Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <dfsiemensjr@juno.com>
Date: Wed Apr 30 2008 - 18:01:51 EDT

George,
A while back I read up on process theology. I report what I gathered from
the standard publications by its proponents. I do not doubt that there
are individuals who connect it more with what I would term open theology,
which is more moderate. But I was not addressing the latter. However, I
will grant that my statement is not as nuanced and detailed as it would
be in a journal.

Are you taking Acts 17:28 as a revelation of the nature of the universe?
Should it be? Or is it a report of a sermon in which an apostle used a
recognized cultural statement to connect to the populace? Is Titus 1:12f
eternally true?

As to the future, will the sun still become a red giant cooking the
earth? I gather that, with the effect of dark energy, the expansion of
the universe will leave us isolated, with the Andromeda Galaxy and ours
merging. Will that undo the second law and prevent heat death? As I
understand it, only divine intervention in a new earth will change such
an end.
Dave (ASA)

On Wed, 30 Apr 2008 16:56:27 -0400 "George Murphy" <gmurphy@raex.com>
writes:
Dave -

Your parody of panentheism isn't helpful. Panentheism is the belief that
all things are in God, not necessarily that all things are part of God.
Acts 17:28, if nothing else, should show that there is nothing inherently
heretical about the idea. It's true that the term is generally
associated with process theology, which some do consider heretical, but
even there it doesn't mean that the universe is part of God. (& your
statements about the heat death of the universe are kind of dated in view
of modern cosmology.)

I realize that a lot of people on the list think that both panentheism &
process theology are forms of pornography but I suggest that those who
want to talk about them (a) find out what they really are & (b) try to
avoid ridicule in discussing them.

Shalom
George (who is not a process theologian)

----- Original Message -----
From: D. F. Siemens, Jr.
To: jarmstro@qwest.net
Cc: asa@calvin.edu
Sent: Wednesday, April 30, 2008 3:00 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey

If you try panentheism, the material universe is an eternal part of
deity. This also requires that the deity has to persuade matter to do as
it anticipates, but without any assurance that stuff will. Unless it is
incredibly lucky, somewhere along the line what it wants will be so
thwarted that the universe will come to a bad end. This is certainly
predicted in its heat death, if no earlier catastrophe overtakes it.
Indeed, what the only beings to recognize a deity are now doing may
precipitate their extinction much more quickly. Assuming that the
disorder/disaster does not destroy it, it has the debris to reform into a
new "creation." That means that the stuff we now encounter came from an
earlier failed universe. So the probability is that the deity has not
been successful in the past, and we are the last stage in an infinite
series of universes. Indeed, unless the deity-stuff had a beginning, we
must be no more than a lucky state in an infinite series of failures.
Dave (ASA)

On Tue, 29 Apr 2008 22:19:29 -0700 Jim Armstrong <jarmstro@qwest.net>
writes:
I've been tracking much of this conversation. I recognize that our
present understanding has us "packaged" in a space-time entity we call
the universe or "Creation". That sort of invites at the outset a mental
model of some sort of bubble existing within a greater domain of
existence, native to the Creator. I am troubled by the idea that our
temporalness is something distinct from Creator's existence or
experience, based admittedly on human experience that artists and
technologists and such inescapably embody what they know of in their
Creations, though what they know may "pieces" that have never been
integrated in that particular form and function. I cannot conceive how it
might be possible to create something from that which we know nothing of.

On the other hand, those difficulties seem to go away if one takes a more
panentheistic view rather than the "remote Creator" notion. Within our
apparent sphere of existence, there are many experiences that we as
humans know little of, the 3-dimensional acoustic realm of a dolphin, the
3-D electrical field realm of catfish, the subsonic communication of
elephants, the magnetic migration maps of the arctic terns, the chemical
communication among trees, and so on.

While all of these are hosted in creatures of our space-time existence,
it is not impossible to my (highly speculative) way of thinking that
those things that we loosely associate with "spirit" are perhaps
artifacts of other aspects of being and sensing that we may possess only
in small or underdeveloped(?) degree. Perhaps what we sense are part of a
domain of existence that transcends the space-time constraint, or
perhaps they amount to "projections" onto our constrained existence.

At any rate, this seems to me to pretty much harmonize with (at least do
no great violence to) your "intersection" language.

JimA [Friend of ASA]

philtill@aol.com wrote:
Hi Bethany,

Thanks for the interesting post. I agree with your observations about
resurrection bodies, but I don't think it disagrees with my thoughts on
spacetime. (I want to emphasize again that I realize I'm speculating and
I know that I can't prove these ideas, but I find them attractive.)
Here's an analogy: eyes interact with electromagetism; ears interact
with acoustic waves; noses interact with chemicals. It would be
redundant if all these organs interacted with only the same thing.
Analogously, the body interacts according to the dimensions of physics
(what we call spacetime). It would be redundant if the purpose of the
spirit is likewise to interact according to the same dimensions of
physics. Why have both a spirit and a body if they serve to interact in
the exact same sphere? So if they are not redundant, then what does the
spirit interact with? I don't know, but I'm guessing it's not spacetime.
 But that doesn't negate the need for a body -- even after the
resurrection -- to interact with spacetime. If spacetime still exists,
then we'll need a body. The ear doesn't negate the need for the nose or
the eye, and v.v.

I don't like the idea that God's eternity is timeless because i can't
imagine God being frozen like a statue. I can't imagine a personality
existing without time. This bothers me about Augustine's answer to 'what
was God doing before the creation of the world?" I think Augustine made
a mistake believing there are only two alternatives: time or no time.
There could be some dimension besides time, which we can't even imagine
in our physical brains, which give meaning to personality in perhaps a
way that is far richer than what mere time affords. For that matter,
there could be an infinite number of these dimensions. "Eye has not
seen, nor has ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, all
that the Lord has in store for those who love him."

I'm not disturbed by the questions about Hell because I imagine that Hell
would be indescribable in terms of time since it does not exist in time,
and hence it is something that our brain could never begin to apprehend.
That's why (as George pointed out) Jesus used imagery.

One could make the claim that even in this universe general relativity
puts evil into a dualistic position with goodness because evil will
always have ontological status "in the past." The passage of time
(according to the view of most physicists, I think) is merely a mental
state and the past is never annihilated. It always exists as the
next-door-neighbor to the present, as does the future. But God sees this
past evil, always existing in spacetime, through the cross and through
his future judgement, and he is always in the position of being Lord over
his creation (never dual to any part of it), so I think these are the
real reasons (not a supposed annihilation of the past) that keeps evil
from being dual to goodness or God. Likewise for Hell as it exists in
its own dimensions, whatever they are, I would suppose.

God bless!
Phil

-----Original Message-----
From: Bethany Sollereder <bsollereder@gmail.com>
To: philtill@aol.com
Cc: alexanian@uncw.edu; gmurphy@raex.com; asa@calvin.edu
Sent: Tue, 29 Apr 2008 2:55 am
Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey

Hey Phil,

While I appreciate your discussion on space/time issues, I think it
ignores the strong indications that we will have resurrection bodies, not
simply be disembodied "spirits" floating around. While, if we take Jesus
as our only example, the resurrection body does seem to have capabilities
that ours do not, it does not at all negate the fact that it is a
physical existence.

Also, concerning hell, I wonder if Jesus was perhaps accommodating to the
"theology of the day", after all, there is no hell in the Old Testament.
Beyond that, (and this is getting a little off topic), if hell is
eternal, doesn't that create an eternal dualism between good and evil?
Between heaven and hell? Does an eternal hell force us into dualism?

Bethany

On Mon, Apr 28, 2008 at 8:10 PM, <philtill@aol.com> wrote:

Christ said quite a bit about Hell, far more than He did infant baptism.
;)

Another reason I think the human spirit must be non-extended is because
the spirit survives the body. If the spirit is not tied to the
organization of particles in spacetime, then there is no reason (other
than prejudice) to believe it is limited in the dimensions of those
particles. From a positivist point of view, spacetime means nothing
except relationships between particles.

Also, particles and spacetime are part of the same physics. They are
aspects of the same ontological entity. Spirit is not composed of
particles and so we have no a priori reason to think that an aspect of
physics (spacetime) would be an aspect of spirit.

Our brains are tied to spacetime and we see everything from the viewpoint
of spactime, and I'd guess we have been allowing that to prejuduce our
thinking about spirits and about God. Why impose on spirits or on God
the properties of spacetime, which as far as we know apply _only_ to
physical particles?

Phil

-----Original Message-----
From: Alexanian, Moorad <alexanian@uncw.edu>
To: George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com>; asa@calvin.edu
Sent: Mon, 28 Apr 2008 8:41 am
Subject: RE: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey

I think I know what Hell is. On this side of death, there is doubt about
whether God is or is not. On the other side of death there is certainty.
Hell is knowing for sure that God is and that you denied Him.

Moorad

From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On
Behalf Of George Murphy
Sent: Sunday, April 27, 2008 8:22 PM
To: asa@calvin.edu
Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey

Since we know next to nothing about hell, we're in a rather precarious
position if we try to base any anthropological arguments on it.

Shalom
George
http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
----- Original Message -----
From: philtill@aol.com
To: gmurphy@raex.com ; asa@calvin.edu
Sent: Saturday, April 26, 2008 10:15 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey

George,

I forgot to include this reason why I think the human spirit may be
non-extended in space and time: Hell.

Why would God send an unredeemable creature that is extended in space and
time into Hell rather than simply annihilating him? Annihilation means
drawing a limit to the extension. I won't pretend to have an answer, but
if the creature is spiritual and that spirit is not extended in time,
then perhaps annihiliation is not even an option. Annihilation may look
feasible only because we don't see the spiritual part of mankind that is
beyond time.

Phil

-----Original Message-----
From: philtill@aol.com
To: gmurphy@raex.com; asa@calvin.edu
Sent: Fri, 25 Apr 2008 7:56 pm
Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey
George,
thanks for the reply. Perhaps there aren't any theologians saying that
-- that's why I framed it as a question ("..., right?").

So I have to retreat to a weaker statement. There are a number of
reasons why I think it's at least plausible that humans have a spirit
that is not extended in space or time. I recognize that these arguments
are insufficient to prove anything, but I think they point the way to a
possible answer to David's question. Like David, I feel the need for
there to have been an original state of integrity. Otherwise, it feels
(to me at least) as though God set mankind up with an unfair chance of
sinlessness. I'd like to see the state of integrity somewhere, if not in
spacetime.

I want to point out that I agree with your position on Adam entirely.
This proposal (put forward by CS Lewis in The Great Divorce) that humans
may have an extra-temporal spirit only _adds_ one feature to your
position. AFAICT it does not disagree with anything you said to David.

One thing you said was,

"a realistic picture of evolution will not let us do is hold on to the
idea of a 'state of integrity' in the classical sense."

This idea of man's extra-temporal provides for a 'state of integrity,'
although in a non-classical sense. It says man had a very real 'state of
integrity' prior to the fall, but this state of integrity was spiritual
and outside time and that's why we don't see it historically. I used the
words "prior" and "was" in the prior sentence because the state of
integrity was causally prior to our fallenness although not temporally
prior to our fallenness.

Here are some musings on the idea of a non-extended human spirit:

1. Theologians do say that God is spirit and is not extended in
physical spacetime, right? (another question) If so, then that is one
example of spirit being not extended. Extension in physical spacetime is
therefore not a general property of spirits, at least.

2. I think the idea of the wind -- "you don't know where it comes from
or where it is going" -- is an excellent picture of God as one who is
non-extended interacting with creatures who are extended. We feel God
like wind interact with us in the here and now because that is where we
are, but the coming and going of that interaction is something we cannot
follow from place to place or time to time. It is a mysterious coming
and going, seemingly from nowhere.

3. Similarly, interactions with angels must occur for us within
spacetime because that is where we are, regardless whether they are
extended in spacetime.

4. The description of angels in the Bible that seem to imply extension
could easily be anthropomorphic or figurative language.

5. Really extension in spacetime means that we interact with particles
according to the four known forces which have 1/r^alpha dependencies,
alpha=2 for gravity or electrostatics, etc. The existence of "r" in
those laws is the modern meaning of "extension" for a human body and
brain composed of particles. Does a spirit follow those laws in
interacting with the particles of this universe? If not, then what could
its extension in physical spacetime even mean? From a positivist point
of view, it may be meaningless nowadays to talk of extension in the
physical universe if we don't define it in terms of particle interactions
via forces. The notion of "spacetime" is not so indefinite as it was 200
years ago.

6. If angels are unextended, then that might explain why they appear to
have no repentance, or why the devil seems to be not smart enough to know
to stop rebelling, etc. Their apparent inability to change their
direction may be because we are seeing a _projection_ of their unextended
decisions into spacetime; not the making of decisions within spacetime.

7. The ultimate purpose of time may be so that Christ could enter into
it and unite us to himself. If so, the creation of this spacetime comes
causally after the fall.

Again, I already recognize the inadequacy of these statements, but I
think the idea is plausible and very interesting.

Phil

-----Original Message-----
From: George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com>
To: asa@calvin.edu
Sent: Fri, 25 Apr 2008 2:01 pm
Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey
Apropos 1 below, what theologians do you have in mind? I don't know of
any who say this, though of course that doesn't prove that there aren't
any. When Robert Jenson, e.g., in his introduction to the locus on "The
Holy Spirit" in Christian Dogmatics says "Thus spirit is
self-transcendence; the liveliness of each life is precisely its origin
and end beyond itself," he is pointing in a quite different direction.
(He also notes that Greek pneuma & Hebrew ruach agree in picturing spirit
as wind or breath, things that are extended.)

Shalom
George
http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
----- Original Message -----
From: philtill@aol.com
To: gmurphy@raex.com ; dopderbeck@gmail.com ; asa@calvin.edu
Sent: Friday, April 25, 2008 1:15 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey

David,

1. Theologians say that a spirit is something that has no extension in
space, right? When they say this, "space" refers to the ordinary space
of our physical universe.
................

Plan your next roadtrip with MapQuest.com: America's #1 Mapping Site.

Plan your next roadtrip with MapQuest.com: America's #1 Mapping Site.

Plan your next roadtrip with MapQuest.com: America's #1 Mapping Site.

Plan your next roadtrip with MapQuest.com: America's #1 Mapping Site.
To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with "unsubscribe
asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.

To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Wed Apr 30 18:20:16 2008

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Wed Apr 30 2008 - 18:20:16 EDT