Ep5-The Attributes of God Ch2 - Apostasy and Concepts of Perfection (Part 2)

In this episode we discuss Process Thought/Theology, developed by Alfred N. Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne, and juxtapose it with the previously discussed Thomist/Classical Theism view. We also examine the striking similarities between Process Thought and Joseph Smith's revelations.

Topics Discussed:
Relative Perfection
Perfect Relatedness
Proportional Dependence
Mutability and Immutability
Creator By Organizing
Maximal Persuasive Power
Maximal Knowledge

Show Notes:

C. Process Thought

“Process theology rejects the notion of creatio ex nihilo and begins with preexisting realities because they are not the result of the divine fiat.”

"The big thing in process theology is that process theologians do not look at God’s power in terms of God being coercive, that is dominating others.  Instead God’s power is persuasive.  God uses his power in a way that brings people about wilfully not forcing anyone to do anything.  God is not about control.
Other key concepts are that reality is more about experiences that material substance, self-determination of all persons, and God is changeable because he interacts with a changing universe."


1. Relative Perfection

Absolute in some respects, but some things don't have an upper limit. Like beauty or happiness or size

2. Perfect Relatedness-God includes the value of all things within Himself; all things affect God.

“the God of process theology is internally related to every reality.”

“Hartshorne argues that God must be related to other realities in virtue of his knowledge or experience of them.”

“God cannot be absolutely unrelated: the absolute is necessarily the most related of all beings and thus also the most affected of all beings.”

Most moved mover

3. Potentiality

God can change in his knowledge and relationship to other beings and realities.

4. Proportional Dependence-“God depends on other things for His knowledge and happiness; God needs the world.”

 “God depends on other things for His knowledge and happiness; God needs the world.”

“The father that as little as possible depends upon the will and welfare of his child is an inhuman monster. Let the child—say, a daughter—be happy, let her be miserable . . . let her develop in a moral or a vicious direction, it is all one to the independent parent. . . . We do not admire a man less because we know he would be a happier man if his son, who is wretched, became well and happy, or because we anticipate that when a child is born to him it will enrich his life with many new joys. . . . We admire not the amount but the appropriateness of the joy. We rejoice in another’s happiness, we grieve in his misfortune, but we do not praise or blame or admire on this account.”

“God depends on the world in some respects for what he is”

5. Complexity-“God includes within Himself the experience of all actual occasions; His properties are not identical.

“First, it is obvious that for process theology God is temporally complex, for he exists first in one state at time t1 and then in another, different, state at a later time t2. Since the two states are not identical, it follows that God’s accidental properties possessed at t1 are not identical to those possessed by God at t2. Thus, God is temporarily complex. Second, God is also physically complex because he includes within his experience (as a result of his physical pole) the experiences of all experiencing actualities.”

6. Temporality-God is everlasting; He experiences temporal succession including past, present and future; God progresses.

“Because God is progressive and ever richer from moment to moment in process theology, it follows that God, so conceived, is essentially temporal or an enduring individual through successive moments of time.”

7. Mutability and Immutability-God changes and attains a richer synthesis of experience in each moment.

“God in process theology is thus immutable in character and commitment to righteousness but changeable in his emotive states of pleasure and displeasure in dependence on the states of sin and righteousness of the world.”

8. Passibility-God’s happiness is affected by all things outside Himself; all things act on God.

“Because the God of process theology includes within himself the states or feelings of all actual occasions in every new moment of reality, God is maximally affected by all other things.”

“God experiences everything that is experienced by anything.”

Jesus suffering makes no sense otherwise

9. Creator by Organizing

“process theology maintains that God created in the sense that he organized a preexisting chaos into an ordered cosmos. For process theology, God must begin with the preexisting actual occasions which exercise a co-creative power. ”

“Though not all of the order in the cosmos is due to God, without God there would not be any order. God is responsible for having elicited the qualities of higher life forms out of the basic constituents of reality. God is responsible for having elicited living things to evolve from more simple to more complex.”

10. Maximal Persuasive Power-God has all the power that one being can have, but it is conditioned by other eternal realities.

“process theology maintains that God’s power is necessarily shared. God possesses all the power that any one entity can, but even this power is only one power among others.”

“God cannot coerce other beings because, of metaphysical necessity, they exert some power of their own as actual beings. God’s power may thus be said to be maximal, though not infinite or absolute, because God possesses the most power any being can be consistently conceived to possess given process theology’s presupposing about the metaphysical nature of reality.”

11. Maximal Knowledge-God knows all that can be known; but the future does not yet exist and so cannot be known.

“God is all-knowing in the sense that he knows all that can be known, but the realm of what can be known is different than for the absolutist tradition.”

“Process theology, on the other hand, does not accept that God either does or can know what persons, or indeed any actual occasion will choose in the future.”

“He includes within himself the past and the present, but the future does not yet exist to be experienced.”

Physical Pole-God has a physical pole to his experience; the world is God’s body by analogy.

Omnipresent-God is present in all things as initial aim.

Creator by Organization-God creates by luring actual occasions to realize their best potential through ever greater organization.

Contingency and Necessity-God’s existence is necessary, but some of God’s properties are contingent, such as God’s knowledge of contingent realities and the quality of His happiness.


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