Children with a Razor in the Playground: The Best of All Possible Ideas?

This is a philosophy paper I had to hand in that argues that God made the best of all possible worlds:

Nick – Niccolo Machiavelli

Willy – William of Ockham

Dunce Scotus – Duns Scotus

Freddy – Gottfried Leibniz

Volt – Voltaire

Descartes – Rene Descartes

George – George Berkeley

RECESS

The summer breeze coasts along the grass and makes the field outside of Sophdale Elementary look like an ocean of green with spots of yellow and white as the dandelions began to end their bloom.  The quiet peace is broken by the ringing of the recess bell followed by the most of the children flooding into the field to play.  A concerned teacher looks out over the children and with a sad heart mourns for little Zeno who can never quite seem to figure out how to make it all the way to the playground.  Some of the children swarm around Plato and his puppet and sit in awe as he tells them about the adventures of Socrates – Plato’s always been the popular one because he has perfect Form for everything.  So the children run, play, talk, giggle and make up stories to pass their brief time in the schoolyard before the bell rings and they have to leave their fantasies behind in exchange for reality.  This is the way things are here at Sophdale Elementary and one might suppose they’ll never change.

“Hey Jake!  Come here!” shouted Willy in an excited and slightly nervous tone, “I have something to show you.”  Willy Ockham has been causing trouble around the school yard lately, especially with Plato by telling him that there’s no such thing as perfect form.  Today it seems like Willy has brought something to school from home.

“What do you have, Willy?” says Jake as he runs over to see what new thing Willy picked up from around the house to show everyone else.  Jake’s new to Sophdale Elementary and has had some trouble fitting in; having a friend like Willy has been helping him become acquainted with the rest of the students.  At first Jake tried to make friends with Nick from the Machiavelli house but found that he couldn’t trust anything the boy said – it was like he cared more about appearances than he did about being himself.  As far as Jake is concerned the entire family of Machiavelli needs to get some morals.  Will was the first person to go to the trouble of ignoring  rumors that cropped up about Jake and getting to know him for who he is without getting sidetracked by all sorts of needless side details that never lead anywhere.

“Guess what I brought!” whispered Willy with a big smirk on his face.  Opening up his hands he reveals a large razor that he stole from his dad’s bag in the bathroom.

“Wow! I’ve heard you talk about this a lot, how your dad showed you what shaving is and how facial hair is just this extra thing that gets in the way of life.  What are you going to do with it?”

Willy had been telling Jake about how he watches his dad shave and also how his dad always complains that facial hair is just unnecessary and if only he didn’t have to deal with the facial hair then his life would be simpler.  Willy had concluded, from watching his father, upon a principal of parsimony: pseudo-explanatory entities should be eliminated unless they are established by evident experience or evident reasoning, or is required by the articles of faith[1].   After all, doesn’t the simplest explanation usually make the most sense?  Why should things be more complicated than they need to?

“I’m thinking about going over to that little Plato kid and shaving off some things he doesn’t need,” said Willy while eyeing Plato’s ostentatious hairstyle and just barely holding in mischievous laughter.

Jake and Willy were sitting together giggling over how funny their scheming will be as one of the other children ran in their direction, looking over his shoulder and missing their presence entirely, trying to catch his friend’s long ball throw.  The poor lad crashed headlong into the boys and the three of them toppled on to the ground together.

“Watch where you’re going Scotus!  Will you never learn how to run and watch where you are going at the same time?  This is why we keep calling you Dunce Scotus![2]” shouted Willy.

“I’m so sorry, Willy.  I wish I wasn’t such a klutz!  If only this were another world where I wasn’t always tripping up and making mistakes.  Please forgive me!”

Little Scotus is always feeling sorry for himself and complaining that there are other logical ways the world could have turned out for the better.  Sometimes he tries to convince people that he’s just using logic to expand his mind and consider other possible worlds[3].

“Woah, relax guys!  You really need to chill out,” said Freddy as he ran over.  He had been playing ball with Scotus and dashed over to make sure everything was alright.  Freddy and Scotus are always hanging out together and talking about what could have been.

“Willy, just calm down!  And Scotus, what are you crying about?  I keep telling you to cheer up.  Life is amazing!  This is the best of all possible worlds; you can’t imagine a better one!” Freddy cheerfully proclaimed with a grin spanning from cheek to cheek.

“Oh Freddy, you’re always such an optimist.  Look at my knee and see the bruising.  Look at Willy’s shirt; don’t you see the grass stain?  How can you tell us that this is the best possible world?  It’d be even better if I weren’t clumsy and causing trouble for myself and others.”

The boys gathered near to hear how Freddy was going to try to explain how this world could be the best possible world when there are clearly faults in it.

“Oh my pessimistic friends, you’re always daydreaming of ways things could be better but you just don’t understand God.  God, being perfectly wise, powerful, and good, is obligated to choose the best among possibles if he decides to admit any possible to existence.  Since God chose freely to create the world it would be self-contradicting for Him to create anything other than the absolute best world.  We can’t define good based on merely the fact that God has done something – why praise Him at all if He’d be equally praiseworthy for doing the opposite?  God looks at the things He has made and calls them good in the Holy Scriptures because He sees His own character in them[4].  Indeed, even the evils of this world are necessary counterparts to goods – like a doctor’s operation seems bad in the moment but is part of the good of being healed.  To show that an architect could have done better is to find fault with his work. Furthermore this opinion is contrary to the Holy Scriptures when they assure us of the goodness of God’s work. For if comparative perfection were sufficient, then in whatever way God had accomplished his work, since there is an infinitude of possible imperfections, it would always have been good in comparison with the less perfect; but a thing is hardly praiseworthy when it can be praised only in this way.  To think that God acts in anything without having any reason for His willing, even if we overlook the fact that such action seems impossible, is an opinion which conforms little to God’s glory. For example, let us suppose that God chooses between A and B, and that He takes A without any reason for preferring it to B. I say that this action on the part of God is at least not praiseworthy, for all praise ought to be founded upon reason.  My opinion is that God does nothing for which he does not deserve to be glorified[5] and that people who think otherwise are no better than rebels.[6]

The boys were a bit shocked to hear Freddy’s argument make some logical sense.  They silently pondered the fact that since God is good then He’d certainly  have to do what is good and wouldn’t be able to do the opposite even a little.  Willy even agreed that it’d be much simpler to look at the world as the best of all possible worlds because an infinite mind determined it to be so rather than trying to figure out what would be better by mixing and matching endless scenarios.  They were almost ready to voice in agreement until the schoolyard bully came.

“I couldn’t help but overhear your little conversation” said Volt.  His imposing dark presence frightened the boys at first and they backed away a little, trying not to stare at his long twisted nose.

“I just finished writing paper for English class – the teacher loved it!  I think that you should know, Freddy, that you were in it.  I wrote about a professor named Pangloss who teaches in a country of comfort and luxury and panders his philosophies sycophantically to the matriarch he serves.  He teaches that this is the best of all possible worlds and he goes around to people who are suffering and dying and preaches his doctrine to them as their organs are crushed beneath rubble and their blood pours out.  I ended the story with poor deluded Pangloss, after having suffered much evil, admitting that his philosophy is wrong but refusing to stop arguing for it because of his stubbornness[7].   What do you think Freddy, want to read it?”

“You’re a jerk!  But you’re also necessary in order for good to shine all the brighter in contrast to your evil” said Freddy.

“Get a life Volt, you only take pleasure in being a party pooper” said Jake.

Freddy and Jake stared angrily at Volt as though to scare him away with a group effort.  But Willy wasn’t so easily overcome by insult.

“So what are you trying to say?  What do you propose instead?” asked Willy.

“Oh?  You want to be enlightened William?” asked Volt with a dark grin.

“I think that Freddy’s view of God is all wrong and what exactly does something resembling God’s character mean anyways?  How do rocks resemble God’s character?  And if they do then how is it different from things being good simply because God made them?  You’ve found a way to say the same thing but in different words, Freddy-boy!  If rocks resemble God’s character then they only do so because God can’t avoid making things according to His character when He creates.  That means that Satan himself resembles God’s character!  Why, I’m almost ready to agree with you now, Freddy-boy!  Satan did come from God and does resemble God’s character, that’s why there’s so much suffering.  Here, listen to some wisdom: Either God can remove evil from the world and will not; or being willing to do so, cannot; or He neither can nor will; or He is both able and willing.  If He is willing and cannot, He is not omnipotent.  If He can but will not, He is not benevolent.  If He is neither willing nor able, He is neither omnipotent nor benevolent.  If he wants to and can, whence comes evil over the face of the earth?[8] Your example of a doctor healing a patient only shows how the operation is good but doesn’t explain how the wound was a good thing in the first place.  What sort of wicked God, out of His own character, creates evil and inflicts people with pain so that they can enjoy momentary relief?  You have an airy-fairy definition of good and you gloss the world over with your rose colored glasses – I suppose your nose exists so that you can wear glasses?  Give me a break kid; you’re trying to define a word by relating it to a concept that uses that same word to explain itself.  God’s character is good and therefore good is defined by having characteristics of God’s character?   That pretty much leaves each one of us to insert our own feeling as to what good means.  As far as I’m concerned you would have seemed wiser if you had never opened your mouth at all.  But thanks for inspiring my essay, I got 100%!”

“I was the one asking you the question Volt; you didn’t need to bash on Fred again.  All you’ve done is create more questions and more problems without providing any answers and I think that your motivation is personal anger towards God” said Willy with a stoic look on his face.

“Volt’s kind of right guys, and so is Freddy” said Jake with a quiet voice, trying not to look Freddy in the eye.

“Listen, Volt might be a jerk but he’s right that your definition of good was pretty vague Freddy.  I also think that you’re coming up with this understanding on your own and then inserting it into the text and making the Bible conform to your understanding” said Jake, glancing up at Freddy a little.

As the boys stood silently contemplating what they might do to understand the meaning of good the bell rang and they had to return inside.  The field quickly emptied as the children rushed back inside.  Some boys stopped to mock Zeno, knowing that once again he’d get in trouble for always wandering the hallways and claiming that he’s on his way to class.

LUNCH

The children were getting rambunctious as lunch drew near and the news that little Descartes had run away was not helping the situation.  The story was that during class he had been accused of cheating by Nick.  To which Descartes promptly replied “I think not!”  Afterward no one was able to find Descartes anywhere, it was almost as though he had ceased to exist.  The teacher asked George, who was sitting beside Descartes, what had happened.  George’s only response was “I just looked away from him for a second and when I looked back he was gone.”  There was much silent anticipation for the lunch break so that they could discuss what had happened to their friend.

Finally the lunch bell rang and all of the children rushed by Zeno, who was still on his way to class.  Jake, Willy, Volt and Freddy gathered together in the opposite corner of the playground from Plato.  Plato was explaining why Nick was right about how it’s important for authorities to lie to people and also that the highest Form of education was his own – they hated his arrogant opinions of himself and his views.

“I was thinking during class about what we’ve been talking about and I have some thoughts I’d like to share” said Jake hesitantly.

“All of us live in this world without fully understanding any aspect of it.  Even if one of us knows everything there is known about something we are still far from being in a position to say we have total knowledge on the subject.  We would have to know all possible information in order to know whether or not there’s something else yet to be learned that will change how we think on any particular subject.  So, essentially, we live in this world with knowledge that is sufficient for functioning.  Some of us here at Sophdale are learning more than what we need for functioning in life but even we’re limited to our finite abilities to ask and answer questions.  So we won’t be asking all of the possible questions and some of our answers aren’t going to be right – we’re just not ever going to be able to know any one thing in its totality.”

“Yeah, we get that we don’t know everything and that this means we can’t know for certain whether or not we know any one thing totally.  What’s your point Jake?” asked Willy.

“Well, Willy, my point is that while the simpler way may be the better way it also may not be.  The simpler answer could be the wrong answer and the most complex answer could be the correct answer – we don’t know for sure.  Our limitations mean that we’ll never know anything for sure unless we build our axioms on truths that are perceived from an eternal omniscient perspective.  We need God to reveal these axioms to us.  Building our axioms on anything else can bring us no certainty because all we’ll ever have on our own is functionally sufficient knowledge.”

“That’s what I was doing, Jake!  I was getting my definition of good from the Bible!” cried Fred with an agitated voice.

“No, Fred, you were taking your assumptions and putting them into the Bible.  There’s a much better way for us to find a definition for what is good and since it’s from God it will be consistent and bullies like Volt will have a harder time picking on it.”

“Alright, so Mr. Theologian, let’s see you do better!” mocked Freddy.

“We might better consider that God being good only acts for the goal of achieving good and thus when we look at the scriptures we should do so with the purpose of being informed as to what God is revealing His goals to be.  When we look to scripture we see that God is consistently doing things for His own glory: God restrains His anger for His own glory[9], refuses to share His glory[10], sanctifies His people for His glory[11], saves people for His glory[12], judges His enemies for His glory[13], sends Jesus to die on the cross for his glory[14], and does what people think is impossible for His glory[15].  So we see that since God does all of these things for His own glory that all of our lives are for the purpose of God’s glory.  So now we know that God only does what is good and God is always seeking His own glory – good is directly related to that which brings God glory.”

“I’ll agree that on the surface that makes sense, but then how do you explain evil?  If God is controlling everything for His glory and even Hell, where sinners are punished, is for His glory then how can evil exist if it’s all part of what is good?” asked Freddy.

“That’s simple.  Evil is what is immediately opposed to God’s glory.  Satan wanting to be God and refusing to obey Him is immediately against God’s glory although all of it is part of God’s ultimate plan of self-glorification” replied Jake.

“Then how do you explain when Moses asks God why He has done evil to the people of Israel by allowing the Egyptians to beat them and make their work harsher?[16]” inquired Willy.

“Human beings were made to glorify God by finding ultimate joy in Him and thus we are meant to experience the heights of bliss.  Our enjoyment of God is our glorification of God – our naked declaration of God’s superiority.  When we try to find our pleasure elsewhere we’re settling for second best and so we’re doing evil, which results in suffering or decreased joy.  So good being related to joy or lack of suffering and evil being related to suffering or lack of joy is a natural connection although the terms are not synonymous.  Moses wasn’t using the ultimate meaning of good when he was asking God about the evil being done but rather he was using the secondary meaning that is derived from the ultimate meaning – he was asking God why He has brought suffering to the people.  Volt wasn’t entirely wrong to associate the best possible world with the world with the least suffering and the most joy; his error was that he took the secondary derived definition of good and entirely supplanted the primary definition with it.

“So then you’re saying that there are two definitions of good?” asked Freddy.

“There is one primary definition of good and evil from which all other variations are derived.  I’m sure a creative person could find other definitions of the words but those definitions would ultimately be derivatives of the primary definition” replied Jake.

“Okay, the relationships between the two are simple and pretty much clears up all scriptural passages that I can think of.  For simplicity’s sake I’m going to accept your definition – please keep going, I want to see if the rest of what you have to say is going to be equally simple” said Willy with a curiously raised eyebrow.

“Hold your horses kiddies!  Let’s see if this really makes sense” began Volt.

“If God is doing all things for His glory then He’s just as conceited as Plato who thinks the only proper form of philosophy is his own” Volt said pointing in Plato’s general direction.

“That’s not a very fair comparison, Volt.  On the surface it may appear that if God were to be focused on His glory alone then He would be no better than Plato.  However, a person who is self-obsessed is a self-idolizer who is guilty of the sin of idolatry, while God, being the greatest and most majestic being in the universe, has no one else except for Himself to glorify.  If God were to focus on the glory of creation instead of His own glory then He would be idolizing that which is inferior to Himself.  God must, by necessity of His own ontological superiority, be concerned with the business of His own glory and cannot set the glory of creation above His own. Therefore we cannot compare God to conceited humans, who are not the height of ontological superiority, because the two are in completely different contexts.”

“Fine, but then the implication is that God does not have free will and is limited – you’re a heretic” said Volt with a bit of a smirk.

“But it is God Himself who provides this truth that we can use as an axiom.  When we look to scripture we see that God is unable to do many things, such as lie[17], change[18], change His mind[19] and deny Himself[20].  Seeing as God Himself admits to limitations then we have an axiom upon which we can build: God cannot stop being God and He also cannot contradict Himself.  So when we see that God is doing all things for His glory then we also see that God necessarily will continue to do this because He is limited by His own essence.  If God were able to contradict His own essence then there would be no sense of security at all for one day God may decide that the Devil should be in Heaven and that the redeemed should be in Hell – such a god would be out utterly unreliable.  I’m not degrading God by pointing out the things He has said and drawing logical conclusions from them; I’m sparing Him from being viewed as an out of control monster” replied Jake.

“Then this really is the best of all possible worlds!” Freddy jumped in, beginning his victory speech.

“Now that we see that God necessarily has been and will continue to act for the sake of His own glory and that what is good is directly related to what brings God glory we can more clearly see why this is the best of all possible worlds.  God’s working for His glory means that the opposite is impossible; God cannot work against His glory.  For God to do anything that diminishes His glory is for God to work against His glory.   If God chooses an action that does anything less than bring 100% of possible glory to Himself then He is acting against His glory.  For example, if I were to be 98% for abortion then I am 2% against it – the remaining 2% do not disappear into neutrality.  So, God must always be doing that which brings 100% glory to Himself.  That necessarily means that this world is the one with the most good – good being that which brings God glory –  and nothing could be different because all of what God has done has been for the purpose of bringing Himself 100% glory.  Even what is known as evil in this world is for the purpose of bringing God glory.  Were it not for the rebellion and corruption of mankind God would be unable to display His mercy and Christ would be unable to receive His glorification through crucifixion and ascension.  Were it not for Christians being redeemed there would be no superior resurrection with glorified bodies because Christians would not wear the righteousness of Christ and would have no grounds for such things.  Were there no rebellion then God would be unable to display justice through punishment.  In all of these things and more God is shown to be glorious and therefore even ‘evils’ are necessary in this world and not one of them is here apart from its rightful place in the schemata of God’s self-glorification.  So we see that it is impossible for this world to be different because God could not have made anything less than the best of all possible worlds!”

“What about primary qualities like size?  Wouldn’t another world with a leaf that’s shorter by one millimeter be equally as good?  So then this isn’t the best of all possible worlds, it’s one of many equals that stand out from many worse possibilities” said Volt in a snarky tone.

Jake motions for silence and takes two sandwiches out of his backpack.

“On the surface your argument appears to make sense because we can imagine two sandwiches of equally good flavor and size, although not being totally identical in molecular makeup.  However, does this concept really make logical sense?  God claims to control complex situations[21] and in order for Him to do so He must then logically be controlling the simple situations which make up the complex.  Everything in this world is interconnected and indirectly everything affects everything else – one small change results in a large change given enough time.  We can see this by a space ship that is off its course by 0.0001 degrees and is travelling through space, given enough time that tiny difference results in a very different destination.  A leaf of a slightly different shape would have wind blow through it differently, and when it falls down it’s deterioration would cover a slightly different land mass and thus the earth would be slightly different in its nutrients in that area which would affect future growth and how it grows.  The ripple effect would continue outward and eventually large effects would be resulting from this small difference.  Therefore, since God controls even the simplest of circumstances and the smallest change will affect the overall course, an equally good world is not possible even if all we’re talking about is a leaf that has a slightly different shape.    Essentially, that which is complex is made up of that which is simple and therefore in order to control the complex one must control the simple – God necessarily must be in control of all simple things if He wants to make comments like “God works ALL things together for the good.”  Also, seeing as God is doing everything for His own glory, and God is infinite in His understanding of all things, would it not be reasonable to believe that God can find the perfect number of atoms to create in the universe and so further bring glory through such wisdom?  We may not see any point in God being sovereign over the number of hairs on our head but Jesus feels that it’s a valid point to bring up to show that God has providential care for people[22].  We may not see the purpose or value in there being a specific number of atoms in the universe but can we say that an infinite being doesn’t see purpose in it?  And if we cannot say that it is impossible for God to have a purpose for a specific number of atoms in the universe, and scripture shows that God is working all things for His glory down to the hairs on our heads, then we have no basis upon which to necessarily exclude atoms that make up primary qualities.  The evidence from scripture weighs heavily upon all things, including the number of atoms in the universe, existing for God’s glory and thus until contrary evidence arises it is wise for the time being to hold that God does have a purpose for all primary qualities in His goal of self-glorification.  As Freddy has already argued: if God chooses between 2,000,000 atoms and 2,000,001 atoms without sufficient reason then God’s actions are not glorious and therefore not worthy of praise.”

“I agree with most of what you’ve said but on one point I must disagree with you, Jake.  There are no effects of objects coming in contact with objects because all of the universe is made up of Monads, which means…” Freddy began before Volt interrupted him.

“Nobody wants to hear your insane theories about Monads” commented Volt as he rolled up some paper to hit Freddy.

The bell tolled loudly as Volt began to raise his hand to smack Freddy on the head.  The children ran off to their respective classes.  Quiet once again reigned in the playground and the world continued to move on as always.

RECESS

The children could hardly focus in class because of their excitement to get back to their discussion.  Parmenides somehow ended up walking beside Zeno in the hallway and together they blocked anyone from getting anywhere until Empedocles showed up and helped them stop being such impediments to movement.  Willy almost got detention for telling his science teacher that evolution cannot be true because it contains too many unnecessary explanations.  Jake struck up a conversation with George, while Willy was in the hall talking to his teacher, and told him about the break-time discussions.  The bell rang and the children ran out for their final recess for the day.  Jake, George, Willy, Freddy and Volt met in the dark corner of the playground once again.

“Jake was telling me about your conversation regarding whether or not this is the best of all possible worlds” said George.

“Unfortunately the bell rang before I could show these boys that, while they may have arguments for primary qualities, they certainly can’t have any arguments for secondary qualities” replied Volt.

George frowned.

Freddy was about to begin his speech on Monads again but was cut off by George.

“Hold on a moment fellas…” said George.

The boys looked at George to see what he had to say.

“I think I ought to let you boys know that this discussion differentiating between primary and secondary qualities is worthless – there is no such thing as matter; only bundles of sensations that our minds experience” said George in an informative tone.

The boys stared aghast.

“What sort of idiocy is this?” queried Volt.

“Be patient a moment and I am sure you will all agree that what I have to say is only common sense” replied George in a calm tone.

“I feel another exceptional essay in the near future” muttered Volt under his breath.

“Listen closely.  Viewing the world as being made up of primary and secondary qualities is bound to only result in extreme skepticism.  Willy, I’m sure you will agree that there’s no need to make an explanation more complex than it needs to be and so I am content to believe that you will be the first to agree with me that matter is a pseudo-explanatory entity that should be eliminated because it is not established by experience, evident reasoning, or the articles of faith” began George, starting off his conversation looking in Willy’s direction.

“I would love to hear how the physical world is not proven to exist by experience nor reasoning” replied Willy, almost dropping the razor out of his hand for shock.

“We experience neither primary nor secondary qualities during the span of our lives.  The reason we know this is for the following reasons: we experience the world through a chain of events that begin with our senses, go through our nervous system, feed information to the brain, and end with interpreting that information into the idea that we experience – we only come in contact with ideas and not the real world[23]; extreme heat is felt and identified by extreme pain and we do not feel heat and then pain but we feel the one sensation of pain and so there is no reason to believe that heat exists apart from pain – pain is purely mental and therefore does not exist in the outside world – heat is totally within the mind.  The same is true for other temperatures ranging from hot to cold[24].  The eyes take in light, send a signal to the brain, the brain interprets it and thus the idea is formed.  Our experience of primary qualities is entirely through our ideas of them.  We have no evidence that matter exists or that there is anything more than these ideas which we experience.  I think you will agree, Willy, that adding a material world to our ideas is needlessly increasing the complexity of the explanation just like when Plato added a series of universes of Forms to explain relationships between objects in this world[25].  Ultimately, all things are perceived ideas or perceivers of ideas – to be is to be perceived or to perceive” explained George with a confident smile.

“You argue rightly that we humans experience the world through our senses which form ideas in our minds and so it is impossible to prove the existence of matter because of this fact.  Your friend, Descartes, practiced systematic doubt to the point that he doubted whether or not any of his senses were giving him true information at all.  He concluded that he must rely upon the fact that thoughts require a thinker and also upon the clear and distinct innate ideas that God gives humankind[26].  I propose to you that God has not given us the innate idea that we live in a realm of ideas but rather that God has given us the innate idea that we live in the realm of matter.  Both views are within the realm of possibility but the majority of the human race seems to innately understand that there is a material realm with which our senses interact and various perspectives are formed.  Seeing as neither view can be proven nor disproven I don’t see any benefit from continuing this line of reasoning” responded Jake.

“Rather than agreeing with you because your view removes the necessity for a material realm I am of the opinion that your reductionism has gone one step too far and oversimplified the state of affairs of this world” commented Willy.

Before George could respond Volt swiftly began to kick him in the buttocks until he fled for safety from the onslaught of unpleasant ideas.

“Well, that was a grand waste of our time” said Freddy with a sigh.

“Not quite.  While George was busy attempting to prove that neither secondary nor primary qualities exist he did manage to reveal an important truth to us: our experience of the world through our senses means that each of us views the world differently and so a change in secondary qualities or a perceived (but not actual) change in primary qualities is necessarily a change in the individual being of the perceiver and not of the world itself.  We see that God created a blind man for the purpose of the works of God being displayed in him[27].  God creating a man so that the works of God might be displayed in Him is for the purpose, as with all things, of bringing glory to God.  So the man’s very being, which includes his abilities to experience primary and secondary qualities, was made in such a way that a specific purpose would be fulfilled.  So we see that our beings are made in specific ways for specific purposes in this world and so God, working for His own glory, has chosen our experience of primary and secondary qualities through our senses for His own God-glorifying ends.  Therefore we see that the primary qualities that exist apart from our minds could not have been different and both secondary qualities and our perception of primary qualities could not have been different either.  This is the best of all possible worlds because God works absolutely every single aspect of every single thing to the glory of His own Name” concluded Jake.

Both Willy and Freddy nodded in agreement.  Willy nodding because the explanation was simple and contained what is required by the articles of faith.  Freddy agreeing because he argued from the beginning that this was the best of all possible worlds.

“I care not for your optimistic views and I reject your self-glorifying God!” declared Volt as he stormed off.

The boys concluded that it seems to be the habit of humankind to believe whatever they desire in spite of logical argumentation to the contrary.

Ringing of the school bell filled the yard yet again and the children ran off to their classes with excitement knowing that soon the school day would be at an end.  Things never change at Sophdale Elementary; every day the students meet outside and talk, giggle, and make up stories to pass their brief time in the schoolyard.  In the face of infinite knowledge we are all just children running around the playground.


[1] Ernest A. Moody, “William of Ockham,” in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy,Vol  8. ed. Paul Edwards (New York: Collier Macmillan Publishers, 1972), 307

[2] The word “dunce” comes from the name of John Duns Scotus, a Scholastic whose followers were called “duns” or “dunsmen”. Duns Scotus wrote treatises on grammar, logic, and metaphysics which were widely used as textbooks in the medieval British universities. As the English Renaissance began and the new learning superseded Duns Scotus’ theories, his adherents obstinately refused to acquiesce. The word “dunce” then began to be used by humanists to ridicule the Scholastics, gradually acquiring its modern meaning of “someone who stubbornly refuses to learn anything new – Oxford English Dictionary

[3] Anthony Kenny, New History Of Western Philosophy: Medieval Philosophy, vol. 2, (Oxford:  Claredon Press, 2007), 87

[4] George R. Montgomery. “A complete English translation of Discourse on Metaphysics.” ANSLEM (2006): http://www.anselm.edu/homepage/dbanach/Leibniz-Discourse.htm (accessed August NOV 30, 2010), section 2

[5] Montgomery, section 3

[6] Montgomery, section 4

[7] Voltaire. Candide.: Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project: http://www.esp.org/books/voltaire/candide.pdf, 1759.

[8] Norman L. Torrey, “Voltaire, Francois-Marie Aroute de,” in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy,Vol 8.

ed. Paul Edwards (New York: Collier Macmillan Publishers, 1972), 265

[9] Isaiah 48:11, Ezekiel 20,

[10] Isaiah 42:8

[11] Ezekiel 36:22, Jeremiah 16:21

[12] Ephesians 1:6

[13] Isaiah 49:26

[14] John 12:23

[15] 1 Kings 20:28

[16] Exodus 5:22-23

[17] Hebrews 6:18

[18] James 1:17

[19] Numbers 23:19

[20] 2 Timothy 2:13

[21] Romans 8:28

[22] Luke 12:17

[23] George Berkeley, “Principles of Human knowledge & Three Dialogues.” ed. Howard Robinson. Oxford (Oxford: University Press, 1996), xix

[24] George Berkeley, 113

[25] Anthony Kenny,New History Of Western Philosophy: Ancient Philosophy, vol. 1, (Oxford:  Claredon Press, 2006), 53

[26] Bernard Williams, “Descartes, Rene,” in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy,Vol 2. ed. Paul Edwards (New York: Collier Macmillan Publishers, 1972), 349

[27] John 9:3


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About salutations75

Born and raised Atheist turned Reformed Baptist.
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