Re: History and Goals (for TE)

Craig Rusbult (
Sat, 20 Jun 1998 12:44:41 -0500

* 15. GLENN:
> ... Not only can God use random processes and have a determinant
>outcome, I can. random processes + a set of rules = determinism.

[ CR: Again, we can ask "HOW MUCH convergency is there in a
formative history produced by "random processes + a set of rules"? ]

* 16. GLENN:
> I can't speak for George, but what I am saying is that God didn't need
>to do it "after the fact" because He had planned it all into the fabric of
>the universe. In other words, stochastical nudges were not needed because
>God had PLANNED AHEAD in the design of the universe or to use the ID
>terminology, God had DESIGNED the phase spaces of the biopolymers to
>achieve the result He desired. That is still providential control. Just
>not providential control when WE want God to exercise it.

[ CR: Again, there is a heavy emphasis on initial theistic action,
relative to ongoing guidance or (as in creationist theories) miraculous
action. And again this contrasts with Biblical human history, which is
addressed in the next message (by Brian and Garry) and in previous threads
by many list-participants. ]

> One of the reasons I am an evolutionist and not a progressive
>creationist is that I don't think it is becoming to God to have such
>limited powers that He couldn't make the world do what he wanted it to the
>first time. This constant tinkering with the universe makes it look like
>God had all sorts of afterthoughts-- "Oh yeah, I forgot to make a
>dinosaur" "Oh darn, I forgot to make a primate"
> I think his planning was more sophisticated than that.

[ CR: These questions are addressed in my "Consistency or Analysis?"
post on Monday, and toward the end of 1E (in my medium and long overviews)
where I discuss God's "gardening" approach toward human and non-human parts
of nature. Is there any Biblical reason to consider it "more glorifying"
for the universe to have "functional integrity to achieve the goals of God"
or is it OK to have a "mix of interactions" as in Biblical human history? ]

> Beyond that I have problems with our views requiring performance by
>God. God clearly says he created the heavens and the earth, but it
>nowhere says he nudged the DNA through phase space. To require this goes
>beyond what it clearly states.

[ CR: I agree, as described in my interpretations that "action" is
theologically "possible but not necessary" based on what the Bible does
and doesn't say about formative history. But guidance by "nudging" (or
occasional miraculous action) would certainly be CONSISTENT with God's
action during human history, more consistent than "no theistic guidance"
during formation. Of course, this "argument by analogy" is not logically
compelling, but it seems reasonable to assume that (unless otherwise
stated) these histories would be analogous. ]

>(I would grant that God very well may have done a lot of nudging but when
>He doesn't "nudge" the planets in their 6 dimensional phase spaces, why
>should he need to do it in a 3.5 billion dimensional phase space for

[ CR: Evidently, Hugh Ross thinks some "post-initial theistic action"
occurred in astronomical E, as described in my "re: Consistency or
or Analysis" message, posted today. When thinking about this we should
ask "convergency in history" and "precision in goals" questions. }

* 18. GEORGE:
> God is involved in everything which happens in the world, acting
>through natural processes.

[ CR: acting only in the "FOUNDATIONAL theistic action" produced by
"initial-TA plus sustaining-TA", or also in "ACTIVE TA" that can guide? ]

> & God has some freedom in so acting because
>the pattern (to which our laws approximate) does not rigidly determine a
>single outcome from each course of events.

[ CR: Why should this be described as a "freedom of God" rather than
a "freedom of nature to diverge from what might be predicted by God"?
Does your view of formative history (George) differ from the view of Glenn,
in terms of degree of determinancy? And do either or both of you deny the
possibility (or probability) of "guiding theistic action" in formative
history? Other TEs, please feel free to respond, also. ]

* 20. BILL H:
> Suppose God created the universe because He desired
>to interact with it, and He preferred some kinds of interactions to others.
>Certainly He could have made a universe in which the properties of matter
>made the kinds of interactions He considered less desirable unnecessary.
>Part of the explanation may be that God has a sense of esthetics that lead
>Him to want the universe to function as a "finished, elegantly designed"
>product. Steve Jones -- who is active on the evolution reflector -- has
>said to me a number of times in private exchanges that when he writes about
>God intervening in nature, he means that God's interventions are planned,
>not "fix-ups" to take care of things that didn't work. I agree with that.
> ... I believe God has
>ordained the scope of action of all processes -- including those we
>consider random or indeterminate.

[ CR: again, the concept of "normal-appearing TA" might be useful ]

*22. DAVID CAMPBELL: (on April 29, in a "Randomness and Evolution" post
that belongs in this thread, despite its modified title that more accurately
describes the focus for most of the thread)

> Several aspects of evolution are suggestive of chaos (in the
>mathematical sense) rather than randomness (self-similarity at various
>scales, relatively simple rules giving complex results, and sensitivity to
>initial conditions). The limit on predicting a chaotic system is the
>precision to which the initial conditions are known, which should not be a
>problem for an omniscient God.

[ CR: But if quantum processes are truly random (even from God's point
of view), then chaotic divergence would begin immediately after the
"carefully defined and known" (by God) initial conditions. ]

> I think the issue of free will is quite closely tied in to this
>question, although it is unlikely that we are predestined to settle that
>issue here. I'm sufficiently Calvinistic to not be bothered by the idea
>that God completely determined the evolutionary process and controlled its
>action. If He determines the outcome of casting lots, is controlling a
>mutation much harder?

[ CR: I'm sufficiently non-Calvinistic to think that "theistic action"
makes more sense (to most people?) in our time-frame when we're thinking
about either formative history or human history, whether the event is
casting lots or controlling mutations. ]

>For that matter, if He had wanted to create
>intelligent creatures with free will, couldn't He have controlled their
>evolution and then given them free will as a part of making them in His own
>image? (Not that I think much of free will, but rather that I don't think
>it is incompatible with God's controlling evolution).

[ CR: I agree; the human species could be totally/exactly crafted by
God, who could then grant us some free-will choices. No problem. ]