Re: God and nature; miracles

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. (dfsiemensjr@juno.com)
Date: Thu May 15 2003 - 23:29:46 EDT

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    Howard,
    I see we agree on one point. Let me try for a couple more.

    On Thu, 15 May 2003 20:12:40 -0400 "Howard J. Van Till"
    <hvantill@chartermi.net> writes:
    >
    > >From: "D. F. Siemens, Jr." <dfsiemensjr@juno.com>
    >
    > > What I said about "little men" does not diminish anyone's
    > humanity. The
    > > petty egotist is neither more nor less human than the great
    > > philanthropist or the widow who gave her mite. But some have a
    > better
    > > insight than others.
    >
    > It's still difficult for me to see how words like "little" and
    > "petty" would
    > function as anything other than terms of diminishment. The generous
    > widow,
    > for instance, is to me a greater (bigger) example of what God
    > intended
    > humanity to be. But we seem to be using some of these words in
    > differing
    > ways. Time to move on....
    >
    Diminishment, yes, but not of their humanity, rather of their character.
    They do not measure up to the humane ideal. None of us do, of course, but
    some of us come closer. Some wag remarked there is no package so small as
    a man wrapped up in himself. That's a lousy human being, but with no loss
    of being human.

    > I had asked:
    >
    > >> Is it really the case that the only reason a person might have
    > for positing
    > >> such an idea is the limitation of our own personal experience?
    >
    > You replied:
    >
    > > I believe the answer to your first question is "Yes."
    >
    I do not say that it is done with full recognition. Someone remarked that
    the last being to recognize water would be a fish philosopher. We are so
    immersed in time that we do not recognize that we apply it everywhere and
    just the way everything has to be.

    > OK, we disagree. I also asked:
    >
    > >> Is it only
    > >> "little men" who portray God as the Creator of a universe that
    > has been
    > >> given such authentic being and such genuine freedom that not
    > even
    > >> God can know in advance what these authentic and free beings will
    > do?
    >
    > You replied:
    >
    > > Your second question I place in the same category as "Can God
    > create a
    > > rock so big that he can't lift it?"
    >
    It strikes me as a case of immersion, of being unable to see it any other
    way, though the assumption is neither necessary nor relevant.

    > No, I was still on the issue of whether it was only "lesser people"
    > who
    > posed concepts of this sort. Furthermore, I was not dealing with
    > the
    > question of whether or not divine foreknowledge was equivalent to
    > divine
    > causation. Once again, we disagree. OK, let's move on again....
    >
    I would intend "lesser people" not be refer to character in this context,
    but to having less awareness. This is no crime. Time and intelligence, to
    note only two restrictions, limit every human being. As to the connection
    between foreknowledge and causation, I have noted a broad implicit but
    unrecognized commitment to this view in many who connect human freedom to
    divine limitations. It is nowhere more extreme than in process theology,
    but its appeal is much broader. I hold it to be extremely mischievous.

    > Finally, I suggested:
    >
    > >> Perhaps the God who is "us writ large" is something like this:
    > >>
    > >> We humans value power, so God must be omnipotent -- all
    > powerful,
    > >> able to overpower and control any other being.
    > >>
    > >> We humans value the capacity to act, so God must be omnicompetent
    > --
    > >> able to do anything.
    > >>
    > >> We humans value knowledge, so God must be omniscient -- knowing
    > >> everything, even the outcome of contingent events that have not
    > yet occurred.
    > >>
    > >> We humans value our presence in a place, so God must be
    > omnipresent
    > >> -- everywhere.
    > >>
    > >> Etc.
    >
    > You replied:
    >
    > > I know of no one who constructs a deity this way.
    >
    > Good.
    >
    > Howard Van Till
    >
    >
    Don't know whether we agree on more than this one point. I hope that we
    do. Sometimes words get in the way. Many years ago my mother-in-law was
    at the railroad station in Los Angeles. A darling four-year-old was also
    there. Ma said, "What a cute little boy." The Black child bristled,
    "Don't call me 'Boy'!" A simple description was taken as an nasty insult.
    Dave



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