Re: Distinguishing marks of intervention

From: John W Burgeson (
Date: Sat Aug 04 2001 - 13:42:22 EDT

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    Model A = Deism or, possibly, one form of Theistic Evolution; Model B =
    Progressive Creation. In what follows, I assume only these two models
    are in contention. There are others; pretend with me for now that they
    have all been negated.

    Tim observed, in response to Bert's query, "Of course, if observations do
    not permit us to distinguish between the two models, I think one would
    have a heck of a time justifying a preference for Model-B."

    That would, indeed, be true if "observations" are all we can claim in the
    argument. And that is why, scientifically, Model A appears (Occam's razor
    principle) to be superior. No -- more than that -- it seems to be the
    only scientific model possible (of the two of course).

    There are two other considerations, however, which lead me to favor Model
    B over Model A. Neither is "science," I think, but philosophy.

    One is the absolute fact of our consciousness, our awareness of "self."
    Calling that phenomenon an "emergent property" is just giving it a fancy
    name, not explaining it. Like the existence of gravity, it just is; one
    does not explain it from more fundamental principles.

    If Model A is one's choice, then it is easy to visualize the present
    world, just as it is, with all of us going through the motions, but with
    no awareness. Just machines. Easy to visualize perhaps; impossible to
    explain, if there were anyone around to explain it. Model A gives us no
    reason to suspect awareness, however.

    In Model B, awareness is simply one an attribute added along the
    evolutionary way. That this was actually done, by the way, is claimed and
    defended by James Jaynes in his "The Origin of Consciousness... ."
    written about 20 or 30 years ago. Jaynes, apparently no theist, argued
    for natural causation for the effect; it is his data which I use here to
    argue between Model A and Model B.

    The second consideration is history, in which I use the biblical text to
    assert that, most certainly, God did intervene in human affairs,
    interfering with natural causation in many instances. My own favorite is
    the making of wine at Cana, but other instances can and should be argued
    in favor of Model B. Remember that Model A denies such interventions;
    Model B sees them happen often, perhaps (that is the danger of Model B)
    too often.

    The historical record also asserts that "supernatural interventions" have
    happened from time to time outside of being written up in scripture. If
    even 1% of these have reasonable credibility, then Model B is unaffected
    while even a single instance of such "really happening" negates Model A.

    Now in my case, I assert that such an intervention actually happened to
    me and my wife at one time. Details are on my web site. That set of
    memories are private knowledge to Carol and I of course; while they are
    objective to us, they are necessarily subjective to everyone else. So
    they are of no use as "science." But they are of overwhelming use in
    forming and sustaining our mind sets. Indeed, they trump any possible
    "finding of science" for us. There is no appeal from them.

    So -- Model B, for me, is a clear winner, by a score of oo to 0. An I
    think that makes me a "progressive creationist," rather than a "theistic
    evolutionist." It does not give me any grounds, however, for urging that
    position on others, except by way of witness.

    John Burgeson (Burgy)
           (science/theology, quantum mechanics, baseball, ethics,
            humor, cars, God's intervention into natural causation, etc.)

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