Re: History and Goals (for TE)

Craig Rusbult (
Sat, 20 Jun 1998 12:43:07 -0500

* 12. GARRY:
> So, on this view, God really had no idea of what the resultant creatures
>would be like when he created. However he did have a pretty good idea that
>sometime, somewhere, there would evlove intelligent, self-conscious, free
>moral agents who would in fact go wrong and necessitate the Incarnation.
> But again I ask how God could know this, if the trajectory through genomic
>phase space is random? How could he (or anyone) say the probabiity of that
>phase space producing such creatures--a probability which depends upon
>counterfactuals of chance--would approach unity?
> To understand your view better, are you (and Glenn Morton, too) saying that
>God *did not* providentially intervene in such a way so as to guide the
>trajectory through phase space, perhaps by giving a "nudge" here and a
>"tweak" there at just the right nodes on the phylogenetic tree, say, to
>insure progress towards his previsioned goal? Or are you saying that such
>nudges and tweaks would in principle be indetectable, indiscernible from
>other random influences on the process? Or is there another interpretation
>I'm ignoring?

[ CR: I keep wondering about this, too. I don't expect TEs to propose
a detailed theory that "God guided E with normal-appearing theistic action
here, but not there" -- of course, this would be epistemically invalid for
normal-appearing theistic action -- but it would be useful if TEs stated
whether they think "theistic E" involves SOME theistic guidance, or whether
(as suggested by NABT's use of "unsupervised" to describe E) there is
ZERO guidance after the initial design. // Also note, as discussed in my
overview's 1E (quoted in the initial message of this thread), that I think
"sustaining theistic action" is a non-issue when we're talking about
convergency/divergency in history. ]

* 13. GARRY:
> My conception of God's providential involvement here is not that he pushes
>the system along, like pushing a wagon down a hill. Rather, it seems that
>he very probably did "push" the system at critical nodes in track through
>the genomic phase space. How he did this, I have no idea. Perhaps
>through a small miracle which produced the "right" mutation to assure one
>possible track and not another; perhaps through restraining a particular
>volcano from erupting just *then* and destroying a certain reproductive
>community; perhaps... ?
> If the tracks are truly random, *how* could God use that to guarantee
>anything? Isn't it far more likely that life would become extinct sometime
>during those first 3 billion years than it is that a particular
>phylogenetic branch would survive, eventually producing us? Or are you
>suggesting that the entire process is so thoroughly teleological that it is
>not truly random?
> the natural sciences tell us a lot which leads
>us to accept an old universe. And contemporary evolutionary theory tells
>us a lot which leads us to believe that the evolutionary process is
>governed by chance. My objection is that even God could not initiate a
>truly random process and be assured of the outcome. We should expect that
>God would intervene in the process, if indeed it is truly random, so as to
>guarantee the outcome. So God is the intelligent conceptualizer as well as
>the skilled artisan.

[ CR: Above & below, Garry again describes the intuitions of myself and
(I would bet) of most other people, including both theists and non-theists.
Do you think that most people understand how "E guided only by initial
theistic action" might accomplish the goals of God? i.e., Is a view of
"theistic E with no theistic guidance after initial-TA" consistent with
the concept of "theism" held by most theists or by most non-theists?
A clear distinction between theism/deism/determinism would be useful. ]

* 14. GARRY:
> If I rightly understand some of the views being expressed on this listserv,
>it seems that God's providence is restricted to "sustenance," and
>"governance" is restricted to the God's determination of the conditions of
>creation. This is what puzzles me. In this regard I agree with what you
> However, I have difficulty in asserting that God can use a (truly) random
>process, be assured of the outcome, and not need to (or be expected to)
>providentially intervene in the governance of the random process. It is in
>the assurance of the outcome of a (truly) random process that I think the
>contradiction lies.

>21. GARRY:
> I think that indeterministic laws or causation, in which several outcomes
>are possible with associated probabilities, gives rise to these troubling
>counterfactuals and hence to God's ability logically to be able to create
>an indeterministic process which has a guaranteed outcome (Glenn Morton's
>example of a Sierpinski gasket notwithstanding).