Are ALL goods perfected endlessly (infinitely) in God?

“…the first sort we shall have in greater measure, because whatever reality is in any created thing is there by the gift of God. It is therefore, in infinite perfection, in God Himself, and with Him we shall be in living contact.”- Theology for Beginners F.J.Sheed

  1. Does that mean literally ‘infinite’ (rather than the author just using hyperbole- how would we know? A well-educated friend of mine said we can never know for sure if someone means ‘infinite’ as literal or as hyperbole) in which case, is this generally accepted as an attribute of God- that He is the infinite (without bounds) version of EVERY good thing (rather than just specific goods, like ‘Love’ for instance).

  2. If we accept this and accept this Platoist-styled idea all goods (that are not misleading- goods that have the desired reality we seek in them) are in God fulfilled to an endlessly perfected degree of beauty, goodness and desirablity, are, for instance, ‘Dracula’ or ‘Frankestein’s monster’ fulfilled in Him? They are not sinful to enjoy surely- as they are fictions and negate no good and, to some, are prefrable to some of the more ‘traditional’ imagery of artistic goods associated with God. If they are…are they infinitely more ‘like themselves’ (akin to Plato’s ‘The Forms’) and the finite versions were foretastes/echoes? Or is the original pleasure shown to be a hint of something unrelated?

(All this is genuine enquirey. Please, no one take offence (if, indeed, offence should be taken) at the ‘Dracula’ question. It is not intended to be blasphemous if that is how some people read it.

Hi Thomas;

It might be helpful to highlight the distinction between emanation and participation. Emanationism, according to the Neo-Platonists (like Plotinus), answers to your point raised in paragraph 2. According to this model, goodness consists in a hierarchy of being, with ‘God’ being the ultimate source of this hierarchy of being, and therefore the purest form of every other good flowing from it. The consequence of this Plotinian model is that the substance of God becomes confused with the goods he has created and that every created good is simply an extension of the infinite Goodness of God. For this reason the Church condemned emanationism at the Fourth Lateran and First Vatican councils.

The doctrine of participation however holds that all created good participate in God, but remain ontologically distinct from God. Created goods, according to the doctrine of participation, have their being only insofar as they are a reflection of the divine Goodness, which gives them their being, including any being which Dracula may have.

Your Dracula analogy is very interesting, and helps illustrate the difference between emanationism and participation. According to emanationism, Dracula would be contained in God. But according to participation, Dracula (as fiction) is good to the extent that he participates in being, and this is what we delight in: various kinds of being which stimulate our imagination and cause pleasure in us, all of which are created goods. But insofar as there is evil in Dracula, there is no exemplar of this in God. A lot more could be said about this, but I hope this is at least partially helpful.

If you’re interested in going further into this, St Thomas Aquinas deals with this very question you raise in his De Veritate, question 3, article 1 which address the notion of ‘idea’ in God, and article 4, which examines the notion of an evil idea (like Dracula) in God.

FWIW, I answered this question where it was cross-posted (with the proper notice by the OP) in the apologetics forum. I probably should have posted my reply here, since it is heavily philosophical. You may read my reply here.

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