Re: Faith, Evolution, and Tax Dollars?

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Mon Apr 05 2004 - 16:18:08 EDT

Howard J. Van Till wrote:
> I am not contesting the idea of God exercising real choice (within the
> limits of Godıs own character, of course) in the particular nature of this
> universe (which involves choosing the particular values of parameters that
> apply to the physical character of the universe). But that is something
> different from classical omnipotence, which includes the power (and
> willingness) to exercise supernatural (coercive power over over an extant
> nature) intervention (irruptive breaking of an extant natural cause/effect
> chain).........................

        Not exactly. The classical concept of omnipotence - what is meant by calling
God /pantokrator/ or /omnipotens/ (both translated "almighty") in the creeds is that God
does do everything that happens in the world. I.e., in scholastic language God is the
first cause of everything. Omnipotence does not have to do with what God _could_ do but
with belief in what God does do.
        Of course classical theologians who held that God is omnipotent in that sense
generally believed also that God could, & sometimes did, "intervene" in natural
processes, perhaps to bring about results beyond the capacity of created agents. But
that in itself is not omnipotence. In traditional theology the devil can perform
miracles but is not omnipotent.
        & of course process theology generally rejects the idea that God is ultimately
the sole cause of everything that happens. (Cf. Hartshorne's book _Omnipotence and
Other Theological Mistakes_.) Furthermore, the classical view of omnipotence gives rise
to problems of theodicy which are difficult to deal with in that context. (Process
theodicy, however, encounters other problems.) But my purpose here isn't to defend the
classical view.


George L. Murphy
Received on Mon Apr 5 16:22:58 2004

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