Re: RFEP and the Heart of Christianity

From: George Murphy (
Date: Fri Sep 19 2003 - 14:26:25 EDT

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    Josh Bembenek wrote:
    > > But does the larger scientific community feel any need for a principle
    > >with
    > >religious connotations, even one with (as you've said) only minimal
    > >theological content?
    > >Such a principle may appeal to some non-Christian theists who are
    > >scientists, but many
    > >scientists are content with a much simpler principle which has _no_
    > >explicit theological
    > >content: The natural world can be understood in terms of natural
    > >processes. To them (&
    > >also to many religious believers, Christian and otherwise) RFEP as a
    > >postulate is simply
    > >that latter principle with some religious language added. So what is
    > >really the cash
    > >value of RFEP as a postulate?
    > >
    > > & in fact RFEP as a postulate may be seen simply as a surrender by
    > >religion, a
    > >concession that it has nothing to do with the real world which science
    > >studies. I
    > >realize that that's not your intention but it's the way many people will
    > >read it. So if
    > >the question is, "How persuasive will RFEP as a postulate be to the
    > >scientific community
    > >as a whole?", my guess is "Not very."
    > >
    > George, perhaps you could inform us as to how the RFEP should be MORE based
    > upon Christological arguments?

            The currently most accessible thing I can refer to is my article "Chiasmic
    Cosmology and the Functional Integrity of Creation" in the March 2001 issue of
    Perspectives. You can find it via the asa website. A much more detailed treatment will
    (if the publication schedule holds up) be available soon from Trinity Press
    International: My book _The Cosmos in the Light of the Cross_ is supposed to be out in
            I should note that I've said here that I'm in agreement with "something like
    RFEP." While the way in which I work things out is a lot like that principle, & I refer
    in article & book to Howard's older language of "functional integrity of creation," but
    it isn't my purpose to argue for RFEP exactly as Howard states it.

    > I see the principle as mostly derived from
    > the evidence of science, such that it can be made without direct reference
    > to some biblical text.

            Yes. & then you have to ask, as I did, what value there is in attaching
    religious language to it.

    > And what would be wrong for challenging scientists
    > to think, even if all natural phenomena can proceed as observed and
    > postulated by mainstream science, what could be the source of it all? I see
    > no problem with meeting scientists where they are and asking them to
    > consider the legitimacy of Christian faith one step at a time. And frankly
    > I can't see how you could make the RFEP say something like "because capable
    > and efficient natural causes, Christ."

            I'm not arguing "because capable and efficient natural causes, Christ" but (sort
    of) "because Christ, capable and efficient natural causes." The claims of a theology of
    the crucified should be given (at least) serious attention because (I argue) of its
    fruitfulness is grounding the comprehensibility of the natural world and other aspects
    of our experience. I presented this argument in a little more detail in "Cross-Based
    Apologetics for a Scientific Millennium," also in Perspectives and available via the asa

            (I don't mean to just blow you off with a list of references. But the things
    I've published will give you a more coherent idea of the arguments than I would if I
    tried to pound out a quick summary here.)


    George L. Murphy

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