> << HVT's PS: "Coercion" and "persuasion" are not in the same category.
> Persuasion can be effective, but it is a non-coercive action.
skip a bit
> Howard (and anyone else who wants to chip in), would you kindly explain in
> physical, chemical or biological terms the difference between "persuasion"
> and "coercion"? Do you use the term "persuasion" in your model? You clearly
> favor it. Specifically, if my "field" example is coercive, what is a an
> example of a persuasive one?
The only reason for my PS re "coercion" and "persuasion" was the following
line in one of your previous posts:
> I have, however, never heard a physicist say that the iron filings were
> _coerced_ or _persuaded_ into the pattern they take.
I'm not sure if you intended to do so, but it looked as if the two terms
were being used as synonyms.
The term 'persuasion' is, of course, drawn from the arena of human
experience. In that context we know well the difference between being
persuaded to act in a certain way and being forced to act in a certain way.
It is in that context that we can sense how 'persuasive' action can be
effective (within limits) without being 'coercive'.
As I understand it, some theologians (not only those in the process camp)
find this concept of divine action attractive for a number of reasons. God's
action relative to the creation is effective (within limits) without the
need to be coercive (that is, being the sole cause of some event or process
within the creation).
Now, that way of speaking makes sense to us when both of the parties in the
interaction have a personal dimension. But what could it mean to speak of
'persuasive' divine action on some biomolecule? To be candid, I find it
difficult to get a firm hold on this kind of example. David Ray Griffin will
be speaking in west Michigan next November; I expect to ask him about this.
In the meantime, I am more inclined to use the term 'non-coercive' in place
of 'persuasive.' In some contexts I speak of God's non-coercive action in
the language of 'blessing.' For instance, when I asked for God's blessing on
my surgery some time ago, I was not asking God to force (coerce) any member
of the surgical team (or any of the molecules and cells of my body) to do
things that they were not capable of doing. I was asking God to act
(non-coercively) in such a way that the actions of all of these creatures
would be fruitful (from my perspective). Am I able to translate that concept
of divine blessing action into the terminology of physics, chemistry or
biology? No, but that doesn't bother me in the least. I still pray for God's
blessing on the actions of members of the creation.
Howard Van Till
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