Re: RFEP and the Heart of Christianity

Date: Thu Sep 18 2003 - 13:16:47 EDT

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    As clear as this may appear to you, I have forgotten what RFEP means. I would
    like to second the request for initials plus words at least once in each
    posting. I can only imagine how much clearer this email would be. Thanks!



    > Good morning Howard,
    > Thank you for you detailed response. Its amazing how simply stated
    > definitions can clear things up. The RFEP as stated by you now appears
    > much
    > less hostile to traditional Christian understanding of God and the
    > World
    > than what I had picked up reading the posts on this list.
    > So the bottom line appears to be that the RFEP is really just a
    > formalization, refinement, and extension of the "fundamental
    > presupposition
    > of the historical natural sciences" as you put it. Apparently I can (in
    > principle) simultaneously assert the RFEP and the Virgin Conception,
    > Incarnation, Resurrection, etc. Do you know many people that actually
    > maintain this *seemingly* strained position? I get the impression that
    > Douglas is working with it.
    > Now I should be able to contribute a slightly more informed view on how
    > this
    > idea impacts my understanding of "Life, the Universe and Everything"
    > (to
    > borrow a title).
    > The first thing that raises an eyebrow is that it elevates the
    > *methodological* principle of natural sciences to the status of a
    > fundamental *ontological* principle. I personally think this is a big
    > mistake that originates in the intuition that God is absent in the
    > Universe - Science goes on just fine without God. But in my Life and
    > Universe, God is active in Everything. On the one hand, He maintains
    > the
    > essentially deterministic world that follows natural laws, on the other
    > hand
    > He is entirely free to act within that world. The fact that Science
    > doesn't
    > detect Him is to be *expected* because Science is not able to detect
    > free
    > Agents who may or may not show up at the lab to mechanically repeat
    > their
    > behavior every time a scientist demands it of them. The scientific net
    > catches only those things that can't help but repeat themselves.
    > Our truly scientific ideas of how the universe works are confined to an
    > extremely small subset of phenomena that are consistently repeatable.
    > Individual actions by free Agents can not be predicted or regularly
    > detected
    > by Science, and so do not exist in a scientific explanation of reality.
    > But
    > God is totally free to part the clouds and let the sun shine down at
    > the
    > moment I pray for a sign. What lab is going to detect this "violation
    > of
    > natural law?" Even if some meteorologist detects it and notices that it
    > *apparently* violated known laws given the prevailing conditions, all
    > that
    > will happen is that it will be tossed in the already bursting bin
    > labeled
    > "Scientific Anomalies." The real problem with the scientific world view
    > is
    > that people extend it to Life, the Universe, and Everything, when in
    > fact it
    > applies only to the stage props!
    > Of course, I understand that the RFEP was designed with a caveat to
    > allow
    > for God as a Free Agent who acts at will in the world. But this seems
    > motivated more as a concession to Christians than as a response to your
    > intuition of how the Universe really is. Am I correct in this?
    > In any case, given the fact that the RFEP explicitly allows for God to
    > act
    > in the Universe, I see no reason whatsoever to limit Him to
    > non-form-conferring actions. But this then seems to contradict the
    > principle!
    > It would seem therefore that a free God who confers form is actually
    > *inconsistent" with the RFEP. Is this correct?
    > Excellent chatting Howard. I recognize the value in your work. If
    > nothing
    > else, it helps clarify fundamental issues relating to Science and
    > Religion.
    > Finally, with regards to your question:
    > > By the way, Richard, you have a habit of concluding
    > > your messages with pious phrases like "In the service
    > > of Christ who forms all." Do you intend to imply that
    > > his puts you in a category different from the other
    > > members of this list?
    > Good question. I had mixed intents. In general, I like to end with my
    > own
    > little kerygma and often I would do it with a word play on whatever was
    > the
    > dominant theme of the note. I hadn't thought about it as seeming "pious"
    > but
    > the fact that it seemed such to you is sufficient proof that it can be
    > interpreted that way. Of course, piety is not a bad thing for a
    > Christian,
    > but I do understand that *displayed piety* can be a horrendous thing.
    > And if
    > it unecessarily separates me from thee, I will henceforth desist.
    > Richard
    > Discover the sevenfold symmetric perfection of the Holy Bible at

    Sheila McGinty Wilson

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