Date: Sat Sep 20 2003 - 01:12:28 EDT
----- Original Message -----
From: "bivalve" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> >>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:
Discover the sevenfold symmetric perfection of the Holy Bible at
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