Re: Fw: Underlying assumptions

Murphy (
Mon, 09 Dec 1996 16:45:16 -0500

Russell Maatman wrote:

> George, if you want to move the debate to postulating that biological
> evolution makes jumps just as quantum theory describes jumps, fine. I
> wonder how many evolutionists will be your allies.

I'm not arguing for such an idea, but only emphasizing that
"gradualism" is not the basic issue. A scientific theory can involves
"jumps" and still make no use of ideas about design, creation, &c.

> If we can agree that "methodolgoical naturalism" is defined so that it
> refers to God's prescriptive law, which allows for no interference, and not
> descriptive law, which is formulated by humans and is therefore inherently
> limited, then I am with you.
I think that would be too easy a resolution. It isn't a
question of agreeing that what God does is rational & lawlike. What I
am arguing is that God has created a world which, _as much as possible_
[comment on that in a moment] can be understood "from the inside" -
i.e., by rational creatures on the basis of their observations and
reason. I.e., the universe can be understood "though [or, if you
prefer, "as if"] God were not given." This is a consequence of
a. the goodness of creation ("functional integrity" &c), and
b. God's willingness to have creatures able to understand the
world without giving him credit for it - the divine kenosis.
God is willing to be counted "unnecessary" - which is where
the theology of the cross comes in.

The qualification "as much as possible" is important for the
following reasons:
1) It is certainly _possible_ for God to operate by means
outside the natural processes which we ordinarily observe. I think it
is best to try to understand miracles as the divine use of rare
possibilities of those natural processes, but am not going to say
apodictically that they all are.
2) If we think that the world is created in accord with
mathematical pattern, Goedel's theorem would seem to imply that not all
the questions which we can ask about natural processes can be answered
within the framework of a science which operates in the way I've said.
3) Science works in part _because_ it does not try to answer
questions about a First Cause or a Final Cause (more precisely, a "last
final cause".) Therefore science has no business claiming that it has
shown, e.g., that there is no design - as the subtitle of Dawkins'
_Blind Watchmaker_ says. We may ask about such matters, but then we are
outside the proper realm of the natural sciences.