Framing the reasonableness of the questions posed by natural theologies, logically …

Beyond which some theologies of nature proceed evidentially (ontotheologically) or evaluatively (theopoetically) or both …

Gifting an equiplausible (vis a vis worldviews) epistemic warrant for faith as a truly live option and sufficient normative justifications for faith as a forced and vital option!

metaphysical agnosticism (w/o root metaphors or a priori predications)

emergentist phenomenology (w/o invoking supervenience)

aristotelian causations

modal ontology

palamitic theological distinctions

pentametric axiology of truth, beauty, goodness, unity & freedom

scotistic distinctions and predications

  • essential – eternalities & neccessities
  • conceptual – equivocal, analogical, referential, descriptive
  • modal adequacy – univocal predications, whether bracketed or explicit, degrees of realization vis a vis emergent complexities
  • formal – regularities & probabilities re: what an entity is doing
  • modal a/temporality – 1ns, 2ns, 3ns, 4ns including haecceities w/grammars related to noncontradiction and excluded middle

Note: It may be that, in some sense, the distinctions of Hartshorne and Palamas may reconcile to Peirce’s modal distinctions. Hartshorne’s essence, existence and actuality, and Palamas’ essence, hypostases and energies, may relate to possibilities as 1ns, actualities as 2ns and probabilities as 3ns, which would entail a formally distinct divine contingency. Peirce’s Ens Necessarium would entail necessary divine aspects, which I refer to as 4ns. Rather than a mere dipolar approach, this entails an irreducibly triadic modal ontology or vague phenomenology or meta-metaphysic. Contingent aspects would be identified nonstrictly, while necessities would rely on strict identity.


Act (2ns) & Existence (2ns) or Efficient (2ns) & Formal (3ns) causes

Potential (3ns) & Essence (1ns) or Final (3ns) & Material (1ns) causes

Both formal and final causations refer to the regularities, in/determinables and in/determined realities of peircean 3ns, or hartshornean actuality or palamitic energies, where work is being done, activities are in play, an entity is doing something, teleodynamically, which will bring about a temporal future. The future that will ensue from an encounter with formal causes will result from end-stated (teleomatic) or end-directed (teleonomic) work that has already been done (boundaries already established).

Final causes will bring about causes from end-intended (teleologic) work being done synchronically (essentially ordered) or in the future. Hence, material precedes formal (teleopotent, teleomatic, teleonomic), which precedes efficient, which precedes final (teleologic) causes.

These asymmetric temporal relations mean an entity’s past but not its future determine its nonstrict identity. A failure to employ such temporal and teleodynamic distinctions to Aristotelian potencies or teloi can lead to strict, essentialistic accounts of an entity’s identity, which then lead to axiological absurdities, whether regarding divine or human persons, divine or human activities, divine and human participations.

Divine Energies as Formally Distinct:

In musing about such matters, I have considered Peirce’s categories temporally, corresponding to past possibilities, present actualities and both future probabilities & necessities. And I’ve mapped those, respectively, to Hartshorne’s essence, existence and actuality, as well as Palamas’ essence, hypostases and energies.

The Peircean Thirdness or future orientations or teloi, whether as probabilities, Hartshorne’s actualities or Palamas’ energies, refer to dynamical realities, to activities, to work being done by an entity, which, per our view, may either be variously in/determinable, epistemically, or in/determined, ontologically.

If one applies Scotus’ formal distinction to a probabilistic reality, taking that distinction to be neither real, essentially, nor merely conceptual, logically, but still genuinely objective and inseparable, one thus affirms there’s more than epistemic indeterminacy in play in an entity’s openness to future influences but one does not, necessarily, at the same time, specify the degree that that entity’s future remains variously in/determined.

In other words, when we refer to Peircean thirdness, it seems to me that we invoke regularities without necessarily specifying their epistemic or metaphysical natures. If we further invoke Scotus’ formal distinction, applying it to thirdness, we are further specifying a given regularity as not merely epistemic but clearly ontological but without specifying the degree of in/determined/ness, such as variously probable to inevitably necessary.

When one applies Scotus’ formal distinction to creatures, thirdness has only ever corresponded to probabilities and not necessities. Hartshorne precisely invokes a nonstrict identity due to asymmetric temporal relations.

On the other hand, when I have invoked both a peircean thirdness and a scotistic formal distinction in reference to the divine energies, I am only suggesting that they are dynamical, distinct from divine essence or hypostases but inseparable, and are efficacious. That does not necessarily implicate a divine contingency of any sort; that would have to be argued separately. At any rate, God, alone would enjoy a strict identity.

Creaturely partaking of and participation in divine energies remains contingent due to our nature. God only ever loves, necessarily so, precisely because She’s absolutely free, metaphysically. Which aspects of God’s interactions with creatures might be contingent, again, would have to be argued.

I argue for divine contingency here:

When applying Scotus’ formal distinction to reality’s regularities (or peircean thirdness), we take that distinction vis a vis a given entity’s identity to be neither real, essentially, nor merely conceptual, logically, but to be still genuinely objective and inseparable from that entity, as well as dynamically efficacious. The peircean modal categories entail asymmetric temporal relations, which could implicate a nonstrict identity for that entity, whenever that thirdness refers to the dynamical activities of a probabilistic reality.

When applying Scotus’ formal distinction to the divine energies, we take that distinction vis a vis the divine energies to be neither real, essentially, nor merely conceptual, logically, but to be still genuinely objective and inseparable from the divine essence, as well as dynamically efficacious as divine energies.

However, just because the peircean modal categories entail asymmetric temporal relations, they needn’t necessarily implicate nonstrict identities, if the peircean thirdness in play happens to refer to the dynamical activities of a necessary, rather than probabilistic, reality.

When we invoke the formal distinction between the divine essence and energies, we are only affirming a genuine, objective, inseparable and dynamically efficacious activity of those energies but have not thereby a priori indicated whether they are contingent vs necessary. That would have to be argued separately in the case of any given divine energy.

At some point, because thirdness refers to teloi, an approach that affirms only probabilistic and contingent teloi will lose all theologic impetus unless it also affirms a robustly, subjectively intentional Telos of the Ens Necessarium with some aspect of the economic Trinity identical to the immanent Trinity.