Hello VS, my friend, thanks for the reply, let me see if I can address the points you have raised in our discussion;
I would like you to explain the distinction between consciousness and the soul if they are in fact, distinct in your thought.
I see ''consciousness'' as a distinct yet integral quality or trait of a being having a soul. A person with a soul and a physical body united in life has a consciousness, while the body without a soul, divided in death, does not.
Then you are not an actual materialist; which even your understanding of God makes the term somewhat troubling and I see no reason why you should cling to it as such is associated with atheism for good reason; namely, that the grounds for our perceptual reality is not God; but matter.
I beg to disagree, which disagreement actually has further consequences or ramifications when we get into the ''metaphysical politics'' if you will, of the NAP. Bear with me on that one though; we'll get to it when we get to it. . But to get back to your statement of concern, the grounds for our perceptual reality lie in our radical contingency as creatures in relation to God, because while there is indeed ''Nothing'', Matter surely is insubstantial, next to nothing in reality when you consider Him. If anything, the closer creatures are to God, I posit that creatures and things are more substantial, more real and tangible, not less, the closer one is to the Ground of Reality Himself. From that dizzying height, we are no doubt in my opinion almost shadows, transparent ghosts... I retain the term ''materialist'' because I deny the absurd idea of the incorproreality of creatures, and the non-locality in space/time of places, certain places and creatures in particular.
Likewise, materialism as a position would require God to likewise be material; however, you hold to neither view.
I would say in a qualified sense that God exhausts concepts drawn by inference and analogy from His Creation, that He cannot be known in His Essence. And therefore, one would be incomplete in one's attempt to describe God to say that God is ''immaterial'' or ''material'' either way. Again, the Incarnation shows me that God is indeed united forever through the Incarnation to Creation, that It is if anything made very real and very good by the Hypostatic Union. I believe that while language in the Scripture that speaks of God's ''Hands'' or ''Feet'' does not do complete justice descriptively to His basic unknowability in His Essence, they are not just mere symbols or metaphors either. An excursion into Theopaschitism will possibly be necessary at some point in this discussion.
Hence, you are still a "substance-dualist," and are currently only contending "which substance" the soul is, but to then call yourself a "materialist" is misleading in the same way it would be for a Christian to call themselves "atheists" because it was a common Roman slur and because such Christians do in fact reject the pantheons of the pagans. Just as it would be inappropriate for Christians to call themselves atheists on such thin grounds, so too and in equal measure is it inappropriate for you to call yourself a materialist.
To me, the Soul is if not embodied still a thing having it's own form of corporeality and substantiality even if it cannot be entirely perceived by the senses of the living, and is therefore a more subtle kind of matter. I call myself a materialist Christian because I know the other kind of Christian thought has gained traction in recent centuries that manages to try to tell persons that what awaits them after death is the closest thing to being a ''nothing'' that can be imagined. Try to get someone to wrap their minds around a hypothetical state of being after death (or when discussing deceased Saints or Angels) in which one is just a mind, just an intellect and will but without true locational bearings in physical reality and without physical senses, yet somehow emotionally experiencing a state of being in bliss called ''Heaven'' or a state of horror and loss called ''hell''.... It's impossible, and yet this is pretty much what people are told these days by their ''clergy''.
Could this in fact be a source of atheism, not being able to accept this idea?
I think you will find the term to be Hylozoism, not hylomorphism; as zoism refers to "life" and hylas refers "matter;" whereas, "morphology" is the study of change; of coure if you believe there is some sort of "consciousness" in matter; that position might be better described as panpsychism than hylozoism anyway. That aside, this position would need some sort of biblical substantiation and greater attestation in the fathers beyond a select one here and there.
I am indeed saying that all Creation, all creatures, are in fact both living, and have a degree of consciousness. Particularly in the Old Testament, but also in the New, there is plenty of instances where praise is said to be offered by substances (that we have come to think of as not being alive or conscious) to God in thankfulness for their being, or of a Saint calling on these substances to offer said praise to God. And the Apostle mentions that Creation ''groans in expectation of the revelation of the sons of God'', Expectation and feelings like groaning are evidence of thought and of life. I'd be happy to expand on that further, to be sure.
Nothing is outside of God's Mind because if it were we would have to deny God's omniscience; hence, the primary conception of materialism as arguing for an extra-mental substance underlying our perceptual world is at best unnecessary, and at worst contrary to our doctrine of God.
Again, I only put forwards the sharpest of distinctions between God and Creation considered in His Transcendence, and not Creation within itself so much. I know that only His perception could result in the reality of something. Along those lines, I can only say that Matter as the primary substance underlying God's creation is something mysterious, but as I go further to say later, not something necessary to consider it's meaning about, without God's work upon it.
I am not speaking about the Incarnation, nor am I denying the corporeality of the body; what I am critiquing is the idea that you are not a substance dualist; unless you wish to claim that God is also corporeal; in which case we have bigger fish to fry.
God is both transcendent and immanent in His relations to His Creation, filling all things and yet also being as substantial to our sensual perception, and so is as ''Real'' and Material in form as He wishes to, as for example when the Holy Trinity went down and visited St. Abraham, or appeared at the banks of the Jordan river at the Epiphany, for the Baptism of Christ by St. John the Forerunner. It cannot be fully understood, but I accept it. I've studied the Schoolmen, and the Philosophers, but these days I just follow the primitive tradition, near as I can see it. If that makes me appear mad, or foolish, inconsistent, stupid, etc... So be it. I don't want to be the erudite I once was, I don't even think I could even if I tried.
Not an easy thing to do, to crucify my arrogant mind, along with my disordered passions.
Fact is, in speaking of Theology proper, not Christology, God in His Essence is not corporeal.
In theology, God is not knowable in His Essence, I would not say; ''not corporeal''. The closest we can say to any kind of understanding is that He is involved in His Essence by the Life He shares within Himself, by the mutual relations of the Three Persons of the Godhead... Unoriginate Father, Only and Eternally Begotten Son, and the Holy Spirit proceeding forth from the Father, One God.
May God forgive my mediocrity and inadequacy in even speaking of Him, as ''every man is a liar'' speaking of Him to a degree, and words fail me.
I feel like i'm on surer ground talking of Scripture, the Fathers, the Councils assembled in the Holy Spirit, instead of my own flights of fancy. If they correct my errors, i'm corrected.
Docetism is a very specific heresy which fundamentally denies the bodily reality of Christ (His Humanity) in the Incarnation. I think its a bit unfair to reduce a millennia of debate over the exact metaphysical nature of heaven and hell with a denial of Christ's body.
Docetism is built on the pagan conception of the ultimate unreality of matter, even it's fundamental evil, universally speaking, and so some felt God Manifest just ''had'' to be more like a Hologram than a material person, only appearing to be substantial. So in that respect regarding the attitude generating that heresy being a problem associated with pagan thought, I think the criticism is fair.
That being said, you said you are not speaking of Berkeley; but Berkeley solves this issue. The tangible nature of Heaven and Hell is affirmed as perceptually experienced just as the world we exist in today; however, there is no problem as with other vulgar-phyiscalists in attempting to explain the material nature of such places or where they can be found on a map; as any map is only true based on how God is disposed to reveal reality at any given time by His express will.
Aside from Berkeley for the moment at least, I would say that God maintains the ''map'' and the attendant reality in their being, and the unknowing of these substantial realities is maintained by God on account of our sin and limitations as finite creatures. We could be sensing and living in the very midst of Heaven and Hell all the time, possibly, and not know it really. In my opinion, Berkeley may have set out to solve a problem where none existed, at least among Christians. Among them, who believes in Matter as a self-subsistant independant reality apart from God anyway?
I use this anaology with flat-earth people all the time as a Berkeleyan; namely, that no experiment can possibly prove whether the earth is flat or round, for even if we had a means of perfectly determining a true direction, the fact that I could walk that line and come back around to where I started only proves that God causes us to start back on the other side once reaching the edge. What this illustrates is important; our perception of extension is limited to what we can fit into our sight; hence, the size and scope of broader reality is entirely unknown to us, we only know what God specifically reveals to us by decree or in His Scriptures.
If that is so does that make our perceptions, and not God, the center of reality? At least as far as we're concerned? Granted, it more than serves to 'save the appearances', this Berkelean philosophy, but that does not mean it isn't false, either for all that. I do appreciate that you are open to the possibility of an alternate cosmology though, even to think it that far these days renders one suspect to the Moderns...
Similarly, that the heaven and hell is perceptual must be confessed by all Christians; however, that it is has some location we can point to is as logically dubious (if not moreso) than our own misguided speculations regarding the nature of own world; as a Geo-centrist you should be able to appreciate this point.
I do, and yet;
From a pre-modern and geocentrist viewpoint of one such as the Apostle st. Paul, I already ''know'' the location in physical reality of the Third Heaven, and it's only the modern cosmology that has sundered us from understanding even what I'm saying... In the minds and hearts of most. There's a spiritual reason ultimately for this blindness in these End Times, i'm sure of that.
If people can't get the nature of world right (including many theologians, east and west); how much more so can we say that trying to determine the physical nature of the afterworld is pure vanity?
On that issue, of cosmology, I go with the unanimity of the Fathers on that matter, and their answer is clear, which is why the post-Copernican revolution which created the Modern Era has been so devastating. It would be vanity I think not in trying to determine the physical nature of the World to Come, but to try to describe it overly much, when we are told that that would be very difficult to do. We do have to strive to be more wise when speaking of the things of God, I agree.
Thing is, the incoporeality of the soul, besides being the majority orthodox position, also makes more sense regarding its eternality; namely, that decomposition and decay are features of corporeality; that is, parts fall off, change, or morph (as we observe in corpses). By contrast, Consciousness (the soul) cannot be shown to have parts (unless you identify it with the brain, in which case we have other problems). Thus, if the soul cannot decay or decompose; then we have no basis in plain reason to affirm that it ends when the body dies; rather, its eternal estate in hell or heaven as attested in the Scriptures would be agreeable to what must be inferred about Consciousness from plain reason; namely, that it is eternal in having not corporeal basis for decay (what we experience regarding all other finitude in the physical world).
I would deny that the incorporeality of the soul is the majority orthodox position, and that that which is immortal (or mortal, for that matter) is entirely dependent on the Will of God and not any absolute states somehow natural to them. Sin means death, not corporeality in itself but a flaw in our being, transmitted from our first parents... By the way, another thing hard to do or believe in if the Soul is immaterial, Ancestral sin transmitted through the generations. Some ideas on that have been condemned, others have not but later scholastics rendered the holders of such ideas to be idiots, at best.
In my opinion this was part of a larger effort to do away with Orginal/Ancestral Sin as a concept, and bring Pelagianism/Semi-Pelagianism back into the Church upon multiple fronts, to use a military analogy.
Also, in response to one of your original claims; pleasure and pain are experienced in Consciousness in correlation to the body; but reason determines that there is no necessity for the body to be present in order to experience pain, only consciousness is necessary for pain and pleasure; hence, the idea that some sort of corporeality is necessary for the experience of hell or heaven is simply not true. Hence, there is no necessity in claiming that the soul must be corporeal in order to explain spiritual pain/pleasure.
One might *say* that reason determines this, but I aver that that has not been shown to be the case in this instance. The Rich man asked St. Abraham to send Lazarus to him with some cool water for his tongue on account of his burning thirst, and there is no indication here or elsewhere that this is somehow a symbolic metaphor. The torments of the damned are real torments, not just a psychology state of emotional agony, and the joy of the Elect is real experiential joy at being in the presence of God and the Saints and Angels, not some rationalist's intellectual ''joy''. I hold Thomas Aquinas responsible for a good deal of that nonsense, considering what he writes about the Beatific Vision.
Montanism was condemned; however, Tertullian would not have likely been named in any condemnation as he was not a leader in the movement; furthermore, we have conflicting information but two points of notable importance.
The first is that St. Jerome specifically states that Tertullian had left the church or was excommunicated at some point after becoming a Montanist (though modern scholars now disagree with the eminent father on this); however, even St. Augustine even discusses a group of "Tertullianists" in his own area having to be "reconciled" to the church (thus implicitly acknowledging them as a dwindling remnant of schismatics).
Montanism was a Heresy, while those ''Tertullianists'' were apparently from the information ''only'' Schismatics, and at not point was there a condemnation on this issue in any case. As I stated, the noted Desert Father St. Macarius the Great spoke of Corporeality in just the same manner as I did, long after Tertullian.
Of course, there is the argument from silence on the opposite side; namely, that if Tertullian was such a schismatic, then why didn't his disciple (the very anti-schismatic ) St. Cyprian ever decry or condemn him in retrospect? Who knows, but what we DO HAVE from the very fathers who would have been most sympathetic to him (the North African AND Latin theologian, St. Augustine, and the latin theologian St. Jerome) are remarks that he was a schismatic.
All Heretics are Schismatics, but not all Schismatics are necessarily Heretical.
I only say this by way of caution, for even in areas of Tertullian's thought that are completely orthodox, we must be leery of his presuppositions even on those points. I mean, i doubt you would agree with him on his view of the Trinity for instance or his view of baptism ( I would tend towards his view on the former).
He's just one Father, and not the most reliable, same as I've come to understand as Blessed Augustine, unfortunately. Wherever possible, I look for unanimity with the Fathers. I also look to the Canons of the Church, and the Councils of course. Their commentary on Scripture holds more weight with me than my own personal commentary, sinner that I am.
That being said, on any one of his points; where does he line up with the general orthodoxy of the entire church catholic? In many areas! but his notion of the soul as corporeal is simply not one of them.
Beg to differ. I know of no condemnation of these ideas, if I did I would submit and humbly accept to the resolutions of the Councils, inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Once again, this would establish your views as heterodox at best; after all, Justin Martyr had some serious theological issues in his time that we overlook because they had yet to be fully addressed in the Councils of the church (namely, his synergistic tendencies); however, that being said, the overarching confessional and conciliar position of the church; as well as the majority of Christian systematics (including that of Lossky, if I remember correctly on the Eastern side) seem to all be in one accord as they argue for the nature of the soul as spiritual and non-material in distinction to the physical world.
Perhaps ''non-material as in the sense of ''non-perceptable to the senses''. I would say though that I am very much an ''Old Believer'' sympathizer, and so even ''Orthodox Christian'' thinkers after the 1600's hold little weight with me anymore, for a multitude of reasons. Not least of which is the subtle influence of the Latins/Papists on ''Orthodox'' theologians after the fall of Constantinople in 1453 AD.
Let me also add.....
That God is the Author of our immorality is not denied, but one also has to discuss in what sense man is Imago Dei. Man was made in the image of God in "true righteousness and holiness" (Eph 4:24); qualities that are spiritual and not physical in nature and which are not bound to corporeal decomposition; but rather are characteristics of a conscious agency. This agency was made eternal and persists eternally and what was "broken" at the fall was the bond of body and soul in all human perpetuity; namely, that the wages of sin were death (Romans 6:23), so now the body dies as a consequence of sin and this is true FOR ALL who are born on the this earth; and all the bodies shall be raised in the last day to stand judgment at the final resurrection for deeds done in the body (2 Corinthians 5:10); however, to be absent from this body is to be present with Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8) and this no more implies that the soul is material anymore than saying God is material in His essence because in Christ did the fullness of the Godhead dwell (Colossians 2:9).
All this is very true, except that one might not fully understand the nature of one's soul or it's kind of different corporeality, or it's connection to the mortal body which suffers physical corruption, unless and until one is separated from that connection and it is severed. I will grant-of course!-that the Soul is the higher and vital elemental substance in Creation, and that the nature of the spiritual matter of the Angels is higher still in Hierarchical relation to man.
We are told by faith that hellfire is both very real, and the damned do indeed suffer from it. I think that therefore on that point alone to reemphasize some sort of sensitive corporeality (no matter how different from what we ordinarily know in this life) is important. Just as with the bliss of the Elect in Heaven. Of course that next life is very different, but it is still Life.
Arnauld was correct in his critique of Malbranche's pelagian tendencies; however, that only shows how Malbranche's soteriology was inconsistent with His theology proper as it regarded the doctrine of providence.
But in that ''providence'' (i.e.-God) is moved by us to move us as we will....Per Father Malebranche. I would say that the opposite is the case; God wills us and moves us to will what we will, and so we do what we are moved to do, quite willingly. For me, ''Free Will'' is freedom from external constraint by another created thing, and that is all. Only God is totally free in the Libertarian meaning.... This too has political ramifications, btw.
However, that all things are determined by God's express will, moment-to-moment, can hardly be denied by anyone that understands God's sovereignty, and that doctrine is no different from what might be called occasionalism. After all, in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).
But to ruin or blessedness, as He wills, but not without us, either. Nor is He the Author of Evil, He only allows it for His reasons.
1. You deny the existence of a mind-independent substance.
2. You deny that God in His essence is corporeal.
Those two points ALONE make your use of the term "materialist" an absolute misnomer (your view of there being some "corporeal" nature of the soul notwithstanding). Hence, even if your were entirely correct on the nature of the human soul as you have claimed, it would STILL not make you a materialist.
Thus, unless you identity God's nature as having the same fundamental physicality as the creation, you cannot be a materialist by definition; because you DO NOT believe that everything which exists is material; likewise, nothing that you claim to be material is in fact viewed by you as having any existence apart from the Mind of God and His express will; thus, even the stuff you claim to be material; has nothing in common with what any actual materialist believes in the first place (as they view matter as the fundamental extra-mental basis for human experience) and if pressed such individuals would likely force you into some type of idealism anyway (I can assure you).
What I affirm is not some kind of relation or identity of type in minds between the mind of fallen man and the mind of God, but a separation between Creation and Creator (yet united in the God-Man Jesus Christ).
I only know things in my studied naivete that Christ for example said he was going TO His Father's House, to prepare a PLACE for us His children, WHERE there are many Mansions. And when He Ascended into the Heavens, He did not dematerialize as in a SciFi movie, but went UP, ''as if'' towards a Physical location. He just before then was seen, and touched. He ate, and so forth. So He went somewhere in His glorified but physical body, and is there today. I want to be with Him in this Location.
That's what I know, and I extrapolate from this foundation. It's not like I am not aware of possible apparent contradictions in my thought, especially as it applies in the political realm, nor am I not open to learning and changing my mind in some areas.
Hence, you are free to call yourself whatever you wish; but it will not make it any more accurate. There is almost nothing materialist about your position; either in terms of the scope implied by the term, or how the particulars of material reality are even understood at a basic level by any actual materialist.
As I said, I only know what I know, and I can't speak for anyone else necessarily. Everything created by God, appears to me to have a level of physical corporeality whether visible or invisible, and I can't deny what appears to me to be the truth.
This all being said, I would hate for anyone observing your claims to speculate that you are doing so only in a desperate attempt to reconcile your Christianity with your communism, but I could not blame them for reaching such a conclusion either.
No, my reasoning is because My Lord is somewhere, physically alive in an place, with other beings who interact with Him.
Angels are described in Scripture as eating and walking about, having genders (evil ones even having sex with humans) using tools, etc... Real beings I think can be expected to do that, and I believe in their reality.
My Communism, in fact, comes not from Lenin or Marx, but the life of the Saints and Angels, the Kingdom of Heaven that is within us now, not just in the World to Come. I can't help what wicked God-fighters make of some elements of the truth to pervert it to lies, by denying God. I'm open to some practical modification on these points however.
After all, without dialectical materialism, you become an island to yourself in the world of socialist political theory; especially if you already reject reformism and Fabianism (as you have claimed elsewhere).
Having said in this post that my Cosmology has political consequences, I'll be happy to share them here in my next post once you've answered my points.