Re: Evolution of proteins in sequence space

From: Howard J. Van Till (
Date: Sat Aug 04 2001 - 07:03:24 EDT

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    > Ok, let me see if I can be more explicit and perhaps I don't exactly know what
    > you mean by some of your terms
    > " that the Creation has a robust
    > formational economy ".

    That the Creation was equipped by God from the beginning with all of the
    resources, capabilities and potentialities needed to actualize the full
    array of physical structures and life forms that have ever formed. This
    would still leave lots of room for authentic contingency about the specific
    forms that actually appeared. Not all potential forms need be actualized.

    > I simply picked up the story at the of the beginning of life on Earth. We
    > if you prefer begin at the beginning.

    By doing so you seem to have introduced the idea of supernatural,
    form-imposing intervention.

     Now, let me be explicit about "initial
    > condition." This is a term from mathematics and physics and perhaps you are
    > familiar with it.
    > Let me give a simple example to be explicit and forgive if this is something
    > already know. Lets take an example of a simple spring with a weight at one
    > end. Its motion is governed by simple laws of dynamics etc. But, the
    > conditions" are the time when someone hit it and with how much force. Knowing
    > the laws of motion of a spring, knowing when it got hit and by how much,
    > knowing the parameters of this spring such as its stiffness, now I can tell
    > what will its motion be with time.

    Yes, I know about this type of initial condition, but I do not see this as
    relevant to the matter of the formation of life, unless you also have in
    mind the usual list of "cosmic coincidences' that are cited in an anthropic
    principle. Given the probabilistic character of quantum phenomena, even
    setting all initial conditions does not assure a specific outcome like the
    appearance of Homo Sapiens.

    > Going forward now to the universe (I preferred to start with life as a
    > formation), the universe has "initial" conditions and "laws" etc. I was of
    > assumption that you are suggesting that God set all this into motion just
    > so the we are here now at this time. Kinda the one and only action of God and
    > that he did chose to intervene again.
    > (The universe certainly had initial conditions but there is again a problem
    > them being prescription to us given the issue of quantum indeterminacy.)
    > While some hold this view that God simply set the universe up and let it go,
    > others, as you are likely aware, believe in "progressive" creation who God
    > continues to intervene.
    > Your comment?

    You have here offered only two options: either deism or supernaturalist
    progressive creation. I would reject both.

    Here is an excerpt from a recent post to this list that briefly outlines
    another option that I find more attractive:

    2. However, having found David Ray Griffin's development of "persuasive"
    divine action very helpful, I would be happy to consider the possibility
    that this "non-coercive" divine action is the key factor that leads the
    exercise of the universe's robust formational economy to be as remarkably
    fruitful as it is. I have sometimes referred to this in the language of
    God's "blessing" as the kind of divine action that leads the action of
    creatures to be fruitful. cf Genesis 1:22.

    In this manner, divine action is both essential and effective, but does not
    constitute irruptive, overpowering intervention, which generally strikes me
    as a violation of the being originally given to the Creation. In Griffin's
    process theology, divine action is not merely something that is occasionally
    inserted into an otherwise Godless process to bridge a "capability gap," but
    is an essential factor (present in all that happens) in an enriched concept
    of what is "natural."

    Howard Van Till

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