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

From: Steve Petermann <>
Date: Sat Jun 26 2004 - 14:08:08 EDT

Perhaps one of the ways to evaluate features of a philosophical or
theological system is to look at their benefit-to-cost ratio. In philosophy
it is common to hear that a particular feature or proposition requires "too
high a metaphysical price". In theological systems the "cost" of a
particular feature or proposition may be more than a systematic or
metaphysical cost. It may also include the loss or diminishing of
psychological, hermeneutic, and pietistic factors. Process theology is no
exception. It has "benefits" from particular points of view but they are
obtained at a cost. For instance:

Divine Action:
Benefit: Since divine action in process theology is non-coercive it would
seem to have a happy relationship with science and affirm human freedom.
Cost: The term God looses its sense of ultimacy. It only offers a weak
teleology. It presents God as a marketeer or lobbyist rather than a
"parent" or partner. While non-coercion seems to be scientific appealing,
it still begs the scientific question of the causal mechanism. It raises
the question of the possibility of dialog with the divine. Is special
revelation possible when God only "lures"?

God as ontologically limited:
Benefit: Theodicy. Since God is limited by nature and can only act
non-coercively this shields God from the problem of evil.
Cost: This characterizes God as an ineffective advocate or lobbyist for
good. There doesn't seem to be a solution to presence of evil in the

Efficient causation:
Benefit: No conflict with science.
Cost: Begs the scientific question of human freedom in an "efficient" world.
Posits human freedom within the concrescence process but begs the scientific
question of causal mechanism. Begs the question of teleology.

Steve Petermann
Received on Sat Jun 26 14:40:17 2004

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