Re: What does the creation lack?

From: george murphy (
Date: Tue Oct 30 2001 - 14:48:02 EST

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    "Howard J. Van Till" wrote:

    > George,
    > Thanks for the clarifications re the differences among the TS, K and P
    > theological systems. I found it helpful.
    > Where do you see Peter Ruest's proposal fitting? Would it be at odds
    > with any of those systems? More comfortable with one than with the
    > others?

    Howard -
            As my delay indicates, I've been thinking about how to respond
    to these questions. I'm not sure that it's possible to give them
    straightforward answers in the way in which they're posed. I
    characterized these systems (P, K, TS) in quite general ways & a great
    deal depends on how they are further specified in order to meet certain
    criteria. E.g., you suggest that P might be helpful in expressing the
    idea of creation's robust formational economy, but someone else might be
    attracted to P for other reasons.
            Two related concerns (among others) that K & P both try to
    address are
            a) ensuring the world has something like a "robust functional
    economy" (or "functional integrity" or "relative autonomy") and
            b) avoiding the idea that God's action simply overwhelms the
    world or forces it to do things that God cannot accomplish through
    lawful natural processes.
            Both K & P say that God is active in the world, but that divine
    action is limited - in K because God chooses to limit it & in P because
    of the nature of the God-world relation.
            Peter's proposal for understanding how evolution takes place is
    certainly in some tension with both a) & b). God has to do some special
    things - e.g., collapse wave packets in a special way - in order for the
    development of life &c to occur.
            But if we look at the question not as one primarily about
    biological evolution but in relation to physics, there is more to be
    said for his proposal. Because there is in fact a lack, not necessarily
    in creation but in our present understanding of quantum mechanics. We
    don't know why a particular measurement produces one result rather than
    another, but unless we want to forget about the principle of sufficient
    reason, something does. The proposal that God collapses the wave
    function remedies this. Such an argument may simply be another GOG
    appeal, but the question "why do we observe definite things?" may be a
    genuine limit question, of the same type as "Why does anything exist?"
            (It's worth noting that it isn't only Christian apologetes who
    have made this type of argument. E.g., F. Belinfante in Measurements
    and Time Reversal in Objective Quantum Theory (Pergamon, 1975), pp.98-99
    concluded, "We thus see how quantum theory requires the existence of
            Even if one doesn't buy such arguments & considers this a GOG
    argument, Peter's proposal at least has the merit of filling two gaps
    (in evolutionary theory & quantum mechanics) rather than just one.
            This kind of divine action does not require that God "violate"
    the laws of quantum mechanics.
    The result of a measurement of an observable will be one of those
    observable's eigenvalues. Thus what we see is still an exercise of
    God's ordinate rather than his absolute power. Or to put it in terms
    more congenial to P, the nature of the physical system - as summarized
    in the complete set of observables that describe it - as well as God
    determine what the result of a measurement will be.
           Peter's proposal does not make clear whether God is understood to
    determine how all wave functions collapse in all measurements, or
    whether it is only those involved in certain critical mutations e.g. I
    don't see how the latter view could be maintained very well. The
    former, OTOH, seems to return us to a type of TS in which God is in
    absolute control of all events - perhaps not an absolute monarch but the
    power behind the throne!
            In summary, I'm uncomfortable with Peter's proposal but can't
    simply dismiss it. Further consideration is needed, as the rambling
    character of my remarks may suggest.



    George L. Murphy
    "The Science-Theology Interface"

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