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

From: Steve Petermann <>
Date: Tue Jun 29 2004 - 11:43:56 EDT

Terry wrote:
> And these regularities are moment-by-moment maintained in addition to
> being originated...the creation--even in the regular--is NEVER
> without God's participation as ground of being, sustainer, provider,
> persuader, concurrer, governor, telic force, designer, etc.--look at
> all that process language and even some ID!

I agree. However, I think within this view there can be different
ontological perspectives that also have major effects on theodicy, piety,
and hermeneutics. The issue is the term "God's participation". Is this an
external or internal interaction? The tacit de facto metaphysic in the west
is that there are entities(i.e. matter, energy, particles, strings, quantum
loops, or whatever) that have a "self nature". The first materialists,
probably the Carvankan school in India circa 600 BC, claimed that all there
was, was matter and it had "svabhava" or self-nature. About a century later
the Greek atomists claimed the same thing. While this claim cannot be
supported by science, it has become the undefended de facto ontology for the
cosmos in the west. What this does is set an ontological divide between God
and the world. If there are things with self-nature then whatever God does
would seem to be an intervention in these natures or an overriding of their
normal processes. This leads to supernaturalism and the "god of the gaps"
issue that has plagued Christianity in the modern age.

However, I do not think that either religion in general or Christianity in
particular *must* adopt this ontology. There are monistic/mystical threads
in these traditions that support a different ontology where the world does
not have a persistent self-nature but where the "nature" of the world is
created as you say "moment-by-moment" in the Divine Life. In this case
there is no coercion, no intervention, no god-of-the-gaps issue. The
regularities we see are not for those "entities" themselves but are part of
the life process of the divine life so there can *be* life and abundant life
as well. Irregularities or anomalies are not bound by some "self-nature"
dependent mathematical formula(although regularities they may typically
correspond to them) as in physics but are also grounded in the purposes of
life. Various philosophers and theologians have alluded to versions of an
ontology like this starting probably with the ancient Greek philosopher
Anaxagoras who although he affirmed the immutability of matter claimed it
was driven by Nous, or mind. I think Paul's Christ mysticism also fits well
with this as well as possibly John's Logos theology. Later various versions
of an ontology like this have arisen in philosophies like Hegel's and
theologies like Tillich's as well as much in the mystical tradition.

> The fact that the spectre of theodicy comes up in this discussion
> comes almost immediately out of this intimate involvement of God with
> every detail of the created order.

True. However, I think this can be resolved if reality as we find it is not
considered a dialog of separated ontologies( God/World) but as the Divine
Life itself. Here I agree with Leibnitz's initial claim that God created
"the best of all possible worlds". If there is evil in the world, it's
potential must somehow be necessary for there to be a world and life, and is
somehow dealt with in the Divine Life.

Steve Petermann
Received on Tue Jun 29 12:08:23 2004

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