Re: Questioning the Big Bang

From: Dr. Blake Nelson (
Date: Wed May 01 2002 - 22:24:45 EDT

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    Here's my two cents worth and I would appreciate
    Howard's reflection on my questions/thoughts re
    panentheism below.

    Panentheism's attractiveness is that it reemphasize
    continuing creation. I read this in soft form as a
    renewed emphasis on God's immanence, which I think is
    something that Christians must do to emphasize the
    relevance of God to those not within the tradition.
    Evolution does not describe a mechanism separate from
    God, neither do the laws of thermodynamics, etc.

    There seem to me to be a couple problems with
    panentheism (based on the amount I have read about it)
    in a hard form which should be addressed:

    1. The problem with God-and-the-World is which form
    of the world was/is eternally with God? Well, we
    don't know. Is it the quantum vaccuum? Is it all
    matter through some sort of Phoenix universe of
    eternal expansion and contraction? Certainly not all
    that we see and experience is eternally with God, it
    changes. Thus, I do not see how meaningful the term
    God-and-the-World, which does not emphasize God as
    Creator of what we find in this world in some
    transcendant way meaningful.

    2. In panentheism, the mechanism postulated for God's
    relation to the world is rather incomplete. The body
    analogy is obviously imperfect. And the idea of God's
    relationship to the world is not merely kenotic. In
    hard form, the world itself is often recalcitrant to
    God's will, which implies some limited dualism.

    3. The world is also portrayed as affecting God in
    its recalcitrance, which in hard form, undermines the
    transcendence that panentheists seek to maintain.

    4. The least convincing critique I have heard re
    panentheism is that the universe does not look much
    like God's body or any sort of organism. To me this
    is a more tendentious versuon of my no. 1, which I
    think is a more legitimate question, but I am
    interested in thoughts on this critique, too.

    Perhaps someone who knows more about panentheism would
    address these potential issues. I am very sympathetic
    to panentheism, in a weak form, as a sort of hard
    emphasis on immanence. However, a hard form
    panentheism seems to me problematic.

    > > Yes, I have no objection to using some other
    > word to avoid violating the
    > > first commandment. However, in panentheism the
    > problem goes away since the
    > > World is within God, and always has been. To
    > distinguish between God
    > (which
    > > includes the world) and God-and-a-World then
    > looks like a distinction
    > > without a difference. In any case, the World
    > cannot be ultimate apart from
    > > God.
    > >
    > > Howard Van Till
    > >

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