Re: God acting in creation #4+++

From: Howard J. Van Till (
Date: Sun Dec 16 2001 - 20:30:39 EST

  • Next message: D. F. Siemens, Jr.: "Re: God acting in creation #4+++"


    > I still resist your depiction of my positiion--<<that God, by direct action
    > on atoms and molecules, ORGANIZED matter into new configurations from time to
    > time>>. The way you describe my position is too reductionistic, in my view.
    > My position is closer to a systems or field approach, from the little I know
    > of systems theory in biology.
    > 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?

    Yes, the iron filings are organized into a pattern by the action of the
    magnetic field.

    > 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.

    From the standpoint of physics, the iron filings are organized solely by the
    FORCE (actually a "torque," or "aligning force") that is exerted on them by
    the magnetic field. Although physicists are more likely to use the word
    FORCE than the word COERCION, these two words are interchangeable in this

    So, if God's action in nature is like the action of an electromagnetic field
    on iron filings, then divine action is indeed coercive. Unfortunately, your
    analogy makes the opposite point to what you intended.

    Howard Van Till

    PS: "Coercion" and "persuasion" are not in the same category. Persuasion can
    be effective, but it is a non-coercive action.

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