Re: [Fwd: [Fwd: Griffin #2]]

From: John W Burgeson (
Date: Wed Jun 06 2001 - 16:49:38 EDT

  • Next message: David F Siemens: "Re: Griffin #4"

    Howard, in a reply to Miller, you wrote:

    "The answer to this question hangs on the specific meanings of "miracles"
    and "intervene" as they are here used. Do these terms entail the idea of
    what Griffin identifies as traditional _supernaturalism_ (God breaks the
    continuity of the creaturely cause/effect chain; God overpowers
    creaturely systems to bring about an outcome that creaturely action could
    not have accomplished)? If so, then Griffin would object and say that
    that is precisely the supernaturalism that must be abandoned is the
    science/religion warfare is to be resolved.

    However, Griffin fully believes that intercessory prayer is wholly
    appropriate and that God does act "variably" in the world to bring about
    outcomes different from what may have otherwise occurred. One of
    Griffin's goals is to articulate a concept of divine action that is both
    variable (so that, for instance, it can constitute a response to prayer)
    and non-coercive. Traditional supernaturalism includes the option of
    coercive divine action, which process theology finds objectionable.

    Bottom line: If I have read Griffin correctly, he believes that you may
    indeed pray for healing, a job, etc., but that in so doing you should not
    expect God to act _coercively_ in response. Rather, you should expect God
    to act "persuasively" in calling upon the creaturely system to effect one
    possible outcome (the desired one) rather than some other (undesirable)
    one. Griffin does not believe in miracles in the sense of coercive
    supernatural interventions, but he does believe in the appropriateness
    and effectiveness of intercessory prayer."

    I have read and reread the above several times, as well as studying both
    Griffin & Whitehead. They are great thinkers, and their proposal is an
    interesting one. I don't buy it myself -- I'm closer to your position,
    although I do posit God to be affecting the world from time to time. Your
    position is that, I think, of the master violin maker. Once made, the
    instrument is perfect. My metaphor is one of the master violin maker who
    also plays the violin, tunes the violin, cleans the violin, cares for the
    violin. But I digress.

    The Griffin/Whitehead concept of God is insufficient, I think. It does
    not seem to hold together. I cannot really get my head around an
    interference in the causal universe, with the possible exception of
    influencing a person's mind, in which there is any real difference
    between a coercive action (by God) and a persuasive action (by God).

    If Griffin's God only affects human minds, then intercessory prayer for
    him to affect other entities, animals, plants, rocks, inanimate objects,
    seems to be so much wasted effort. And while that could be, I find it
    unsatisfactory. Yes, Griffin does solve the theodicy problem this way. I
    think I'd rather live with that problem.

    I really appreciate your comments, Howard. Forgive the somewhat rambling

    Burgy (John Burgeson)

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Wed Jun 06 2001 - 17:05:51 EDT