Re: Functional proteins from a random library

From: John W Burgeson (
Date: Mon Apr 16 2001 - 10:35:27 EDT

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    Hi Howard:

    A couple comments on your last post:

    You wrote:
    >>Burgy, responding to my comments on his violin-making metaphor for
    creative action:

    > And one more thing. In this metaphor, God not only conceptualizes,
    > shapes and assembles the violin(creation), as you put it above, but
    > PLAYS the violin(creation). Without this last, the metaphor is sort of
    > uninteresting.

    And when I suggested that it portrayed God's creative action very much
    the action of Plato's Demiurge, Burgy replied:

    > Again, the "playing" activity is key, and places it (the metaphor)
    > beyond Plato's Demiurge. I think.

    I don't know how to evaluate this. What kind of divine action might this
    "playing" of the violin represent? Something quite different from
    form-conferring interventions, I presume?
    The fact you don't know "how to evaluate this" puzzles me. It really
    does. I cannot tell if we truly disagree, or are using words differently,
    or talking about different things. Or maybe all of the above.

    First of all -- it is a metaphor. Take it as such.

    Second -- I conceive of our Creator as having a sense of humor -- so
    "play" is an operative word. Think of the violin maker as also a great
    musician. Perhaps he is content to make the violin and listen to others
    play it. Or, just maybe, he takes pleasure in playing it himself also. So
    God can take pleasure in us "playing" his creation, creating our own
    concepts and technologies, and also take pleasure in playing the creation
    himself. Yes -- this might involve the creation of unique new life forms
    from time to time.

    As you might know, I hold a type of "progressive creation" approach to
    all this stuff myself. I do so with humbleness; I affirm that various TE
    positions, even your FGC position, may indeed be closer to truth. But
    they simply don't "fit" what I think I think I know. The violin
    metaphor/analogy fits better. Are there problems with it? Sure.

    You continue:
    Burgy again:

    > Your FGC concept is certainly within the
    > realm of possible explanations. What I argue is first that it is not
    > ONLY explanation we should consider (I think you'd agree on that) and
    > also that at least one other explanation appears (to me at least) to be
    > better one. I could be wrong, of course. I've been wrong before. But I
    > have to identify that explanation which has both more meaning and more
    > explanatory value to me at the time, even if I change my alleged mind
    > later on.

    Fair enough, but I can't evaluate your "better one" until I know what
    of divine action the "playing" symbolizes.
    I can accept that. I affirm that your position is worked out much better
    than mine. That will always be the case, so I have no goal of leading you
    to change your mind on all this. I do have a goal to understand the FGC
    position better.

    You continue:
    > A question on your FGC concept. Is there room within it for God to play
    > with -- interact with -- the creation? To change "how particles/energy
    > fields bump into particles/energy fields" non-causally, as a result of
    > his creatures (us) prayers? If not -- then our prayers are so much
    > effort, IMHO. And if that is so, Christianity is reduced to a cruel

    As you do, Burgy, I think we must have a way of speaking about divine
    in a way that includes not only the invariant action that provides the
    support that is essential to all creaturely action (like God's sustaining
    the Creation in being) but also includes authentically variable action
    in response to intercessory prayer).

    But speaking of God's variable action in language that portrays God as an
    agent that coercively overpowers creatures (whether atoms or persons)
    to me to invite all manner of theodicy problems, to amplify "the problem
    evil," and to suggest that God would violate the being once given to
    creatures (coercing them to act in ways contrary to their being). So,
    many theologians that I have interacted with, I seek to understand how
    can act effectively (that is, effecting an outcome that is different from
    what would otherwise have happened) but in a noncoercive manner.

    In this endeavor I do not find traditional Christian theology
    helpful. (For one thing, it was crafted before we learned what remarkable
    capabilities the universe was given.) The one contemporary theological
    community that seems most keen to articulate a concept of effective, but
    noncoercive, variable divine action is the process theologians. David Ray
    Griffin's book, _Religion and Scientific Naturalism_ represents a major
    effort to do just that.

    So, to get back to your question: Yes, Burgy, there is more than enough
    in the FGC concept for God to act in, and interact with, the Creation in
    way that is consistent with God's character and God's will. The most that
    the FGC concept does on the topic of divine action is to propose that one
    traditional category of divine action -- the category of form-imposing
    intervention as a means of actualizing new creaturely forms -- is
    unnecessary because God gave to the Creation at the beginning all of the
    resources (properties, capabilities, potentialities) that would be needed
    actualize the full spectrum of physical structures and life forms in the
    course of time.
    OK. I am reading Griffin's book as part of a course I'm auditing this
    quarter at Iliff. If I can get past his rather uncritical (IMHO)
    acceptance of paranormal activities, and that one makes the book suspect
    to me, I will maybe learn something. We are studying Whitehead, Bultmann,
    Berger, McFague and a few others in this course also. At the same time
    I'm revisiting Gribbin's SCHROEDINGER'S KITTENS ( a great book on QM, I
    think) and trying hard to wade through Huw Price's book, TIME'S ARROW.

    I think I understand FGC better as a result of your last paragraph. I
    would observe that FGC, then, allows the violin maker to play his
    creation as much as my concept does; it just does not allow him to make
    changes to it (the violin) as he plays but rather limits him to accepting
    only those changes he built into the violin in the first place. It also
    says, I think, that while God is perfectly capable of creating, at any
    time and in any place, an entirely new and novel life form, he has not,
    does not, and will not, do this.

    Thanks for the dialog, Howard.

    When are you going to add your web site to the ASA members & friends
    list? < G >

    Burgy (John Burgeson)

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