Re: Coercion

From: bivalve <bivalve@mail.davidson.alumlink.com>
Date: Thu Apr 08 2004 - 21:25:07 EDT

> 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.<

Definitely not a good way of putting it, since I intended to allow a wide range of possibilities. In particular, I intended "automatically" to be inherent rather than responsive.
Either
1) God likes everything that creation does, whether it is because He made it that way or because He happens to like the intrinsic properties of an independently-existing creation

or

2) God must act to make creation do some things and/or the nature of creation forces God to accept some things He doesn't like.

This returns to my doubts that trying to make God non-coercive achieves anything beyond making something else coercive.

>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.)<

My hyperbole causing problems...
Process theology suggests that God tries to do things, but He doesn't seem to achieve much, IMO. This depends somewhat on what the boundary is between persuasion and coercion, though it still seems to make Him rather ineffectual and irrelevant. I'm also not sure how one determines the best possible result and God's failure to achieve it. Plenty of things happen that I'm not happy with, but I don't know what all is possible nor what is best. I'm also not sure what these other causes are.

I agree with Howard that form-imposing divine action within the process of creation seems both theologically and scientifically unnecessary. This is compatible with, but does not imply, the view that no such action occurs in history. In light of persistent conflation of the two, both by ardent atheists and antievolutionists, I think it is important to distinguish them. Also, orthodox Christianity seems to require greater divine action than process theology wishes to allow. Ted addressed this much better than I have.

    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 Thu Apr 8 21:25:25 2004

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