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

From: Howard J. Van Till <>
Date: Mon Jun 28 2004 - 16:34:52 EDT

On 6/28/04 1:09 PM, "Steve Petermann" <> wrote:

> 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.

Not so. As I understand it, process theology is at least as different from
materialism as it is from supernaturalism (where supernatural action is
coercive divine action). In process thought, especially Griffin's
articulation of it, the term "natural" cannot to be equated with "material"
because "natural" incorporates the effects of contributive (non-coercive)
divine action.

This shift in the meaning of "natural" is also at the root of my saying in
earlier postings that I would distinguish process theology from theologies
that have traditionally been designated "natural theology." The "nature"
_observed_ by traditional natural theology (with its substance-based
metaphysics) is radically distinct from God, whereas the "nature"
_experienced_ by process theology is permeated with the active (but
non-coercive) presence of God.

> 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.

Agreed. But the very freedom you require (and find lacking in materialism)
is essential to the God/World relationship posited by process theology.

> 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.

OK, you are most welcome to take that up with Griffin.

Howard Van Till

PS: Although I have said freely that I find process theology very
stimulating and worthy of critical examination, and although I am trying to
learn it as quickly as I can, I do not consider myself sufficiently prepared
to speak process language authoritatively. Much like a recent immigrant to a
new country, I speak the new process language with an accent that bears the
marks of my mother tongue.
Received on Mon Jun 28 17:06:23 2004

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