Re: Human origins and doctrine

From: george murphy (
Date: Mon Feb 25 2002 - 17:10:55 EST

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    Adrian Teo wrote:

    > Hello George,
    > > -----Original Message-----
    > > From: george murphy []
    > > Sent: Saturday, February 23, 2002 3:22 PM
    > > To: Keith B Miller
    > > Cc:
    > > Subject: Re: Human origins and doctrine
    > > Well, what is the "satisfactory account" of how
    > > special creation gives us
    > > "moral capacity and
    > > self-determination"? It is simply a statement that God gave us those
    > > capacities. & of course that's true - just as God gave us
    > > hands & feet & eyes.
    > > A Christian understanding of evolution says that God has done
    > > all that mediately,
    > > through natural processes - & has to admit that at this point
    > > there are a lot of
    > > things we don't understand about how that happened.
    > > Which is simply to say that pointing to a lack of
    > > understanding of how
    > > our moral capacity arose as an argument for "special" (i.e.,
    > > non-evolutionary)
    > > creation is just a variant of the God of the gaps argument.
    > You raise a very important point, and that is that I have inserted God into
    > a process that has yet to be adequately explained by science. In a sense
    > this is a God-of-the-gaps argument, which I recognize, but in a different
    > sense, aren't we all as Christians invoking the same argument whenever we
    > argue for the necessity of God? Naturalists have frequently accused
    > Christian apologists of this argument. I would be reluctant to readily
    > insert God into any gaps we find in science, but in this case, I am arguing
    > that the naturalistic account seems *inherently* inadequate in explaining
    > the big questions (s.a. origin of the universe, purpose, self-determination,
    > morality). So, yes, technically, I am invoking God-of-the-gaps, but only in
    > a limited way, and in a way not unlike how any apologist would approach such
    > problems.

            I'm wary of any "argument ... for the necessity of God." Such an
    argument requires that in one way or another God's existence can be logically
    determined by some feature or features of the world, and thus assumes the
    legitimacy of an independent natural theology. I think that the theology of the
    cross and the related kenotic character of divine action argue against such a
    possibility. Eberhard Juengel has developed this idea in detail in _God as the
    Mystery of the World_ and argues there that God is "more than necessary."
            On the specific issue of the development of moral capacity &c: The gap
    that exists here is one between two different categories, & thus is rather like
    the mind-brain problem. I admit that it is a difficult problem, but still don't
    think a God of the gaps answer is helpful. What does such an answer do? If it
    isn't intended as a prohibition of further scientific work, it is simply a
    temporary stop-gap. In the later case, what's the point? Why not just say "We
    don't know."
            (& of course as Christians we are going to say that God is involved in
    the development of moral agency, just as God is active in the mind brain
    connection - whether we understand these things scientifically or not.)



    George L. Murphy
    "The Science-Theology Interface"

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