A Mechanistic God?
Moshe Ben-Chaim
Reader: You say that: "We cannot speak of God's "purpose". Purpose means He has an obligation to fulfill something cast upon Him by another system. This cannot be, as He precede all else. Nothing infringes upon Him."
I agree with this. But you also hold that "all His actions are of necessity". Isn't this - to hold that God's actions are free and also of necessity (not free) - incompatible?
Mesora: God being "free" of other influences is fact. It must be this way, as He controls all, not the reverse. When we say God's acts are all of necessity, we mean that all that God does is perfect, and perfection excludes all unnecessary actions. Thus, all He does is of necessity.
Reader: This question was emphasized in a book which I recently read, "Body of Faith". It's written by Michael Wyshogord, philosophy prof. who argues in the existentialist tradition, and is also an orthodox Jew- apparently studied with Rav Soloveitchik (?). It's an uncompromising attack on Maimonidean interpretations- he unhesitantly calls his depersonification (not, of course, in the literal sense!) of God as dangerous and unbiblical. He attacks both Maimonidean and (at the other end of the spectrum) kabbalistic accounts of God which describe God as operating as a mechanisting entity to which we cannot relate on a personal level as did the players in the bible. How can God's absolute freedom be harmonized with a mechanistic understanding of his actions?
Mesora: God's "absolute freedom" as you put it is really a misnomer. God is not "free" to punish one who has no sin. Nor is he "free" to commit injustice on any level. Such limitation is in fact God's perfection. Imperfection is generated from ignorance or incapability, neither of which can be applied to God, as He knows all and He controls all. Creation is proof of this argument. This "mechanistic" view you use to describe God may be correct , but only in the sense that God does not change, as He stated through His prophet Malachi, in Chapter three. Again, an unchanging God means, that which is perfect, if changed, must be changed towards imperfection, and this cannot be true in application to God. This does not mean that God is unaware of us, He in fact relates to us, and interacts in our very lives. When and where, we cannot say, unless we see a miracle or are informed via His prophets, who currently do not exist. How God relates to man we cannot know as mortals. That He does relate, we see is true from the Torah's myriads of accounts between God and Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the Twelve Tribes, Moses, Aaron, Miriam and so many others.


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