Re: God and nature; miracles

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. (
Date: Tue May 20 2003 - 16:51:14 EDT

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    On Tue, 20 May 2003 11:21:02 EDT writes:
    Thank you. I guess there really is no way around really studying theology
    even as a scientist.

    you wrote:
    <<So I contend for traditional orthodox theology (_sensu strictu_). The
    omnipotent, omniscient, eternal Creator is fully competent to produce
    creatures with moral freedom.>>

    Just a comment, Recently, I decided to go through a theology course on
    comparative religions. At least with the course materials we were given,
    I have come to the impression that the extremes revolve around a dialog
    based approach which has basically dominated the Japanese theology for
    one example, and the liberation theologies of various forms. Both have
    some troublesome problems, but they also have some good points.

    At the risk of being accused of being a bit pomo, in some respects, I am
    beginning to see that the current interest in "dialog" between science
    and religion has some parallels. There is a culture that comes with
    science. It has a very precise language and there are rules of
    engagement. For finding out about the facts and nature of material,
    science does a very good job. But "there are more things between heaven
    and earth than [our] philosophies".

    So for good or for bad, I have begun to see that process theology (PT) is
    in the "dialog" camp, where the intention is to engage the atheist, much
    the same way as one might use the koan as a starting point of
    dialog with the Zen Buddhist on Christianity.

    I definitely agree that there are problems with process theology when you
    read Romans 8:29ff, and I think I can see what you mean by category
    mistakes. Actually, the resurrection may be even more difficult to deal
    with consistently from a PT angle. On the other hand, it seems like for
    the scientist who sometimes must dialog with the atheist, we have few
    options that provide us with a common language.
    Basically, there is PT, and strict concordism although my ignorance
    abounds here since I realize that I am illiterate here. Likewise, by
    agreeing to submit to a maximal materialist vocabulary, we run the
    risk that the inspiration gets twisted out.

    So I am left with a quandary. I don't expect you to answer me here, of
    course. Somehow, I just feel I have to say this anyway.
    By Grace alone we proceed,

    PT has a simple answer for all the problems of orthodox theology, the
    same answer that Bultmann gave: deny miracles and the supernatural. He,
    of course, tried to frame Christianity in terms of the mythos, where PT
    denies even that. They differ from pantheism in that their deity is not
    simply identical with the universe, but is in some way beyond it though
    inexorably tied to it. David Ray Griffin argues that God "created" the
    universe out of chaos. Fine. But where did the chaos come from? Either
    there is a greater deity which produced the chaos (and our deity ?) or
    the chaos for this universe came from the catastrophic disruption of a
    previous creation. Since the current deity is limited, incapable of
    knowing the future, and since deterministic chaos is built into every
    causal process of sufficient complexity, unexpected disaster can be
    expected of every universe under PT--unless we adopt a
    neo-Plotinian/gnostic emanationism, and then the assumption that
    causality and science must be adopted goes by the board. I would say we
    that we can expect cataclysm rather than heat death, though neither crash
    nor fizzle is all that hopeful.

    To put it bluntly, PT succumbs to a totally scientific world view and
    tries to build a "theology" of a limited deity within these strictures. I
    see no way for this to succeed, barring emanationism, except as an
    eternal sequence of construction, total dissolution and reconstruction.
    The one place where they have it over Hindu pantheism is that they can
    have a "creation" about 13 Gya and the Indian cycle is about 4 Gy. But
    the PT cycle is not smooth. PT also has a strong tendency, if not a
    necessity, to adopt panpsychism, but this is another matter. PT has a
    superficial plausibility, but it is only superficial.

    None of these alternate theologies and religions can deal with the
    historical data. Something happened in Judea about AD 30 that transformed
    a scared group into persons who boldly stood up for Jesus Christ, even to
    the point of dying for their faith. We know it happened immediately
    because a fragment of one of Paul's letter to Timothy was found in the
    Cumran cache, and so had to exist before AD 68. Denying the life,
    crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus makes these events inexplicable.

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