God acting in creation #4+++

From: Peter Ruest (pruest@pop.mysunrise.ch)
Date: Thu Dec 27 2001 - 11:16:07 EST

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    george murphy wrote:
    > Peter Ruest wrote:
    > > George,
    > > I understand your hesitation to accept a solution which you feel is less
    > > than elegant - and I am certainly not proposing "two magicians". But
    > > what we are looking for is a possible solution to the information
    > > problem. Howard's fully capable creational economy looks quite elegant,
    > > but it doesn't tell us anything useful for finding out how God might
    > > create. It is a blank theological formula which I feel is scientifically
    > > preposterous, because it implies that transastronomical amounts of
    > > information are stored for some 10 billion years in literally nothing,
    > > with God doing nothing any more.
    >
    > This is not an accurate statement of either my view or (I think)
    > Howard's. I certainly wouldn't say that "God [is] doing nothing anymore" but
    > that God is acting within the limits of the patterns characterizing natural
    > processes. This need not mean that all the information was stored somewhere
    > in the first seconds of the universe. We don't understand how the requisite
    > information can be generated by natural processes but that points to a need for
    > better scientific understanding rather than an appeal to direct divine action,
    > which would be a classic example of a God of the gaps argument.

    Let me quote from my PSCF communication (Vol.53, Nr.3 (Sept.2001),
    pp.179-183): "Van Till's view necessarily implies that most of the
    information required for the structures and functions in the biosphere,
    including humanity, was either contained in the energy, strings, plasma,
    or whatever of the early big bang - and in the prebiotic universe ever
    since, or that it emerged by self-organization out of nothing - which is
    what is usually claimed. From what is known in the biological sciences,
    it appears preposterous to believe in either possibility. Curiously, Van
    Till seems to prefer the first version, explicitly including 'biological
    systems' among the 'basic entities' which God 'from the beginning, when
    the creation was brought into being from nothing,' gifted with all of
    the capacities needed (H.J. Van Till, Special Creationism in Designer
    Clothing: A Response to 'The Creation Hypothesis', PSCF 47 (1995):
    123)." Apparently, you prefer the second version. Of course, my (third)
    version does not represent a scientific theory (just as there is no
    scientific theory for the first or second versions), but metaphysical
    speculation (like the first and second versions). As the third version
    implies "hidden" options, it does not represent a god-of-the-gaps
    argument and cannot be used as such. But as the whole issue is clearly
    metaphysical (in all three versions), aren't we entitled to some
    speculation? Aren't christians entitled to some attempts at harmonizing
    scientific and biblical data in a metaphysical complementarity model?
     
    > > On the other hand - having God provide huge amounts of information when
    > > and where needed doesn't strike me as very inelegant. Doesn't Scripture
    > > tell us He creates [bara'] individual human beings (Is. 43:7), who are
    > > fathered and borne by natural procreation? Ps. 139:13 gives a similar
    > > idea, and v.16 includes the individual's life history. What does God do
    > > here? Nothing? In scientific language, an individual's personality and
    > > life history is conditioned by his or her genome, some as yet poorly
    > > understood epigenetics, and many even less well understood aspects of
    > > the environment, whereas theological language adds God's providence. If
    > > God is responsible for an individual's personality (not sin, of course),
    > > wouldn't it be by means of some kind of (non-coercive, not violating any
    > > physical law) hidden intervention in a huge number of details like
    > > selecting, during meiosis, whether gene xyz of the ovum-to-be comes from
    > > the mother's or the father's side, or letting a C-14 atom decay near a
    > > given cytidylic residue at a given moment, etc.? No highly improbable
    > > elementary events need be implied, the improbability arising from the
    > > large number of bifurcation events composing the influence in question,
    > > be it in the creation of an individual human being, or in the evolution
    > > of a novel functionality.
    >
    > God is the creator of everything - human beings, but also C-12 atoms,
    > H2O molecules & stars.
    > Scientifically we understand how nonliving things come into being a lot better
    > than we do for living things. Theologically there is no reason to think that
    > the origin of living systems requires direct & unmediated divine action any more
    > than does than of non-living ones.

    I agree, there is no theological reason to ask for such divine action.
    The only reason I speculate about such action is the scientific data,
    which appear to exclude the possibility of spontaneous generation of
    biological information. At least, there is no plausible scenario, much
    less a fully formulated theory describing it. I am amazed at the
    confidence of many that the origin of humans can, in principle, be
    explained on the same basis as that of C-12 atoms, H2O molecules &
    stars. My suggestion of God's way of doing it is neither a scientific or
    god-of-the-gaps theory, nor any kind of theological proposal, but simply
    a metaphysical attempt at harmonizing what we know from science and from
    Scripture.

    Peter Ruest

    -- 
    Dr Peter Ruest, <pruest@dplanet.ch>
    CH-3148 Lanzenhaeusern, Switzerland
    Biochemistry - Creation and evolution
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    Creative providence in biology (Gen.2:3):
    "..the work which God created (in order) to (actively) evolve it"
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