Re: Coercion

From: bivalve <bivalve@mail.davidson.alumlink.com>
Date: Thu Apr 08 2004 - 11:41:04 EDT

>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.<

I think my difficulty may be more with the perjurative association of the term coercion than the concept. With regard to that, I think that the question of God being coerced is important. If coercion is a bad thing, it would seem to be bad for God to be coerced, too. I think this problem is akin to George's comment about suggestions of dualism. Either all of creation automatically does what God wants, or else there is some imposition, with God causing something to act differently or something making God go along with something He doesn’t want (or some mutual imposition).

> 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?<

George already replied to this. I would also note that I'm not certain that supernatural intervention necessarily requires overpowering something. E.g., creation ex nihlo would seem to be an intervention-type action, but does not obviously involve overpowering anything.

>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.<

As far as I can tell, supernatural interventions are unnecessary for the actualization of new creaturely forms. Coercive actions, though rare, do occur (based on present knowledge of ordinary properties of matter. However, one might posit unknown natural/supernatural laws, e.g., that all sinless individuals, if put to death, come back to life with unusual spatiotemporal properties. Such arguments seem impossible to test). The Bible asserts that God knows what he's doing in deciding when to intervene and that we don't. Not very suitable for logical proof, but often supported by hindsight.

>>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.<

His answer seems to indicate that God can’t be blamed for evil in process thought because he doesn’t do anything. If, on the other hand, He is seen as acting in good but not in evil, this seems little different in culpability from the premise that He is working for good in all things. However, this does not answer the specific questions. Again, coercion seems inevitable, even if God is not doing it. How do we distinguish between evil and personal distaste? How is God relevant?

    Dr. David Campbell
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Received on Thu Apr 8 11:41:11 2004

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