Re: Theistic Action

Craig Rusbult (
Mon, 15 Jun 1998 03:53:15 -0500

As explained in an endnote, , the terms/concepts in
my overviews "were stimulated or refined by constructive criticism, through
the ASA e-mail list (by Allan Harvey, Terry Gray, Loren Haarsma, George
Murphy,...), of my earlier proposals" in October 1997.
For example, Allan critiqued the predecessor of uMIO, which was "matter in
random motion [MIRM]":

***** Allan:

I think the MIRM definition, if it is salvageable at all, needs to be
divided up in order to get at the real issues. How about these three

MIRM-1: completely independent of God
MIRM-2: dependent on God only in the way a running watch is dependent on
its maker
MIRM-3: under God's sustenance, concurrence, etc.

category MIRM-1. As Terry Gray has pointed out, most Christian theology
(and I would add that this view does not necessarily entail Calvinism)
affirms that MIRM-2 is also an empty set. Given that, I'm not sure any
useful distinction, even ontological, remains between MIRM and your
"Smoothly Blending Theistic Action." ...

******** me:

In the revised version, the concepts have been "divided up": MIRM-1 has
become nonth-uMIO, and MIRM-3 is now th-uMIO, although I would like to see
a clear definition of sustenance/governance/concurrence relates to these
terms, as discussed later in the "History and Goals" post. I've been
treating MIRM-2 as nonth-uMIO (since deism seems identical to atheism, in
terms of ongoing theistic action), but maybe there should also be a d-uMIO
[deistic uMIO] term. Thanks, Allan.

But contrary to Allan's final comment, I think there is an important
distinction between th-uMIO and naTA. (again, check the "History and Goals"
post for a discussion of theism, deism, and determinism)


Allan also explained why our concept of "matter acting according to its
designed characteristics" is not described very well by "random":

***** Allan:

My point was that the word "random" is not what you are trying to say in
that category. After all, many of the things one might put there (the
path of Newton's apple after it leaves the tree, the motions of the
planets) have a "randomness" content that is for most purposes
negligible. What I think you really mean instead of "random" is
something like "unguided" or "natural",...

******** me:

I agreed with Allan, so MIRM (with "random" as a descriptor) has been
replaced by uMIO (with "unsupervised"). Also, I think "operation" (in
uMIO), which includes forces/..., is a more accurate description than just
"motion" (in MIRM), so we have uMIO instead of uMIM.


Another suggestion, by Terry Gray, is that we should avoid a system of
terminology that is better at describing nontheistic concepts than theistic

***** Terry:

... I think that it is a severe compromise of the
Biblical perspective to create a category such as matter in random motion
(MIRM) in order to communicate. I'm all for communication but I'm not
about to let terms and concepts be introduced that essentially beg the
question and then force us to come up with convoluted models about how God
interacts with the world. Why is not the simplest thing to point out the
fundamental problem to start with? ...
With respect to our discussion with unbelievers, it is important to ask
what exactly we are discussing with them. ...

******** me:

In response to this complaint by Terry, I split uMIO into th-uMIO and
nonth-uMIO, and introduced the concept of "naMIO" as a reminder that we
should describe "natural" with more precision, and we should challenge an
interpretation that "natural = no TA" which is often implied by nontheists.
Thanks, Terry.

Other useful suggestions are chronicled in the Oct-1997 archives, at