Re: God acting in creation #4+++

From: george murphy (
Date: Sun Dec 16 2001 - 20:32:39 EST

  • Next message: Howard J. Van Till: "Re: God acting in creation #4+++" wrote:

    > In a message dated 12/15/01 1:36:08 PM, SteamDoc writes:
    > << But if God reorganizes the atoms and molecules, modifying the
    > relationships into patterns that they were not capable of attaining without
    > God reaching in, I don't see any way that can be characterized as anything
    > other than miraculous divine intervention. If God puts (maybe for Howard's
    > sake I should say "coerces") the molecules into arrangements they could not
    > reach naturally, that is every bit as much "setting aside the laws of nature"
    > as making an axe head float. >>
    > Allan,
    > I thought the two statements of mine had made clear the difference between
    > miraculous intervention and staged creation. Let me try again:
    > Miracles, as I understand them, are _coercive acts_, if you will, whereby God
    > intervenes in redemptive history, for the purpose of furthering the
    > redemptive process, culminating in the greatest of all micracles, God's
    > raising Christ from the dead. I am not aware of any miracles occurring
    > outside redemptive history, but am willing to be corrected. Even within that
    > history, miracles seem to have been limited to the special times of Moses,
    > Elijah, Christ and the early church. Perhaps that is why it was Moses and
    > Elijah who appeared on the mount of transfiguration with Christ--all miracle
    > workers. Miracles made no permanent change in nature, but were temporary
    > interventions for specific purposes within the context of God's redemptive
    > work.
    > 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.>>
    > Let me pursue this further, because I am still thinking through how best to
    > describe what I think happens when God acts in nature, through another
    > analogy: 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
    > have, however, never heard a physicist say that the iron filings were
    > _coerced_ into the pattern they take. God's action in nature is more like a
    > field or a wave, than a reductionist particle approach.
    > The shaping of an electromagnetic field, as an analogy of how God works, is
    > more in the spirit of how the Bible describes God's actions, it seems to me.
    > God's action is nuanced--the Spirit of God moved upon the waters, the Sprit
    > moves where it wills, in the beginning was the Word. This is not a
    > heavy-handed pushing atoms and molecules around.

    Bob -
        The action of a classical electromagnetic field on iron filings is just as
    "coercive" as any other force
    in classical physics. The magnetic field at any point determines the orientation
    of a small magnetic
    dipole - i.e., an iron filing - at that point. If you have never heard a
    physicist use the term "coerced" in this connection, it's probably because that
    just isn't a term that physicists use much anyway.
        Like the other physicists here, I simply don't see how it would the
    possibility for new types of organization to be introduced without there being
    corresponding changes in the properties of matter and its interactions, and thus
    in the laws that describe the physical world - whether those laws deal with
    particles or fields, or are classical or quantum.



    George L. Murphy
    "The Science-Theology Interface"

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