Re: Coercion

From: Peter Ruest <>
Date: Sat Apr 24 2004 - 00:47:20 EDT

Howard J. Van Till wrote:

>On 4/23/04 12:47 AM, "Peter Ruest" <> wrote:
>>How about a variant of the model: the outcome of a quantum event is
>>physically specified as a probability distribution of different possible
>>outcomes. Rather than fully determining the _exact_ outcome, God could
>>specify a _selection_ probability distribution, to be multiplied with
>>the _physical_ probability distribution to yield a resulting _outcome_
>>probability distribution. The integral area under this selection
>>probability distribution could be any value between 0 and 1. God's
>>creative action would be the specification of this distribution (valid
>>for the actual case only). And it need not always be "fully
>>determinative", maybe only rarely.
>Interesting proposal, worthy of continuing consideration. In my own
>explorations I will probably try to include more in the combination of
>non-coercive divine action + responsive creaturely action.

I already said that in the case of objects or creatures not having been
given a free will, I can't consider "responsive creaturely action" a
meaningful concept.

>1. Furthermore, I still find myself theologically uncomfortable with this
>aspect of your proposal: your suggestion is that God changes the outcome
>probability distribution by imposing a modified selection probability
>distribution. That strikes me as a divinely imposed and transient
>modification of the creature. Changing the character of the creature leads
>to a resultant change in the outcome. Still seems a bit coercive.

When I proposed the stronger claim that God might sometimes select one
specific outcome for a quantum event, you agreed that "the
outcome-choosing divine action that you propose does not involve forcing
a quantum system to do anything in violation of its nature. Neither does
it demand capabilities that it was never given (by its Creator)." Now
that I am proposing a weaker form of this claim, by substituting the
specific selection with a mere selection probability function, you call
it "a divinely imposed and transient modification of the creature...
Still seems a bit coercive". I don't understand this change in your stance.

And if you reduce God's selective action all the way down to equal zero,
nothing is left of his creative (e.g. denoted by the Hebrew "bara'", as
opposed to providential) activity.

>2. If fully-determinative divine action is possible, even if rarely
>employed, it would seem to me that all of the theodicy concerns I have
>raised lurk once again as a dark cloud on the horizon.

As I have already intimated, for me the only feasible way of dealing
with the theodicy problem is to start with accepting that God _is_ just,
and then to try to understand how the observations can be fit together
in a meaningful way, while accepting the possibility that I don't find a
solution. There are many hints in the Bible that this is in fact what
will sonetimes happen. We don't understand God's thoughts, which are
higher than ours.

>3. I'm not at all sure that any sort of model for the physical
mechanism of
>these actions is going to be fruitful. But, of course, I donšt really

Neither can I be sure of it. It won't be a fruitful scientific
hypothesis, as it definitely is not testable. But I believe that it is
meaningful to think about such questions on the metaphysical level. It
allows us perhaps to see that God's creative actions revealed in the
Bible can very well be in harmony with what we know from experience,
including science. This is what motivates me to formulate such proposals.


Dr. Peter Ruest, CH-3148 Lanzenhaeusern, Switzerland
<> - Biochemistry - Creation and evolution
"..the work which God created to evolve it" (Genesis 2:3)
Received on Sat Apr 24 00:49:45 2004

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