Re: God acting in creation #4

From: george murphy (
Date: Fri Dec 14 2001 - 08:20:41 EST

  • Next message: Don Munro: "Fw: Postdoc" wrote:

    > In a message dated 12/7/01 9:32:45 AM, writes:
    > << Bob -
    > You are saying that at certain epochs natural processes receive
    > capabilities that they didn't have before. If this happens at time t1 then
    > there
    > will be things happening for t > t1 that couldn't be explained in terms of
    > laws
    > of nature that obtained for t < t1. Suppose, e.g., that the world starts out
    > with simple force-free Newtonian particles. They'll all move in straight
    > lines,
    > except for collisions, & there will be no bound (i.e., more complex) systems.
    > Suppose then that at t = t1 God turns on an attractive inverse-square force so
    > that bound systems become possible. Something new has been added to the
    > world -
    > something that allows the development of more complex systems & thus
    > corresponds
    > roughly with your idea of developmental stages. But the new phenomenon of
    > gravitationally bound systems can't be explained in terms of the laws that
    > obtained for t < t1.
    > The laws of nature were not "set aside" at t = t1 but they were
    > changed
    > permanently at that time, & changed in a way that couldn't be predicted on the
    > basis of the previous laws. (The new force could be more complicated than
    > r^-2.) I won't insist on the term "miracle" for such an event
    > but it seems to have some of the characteristics of traditional
    > interventionist
    > miracles. & I don't think that that's changed by saying that God planned this
    > change at t = 0.>>
    > George,
    > I am not able to comment on your example from astrophysics. But you said
    > that the laws of nature were changed permanently. If I asked you in what
    > way they were changed, I might not be able to understand your answer. But
    > let me try. How was t < t1 changed by things happening for t > t1?

            There's really nothing very technical about my example. Before t1 there
    isn't gravity & after t1 there is, thus making possible the development of
    gravitationally bound systems. When I said "changed permanently" I meant for all
    t > t1.

    > Let me ask a related question: In what way would the laws of nature, that
    > were in effect before life appeared in the prebiotic world, have been
    > changed when God added the novel formational capacity for matter to form the
    > first living cell? Both you and Howard claim that in my position entails a
    > change of prior laws of nature in effect before life began by the addition of
    > new formational capacities to creation. What laws, how changed, and to
    > what?

            Neither Howard nor I has said that such a change would require a change
    for t < t1. In fact, the whole point of our argument has been that your
    suggestion seems to require discontinuities in the laws of nature.

    > If we reserve the term miracle for events that temporarily supervened the
    > laws of nature, but made no permanent changes in or additions to them; were
    > employed primarily, if not exclusively, in human affairs; and more
    > specifically in redemptive history and for redemptive purposes, then it
    > seems possible to distinguish them from additions to creatures' formational
    > capacities that derived their characteristics from the original act of
    > creation of the universe.
    > You wrote, <<characteristics of traditional interventionist miracles>>.
    > What do you see as characteristics of traditional interventionist miracles?

            I should have said "traditional interventionist understandings of
    miracles". In such views some of the laws of nature are thought of as being
    "violated" or "transcended" during some period of time so that, e.g., loaves can
    be multiplied or water walked on.



    George L. Murphy
    "The Science-Theology Interface"

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