Was Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey

From: George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com>
Date: Tue Apr 29 2008 - 07:09:46 EDT

I guess my statement about hell was a bit to brief. The NT speaks about the possibility of ultimate separation from God, about what we commonly refer to as hell. But it speaks about it with images - fire, the pit, darkness, &c. Those are good images & the tradition has elaborated on them in ways that may be helpful (e.g., May Sinclair's "Where Their Fire Is Not Quenched") or not (e.g., the devil's motorboat), but they are images, not accurate maps of hell. If the state of the damned is seen as a place then it's a place not intended for humans at all (as C.S. Lewis inferred from 41). All this being the case it is, as I said, speculative in the extreme to try to deduce anything about human nature from our knowledge - or lack of it - of hell.

Shalom
George
http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: philtill@aol.com
  To: alexanian@uncw.edu ; gmurphy@raex.com ; asa@calvin.edu
  Sent: Monday, April 28, 2008 11:10 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey

  Christ said quite a bit about Hell, far more than He did infant baptism. ;)

  Another reason I think the human spirit must be non-extended is because the spirit survives the body. If the spirit is not tied to the organization of particles in spacetime, then there is no reason (other than prejudice) to believe it is limited in the dimensions of those particles. From a positivist point of view, spacetime means nothing except relationships between particles.

  Also, particles and spacetime are part of the same physics. They are aspects of the same ontological entity. Spirit is not composed of particles and so we have no a priori reason to think that an aspect of physics (spacetime) would be an aspect of spirit.

  Our brains are tied to spacetime and we see everything from the viewpoint of spactime, and I'd guess we have been allowing that to prejuduce our thinking about spirits and about God. Why impose on spirits or on God the properties of spacetime, which as far as we know apply _only_ to physical particles?

  Phil

  -----Original Message-----
  From: Alexanian, Moorad <alexanian@uncw.edu>
  To: George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com>; asa@calvin.edu
  Sent: Mon, 28 Apr 2008 8:41 am
  Subject: RE: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey

  I think I know what Hell is. On this side of death, there is doubt about whether God is or is not. On the other side of death there is certainty. Hell is knowing for sure that God is and that you denied Him.

  Moorad

  From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On Behalf Of George Murphy
  Sent: Sunday, April 27, 2008 8:22 PM
  To: asa@calvin.edu
  Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey

  Since we know next to nothing about hell, we're in a rather precarious position if we try to base any anthropological arguments on it.

  Shalom
  George
  http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
    ----- Original Message -----
    From: philtill@aol.com
    To: gmurphy@raex.com ; asa@calvin.edu
    Sent: Saturday, April 26, 2008 10:15 PM
    Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey

    George,

    I forgot to include this reason why I think the human spirit may be non-extended in space and time: Hell.

    Why would God send an unredeemable creature that is extended in space and time into Hell rather than simply annihilating him? Annihilation means drawing a limit to the extension. I won't pretend to have an answer, but if the creature is spiritual and that spirit is not extended in time, then perhaps annihiliation is not even an option. Annihilation may look feasible only because we don't see the spiritual part of mankind that is beyond time.

    Phil

    -----Original Message-----
    From: philtill@aol.com
    To: gmurphy@raex.com; asa@calvin.edu
    Sent: Fri, 25 Apr 2008 7:56 pm
    Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey
    George,
    thanks for the reply. Perhaps there aren't any theologians saying that -- that's why I framed it as a question ("..., right?").

    So I have to retreat to a weaker statement. There are a number of reasons why I think it's at least plausible that humans have a spirit that is not extended in space or time. I recognize that these arguments are insufficient to prove anything, but I think they point the way to a possible answer to David's question. Like David, I feel the need for there to have been an original state of integrity. Otherwise, it feels (to me at least) as though God set mankind up with an unfair chance of sinlessness. I'd like to see the state of integrity somewhere, if not in spacetime.

    I want to point out that I agree with your position on Adam entirely. This proposal (put forward by CS Lewis in The Great Divorce) that humans may have an extra-temporal spirit only _adds_ one feature to your position. AFAICT it does not disagree with anything you said to David.

    One thing you said was,

    "a realistic picture of evolution will not let us do is hold on to the idea of a 'state of integrity' in the classical sense."

    This idea of man's extra-temporal provides for a 'state of integrity,' although in a non-classical sense. It says man had a very real 'state of integrity' prior to the fall, but this state of integrity was spiritual and outside time and that's why we don't see it historically. I used the words "prior" and "was" in the prior sentence because the state of integrity was causally prior to our fallenness although not temporally prior to our fallenness.

    Here are some musings on the idea of a non-extended human spirit:

    1. Theologians do say that God is spirit and is not extended in physical spacetime, right? (another question) If so, then that is one example of spirit being not extended. Extension in physical spacetime is therefore not a general property of spirits, at least.

    2. I think the idea of the wind -- "you don't know where it comes from or where it is going" -- is an excellent picture of God as one who is non-extended interacting with creatures who are extended. We feel God like wind interact with us in the here and now because that is where we are, but the coming and going of that interaction is something we cannot follow from place to place or time to time. It is a mysterious coming and going, seemingly from nowhere.

    3. Similarly, interactions with angels must occur for us within spacetime because that is where we are, regardless whether they are extended in spacetime.

    4. The description of angels in the Bible that seem to imply extension could easily be anthropomorphic or figurative language.

    5. Really extension in spacetime means that we interact with particles according to the four known forces which have 1/r^alpha dependencies, alpha=2 for gravity or electrostatics, etc. The existence of "r" in those laws is the modern meaning of "extension" for a human body and brain composed of particles. Does a spirit follow those laws in interacting with the particles of this universe? If not, then what could its extension in physical spacetime even mean? From a positivist point of view, it may be meaningless nowadays to talk of extension in the physical universe if we don't define it in terms of particle interactions via forces. The notion of "spacetime" is not so indefinite as it was 200 years ago.

    6. If angels are unextended, then that might explain why they appear to have no repentance, or why the devil seems to be not smart enough to know to stop rebelling, etc. Their apparent inability to change their direction may be because we are seeing a _projection_ of their unextended decisions into spacetime; not the making of decisions within spacetime.

    7. The ultimate purpose of time may be so that Christ could enter into it and unite us to himself. If so, the creation of this spacetime comes causally after the fall.

    Again, I already recognize the inadequacy of these statements, but I think the idea is plausible and very interesting.

    Phil

    -----Original Message-----
    From: George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com>
    To: asa@calvin.edu
    Sent: Fri, 25 Apr 2008 2:01 pm
    Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey
    Apropos 1 below, what theologians do you have in mind? I don't know of any who say this, though of course that doesn't prove that there aren't any. When Robert Jenson, e.g., in his introduction to the locus on "The Holy Spirit" in Christian Dogmatics says "Thus spirit is self-transcendence; the liveliness of each life is precisely its origin and end beyond itself," he is pointing in a quite different direction. (He also notes that Greek pneuma & Hebrew ruach agree in picturing spirit as wind or breath, things that are extended.)

    Shalom
    George
    http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: philtill@aol.com
      To: gmurphy@raex.com ; dopderbeck@gmail.com ; asa@calvin.edu
      Sent: Friday, April 25, 2008 1:15 AM
      Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey

      David,

      1. Theologians say that a spirit is something that has no extension in space, right? When they say this, "space" refers to the ordinary space of our physical universe.
      ................

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Received on Tue Apr 29 07:13:09 2008

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