Origin or Formation

From: Todd S. Greene (tgreene@usxchange.net)
Date: Fri Apr 06 2001 - 20:07:58 EDT

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    Re: preposterousHi, Howard.

    I wish you to know that after reading your published material for years,
    I personally find it truly an honor to "meet" you, even though only in a
    discussion forum like this.

    I fully agree that "episodic creationists" proceed with a particular
    kind of theology, with respect to, say, for example, God "stepping in"
    and contrary to the "laws of nature" bringing about a new species of
    organism with no biological kinship with any other existing organisms,
    or bringing about the first biological organisms of any kind. To me this
    has for many years always appeared to proceed on the basis of a "God of
    the gaps" concept, where "we don't know how [fill in the blank] can
    occur or develop according to processes existing in the real world,
    therefore God did it."

    But I'm actually taking this back even further ("origin topic, or
    theological topic"). I've recently been reading a book by physicist
    Lee Smolin, entitled *The Life of the Cosmos*. (The general concept, in
    one form or another, called "multiverse," has also been discussed by
    John Wheeler, Andre Linde, Martin Rees, Victor Stenger, Nick Bostrom,
    and others.) The idea is that what we commonly call the origin of the
    universe could just as surely (or unsurely, if you will) be thought of
    as the *formation* of the universe, using the "origin" versus
    "formation" conceptualization that you have referred to.

    Of course, there is nothing in this that is inherently antithetical to
    creation, though it can (and has) been interpreted that way. It *is*
    a very non-traditional way of perceiving creation, and I'm not familiar
    with any theologians who have pondered the multiverse concept from a
    theological perspective, other than to automatically attack it as being
    an "origin" issue that is not and cannot be a "formation" issue that
    science can investigate.

    Yes, the battle continues.

    Todd S. Greene

    ###### Howard J. Van Till, 4/6/01 5:32 PM ######
    Subject: Re: preposterous

    Hi Todd,

    You wrote:
    > A further aspect is that what is considered to be a topic of "origin"
    > (a matter for theology or metaphysics) or a topic of "formation" (a
    > matter amenable to scientific investigation) can and does change, such
    > that what was formerly considered to be a topic of origin becomes a
    > topic of formation. And this is when there is some chafing with many
    > theologists. ;-) In this case the problem is not so much semantic
    > confusion as it is "turf war."

    Yes, you're quite correct to call attention to the turf war phenomenon. Both
    sides of the debate between episodic creationism and evolutionary naturalism
    could be cited for turf violations.

    Episodic creationists proceed on the assumption that (1) to call the
    biblical text "the word of God" is not a metaphor but a simple statement of
    authorship, and (2) early Genesis is not only Israel's declaration that
    Yahweh is the Source (origin) of the universe's being, but is also a
    divinely written chronicle of the _formation_ of the various members of the
    Creation. Here, in (2), episodic creationism invades the turf of the scientific

    The rhetoric of evolutionary naturalism often includes the claim that if the
    formational history of the universe is evolutionary in character (requiring
    no form-imposing divine interventions), then it needs no Creator as the
    Source of its being. Here evolutionary naturalism invades the turf of

    The battle goes on.


    Howard Van Till

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