From: George Murphy (
Date: Wed May 14 2003 - 08:59:35 EDT

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    Josh Bembenek wrote:
    > George: "2d - & more importantly, in response to your earlier argument.
    > The question of
    > what science will be able to accomplish is not in itself a scientific
    > question except in the strict empirical sense that we can wait for a long
    > time and see where it succeeds. But one's expectation of what science
    > should be able to explain is a question for the philosophical &/or
    > theological context in which one places science. & it seems to me that you
    > (as well as many others sympathetic with ID) ignore the fact that many
    > Christians like myself who argue that it should be able to explain the
    > origin of life in terms of natural processes do so on _theological_ grounds,
    > and not simply because we're in awe of science or something of the sort."
    > Josh: This is a powerful observation and I would agree that I have
    > science-only blinders on. I.E. I'd rather consider the rigourous details
    > about biological complexity and their relationship to evolutionary
    > processes, over how elegant a solution episodic creation verses FIC appears
    > to be based upon theological/philosophical grounds. I do not feel compelled
    > by the argument that God is somehow less if he has to "tinker," however
    > these criticisms have sharpened my greater understanding of the conceptual
    > framework of the creationism debate. I am no philosopher or theologian, so
    > I am learning on these issues more than I am basing my analysis on them. In
    > the end I have to admit that these issues inform how I think about the
    > debate, but do not cause me to base my judgement on them (as I do not feel
    > strongly pursuaded one way or another). If this leaves my position less
    > than developed, so be it, I'm still learning.
    > George: "All of these approaches speak of God acting in the world in
    > connection with
    > natural processes, but they don't require a commitment to any particular
    > understanding of what those processes are or how they're to be explained
    > scientifically. It's a theological statement to say that God makes the sun
    > shine. It's the task of natural science to find out whether it shines
    > because of chemical combusion, gravitational contraction, nuclear fusion, or
    > in some other way. & this means also that such theological positions can be
    > held even though science hasn't yet been able to explain some phenomenon,
    > such as the origin of
    > life. They are statements that we ought to expect that science will be
    > able, in
    > principle, to explain it, & do not require one to say when or how that will
    > happen."
    > Josh: When God acts in the world, connected to natural processes, he may
    > override them, utilize them, or allow them to "go it alone" (with
    > providence.) When natural science attempts to determine the natural how of
    > God's action, and we come to a "in some other way" category, we must allow
    > those actions of God that do not reference back directly to any action of
    > any natural law or creaturely capacity. This latter category is what is
    > being categorically dismissed wrt origins, and what I have disgreement with
    > specifically. When you end the statement saying "that we expect science
    > will be able, in principle, to explain.." you are narrowing the field of "in
    > some other way(s)" and I do not presume to make such distinctions in the
    > realm of possibilities, and find adamant predictions regarding the field of
    > possibilities highly presumptuous regardless of their basis in science,
    > theology or philosophy.

            What does it mean for natural processes to "'go it alone' (with providence)"?
    Providence traditionally includes God's preservation of, cooperation with, and
    governance of creatures. If God doesn't cooperate with them then they don't do
            & when I say "in some other way" I mean "through some other natural processes
    that we don't yet understand." I.e., I am narrowing the field as you suggest. But
    again, that is done on theological grounds.

    > George: "Of course you don't have to accept such theological approaches.
    > But recognize that they are theological, & not just the sort of science
    > /ueber alles/ statements that you might get from Weinberg or Dawkins."
    > Josh: I would say that I do not view any views of any Christian's view
    > equivalent or similar to that of Dawkins, etc. I'm simply not convinced
    > that the theological/philosophical considerations limit the scope of
    > possibility for God's actions. The episodic verses FIC distinction appears
    > to be based upon aesthetics; how appealing does it seem that God intervenes
    > or not according to your personal bias?

            The issue is not primarily aesthetic. The question rather is, which picture of
    divine action seems most consistent with the picture of God which is revealed in Christ?
    & if the kenosis of Phil.2 wasn't just a temporary strategem but revelatory of the true
    character of God, then we ought to expect that God's action in the world in general will
    have a kenotic character.
            IMO one of the problems with Howard's approach is that it can seem that it is
    based on aesthetic considerations - i.e., that a creation with functional integrity, or
    a "right stuff universe," seems more elegant than a creation which requires episodic
    divine intervention, in the same way that a physicist considers a unified theory of
    various interactions more pleasing than a set of separate theories for the different
    forces. A theological case can be made for this on the basis of Christian belief in the
    goodness of creation. But there is more profound - & I think more convincing -
    grounding for something like FIC or RFEP in a theology of the crucified - as I argued in
    my PSCF of March 2001 article.

    George L. Murphy

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