Re: Process problems from Re: Evolution: A few questions

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Sat Jun 26 2004 - 09:43:28 EDT

    I should preface this by saying that PT isn't my preferred mode of
theological expression, though I find some of its ideas helpful. So I can
get the words right (mostly) but probably not the music.

----- Original Message -----
From: "bivalve" <>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, June 25, 2004 12:45 PM
Subject: Re: Process problems from Re: Evolution: A few questions

> Thanks! This clarifies the view for me.
> > In PT God calls & urges ("lures" is the world sometimes used) the world
> > each instant toward its best possible future. & as part of that, God
> > calling & urging each one of us to our role in what is best for the
> > Such calling & urging can be painful - as anyone who's had a demanding
> > parent or prof or coach knows - even if we can't be literally _forced_
to do
> > something. Cobb has a page long (53) quote from Kazantzakis' _Report
> > Greco_ that expresses this very well.
> What modes of calling are adequately non-coercive? I'm not certain what
methods of influence would be less coercive than, e.g., choosing a quantum

    Actually I think one of the shortcomings of PT is that the ideas of
"call" & "persuasion" aren't too convincing at the atomic level. But they
certainly legitimate for humans. A good illustration is in the lectionary
gospel for tomorrow, Lk.9::51-62. Jesus calls people to follow him & is
demanding, but does not force them.
E.g., the 2d person in that text. In response to Jesus' call he says, "OK,
but let me wait till my father has died" (which is probably what's meant &
not that his father has just died, but that's neither here nor there).
Jesus says, "Sorry, proclaiming the kingdom takes precedence." A pretty
tough demand - & we aren't told whether the man did follow Jesus or said
"The price is too high."

    & if Jesus shows us what God is like, we can infer that that tells us
something about divine action more generally. I would add that this doesn't
imply (in the strict sense) a process view: The idea of kenosis points in
the same direction.

> > Why should we care? Because what we're called to is what is best for
> > world, including ourselves. & part of God's activity at each instant
> > trying to show us that.
> What is best? How is it defined? I'm not sure what the point of
reference is.

    The problem with being very specific here is of course that we often
_don't_ know what's best. In general terms, "best" in the sense of what's
most beneficial for the whole network of relationships among things in the
world & between them & God. "Best" as known & foreseen by God - whose
knowledge & foresight are far better than ours & encompass all things. Best
in the sense of Shalom. Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki, _God, Christ, Church_
(Crossroad, 1982) is a good intro to PT that deals with such questions.

> > & of course God can operate contrary to your preferences. Just because
> > is not omnipotent doesn't mean that he can't do anything. In fact, God
> > continually trying to thwart & minimize evil, but he can't simply do it
> > fiat.
> What's the difference between painful calling and urging and a situation
in which God failed to achieve his goals? Using this to address theodicy
seems to me to involve an arbitrary distinction, based on whether something
seems OK (though not necessarily pleasant at the time) to me. How does one
draw a line between, e.g. being called to additional responsibilities,
requiring more work but having fruitful effects, and a terrorist attack,
which might serve to discredit the position of the terrorists and to
mobilize people in favor of peace?

    I'm not trying to be funny by saying, "I don't know, I'm not God."
Those are of course difficult questions. Certainly everything isn't always
going to work out the way I want it to or in a way that clearly benefits me.
When some bad things happen we may be able to see some counterbalancing good
as their consequence. In other cases - e.g., the Holocaust - we can't.

Received on Sat Jun 26 10:16:45 2004

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