Date: Wed Sep 17 2003 - 12:46:17 EDT
> I think Douglas is right on target here. Given what I have been calling
> "authentic contingencies" that permeate the universe's formational
> I see no way to defend the proposition that the appearance of our
> species -- Homo sapiens -- was inevitable. For theological reasons,
> I assume that the appearance some (one or more) species of God-aware and
> morally responsible creatures was intended from the outset.
Thanks to Jim, Douglas, and Howard for the replies. I did a little research
and found that many of the obvious strengths and weaknesses of the RFEP have
been under discussion on ASA for a number of years. I imagine that Howard
must be rather weary of repeating himself, considering he lamented of such
in a post from 1999! http://www.asa3.org/archive/asa/199904/0284.html.
In any case, I would like to pursue this particular wrinkle, that the
specific formation of the Homo sapiens, or of any individual species for
that matter, was not specifically created by God but resulted from
"authentic contingencies" operating within God's fully gifted creation. I
believe this forces a radical revisioning of the Christian God.
It seems now that I am unable to assert not only that God formed *me* in the
womb, but I can not even assert that he formed the species of which I am a
member! My very existence, and most if not all of the primary aspects of it,
are now the result of *authentic contingencies* and not the direct result of
the purposive creative act of a personal loving God.
Granted - human existence has always *appeared* to be contingent on the
grossest elements of creation, such as alcohol, lust, and dim lights. But
the Christian faith sees through this haze and recognizes the purposive and
personal Hand of God in all these things.
It appears God is no longer an *authentic agent* in creation, he remains
only as the Ground of Being or some such transcendent aspect. In the post
cited above, Howard argued strongly against the charge that the RFEP "smacks
of deism" and asserted (in all caps no less!) that "GOD IS STILL AS FREE AS
EVER TO ACT IN ANY WAY THAT IS CONSISTENT WITH GOD'S NATURE AND WILL."
Well, that was back in 1999. Now Howard is asserting that he sees "no way to
defend the proposition that the appearance of our particular species -- Homo
sapiens -- was inevitable." This means one of two things:
1) God is not free to create as he would. He couldn't create Homo sapiens
even if he wanted to (!) but would have to keep throwing the dice until the
authentic contingencies produced a species sufficiently approximating his
desire for him to settle on it as "good enough."
- or -
2) Purposive acts like the creation of a specific kind of creature is
inconsistent with the nature of God.
This seems to be HUGE problem.
The fully gifted creation, full of authentic contingencies, looks like a
field of wild grapes far removed from a Vineyard planted and tended by the
Lord. Indeed, now it seems like the title "Lord" must be tossed in the
dustbin of utter meaninglessness! How can the Lord be lord of anything in
the fully gifted creation where authentic contingency - aka chaos - actually
I'm sure you have pondered these serious questions. I am especially curious
as to know how the RFEP handles ideas of Prophecy and the Resurrection of
Finally, I would like to remind people that arguments against the
significance of the Bible Wheel are typically based on the apparent
contingencies in the natural history of the formation of the Canon. The
irony is that this fits perfectly with the RFEP assertion that God's actions
are seamlessly integrated with all natural phenomena.
Traditional Christian Theology, on the other hand, should expect (or at
least shouldn't be surprised), to find such structures in the Divine Logos.
In either case, there is no warrant for rejecting the Bible Wheel out of
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