Have you ever wondered about the solution to any of these ongoing debates and dilemmas in the Christian Church?
- The free-will dilemma
- The A-theory vs. B-theory of time debate
- The problem of evil
- Theological fatalism
- The Compatibilism vs. incompatibilism debate
If so, you are going to love what this article has in store for you.
We will overview and explain a 6 line Christian argument that not only offers a logical resolution to the free-will dilemma but also uses the same reasoning to offer a logical solution to each of the others mentioned above as well.
That’s a bold claim, but we’re going to back it up. After you read the article and take some time to think it over, we would love you to leave your thoughts in the comments at the bottom of the article.
Let’s get started.
Base Argument Overview
This exploration delves deep into the conceptual interconnectedness of the intrinsic qualities of a being and its overall nature, revealing the consequential perceptual frame resulting from such a nature. By focusing on the intricate relationship between inherent characteristics and perceptual understanding, the paper unveils the profound ramifications this holds for resolving enduring theological and philosophical dilemmas, emphasizing the distinctiveness and incompatibility of perceptual frames between different natures, including humans and the Divine.
Before we delve into the following logical propositions, let’s take a moment to orient ourselves with formal logic’s unique landscape. At its core, formal logic is a systematic approach to deducing truths based on certain premises (base level claims). Rather than rely on verbose explanations, formal logic employs a more concise and symbolic method to represent statements and their relationships.
Each statement in formal logic typically has a premise, which is a foundational assertion believed or assumed to be true. We then use these premises to derive a conclusion through a structured, logical process.
Below is the base argument we will apply to a number of dilemmas like the free will dilemma, the A-theory vs. B-theory of time debate, the problem of evil, theological fatalism, compatibilism vs. incompatibilism debate. This 6 premise argument creates a novel theological framework that opens a new perspective on each of these issues, revealing a potential resolution to each.
After reviewing the summary, we will then review each premise and conclusion in its corresponding section of the paper. Finally, we will apply the argument to the dilemmas and debates formerly mentioned, offering potential solutions to each of them with the single argument laid out here.
If you are unfamiliar with logical notation, be aware that each Premise and subsequent logical statements are followed by the statement written in plain English to help clarify the concept the notation represents.
Premise 1 (Qₓ↔Nₓ): The intrinsic qualities (Qx) of any being are combined to determine (↔) its overall nature (Nx), establishing that the aggregation of inherent characteristics formulates the nature of the being.
Premise 2 (Nₓ→Fₓ): The nature of any being (Nx) determines (→) its perceptual frame of reference (Fx), establishing that different natures inherently lead to different perceptual frames, encompassing both the Divine and humans.
Premise 3 (Nₕ→Fₕ): A specific illustration of Premise 2, this denotes that the nature of humans (Nh) determines (→) the unique perceptual frame of humans (Fh).
Premise 4 (Fₕ⊥Fₓ): This articulates that divergent perceptual frames are incompatible for humans due to different natures.
Premise 5 (Fₓ→Dₓ): Beings with different perceptual frames would define terms differently, due to their inherent divergences and incompatibilities.
Premise 6 (Dꜰ⊥): Dilemmas conflating different perceptual frames are fallacious.
Conclusion (Dᴅ→Rᴛ): Understanding the divergent definitions and perceptions arising from distinct perceptual frames can illuminate resolutions to enduring theological debates.
This comprehensive exploration advances the understanding of how the intrinsic qualities of beings, combined to formulate their overall nature, determine their unique perceptual frames of reference. By meticulously examining the repercussions of the distinct and incompatible perceptual frames between the Divine and humans, the paper opens avenues for reconciling and illuminating longstanding debates in theology and philosophy, prompting deeper reflection and enriched dialogues within Christian intellectual traditions.
Premise 1: Qₓ→Nₓ
The intrinsic qualities of any being are combined to determine its overall nature.
At the core of every entity or being lies a set of qualities that are fundamental to its very existence, much like a foundation to a building. These qualities aren’t superficial or external; they are woven into the very fabric of what makes that being unique.
As we continue, we will go through a nuanced argument that one can understand the nature of a being and the way in which its intrinsic qualities determine and impact its view of reality.
Premise 1 (Qₓ↔Nₓ):
The intrinsic qualities of any being are combined to determine its overall nature. Every being’s nature consists of inherent qualities that are fundamental to its existence. These qualities are woven into the fabric of what makes that being unique and defines its essence. This holds for all beings, divine or mortal.
The Bible clearly identifies some of these intrinsic qualities as shown below:
|Human Nature||Christian Nature||God’s Nature|
|Sinful/Unrighteous/ Depraved/ Fallen||Righteous||Righteous|
|Finite Knowledge||Finite Knowledge||Omniscient|
|Finite Sovereignty||Finite Sovereignty||Omnipotent|
Fallen Mankind has finite and limited intrinsic qualities that determine its nature:
- Sinful/Unrighteous/Depraved/Fallen: (Romans 3:23, Romans 5:12)
- Unholy: (Romans 3:10)
- Material: (Genesis 2:7)
- Spatial/Finite: (Job 14:5)
- Temporal: (Psalm 90:10)
- Finite Knowledge: (1 Corinthians 13:12)
- Finite Sovereignty: (1 Chronicles 29:11)
Finite Human Nature: At the core of humanity lies a mosaic of traits that distinctly characterize fallen mankind. Human nature is defined not just by our corporeality, temporality, and spatial existence but deeply marred by our fallibility, as chronicled in scripture. In the biblical narrative, humans consistently demonstrate a proclivity towards sin and unrighteousness, a testament to our fallen state (Rom 3:23, Ps 51:5, Eph 5:8). This innate disposition towards imperfection, highlighted by our unholiness, materiality, and finitude, is the foundation of human nature.
Similarly, A Christian is also made up of its own set of intrinsic qualities:
Righteousness: Unlike the inherent unrighteousness of fallen humanity, Christians are imputed with the righteousness of Christ, ensuring they stand justified before God. This is emphasized in Romans 5:1 which states, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 John 3:7, Philippians 1:11)
Holiness: Sanctified through Christ, they are set apart, moving closer to the divine ideal of holiness as elucidated in 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified.” (1 Peter 1:16, 1 Peter 2:9)
Materiality: Like all humans, Christians possess a material body, but they also anticipate the promise of a glorified body in the resurrection (Genesis 2:7, Genesis 3:19, 1 Cor 15:42-44).
Spatiotemporal: Existing within space and time, they lead lives influenced by the temporal reality, all the while yearning for eternity with God (2 Pet 3:8, Job 14:5, Ecclesiastes 3:20, Psalm 90:10, James 4:14).
Finite Knowledge: Even in their regenerated state, Christians don’t possess infinite knowledge but continue to grow in wisdom and understanding through the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 13:9-12, Proverbs 10:21).
Finite Sovereignty: Their agency, though transformed, remains limited by their finitude, but they are assured of God’s absolute sovereignty over their lives (Rom 8:28, Romans 6:12, 1 Peter 5:6).
When each of these qualities is integrated into a single type of being, they determine the being’s unique nature. This happens much like mixing red and blue which combine to create purple. Purple is defined by its redness and blueness, and there is no other way to make purple except through the combination of red and blue.
In essence, while the Christian’s nature reflects certain shared traits with fallen humanity, it stands distinctively apart due to the indelible mark of righteousness and holiness. They navigate the world with a renewed perceptual frame, influenced by the divinely bestowed qualities of their reborn nature.
Christians, by the transformative power of Christ’s sacrifice, undergo a profound metamorphosis in their very nature. They are not merely improved versions of their former fallen selves but are reborn into a new existence. This transformation is vividly depicted in the scriptures. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, it is proclaimed, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” This isn’t merely a superficial change but signifies a deep, foundational shift in their intrinsic natural qualities and therefore their very nature. When someone is in Christ, they are literally a new creation, a new kind of creature with a different nature.
Finite Nature Definition: At its essence, a finite nature is one bound by limitations. It’s a state of existence where certain attributes or capabilities are not infinite or absolute. Every creature, with the exception of God, is entrenched in this finite state. Notably, while some beings might exhibit traits that seem absolute, such as the righteousness of Christians or non-fallen angels, their overall nature remains constrained in various aspects (like finite knowledge or materiality). This finitude is a defining characteristic, differentiating the Creator from His creation. This is to say that all created beings will share in a broader classification of nature called a finite nature, despite having specifically different natures. Beings that have a finite nature could just be said to share non-absolute natures.
And lastly, God seems to consist of these intrinsic qualities:
- Righteous: (Psalm 145:17, Romans 1:17)
- Holy: (Leviticus 19:2, Isaiah 6:3)
- Immaterial: (John 4:24, Luke 24:39)
- Omnipresent: (Jeremiah 23:23-24, Psalm 139:7-12)
- Eternal: (Deuteronomy 33:27, Isaiah 40:28)
- Omniscient: (Psalm 147:5, Hebrews 4:13)
- Omnipotent: (Genesis 17:1, Revelation 19:6)
God’s Absolute Nature: God’s nature is a symphony of intrinsic qualities harmoniously intertwined, manifesting in absolute perfection. Each attribute – from His righteousness, holiness, omnipresence, omnipotence, omniscience to His immateriality, eternity, and omnipotence – doesn’t merely exist in isolation; they are seamlessly integrated to form the essence of who God is. The term “absolute” in this context signifies that God’s nature is pure, unmitigated, and supreme. It stands independently, setting the divine standard, and is unaffected by any external force or comparison. It means that God’s nature is self-existent, immutable, and without parallel. He embodies the pinnacle of perfection, setting the standard for all virtue, power, and knowledge. His nature, in its totality, is the bedrock of all existence and transcends our understanding, serving as the eternal benchmark for everything pure, powerful, and wise.
Scripture consistently upholds and testifies to this unparalleled nature of God. When the Bible declares, “No one is good but God alone” (Mk 10:18), it is a testament to His perfect righteousness. Similarly, God’s eternal nature is affirmed in verses like, “I am the Alpha and the Omega” (Rev 22:13). His omnipresence is asserted with, “Where can I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139:7), and His omniscience is echoed in, “For he knows the secrets of the heart” (Psalm 44:21). These are but a few of the myriad biblical passages that attest to the absolute nature of God. (Mk 10:18, Matt 5:48, Job 37:16, Rev 22:13, Isa 48:12, Exo 3:14, John 14:6, 1 Jn 4:8)
Each of the intrinsic qualities a particular being possesses is combined to create the complete nature of that type of being. The nature of a being is the combination of all the Biblical qualities that define some type of being.
Intermediary Premise (Qx↔Nx→Fx):
The intrinsic qualities that are integral to a being’s nature (Qx↔Nx) are foundational in determining its perceptual frame of reference (Fx). The inherent qualities and the nature they formulate act as a lens through which the being perceives and interprets reality, shaping its understanding of existence and its responses to various facets of it.
Let’s examine a few examples of this to further clarify the point.
Omniscient Example: By nature, God is omniscient and therefore perceives no lack of knowledge, as would any creature whose nature is infinite in knowledge. It would be impossible for God to experience the world primarily as a creature with finite knowledge. **God may have the ability to have limited knowledge if he changed the very qualities of his own nature by humbling himself and coming to earth in the form of a man. But in this case, God in his truest form would perceive omnisciently.
Temporal vs Eternal Example: Humans, by nature, are temporal beings, existing within the constraints of time, which fundamentally shapes their perception of existence and reality. In contrast, God, being eternal, perceives time differently, existing beyond its constraints, experiencing past, present, and future simultaneously, displaying the link between inherent qualities and perceptual frame of reference.
The qualities of a being’s nature determine its nature.
Premise 2: Nₓ→Fₓ
Perceptual Frames: Central to the ensuing argument is the concept of perceptual frames of reference. These perceptual frames play a pivotal role in offering clarity on theological conundrums. Each being possesses intrinsic qualities that collectively define its overall nature. This nature fundamentally influences the way in which the being perceives and understands its surroundings. It’s through this lens of inherent nature that a “perceptual frame of reference” or simply “perceptual frame” arises, shaping how existence is interpreted.
Perceptual Frame definition: The unique vantage point from which a being, influenced by its inherent nature, comprehends and interprets existence.
A being’s nature influences its understanding and interpretation of reality, its perceptual frame. The inherent characteristics that formulate a being’s nature act as the blueprint from which its perceptions are constructed, influencing how it observes, understands, processes, and gives meaning to reality. A being is incapable of perceiving existence in any way other than through the intrinsic qualities of its own nature.
Material vs Immaterial Example: Humans, being material and spatial, perceive reality in terms of physicality and spatial dimensions, constricting their understanding and interpretation of existence to the tangible and visible. In contrast, God’s immaterial nature allows Him to exist beyond physical and spatial limitations, showcasing how different natures influence varied understandings and interpretations of reality.
Thus, as our exploration delineates, the nature of a being is the very blueprint from which its perceptions are constructed. It isn’t just a casual relationship, but a logical necessity, a direct outflow mandated by our argument’s foundation. Said differently, a being is incapable of perceiving existence in any way other than through the intrinsic qualities of its own nature. To truly fathom a being’s perceptual frame, we must first grasp its inherent nature. Without this understanding, our exploration is incomplete.
Let’s take a look at four supporting insights to better understand how the claim Nₓ→Fₓ works:
- Influence of Inherent Qualities on Perception (Qₓ→Pₓ):
Perception is a manifestation of how a being interprets reality based on its inherent qualities. The perception of reality, both in humans and God, are a manifestation of their inherent qualities, which are integral components of their nature. Such interpretations are not arbitrary but are deeply rooted in the very fabric of their being, guiding their responses and interactions with the world around them. Thus, the perceptions and interpretations are bound by the qualities that define a being’s nature.
Fallenness Example: Let’s consider the inherent trait of fallenness in mankind. By virtue of our very nature, humans are predisposed to sin and imperfection. This innate fallenness influences our perceptions profoundly. For instance, without any divine revelation or guidance, a fallen individual might view their sinful inclinations as simply a part of their natural state, deeming them normal, while viewing righteousness or virtue as something alien or even constraining. This perception paves the way for misconceptions and questions, one of the most common being, “How can God have free will if He can’t choose to sin?”
To comprehend this, we must first understand that our definitions and perceptions of ‘freedom’ are deeply intertwined with our nature. For a being that is wholly righteous, like God, sin doesn’t equate to freedom or a choice; rather, it’s perceived as a form of bondage or deviation from true freedom. Sinning would be as foreign to God’s nature as flying is to humans. Conversely, beings who are steeped in fallenness might perceive their condition as a foundational aspect of their reality. It’s akin to a fish perceiving water as its natural environment without recognizing the existence of land.
So, when faced with the concept of perfect righteousness, could a fallen, unsaved individual truly understand it as natural and innate, in the same way that God does? It’s impossible. Their frame of understanding, sculpted by their inherent nature, wouldn’t allow them to grasp such a pure state as being normal or desirable. Said differently, beings with the intrinsic quality of fallenness perceive sin and fallenness and the natural state of being.
Righteousness Example: At the very heart of God’s essence lies perfect righteousness. This inherent quality means that God views acts of justice, virtue, and righteousness as completely natural, akin to how humans perceive breathing. Conversely, anything unrighteous is wholly alien to Him. The Bible reinforces this understanding: God’s alignment with righteousness and His opposition to unrighteousness are evident in passages like Psalm 89:14, which states that righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. Additionally, scriptures like Romans 1:18-32 underscore God’s stance against sin, revealing His aversion to what contradicts His nature. In essence, for God, righteousness is the default, the constant mode of perception; whereas unrighteousness is an outlier, a deviation from His intrinsic nature. A being with the intrinsic quality of righteousness will perceive existence from a righteous perceptual frame.
Omnibenevolent Example: There are no possible worlds where an omnibenevolent God would see sin as good (as worldly man often does). It is possible to imagine a god who perceives evil actions as moral, but this would require the deity to no longer be omnibenevolent by nature. Therefore, it would no longer have the same qualities of nature as the God we serve, and therefore becoming a new type of being entirely. This of course would be impossible as a result of God’s immutability.
- Nature’s Direct Influence On Perception (Nₓ→Pₓ):
Given that a being’s nature, constructed of its inherent qualities, is integral to its perception and interpretation of reality, it logically follows that a being’s nature directly determines its perception (Px) of existence and the universe around it. This perception acts as the basis for the being’s understanding, interactions, and responses to the various facets of existence, allowing it to formulate its interpretations and give meaning to its observations based on its inherent qualities.
Limited Perspective Example: Humans, constrained by their finite knowledge and temporal existence, construct their perceptions and interpretations of existence based on their limited perspectives, shaping their interactions, understandings, and responses to the various aspects of existence and divinity, highlighting the determinant role of inherent qualities in formulating perceptions of reality.
- From Perception To Perceptual Frame (Pₓ→Fₓ):
Given that perception is inherently linked to a being’s nature, it influences the being’s perceptual frame of reference. The way beings understand, interpret, and give meaning to concepts like morality, freedom, or purpose is filtered through their unique perceptual lenses, directly stemming from their inherent qualities and overall nature.
Physicality Example: Human nature includes the intrinsic quality of being material. Humans therefore perceive reality in material terms. It might be said that mankind is a material perception of reality. When this material perception is combined with the additional perceptions that stem from fallenness, spatiotemporalness, finite knowledge, etc, a unique lense for viewing reality is created. This is what we will call a perceptual frame, or perceptual frame of reference.
- The Formation Of Unique Perceptual Frames (Pₓ→Fₓ):
The perceptions, interpretations, and understandings of a being, being reflections of its inherent qualities, directly shape its perceptual frame of reference, creating a unique lens through which the being observes, interacts with, and gives meaning to the world around it. This perceptual frame is inherent to the being’s nature and is pivotal in defining its interactions, responses, and understandings of reality. The being will have a perceptual frame unique to it’s own set of intrinsic qualities.
All of this supports the original conclusion addressed at the beginning of this The qualities of a being’s nature determine its perceptual frame of reference. This leads us to conclude that Nₓ→Fₓ.
Let’s consider 5 logical implications of the nature of a being determining the perceptual frame of a being (Nₓ→Fₓ).
- Intrinsic Nature’s Influence on Perception:
Therefore, understanding the intrinsic nature of a being is paramount to comprehending its unique perceptual frame of reference, highlighting the logical sequence Nx→Fx. This unveils that inherent qualities and the nature they formulate act as a foundational blueprint, impacting how beings perceive, interpret, and interact with their respective realities.
- Logical Necessity of Nature to Perception Progression:
Hence, the progression from nature to perceptual frame of reference Nx→Fx is a logical necessity, demonstrating that the intrinsic nature of beings inherently influences their perceptions and interpretations of reality. This progression provides a conceptual framework to decipher diverse perceptual frames, potentially offering resolutions to enduring philosophical and theological dilemmas stemming from varied interpretations and understandings of existence.
- Deviation in Nature Alters Perception:
Consequently, the logical linkage Nx→Fx implies that any deviation in nature results in a corresponding alteration in the perceptual frame of reference. This reveals the inherent connection between the essence of a being and its worldview, further illustrating the profound impact of inherent qualities on shaping perspectives, beliefs, and understandings of the surrounding world and beyond.
- Interplay Between Characteristics and Perceptual Frameworks:
Thus, the correlation between a being’s nature and its perceptual frame of reference Nx→Fx elucidates the intricate interplay between inherent characteristics and perceptual frameworks, emphasizing the pivotal role of nature in defining how beings perceive, comprehend, and engage with existence.
- Broader Philosophical and Theological Implication:
The elucidation of Nx→Fx serves as a cornerstone in broader philosophical and theological discourses, offering a structured approach to navigate the complexities of differing natures and their consequential perceptual frames. This foundational linkage provides a coherent framework to address and reconcile the multifaceted interpretations, perceptions, and understandings that permeate discussions on divinity, humanity, morality, and existence, potentially bridging gaps between seemingly incongruent philosophical and theological paradigms.
Premise 3: Nₕ→Fₕ
The qualities of human nature determine the human’s perceptual frame
If Nₓ→Fₓ, then it directly follows that the nature of a human determines the human’s perceptual frame of reference (Nh→Fh)
Clarification on the Symbol ₕ:
In our logical discussion, ₕ is used as a variable to represent humans specifically. It’s distinct from x, which is a more general representation for any being. By designating ₕ for humans, we’re focusing on the particularities of human nature and its resultant perceptual frame, distinguishing it from the broader category of all conceivable beings (represented by x). In essence, while x could be any being, ₕ is exclusively human, encompassing all the intrinsic qualities unique to humanity.
Reiteration of How Each Intrinsic Human Quality Determines Its Perceptual Frame:
Sinful/Unrighteous/Depraved/Fallen: Due to the inherent fallen nature of humanity, humans often perceive actions through a lens tinted by inherent selfishness or imperfection. This perception shapes the way fallen mankind views morality and righteousness, leaving people with the perception that unrighteousness is normal and righteousness, abnormal.
Unholy: Unlike divine beings that are described as perfectly holy, humans possess an unholy nature, which affects their relationship with divinity, their understanding of purity, and their spiritual pursuits.
Material: Humans, being material beings, perceive reality in a tangible, physical way. This shapes their understanding of existence, tying it to the physical universe, and often limiting their conception of the abstract or the spiritual.
Spatial/Finite: Humans exist within specific spatial confines, which means they understand reality within boundaries, distances, and orientations. This spatial limitation affects their understanding of omnipresence or abstract forms of existence.
Temporal: Humans perceive reality in a linear timeline: past, present, and future. This temporal nature influences their perception of events, their planning, their regrets, and their anticipations.
Finite Knowledge: Humans have a limited scope of knowledge. They rely on learning, experience, and memory. Their beliefs, decisions, and perceptions are often influenced by what they know and, equally importantly, what they don’t know. This limited knowledge also limits their perception of reality. Many people have experienced a “light bulb” moment, when they realize something they did not know before and then had a greater understanding of reality. This is one way a being with limited knowledge perceives.
Finite Sovereignty: Unlike an omnipotent deity, humans have limited control or power over their surroundings, other beings, and even their futures. This shapes their understanding of responsibility, destiny, and freedom.
The combination of these inherent qualities defines the beings nature. And the combination of each of these perceptions (grounded in each inherent quality) define the beings perceptual frame. Or said differently, the nature of a fallen human determines the perceptual frame of a fallen human.
Premise 4: Fₕ⊥Fₓ
Perceptual Frames Of Multiple Beings Are Incompatible To Mankind
The crux of understanding any number of discourses, especially in the divine-human context, lies in grasping the nature and limitations of perceptual frames. These frames, more than just viewpoints, are rooted deeply in the intrinsic nature of beings, shaping their entire existential experience.
This means that fallen mankind has its own unique perception of experience where reality is temporal, spatial, material, unrighteous, etc.
Similarly, God has his own perception of reality that is grounded in his unique intrinsic qualities. God would perceive a reality that is unbound by time, space and matter, that is primarily spiritual (as opposed to physical in nature) and is primarily righteous.
A perceptual frame encapsulates a being’s comprehensive way of understanding, interpreting, and experiencing reality, originating from its core intrinsic qualities and capacities. Every type of being has their own unique perceptual from, a vantage point from which they view reality.
Mankind cannot perceive as another being:
Some may say, “It’s speculative to consider how God does or does not perceive. Your very argument assumes we can’t know another perceptual frame on account of being limited to our own human frame”.
This is inaccurate because we are not claiming to perceive as God perceives. This is impossible. We are intellectually exploring what the differences may be like considering the truth that the Bible reveals about God’s nature. This highlights an important distinction in types of knowledge.
Intellectual vs. Perceptual Knowledge:
Intellectual Knowledge: Knowledge in its theoretical form, akin to understanding a foreign culture without immersion.
Perceptual Knowledge: Knowledge arising from direct, firsthand experience, offering a deeper and more genuine understanding than its intellectual counterpart.
Humans may empathize or conceptually grasp the perceptions of another being, but this shouldn’t be mistaken for real perceptual knowledge. As we delve into the depths of God’s perceptual frame, we can do so only intellectually, not perceptually. But why? This is because it is impossible for a human to perceive reality as anything other than a human. Perceptual frames of different beings are incompatible to humankind (Fₕ⊥Fₓ). This is not true for God however.
God’s Unique Perceptual Capacity:
God, with His Omniscience, stands uniquely qualified to fully understand and experience perceptual frames of reference beyond His own. This capacity, however, doesn’t generalize to other beings.
The ability to perceive existence as a different type of being would only be possible if one of two criteria could be met.
- At least one quality of the being’s nature changed, changing its nature. God took on human nature in Christ and therefore has full experiential knowledge of the human perceptual frame.
- The being possesses a quality within its nature that enables it to perceive as other beings would. The quality of omniscience surely enables God to fully comprehend a human perceptually frame both intellectually and perceptually.
Humans meet neither of these requirements and perceptual frames are perceptually incompatible to humankind. If Fₕ and Fₓ were reconcilable, it would indicate that humans could genuinely interpret existence as existence as x (a llama, an angel, God, etc.) does. This contradicts the distinctiveness of each being’s nature and experience. Of course, it also contradicts our experience perceiving reality. (If some truly believed they could perceive life as a llama or a demon, the would be institutionalized)
While humans inherently cannot experience other perceptual frames of reference, the pursuit of intellectual understanding, especially concerning divine mysteries, remains invaluable. This is what this exploration seeks to do.
The perceptual frame of a human, grounded in its distinct nature, is fundamentally irreconcilable with that of another being. Claims asserting otherwise are fallacious. We will call this fallacy the “many beings fallacy” in this article. However, intellectual endeavors to understand such frames, while acknowledging these limitations, are commendable.
Premise 5: Fₓ→Dₓ
Beings With Different Perceptual Frames Define Terms Differently
Foundations of Meaning: The very essence of a word’s meaning is derived from experiences and perceptions. For instance, the concept of ‘light’ for a human is deeply entrenched in our visual experiences, while for a creature without sight, the term would be devoid of this particular context.
Linguistic Relativity: The idea that the structure of a language affects its speakers’ world view or cognition is not new. Different cultures often have unique words for phenomena specific to their experiences. Similarly, different beings with varying perceptual frames would possess terminologies influenced by those frames.
Language isn’t just a tool for communication; it’s a reflection of how we understand and interpret the world. Words are imbued with meaning, shaped by our perceptions and experiences. Consequently, when different beings possess unique perceptual frames, their very understanding and usage of language will necessarily differ. The only way perception will overlap is if both beings share a similar intrinsic quality of nature. This would also explain the overlap in useful vocabulary. This overlap between fallen mankind and God is nonexistent because there are no overlapping intrinsic natural qualities shared between the two.
Divergent Definitions: The same term might exist in the vocabularies of two different beings but could carry different nuances or even entirely distinct meanings based on their unique perceptual experiences.
Potential for Miscommunication: When beings with distinct perceptual frames communicate, there’s a risk of misunderstanding if they assume uniformity in term definitions. The same word might evoke different images, emotions, or understandings in each being.
When addressing linguistic constructs across distinct perceptual frames, it’s imperative to acknowledge that words are more than mere symbols; they’re vessels of experience, and perceptions. Assuming a shared understanding of terminology across different beings without considering their unique perceptual frames would surely lead to misconceptions and fallacies.
Beings with different natures would define terms differently.
Let us consider the concept of “will” from the Bible to better understand this concept.
Different Wills Example: Consider Romans 12:2:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
The passage above reveals a vast disparity between God’s will and Man’s will that can only be overcome through the “renewing of your mind”. The will of God is different from the will of fallen mankind and fallen mankind cannot perceive what God’s perfect will is because they perceive reality differently. In order for the Chrstian to know what God’s Will is, he must undergo the process of renewing their mind. In otherworldly, the believer in Christ shifts from the fallen way of thinking the worldly person embodies, and instead learns to have the righteous mind of Christ. Only then can we understand God’s will.
The Christian chooses to reject the inferior perceptual frame of fallen man and through the power and conviction of the Spirit, his mind is continually renewed toward a Christlike way of perceiving the world (God’s perceptual frame).
While we did not exactly clarify what God’s Absolute Will is in this example (which we will do later), we can clearly see that it is different from the Finite Will of Fallen Mankind.
Let’s consider a more complex example and get down to specific definitions.
Different Life and Death Example: God, who is both eternal and spiritual in nature would perceive both life & death in an eternal and spiritual sense. We might expect this sort of God to put the utmost importance on the realities of eternal life and eternal death, spiritual life and spiritual death.
Furthermore, worldly man is spatiotemporal and material by nature. If this is true, the worldly man (with no supernatural revelation from God) would put the utmost importance on the realities of spatiotemporal life and death, and physical life and death, that’s to say, bodily death at a particular time and place.
[Side Note: If in fact the Christ follower is given a new nature upon salvation, he would then have both qualities of the fallen world (a corrupted physical form, temporal, spatial, etc) and qualities of the divine (holy, righteous, etc). We might then expect the Christian to experience some struggle or tension between worldliness and godliness. This is because the Christian has qualities of a righteous God in an unrighteous world and physical form. This is exactly what Paul expressed when he said “I do what I do not want to do”. We might expect the Christian, for example, to fluctuate between fearing bodily death and looking forward to meeting God in eternity.]
Consider John 3:16 as an example of life and death from particular perceptual frames of reference.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish [*622. apollumi] but have eternal life.”
Believers intuitively know “perish” does not refer to physical death as fallen mankind perceives death. This verse speaks of an eternal – spiritual death, death as God has revealed it to fallen mankind. John 3:16 refers to death from God’s perceptual frame, eternal and spiritual. Consider this even more insightful example:
John 11:25b-26 displays both God’s and man’s perceptual frames in the same passage. “Jesus said to her, …The one who believes in me will live [*2198. – endless life], even though they die [*599. – the natural death of men]; and whoever lives [*2198. – endless life] by believing in me will never die [*599. – eternal death].”
The same Greek word (599. apothnéskó) can be used to speak of an eternal death and a physical death. The passage uses the word in both senses. The first use refers to a physical/ temporal death from man’s perceptual frame. The second reveals death as God perceives death, eternal/ spiritual death. This is an example of intermixed perceptual frames in Scripture. The usage of the same word has different definitions and nuances based on whose perceptual frame is being discussed. (In many cases this would presumably happen because the original language does not have a word that fully embodies God’s perceptual frame for the term at hand, in this case, “death”. This is why terms must be defined for each perceptual frame. Both God and man may use the same terms but mean different things.)
It’s properly basic that man is alive (physical life, man’s frame) and it’s clear in scripture that unregenerate man is dead (spiritually dead, God’s frame). But this can be confusing without clarifying from who’s perceptual frame man is dead and from who’s frame he is alive.
At face value, such a statement doesn’t adhere to the law of noncontradiction. “All men are both alive and dead, simultaneously.” In this example the nuance is simply pointed out but in more difficult dilemmas, the mind must do backflips to sort out the perceptual frames
From this short analysis of scripture we might imagine two ways to define both life and death.
|Human Frame||God’s Frame|
|Death Definition:||Physical – temporal death||Eternal – spiritual death|
|Life Definition:||Physical – temporal life||Eternal – spiritual life|
Note: Scripture is God’s inerrant truth. Scripture was inspired by God (2 Tim 3:16-17) who is absolute in nature and was written by man (2 Pet 1:20-21) who is finite in nature. It seems reasonable to assert that scripture contains the perceptual frames of both God and man. God intends to use both of these perceptual frames to communicate God’s Truth to man, just as he did through Jesus who was fully man and fully God. This may be why the Bible is considered “living and active” and may also explain why it seems that we discover new things from the same passages, even after decades of reading them. God reveals himself by helping us to see things more from his perceptual frame as opposed to a human frame. This is the path of sanctification. More and more accurately living, acting, and perceiving as Jesus did. This sharing of frames is a quality unique to the believer because they possess righteousness but are still trapped in a material, spatial, temporal flesh that is subject to the corruption of the fall. This is the reason for tension as we feel pulled between worldliness and godliness. “We are in the world but not of the world”, and again Paul says, “I do what I do not want to do”. God uses both perceptual frames in scripture to lead us closer into a relationship with him.
Terms are defined according to perceptual frames:
As it was demonstrated in the argument above, beings with different natures will define terms differently because they perceive reality differently.
If someone reading the Biblical passages above were to unintentionally conflate or confuse man’s understanding of life/death with God’s understanding of life/death, the conclusions they would draw from the passages would be incorrect or incomprehensible.
Following this reasoning, one must begin to wonder what differences exist between man’s and God’s perceptions and definitions of any Biblical term (freedom, slavery, love, sovereignty, leadership, etc).
Beings With different perceptual frames define the same terms differently (Fₓ→Dₓ).
Premise 6: Dꜰ⊥
Conflating Different Perceptual Frames Is Fallacious
If perceptual frames of reference are experientially incompatible to humankind, then we ought not conflate multiple perceptual frames of reference in philosophical dilemmas. This error In though is the “many beings fallacy” at play.
Furthermore, if different beings define terms differently yet we mistakenly assume that terms like “free-will”, “sovereignty”, or “evil” have only one definition in a theological debate between the intrinsic qualities of God and fallen mankind, we have used fallacious reasoning.
Therefore, dilemmas or debates that conflate perceptual frames are fallacious.
Therefore, If we are dealing with a dilemma or debate concerning the nature of humans and any other beings, we ought not commit the many beings fallacy, or else we will find ourselves mired in unnecessary complexity while making little progress toward solutions.
Because perceptual frames are incompatible to fallen mankind, all relevant terms should be defined according to both perceptual frames in a dilemma consisting of two perceptual frames.
Before one begins defining terms according to perceptual frames, one must first identify philosophical issues that conflate the frames of multiple beings. Below are three indicators of arguments with intermingled perceptual frames.
Indicator 1) The argument or dilemma lies between two beings of different natures: An example of this indicator would be the dilemma between Man’s agency and God’s sovereignty. The dilemma lies directly between the perceptual frame of what God perceives and what man perceives. This is also clearly the case in the debate on theological fatalism, and the problem of evil.
Indicator 2) What is properly basic: It seems that a being’s perceptual frame determines what that being perceives as “properly basic”. This is the best measure of defining what fallen man experiences as reality. Perceptual knowledge, or what is perceived as properly basic is directly rooted in human perception which is itself rooted in human nature. Alternatively, if something appears to be intellectually true but is not perceptually true (properly basic), it could be the result of a true fact revealed from another perceptual frame.
Properly Basic Example – Physical in Nature: Humans exist physically and therefore have a properly basic perception of what exists to be primarily physical. It seems that eternity is set on the hearts of men and mankind feels as though there is something beyond the physical, but this doesn’t negate the fact that fallen man perceives the physical world as the properly basic nature of the world.
God, on the other hand, is spirit by nature (John 4:24). God then, would perceive a spiritual reality as properly basic.
Humans perceive a material thing (an apple) as if it exists in some positive sense. Either it exists materially or it lacks existence. A being like God, who would perceive reality as primarily spirit, would presumably argue that physical matter exists in some finite, negative, or lacking sense because the truest way of existing is in spirit, as God exists. (This is why our spirit is rejuvenated first in Christ, not our physical body – it’s the immaterial substance that matters most from God’s perspective.)
Properly Basic Example – Fallen in Nature: Humans are fallen, sinful creatures and therefore perceive free moral agency as the ability to make indeterministic free choices to do this or that, good or evil.
Properly Basic Example – Temporal in Nature: Humans are temporal in nature and therefore perceive temporal becoming as properly basic.
God necessarily perceives time differently than mankind, because man’s nature does not possess the intrinsic quality of temporality. God’s eternality determines his properly basic relationship with and perception of time.
Indicator 3) Tension exists in the argument: “Tension” in a philosophical argument may also be an indicator of conflated perceptual frame. To fallen mankind, tension appears to occur between two seemingly necessary true beliefs (free will and God sovereignty). While mankind may perceive tensions, surely an omniscient God would not perceive tension between two true states of affairs. He would just understand both to be true.
Consider the analogy below as an example of conflating perceptual frames and how tension is created. This parallels the conflation in the free will/sovereignty dilemma.
Reverse Engineering False “Tension”
Suppose two men (man 1 and man 2) are standing side by side. From the first man’s frame of reference, man 2 is stationary. However, from the Sun’s frame of reference, man 2 is moving at 18.5 miles per second (along with the Earth).
If someone then asked, “Is the man on the chair moving?” The correct answer would be, “it depends.” It depends on the frame of reference of the observer (the Sun’s frame being higher than the chair’s frame, but both exist in reality).
Logically then, the man is both moving and not moving simultaneously. This does not conflict with the law of noncontradiction because while he is both moving and stationary simultaneously, he is doing so in different senses.
To create a physical dilemma similar to the agency-sovereignty dilemma, all we must do is conflate the Sun’s frames of reference with the first man’s frame of reference.
Argument from Man 1’s Perceptual Frame: We might say, “I’m standing next to man 2. It seems properly basic that he is stationary. At the same time, science tells me he is moving at 18.5 mps.
Conclusion 1: Because I (man 1) can trust the proper basicality of my senses and man 2 appears to be stationary, the theory of general relativity must be false because it claims man 2 is moving at 18.5 MPS.
Conclusion 2: Because the theory of relativity has been proven accurate, my (man one’s) senses must deceive me and the man I perceive to be stationary is actually moving.
Creating Tension: A statement acknowledging false tension might sound as follows: “There seems to be an innate tension within the universe. It appears that the man being in motion and the man being stationary are both necessary truths but it’s impossible for both to be true simultaneously.”
We then might go on to create unnecessary complexity to make sense of the false tension we observe in the dilemma. For example, we may debate the “compatibility” or “incompatibility” of the two claims for a few hundred years.
While people have made many arguments relating to God’s sovereignty and Man’s free will, they have not yet considered the perceptual frames of the observers present in the dilemma.
Side Note: There is the possible exception of Boethius who seemed to be on the right track toward arguing for a perpetual frame of reference. He explored God’s perception of time, but failed to consider God’s perception of space, matter, and all of his other qualities, which would have completed his nature and thus his perceptual frame, separating it from a human frame.
Perceptual frames are incompatible. We must separate perceptual frames of different beings in any argument, and that means defining terms according to each frame involved. If this is not done, we fall victim to the many beings fallacy.
Separating Terms Can Resolve Enduring Theological Debates
Only after we separate terms according to the nature and perception of each being present in each debate or dilemma can we discover solutions to centuries long riddles like the free will dilemma, which the author will now attempt to create a logically sound resolution to as an example.
Separating Biblical Perceptual Frames of Reference
One dilemma the author believes this argument can be applied to is the perceived dilemma between man’s free agency and God’s absolute sovereignty. Below we see the three indicators of the many beings fallacy in action within this dilemma.
- The dilemma is an overt collision between God’s perception of sovereignty and Man’s perception of free-will.
- What could be said to be properly basic on the part of both beings contradicts each other (discussed below).
- Tension is overtly present in the dilemma.
Theologians and philosophers from the past have consistently presupposed that God perceives and defines “free agency” and “sovereignty” the same sense that mankind perceives and defines these terms.
The argument has existed for hundreds of years as a one-dimensional argument. Philosophers have discussed and debated how the two terms should be defined from only a human perceptual frame. This is of course what we would expect, as humans would naturally take their humanness into their intellectual pursuits, along with the presuppositions that come along with it. Through the lens of this paper, the argument can now be seen to be a two-dimensional argument with two relevant beings who would define terms differently as a result of the disparate intrinsic qualities that define their nature.
To properly define terms for both beings, we would need a reliable source of information for the other being’s definition of terms. Of course, we would expect to find God’s perception of these terms in scripture. We will explore these definitions in detail.
At face value, the relevant terms to define are man’s free-will and God’s sovereignty given that these are the terms the “dilemma” lies between. Scholars and philosophers have debated how to define man’s free-will and God’s sovereignty for centuries. But, because we are comparing beings with different natures we must define all terms according to the perception (and nature) of both beings. These terms are man’s free-will, God’s free-will, Man’s sovereignty, and God’s sovereignty.
|Man’s sovereignty||God’s sovereignty|
|Man’s free-will||God’s free-will|
Below, freedom and sovereignty are defined according to both frames of reference as the author believes they are revealed in the Scripture. The terms slavery and freedom are also defined because they provide clarity to the concept of freedom as both frames define it.
|Man’s frame||God’s frame|
|Slavery Definition:||-Lack of power or authority to act, speak, or think as one wants.(Ref: Rom 6:22, 6:16, 6:18, 8:6-8, 1 Pet 2:16)||-The inability to maintain righteousness by works. (a.k.a. slavery to sin. Fallen mankind is a slave to sin, Christ was not.)(Ref: John 8:31-37, Rom 3:10, 6:16-18, Gal 5:1, Luke 4:18, Acts 13:38-39, 2 Pet 2:19, Titus 3:3, 2 Tim 2:25-26, Gal 5:1, 2 Peter 2:19)|
|Freedom Definition:||-The indeterministic power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants.Note-[Man’s free will will be referred to as “this or that” freedom. Ex: Man can choose ice cream (this) or brownies (that). Man can choose to do a good deed (this) or an evil deed (that).](Ref: Rom 8:7, Eph 2:3, John 3:19, Prov 21:10,)||-Freedom in righteousness. The ability to indeterministically maintain one’s own righteousness through works. (Christ being fully God and man had the freedom to fulfill the Law, man alone could not.)|
Note- Man is bestowed righteousness through faith in Christ’s sacrifice. But Christ was only able to offer righteousness after perfectly upholding the law according to his own work.(Ref: Rom 7:5-6, 8:1-4, )
|Sovereignty Definition:||The power & authority to implement one’s will over oneself or others according to man’s perception of free-will.We might call man’s sovereignty “this or that sovereignty”. Man can only have power over what he is capable of choosing.||The power & authority to implement His will over Himself and created things according to God’s perception of free-will. God has sovereignty according to His perception of free will. |
Absolute sovereignty would include the ability to determine the absolute free agency of humans (more on this later).
God’s Absolute Slavery
God, encompassing eternal, righteous, immaterial, and omnipresent nature, perceives “slavery” as an unending, absolute/moral, immaterial/spiritual, and omnipresent servitude. Definition: In God’s frame, slavery is defined as the inability to maintain righteousness by works, symbolizing servitude to unrighteousness and eternal death (Ref: John 8:31-37, Rom 3:10, 6:16-18, Gal 5:1, Luke 4:18, Acts 13:38-39, 2 Pet 2:19, Titus 3:3, 2 Tim 2:25-26, Gal 5:1, 2 Peter 2:19).
God perceives slavery to exist in some absolute spiritual sense, corroborated by scripture where slavery is servitude to unrighteousness and eternal death. This revelation, acquired from the Bible, helps in understanding God’s perception of slavery and freedom, where freedom is seen as freedom in righteousness and eternal life (Rom 6:22, Col 1:21-22).
God’s Absolute Freedom
God’s nature of being eternal and righteous forms the basis for His perception of freedom. It is perceived as an eternal, righteous freedom, free from unrighteousness and spiritual servitude. Definition: Freedom, in God’s frame, is freedom in righteousness, the ability to indeterministically maintain one’s own righteousness through works (Ref: Rom 7:5-6, 8:1-4, Gal 5:1, Rom 6:22, 1 Pet 2:16).
Freedom from God’s perceptual frame is absolute and spiritual, grounded in His eternal and righteous nature. This freedom is manifest as freedom in righteousness and is the ultimate freedom attainable by human beings, realized through Christ due to mankind’s inability to uphold righteousness on their own accord.
God’s Absolute Free-Will
God’s understanding of freedom as freedom from unrighteousness shapes His perception of free-will, which is woven with His inherent nature of righteousness and eternity. Definition: Free-will, from God’s frame, is the ability to choose to maintain righteousness by works without the need for an intermediary, representing Absolute Free Will (Ref: Rom 8:20-21).
Free-will in God’s perceptual frame represents the capability to uphold one’s own righteousness in every instance, a reflection of His absolute, eternal, and righteous nature. This Absolute Free Will is evident in the Scripture, embodied by entities like God the Father, Jesus Christ, and Angelic beings who have chosen not to sin. Christ, being our intermediary, exemplified this absolute free-will in the flesh, offering righteousness to mankind who inherently lacks the capability to maintain it.
God’s Absolute Sovereignty
God’s sovereignty is intrinsically tied to His perception of free-will, shaped by His power and authority over His creation, reflecting His eternal and righteous nature. Definition: In God’s frame, sovereignty is the power & authority to implement His will over Himself and created things according to His perception of free-will.
God exercises Absolute Sovereignty, which includes the authority to determine the absolute free agency of humans, harmoniously integrating with His perception of free-will and freedom, reflecting His absolute, eternal, and righteous nature.
Man’s Finite Slavery
Man’s perception of slavery is rooted in his intrinsic, finite qualities such as being temporal, spatial, and material. It’s woven with perceptions of physical and situational constriction and subjugation, each quality contributing to a collective, tangible understanding of slavery as observed in Romans 6:22, 6:16, 6:18, 8:6-8, and 1 Peter 2:16.
These inherent finite qualities form the perceptual frame through which man views slavery, leading to the definition of slavery as a state of existence marked by a lack of power or authority to act, speak, or think as one wants due to external constraints, rooted in tangible, observable reality.
Finite Slavery in Scripture:
If we look at scripture, we find that this finite slavery is exactly the type of slavery people of the Bible were concerned with. The Israelites’ physical enslavement to Egypt, The Jew’s subjection to Rome in the NT, “slaves obey your masters” was understood in the context of physical servitude. The Jews even expected the messiah to be a warring king who would free them from a form finite slavery/ servitude to Rome. But what then is freedom according to fallen man’s finite perceptual frame?
Man’s Finite Freedom
In contrast, man’s finite freedom is perceived through the same finite, material lens, wherein the absence of physical, temporal, and spatial constraints represents freedom, emphasized by scriptures such as Romans 8:7, Ephesians 2:3, John 3:19, and Proverbs 21:10.
Perceptual Frame & Definition:
Within this perceptual frame, freedom is perceived as the indeterministic power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without external restrictions, focusing on the environmental and situational context in which these choices are available.
Man’s Finite Sovereignty
Man’s understanding of sovereignty is deeply interwoven with his intrinsic, finite, tangible, and material attributes. In his tangible reality, sovereignty is viewed as having tangible impacts reflecting his capabilities and choices. Here, sovereignty, by definition, is the power & authority to implement one’s will over oneself or others, adhering strictly to man’s perception of free-will.
Perceptual Frame & Definition:
The finite and material characteristics of man mold his perceptual frame, allowing him to interpret sovereignty as the power to exert authority and control within his accessible and observable realm. This sovereignty is conceptualized as “this or that sovereignty,” indicating man’s ability to exercise dominion and control only over entities and circumstances he is capable of choosing and affecting. It’s a finite sovereignty, where the implementation of one’s will is fundamentally tethered to his confined choices and capabilities within his finite and material existence.
Qualitative Basis and Perceptual Frame:
Man’s free-will is intertwined with his inherent finite qualities, and it is an internal cognitive process within his temporal, spatial, and material existence, allowing him to make decisions among available options, referred to as “this or that” choices. These inherent finite qualities form the perceptual frame through which man views free-will, leading him to define free-will as the intrinsic capability to make decisions among available options, representing the internal, cognitive mechanism that enables the selection of one course of action over another within the finite, tangible world.
Definition and Application of Finite Free-Will:
Logically, free-will for man would be the ability to indeterministically do as he chooses within the bounds of his natural qualities. Therefore, Finite Free Will is perceived as the ability to indeterministically choose to take physical action in some particular time and place, either moral or immoral. This is, of course, how man perceives his free will, and we refer to this as finite free will.
The Contrast between Finite and Absolute Free-Will:
Finite free-will acts in opposition to God’s absolute free-will, since the freedom to choose this or that includes the ability to choose good or evil actions. Mankind perceives acting only in righteousness as enslavement to righteousness, leading many skeptics to conflate the frames of reference, questioning God’s righteousness and the inherent strength within His nature. An all-powerful God could never be weak and therefore would never sin. This understanding reveals that God’s absolute free will stands in stark contrast to fallen man’s free-will, with the latter being inherently bound by his fallen human nature.
The Impact of Finite Choices:
A deeper logical differentiation reveals that a finite choice has a limited impact on the material world and may not have eternal consequences, whereas an absolute choice affects the course of one’s life and spiritual destiny eternally. Man’s single finite choice to participate in a temporal, spatial game like basketball has limited, probably no eternal, consequences. However, when such finite choices, driven by one’s pursuit for identity and purpose, accumulate, they may result in an absolute choice with eternal consequence.
Christ’s Demonstration of Absolute Free Will:
Christ’s life illustrates absolute free will through His consistent choice to never sin in any instance. His many finite choices culminated into one absolute choice to remain righteous, which had eternal impacts and demonstrated God’s perception of free will as the ability to maintain one’s righteousness by works.
These defined understandings of man’s finite free-will and how it contrasts with the divine perspective aid in addressing various theological and philosophical debates, providing clarity in discussions that suffer from the conflation of divine and human frames of reference. The synthesized definitions and insights offer a coherent foundation for discerning the nuanced differences in divine and human perspectives on free will and their respective existential interactions.
Application Of Perceptual Frames Argument
Resolving The Free-Will Dilemma
On Theological Determinism (God’s Frame Free-Will)
P1: Man can’t choose righteousness by works.
P2: God defines free-will as the ability to indeterministically maintain righteousness by works.
C: Because (P1) & (P2), mankind has no free-will and is deterministic according to God’s perceptual frame.
Therefore, theological determinism is correct to the degree that mankind does not have free will from God’s perceptual frame. (Man can’t choose righteousness by work and therefore does not have absolute free-will.)
On Indeterministic Free-Agency – Man’s Frame
P1: Man can indeterministically choose this or that (properly basic).
P2: Man defines free will as the ability to indeterministically do this or that.
C: Because (1) & (2), mankind has indeterministic free will according to man’s own perceptual frame (mankind has finite free agency).
Therefore, theological indeterminism is correct to the degree that mankind does have free will from man’s perceptual frame.
Conclusion On Human Free-Will
P1: Man has indeterministic free-will according to man’s perceptual frame (finite free will).
P2: Man has no free-will and is deterministic according to God’s perceptual frame (absolute free will) .
C: Therefore, whether man does or does not have free-will depends on the observer’s perceptual frame of reference.
On God’s Absolute Sovereignty
P1: Mankind, constrained by finite and tangible realities, exercises a limited and confined domain of influence, only able to implement his will within his observable and tangible existence.
P2: God, in His frame, perceives sovereignty as the unbounded power & authority to execute His will over Himself and all of creation, defining it in accordance with His understanding of free-will.
C: Given (P1) & (P2), humanity’s sovereignty is inherently finite and subordinate, encapsulated within the bounds of Divine Sovereignty according to God’s perceptual frame.
Thus, within the perception of God’s frame, Divine Sovereignty is the overarching authority, having the unmitigated ability to determine the intrinsic agency of all His creation. Man’s sovereignty, while existent, is constrained and subordinate, merely a fragment within the spectrum of Absolute Sovereignty.
On Man’s Finite Sovereignty
P1: Man possesses and exercises “this or that sovereignty,” allowing him to exert control and influence within the realms of his finite, material universe.
P2: In man’s frame, sovereignty is perceived as the ability to enforce one’s will over oneself and others, restricted to his available choices and capabilities.
C: Given (P1) & (P2), it follows that mankind maintains and operates within realms of finite sovereignty according to man’s own perceptual frame.
Therefore, within man’s frame, his sovereignty is a validated concept, reflective of his ability to navigate and interact within his finite, perceivable world, albeit it remains inherently confined to his existential limitations and capabilities.
Conclusion On God’s Sovereignty
P1: Man exercises finite sovereignty as perceived within his own perceptual frame, delineated by his inherent limitations.
P2: In God’s perceptual frame, man’s sovereignty is encapsulated and subordinate, reflecting the disparity between finite and Absolute Sovereignty.
C: Hence, the recognition and exercise of sovereignty are inherently dependent on the observer’s perceptual frame of reference, with man’s sovereignty being a limited subset within the infinitude of God’s Absolute Sovereignty.
Resolving Compatibilism Vs. Incompatibilism
The discourse around Compatibilism versus Incompatibilism stands as a crucial dialogue within Christian theological reflection, addressing the intricate relationship between human autonomy and divine omnipotence. It is paramount for Christians to delve into this debate, as it encompasses profound theological dimensions exploring the interconnection between human freedom and Divine omniscience and omnipotence. This dialogue is critical for comprehending divine truths and human existence and manifests implications for understanding divine providence, human moral responsibility, and the nature of free will. It offers insights into whether human freedom can coexist with divine foreknowledge and preordination, a paradox that requires profound contemplation to foster a robust and nuanced understanding of faith and spirituality. Engaging with this debate allows Christians to fortify their faith and articulate theological positions with profundity and sophistication.
God’s Compatible Perceptual Frame
God’s Perceptual Frame suggests that, as an omniscient entity, God has the capacity to fully comprehend and conceive all perceptual frames. It posits that the multitude of perceptual frames from different beings are harmonious within God’s comprehensive understanding, validating compatibilism from God’s perspective.
P1: God is omniscient.
P2: Because (1), God can fully conceive all perceptual frames.
P3: Because (2), perceptual frames of multiple beings are compatible for God.
C:Because (3), man’s finite free-will and God’s absolute sovereignty are compatible according to God’s perceptual frame.
Man’s Incompatible Perceptual Frame
Mankind, due to their finite nature and limited understanding, cannot fully comprehend or integrate God’s absolute perceptual frame. This perspective validates incompatibilism from man’s perspective, reflecting the limitations inherent to human understanding in conceiving divine absolutes.
P1: Man can’t fully conceive of God’s absolute perceptual frame.
P2: Because (1), man can’t integrate God’s perceptual frame into his own perceptual frame.
P3: Because (2), God’s perceptual frame is incompatible with man’s perceptual frame, from man’s own perceptual frame.
C: Because (3), man’s finite free-will and God’s absolute sovereignty are incompatible according to man’s perceptual frame.
On Compatibilism Vs Incompatibilism
The reconciliation of compatibilism and incompatibilism resides in the acknowledgment of the distinct perceptual frames of God and man. This approach to the debate allows for the acknowledgment of the compatibility and incompatibility of human freedom and divine sovereignty, contingent upon the observer’s perceptual frame. Recognizing these differing frames of reference facilitates nuanced dialogues around compatibilism and incompatibilism, fostering a deeper understanding and enriched discourse in Christian theology.
P1: Man’s free-will and God’s absolute sovereignty are incompatible from man’s perceptual frame.
P2: Man’s free-will and God’s absolute sovereignty are compatible from God’s perceptual frame.
C: Because (1) & (2), whether man’s free-will and God’s absolute sovereignty are compatible depends on the observer’s perceptual frame.
Resolving The Predestination Debate
The debate around predestination has been a pivotal aspect of Christian theology, addressing the dynamic between divine sovereignty and human freedom. This discussion is essential for Christians as it grapples with the profound interplay between God’s foreknowledge and control over all events and human free will, impacting understandings of salvation, divine justice, and human responsibility. It revolves around whether God’s preordained plan negates human free will, an intricate paradox which Christians seek to unravel to understand divine truths and to articulate a coherent and enlightened faith. This discourse is vital for Christians in cultivating a resilient and informed faith and articulating their beliefs with clarity and coherence.
Human’s Indeterministic Perceptual Frame
Man’s Perceptual Frame posits that humans, operating within their finite and temporal existence, experience the capacity to make indeterministic choices, asserting a form of free will that is grounded in their experiential reality. It maintains that every individual, within their limitations, has the ability to make choices that are not predetermined.
P1: Mankind has indeterministic free will according to man’s own perceptual frame.
P2: Predestination asserts the absence of free will in mankind, implying all actions and choices are predetermined.
C: Given mankind’s perceptual frame and understanding of free will, predestination is incorrect to the degree it negates the existence of free will from man’s perceptual frame.
God’s Determinate Perceptual Frame
God’s Perceptual Frame holds that God, with His omniscience and timeless nature, perceives all actions and events as predetermined, aligning with a deterministic view of existence where every event and choice are part of His divine plan. As argued earlier, God’s view of free will exists in an absolute, spiritual, righteous sense, meaning free will from God’s frame is the ability to maintain righteousness by works. Mankind is incapable of this and therefore does not have free will from God’s perceptual frame.
P1: Mankind has no free-will and is deterministic according to God’s perceptual frame.
P2: Predestination aligns with the deterministic view, asserting all events and choices are predetermined by God.
C: Because mankind is deterministic according to God’s perceptual frame, predestination is correct to the degree that it claims man has no free-will according to God’s perceptual frame.
P1: Man’s free-will and God’s absolute sovereignty are incompatible from man’s perceptual frame.
P2: Man’s free-will and God’s absolute sovereignty are compatible from God’s perceptual frame.
C: Because (1) & (2), the compatibility of man’s free-will and God’s absolute sovereignty is contingent upon the observer’s perceptual frame.
The resolution to the debate on predestination necessitates acknowledging the distinct perceptual frames of God and man. By considering these distinct frames of reference, a nuanced understanding of divine sovereignty and human agency emerges, allowing for a balanced and integrated perspective that respects the essence of both concepts without compromising the integrity of either. The recognition of these differing perceptual frames facilitates a coherent dialogue around predestination, fostering a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the theological implications of divine and human interactions within the Christian faith.
Resolving Theological Fatalism
Theological Fatalism is a philosophical and theological concept that delves into the interrelation of divine foreknowledge and human free will, asserting a proposition that seems to render human freedom non-existent due to God’s all-encompassing knowledge of all events—past, present, and future. Given that God is omniscient, He holds complete knowledge of every action, thought, and event that will occur, seemingly locking the future into a predetermined state.
This perspective raises intricate and multifaceted questions regarding the coexistence of divine omniscience and human autonomy. If every action and decision of ours is already known to God, is there any room left for free will? Can we truly make independent decisions, or are we merely actors playing out a script written by the divine, our choices mere illusions of freedom?
Detailing the Concept
God’s omniscience means He has perfect knowledge of everything, including future events. This attribute of God is foundational to the concept of theological fatalism.
The notion that all events and actions are predetermined implies a deterministic universe where every event is foreordained, leaving no room for randomness or chance.
Human Free Will:
The idea of human free will postulates that humans have the ability to make decisions independently, free from predetermined fate or divine intervention.
The crux of the problem of theological fatalism lies in the apparent incompatibility between God’s foreknowledge and human free will. If God already knows our future actions, it seems logical to conclude that we are not truly free to choose differently.
Resolution through Different Frames of Reference:
Addressing this dilemma involves contemplating the distinct frames of reference through which God and humans perceive reality. While humans perceive and experience time and decision-making from within their temporal, finite existence, God’s perspective transcends the limitations of time and space, offering a viewpoint that is absolute and all-encompassing.
By considering these differing perspectives, we can begin to reconcile the apparent contradiction between God’s omniscience and human free will. It offers a nuanced understanding that while from God’s perspective, all events may be known, from the human perspective, individuals still exercise genuine freedom and make authentic choices within their own experiential reality.
The Many Beings Fallacy
Notably, a crucial point of examination in the discussion of theological fatalism is the ‘many beings fallacy’. This involves the error of applying human limitations and perceptions to divine nature, conflating the human frame of reference with the divine. Recognizing this fallacy can aid in avoiding oversimplified or inaccurate conclusions, allowing for a more nuanced and coherent exploration of divine foreknowledge and human autonomy.
God’s Omniscient Perceptual Frame
God, being eternal and timeless, perceives events from a perspective that transcends temporal limitations. In this perceptual frame, God’s foreknowledge of future choices would be relevant to absolute, spiritual choices, not finite free-will choices as mankind understands them. Mankind’s perception of free will is not free will from God’s perceptual frame, therefore, God has no obligation to determine finite free choices.
P1: God, in His eternal and timeless frame, perceives occurrences and choices transcending the bounds of time, focusing on absolute, spiritual determinations rather than finite, human decisions.
P2: God’s interpretation of free-will is fundamentally distinct from mankind’s, being concerned with absolute, spiritual choices, thus He is not bound to dictate or predetermine human finite and temporal choices.
C: Given (P1) & (P2), God’s omniscient foreknowledge is comprehensive, encompassing spiritual and absolute choices without infringing upon the realm of human finite, temporal decisions.
Here, God’s omniscience is not a mechanism of control or predestination over human actions within the temporal sphere but rather a reflection of His transcendent understanding, operating in realms far beyond human conception and the limitations of temporality.
Human Temporal Perceptual Frame
On the other hand, humans experience reality through a physical and temporal perceptual frame. Human choices and actions occur within the context of time, and the understanding of causality is based on temporal sequences. Thus, humans can exercise free will within their perceptual frame, making choices that are not predestined by God’s foreknowledge because they are finite in nature and are not true choices from God’s perspective.
P1: Humans, restricted by their physical and temporal existence, interpret reality and exercise choices within the sequential, temporal continuum, with their comprehension of free-will being shaped by their finite existence.
P2: Humans, within their perceptual frame, make choices that are not predetermined by God’s foreknowledge, as they are finite and do not align with the true, absolute choices known to God.
C: From (P1) & (P2), it follows that humans have the capacity to exercise free-will within their limited, temporal frame, their decisions remaining autonomous from the omniscient foreknowledge of God as they operate in distinct realms of existence and understanding.
This entails that the human experience of making finite and temporal choices, within the limits of their perceptual reality, is autonomous and unaffected by God’s omniscient foreknowledge, allowing for the coexistence of divine omniscience and human free will.
On Theological Fatalism
P1: God’s eternal frame perceives and understands choices in an absolute and spiritual manner, untainted by temporal limitations.
P2: Humans, within their finite and temporal frame, execute decisions that appear autonomous and undetermined by God’s foreknowledge.
C: Consequently, the apparent discord between God’s foreknowledge and human free-will is harmonized when examined through the separate and distinct perceptual frames of God and man, enabling the parallel existence of Divine omniscience and human free will without contradiction.
The theory reconciles the apparent conflict between God’s foreknowledge and human free will by emphasizing the different frames of reference for God and humans. This approach suggests that while God has complete knowledge of the future, it does not mean that He predetermines human choices. Instead, humans can still make choices within their temporal perceptual frame, exercising free will without contradicting God’s foreknowledge.
The theory we are discussing resolves theological fatalism by arguing that God’s foreknowledge and human free will are not inherently incompatible. Instead, they can coexist due to the distinct frames of reference that shape the understanding of reality and causality for both God and humans. This view allows for a harmonious relationship between divine foreknowledge and human free will, without undermining either concept.
Resolving The Problem Of Evil
The Problem of Evil is a profound dilemma addressing the apparent contradiction between the existence of evil and the belief in an omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent God. It challenges the coherence of maintaining belief in a benevolent deity while acknowledging the pervasive presence of suffering and moral evil in the world. Critics argue that the existence of such evil is incompatible with the existence of a wholly good God, proposing that if evil exists, then a benevolent God cannot. This paradox has been a focal point in philosophical and theological debates, exploring the intricacies of divine morality, human free will, and the nature of goodness, in an attempt to reconcile the existence of evil with the divine attributes of a loving Creator.
The perceptual frames argument offers a potential resolution to the problem of evil by asserting that God’s understanding of evil is based on an absolute perceptual frame, which is rooted in the metaphysical realm. According to this perspective, absolute evil is defined as the complete rejection of God through the exercise of absolute free will, which entails the ability to choose righteousness by works.
Mankind, on the other hand, does not possess absolute free will and operates within the physical realm, where their actions are constrained by their finite free will, and inherent imperfections. In this relative perceptual frame, finite human actions are not measured against the absolute standard of God’s understanding of evil.
This approach to the problem of evil suggests that there is a distinction between the absolute evil that God comprehends and the relative evil that humans experience and commit. While humans may engage in actions that are harmful, destructive, or morally wrong, these actions do not necessarily meet the criteria for absolute evil, as they are not rooted in the complete rejection of God through the exercise of absolute free will.
By recognizing the difference between the absolute and relative frames of reference, we can acknowledge that the presence of evil in the world does not necessarily negate the existence of an all-knowing, all-powerful, and benevolent God. Instead, it highlights the complex interplay between the physical and metaphysical realms, as well as the limitations and imperfections inherent to the human condition.
God’s Perspective: Absolute Evil
P1: God’s understanding of evil is established in His absolute perceptual frame, grounded in the metaphysical reality where absolute evil is epitomized by the total renunciation of God, facilitated through absolute free will.
P2: God’s perspective, absolute free will symbolizes the autonomy to uphold righteousness through actions, a capability not inherent to mankind.
C: In God’s perspective, given (P1) & (P2), absolute evil represents a full-scale abandonment of Him executed through the exercise of absolute free will, a state unachievable by humanity due to their absence of absolute free will.
Within this divine perspective, God discerns evil as an absolute, representing a comprehensive repudiation of His essence and righteousness through a misuse of inherent free will.
Human Perspective: Relative Evil
P1: Humans, bound by a relative, finite frame, exist within the physical domain where their comprehension and embodiment of evil are limited by finite free will and intrinsic flaws.
P2: In this human frame, mankind’s perceived and enacted evil is relative, void of the absolute nature inherent in God’s understanding of evil.
C: Consequently, given (P1) & (P2), the occurrence of relative evil in the human domain, though morally reprehensible, harmful, and destructive, does not mirror the absolute evil perceived by God, as it isn’t founded in a total renunciation of God through absolute free will.
Herein, human interactions with and perceptions of evil lack the absolute nature and depth associated with God’s comprehension of evil, highlighting the divergence in understanding between the divine and the human.
On The Problem Of Evil
P1: The concept of absolute evil within God’s frame is distinguished by a comprehensive, free-willed denial of God and His righteousness.
P2: The relative evil discerned and executed by humans is conditioned by human limitations and lacks the absolute rejection inherent to God’s conceptualization of evil.
C: Thus, the presence of relative evil within human existence doesn’t negate the existence of a benevolent, omniscient, omnipotent God because what mankind perceives as evil is not true evil from God’s perceptual frame.
This synthesis offers a nuanced, balanced resolution to the problem of evil, allowing for the existence of relative human evil without compromising the nature of a benevolent and omniscient God, thereby contributing a refined understanding to theological reflections on the nature of evil.
Resolving The A/B Theory Of Time Dilemma
Introduction to the Philosophy of Time
The philosophy of time examines the nature of time, changes, the passage of time, and the existence of temporal objects, delving deep into metaphysical inquiries and implications surrounding time. Philosophers throughout history have engaged in profound explorations to understand the intricate dimensions of time, seeking to resolve the paradoxes and unveil the mysteries enshrouded within the temporal domain.
A-Theory and B-Theory of Time
A-Theory of Time
The A-Theory of time, also known as the tensed theory of time, posits that time is dynamic and flows, with a constantly changing present moment. It perceives the past, present, and future as categorically distinct, with the present being the most real, the past as having existed, and the future as yet to come. A-Theorists believe in the objectivity of temporal becoming, meaning events come into existence and then pass away.
B-Theory of Time
In contrast, the B-Theory of time, also known as the tensionless or block theory of time, asserts that all points in time—past, present, and future—are equally real and exist simultaneously. According to this theory, temporal becoming is subjective, and the passage of time is an illusion; instead, time is laid out in a four-dimensional block where temporal relations are reduced to earlier than, later than, or simultaneous with.
The Debate and Its Importance:
The debate between A-Theory and B-Theory has been long-standing and is central to the philosophy of time due to its extensive implications on our understanding of the universe, metaphysics, free will, and the existence of God. Each theory carries distinct perspectives on reality, causation, and the existence of temporal objects, leading to divergent philosophical, scientific, and theological ramifications.
Why it is Unresolved:
Differing Metaphysical Commitments:
The A and B theories operate under different metaphysical frameworks, with A-Theory aligning with presentism (only the present exists) and B-Theory aligning with eternalism (all points in time are equally real). These foundational discrepancies render a unified consensus challenging.
Lack of Empirical Resolution:
Empirical investigations and advancements in physics, particularly in the realm of relativity, have led to interpretations that seem to favor B-Theory. However, since time’s nature is deeply intertwined with metaphysical assumptions, empirical findings alone have been insufficient in resolving the debate definitively.
Subjectivity of Temporal Experience:
Our experience of time is inherently subjective, involving personal perceptions, consciousness, and psychological processes. This subjectivity clouds our ability to discern the objective nature of time, making it difficult to definitively validate one theory over the other.
Each theory offers different philosophical implications related to free will, the existence of God, and the nature of reality, which are themselves subjects of unresolved debates. For instance, the implications of A-Theory are often more compatible with libertarian free will and a theistic worldview, while B-Theory aligns more with determinism and can be compatible with both theistic and atheistic worldviews.
God’s Perception Of Time: B-Theory
God’s Perceptual Frame holds that God, as a timeless entity, perceives all temporal instances in absolute simultaneity (B-Theory). His perception encompasses the totality of time—past, present, and future, in a unified, absolute view (Isaiah 46:10, Acts 15:18).
P1: God’s nature is timeless, observing all temporal moments as one (B-Theory).
P2: God’s knowledge spans all moments in time.
C: Within God’s perceptual frame, B-Theory is validated, offering a panoramic perspective on time that is omniscient and eternal.
Human Perception Of Time: A-Theory
Man’s Perceptual Frame suggests that humans, within their finite existence, experience time sequentially (A-Theory), perceiving distinct, successive moments (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). Man’s reality is inherently temporal, and their viewpoint of time, while genuine, is not absolute.
P1: Humans, bounded by temporality, experience time in a linear fashion (A-Theory).
P2: This experience is genuine but does not represent the absolute nature of time.
C: A-Theory is valid within man’s perceptual frame, representing a linear and sequential understanding of time that aligns with human experience but does not encapsulate the absolute essence of time.
On A-B Theory of Time
Understanding both perceptual frames grants us an elaborate insight into the A/B theory dilemma. It accentuates the idea that A-Theory and B-Theory might not be mutually exclusive, but rather, interdependent and concurrently valid, each representing a facet of time within its respective frame of reference.
P1: God’s timeless nature substantiates B-Theory, viewing time in absolute simultaneity.
P2: Man’s temporal existence validates A-Theory, perceiving time as a sequence of distinct events.
C: Because (1) and (2), whether time aligns with A-theory or B-theory is contingent upon the observer’s perceptual frame.
The acknowledgment of differing perceptual frames allows for the concurrent validity of A-Theory and B-Theory, portraying complementary perspectives on the essence of time, reconciling the seeming incongruity between divine and human perceptions of temporality.
This harmonious coexistence emphasizes God’s capability to transcend His creation, while also enabling the possibility of His immersion within it, such as in the embodiment of Jesus Christ. This interplay challenges reductionist worldviews, underscoring the necessity of acknowledging diverse perceptual frames, predominantly the metaphysical, absolute frame of God, to fully encompass the complexities of time perception and its implications.
The deeper ontological reason this approach is effective in resolving various debates and dilemmas is its recognition of the existence of multiple levels of reality and its acknowledgment of the inherent limitations and specificities of each level. Here’s a deeper exploration of this point:
1. A Multilayered Ontology
The acknowledgment of diverse perceptual frames corresponds to an acknowledgment of different levels or aspects of reality: the finite and the infinite, the temporal and the eternal, the relative and the absolute. Each frame represents a different facet of the broader ontological structure of existence, enabling more nuanced and comprehensive explorations of being.
2. Recognition of Limitations and Specificity
Each perceptual frame is inherently limited and specific to the nature of the observer, whether human or divine. Recognizing these limitations allows for a more precise and nuanced understanding of the nature of existence, avoiding overly simplistic or reductionist explanations and allowing for complexity and multiplicity within the ontological structure of reality.
3. Harmonization of Apparent Contradictions
By acknowledging different facets of reality through various perceptual frames, apparent contradictions, and paradoxes can be harmonized as expressions of the multi-layered nature of existence. This enables a reconciliation of seemingly incompatible views by situating them within a broader, more intricate ontological framework.
4. Illumination of the Metaphysical
The argument provides insight into the metaphysical dimensions of existence, going beyond the physical and the observable to explore the underlying, fundamental nature of reality. It opens up avenues for understanding the metaphysical foundations of existence, enabling a deeper exploration of the ultimate nature of being.
5. Connection to Absolute Truth
The consideration of an absolute, divine perceptual frame introduces the notion of an ultimate, unchanging truth that transcends the relative and the contingent. This connection to absolute truth provides a grounding point for understanding existence in its fullest depth, allowing for the exploration of the immutable principles underlying the manifold expressions of reality.
The profound ontological reason this argument can elucidate and resolve diverse debates and dilemmas is its intrinsic acknowledgment and exploration of the multilayered, multifaceted nature of existence. It allows for harmonization of different aspects of reality within a coherent ontological framework, facilitating deeper insights into the ultimate nature of being, and providing a pathway to explore the intricate interconnections between the finite and the infinite, the relative and the absolute.
Dedicated To My Wife For Being Eternally Supportive
To My Mother Who Encouraged Deeper Thought