselves, or perhaps with local representatives of the same species out of which our forebears came, as dogs may breed with wolves), creating a new second generation. And this second generation still has the twisted synthetic shape, passed on by the forebears, perhaps augmented now by genetic material from another breedable species (thus diluting some properties of the original bloodline).

Some of those particular details are my speculation; that God once more did not fix the problem, is fact.

[Entry 7]

These second descendants (from the zero-original creation) would serve only a redundant purpose to remind the original sinners of a need to repair their personal (and thus effectual) relationship with God.

Would their existence help the first cursed descendants?

Not in this fashion, I think–the first descendants could not help being born the way they were. All the generations still do need help; but God has not yet provided that particular help. Even if all the prior generations have done their best to repent, the help has not yet been made manifest. (And again, I have not discussed further problems related to repentance and atonement, although I will not delay this much longer.)

If the original pair had simply been incorrigible rebels–if they had not tried to repent in some way–would God have allowed them to breed at all? I do not know.

If they stayed incorrigible rebels in the face of their own children, who had been hurt by the actions of those original sinners, would God have allowed them all to continue to breed? He obviously did allow them to continue, whatever the case. I think if they had begun to repent at that point, God would have considered the lesson fulfilled, and would have fixed the problem for the second generation–might even have provided a way to fix the problem for the first generation of descendants (an issue I will return to soon).

[Entry 8]

On the other hand, if the first sinners had continued to be completely intransigent, then although God would have continued to try to help them, I do not think that further twisted generations would have helped get His point across to them. Sooner or later, I think, it would have been better to have reminded the first sinners of what they were missing by allowing unfallen children; there would be no point to allowing further innocents to suffer to no purpose.

Either way, whether the original sinners tried to atone or not, I think I can conclude that God would have fixed the problem relatively quickly, within the first few generations.

But He didn’t.

Now, when I do something evil, God may let the consequences play out to help aid my return to grace. If I continue doing something evil, then I can be assured that God will continue to make my consequences be apparent to me–however much I try to deny those consequences! And I can expect the intensity of those consequences to increase, in order to try to get my attention, if I insist on ignoring those consequences.

But I will also admit: in principle, a point ought to be quickly reached when the benefit to me of recognizing that an innocent suffers for what I have done, is outweighed by the suffering of the innocent. Indeed, I feel, and also think, that something seems off-kilter in my explanation even this far.

[Entry 9]

If I hit you over the head, it may be to my benefit if you suffer from it–I can see a direct cause/effect chain, and God has a chance to speak more loudly to my conscience through your suffering. It is rather hard on you, but that is my fault: I have taken advantage of God’s grace. But there should be limits to this sort of event–limits which common experience shows us to be transcended constantly in our own day and age, and limits which I think would also have been quickly transcended in the situation of the original sinners. I am not entirely convinced that even having a first twisted generation would benefit the original sinners; and I am quite certain that a second twisted generation would not benefit them, if the first did not.

Yet here we all are, unspeakable generations later, with the mark of Adam’s curse upon us.

God ought, I think, to have stopped it. In principle He has the power to have stopped it. But He didn’t.

What could have happened to prevent Him from stopping it?

Well, technically nothing could have ‘prevented’ Him from stopping it–except if stopping it involved a flat contradiction, which I do not yet see that it would. So He allowed it to continue. But I see no sense for Him to have allowed it to continue for the sake of ‘Adam and Eve’, and no more sense for Him to have allowed it to continue for the benefit of the sake of their first children.

He must therefore have allowed it to continue for the benefit of something, or someone, else.

[Entry 10]

For the benefit of Nature? Nature, as such, could not benefit from twisted creations of God working within it. Indeed, it is questionable whether unthinking Nature can ‘benefit’ from anything at all: Nature has no ‘concerns’, and to Nature any state of affairs is only a state of affairs.

For the benefit of a person, or persons, then.

Not for God’s benefit–He needs no such help.

Not for humanity’s benefit–for the continuance of the curse past a certain quickly reached point would not benefit any human.

For the benefit of non-human persons, then.

Not just any non-human persons, or person, either.

It would have to be a person who was also contributing in some fashion to the twisting of the human species.

It would have to be a person, or persons, who could (and did) continue to contribute, over human generations–as I might continue contributing directly to a result of my sin.

[Entry 11]

This person, or persons, would not be Independent; for as I have deduced long ago, multiple Independents are ultimately a contradiction in terms.

This person, or persons, must have also been created by God; must have been created good originally; and are now certainly rebelling against God by continuing to actively contribute to the perversion of other persons (physically, mentally, spiritually, or through any combination). They must not breed their own sort as we human animals do–or rather, if they do, then the results to those children must be different from the results to ours, or else I would only have to recourse back again as I have had to do with humans. This could in fact be the case, and may be interesting to contemplate; but for the moment I am concerned with what may be called the ‘terminal’ cases, in the sense that they are rebels not born corrupted.

If I trace, in principle, the implications back far enough, what do I find?

By experience in history, I find that these persons must not be too obvious in their operations, or else I would not have had to deduce their existence.

Yet also, in history, I find a common thread of evidence in almost all traditions: for almost all traditions say these persons exist.

And almost all traditions tell stories, whether true or false to whatever extent, about these persons.

A devil, or a set of devils, exists.

[Entry 12]

This implies that angels (or as the Hebrew would say, ‘elohim’, gods) either can and did exist (although all now are fallen, as we all now have fallen), or do exist (some of them having not fallen). But I am not speaking of loyal derivative supernatural entities right now. I am speaking of the rebels. And if there are multiple devils (literally deo-fols, “foolish/oppositional gods”), then one will be the strongest, either arguably (at any given time of their history) or absolutely.

‘Satan’ exists.

[Footnote: I have not bothered to clarify the question of whether one or more than one such entity exists; sometimes it has been grammatically more convenient for me to speak of devils or of [u]the Devil. Nor have I bothered to clarify whether mediate rebellious entities–such as dark faerykind–exist; although I think this is entirely possible. Nor have I bothered to infer whether devils tamper with natural processes outside human characteristics, such as weather.

All these are interesting questions, and I am very far from denying them, but they are outside the scope of my argument.]

[Entry 13]

God would have stopped the pernicious results of the twisting of the synthetic shape through our own mere breeding, after no more than one generation, if the original humans had been the only active contributors to our fall as a species. But He didn’t. Therefore, the original humans were not and still are not the only active contributors to the Fall.

Something else was continuing to act, in a rational and responsible fashion (unlike humans insofar as our mere breeding goes), to maintain the twisted shape, through successive generations. Something not overtly obvious to the natural senses. Something which could, without obvious natural presence, strike directly at the genetic contributions to the synthetic shape–and perhaps also communicate to seduce our minds.

Something that hates us.

But something that had been created by God–and so which, or rather whom, God must still love, too.

For by deductive logic, I can discover that God shall never set aside His love, no more than He sets aside His justice.

And by my own example, I see that my own intransigence can happen only when I willfully take advantage of the fact that God continues to love me: my sinning can continue only because God continues to love me, even though I am a rebel.

Devils twist at us, because God loves them enough to allow them to retain their dignity of causality, too.

[Entry 14]

So: we, as a species, need help. Our progenitors dug themselves, and their immediate descendants, into a pit. The devils, even if they did not help instigate this Fall (though one or more of them might have done so, and my tradition certainly indicates that at least one of them did!), have acted to maintain it–at a fundamentally genetic level, first, for we come into existence with the ‘nature’ of fallen humans.

If they can tamper with us so fundamentally from the womb, they might be able to tamper with us at later stages in life. If tampering from the womb results, as it does, in their contribution at maintaining our synthetic shape, which further results in our personal inability to relate efficiently to our environment and especially to God personally; then I think I can safely conclude that future tampering by them, in my life and in your life and in the lives of everyone else, will have similar ends in view.

I do not say this further tampering post-conception is deductively certain; but I do notice (once again) the almost unanimous testimony of human cultures on this issue. A scientist may study our brains and discover a condition of epilepsy, or discover that an imbalance of the element lithium contributes to clinical depression. But discoveries of that sort have nothing, of themselves, to say about what causes those causes. Such events may take place by ‘accident’; or they might be instigated. The question of whether such events can be instigated by causes other than non-rational Nature, is a philosophical question, not a scientific one–and in principle, it is a question I have already deductively answered: yes, it is possible. Possible does not mean certain–I suffer from moderate clinical depression at times, and I do not conclude that at least one devil is behind every incident.

But devils do exist; and they apparently have the ability to do this sort of thing. Any case, then, should be treated as its own case.

[Entry 15; finale for this series, and for this Section of chapters]

So again: we as a species need help.

But not only us: this other species (of one or more individuals) needs help, too.

God shall fulfill justice, to us and to the devilkind–He will work to set right our abuses of His grace.

God shall fulfill love, to us and to the devilkind–He already fulfills it partly, by allowing us grace for us to abuse, and He shall work to fulfill it fully.

But what can God possibly do?

I here re-present a paragraph from an earlier chapter: A servant assigned to be a steward with power and responsibility over a kingdom cannot be allowed to exercise all that authority and power once he has rebelled. Disruption in the kingdom shall already follow; but God will minimize it as far as possible–within the boundaries of other plans of His.

So, for instance, to minimize the disruption absolutely, God could have simply annihilated Adam and Eve (or a devil) on the spot. But that hardly fulfills love, or even justice, to Adam and Eve (or a devil)–for they would be completely gone, and so they would not exist any longer to be recipients of God’s love and justice! Since God never has nor never shall (on peril of reality’s self-destruction) set aside His love and justice, then I think annihilation must necessarily be out of the question.

Some other plan must have been put into effect, by God, after the ‘fall’.

And that will be my subject for the remainder of this book.

Next up: The Story of Passion and Atonement]