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Thread: Eru's thoughts (Ainur)

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If all has its uttermost source in Eru, then there is no free will. Melkor thought he was harming the music, but it was exactly what Eru had planned. All is his plan. Ungoliant has to have a source, because Eru made all, yes?. Eru made evil; that doesn't make Eru evil, but he has a plan that no one can comprehend. All were made to live and or die in the world to be a part of his Great Play. Every obstacle takes a bow on the otherside when all ends.

 

I love this topic, because "free will" and "plan" or "destiny" are complete contradictions and can not exist at the same time. If God were all-knowing, all-powerful and every other word prefixed with "all", then he is the one whom is moving the pieces across the chess board.

Perhaps Eru/God is a thing beyond good and evil and just is.

I don't understand why some question whether Eru knew the mind of Melkor when everything begins and ends in Eru. Eru is the source of everything, right? He is "all" everything, therefore, he knew. It was all his plan. There is no free will, because all that happens is part of the Great Plan. Perhaps Ea is one big experiment.

Quote:
Eru sits and watches, sometimes smiling, sometimes weeping, sometimes angry, sometimes wistful... until all has come to pass.

 

Well, yes, because I believe he is the sole architect of the "film". The film that he wholly wrote, produced and directed. He watches it, knowing full well how it will turn out, but the script is a powerful one, so it moves him: it's funny, so it makes him smile/laugh; it's sad, so it makes him weep, etc.. I don't believe there could be a grand plan/design, knowing/planning how all will turn out if the players in the play had free will. I believe they are following a full script embossed upon their being.

I would say that Eru is in the Timeless Halls, thus outside time, and so verb tense is only our restriction when we try to understand how one can have free will even if Eru 'knows' what a given person 'will' do, for example..

Boethius treats the problem of Free Will, in part.

"But," thou wilt say, "if it is in my power to change my purpose, I shall make void providence, since I shall perchance change something which comes within its foreknowledge." My answer is: Thou canst indeed turn aside thy purpose; but since the truth of providence is ever at hand to see that thou canst, and whether thou dost, and whither thou turnest thyself, thou canst not avoid the Divine foreknowledge, even as thou canst not escape the sight of a present spectator, although of thy free will thou turn thyself to various actions. Wilt thou, then, say: "Shall the Divine knowledge be changed at my discretion, so that, when I will this or that, providence changes its knowledge correspondingly?"
 

'Surely not.'
 

'True, for the Divine vision anticipates all that is coming, and transforms and reduces it to the form of its own present knowledge, and varies not, as thou deemest, in its foreknowledge, alternating to this or that, but in a single flash it forestalls and includes thy mutations without altering. And this ever-present comprehension and survey of all things God has received, not from the issue of future events, but from the simplicity of His own nature. Hereby also is resolved the objection which a little while ago gave thee offence—that our doings in the future were spoken of as if supplying the cause of God's knowledge. For this faculty of knowledge, embracing all things in its immediate cognizance, has itself fixed the bounds of all things, yet itself owes nothing to what comes after.'

But even that is limited by 'time'. Carl Hostetter had some interesting things to say about fate and free will, since it fell to him to present Tolkien's notes on the subject in Tolkien Studies:

"A.S.", you are certainly right so far as you go, that the one sense of "fate" as meaning our "ultimate destiny" is part of what the Ainulindalë passage is concerned with. Tolkien makes it quite clear there and elsewhere (including The Lord of the Rings) that it is in "ultimate destiny" that Elves and Men chiefly differ.

What is tricky, though, is that it is equally clear in the Ainulindalë passage that Tolkien is not thinking only of this, for the passage reads: "Therefore he willed that the hearts of Men should seek beyond the world and should find no rest therein; but they should have a virtue to shape their life, amid the powers and chances of the world, beyond the Music of the Ainur, which is as fate to all things else" (emphasis added). Very clearly this special virtue that Men are given is operative within the World and throughout Men's lives, not merely in their ultimate destiny.

And so I can readily understand Verlyn's take on this: if one uses this passage as the basis upon and lens through which all other published evidence is evaluated, and if one equates this "virtue" with "free will", it is easy to argue that Elves do not have free will. I'm not saying it makes for a convincing or satisfying argument -- after all, none of the Elves ever act as though they don't have free will, and in fact they are often presented as having to make crucial choices with serious consequences (moral and otherwise); while Frodo and other Men are often described as fated (or possibly so) -- but it is an easy and obvious argument to make.

But I begin my paper by noting that Tolkien does not say here that Men have a unique gift of "free will", but rather that they are given a "virtue". Verlyn assumes they mean the same thing; I submit they do not: virtue is ability and strength and efficacy, not merely will (i.e., purpose or intent).

Moreover, if Verlyn is right, it is very hard to explain (in addition to the points I allude to above) the existence and content of the unpublished notes I presented, which discuss the Elvish thought on the roles of fate and free will within the World and make no mention of any limitation of free will to Men. What it does do is draw distinctions between what Men mean by "fate" and what Elves mean by it, and as to the "given conditions" within which will is constrained to operate. And that, I think, is what we must do as well: what does "fate" mean in the Ainulindalë passage? What does the Music of the Ainur, which is "as fate", encompass, and so what exactly are its constraints, that Men alone can go beyond?

And just as importantly, what does the Music not encompass and constrain? And what are the "powers and chances of the world", amid which the special virtue of Men operates? And are fate and free will really at odds with each other? (As I have said, I submit in my paper they are not.) Tolkien touches on all these points, both in the unpublished notes and in numerous published writings (particularly Letters).

 ... Tolkien's own discussion in the unpublished note on "Fate and Free Will" certainly makes no claim or even implication that Free Will obtains only when there is an ultimate consequence to its exercise. Rather, there, "free will" is defined as obtaining when (and only when, but by implication always when) a determination of course (action or inaction) is made for a "fully-aware purpose", amid the physical conditions and processes of the world (ambar) and the network of chances within "fate" (umbar). As Tolkien says in Letters, Free Will is "derivative" (i.e., I take it, of God's will and of His creation of the world and of rational creatures which He endows with will) and therefore always operates "within provided circumstances". As these unpublished notes explain, these "circumstances" are both ambar 'the world' and umbar 'fate': and these are "provided", of course, ultimately by Eru himself. Obviously, exercises of Free Will so defined can have moral valuation, can even be "sinful", within the world and apart from questions of one's ultimate destiny, since they can either accord with or violate the moral standards of the world that ultimately also derive from Eru.

They can also have moral consequences within the world, not just for ultimate destiny, and not just for Men: consider, for example, when Tolkien conspicuously notes that had Feänor chosen to surrender the Silmarils, things might have gone better for him subsequently, even though in the event he could not actually have surrendered then, since Morgoth had by then already stolen them. Feänor was presented with a choice, amid ambar and umbar, and whichever decision he made had a consequence for him, even though neither choice would in the event have effected the restoration of the Trees. That sure sounds like a moral consequence to me, even if as an Elf it had no (known) effect on his ultimate destiny.

Carl Hostetter [culled from threads on line, sorry that the remarks are here out of context]

This is such a great thread; one that I have debated many times. I sincerely believe everything that happens is supposed to go exactly that way. Perhaps we were given the idea of believing what we do is our choice, when, in fact, whatever we do do is predetermined, what we were meant to do, "good" or "evil". It is a complicated idea, I know, but if you strolled backward through time, think of all the events that lead up to how the world is today. Think of the events that lead up to who an where YOU are now. One action begets another: one man kills another so that the killer's brother may avoid the same murderous path; a mother is abused by her husband/boyfriend so their daughter should learn to think more highly of herself, etc. Those are smaller examples but no less potent.

I'm sorry if it was mentioned in earlier posts above, didn't have time to read it. If the the timeline is predetermined, the Valar did nothing to Melkor because they knew the future, and that they will intervene at a later time. They would've let the Nolder return to middle earth on purpose. By this, I'm referring to the prophecy of Earendil.

Well, no. The Powers knew much but not the full extent of Eru's plan. They and Melkor "played" their parts that I believe were written for them by Eru. In the end, the very end, it's all one huge production that was mounted by Eru.

If Eru is all knowing, then he can look into the future and see what he is going to do in the future.

If Eru is all powerful, then he can change what he is going to do in the future.

Eru must know either what it is that he is going to do and not just what he could do, or not know what it is that he is going to do (but still know what he can do).

If Eru knows what he is going to do then he can't change what he is going to do.

Either Eru can change what he is going to do and doesn't know what he will really do or Eru knows what he is going to do but can't change it, Either Eru is all powerful or all knowing, but not both.

Can anyone point out a mistake I made above?

If Eru is all knowing, then he can look into the future and see what he is going to do in the future.

I wonder if your thought process is flawed by implicitly assuming that Eru has a future (that is not already in his "present" )? Can you speak sensibly if you say, about a being that exists outside of time, that it has a future, as if it existed in our Time like we do?

In your defense, it certainly seems, when reading the Ainulindale, that Eru exists and does things in a linear fashion - but in my defense, that text was written by High Elves after being told stories by the Valar & Maiar, who, themselves having entered Time, and speaking to beings that had never known any existence except in Time, must have translated what "really" happened into a linear timeline that the Elves could follow.

In fact it may be that this "music" of the Ainur is only a metaphor for what was actually happening, the closest thing that a High Elf would understand to what was really going on. (Or, perhaps, when Bilbo translated the Ainulindale from Quenya into Westron, he decided that Music was the best way to translate whatever it was talking about. Or maybe later translators and copyists added a more linear aspect to the Ainulindale than was originally there. Or perhaps Tolkien himself, when translating Westron into his English, made things more linear in order for our society to be able to understand it.)

Well, I don't know how it works for someone outside of time. Maybe he does everything in a single instant, in which case how would his all-knowledge work?

Anyway, I don't like the idea of something all powerful and all knowing. If Eru really was all powerful and all knowing, why did he create Morgoth knowing he would rebel, then try to stop him? He even knew that that would fail, yet if he was all powerful he could, at any point, make Morgoth repent and be friends with the other Valar, without compromising Morgoth's free will (as an all powerful being, he can do litterally anything). I think that Eru is either not all powerful, not all knowing, or not truly good, just neutral. If he was neutral, he wasn't swayed towards evil or good, then it makes sense that he would create some beings like Morgoth to balance out the good ones like Manwë.

Curufinwe, That's the age old question that's been the topic of many religious debates. If Eru was so powerful, why didn't/couldn't he make Morgoth "good" again. Some willvargue that it will go against free will. Others argue, if there is free will, then how does Eru know what happens at the end? Therefore, freewill isn't real. Morgoth was just playing his part in the story. And the debates goes on and on.
About evil, Tolkien doesn't believe in absolute evil, atleast it doesn't exist in the beings in his created world. When it comes down to the closest in representing evil, it is Sauron, not Morgoth, that is closest to evil.

So do you agree or disagree that Eru was either not all powerful, not all knowing, or not truly "good"?

We truly could go on and on with this very interesting topic, especially how it relates to our world and religion. Perhaps our concepts of good and evil don't apply to a being like Eru. I firmly stand that if EVERYTHING began and ended with Eru, even Melkor's disruption of the Great Music, then how could "evil" exist outside of Eru, namely Ungoliant. Maybe in the end, this human book closes, and we live another kind of life, under God. I'm sorry. I often forget we're discussing the Sil and not reality.

I don't think Eru himself have evil within him, but he did create evil.

Creating free will must allow for the possibility of evil. In my opinion, for Tolkien, evil lies not in the source, but in malicious choice, the choice hailing from free will itself, but still a choice. 

(...) Then looking on the Blessed Land 'twill see
that all is as it is, and yet made free:
Salvation changes not, nor yet destroys,
garden nor gardener, children nor their toys.
Evil it will not see, for evil lies
not in God's picture but in crooked eyes,
not in the source but in malicious choice,
and not in sound but in the tuneless voice.

JRRT, Mythopoeia

The 'Problem of Evil' has been debated down though the ages. There is no one answer that all accept as true and flawlessly 'logical' on all accounts -- only various beliefs. That said, in any theory of why 'evil' exists, as it regards to Tolkien's work at least, in my opinion 'free will' must be part of the scenario according to some interpretation...

... as, to my mind, clearly free will exists in Tolkien's world, as the author refers to it various times, even writing an essay about fate and free will within the context of Middle-earth.

But Eru knew exactly how Morgoth would turn out when he created him. I don't understand how free will can exist under a being as all powerful and all knowing as Eru. I can accept that it does exist since Tolkien said it did and it's his world, but it doesn't make sense. Eru knows exactly what Morgoth will do, and he has the power to create him so that that is all he can do. Eru would know that there would be times when Morgoth would consider doing things one way, but the way Eru created him he would eventually decide to do things a different way. What is really confusing is how Eru is outside time, and I don't really understand how that works.

It is confusing trying to imagine a being outside time, but to my mind that's an important part of the answer here [again as it relates to Tolkien anyway].

CS Lewis has a chapter about free will and God being outside time, in his book Mere Christianity, even though it's difficult to explain. One could say God is always in a perpetual now, or that for God there is no past, present, or future...

... but when we say Eru created Melkor and he 'knew' Melkor would be evil we are resorting to tense of course, and so God seems to have knowingly created evil 'before' it came into being. But I would say the idea is: in order to create beings who have free will, the potential to do evil must also exist.

'This distinction between time and timelessness (or eternity) is very important for an understanding of providence and divine foreknowledge, since a divine knowledge of all events in time does not necessarily imply a divine determination of these events, because God is beyond time and therefore, for him does not exist an 'earlier' or a 'later.'

Thomas Fornett-Ponse, Strange And Free -- On Some Aspects of the Nature of Elves and Men, Tolkien Studies volume VII

 In another section of this article, Mr. Fornett-Ponse writes:

'That means that under given circumstances, they [Elves and Men] have real alternatives and may produce really different worlds without thereby frustrating Eru's plan since he has  -- like an author who integrates actions of his characters he did not foresee -- integrated their action in his plan for the fulfilling of Arda.'

But of course when we say that, we are naturally using tense again; yet it's a way to try and explain a world in which both fate and free will are operative.

In any case I highly recommend the Tolkien studies article I am citing here, if you can read it in full. It also cites text from Tolkien's own essay -- where Tolkien speculates on what the Eldar would have said. For example...

'They would probably also have said that Bilbo was 'fated' to find the Ring, but not necessarily to surrender it; and then if Bilbo surrendered it Frodo was fated to go on his mission, but not necessarily to destroy the Ring -- which in fact he did not do. They would have added that if the downfall of Sauron and the destruction of the Ring was part of fate (or Eru's Plan) then if Bilbo had retained the Ring and refused to surrender it, some other means would have arisen by which Sauron was frustrated. Just as when Frodo's will proved in the end inadequate a means for the Ring's destruction immediately appeared -- being kept in reserve by Eru as it were.' [Fate 185]

JRRT, Fate And Free Will

So again, even Tolkien seems to have Eru 'in time' [as it were], but he is trying to make a point here about the Plan allowing free will within the constraints of fate.

And I would say that the Ainulindale is written by beings trying to describe things which are beyond the power of language to easily or adequately describe.

a divine knowledge of all events in time does not necessarily imply a divine determination of these events, because God is beyond time and therefore, for him does not exist an 'earlier' or a 'later.'

While it is true that a divine knowledge of all events in time doesn't mean a certain of these events "must" come true while others of these must not, it does mean that Eru knows exactly what the result of each of his creations will be. He knows that creating Morgoth as he does results in Morgoth becoming the black enemy of the world. Being outside of time doesn't change the fact that he knows that Morgoth will enter into time and from there do as he does, nor does it change the fact that he knows Morgoth will be a certain way while outside of time. Furthermore, I believe that if Eru does everything all over a second time and changes absolutely NOTHING, the outcome will be exactly the same. Morgoth would be created the same way, and outside influences would also be created the same way and thus influence him in the same ways. If we know this, and we know that Eru knows the outcomes when he creates Morgoth and all the other Valar (something which takes place instantly since there is no time), he is choosing everything that will ever happen.

Think about it this way. Anyone who saw the movie Memento remembers a scene where there is a person with a special kind of short term memory loss getting tested. He is in a chair and has to pick up one block out of a group of metal blocks. Because of the kind of memory loss the character has, he remembers absolutely nothing, including procedural memories, from previous times he has done the same thing. Each time, he picks up the same block, which gives him an electric shock, and he always makes a rude remark and obscene gesture at the doctor in the exact same way. When the outside stimulus are exactly the same each time, the reaction is the same each time. Eru provides 100% of the outside stimulus, and he knows the reaction people will have. Thus, he makes everything happen when he creates people. This should still apply outside time, since he still creates Ainur who still interact, it just happens all at once (to my understanding, please correct me if I'm wrong).

Maybe put it this way: Eru knew/knows/will know what Melkor did/is doing/will do -- all in Eru's eternal now. There is no before or after. At 'the moment' [once again, using the language and conceptions of beings living in time] of creation the potential for evil exists, due to free will.

We cannot truly comprehend such an existence, nor describe it accurately. Nor can any writer of Ainulindale.

But yet we know free will [of some description] exists. In The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien one can find several explicit statements, including that Elves and Men 'were rational creatures of free will in regard to God' (letter 181), or a general statement when discussing Sauron: 'The indestructibility of spirits with free wills, even by the Creator of them, is also an inevitable feature' (Letter 211).

Not that anyone said otherwise, but to add to the thread.

Well yes. But...well, I will try my best to think about it, and i think what you just said was helpful. When I can get a few minutes I'll try to write a response.

I added in some short citations about free will too [in my previous post]...

... again not that you or anyone said otherwise, but maybe it's good to have more comments from JRRT on the subject, especially as it's not an easy one.

Hello everyone.  My first post here.  It will be a bit heady for some.

I think the problem can be solved if one has a knowledge of metaphysics of the theological sort that a good Catholic like Tolkien would have had.  We should keep in mind that though the Valar are rather similar to certain European gods (at one point Tolkien even made correspondences of Manwë to Odin, Tulkas to Thor, etc.), they come from out of Eru, which is to say that we are not dealing with a polytheistic cosmogony, with heathen Anglo-Saxon or Celtic gods, but something more like an archangelic order, or the henads of Neoplatonist theology.  However, unlike the Gods of Plotinus or Proclus (quite different from the pantheons of Homer; none of the Gods are evil or do anything vulgar, etc), Tolkien's Gods are still very much like western European deities, and are more like earthly entities than celestial thoughts, as they can do evil.

Now the Ainur are the thoughts of Eru.  Melkor is a thought; thus he is a sort of emanation, but with an element of individuation, existing at a lesser quality.  He is removed from the total unified monad of Eru (The One), and he contains a portion of all the gifts of the other Valar.  Thus his act in the music is more self-involved than say that of Manwë, his brother in the noetic mind of Eru.  What is more, he is endowed with free will related to this own powers (and this contradiction exists in Gnostic cosmogonies as well, with the fall of Sophia trying to do things that were not part of the divine plan); thus, by some initial and tragic misrecognition of his end as a synthesizing agent of all the Forces, his "correction" by Eru makes him ashamed, and secretly angry, and his power is such that his projected feeling of error (for deep down he cannot truly deny Eru) permanently disrupts an otherwise Good cosmogony...  

Evil cannot possibly exist in origin in Eru.  Evil is a problem of separation from Eru.  It comes about as things not going as planned due to the free will Eru endowed his Valar with.  Eru is good and all-knowing, but he knows himself as the One, a simplicity.  He is never described as a godhead or a trinity or some sort of self-enclosed multiplicity; he is a simple unity; The One.  As such, he is of a certain qualitative perfection; any emanation must necessarily be of a lesser quality.

Melkor's actions are not part of Eru's plan; they are Melkor's "plan"; the Fall.  And the Fall is all about free will by a noetic agent at a lower phase of ontological status from the Good.  Tolkien himself said the Silmarillion is all about the Fall.  But the Fall of Melkor (the initial Fall) echoes itself on lower ontological levels when agents become tragically self-involved; it's a causal domino effect throughout Arda Marred, from Melkor's cacophony to Feanor's rebellion...  Goes on and on...  Turgon's refusal to heed Ulmo's counsel, remains self-enclosed with the work of his own fëa, goes down with the tower...  Then these Falls are repeated as lesser Dark Lords repeat the "theme" of Melkor as the Ages go on (Tolkien even contemplated a return of this Fall via Herumor).  Gradually all these kinks get smoothed out of the fabric of Arda, and only repeat themselves on a lesser level.

Your argument makes a lot of sense, but I don't see you considering the fact that Eru and the Ainur were outside time when the music of the Ainur was made and Melkor caused discord. Therefore Melkor did not become evil, he was at the moment of his creation until he entered time. I think your suggestion to look more at what Tolkien himself thought is a good one.

From the Ainulindalë

For the Great Music had been but the growth and flowering of thought in the Timeless Halls, and the Vision only a foreshadowing; but now they had entered in at the beginning of Time, and the Valar perceived that the World had been but foreshadowed and foresung, and they must achieve it.

I would love to have the time to explain why I posted this quote, but I have to go to class. I'll try to post about it later.

Hm, not sure I agree.  ;-)  If I read you correctly, you seem to be implying that on the other side of temporality there are no moments, that there is no hierarchy of ontological levels.  If Eru is the One, that would mean he is not the One, but the Many, or a godhead, as there has to be a point in which the One was the One from the point of view of eternity.  In metaphysics, temporality is generally seen as the image of eternity, and I think it might be wrong to view it as negating any qualitative determination, viz. the extension of the Ainur from Eru, or the stages of the Fall of Melkor.  Now, if you concede that eternity has structure-- with the extensions of Iluvatar as being not the same qualitative substance as the One, but as noetic projections of it-- then you must by default agree that an emanationist structure allows for "phases" of determination, which would mean Melkor is not evil in essence, but only according to determination and his free will as a celestial agent.

Thanks for the thoughtful response!  Hope to hear more from you when you get back from class.

You use many big words...Curufinwë not sure of understanding.

Anyway, if I understand what you said, you are saying that there must have been time when Eru existed and no one else did, no Melkor, no Manwe. But if that is true, then we are not following what is written in the Sil, which is that Eru and the Ainur dwelt in the timeless halls until they entered Ëa at the beginning of time, and thus there is no time for Eru to exist in before the Ainur. I think it is possible for the Ainur to have always existed and for them to have come from Eru.

"phases" of determination, which would mean Melkor is not evil in essence, but only according to determination and his free will as a celestial agent.

If we allow for such phases, in which Melkor chooses evil, then we must consider why he chooses evil. It is because of a combination of outside stimulation and how Melkor was created. However, outside stimulus would at this point only be the other Ainur, who will interact with Melkor based only on how they are created and the outside stimulus they have received up to this point. However, the first interactions, the first outside stimulus the Ainur received, would be based solely on how the Ainur were created. Thus, all outside stimulus is based on how the Ainur are created, and Eru controls the Ainur's creation completely, so he controls all outside stimulus Melkor receives and how Melkor is created, meaning Eru controls every action Melkor takes.

Now, why did I post that quote. If there was no time, then Melkor never changed, nor did any of the Ainur, for change requires being in one state of being at one time and a different state of being at a different time. If they never changed, then the world was foreshadowed and foresung by agents of Eru who made decisions based solely on how they were created, something Eru controls completely. Thus Eru is controlling completely how the Ainur act, and they are foreshadowing the history of Arda, thus Eru is controlling the history of Arda.

Melkor didn't turn evil because of outside stimulus. It is because the lack of. He was alone.

Anyway, if I understand what you said, you are saying that there must have been time when Eru existed and no one else did, no Melkor, no Manwe. But if that is true, then we are not following what is written in the Sil, which is that Eru and the Ainur dwelt in the timeless halls until they entered Ëa at the beginning of time, and thus there is no time for Eru to exist in before the Ainur. I think it is possible for the Ainur to have always existed and for them to have come from Eru.

I think we are getting caught up here on our own linear and all too human conception of temporality.  I understand "moments" or what have you as taking place before time as easily beyond our linear conceptions, perhaps moving in every which way, three-dimensionally, fourth-dimensionally; i.e. all the baffling metaphysical enormities we ourselves as mortals cannot understand.  

And no, I am not saying that there must have been time before time was invented, though I can conceive of a "time" in a higher sense as I outlined above.  What I am saying is that a structure of moments (whether we conceive of them linearly/temporally or not) must have existed to account for the qualitative degeneration from the One to the Fall of He Who Arises in Might.

If there was no time, then Melkor never changed, nor did any of the Ainur, for change requires being in one state of being at one time and a different state of being at a different time. If they never changed, then the world was foreshadowed and foresung by agents of Eru who made decisions based solely on how they were created, something Eru controls completely. Thus Eru is controlling completely how the Ainur act, and they are foreshadowing the history of Arda, thus Eru is controlling the history of Arda.

But change did take place.  Eru does not control completely their choices; hence free will!  If Eru controlled how the Ainur act, the Music would be superfluous.  He set out a plan; a telos of how things were to be. 

Melkor didn't turn evil because of outside stimulus. It is because the lack of. He was alone.

Exactly.  He isolated himself from the Music.  As an entity moves away from Eru, that entity becomes less perfect.  If one coheres to the telos/goal of Eru-- the Music-- one plays one's part.  But Melkor wants to make his own music glorifying himself; he thus is just an impotent part on the scheme of things, self-enclosed.  Thus he must become radically evil in comparison with those among the Valar and Ainur who do not rebel.  Did the perversion of Elves into Orcs exist in the mind of Eru from the beginning?  No; it is simply what happens when one moves in the exact opposite direction of the plan of the Music; total isolation from the divine plan, which to the Children of Iluvatar looks morally wrong, perverse, and radically evil.

a structure of moments (whether we conceive of them linearly/temporally or not) must have existed to account for the qualitative degeneration from the One to the Fall of He Who Arises in Might.

I don't understand how there can be a structure of moments without time. Can put that in a dumbed down version I can understand? Anyway, you seem (to me, I could easily be misinterpreting what you are saying) to be saying that because you are right the theory which supports you being right must be the correct one.

He isolated himself from the Music. As an entity moves away from Eru, that entity becomes less perfect.

if it is possible for Melkor to move away from Eru without time, why would he do it? I am not saying Eru created Melkor and then used his unlimited power to push Melkor away from him, I am saying that because of the way Melkor was created, he decided to turn away, therefore the way he was created caused him to turn away, and Eru is the one who created him.

I think Eru Illuvatar takes personal care in Arda due to the Valar, mainly Manwe, Aule, Varda, and Ulmo. So in this society of complexity Eru works straight through Manwe's angelic mind. We all know that the Valar came on their own accord to Arda to add and thwart Melkor . I add to this effect of conversing through minds by saying that Eru took part of his spirit, body, and soul into the Ainur some greater or lesser. Maybe that took effect, though Melkor was evil although not in the origins. For if not taken from the holiest start, the mind may swerve from it's innocent start. I do like this although that Tolkien ment that if the something of God is put into another creature, then, and only then, shall the pride set in, for if not in touch with you creator, and being in prayer and union with it. Then pride will set in, for Melkor caught most of this in his body, meaning that he has of all the Ainu, he has the most of Eru in him(Manwe is next), he acted out of pride in the thought that he could create and that he was better than God, just like lucifer of Genesis, so this connection between the creator and the subordinates mean that the dark power could never win or conquer, for as Morgoth abused his holy rights, eru departed from him, leaving him to battle Fingolfin and justly end as the seven wounds of Melkor. The dark will and never conquer for the power given to the just and humble, holy of holiest Ainu is much greater and is always gaining, for the Balrogs, corrupted Maiar, and all of them, their holiness left because their souls were abused, notice and i my fault that i used the word abused twice, but the power departed them and their souls went to the Valar and Maiar who were good, and also that it only meant that the Evil spirits will die, not the good angels, for they will never die, for the spirit of the Creator is in them, and Illuvatar only can take away this gift if they stray from the straight and narrow path. So therefore No, Manwe , even though he can be slain bodily ten score times ten score times, Eru shall never take away this, for he his holy, and the bright light will conquer.

Not all shadows be evil, and not all stars shine on kind places

Wow.  The controversy on this blew my mind.  I think the main reasons for this thread are:

#1 - Is a part of Eru evil?  Did he create Melkor, who was already evil, and then it manifested later?  Or is Eru completely good, and when he created Melkor, his free-will belief and lack of influence cause Melkor to rebel?  Or:

Creating free will must allow for the possibility of evil. In my opinion, for Tolkien, evil lies not in the source, but in malicious choice, the choice hailing from free will itself, but still a choice.

 - Galin

 

Melkor didn't turn evil because of outside stimulus. It is because the lack of. He was alone.

 - Glorfindel

Which is basically, Eru's decision to have free will MUST ALLOW for the possibility of evil.  Because if there is free will, then Eru would not stop Melkor from disrupting the Music.  So is there actually free will?

#2 - This is later on in the thread: Does Eru exist in our idea of time, or is he OUT of time, and can see - and is in - past, present, and future, then why would he create Melkor, then try to stop him?

Can you speak sensibly if you say, about a being that exists outside of time, that it has a future, as if it existed in our Time like we do?

- Elanorraine

And here:

Anyway, I don't like the idea of something all powerful and all knowing. If Eru really was all powerful and all knowing, why did he create Morgoth knowing he would rebel, then try to stop him? He even knew that that would fail, yet if he was all powerful he could, at any point, make Morgoth repent and be friends with the other Valar, without compromising Morgoth's free will (as an all powerful being, he can do litterally anything).

 - Curufinwe

 

Evil cannot possibly exist in origin in Eru.  Evil is a problem of separation from Eru.  It comes about as things not going as planned due to the free will Eru endowed his Valar with.  Eru is good and all-knowing, but he knows himself as the One, a simplicity.  He is never described as a godhead or a trinity or some sort of self-enclosed multiplicity; he is a simple unity; The One.  As such, he is of a certain qualitative perfection; any emanation must necessarily be of a lesser quality.

 - Egalmoth

From Curufinwe again:

But Eru knew exactly how Morgoth would turn out when he created him. I don't understand how free will can exist under a being as all powerful and all knowing as Eru. I can accept that it does exist since Tolkien said it did and it's his world, but it doesn't make sense. Eru knows exactly what Morgoth will do, and he has the power to create him so that that is all he can do. Eru would know that there would be times when Morgoth would consider doing things one way, but the way Eru created him he would eventually decide to do things a different way.

 - Curufinwe

But what if our ideas of 'good and evil' don't mean the same thing to Eru?

We truly could go on and on with this very interesting topic, especially how it relates to our world and religion. Perhaps our concepts of good and evil don't apply to a being like Eru.

 - Amuse4god

Back to free will:

But yet we know free will [of some description] exists. In The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien one can find several explicit statements, including that Elves and Men 'were rational creatures of free will in regard to God' (letter 181), or a general statement when discussing Sauron: 'The indestructibility of spirits with free wills, even by the Creator of them, is also an inevitable feature' (Letter 211).

 - Galin

Did Eru plan all of this?  Did he want it all to happen?

Melkor's actions are not part of Eru's plan; they are Melkor's "plan"; the Fall.  And the Fall is all about free will by a noetic agent at a lower phase of ontological status from the Good.  Tolkien himself said the Silmarillion is all about the Fall.  But the Fall of Melkor (the initial Fall) echoes itself on lower ontological levels when agents become tragically self-involved; it's a causal domino effect throughout Arda Marred, from Melkor's cacophony to Feanor's rebellion...  Goes on and on...  Turgon's refusal to heed Ulmo's counsel, remains self-enclosed with the work of his own fëa, goes down with the tower...  Then these Falls are repeated as lesser Dark Lords repeat the "theme" of Melkor as the Ages go on (Tolkien even contemplated a return of this Fall via Herumor).

 - Egalmoth

Yow.  I looked back at what I wrote, and it's super-long.  Well, to finish my post off, here's another quote.

If there was no time, then Melkor never changed, nor did any of the Ainur, for change requires being in one state of being at one time and a different state of being at a different time. If they never changed, then the world was foreshadowed and foresung by agents of Eru who made decisions based solely on how they were created, something Eru controls completely. Thus Eru is controlling completely how the Ainur act, and they are foreshadowing the history of Arda, thus Eru is controlling the history of Arda.

 - Curufinwe

Now who can guess what my stand on this is?  ;-)

Thanks for reviving this thread, Nirwen, and nice consolidation of the arguments. It seems to me the argument is something like this.

If free will exists, then at the moment of creation, there is the potential for evil whether or not Eru is evil, and since Tolkien tells us he has no evil in him, he must be good.

My argument is essentially that under an all powerful and all knowing god, free will cannot exist, and so Eru created evil knowingly, and so Eru must not be completely good.

However, that argument contradicts what Tolkien says. So, time for an argument as to why we should not necessarily listen to Tolkien in this case.

Tolkien treats middle earth almost as it's own entity, we can see clear evidence of this in letter 163

"I had never been to Bree. Strider sitting in the comer {corner} at the inn was a shock, and I had no more idea who he was than had Frodo. The Mines of Moria had been a mere name; and of Lothlórien no word had reached my mortal ears till I came there. Far away I knew there were the Horse-lords on the confines of an ancient Kingdom of Men, but Fangorn Forest was an unforeseen adventure. I had never heard of the House of Eorl nor of the Stewards of Gondor. Most disquieting of all, Saruman had never been revealed to me, and I was as mystified as Frodo at Gandalf's failure to appear on September 22.1 knew nothing of the Palantíri, though the moment the Orthanc-stone was cast from the window, I recognized it"

So we can clearly see at least that Tolkien is not always sure what is going to happen in his world. Furthermore, also in letter 163, Tolkien states on his writing of the chapter Treebeard

 

my feeling throughout, especially when stuck, that I was not inventing but reporting (imperfectly) and had at times to wait till 'what really happened' came through

Tolkien admits that he is merely conveying, not always correctly, what "really happened" in middle earth. Therefore when the information that he is conveying is directly contradictory to what would logically make sense, we can discount that information as an imperfection in his reporting of what "really happened". Which means although Tolkien himself says there is free will, since free will can't exist under a being that is all powerful and all knowing, he can be discounted.

So we can clearly see [in letter 163] at least that Tolkien is not always sure what is going to happen in his world.

Yes but let's emphasize this distinction, or at least what I feel the distinction is: in this letter Tolkien is talking about 'finding out' rather than about what he found out and then published as the internal story. To take the example of Strider showing up, after Tolkien found out who Strider really was, he then revealed this in publication...

... but would anyone argue that Tolkien was not ultimately sure Strider was Aragorn for example, and not a Hobbit with wooden feet named Trotter [a draft idea that JRRT 'found out' earlier].

JRRT said: my feeling throughout, especially when stuck, that I was not inventing but reporting (imperfectly) and had at times to wait till 'what really happened' came through

Tolkien admits that he is merely conveying, not always correctly, what "really happened" in middle earth.

I'm not sure Tolkien is saying 'not always correctly' with respect to the ultimate version, at least here anyway [if he possibly does elsewhere] -- as his 'imperfectly' is followed by the detail that he sometimes had to wait for what really happened to come through -- that is, to use the same example, perhaps Trotter the Hobbit came to Tolkien 'imperfectly'... as then he was revealed as Strider the Dunadan.

In general, in Letters one can find a variety of examples of Tolkien's relationship to his work, so to speak: he sometimes seems to be in touch with a 'muse', as in letter 163, or he plays the 'translator' and editor as in his response to A. C. Nunn about birthday presents.

Or sometimes [in another letter] we seem to have an author who admits he gave Asfaloth a bridle and bit because he simply hadn't yet invented the Elvish way with horses when he wrote that. 

Therefore when the information that he is conveying is directly contradictory to what would logically make sense, we can discount that information as an imperfection in his reporting of what "really happened". Which means although Tolkien himself says there is free will, since free will can't exist under a being that is all powerful and all knowing, he can be discounted.

It is clear that you personally don't think free will can exist under a being that is all powerful and all knowing. Others agree with you no doubt. This has been debated almost since mortal Men could debate: the Problem of Evil has no easy all agreed upon solution, or answer.

For myself I think free will can exist under a powerful creator who is all knowing; and I think Tolkien thinks it can [I think CS Lewis thinks so too, according to his book Mere Christianity for instance]; and so I think there is no direct contradiction in the first place, and thus I feel no need to discount Tolkien when he says there is free will within his subcreated world.

I mean that doesn't necessarily make you wrong of course, I'm just putting it out there: I see the matter in a context where Tolkien is not contradicting himself about free will.

So know the thread moves back to a debate about free will, except Tolkiens views on it are no longer necessarily true. Yet that debate hasn't been resolved since the beginning of time.

No doubt Tolkien's answer to The Problem of Evil is not necessarily the only answer in the Primary World... but to my mind, his answer [again which includes free will in some sense] holds for his subcreated, Secondary World, and its God.

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