1) We act morally wrong when we treat Being Itself merely as a means to our own ends.
2) If we act morally wrong when we treat Being Itself merely as a means to our own ends, Being Itself is an end in itself.
3) Whatever is an end in itself has autonomy.
4) Therefore Being Itself is autonomous.
5) Whatever is autonomous has personhood, i.e rationally and freely wills the moral law.
6) Therefore Being itself has personhood, i.e. Being Itself rationally and freely wills the moral law.
- When we sin, we utilize existing things for our own ends. Those things exist insofar as they participate in Being Itself. So we are literally treating Being Itself like a tool, or an object for our own benefit. And that is sinful because Being Itself is not an object. One ought not do this not only because it is a category error, but also because it is a failure to recognize the dignity of Being Itself. This bridges the is/ought divide and explains why our moral duties are grounded in reality. Divine Autonomy is realized in the teleology of beings. We sin when we subvert that telos in a way that completely instumentalizes their being, and so God’s as well. To subvert the telos of beings in this way is nothing more than self-worship.
- This is why evil cannot exist on pantheism or naturalism. You can’t sin against Being Itself, if Being Itself is merely objective. That is, you would be treating it as it is, not as it is not. This is also why our own autonomy is threatened when we accept pantheism or naturalism.
- Satan wanted to be a god without “recognizing” that his “being” is from God. Without that recognition, God is treated as a mere tool, which is blasphemy of the highest order. And yet saints are just those who want to be gods through “recognizing” that their “being” is from God. And thus it is God’s autonomy and grace by which the saints are divinized. To treat Being Itself as autonomous is to recognize Being’s gratuitousness towards us and our own radical contingency. It is also to recognize our humble place is not at the top or center of creation, let alone Being.
- Animals cannot be treated as merely means even if they lack autonomy. Actually this might explain why they can’t be treated as mere means, despite not being autonomous. Mistreatment of animals is not a violation of animal autonomy, but the autonomy of Being itself. Thus, all violations of the moral law are violations against autonomy, be it in us, or in Being Itself. The same may hold for plants, and ecosystems. We can use such things, but not abuse them. We cannot lose sight of the dignity of Being even as we consume the fruits of our labor and cultivate the land.