RE: Coercion

From: gordon brown <gbrown@euclid.colorado.edu>
Date: Thu Apr 08 2004 - 19:05:16 EDT

Joshua,

In some of the scenarios that you propose it sounds as if God didn't
anticipate what people would try to do and so had to resort to
extraordinary means to thwart them. I believe that God does anticipate
everything and usually uses very ordinary means to accomplish His
purposes. When He does employ extraordinary means, it is for reasons
other than acting out of desperation.

Gordon Brown
Department of Mathematics
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309-0395

On Thu, 8 Apr 2004, Gough, Joshua wrote:

> Greetings,
> I'm joining this late, but it's a question on my mind lately. How does
> God chose which method of intervention? Is this something we cannot
> investigate by virtue of his unknowability, or can we look at events
> described in holy texts, such as the parting of waters, or the
> multiplication of food and discern certain patterns of invervention?
>
> What about intervention via "agents" that are not agents in a
> traditional sense at all, but are mechanical creations of other agents?
> For example, would God intervene to prevent the launching of a nuclear
> weapon against Israel? If God would, which method of intervention would
> God choose? Would God take the path of least resistance and modify the
> software instructions within the operational circuitry of the weaponry
> such that a command to fire would result in a null operation, or would
> God choose a more theatrical display of power more like those recorded
> in the Bible?
>
> Would it be possible for me to author a software program that iterates
> within an endless for loop which does nothing but send packet bombs to
> internet sites in Israel in attempts to disrupt their communications
> networks and have this for loop interrupted by the miraculous
> intervention of God? And again if so, how should we expect God to
> intervene in this matter? Does he manipulate the executing program code,
> recompile the code to do something different, modify the communication
> signal after it enters the pipeline? All of these options are available
> to God, so how do we make reasonable assumptions as to which option God
> would choose to prevent communication network bombing of Israel? Or, is
> this simply something outside of the realm of our inquiry and if that is
> so, then what is the deciding factor in determining that it is outside
> our realm of inquiry? If we have clear patterns of intervention recorded
> in scripture, do we only have the ability to investigate those
> interventions which strike one as being clearly the result of activity
> that cannot be ostensibly attributed to mere natural factors alone?
>
> For example, suppose a hacker launches multiple attacks from various
> launching points all around the globe against Israeli communications
> networks in the fashion mentioned above, but to his dismay the attacks
> cease to reach their destination, but for no apparent reason. Does the
> hacker give up and claim that God has thwarted his attempts or does he
> investigate to look for a possible reason as to why the packets are not
> reaching their destination. If the hacker finds that all packets sent
> simply vanish from all locations, but when he attempts to bomb another
> site, all operations occur as expected, can he then be justified in
> claiming a miracle has occurred? If however, God chooses a different
> path of threat-aversion and protection of Israel by recompiling the code
> such that a run-time error is generated when each and every program
> around the world is run, does the hacker then attempt to recompile his
> code and try again, only to find that the exact same thing happens?
>
> Or, should we expect a more theatrical intervention such as has been
> recorded in the Bible?
>
> I've never applied this type of thought to digital or mechanical
> systems, but it applies to the question of where God acts and how. When
> I think about some of the stories I read about disease researchers and
> vaccination volunteers going to Africa and encountering stories from
> local peoples that attribute disease to punishment from displeasing the
> gods or some other superstitious event, I cannot imagine how those in
> the field must feel. There is no easy way for them to prove that their
> gods are not real or punishing them for bad deeds, though clearly they
> can see the affects of medicine and cleaner water, healthier practices,
> etc.
>
> Are there any clues from scripture or our own thinking as to why God
> would have chosen parting of waters rather than enabling the Israelites
> to traverse the surface of the water and denying such ability to their
> pursuers? But more importantly, are there any irrefutable witnesses to
> miracles in our world today? Is there any evidence why a vaccination
> volunteer should neglect telling a superstitious African that his gods
> will more than likely not cure him of ailment?
>
> Thanks,
> Josh
Received on Thu Apr 8 19:05:39 2004

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