Is the Existence of the Cosmos merely Brute? clearly Fruit? or coyly Mute — vis a vis its primal origins?

To better get at such a consideration, perhaps we can disambiguate various of our conceptions of God and cosmos in terms of contingency:

In terms of modal and dependent contingency, then, how would we classify each conception below as modally contingent or not modally contingent and as dependently contingent or not dependently contingent?

1) classical theist conception of God – neither modally nor dependently contingent

2) classical theist conception of Trinity – not modally contingent but dependently contingent

3) classical theist conception of creatures – both modally and dependently contingent

4) pan-entheist conception of indwelling essence – neither modally nor dependently contingent

5) pan-entheist conception of Trinity – not modally contingent but dependently contingent

For example, Bracken and Boyd: God’s inclusion of the world supplements the triunity of God, hence tripersonal notion of God

Bracken and Boyd, in their own ways, successfully fuse classical, trinitarian and process approaches.

Boyd’s distinction between the intensity and the scope of the unsurpassable aesthetic experience, coupled with his conception of immutability as everlasting disposition allows for God’s essential, internal love relationality to overflow into contingent illustrations.

6) pan-entheist conception of creatures – both modally and dependently contingent

7) panen-theist mereological conception of God (as the whole greater than the sum of its parts) – not modally contingent, but some divine aspects are dependently contingent, while others are not

8) panen-theist mereological conception of Trinity – not modally contingent, but some divine aspects are dependently contingent, while others are not

For example, Philip Clayton: the prehended world is in some sense constitutive of God as trinity, hence unity of complex God

9) panen-theist mereological conception of creatures – both modally and dependently contingent

10) pantheist conception of God – modally contingent but not dependently contingent

For example, any overemphasis upon the economic as opposed to an immanent trinity or on a dyadic structure between creature and creator

11) pantheist conception of creatures -modally contingent but not dependently contingent

12) idealist monist conception of reality – modally contingent but not dependently contingent

13) materialist monist conception of reality – modally contingent but not dependently contingent

Various divine aspects might include e.g. im/mutability, im/passibility, essence, hypostases, energies, etc

Various creaturely aspects might include e.g. in/determined/ness, tehomic, ex nihilo, ex profundis, ex multitudine, coeternality, pro-created, co-created, various monisms, etc

This is a preliminary draft for discussion purposes, which is to acknowledge that I’m unsure regarding the above characterizations. I think the questions are meaningful, even as I grapple with the answers.


Peirce used categories of firstness, secondness and thirdness, roughly mapping to possibilities, actualities and probabilities, temporally relating to past, present and future. The probabilities are telic, including both formal and final causes. I refer to teloi because the category is so vague as to include personal intentionality and, for example, thermodynamic end-states.

The category of thirdness refers, vaguely, to probabilistic realities, without specifying what’s epistemic in/determinable vs ontologically in/determined. If we go further to invoke Scotus’ formal distinction, we specify the ontologically in/determined, but it remains a fuzzy concept — to what degree determined? 

Hence, I find Mayr’s distinctions helpful, like teleomatic for end-states (inanimate nature) or teleonomic for end-directed (biological organisms), reserving teleologic for end-intendedness, persons. Much of this comes from engaging the biosemiotics of Terry Deacon. 

Also, I assume an emergentist stance without invoking supervenience. For example, I note that symbolic language and consciousness emerged here, in Homo sapiens, but remain agnostic regarding philosophy of mind, e.g. nonreductive physicalism vs panpsychism. 

I don’t believe we have to reconcile gravity and quantum mechanics, describe the origins of the cosmos, life or sentience, etc in order to epistemically warrant or normatively justify the life of faith. So, the peircean categories are but conceptual placeholders, an exploratory heuristic, not an explanatory metaphysic. They’re probabilistic. They are thus fallibilist and eschew a prioristic, rationalistic, naive realisms, precisely by prescinding from modal necessity to modal probability. Nonstrict identity comes from Hartshorne, or at least Dombrowski interpreting him, invoking moderation in metaphysics, differentiating acorns from oak trees, navigating the shoals of essentialism and nominalism.

Some divine energies might could be successfully referred to using these modal categories and divine interactivity contingent in some aspects. But, at some point, references to God must go beyond the univocal and analogical predications or, in principle, how could we be really talking about G-d?

We look around and see all these regularities and probabilities and infer neccessity, only ever encountering it in analytic abstractions, never physically instantiated. The argument for the reality (not being) of God, Peirce says, invokes the Ens Necessarium, wholly transcendent. That’s telos with a capital ‘T’elos. 

Perhaps this is where Boyd’s distinction between the INTENSITY of the aesthetic experience of internal, loving relationality and, on the other hand, its SCOPE might come in. Insofar as we take Boyd’s conception of immutability as an eternal disposition, even when the essential divine experience overflows as contingent illustrations, neither the disposition nor the intensity change.

Also, perhaps we can disambiguate an equivocal notion of contingency such that there’s not a scintilla of contingency, modally, in either God’s immutable disposition or intensity of aesthetic experience. Any contingencies, such as in the scope and illustrative overflow of the aesthetic experience, are not modal but the dependent variety – as we already acknowledge in the hypostases and energies?

Years ago, I wondered why Hartshorne went dyadic, theologically, when he had Peirce at his disposal. He had his reasons but I cannot recite them now. Both Boyd and Joe Bracken have rehabilitated CH with trinitarian approaches that respect classical theisms key insights while drawing on process’ strengths.

The divine attributes must be reconceived such that they refer to that knowledge, power and freedom greater than which could not be conceived without falling into logical inconsistency, internal incoherence and metaphysical incongruity vis a vis personal freedom, divine freedom and inmutable divine dispositions. Divine knowledge of the future would not refer to peircean secondness or actualities but to thirdness, including necessities and probabilities as well as divine prerogatives. God’s eschatological aims are bolstered by the divine freedom to influence such future possibilities. Constraints on divine omnipotence and freedom have been treated elsewhere under the logical problem of evil.

Additional notes:

Speaking of apophatic qualifications, the traditional apophatic way of approaching any God-concept can go a long way toward guaranteeing its consistency. A list of properties can be logically guaranteed to be conceptually compatible with each other precisely because of their negativity. So, coupled with our analogical God-talk, apophatic references can be very meaningful.

For any interested, Christopher McHugh recast Hartshorne’s modal ontological argument using such negative properties:
Speaking again of apophatic qualifications, we think of Cambridge properties, which are external. Such would include energies, works, activities and relationships, all distinguished from substance and considered epinoetic. So, too, negative attributes, e.g. immutability, would be epinoiai.

So, while one would not posit real distinctions in God, it seems like we could properly posit formal distinctions — not just in our human relating to God, but — among some of the attributes in God’s essence, itself, which remain inseparable?