Coercion

From: bivalve <bivalve@mail.davidson.alumlink.com>
Date: Wed Apr 07 2004 - 15:22:19 EDT

I’m still not finding the categories of coercive and non-coercive action very persuasive. Perhaps part of the difficulty is the apparent assumption that some features of the universe have inherent properties, not determined by God, which coerce Him into cooperating with them. In this scenario, the idea of coercion becomes more meaningful. On the other hand, if God created the entire universe to have the properties that He wanted (e.g., including the RFEP), then His involvement in their actualizing these potentials does not seem accurately described as coercive. Another problem with the coercion terminology is the assumption that a divine action that sets aside the ordinary capabilities of something is necessarily an imposition. What if the result is something that the “coerced” desired but could not achieve? If I pick up my 10 month-old nephew, he can see things and reach things that he could not achieve on his own, yet he does not necessarily regard this as an imposit!
ion; rather, it may achieve his desire. While “desire” is problematic with regard to much of the universe, “purpose” might be easier to apply. The traditional theological position that God created everything for the purpose of glorifying Himself implies that whatever use He makes of something, whether intervention-like or not, is in accord with the design (NOT sensu ID). It does not seem coercive for a painter to mix paints and use them for the purpose of painting, even though the creation of a painting is beyond the capabilities of the paint alone.

I also do not see how the problem of evil is solved by limiting God to persuasive actions. It suggests that He’s not very persuasive, and in fact He seems irrelevant. In a process view, what is the definition and origin of evil? I’m not clear on what basis one can identify actions as “evil” or “virtuous”. If there are grounds for defining evil, other problems arise. If we are evil by nature, then good must result from coercive action by another agent. If we are good by nature, then what is coercing us into evil? If we are partly good and partly bad, then part of our nature is coercing another part.

    Dr. David Campbell
    Old Seashells
    University of Alabama
    Biodiversity & Systematics
    Dept. Biological Sciences
    Box 870345
    Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0345 USA
    bivalve@mail.davidson.alumlink.com

That is Uncle Joe, taken in the masonic regalia of a Grand Exalted Periwinkle of the Mystic Order of Whelks-P.G. Wodehouse, Romance at Droitgate Spa
Received on Wed Apr 7 15:22:27 2004

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