Re: [asa] Divine action and QM--a major ID supporter weighs in--for Timaeus

From: dawson wayne <>
Date: Sat Dec 06 2008 - 10:36:29 EST

Probably the one place where everyone agrees is that we all would find it
reassuring to know the truth. If we have thought seriously about our
Christian faith at all, I'm sure most of us have struggled with some level
of doubt. Yet we are sufficiently persuaded somehow that Christ was
crucified, dead and buried and rose on the third day.

I wonder if it is that insecurity and doubt that makes us grasp for science;
maybe envy too. It would be so much easier if we could just say "science
proves.... "; no more arguing, just the facts and all wrapped up in an
airtight presentation, like an undergraduate physics or chemistry textbook.

I became a Christian while I was in the university, and what started me on
my journey into science was a desire for some evidential reason I could
justify my faith on. Science was very dazzling, being someone from outside,
and it seemed like the convenient tool (or weapon) to do that job.

But now that I have some clearer idea of what science actually is, I find
it no so simple.

The first problem I see is that we cannot really put these problems in a
standard test like we would with science. For example, recall how the devil
tempted Jesus by asking him to jump off the top of the temple. Now, if I
want to do any science on this problem, not only would I ask him to jump
off, if he did that, I would as him to do a back flip, and then a double
summersalt. If we got that far, then I'd look for probes to put up
there and I'd keep looking for some way to find the mechanism that is
supposed to hold him up (purportedly the angels). Certainly, if I found a
reliable and reproducable way to detect angels, that would be a perfectly
good scientific paper. So my audacity has gone far beyond even what the
Devil tempted Jesus with; but this is what I would do, indeed, what I must
do, if I claim to be doing "science" on such matters.

It would seem that whatever mechanism (or mechanisms) God uses to interact
with the world, he is not willing to share it with us; perhaps for good
reason. We are therefore forced to accept that we cannot prove our faith,
and to a large extent, we must live with that.

I have the impression that Augustine basically came to the conclusion that
faith could only come through grace because of this very reason. I'm sure
even in his time (something of an ancient world equivalent of
internationalization), some people found they could not believe in Jesus
because it wasn't "intellectual" and "high tech" enough for their more
sophisticated world views. Some people, God could reach, others, well....

by Grace we proceed,
2008/12/6 D. F. Siemens, Jr. <>

> Ted,
> I don't see the problem except as one that is man made. I believe that
> God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnific. As such, he can do what he
> pleases without me being able to catch on to the how. The problem comes
> because some people insist on knowing how it was done. Maybe they got it
> right, but maybe they got it wrong. And it is quite probable that they
> don't know enough to understand the correct answer. God is at least a wee
> bit smarter than we.
> There is, I think, a similarity to the activity of sleight-of-hand
> experts. I have been shown how a few of the tricks work, though I am too
> clumsy to manage the moves myself. But the Magnificent Randy knew the
> moves and exposed some religious charlatans. Of course, some of my
> brethren are so understanding that they know God did it, that it wasn't a
> midway trick.
> Dave (ASA)
> On Fri, 05 Dec 2008 08:32:01 -0500 "Ted Davis" <>
> writes:
> > I tried to send this yesterday, but it did not come through for some
> > reason.
> >
> > Those who have followed the exchanges with Timaeus will know that he
> > has
> > been quite critical of those TEs who think that God might act
> > providentially
> > and ubiquitously on nature at the level of quantum events. To
> > summarize
> > briefly, Timaeus has noted (and I agree with him) that IDs have no
> > need to
> > delve into such things as divine action, as part of ID per se, but
> > that TEs
> > are obliged to do so, in order to account for how apparently random
> > events
> > can actually be directed by the creator--how, in other words,
> > evolution can
> > really be "theistic." I've pointed out to him here and (in the
> > past) over
> > on UD how at least some TE thinkers have employed QM as a putative
> > way to do
> > this, and he has asked for the kinds of details about this that
> > might
> > persuade a philosophically sophisticated person that this could be
> > a
> > coherent account of things. Overall, one has the impression from
> > Tim's
> > comments, taken as a whole, that he finds this approach incoherent
> > at best,
> > or an indefensible capitulation to the cultural authority of
> > "Darwinism" at
> > worst. I sense that many ID adherents would agree with this
> > conclusion.
> >
> > Well, I can now point to a detailed philosophical examination of
> > this very
> > idea by a major philosopher who is highly sympathetic to ID. I mean
> > the
> > essay, "What Is 'Intervention'," by Alvin Plantinga, in the latest
> > (Nov
> > 2008) issue of "Theology and Science." As the title indicates,
> > Plantinga
> > delves deeply (as he usually does) into the whole issue of
> > "intervention,"
> > over which Timaeus and I clashed, and then at the end has lengthy
> > section on
> > QM versions of divine action. Plantinga can be read as favoring
> > both
> > Timaeus and me in this exchange. On the one hand, he agrees with
> > Tim that
> > those theologians who want to avoid the language of divine
> > "intervention,"
> > but then want to see God active in QM, are not offering a coherent
> > account
> > of what an "intervention" would look like. (I have some sympathy
> > with this
> > myself, notwithstanding the reasons I gave why "intervention" has
> > become a
> > bad word in certain circles.) On the other hand, Plantinga also
> > seems to
> > have a much more favorable attitude toward QM and divine action than
> > does
> > Timaeus. I had pointed out myself the parallel between those who
> > (like A H
> > Compton) saw QM as a possible locus for human free actions and those
> > who
> > (like Russell and Pollard) do likewise for God. Plantinga also
> > notes this,
> > adding, that, if so, "our action in the world ... resembles divine
> > action in
> > the world; this would be still another locus of the Imago Dei. Here
> > we see
> > a pleasing unity of divine and human free action, as well as a more
> > specific
> > suggestion as to what mechanism these actions actually involve." (p.
> > 395)
> >
> > I'm not completely sure what Plantinga's own view on this is, but it
> > seems
> > from this essay that he is at least somewhat attracted to this view.
> > I
> > can't think of anyone who knows more about minds and agents than he
> > does,
> > and given his support for ID this is very significant.
> >
> > I realize of course that Tim might not want to continue this thread
> > further, as is his prerogative. I simply wish I'd gotten my issue
> > of
> > "Theology and Science" several days earlier.
> >
> > Ted
> >
> > To unsubscribe, send a message to with
> > "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
> >
> >
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Received on Sat Dec 6 10:37:19 2008

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