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

From: Terry M. Gray <>
Date: Tue Jun 29 2004 - 12:58:00 EDT


I would want to strongly emphasize an ontological Creator/creator
distinction. As intimate as is God's relationship to the world might
be, he is NOT the world. We're not pantheists--the creation is not
God--there's hardly anything clearer in scripture than this. He made
it--he's the potter, it (and we) are the pots. While I do appreciate
process theology's attempt to distinguish their view (panentheism)
from pantheism, I'm not convinced that it really succeeds.

I'm sure that Howard is amused that some accuse him of deism and now
I'm accusing him of pantheism. He must be close to getting it right.


>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

Terry M. Gray, Ph.D., Computer Support Scientist
Chemistry Department, Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado  80523
phone: 970-491-7003 fax: 970-491-1801
Received on Tue Jun 29 13:38:09 2004

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