Re: Divine vs creaturely action

From: Terry M. Gray (
Date: Tue Jun 19 2001 - 10:37:44 EDT

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    What is wrong with the term "free agency"? It seems to cover the kind
    of action that we're talking about here ("breaking into the causal
    nexus of the universe"). The Westminster Confession describes three
    categories of secondary causes: necessary, free, or contigent. Sorry
    to be such a fuddy-duddy, but I'm reluctant to invent new terminology
    to deal with questions that have been around for awhile.


    >Terry posted: "In general, I think creature vs. Creator is a much more
    >helpful distinction. Free agency is not unique to God. However, one
    >wonders where to put the activity of angels and demonic spirits. These
    >agents are creaturely yet I suspect that we might call their activity
    >I have tended away from supernatural vs. natural in favor of regular vs.
    >irregular or ordinary vs. extraordinary."
    >While I agree that the term "supernatural" is loaded," I continue to
    >think we need SOME sort of language in which to assert that we human
    >beings do, at least sometimes, violate natural causality when we make
    >decisions in which some thought is involved. Neither you nor Howard like
    >the word "supernaturalism" but in avoiding its use the concept of
    >"breaking into the causal nexus of the universe" (Griffin's terminology)
    >is glossed over and ignored.
    >I wish there were another term -- "extra-natural" comes close, but seems
    >contrived. Maybe someone here can suggest one.
    >I had forgotten to include the angels/demons possibility, so my
    >definitions must be expanded to the following:
    >sn(d) (divine; God of orthodox Christianity)
    >sn(o) (divine; God of Open Theism)
    >sn(p) (divine; God of Process Theology)
    >sn(a) (angels)
    >sn(d) (demons)
    >sn(h) (humans)
    >sn(a) (animals)
    >sn(i) (inanimate matter)
    >One may argue, of course, that some of the above are null; as a matter of
    >fact, only sn(h) can be fairly said to be established; all the others are
    >open to argument. I guess even sn(h) is open to argument if your name is
    >Sagan, Dawkins or Crick.
    >My own belief structure is that sn(h) surely is true; sn(i) is surely not
    >true. My jury is out on the other categories, except to say that some
    >variation of sn(d), sn(o) and sn(p) must certainly be true, with my
    >position being one that sn(d) seems the most credible.
    >John Burgeson (Burgy)
    > (data on science/theology, quantum mechanics, baseball, ethics,
    > humor, great cars, God's intervention into natural causation,

    Terry M. Gray, Ph.D., Computer Support Scientist
    Chemistry Department, Colorado State University
    Fort Collins, Colorado  80523
    phone: 970-491-7003 fax: 970-491-1801

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