Re: [asa] on miracles

From: Don Winterstein <>
Date: Mon Mar 09 2009 - 04:47:19 EDT

Good analogy. The reason I believe God "tinkers" [I don't like the word either] is not necessarily that he must do so but that it's his nature to interact intimately with his creation. That's what he does, and that's what he enjoys doing.

However, it's entirely possible if not likely that he must tinker in order to get desired results. Evolutionary processes seem not to have been controlled by intelligence but rather to have been driven by chaotic forces to a degree that the ultimate outcome was totally unpredictable. Stephen Jay Gould: "Humans are here today because our particular line never fractured - never once at any of the billion points that could have erased us from history." I think it extremely unlikely that humans would have come into being through the operation of natural laws and forces without God's special guidance. "Special guidance" here means that God made nature do something it could have done without his guidance but was not inclined to do; that is, the probability that nature would have yielded the desired result without guidance is vanishingly small.

By "nature" I mean the world as science sees it: Things interacting in accord with properties built into them.

Even if the potential for humans had been built into the DNA of the original bacteria, it would by no means be inevitable that humans would eventually emerge. If we were to repeat the Earth biotic experiment somewhere else or in the same place at a different time, the extinction events (along with much else) surely would not repeat in the same ways or at the same relative times, and the ultimate outcome would therefore differ radically. Creatures with five eyes and very long noses might dominate (cf. Opabinia)!


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Merv Bitikofer<>
  To: David Clounch<> ;<>
  Sent: Sunday, March 08, 2009 1:01 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] on miracles

  I'm also intrigued by the popular pejorative assumptions usually
  embodied with words like "tinkering" or "intervention".

  What if I take care of my dog, feeding it every day, walking it,
  etc... And now let's give my dog sentience. So he can now discuss his
  master with other dogs (who have just finished reading some books on
  freewill and philosophy --maybe including one titled: "Does the Master
  Exist?". The other dogs ask him, how do you get fed? Is it natural or
  does your master feed you? And my now sentient dog says: "my master,
  of course. --I see him do it." And this invokes some guffaws from my
  dog's intellectual friends who proceed to retort: "He must not be a
  very bright master if he has to constantly intervene and couldn't
  arrange things so that you just automatically get fed." Then Wally
  (our dog) objects and says, "I enjoy it when he feeds me. I have a
  relationship with him and get some attention!"

  Yes, we probably could rig up some contraption to automatically care for
  our dog, and even see to it that he never actually sees us in the course
  of a day. But the point of this silly and limited analogy is that such
  "efficiency" isn't our goal. We enjoy having a dog, and if we didn't
  ever interact with him, then we probably shouldn't be keeping pets in
  the first place. Taking seriously the kenotic aspect of how God
  relates to us, I have a whopper of an objection to the notion that our
  "watch-maker" God is forced to "intervene" out of necessity. Not only
  does God intervene, He's there every step of the way --much more than I
  ever could be for my sometimes neglected dog. I think I've heard Keith
  & others here propose this attitude, and I'm in full agreement with it.
  I asked my science students this week after letting a marker drop on the
  floor, "did God make the marker fall? or did gravity do it?" I
  think they fairly quickly grasped the false dichotomy that so many
  mockingly portray.

  --Merv Bitikofer (...need to sign off now & go scratch Wally behind
  the ears.)

  David Clounch wrote:
> Thanks Bill.
> My personal view is the idea that someone or some thing constantly
> tinkers along the way is not inconsistent with all this.
> But that of course is no proof that such a thing happens. And of
> course this tinkering is the sort of engineering activity that is
> commonly thought of as being intelligent design, and we all know how
> unpopular that is. The problem is, how does one rule out such a
> tinkering? How would we know such a tinkering is impossible? How
> would we know its possible? Until we can answer that I am
> uncomfortable with anyone telling anybody they must discard their
> beliefs in favor of some other belief.
> I am hoping Ken Miller advocates for opening minds rather than closing
> them.
> Best Regards,
> David Clounch

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Received on Mon Mar 9 04:48:00 2009

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