Re: Prayer parallel?

From: Jim Armstrong (
Date: Wed May 21 2003 - 23:07:08 EDT

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    You apparently know that "humans [are] embedded in space time."
    (presumeably meaning entirely) and I don't know that for sure.
    You apparently know that God is "certainly outside of spacetime" (again
    presumeably meaning entirely), and I don't know that for sure.
    You apparently know that " omniscient God knows all prior to even
    our existence.", but I'm not sure of that either, because I concur with
    you that these things may well be " beyond human comprehension.", which
    does not appear consistent with your statements noted above.

    Nonetheless, I am in accord with you with respect to " ...the whole of
    human experience is all interlocked in a fashion that is consistent with
    God's will..."

    Regards - JimA

    Alexanian, Moorad wrote:

    > Prayers are made by humans embedded in spacetime. God is certainly
    > outside of spacetime and so the three answers to prayers that you
    > list---OK, No, Not now--are the way we humans characterize the
    > interaction of God with our personal requests. But an omniscient God
    > knows all prior to even our existence. Therefore, it seems to me that
    > the whole of human experience is all interlocked in a fashion that is
    > consistent with God's will and beyond human comprehension.
    > Moorad
    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: Jim Armstrong []
    > Sent: Wednesday, May 21, 2003 12:39 PM
    > To: Howard J. Van Till
    > Cc:
    > Subject: Prayer parallel?
    > I have a question that somewhat parallels some aspects of this discussion.
    > You (and others) have alluded to a line of thinking that the order of
    > the day in creation is ...uh ...order, cause and effect, operation
    > that is consistent with the RFEP concept (which BTW I embrace as
    > well). Miracles, to whatever extent they occur, are what they are
    > precisely because they violate some aspect of that consistency. The
    > argument at the extreme is whether it might be reasonable then to
    > explore the notion that God might in fact perform no miracles at all
    > (aside from creation) because it is against his nature?
    > My question has to do with prayer, and the question springs from a
    > couple of considerations, one of which is echoed in your words, "...
    > is consistent with the totality of my life experience, which includes
    > my experience as a person trained in science." I am troubled by the
    > naivete of statements of the sort that there are three answers to
    > prayer, "OK", "No", and "Not now". I've pondered that a long time, and
    > it just seems that if I consider the whole landscape of prayer(s) that
    > there are a great many that simply are not responded to. Moreover, I
    > realized that if more than a few "miraculous" prayers were answered,
    > we would undoubtedly live in a more chaotic and reliable world than
    > exists now. That does not even consider collateral issues like
    > contradictory prayers, or the sheer volume of prayers. It doesn't take
    > long to begin thinking in terms of some way of explaining how only
    > certain numbers and/or certain kinds of prayers might be likely to be
    > responded to. Historically, the most important prayers were punctuated
    > with sacrifice.
    > Now I am fully aware that this touches on some pretty sensitive stuff,
    > and even has big implications with respect to important things like
    > hope, but doesn't it seem that there is a strong, maybe even
    > definitional parallel between the the matters of miracles and prayer?
    > Don't the same character considerations and extremal possibilities
    > apply? What might be your (or others') thoughts in this area?
    > Jim Armstrong
    > Howard J. Van Till wrote:
    >>From: Burgy <> <>
    >> Howard asked: "Interesting comment. Could you elaborate on that a
    > bit? In
    >> your judgment, what was/is the character of the misunderstanding of
    > science
    >> that "liberals" manifest?"
    >> I like George's answer, but mine is a little bit different. As I read
    >> Bultmann, he seems to have been so awed by the success of modern science
    >> that he decided that the resurrection and other biblical miracles had
    > been
    >> quite thouroughly disproven.
    > I'd like to move from the evaluation of particular theologians to the
    > broader question, Is it SCIENCE that discourages belief in miracles as
    > supernatural (the overpowering of nature) acts of God?
    > I'm inclined to suggest that it's not primarily a scientific issue,
    > but a much more comprehensive theological/metaphysical issue -- a
    > worldview issue. What is the fundamental character of God, the World,
    > and the God-World relationship? Science has contributed much to our
    > understanding of certain aspects of the world, but what can it
    > contribute to our concept of God or of the God-World relationship
    > unless it is placed in a much larger conceptual framework?
    > The RFEP concept that I have formulated posits that supernatural acts
    > of God (specifically, form-conferring interventions) are unnecessary
    > for the actualization of any of the life forms that have appeared in
    > the course of the Creation's formational history. This stands in
    > contrast to any form of episodic or special creationism. Nonetheless,
    > during most of my life I have had no reason (either scientific or
    > theological) to categorically rule out the occurrence of miracles. My
    > usual comment has been that the RFEP was silent on this question and
    > that miracles would have to be considered on their own merit as
    > exceptions to the kind of phenomena amenable to scientific analysis.
    > The RFEP by itself does not rule out traditional Christian theology. I
    > still hold to that.
    > In his book, Religion and Scientific Naturalism, however, process
    > theologian David Ray Griffin criticized my approach for its failure to
    > be sufficiently daring and consistent. In effect, his question to me
    > was, If supernatural intervention is unnecessary for the whole of the
    > universe's formational history (as I believe it is) , then why not be
    > consistent and dare to generalize to the position that supernatural
    > intervention is not only unnecessary, but totally out of character for
    > God. Reject supernaturalism altogether and adopt a naturalistic theism.
    > I have said on many occasions that I found Griffin's criticism the
    > most valuable criticism I have ever received. The consistency he
    > encourages makes good sense to me. The naturalistic theism he
    > articulates is consistent with the totality of my life experience,
    > which includes my experience as a person trained in science. But it is
    > not science, by itself, that moves me away from traditional
    > supernaturalism toward naturalistic theism. It is the way that
    > naturalistic theism rings true to the whole of my life experience that
    > attracts me to it.
    > I am not asking for anyone on this list to agree with my choice. The
    > limited point is that my choice is one that goes far beyond science.
    > To tie in with my opening question, SCIENCE does not deserve either
    > the credit or blame for my choice.
    > Howard Van Till

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