Saturday, 8 April 2017

And Another Relevant Philosopher

I said here that Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series is an endless source of quotations and comparisons. Here is one that we have used before:

"'As Whitehead pointed out, the medieval idea of one almighty God was important to the growth of science, by inculcating the idea of lawfulness in nature.'"
-Poul Anderson, "Delenda Est" IN Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), pp. 173-228 AT p. 196.

The idea of a single omnipotent deity can also imply that every event is caused by an arbitrary act of His will, not by natural lawfulness. Also, lawfulness became detached from the idea of a creator. See here.

Meanwhile, how many sf fans know of Whitehead only because of what Everard says in "Delenda Est"? Recently, we have twice referred to Whitehead's student and collaborator, Bertrand Russell. Logicomix (see here) shows us Russell, Whitehead and their respective wives interacting both professionally and socially. Not a small world, an interconnected one.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    True, I first became aware of Whitehead (AND Mumford) from reading "Delenda Est" in 1979.

    But, I don't believe the idea of a single omnipotent God causing everything from arbitrary acts of His will can be deduced from Judaism and Christianity (at least not from ORTHODOX Christianity). Rather, that false notion is what Islam teaches. If my recollection is correct, Muslim theology claims that everything exists ONLY from "Allah" recreating everything moment by moment.

    Some modern philosophers a smidgin of whose works I have read are Eric Voegelin and Jacques Maritain. The former was one of the thinkers Poul Anderson cited as an influence on his own thought.


    1. Sean,
      I was taught that God not only created the universe in its first moment but also sustains it in its existence at every subsequent moment - also that to deny this was Deism. I could not see any difference between creating at time t1 and sustaining at times t1, t2, t3 etc. Creating and sustaining were both acts of will without which the world would not exist. I was also taught that God was outside time. He would view times t1, t2, t3 etc from an atemporal, extracosmic point of view which would mean that He would not see t1 as in any way different from the others. He could even create the universe without a first moment, thus with an infinite past. I am fairly sure that CS Lewis expounds this view in MIRACLES although I would have to consult the text to verify this.

    2. Ksor, Paul!

      I was unclear or imprecise in my first comment. I should have added that orthodox Christianity does not deny SECONDARY causes. Of course God is the first or ultimate cause of everything, but after the creation of the universer (say, at the Big Bang) He was content to act thru secondary causes. That is why evolution, per se, does not trouble the Catholic Church.

      And I do agree with what you said about how God regards or views time. All time, past, present, and future, is eternally present to God.