Re: divine action/creaturely action

Date: Mon Jun 11 2001 - 21:47:41 EDT

  • Next message: Keith B Miller: "Re: historicity of Christ"

    In a message dated 6/11/01 7:29:43 AM Mountain Daylight Time,

    > The challenge for us is to understand the differentiation of laws that thus
    > account for the diversity of the unfolding, development and continued
    > existence
    > of created structures. This includes, for example, the recognition that
    > there
    > are also biotic laws (as distinct from physical/chemical laws) that also
    > hold
    > for living things. Living things are distinct from non-living, physical
    > things
    > in that they are also subject to biotic laws which account for the life
    > functions that they reveal. An example of such a biotic law would be the
    > "law
    > for cell division". Cell division is a pattern of a life (biotic) function
    > of
    > cells. The cell division is a function of the cell, subject to the biotic
    > law
    > for cell growth and division. Although this function of cells orchestrates
    > the
    > activities of many molecules (physical entities) enclosed within the cell,
    > the
    > cell division itself is not a function of those molecules. Our
    > understanding of
    > the roles of these molecules and the numerous cell division genes (cdc
    > genes)
    > that are involved with the cell division process has certainly contributed
    > to
    > our understanding of regulatory pathways of the cell division process, but
    > the
    > cell division itself is not a function of any one of these genes, but
    > rather of
    > the cell as a living entity. The process of cell division is thus governed
    > by
    > the laws for the cell, including the "law" for cell division.

    While it probably isn't what you intend, the above sounds a lot like vitalism.

    A more charitable interpretation is that you are referring to what are often
    called "emergent properties," where the properties of the whole have a
    different character than the sum of the properties of the parts. Like liquid
    or solid water have properties (wetness, for example) that are not just the
    sum of properties of individual water molecules. Nobody disputes that such
    emergent properties exist, but where the properties are a result of normal
    physics and chemistry (as in my water example, and as far as we know in your
    example of cell division), there would not seem to be any point in setting
    aside the laws that describe these properties as a completely separate
    category. To do so makes it seem like some mysterious (vital?) force is
    operating in these cases in addition to normal physical law.

    Dr. Allan H. Harvey, Boulder, Colorado |
    "Any opinions expressed here are mine, and should not be
     attributed to my employer, my wife, or my cats"

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