on 10/26/01 7:50 AM, george murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
> "Howard J. Van Till" wrote:
> The following reflection on Peter Ruest's proposal regarding the nature and
> role of divine creative action was posted nearly a week ago.
> Since that time this list has seen numerous postings on terrorism, the
> justification of war, the languages spoken by the Accadians three millennia
> ago, and even some exchanges on biblical numerology.
> No postings, however, on Ruest's proposal. What's the deal here? Has the ASA's
> interest in the character of divine action and its relation to science been
> Howard -
> The topic of divine action is important but we can't discuss
> everything all the time. I imagine that most of us have at one time or
> another posted something that we thought should evoke lively responses, only
> to have the topic dissipate in cyberspace.
> Amen! I thought that I would get more of a response to Walter Winkıs
> perspective and his implication of the myth of redemptive violence in our
> wars. It got one brief note of agreement.
> Jim Stark
> An obvious question about Peter's proposal, & the only one I address
> here, concerns the nature of the "several physical processes for which many
> differing outcomes are possible" and for which "There are permanent epistemic
> barriers ... that prevent science from gaining sufficient knowledge to predict
> which particular outcome will occur."
> To me the ultimate epistemic barrier is Godıs gift of freedom. We must choose
> to contact God. We cannot test the presence of Godıs divine influence.
> However, we can identify specific points of possible influence that I have
> Jim Stark
> In his articles he says "they may include quantum uncertainties, randomness
> in elementary events, unpredictability due to minute parameter value
> deviations in nonlinear systems liable to produce deterministic chaos, and
> coincidences." It's not clear what "randomness" & "coincidence" might refer
> to other than aspects of the other two possibilities, which are the ones that
> really need to be considered: Quantum uncertainty & chaos.
> A number of people, going back to Wm Pollard, have suggested that God
> acts below the level of the uncertainty principle. Bob Russell has recently
> (in his essay in Evolutionary and Molecular Biology) connected the idea that
> God acts at the quantum level with genetic mutations & evolution. Polkinghorne
> has emphasized the role of chaos in giving God freedom of action in the world.
> There's a problem with trying to do this entirely with classical
> chaos, for there the equations of motion are still deterministic, even though
> there is sensitivity to initial conditions. Therefore free divine action would
> have to involve some type of "violation" of the classical laws, even though
> that violation would be undetectable by us. But even though there is no
> "quantum chaos" in the strict sense, divine action at the quantum level could
> provide the variation in initial conditions needed for classical chaos.
> A proposal that God acts at the quantum level to bring about definite
> results of measurement processes (i.e., God collapses wave packets) needs to
> be spelled out more fully. Does it mean that God collapses all the wave
> packets of all measurement processes throughout the universe? If so, does
> this happen through some hidden variables or simply by decreeing the result of
> each process?
> Or does God only determine the results of certain critical processes, such as
> those required for some steps in evolution? If so, what determines the
> results of all other quantum processes?
> There's my contribution for starters.
> We should confine our explorations for points of entry to fields of
> uncertainty. To me, chaos theory is a field of certainty. God could enter at
> any decision point involving freedom. Other specific areas of uncertainty
> would be chance, spontaneity, natural selection, bifurcation points,
> serendipity, etc. We could create plausible explanations for action at those
> points that incorporate free will or spiritual influence.
> Jim Stark
> Food for thought [from Howard J. Van Till one comment added]:
> As we all know, there are in the Christian community today many differing
> portraits (what-happened-and-when-accounts) of the creation's formational
> history. It's probably safe to say that the majority of Christians in North
> America hold to some form of portrait that excludes macro-evolution as
> ordinarily conceived by biologists.
> Arguments against an evolutionary portrait of the creation's formational
> history have been based on appeals to (1) the biblical text, (2) theological
> considerations, or (3) scientific considerations.
>>> Focusing for the moment only on (3), these arguments commonly take the form
>>> of providing reasons why evolution could not possibly have occurred in the
>>> manner envisioned by mainstream science. In nearly every case it is argued
>>> that the creation lacks some feature, property or capability that is
>>> essential to an evolutionary creation portrait. Here's a representative
>>> a. Young earth episodic creationism: not enough time available; key
>>> formational capabilities clearly missing (there are capability gaps in the
>>> creation's formational economy); the second law of thermodynamics would
>>> forbid evolution even if there were billions of years available.
>>> b. Old earth episodic creationism: not a time problem; but key formational
>>> capabilities are clearly missing (there are capability gaps in the
>>> creation's formational economy).
>>> c. Intelligent Design: key formational capabilities are either missing
>>> (there are capability gaps in the creation's formational economy) or not
>>> sufficiently effective.
>>> d. Peter Ruest's proposal (Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith,
>>> Sept. 2001, pp. 179-183): All requisite formational capabilities are present
>>> (no capability gaps), but they are not sufficiently effective. The
>>> possibility space (for viable material configurations) of the creation is so
>>> overwhelmingly large that the creation could not possibly have come to
>>> occupy the information-rich genetic portion of it without divine assistance
>>> of some sort. Divine assistance is needed to hurdle barriers of
>>> "astronomical improbability."
>>> What sort of divine assistance? Says Peter, "...miraculous interventions are
>>> not to be expected on theological grounds...." In David Griffin's
>>> language: no coercive action; no overpowering of creatures by the Creator.
>>> How might God act effectively without miraculous or coercive action? Peter's
>>> First, note that there are several physical processes for which many
>>> differing outcomes are possible. There are permanent epistemic barriers,
>>> however, that prevent science from gaining sufficient knowledge to predict
>>> which particular outcome will occur. Events of this sort play a key role in
>>> the formational history of life forms. Our presence as Homo sapiens, for
>>> instance, required that a particular string of possible outcomes actually
>>> Second, propose that God, without violating or overpowering the natural
>>> capabilities of any creaturely system, exercised the choice of particular
>>> outcomes (from among the various possibilities) in such a way that life
>>> evolved in the remarkably fruitful manner that it did. These exercises of
>>> divine choice represent occasions for God to inject new information into the
>>> creaturely system, essential information that was not attainable by
>>> creaturely means alone.
>>> Science will continue to discover other points of uncertainty where God
>>> could have entered Godıs choice. Scientist refuse to create causal
>>> explanations for these points of entry. They are forced to create metaphors
>>> devoid of spirituality to act as causes. It is the responsibility of
>>> Christians to act as agents of God by creating plausible spiritual
>>> Jim Stark
>>> Interesting proposition. Comments?
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