"The obvious problem with the first part noted above is that Griffin,
like many others, thinks that, if he doesn't like it, it is evil and "my
god wouldn't do that." This is clearly a deity constructed in the human
image. Think for a moment on what kind of a world we would have if there
were no death. Even within the development of the individual there has to
be death. Science 292:866 (4 May 2001) notes that, without apoptosis
during early embryonic development there cannot be developing life, for
apoptosis forms the beginnings of the amniotic cavity. Death is necessary
The theodicy problem, of which the 1755 Lisbon earthquake is just an
example, is real. The number of Christians killed that day, because it
was Sunday morning and they were, many of them, inside stone cathedrals,
was staggering. The event brought the theodicy problem to the front of
people's thinking. Had the quake been just a few hours sooner, or later,
the death toll would have been, perhaps, 10% of the actual total.
Now I have to agree with Griffin in saying "I cannot conceive of my God
doing that." I think that is not a "deity constructed in a human image,
but simply an observation that something was terribly not right in that
event. It has 0 to do with the idea that death is a necessity.
"It's easy to suggest that the world would be better if something or
other were changed. The problem is that all these matters are
intertwined, so changes at any spot produce ramified alterations that
also have to be attended to ad infinitum. But of course Griffin is so
brilliant that he can make these changes off the top of his head. Right?"
Griffin is, without a doubt, a great intellectual. I doubt that he can
come up with his ideas "of the top." I have no reason to doubt either his
Christianity or his good intentions. He is really trying to find a
"middle course" of affairs that will satisfy both the religious and the
scientific worldviews. While I think he is tackling the impossible, I
admire his efforts to do so.
"If god is within the universe, then it is restricted to space-time. It
cannot fully anticipate the future, or take full part is everything going
on, for part of it is out of signaling distance."
I think you are setting up a strawman here, one which Griffin would
disown as quickly as you and I.
"Recall that Whitehead was writing when a static universe was the
accepted view, even pre-Steady State with its new matter coming into
being was a development a couple decades later."
That's true, but Griffin is writing today, and using Whitehead's ideas as
a taking off point.
"A personal God outside the universe can bring it into being ex nihilo,
can accomplish his will in all things, including creating beings who have
a limited independence from him, that is, free will. Whitehead's view
requires that somehow the "spirit" in the material universe is
concentrated in human beings so that they are self-aware, even though a
degree of awareness is present in the nonsentient as well. All Process
Theology of which I am aware turns Genesis 1:26f on its head, producing a
god in man's image. Is this inconsistent? Not, so far as I can determine,
in any simple way. One can always quit thinking at some point and declare
"That's just the way it is. It can't be explained." But the ineffable
Creator who revealed himself in Jesus Christ move the point back to
accommodate all that we have discovered scientifically."
Griffin, of course, denies "creation ex nihilo," and argues that it is
not part of the Scriptures, but a later addition. While flipping Genesis
1:26 on its head is a possible criticism, I am sure Griffin would argue
the same against more orthodox views. I think it is a non-argument.
I appreciate your comments. You are helping me think. Ouch.
Burgy (John Burgeson)
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