Re: God acting in creation #4+++

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. (
Date: Mon Dec 17 2001 - 13:31:50 EST

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

    On Sun, 16 Dec 2001 16:46:48 EST writes:
    > Miracles made no permanent change in nature, but were
    > temporary
    > interventions for specific purposes within the context of God's
    > redemptive
    > work.

    How did the raising of the widow's son at Zarepath, the Shunammite's son
    or the man who touched Elisha's bones advance God's redemptive work? What
    of the floating axe head? Or are they not miracles by your definition?
    Further, the former made definite changes in history. Though we don't
    have a specific record of the offspring of the boys, can you argue that
    they had no descendants who made a difference in the world?
    > 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.
    > <snip>
    I think I can give one reason why a physicist does not speak of coercing
    iron filings. "Coercive force" and "coercivity" are technical terms used
    for demagnetization within the hysteresis loop, and necessarily involves
    a magnetic field. But, apart from this usage, I do not see how causation
    can be interpreted as noncoercive.

    One of my colleagues, a sociologist, told me that there were people in
    his field who spent their time inventing terms for, usually, recognized
    phenomena in the hope that later studies would speak of "Jones's
    parameter" or "Smith's scale." It looks to me as though you are engaged
    in a similar exercise to avoid labeling the divine alterations in the
    nature of the universe as miracles. But fiat introduction of life or
    species into the universe or fiat insertion of new genetic material into
    existing life forms is, within the normal use of language, miraculous,
    creative, coercive, causative. Trying to split hairs where there are no
    hairs to split does not advance understanding, but it is highly
    productive of nonsense. Please leave that to us philosophers.


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