RE: [asa] Behe on "intervention"

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Thu Mar 05 2009 - 09:17:40 EST


My time to reply to Tipler's comments is very limited, and in very limited time I can't do justice to a reply. A lot of things have been said about this on other threads on our list, and I do recommend that you go to the archive and do some searching for Russell's name. I have read quite a bit of his recent book, "Cosmology from Alpha to Omega, and IMO it is a much more thoughtful book, much more in tune with the orthodox Christian theological tradition, and much more understanding of serious talk in science and theology than anything that Tipler has written.

As for what Russell means by "God," let me try this: "it is the trinitarian God who will act to bring about the redemption of all of nature since it is this God who is revealed as God in and through the cross and resurrection of Jesus." (p. 266)

Is that an adequate definition, if we keep things short and to the point? Perhaps Tipler hasn't read this particular book, in which more than anywhere else Russell bares his soul and puts forth his own vision of science and theology. If not, he needs to; at least he needs to see and respond to this implicit definition of God, which seems quite clear to me as a Christian and ought also to be clear to Tipler.

As for QM being more deterministic than classical mechanics, I am not a physicist and I can't get into that. But I don't have to be a physicist to say with confidence that such a claim would be disputed by a lot of physicists, including founders of QM such as Heisenberg and Compton. As Heisenberg said in lectures he gave in Chicago in 1929, "the resolution of the paradoxes of atomic physics can be accomplished only by further renunciation of old and cherished ideas. Most important of these is the idea that natural phenomena obey exact laws–the principle of causality.” Werner Heisenberg, The Physical Principles of the Quantum Theory, trans. Carl Eckart and Frank C. Hoyt with foreword by Compton (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1930), 62. I realize that Bohm and others would challenge this, and I have no dog in that fight; but I think it fair to say that the Copenhagen interpretation is still widely supported.


>>> "James Patterson" <> 3/4/2009 6:25 PM >>>
I personally think Bob Russell's Objective Special Providence concept
answers many questions. It's natural as it can be to the naturalists because
it's not detectable, it's a means for God to be actively involved (no matter
how you want to frame that involvement) without "signs and wonders". Of
course this applies only to quantum action at the DNA level, but I would
presume that this would apply across quantum physics generally? I had an
opportunity to ask Frank Tipler recently about Russell's OSP. Let me go find
that...ah here it is.
I said:
Do you know of a gentleman by the name of Robert John Russell? He wrote a
very interesting chapter in "Perspectives on an Evolving Creation" that
touches on quantum mechanics as the possible answer to an ongoing problem.
He notes that the one place God could act in the process of evolution
without evidence of intervention is at the level of quantum interactions at
the DNA level - essentially God-directed changes at the quantum level of
molecular activity that would otherwise be considered random mutation. He
calls this "Objective Special Providence".

Frank replies:
I do, unfortunately. He's one of the innumerable theologians these days who
prefer vagueness over the precision of St. Augustine and St. Aquinas. In
reading a theologian, ask yourself, "what EXACTLY does he mean by "God".
With Russell, as with Paul Davies, I have no idea. This contradicts
unitarity, hence it is wrong. Quantum mechanics is MORE deterministic than
classical mechanics. I gave a mathematical proof in my technical talk.

Einstein said "God does not play dice with the universe." Darwin said "God
plays dice with the universe. Einstein got it right, Darwin, got it wrong.

Russell is always wanting to substitute his own laws for the known laws of
physics whenever he wishes. I have no patience with this. And as I pointed
out in my earlier lecture, Russell is explicitly rejecting the traditional
Christian definition of "miracle."


So. I have a hard time understanding Frank...can anyone interpret, or even
comment, on his reply?

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Jon Tandy
Sent: Wednesday, March 04, 2009 11:34 AM
Subject: RE: [asa] Behe on "intervention"

I think the easy answer to your question is, "divine providence". Now the
question is to define "divine providence", and how it works. We had a
discussion on this recently, in response to some probing questions that I

I would add, consider this not just in the context of science/natural
history, but also in the context of human history, human-social thought, and
in our religious lives. How does God work -- with non-natural intervention,
hidden intervention, or with an essentially non-interventionist "hidden
hand" that has real influence on temporal events? I believe there is great
value in considering providence from all these ways, not just from the
limited view of scientific theory and the physical history of the universe,
but I haven't had a chance to follow up on some recent thoughts along those

Romans 8:28 says that "all things work together for good to them that love
God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." How does God do
that in human-social interaction? In our spiritual relationship? In
biology or physics?

Prov 16:4 (NIV) says "The LORD works out everything for his own ends-- even
the wicked for a day of disaster." How does the Lord work in everything,
even in evil things done through the free agency of the wicked, to
accomplish His own ends? And would we be able to prove through systematic
analysis of human-social events where, exactly, did God's action start and
stop? I think in most cases the answer would be no. For those who don't
allow for divine intervention, the answer would always be no.

When God caused Israel to prevail against their enemies, or when they were
wicked for their enemies to prevail against them in battle, where was God's
action? Did God openly intervene, or partially intervene, in ways that were
outside an apparently natural course of events? I am willing to say that He
did, but in many cases the "intervention" attributed to God through
scripture and/or prophecy could be fully explained as a natural sequence of
cause and effect events - wise or poor decisions on the part of a general,
seemingly natural events such as a hailstorm that turn the course of the
battle, etc. I am also willing to say that He intervened supernaturally
(overtly) in biological history, but I understand the reasons for thinking
it may have been otherwise.

More thoughts, but that's all I have time for now.

Jon Tandy

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Alexanian, Moorad
Sent: Wednesday, March 04, 2009 7:49 AM
To: Ted Davis;
Subject: RE: [asa] Behe on "intervention"

I revert back to a question I asked some time ago, how do Christians, who
are scientists or else talk about science, understand Hebrews 1: 3, "...
upholds all things by the word of His power..." Is that "miraculous
intervention" or "partial interference," or else "constant interference?"


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Received on Thu Mar 5 09:18:27 2009

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