Re: A Logical Inconsistency in the RFEP?

Date: Sat Sep 20 2003 - 01:12:28 EDT

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    From: "bivalve" <>

    > >>You can not accomodate the Christian God on the one hand and then say He
    doesn't actually do anything on the other.<<
    > This suggests that God is not involved in events that occur naturally. In
    contrast, traditional theology affirms His involvement in all that happens,
    whether or not form-conferring miracles are involved.
    > At a basic level, if God is smart enough and powerful enough to create a
    universe with all the physical properties necessary for the evolution of
    complex life without form-conferring miracles, then the general idea of
    robust formational economy is not incompatible with Christianity.
    > Some Biblical lines of evidence that support the idea of limited roles for
    form-conferring miracles include their general rarity, the special role of
    miracles as signs and the inappropriateness of their use for convenience,
    showing off, etc. (see especially the temptation of Jesus), God's
    self-consistency, and the need for reasonably consistent behavior of
    creation in order for us to be competent rulers over it.
    > Dr. David Campbell

    Thanks for the insights David.

    I am in process of getting my mind around Howard's work. It seems much more
    significant than I had been led to believe by my initial interaction with
    him. I guess he really is weary of answering the same old questions. He
    should post a FAQ on the web. It would make his life easier.

    After some hours of consistent, quiet meditation on the RFEP (I had a long
    drive today), I think I have had a signficant insight into what is really
    being suggested here.

    It looks like the RFEP posits a universe so overwhelmingly wonderfully
    gifted by God that it is self-organizing and able to develop "on its own"
    with no "episodic" impositions of form. This is not a proposition lacking in
    difficulties, but it is not prima facie false either. The primary problems
    seems to be the origin (and evolution) of life. But since Howard's goal is f
    or an integral view of reality with no gaps in the natural course of things,
    I can't fault him on this point. Actually, I find this idea quite appealing
    (I have a thing for integrity and unity, it integrates perfectly with my
    work on the Wheel).

    Now given the fully gifted universe, one would not be inconsistent to assert
    that God can act and create freely as He would. But here is the catch (which
    Howard hinted at in one of his posts to me) - we wouldn't *expect* Him to
    act in a way grossly inconsistent with His own nature, as revealed in his
    wonderfully gifted creation. And this is the key to understanding Howard's
    RFEP. He seems to view instances of coercive form confering divine action as
    grossly out of character with the Divine, like finding Mickey Mouse
    (coercive imposition of form) looking out from behind the Mona Lisa (God's
    fully gifted creation). Indeed, I can see how that would look like a Mickey
    Mouse Universe - a caricature of the true beauty we see in such things as
    unfolding flowers and other natural wonders. It reduces God's Universe to a
    simplistic, small-minded, 2D cartoon unworthy to be called the Work of God.

    This is the theological insight that challenges the inconsistency I was
    arguing against - namely, that God's free actions would contradict the RFEP.
    In my last post, I wondered at Howard's inability to state his postition
    with simplicity and clarity. But now I'm not sure if there is an easy way to
    convey this thought, it required some concerted effort on my part to get my
    mind around what God would look like if the RFEP were true. But on the other
    hand, I do believe there were a lot of blind alleys and confusions that
    could have been avoided if Howard had more clearly articulated his vision.

    But significant challenges remain. How are we to understand the Biblical
    revelation of God as Creator who does indeed impose form on matter? How are
    we to understand the "self-organization" of life? And I also have a big
    problem with the idea that specific species such as homo sapiens arise due
    to "authentic contingencies", which Howard asserts. Also, I find physical
    evolution of chemicals radically different than biotic evolution. The one
    follows strict equations and never appears specifically "designed" whereas
    the other is full of contingencies and certainly gives the *appearance* of

    For example, I was about to use the analogy of the evolution of the universe
    under RFEP as self-exfoliating, not unlike a cosmic flower. But then I
    noticed the fundamental flaw in that analogy. A flower comes from a seed and
    a seed contains massive amounts of information in the DNA. Nothing like this
    is posited for the universe, indeed I just read tonight these words in
    Howard's interaction with Dembski:

    "Given the presence of authentic contingencies in the universe's formational
    history, Stephen J. Gould may be at least partially correct in suggesting
    that 'replaying the tape of evolution' would produce formational histories
    with differing particulars each time. I presume that the universe's
    potentiality space (symbolic of the creativity and generosity of its
    Creator) is sufficiently rich with possible life forms that the Creator's
    intention for life could have been accomplished in numerous ways. In that
    context, the idea of 'front-loading' information that would be expressed as
    particular life forms later hits me as far too mechanical and

    Here's the link:

    This then impacts your premise "if God is smart enough and powerful enough"
    to create a universe that could evolve life without form confering miracles.
    I think this is an invalid way of stating things because the limits of God's
    power is not in question. The real question is whether or not such a
    universe is possible even for an all powerful God. The answer is not at all
    obvious. The independent origin and evolution of life are not simply given
    as properties of the universe as we know it.

    Here's a good link that walks you through the basics of Howard's ideas. I
    found it very helpful. They are notes from a lecture he gave in 2001:

    Good chatting,
    Discover the sevenfold symmetric perfection of the Holy Bible at

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