Re: What does the creation lack?

From: Howard J. Van Till (
Date: Sat Oct 27 2001 - 16:04:33 EDT

  • Next message: Howard J. Van Till: "Re: What does the creation lack?"

    > Do you consider the sequence of "creatures" you listed to be a continuum? Or
    > do you accept a discontinuity between "galaxy" and "living cell" in your
    > list? If it is a continuum, then there is probably no "lack" in creation.
    > If there are discontinuities, then one might expect to find what you call a
    > "lack"?

    I presume that by a "discontinuity" between creature A and creature B you
    mean that there is no continuous pathway of purely creaturely (or "natural")
    processes by which one could be transformed into the other. A discontinuity
    of this sort would be the consequence of what I have sometimes called a
    "capability gap."

    Yes, my proposal (that the universe was gifted from the outset with a robust
    formational economy) is that there are no discontinuities of the sort that
    would prevent the universe from having a continuous formational history of
    the type envisioned by contemporary science.

    > I believe there is a discontinuity at the point of the origin of the first
    > cell.

    Here is where you and I respectfully disagree.

    > I think this because I do not find any scientific evidence or other
    > reason to believe that the laws of physics and chemistry, which account for
    > the universe up to the point of the origin of life, can account for that
    > origination.

    As I have explained before, I prefer to use the word "formation" rather than
    the word "origin," which I reserve for the ultimate source of being (which,
    we agree, is the effective will of the Creator).

    My expectation is that we will one day be in a far better position to
    envision creaturely pathways that would make this remarkable phenomenon
    possible. In the arena of science our knowledge of the robustness of the
    universe's formational economy grows daily. The formational capabilities of
    the universe have often been underestimated (recall my example of
    interstellar molecules). In the arena of theology my expectation rests in
    the awareness that this robustness is a manifestation of the creativity and
    generosity of the Creator.

    > As you probably know, I object to the use of the word, "lack", because it is
    > negative and pejorative. You may not think so, but immediately puts one on
    > the defensive.

    Yes, I am aware of the connotations.

    > The question I would rather have you ask is, "What does *my view* of creation
    > lack?" So let me ask it.
    > I think your view lacks the possibility that creation is a *staged process*
    > that it went through a series of developmental phases, that each stage had
    > its own intrinsic potentiality, and when that was played out it set the stage
    > for the next phase of development. A new extra-natural creativity would be
    > added at this point to initiate a new more advanced stage.

    Yes, my view does indeed lack a place for form-conferring interventions as
    necessary elements in the creation's formational history.

    > Thus when all the potentiality of the pre-biotiic universe was exhausted it
    > provided just the right conditions, in the universe and on planet Earth, for
    > God to initiate the next stage, that is, for life to arise on earth, by
    > adding something to the laws of physics and chemistry that had not been there
    > before.

    That's a well stated summary of your position that clearly distinguishes it
    from mine. Question for information: Does "adding something" entail any
    changes in the "laws of physics and chemistry"?

    > Thus I believe the entire history of the universe can be described as having
    > been staged or phased. This view includes both continuity within each stage,
    > and over the entire sequence of the stages on the one hand, and discontinuity
    > between stages on the other.
    > I see no compelling theological or scientific reason at this time to rule out
    > the concept of a staged creation. This view is friendly to the idea of both
    > continuity and discontinuity in creation. A staged creation lacks nothing;
    > that is the way God created it from the beginning.

    Here is where we respectfully disagree once again. Your "stages" are, I
    presume, separated by supernatural interventions in which something new is
    added to what had been given being in the beginning. Why must something new
    be added? Because it is lacking. Why is it lacking? Presumably because God
    chose to withhold it at the beginning. There's nothing impossible about your
    proposal, but I am uncomfortable with its "withhold now, compensate later"

    > That's how I see it. Hope it helps.

    Thanks for a clear statement of your vision. Though I disagree, I appreciate
    seeing a clearly articulated view.

    Howard Van Till

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