Re: Your paper

From: Jim Armstrong (
Date: Mon May 05 2003 - 01:27:38 EDT

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    Debbie -
    Re: "And, I do not believe God favors the superior. According to
    Corinthians, God's strength is made perfect in weakness."

    I wonder if this might warrant exploring a little. I suppose the crux of
    the matter is the particular meaning of "superior". I've been thinking
    along these lines lately:...

    It seems that the processes of natural selection are just too pervasive
    among living kind on earth to think that it does not serve some purpose
    in the grand design. The big picture seems to be that the non-biologic
    portion of the workings of nature are rough and brutish, essentially
    relentlessly oblivious to life forms. In order for life forms to exist,
    they must be able to cope in some form and to some degree with at least
    the local manifestations of those workings. Add to that the subtle(?)
    change in living things when they "discovered" predation, improving
    their chances for survival at the expense of other living things, and
    our little blue marble in space became an even more rambunctious and
    dangerous place. The simple survival of the fittest process is than an
    exquisitely simple way for creature kind to become increasingly robust
    and prosperous in this decidedly hostile environment.

    But, having said that (and postulating that natural selection is a part
    of the design), most of us don't seem to think that this superiority in
    survivability is the endgame. As humans, manifesting a remarkable new
    layer of awareness, intent and choice, we are now able to modulate
    nature’s relentless doings -- a little -- adapting, forestalling, or
    redirecting some aspects of the more automatic and human-oblivious
    workings of nature to our benefit (hydroelectric power, cloud seeding,
    farming, etc.).

    But there is an insidious familiarity to the result. Even with the
    exhilaration of this new beneficial influence over nature and ourselves,
    the results of our interactions are still a mixture of “good” and
    “evil”outcomes: constructive and destructive, healing and harmful,
    altruistic and egocentric, benevolent and malevolent. At our best, we
    bring wonderful new dynamics and stewardships into Creation. But there
    is a dark counterpart that draws us as well into new dimensions of evil,
    bringing consciousness and intent into its expression.

    Accordingly, the whole of Nature, for all its new character with our
    relatively recent presence as aware and elective agents, remains a rough
    and dangerous place, with many rough edges and even some new hazards of
    our own making.

    Yet, against that canvas, there exists as well that intriguing category
    of human experience that includes things like aesthetics, intuition,
    inspiration (and a sense of the spiritual), abstraction, altruism, hope
    and joy. These experiences and influences are part of all of us, but are
    in some way sorta “other”, being experienced in our world, but seemingly
    not quite "of it". They are things that affect us, sometimes profoundly,
    and they influence our agency in the natural world, but they do not seem
    to spring from that world. Instead they seem in some way to transcend
    it. Moreover, and importantly, they do not seem to have an evil twin

    I simply wonder if God's strength is made perfect in weakness in part
    because we tie the "weakness" to some sense of strength or robustness of
    body or will or even some sort of spiritual determination when perhaps
    his strength is realized in one or more of these other areas of human
    experience in which we are not yet that adept, are not the "driver", and
    which perhaps are to divinity more like a kind of "music" evoked from an
    instrument which is not yet fully crafted and tuned.

     - just half-baked and thinking out loud - Jim Armstrong

    Debbie Mann wrote:

    > I think that perhaps one of the best thing about this list is the fact
    > that it not only provides new insights into the Bible, but also
    > inspires study.
    > Rich sent me his paper 'True Religion' on Darwinian principles. In it
    > he theorizes that Jacob was using genetics in building his flock while
    > Laban's suffered. In effect, the blessed one of God was using his own
    > ingenuity to perform God's purpose. He also points out that there is a
    > series of elder serving younger with regards to Jacob. I find both of
    > these thoughts intriguing.
    > The greater point, that God favors natural selection, I find more
    > troublesome. There is a lengthy footnote on a debate as to what kind
    > of eyes Leah had - due to difficulties in translation.
    > To Rich:
    > Your paper did provide an interesting perspective. I agree that the
    > whole incident with the women indicates that Leah was not attractive.
    > If she was, why would her father have resorted to subterfuge to get
    > her married to a man who did not love her? The purpose of the sentence
    > in question seems to be providing the reason for her being an old
    > maid. Her eyes clearly were not 'lovely' but rather 'weak' or
    > something close to it.
    > You fail to mention in your argument for natural selection that Rachel
    > stole her father's idols and lied to prevent being put to death. Her
    > subsequent death in childbirth could be interpreted as a fulfillment
    > of her husband's vow. Further, her weakness in the fertility area
    > would not lend itself to the survival of the fittest argument.
    > I find your paper persuasive in the local context, but not in a wider
    > one. And, I do not believe God favors the superior. According to
    > Corinthians, God's strength is made perfect in weakness.
    > The fact that God made it available for us to do it right, and that
    > sin and the consequences of sin have weakened us genetically is, I
    > believe, indisputable. However, it appears that you are taking it to
    > the point that God gives special favor to those who are superior,
    > regardless of their faith in the here and now.
    > I agree that favor added to strength will generally provide a better
    > result than favor added to weakness. Those whose ancestors have abided
    > by certain Levitical rules may have a head start. But, I also believe
    > that God blesses all those who come to Him in the name of His Son,
    > believing that they may receive. And, further, He humbles those who
    > think themselves great.

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