Re: A neat syllogism

George Murphy (""
Tue, 30 Nov 1999 14:28:35 -0500

Moorad Alexanian wrote:
> I must be missing something George. Your yes is inscrutable. Moorad
> -----Original Message----- .............
> >> Does matter create a bicycle or does man do that?
> >
> >Yes.

Both your original post &, _a fortiori_, my reply need some unpacking. Only
God can create _anything_ in the ultimate sense, as biblically only God can be the
subject of the verb br'. But God's creative activity can be mediated through his
own creatures, as in Genesis 1 - where, e.g., the "bringing forth" of living things by
the waters - in accord with God's command - in v.20 is described in v.21 by "God
created..." (wayibera' 'elohim).
Often of course we use "create" in a penultimate sense, which may be OK as long
as we know what we're doing. It would be better to use some other word like "make" or a
neologism like "sub-create" (cf. Tolkien) to keep the distinction clear.
A traditional way of speaking about this is in terms of primary & secondary
causation. The hand writes & the pen writes - the difference between this & God's
concurrence with second causes being that God is ultimately the creator of those causal
agents whereas the writer doesn't create the pen ex nihilo.
With those distinctions in mind, asking whether life was created by God or by
natural processes is a little like asking "Was Lincoln killed by Booth or a bullet?"
A succinct answer, of course, is "Yes."
& to get finally to my original reply, human beings are matter, & the bicycle is
made by a material agent. We are, of course, intelligent & spiritual material agents
but we wouldn't make bicycles if we weren't material.
George L. Murphy