Mises on God?

An interesting quote on theology from Mises’s Human Action:

Scholastic philosophers and theologians and likewise Theists and Deists of the Age of Reason conceived an absolute and perfect being, unchangeable, omnipotent, and omniscient, and yet planning and acting, aiming at ends and employing means for the attainment of these ends. But action can only be imputed to a discontented being, and repeated action only to a being who lacks the power to remove his uneasiness once and for all at one stroke. An acting being is discontented and therefore not almighty. If he were contented, he would not act, and if he were almighty, he would have long since radically removed his discontent. For an all-powerful being there is no pressure to choose between various states of uneasiness; he is not under the necessity of acquiescing in the lesser evil. Omnipotence would mean the power to achieve everything and to enjoy full satisfaction without being restrained by any limitations. But this is incompatible with the very concept of action. For an almighty being the categories of ends and means do not exist. He is above all human comprehension, concepts, and understanding. For the almighty being every “means” renders unlimited services, he can apply every “means” for the attainment of any ends, he can achieve every end without the employment of any means. It is beyond the faculties of the human mind to think the concept of almightiness consistently to its ultimate logical consequences. The paradoxes are insoluble. Has the almighty being [p. 70] the power to achieve something which is immune to his later interference? If he has this power, then there are limits to his might and he is no longer almighty; if he lacks this power, he is by virtue of this fact alone not almighty.

One Comment

  • SethApex

    Earlier in Human Action, Mises made several points which contradict this specific critique. Firstly, Mises earlier admitted that the subject of praxeology is limited to human action, and therefore excludes both subhuman and superhuman action. And while Human Action must arise from discontentment, we have not God’s subjective perspective to assume that his action is motivated by some discontentment, although the holy scriptures themselves attribute many of God’s actions to a discontentment, so this is barely contentious. But by no means does this necessarily mean that ALL of His actions are motivated by some discontentment. In fact a true sign of omnipotence would be the ability to act without some discontentment.

    Secondly Mises admits that there are states of affairs which may both be desired but which are mutually exclusive. One state of affairs that God may prefer is that humans be free to act as they will rather than forcing them to act in any way, yet simultaneously he may desire them to freely come into a relationship with him.

    Finally Mises has stated that praxeology is particularly concerned with action in time. and while the actions of God might be temporally ordered in the universe we live in, it is quite possible and likely that the way time works for a being in eternity is quite different. it is not necessarily the case that time must be finite, linear, or even continuous. In fact it seems to make more sense to say that all of God’s actions, from his own perspective, are simultaneous, therefore there is no later or earlier sequential ordering in His actions.

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