Re: God acting in creation #4+++ another confused reader

From: Joel Cannon (
Date: Sun Dec 16 2001 - 18:58:26 EST

  • Next message: george murphy: "Re: God acting in creation #4+++"

    Bob Dehaan responded to Allan and Howard:

    To Allan:

    ... Miracles made no permanent change in nature, but were temporary
    interventions for specific purposes within the context of God's redemptive

    Staged creation is a spinoff from God's creative act that originated the
    universe rather then from his redemptive actions. Let me repeat what I wrote
    to Howard: << In the idea of staged development God bides his time until
    "the fullness of time" has come, introduces new organization when the
    creation was ready to sustain it, builds greater complexity on what is
    already developed.>>

    To Allan and Howard:

    Suppose you have iron filings scattered about randomly on a sheet of paper,
    and underneath it is a wire attached to an electrical power source. You run
    a current through it and the iron filings are organized into the pattern of
    an electromagnetic field. Simple middle school demonstration. I think I got
    it straight, didn't I?

    I have, however, never heard a physicist say that the iron filings were
    _coerced_ or _persuaded_ into the pattern they take. God's action
    analogically calls new patterns and systems into being, much as the
    electromagnetic field brings the pattern in the iron filings into being. As
    I said, God's action in nature is more like a field or a wave, than a
    reductionist/particle approach which I think you have used to characterize
    my position.


    My comment:

    I am at least the third person who finds it difficult to understand
    your distinction between "temporary interventions" where God introduces
    order (when the creation was ready to sustain it) and a classical
    understanding of miracles or "form-imposing actions" (creating a
    field is a form-imposing action).

    All of us are either physicists, or have significant training in
    physics. To us, in talking about new order or capabilities without a
    change in the physical properties (i.e. change in fundamental
    constants) of the universe or manually rearranging atoms to achieve
    greater order, you seem to be articulating a theodicy (a description
    of how God has acted) that does not fit with a modern understanding of
    physics. It is roughly akin to postulating an object that goes faster
    than the speed of light. It should not be accepted lightly.

    A fundamental understanding of the universe in light of physics is that:

    1. Fields in the sense that you appear to be thinking about them come
        from particles, or in the case of EM waves, changing fields (which
        were originally produced by accelerated particles).

    2. Order (and capability) in the physical world, including our bodies
       comes from the forces between particles and quantum
       mechanics. Ultimately what can happen, what nuclei if nuclei
       occur, what ordered systems (e.g. magnets,
       crystals, molecules). That is really the point of fine-tuning
       arguments---precise relationships between the constants are
       necessary for life (or matter as we know it) to be possible.

    Are you suggesting that one of these items is incorrect?

    Joel W. Cannon | (724)223-6146
    Physics Department |
    Washington and Jefferson College |
    Washington, PA 15301 |


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