In Peirce’s modal ontology, he prescinds from categories of possibility, actuality and necessity to those of possibility, actuality and probability. This move precisely affirmed a realist stance toward reality’s probabilities (not unrelated to Scotus’ formal distinction), but allows us to remain metaphysically agnostic as to which such probabilities refer to ontological regulators (various teloi, e.g. teleopotent, teleomatic, teleonomic, teleodynamic) and/or mere epistemic regularities (observer artifacts).

We can also remain agnostic regarding which of those teloi, in any given instance, would be distinguished essentially (i.e. absolutes, necessities, eternalities) and which emergently (e.g. thru cosmopoiesis, biopoiesis, etc).

That’s to say that we can realize human values, probabilistically, employing only vague phenomenological categories, even as we remain in search of a metaphysic (e.g. the most robust root metaphors).

We recognize that chance and necessity, pattern and paradox, order and chaos, symmetry and asymmetry, the random and systematic, determinacy and indeterminacy, regulators and regularities, all play real roles in reality when we prescind, ontologically, from modal necessities to probabilities. The semiotic grammar changes from a reality, where noncontradiction and excluded middle both hold to one where noncontradiction certainly still holds, but excluded middle folds.

We don’t thus solve Hume’s problem of induction, speculatively, but we recognize that, practically, a fallibilist, probabilistic approach fosters human value-realizations because, if epistemology indeed models ontology, human inference will work just fine if teloi indeed correspond, ontologically, to an axiological sufficiency of actual regulators.

Still, regarding freedom, we don’t refer to reality’s teloi univocally, in my view. There’s a radical discontinuity, qualitatively, between the nonalgorithmic, teleodynamic, anthroposemiotic freedom made possible by human symbolic language, and the more algorithmic, teleonomic, biosemiotic freedom gifted by sentience, which is merely iconic and indexical.

When I conceive of divine constraints relative to human freedom, I imagine omniscience, omnipathy, omnibenevolence, omnipresence and omnipotence as those divine attributes greater than which could not be conceived without otherwise violating the internal coherence and consistency or external congruence and consonance between reality’s essential divine and metaphysical logics, kenotic included.

But it is only human freedom that, for me, is at stake and inviolable, a freedom that emerged rather recently. I say emerged, phenomenologically, grinding no metaphysical axes vis a vis philosophy of mind, such as to characterize it in panpsychic or nonreductive physicalist terms, for example.

Suffering, to me, is a tehomic artifact that God only ever alleviates, save for essential constraints, never using it instrumentally by design even though He’ll always transformatively exploit it for Her ends and our ultimate good.

I believe God has coaxed some regularities forth, while others might logically inhere in various tehomic multitudinae. Those regularities with which God cannot interfere, in my view, are those which would be indispensable to each human’s freedom. When natural or personal evils cause human suffering, God’s only constrained by inviolable tehomic logics or His own essential kenosis vis a vis human, teleodynamic freedom (but not vis a vis teleonomic, teleomatic or teleopotent teloi of lesser ontological densities or metaphysical complexities than the imago Dei).

The above has been my defense to the logical problem of evil. I remain agnostic regarding evidential theodicies. I believe there’s a plurality of reasons that God’s wholly exculpable, that the approaches of Augustine, Plantinga, yourself (Oord) and others could be sufficiently nuanced for a defense, logically.

Evidentially, cumulative case apologetics can provide at least a modicum of equiplausibility vs alternative cosmogonies, but reality remains way too ambiguous for us and way too ambivalent toward us to “coerce” one belief vs another, which leaves us with normative justifications of faith rather than epistemic warrants, in other words, with forced, vital but live options, which may be quite to the point and in service of human freedom.

Regarding the divine essence, hypostases and energies, our partaking and participation in the energies remains an established THAT, theologically, but, as to HOW, again I’m metaphysically agnostic. Exactly what might be predicated of both God and creatures, I don’t know. All such predications, though, cannot be merely equivocal or analogical rather than univocal or we’ll introduce insurmountable causal disjunctions.

I believe God authors many more miracles than most imagine but, on the other hand, remains constrained way more, in certain ways (essentially, metaphysically or kenotically) than classically conceived by most. I am deeply sympathetic to your (Oord) project and strongly resonant with your approach.

I give human freedom inviolability via essential divine kenosis but don’t univocally predicate freedom or emergent teloi up and down the phylogenetic ladder or great chain of _____.

Because God’s nature is love, God always gives freedom, agency and self-organization to persons.

We encounter a plurality of teloi in the regularities of nature, perhaps some

1) tehomic (whether from co-eternal, procreative and/or creative origins), perhaps others coaxed forth by divine energies, perhaps some

2) eternal, static or universal, others temporal, dynamical or local,

3) some robustly telic, teleodynamically (end-intended), others moderately so, teleonomically (end-directed), others weakly finious, teleomatically (end-stated) or variously indeterminate, teleopotently (end-un/bounded).


We may encounter a plurality of divine constraints, voluntary (beyond any essential kenosis, superabundantly) and involuntary (externally, due to inviolable metaphysical logics, which would lapse into incoherence and inconsistency, whatever their origins, and internally, by an essential kenosis).

God sustains the teleodynamic, end-intended, regularities of nature, as comprised in the essence of personal freedom, but otherwise opportunistically will suspend any of reality’s violable regularities in service of the divine will.

Any lack of divine intervention to prevent evil results only from involuntary constraints, whether kenotic or metaphysical.

God otherwise invariably intervenes in teleonomic, teleomatic and teleopotent realities in service of the divine will, except for when they are necessarily entwined in sustaining any particular teleodynamic regularities, which would be essential for any person’s freedom.

We encounter regularities without knowing their precise origins and natures. The above rubrics would be consistent with any number of creation accounts.

Contribution to discussion of Oord’s Uncontrolling Love:

Perhaps reality’s regularities and freedom are both being too vaguely conceived. If we more narrowly define freedom in terms of that type which belongs to a person and better distinguish between regularities by employing more precise telic conceptions, there would be less freedom at stake for and fewer regularities to necessarily be sustained by an essential kenosis.

These moves wouldn’t be ad hoc but eminently defensible, phenomenologically, prior to using a particular metaphysic or root metaphor. The freedom of a human person is not just quantitatively but qualitatively different, semiotically. It is robustly telic or teleodynamic, rather than merely teleonomic, as in other sentient animals. Other teloi or regularities are thus not agentially end-intended or teleodynamic but are otherwise merely end-directed or teleonomic, end-stated or teleomatic or variously end-un/bounded or teleopotent. Those types of regularities and “freedoms,” in my view, to the extent they wouldn’t be intrinsically inviolable, metaphysically, needn’t necessarily be subjects of essential kenosis, could otherwise be objects of divine prerogatives.

I’m only considering logical possibilities, not evidential plausibilities.

Glossary of Teloi

I have found it helpful to refer to various emergent TELOI – (teleo -potent, -matic, -nomic and -logic) refer to various end-phenomena (un/bounded, stated, directed and intended).

veldopoietic entwinement – marked by the teleopotent end-un/boundedness of field (veld-) dynamics

cosmopoietic entwinement – marked by the teleomatic end-statedness of a

materio-energetic, proto-sentience

biopoietic entwinement – marked by the teleonomic end-directedness of an

electro-chemical, incipient sentience;

sentiopoietic entwinement – marked by sentience, broadly conceived to include

hormonal sentience;

neuronal sentience (including, for example, abductive instinct);

striatal sentience;

limbic sentience and

cortical sentience (including, for example, nonreflective awareness, nonarbitrary inconicity and indexicality).

sapiopoietic entwinement, marked by the teleologic end-intendedness of

sapient sentience (including, for example, abductive inference, reflective awareness, arbitrary symbolicity and subconscious problem solving)

Regarding my account of emergent teloi, above, I only invoke emergence in terms of a vague phenomenology or exploratory — not explanatory — heuristic.

In other words, those different levels of complexity refer to evolved novelties in nature that resist both epistemic and ontological reduction. Specifically, my heuristic does not employ distinctions like weak and strong emergence, which are, respectively, trivial and question begging (in how they invoke supervenience). We needn’t be anxious to prove too much or to say more than we could possibly know.

The Baldwin Effect does suggest downward causations. Among other types of formal and final causations, such as are becoming increasingly in vogue in semiotic sciences, whether or not any of nature’s downward causations violate physical causal closure or not remains an open question, in my view.

That human persons are radically free-enough for most of our theological anthropologies can be established axiomatically via either a reductio ad absurdum or, more rigorously, by a vague semiotic phenomenology with no resort to a more robust metaphysic.

Divine Aseity & Essential Kenosis

On the aseity distinctions, I find the Palamitic approach helpful, where the divine energies express the divine will, from which divine creativity or procreativity would ensue, contingently, apart from divine essences and hypostases. It may be that conflating creatio with love proves too much, says more than we could possibly know regarding divine necessity. I affirm the notion that takes love as necessity, but agree that creatio reveals our contingent participation in divine energies. To that point, consistent with the distinctions on which I reflected above, we must further distinguish between natural participations in the divine energies and those gifted rational persons. Again, it’s only the latter I’d make a concern of any essential kenosis. That’s to conclude, I suppose, for example, that any sustaining of natural regularities would be a by-product of God’s sustaining our personal freedom, the end product. But those natural regularities, which naturally but not rationally participate in the divine energies, wouldn’t a priori and in every instance necessarily be sustained. 

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