Re: Faith, Evolution, and Tax Dollars?

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Tue Apr 06 2004 - 17:48:27 EDT

Howard J. Van Till wrote:
> In response to Ted I had said:
> >> I find it difficult to imagine a portrait of God that does not include some
> >> "other" (a World) with which God is in loving communion.
> To which George replied:
> > I think you're moving a little too quickly here. If the world does not owe
> > its
> > existence entirely to God then God is - to put it crudely & over-simply -
> > "stuck with"
> > it whether he loves the world & wants to be in communion with it or not. It
> > is belief
> > in creatio ex nihilo that makes it possible to say that God freely chooses for
> > there to
> > be an other with whom God will be in loving communion.
> I don't mean to extend this discussion beyond its fruitful limits, but this
> kind of theorizing about God can go in a lot of differing directions.
> I could imagine, for example, the following line of argumentation toward a
> conclusion just the opposite of what George here asserts: Suppose that God
> brings into being, ex nihilo, a world entirely of God's own design. God has
> complete control over the character of that world. It is exactly as God
> wishes it to be. It has, as a consequence of God's full control, no
> character traits other than what God desires -- just the sort of world that
> an omnipotent and all-wise God would bring into being.
> God now "freely chooses" to love that world. Big deal. Why wouldn't God love
> it? God controlled every facet of its being. Where is the surprise at God's
> love? Where is the virtue in loving something whose every feature was chosen
> according to one's own desires?
> Would it not be far more virtuous for God to choose freely to love something
> whose every trait was not first imposed on it?
> I'm not necessarily advocating this viewpoint, but I think this argument
> demonstrates that a commendably loving relationship between God and world is
> not dependent of the concept of ex nihilo creation.

        Again you're being a bit hasty & I think skipping over a crucial part of the
argument. Forget for a moment the "loving communion." What I said before that was,
"It is belief in creatio ex nihilo that makes it possible to say that God freely chooses
for there to be an other." In process thought, as I put it earlier, God is stuck with
an other whether God likes it or not.

        The objection you raise requires further elaboration beyond just saying "God
creates a world ex nihilo." It is valid IF God is thought to exerts the sort of control
of the world that you describe, to the extent that the world always remains "loveable."
But in the Christian view God continues to love the world - & human beings in particular
- even when they becomes unlovely. It is, as you put it, no big deal to say that God
loves creatures who always do what God wants. It is a somewhat bigger deal to say, "God
proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us" and to
speak of God reconciling "enemies" to himself (Rom.5:8 & 10).

        Of course the question of how people can sin & become enemies of God if God is
omnipotent is non-trivial: Schmid calls it "The most difficult problem in the science
of Theology." But I think that process thought has as many problems with theodicy,
though of a different sort, as does classical theology - & perhaps more if the latter
took the Incarnation more seriously in this connection.

George L. Murphy
Received on Tue Apr 6 17:50:51 2004

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