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

From: Steve Petermann <>
Date: Mon Jun 28 2004 - 13:09:41 EDT

> > Cost: The term God looses its sense of ultimacy.
> It replaces "God only" ultimacy with "God + World" ultimacy. I don't see
> that as a loss.

I guess this comes down to an ontological issue. I can see how this would
work if the distinctions between God and the World were descriptive or
qualitative but not ontological. Various monisms have used holistic terms
like "aspects" to describe the parts of the whole. If there is an
ontological distinction between God and the world it is hard for me to see
how God+World can create an ultimacy. If there is no ontological
distinction then how is this distinction described? I guess I'm struggling
with the process ontology. Perhaps someone can enlighten me.

> > It presents God as a marketeer or lobbyist rather than a
> > "parent" or partner.
> Ah, the power of slanted word choices. I like the term "intimate &
> empathetic participant" much better :)

I really didn't use those metaphors to be disparaging. Perhaps there are
better metaphors but an "intimate and empathetic participant" doesn't seem
to really address God's limited role as persuader. That same metaphor could
be used equally well to describe understandings of God that are not process
oriented. Also not all non-process theologies opt for a Dictator-God
theology. I view a Dictator-God theology as wholly inadequate if not

> Perhaps the quest for a causal joint makes sense only in the context of a
> substance metaphysics that posits a radical distinction between God and
> World. I don't think such a quest would make any sense in process
> metaphysics.

If as you say process thought is not a substance metaphysics then how does
it draw the distinction between God and World? Is God a sort of persuasive
telic vitalism inherent in matter and energy? Or absolute "mind" in dialog
with itself? It just seems to me that, since we talk about a physical world,
the notion of lure begs the question of causation or how telos emerges in

> No. I see this as a misunderstanding of process thought. God is not
> by Nature or any other being external to God. God is limited only by God's
> own character, which includes certain metaphysical principles that apply
> the God/World relationship.

Sorry for the ambiguous term, "by nature". My intent was more like
"inherent" or your "by God's own character".

> Well, perhaps there is a solution. The problem is, however, that WE,
> human choices and actions, are essential to the solution. That's a tough
> assignment. Many prefer that an omnipotent God overpower evil and get us
> the hook.
> > Efficient causation:
> > Benefit: No conflict with science.
> > Cost: Begs the scientific question of human freedom in an "efficient"
> > Posits human freedom within the concrescence process but begs the
> > question of causal mechanism. Begs the question of teleology.
> I don't follow this, so I'll make no further comment.

The question then comes down to human freedom. Process thought supports the
idea of natural law and with it, efficient causation. Since this is the
same view of materialists, it would seem to have the same problem with human
freedom that they do. If humans are to be the answer to the problem of
evil, they must be free. Current materialistic views seem wholly inadequate
to provide humans freedom in a mechanistic cosmos. Griffin's answer in
_Reenchantment Without Supernaturalism_ is to consider the mechanism of
freedom(within the concrescence process) just a brute fact that we must just
accept. I don't consider that an adequate answer to something so crucial.

Steve Petermann
Received on Mon Jun 28 13:29:07 2004

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