Re: Coercion

From: Howard J. Van Till <>
Date: Wed Apr 07 2004 - 20:32:55 EDT

On 4/7/04 3:22 PM, "bivalve" <> wrote:

> 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.

In the distinction that I have suggested for further exploration, the
question is not whether or not God is coerced by some other independent
power to do something, but whether or not God's action coerces any member of
the creation to do something. To put the question another way, Does God
overpower any creature in such a way as to become the sole cause of some
particular outcome? To put the same question even more succinctly, Does God
ever perform supernatural interventions?

> 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.

Correct. One could propose that (coercive) supernatural interventions (as
posited, for example, by YEC and ID advocates) are simply unnecessary for
the actualization of new creaturely forms. The next big question, however,
is this: Does God perform coercive action under any circumstances? If so,
then how does God choose the occasions to do, or not to do, coercive
interventions? That's where the theodicy problems arise.

<snip a bit>

> 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.

See George's comments on this.

Received on Wed Apr 7 20:33:32 2004

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