Eighteenth Reflection

universe are neither accidental nor a logical necessity. On the contrary, they are necessary and regular because a Supreme Power has willed it that way. In discussing this point, ‘Abdu’l-Baha argues that these relations (laws of causation, processes of composition/formation and disintegration) can be conceived in three possible ways. These changes can be accidental or random, logical or compulsory necessity, or volitional necessity. He shows that necessary relations cannot be random, otherwise there would not be consistent regularity in the forms of causal sequence. They are also not a logical necessity, since they cannot be deduced from the definition of things. Consequently, they are a volitional and mystical necessity. That means that even the most materialistic events of nature are in reality deeply mystical and spiritual processes. In modern Western philosophy it was David Hume who first rejected the concept of causation as a logical necessity, defining it as a mere regular sequence. As Hume noted, we can discover the laws of causation ultimately on the basis of experience and not through a logical deduction. For ‘Abdu’l-Baha, the universe is ruled by necessary relations. Yet this necessity is a reflection of an eternal divine Will. In the Tablet to Forel he writes: Now, formation is of three kinds and of three kinds only: accidental, necessary and voluntary. The coming together of the various constituent elements of beings cannot be accidental, for unto every effect there must be a cause. It cannot be compulsory, for then the formation must be an inherent property of the constituent parts and the inherent property of a thing can in no wise be dissociated from it, such as light that is the revealer of things, heat that causeth the expansion of elements and the solar rays which are the essential property of the sun. Thus under such circumstances the decomposition of any formation is impossible, for the inherent properties of a thing cannot be separated from it. The third formation remaineth and that is the voluntary one, that is, an unseen force described as the Ancient Power, causeth these elements to come together, every formation giving rise to a distinct being .

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