[asa] Re:{asa]intervention

From: George Murphy <GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com>
Date: Fri Mar 06 2009 - 20:40:34 EST

Terry -

Yes, God could "intervene" in ways that are undetectable & thus remain
hidden." That's what the proposals that God acts to collapse wave packets
amount to.
This is in a sense "intervention" & not simply cooperation with natural
processes because as far as we can tell there are no natural processes which
produce specific eigenstates when a measurement is made. If God isn't
cooperating with natural processes then he's doing it directly, & if all
wave packet collapses are caused in this way then God is doing everything


----- Original Message -----
From: "Terry M. Gray" <grayt@lamar.colostate.edu>
To: "ASA" <asa@calvin.edu>
Sent: Friday, March 06, 2009 6:39 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] intervention

> George,
> I don't really understand why "intervention" is contrary to "hiddenness".
> What if God "intervenes" in ways that is indistinguishable from "nature"?
> And, indeed, his "intervention" is moment by moment. I'm not sure I like
> the word "intervention" here but it makes the point. And this does not
> necessarily imply that God directly causes everything. And furthermore, I
> don't really need to come up with a physical explanation of how this
> works, i.e. appealing to some aspect of quantum mechanics.
> (And, yes, this is faith/theological claim and not a scientific one.)
> TG
> On Mar 6, 2009, at 10:43 AM, George Murphy wrote:
>> Bill -
>> The best answer I can give to your closing question is that breaking &
>> violating physical laws seems inconsistent with the character of the God
>> revealed in Christ - in particular, with the hiddenness of God and the
>> divine self-limitation in the fundamental revelatory eevnt of the cross.
>> http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2001/PSCF3-01Murphy.html is one article in
>> which I've argued this. I would quickly add, however, (a) that this
>> does not rule out all miracles (though it does mean that the only
>> phenomena we call miracles shoul;d be ones that are beyond the
>> capacities of creatures) & (b) as I noted in my earlier post, Goedel's
>> theorem suggests that there are limits on the comprehensiveness of any
>> system of physical laws.
>> Shalom
>> George
>> http://home.roadrunner.com/~scitheologyglm
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Bill Powers" <wjp@swcp.com>
>> To: "George Murphy" <GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com>
>> Cc: "ASA list" <asa@calvin.edu>
>> Sent: Friday, March 06, 2009 12:28 PM
>> Subject: Re: [asa] intervention
>> George:
>> I believe tht Nicholas Saunders in his book on Divine Action argues that
>> non-interventionist divine action does not appear promising presuming
>> a realist construal of modern physics.
>> Saunders never really addresses interventionist divine action. Why
>> object to interventionist divine action? Even if physical law is
>> equivalent to a physical necessity in this world (something I don't know
>> how we'd know), why prohibit divine breaking and violation of those
>> laws?
>> bill powers
>> On Fri, 6 Mar 2009, George Murphy wrote:
>>> Since there's been discussion here of the idea of "intervention," it
>>> may be helpful to say something about a good-sized (33 pp) article by
>>> Alvin Plantinga that appeared in the November issue of Theology and
>>> Science. The title is "What is 'Intervention'?"I think someone on the
>>> list mentioned this previously but I've just gotten around to reading
>>> it. He notes that many theologians & especially those involved in the
>>> "Divine Action Project" object to the idea of divine "intervention" &
>>> adopt what he calls "hands-off theology." Plantinga then does several
>>> things which are, IMO, of uneven quality.
>>> 1) He argues at some length that classical physics does not rule out
>>> the possibility that something which is not predicted by the laws of
>>> physics could take place. A number of historical distinctions are made
>>> here & he presents a formal proof of his claim, the point of all being
>>> that the laws of classical physics themselves do not require that the
>>> world be a closed system. This is really quite obvious & the extensive
>>> discussion is overkill. Nor do I think that a great deal is added by
>>> his discussion of quantum theory. If classical physics doesn't rule
>>> out intervention then a fortiori quantum physics doesn't either.
>>> Missing here is any discussion of the implications of Godel's theorem -
>>> i.e., that it may not be possible for any system of physical laws to
>>> describe all phenomena.
>>> 2) Plantinga then examines the philosophical & theological objections
>>> that have been presented againt divine intervention, miracles, &c.
>>> Most of these are in the category of philosophical theism & Plantinga,
>>> I think, shows them to be not very substantial. But he does not
>>> consider distinctively Christian arguments to the effect that the
>>> character of the God revealed in Jesus Christ suggests that such events
>>> be at least kept to a minimum.
>>> 3) Then Plantinga gets to he title question. Can we define events as
>>> "interventional" in a unique way - i.e., distinguish unambiguously
>>> between interventions and "normal" events. It isn't as simple as one
>>> might think. The obvious way of doing this is to say that if God causes
>>> an event E to occur at time t2 which the laws of nature (i.e., the true
>>> laws, not just our approximations to them) together with the initial
>>> conditions at t1 < t2 wouldn't have predicted then E is an
>>> intervention. But as Plantinga points out, this would also imply that
>>> God's preservation of an entity created in such an intervation at all
>>> times t > t2 would also have to be counted as interventions, which we
>>> don't want to do. I think this is correct and that it's probably very
>>> difficult to specify precisely whether a given event is an
>>> "intervention." The best we can do in the above case is to say
>>> something like "Intervention occurred at some point in the interval t1
>>> < t =< t2 (where the latter =< means "less than or equals). & that
>>> seems to me to be adequate.
>>> 4) Finally he argues for some version of what he calls DCC, "divine
>>> collapse causation," in connection with the idea that God acts by
>>> causing the collapse of the wave function. I think this is a
>>> promising idea but there are some problems with it - in particular, it
>>> may amount to just reintroducing the idea that God does everything in
>>> the world directly, as in Barbour's "classic" model of divine action.
>>> Plantinga suggests that human beings, created in the image of God, have
>>> a similar (though of course much more limited) ability to influence
>>> what happens. That doesn't seem to me to get at the heart of the
>>> problem.
>>> Shalom
>>> George
>>> http://home.roadrunner.com/~scitheologyglm
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> ________________
> Terry M. Gray, Ph.D.
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Received on Fri Mar 6 20:41:19 2009

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