Re: Theism & MNS

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Sun Feb 19 2006 - 15:20:36 EST

1st, your arguments suggest an overly rigid view of MNS. Both quantum & chaos theories imply that there is more flexibility in the connections between events than is possible in traditional views of Newtonian physics with their Laplacian determinism. Thus even if God acts within the capacities of creatures & in accord with the laws of physics, God has some freedom of action. Bob Russell, in his essay in the book Keith edited, _Perspectives on an Evolving Creation_, has discussed the possibility that God might direct evolution by determining the results of quantum processes in DNA to cause mutations.

In addition, Goedel's theorem seems to indicate that the laws of physics can't answer all questions that can be posed to them. If this is the case then those laws are not logically closed.

2d, Science makes the assumption of methodological naturalism but that is an assumption - a hope or faith if you will. I think it's a very good assumption & has been well borne out by scientific work over the past ~5 centuries. But this assumption should not be seen as a constraint upon the natural world. It is instead a limiting condition on what science can study.

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Timothy Kennelly
  Sent: Saturday, February 18, 2006 1:54 PM
  Subject: Re: Theism & MNS

  Mr. Murphy,

  Your first statment that MNS does not "contradict the belief that God is active in the natural world precisely in and with physical interaction" is true if, and only if, the god in question is veiled by nature and its actions seem to be natural in every regard; that is, the actions are not miracles, but natural events. But to suggest that MNS allows for the possibility (as a potential working hypothesis) that a deity is healing persons of cancer or causing one animal to evolve in a certain way, say over hundreds of millions of years, is to suggestion a thing which MNS does not appear to allow.
  A person who survives some disease which in every other case is fatal is a subject for study on the ground that it is either a misdiagnosis or the patient has been exposed to someting, or in so built by whatever means, such that he has not died. If the god in question causes the individual to survive, witho ut secondary natural cause or causes, then MNS can learn nothing from the case. MNS always works with the assumption that the cause is knowable and discoverable.
  Regarding evolution it should not be necessary to indicate that MNS does not allow that god might have done this or that, but rather that the natural world is the product of a long undirected natural process in which all life evolves by way of natural selection. If the miracle causing active deity is allow, natural selction is set down as one possible explanation fro each event in natural history to be so explained, the active deity is set down as the other. A confident argument that all life evolves requires of necessity the rejecton of the active deity. No doubt some figures in MNS community make the appeal to god, by way if ID or some other argument, but this is a minority view.

  Timothy E. Kennelly

  George Murphy <> wrote:
    Mr. Kennelly -

    There is nothing in modern science that contradicts the belief that God is active in the natural world precisely in and with physical interactions. OTOH the belief that God does everything doesn't mean that natural processes do nothing, any more than the fact that I'm typing all of the letters on this message means that the computer is doing nothing. (Of course that's a rather crude analogy.) You might want to look at Chapter 12 of Ian Barbour's Religion and Science in which he discusses 9 different ways of understanding God's role in nature.

    George < BR>
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Timothy Kennelly
      Sent: Saturday, February 18, 2006 12:08 PM
      Subject: Re: Theism & MNS

      Mr. Miller,

      I must indicate profound disagreement with the statement below. Modern Natural Science must of necessity work with the assumption that there is not an active deity. With respec t to the natural world God (or god) does nothing. One might also argue for nature's god in which case god does everything, but alway in a manner which is understandable in rational terms.

>[Science] says nothing about how God might interact with the natural world. Science pursues truth within very narrow limits.

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Received on Sun Feb 19 15:21:21 2006

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