Re: Coercion

From: george murphy <>
Date: Thu Apr 08 2004 - 12:11:09 EDT

bivalve wrote:

> >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).

    Saying that creation "automatically does what God wants" is IMO not a good way to put it. It suggests that God acts _directly_ rather than mediately in the world, and thus that creatures do not have any real agency.

>>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?

No, process theology does not say that God "doesn't do anything." It says that God doesn't do _everything_ in the sense I described before - i.e., as the First Cause. In some situations (according to process thought) God is not able to bring about the best possible result because he is not able to overcome the effects of other causes. (I don't think a process theologian would be happy with that way of putting it but it conveys the point.)

Received on Thu Apr 8 12:13:33 2004

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