Aristotle is the ‘eternalist,’ believing that the universe is eternal and that God comes into existence at some point in time. Maimonides asserts the converse: that God is eternal and that the universe is actively brought into being. It is striking that Maimonides, who accepts Aristotleâ€™s position on an array of topics, including the essence of both God and man, cannot find agreement with Aristotle on the relationship between God and the cosmos. It is even more astounding that neither Maimonides nor Aristotle claim to prove their respective positions vis-Ã -vis Godâ€™s relation to the cosmos. It is as if both men probe to the depths of metaphysics together in complete accord, only to resign, quite openly, to their respective presuppositions at the end of the journey.
Both sides appear to be missing tools that are essential to complete this journey. And both sides admit their respective unpreparedness by abandoning the very thought-process that brought them to this point:
â€œAs for the matters concerning which we have no argument or that are too great in our opinion, it is difficult for us to say: why is this so? For instance, when we say: Is the world eternal or not?â€
Aristotle, Topica I, 11
â€œThe eternity of the world or its creation in time becomes an open question, it should in my opinion be accepted without proofâ€¦ it is not in the power of speculation to accede.â€
Moses Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed, II, 16
It is at this juncture that David Birnbaum enters the forum. He does so by delineating the relationship between God and eternity in the context of a unified metaphysics that concurrently addresses the relationship of God to the cosmos and the cosmos to eternity.
Such is the philosophy expounded in his first work, God and Evil. It is this simultaneous solution that lays the foundation for the workâ€™s understanding of the existence of gross evil in the world. Birnbaumâ€™s is a solution that has been left almost entirely unchallenged in the eighteen years since its publication in 1988. In the current work, God and Good, Birnbaum has looked further into the implications of this metaphysics and found the individual to be central. Here the individual is revealed as the engine of cosmic evolution. The relationship of man to God, man to the cosmos, and man to eternity thus become the focus of this work.
|< BACK||NEXT PAGE>|