Re: divine action/creaturely action

From: george murphy (
Date: Thu Jun 07 2001 - 17:25:29 EDT

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    Uko Zylstra wrote:

    > In discussion concerning divine action, Howard Van Till asks "What word, other
    > than "persuasion", describes an action that is effective but not coercive?"
    > Although I am not keen on the distinctions introduced by the terms "persuasive"
    > or "coercive", it strikes me that the word Howard is looking for is "law". By
    > law, I do not mean the human law statements, but rather law as the relation
    > between God and the creation ( and all things in the creation.). It is through
    > God's laws that God governs the creation. What we experience, we experience as
    > created things subject to the law. That applies to the unfolding of the creation
    > in the appearance of created things in time as well. Such unfolding is law
    > governed, not just an actualizing of potentialities that are present in some
    > "lower level" entities.
    > In that regard, Howard's comment with regard to the violin metaphor I think
    > also extends to molecules, even complex molecular structures. Molecules are also
    > "dead". They do have the ability to act but only in a chemical/physical way,
    > just as the violin does. But to grant life functions to "dead" things is
    > something that doesn't just come about by actualizing of potentialities. Such
    > actualizing of life functions is an indication of things responding to biotic
    > laws for life activity.
    > Without the recognition that God governs creation through laws, one would be
    > lead to a view of the autonomy of everything in the world which I would find
    > antithetical to a Biblical view of God and the created world.

            1) As to the general idea, yes - but God also (at least in the vast
    majority of cases) limits his action in the world to what can be done in accord with
    the laws of nature (to which our "laws" are only approximations). This is the sense
    in which divine action is non-coercive.
            2) In what sense are "biotic laws" different from "physical laws"?



    George L. Murphy
    "The Science-Theology Dialogue"

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