Lately, I have read David Ray Griffin’s article on process panentheism. His article, titled ”Panentheism: A Postmodern Revelation”, is published in a book called In Whom We Live and Move and Have Our Being: Panentheistic Reflections on God’s Presence in a Scientific World, edited by Philip Clayton and Arthur Peacocke.
According to Griffin’s view, God is not the source of everything. There have been ”chaotic events” alongside God, and the act of creation is to organize these events as a universe. Griffin says that those events are metaphysically as necessary as God, although the universe created from them is contingent. God, he says, contains the metaphysical principles, causality, and the laws of mathematics and logic, that form and sustain the universe.
Griffin says that this was also a view of many classical Christian theologians, but it was abandoned when other theologians wanted to oppose the views of Marcion, a gnostic theologian. Marcion believed that matter is evil and the cause of all evil events of the universe. As a response to his theology, Christian theologians advocated creatio ex nihilo, creation from nothing, and a view that matter cannot be evil because it is created by the benevolent God. Hermogenes, a Christian Platonist, warned theologians from adopting this view, for it would open the doors for blaming God of the existence of evil.
I am unsure in what way the belief, that God has not created that primordial event stuff, would be an answer to the problem of evil. Perhaps the answer lies in closer analysis of the nature of those necessary events. The principles guiding the natural order of things are, according to Griffin, part of God, so the evil must be in the events, not in the principles.
But is this view necessary from the point of view of evil? There are other answers to that problem, compatible with the creatio ex nihilo doctrine. Assuming that there is something else metaphysically necessary than God, seems to be in itself much more problematic view, than the problem of evil — or any other problem of theism. Rather I would sympathize the view of David Bentley Hart, Russell Stannard and Seyyed Hossein Nasr, that God is the source of existence, and choose some other explanation for evil.
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