Re: clarification request from Re: Van Till's Ultimate Gap

From: George Murphy (
Date: Fri Sep 05 2003 - 17:25:58 EDT

  • Next message: Debbie Mann: "RE: Time"

    Howard J. Van Till wrote:
    > >From: "bivalve" <>
    > > I am a little confused: if the world has not existed eternally, this sounds
    > > like a creation ex nihlo event occurred at some point. Does the world, in
    > > Griffith's usage under point 1, imply some properties of its modern state,
    > > so that he envisions something akin to the idea of creating out of a
    > > pre-existing chaos?
    > David,
    > Griffin chooses his words very carefully. Perhaps more context is needed.
    > Griffin's statement was: "Our world has been created by a good, loving,
    > wise, purposive God. This part of the Christian good news stands in
    > contrast with doctrines that have maintained that our world was not created
    > at all but has existed eternally..."
    > It is important to see that he speaks of OUR world (the particular universe
    > of which we are members) and not the WORLD that is always in relationship to
    > God. OUR world is considered to be but one epoch or manifestation of the
    > World. Furthermore, Griffin often uses the word "creation" to mean God's
    > choosing of the particular character of this epoch of the WORLD that we know
    > as OUR world. So, the WORLD has always existed, but OUR world has not. To
    > get OUR world from the WORLD does not require an act of creation ex nihilo.
    > Creation out of some pre-existing chaos? Perhaps.

            Cosmologists would normally say that with any sort of cyclic model like the
    recent one of Steinhardt & Turok, our "world" (or "universe") has always existed in the
    sense that there has been some continuity of matter/energy or something from one cycle
    to another. This is really no more than is done in saying that our world/universe is the
    same one that passed through a fireball stage ~14 x 10^9 years ago. This would be
    distinguished from the various ideas of parallel worlds such as Everett &c.

            So which scenario does Griffin have in mind? If it's the first type then it's a
    stretch to contrast his picture with the idea that "our world" has existed eternally.
    In an important sense it has. Even if our world is periodically returned to a chaotic
    condition of some sort, there is still something that persists between cycles.

            I suppose you could say that there are different "worlds" in the sense that the
    condition of things has been changed - rather as one might speak of all the different
    political regimes that have existed in France over the past few centuries (2 kingdoms, 5
    republics & 2 empires + Vichy) as different "Frances." But this is superficial. There
    are fundamental senses in which it's the same country.

            Perhaps my claim that there must be a continuity of _something_ between cycles,
    & thus that we must speak of the same world existing, will be challenged. But consider
    the alternative. If there is absolutely no continuity between cycles then at the end of
    a cycle the previous world must cease to exist, & the new world must be created ex
    nihilo. & Griffin doesn't want that.
            In a parallel worlds arrangement there are 2 basic possibilities.

            a) There is in principle no physical communication between the different worlds
    that make up the WORLD. Then if each world is brought into being without contact with
    the others, & there is no pre-existing material (which would bring us back to the first
    scenario), it seems to me that there's got to be something that looks a lot like
    /creatio ex nihilo/ to get our world going. In addition, models like those of
    Steinhardt & Turok (which I believe you greeted with some enthusiasm ~1.5 years ago)
    would no longer be of theological interest.

            b) If there is in principle some kind of physical communication between
    different worlds/universes then the distinction between them _as_ different universes, &
    the distinction between "our world" and the WORLD is hard to maintain.


    George L. Murphy

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Fri Sep 05 2003 - 17:27:59 EDT