- 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.