Re: God acting in creation #4+++

From: george murphy (
Date: Thu Dec 20 2001 - 07:24:52 EST

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    Peter Ruest wrote:

    > george murphy wrote:
    > >
    > > bivalve wrote:
    > >
    > > > > Like the other physicists here, I simply don't see how 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.<
    > > >
    > > > I would take Peter's model of God selecting an extremely improbable
    > > > outcome to produce a novel structure as an example of introducing a
    > > > new type of organization without a change in the laws of physics.
    > > > Similarly, creating some entity ex nihilo (e.g., the first cell) and
    > > > then letting it carry on under ordinary providence would not require
    > > > an alteration of the laws of physics, though they would be set aside
    > > > in the creation event itself.
    > >
    > > Peter's model doesn't involve the possibility for a new type of
    > > organization but merely the realization of a situation that we might
    > > have expected, on statistical grounds, not to have happened for a much
    > > longer time.
    > You are right, the organization we find in living things conforms to the
    > basic physical laws. But it doesn't conform to physical structures we
    > are entitled to expect to spontaneously arise. How much longer is the
    > "longer time" you suggest? Are you ready for severalfold exponentiation
    > (10^(10^(10^...(...^10)...)) years)? I don't think we get around a
    > miraculous infusion of information.
    > > With your second example, the question would be whether or not
    > > the first cell could have come about in accord with the laws of
    > > physics prior to its appearance. If so, its creation ex nihilo was
    > > unnecessary. If not, then something has happened that cannot be
    > > explained by the laws of physics.
    > >
    > > Shalom,
    > >
    > > George
    > >
    > > George L. Murphy
    > Could something that cannot be explained by the laws of physics (e.g.
    > due to a configurational space allowing a transastronomical number of
    > different paths) nevertheless be in accordance with the laws of physics?

    Peter -
            Much of my concern here has to do with the number of highly
    improbable events that are called for. (Mea culpa, I failed to respond to
    an earlier post of yours on this.) There can be no fundamental objection to
    the idea, e.g., that God acted through some extremely improbable phenomena
    to bring about the first life on earth, a point I noted in an article in
    PSCF (45.3, 1993, p.162) some time ago.
            But when a large number of highly improbable things are called for
    then I think of a statement made by C.S. Lewis in comparing Malory with
    other Arthurian literature: "One magician is better than two magicians."
    When this is applied to theology it suggests that there is something lacking
    in style for a theologian to require a number of phenomena that are outside
    the ordinary pattern of the world. I freely confess that this is a question
    of taste, of theological aesthetics if you will, & de gustibus non



    George L. Murphy
    "The Science-Theology Interface"

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