Re: [asa] TE The Future

From: Gregory Arago <gregoryarago@yahoo.ca>
Date: Fri May 22 2009 - 19:36:04 EDT

In the past I have said that TEists are predominantly process-oriented. In response to Ted, now yes, I would even say that they are generically process-oriented (i.e. characteristic of the whole class or group). They simply must be, due to the meaning of ‘evolution,’ which is part of the concept duo <theistic evolution.>
 
George verifies what I mean when he writes:  <a TE (& as usual take all the caveats about the term as read) is necessarily concerned with <process> simply because the E part of his/her view is a process within the world.>
 
Yes, I agree: TE is <necessarily concerned with process>. This is why I defined <evolution> as <a process of change> and asked Ted if he opposed it. I’ll have to take it that he doesn’t oppose it, unless he says directly that he does.
 
Ted writes, <many TEs are process-oriented.> But then follows it up saying, <many TEs are *not* process oriented.> This is confusing.
 
What does he mean by this? Many are and many aren’t: 50-50, 80-20, 20-80…or what?
 
No, I don’t think <It's wrong to represent TEs as process oriented, as a generalization,> Ted, because that is what <evolution> generally means – <a process of change>. TEs simply cannot avoid this, even if they don’t like the label <process-oriented>. Some people don’t like any labels, but then they find it harder to be in defence of a certain position that they can’t define as their own.
 
Ted wrote: <You appreciate the fact that I do this, yes? If so, then I propose that you now take the opportunity to point out, to any audience where it is relevant, that TE is not <process oriented> as a generalization, that in fact many TEs reject process theism in favor of a traditional Christian understanding of God.>
 
Yes, I do appreciate that you don’t call ID ‘creationism in a cheap tuxedo.’ But then again, even if you did it wouldn’t bother me as I’m not an IDist. I’ve met in person or corresponded with almost all of the IDM leadership over the past 4 years and included a chapter on the IDM in my master thesis, as you know. But I specifically said the issue involved for me is *not* process theology. If TEs accept ‘evolutionary’ theories, then are they not explicitly adopting a process perspective, even aside from process theology? Please do clarify how this could be otherwise, if you think it can, Ted.
 
I certainly agree with George that <the T part of the position can have a wide variety of meanings>. My problem with TE is the combination of the terms, and also with how they are ordered. I’d prefer to be an EC than a TE, if given the choice. But neither of them seem possible to reconcile with reality once one attempts to balance <origins> with <processes> in their thinking. The hyper-focus on <processes of change> in evolutionary thought can potentially be balanced by a hyper-focus on origins in non-evolutionary or post-evolutionary thought (which many people deny is even possible!).
 
But a better concept duo than either TE or EC should nevertheless be sought and then when found, applied. None of this silly fatalism about <things never change>. Change can be believed in! Sorry, Ted, if this means that I’m asking you to adopt a new vocabulary too.
 
George writes:
<I understand TE to be a collection of theological views, not a new scientific understanding of how evolution takes place.  The more traditional theologies will be 1st of all "oriented" to God as God has revealed himself & his purposes.  For process theologians one can't really separate God from the world so they, & I think really only they, should be said to be "oriented" to process.>
 
I agree that TE is <not a new scientific understanding of how evolution takes place.> And again, I also agree with George that the E part is <a process>. That’s two things in one paragraph (a good sign for George and I)!
 
The logic goes like this: First come origins, then come processes. One can’t have a process without first having an origin. This is classic Aristotle, consistent with Aquinas, all the way up to Alfred North Whitehead, who reversed the notion, instead placing <process> at the centre. His book <Process and Reality> did this (1929). It was consistent with the <flux> vision of Sensate culture that Sorokin saw during his American period. But now we are returning once again to an Ideational culture, wherein eternal, transcendent, unchanging or sustainable become relevant terms (again) and <evolution> falls as a worldview.
 
Again, to repeat myself so that I will be clear and not misinterpreted: when I write <process-oriented> I am not speaking about <process theology> so much as about <process philosophy.> For those interested, here is a decent link: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/process-philosophy/
 
Notice the section on evolution: <Evolution is an emblematic and paradigmatic process for process philosophy. For not only is evolution a process that makes philosophers and philosophy possible, but it provides a clear model for how processual novelty and innovation comes into operation in nature's self-engendering and self-perpetuating scheme of things.>
 
TE is thus process-oriented, by definition. This is what weakens its position on ‘origins’ and where its views on origins, tempered by whatever theology the particular advocate of it embraces, are just as ‘creationistic’ as anything that ID offers.
 
Gregory

--- On Thu, 5/21/09, gmurphy10@neo.rr.com <gmurphy10@neo.rr.com> wrote:

From: gmurphy10@neo.rr.com <gmurphy10@neo.rr.com>
Subject: Re: [asa] TE The Future
To: "ASA List" <asa@lists.calvin.edu>, "Gregory Arago" <gregoryarago@yahoo.ca>, "Ted Davis" <TDavis@messiah.edu>
Received: Thursday, May 21, 2009, 10:16 PM

Gregory -

Thanks for the clarification.  As to the point at issue, a TE (& as usual take all the caveats about the term as read) is necessarily concerned with "process" simply because the E part of his/her view is a process within the world.  But the T part of the position can have a wide variety of meanings - i.e., there is a wide range of theologies which a TE may hold.  These extend from those who would have a very traditional view of divine immutability & impassibility to full-fledged process theology.  For the former God acts in the evolutionary process but there is no "back reaction" of that process on God.  For the latter God & the world are inherently involved in process together.

I understand TE to be a collection of theological views, not a new scientific understanding of how evolution takes place.  The more traditional theologies will be 1st of all "oriented" to God as God has revealed himself & his purposes.  For process theologians one can't really separate God from the world so they, & I think really only they, should be said to be "oriented" to process. 

My own view is more toward what I've called the traditional view.  I don't think - as process theologians do - that God is inherently affected by the world process.  But I do think that God can choose to be affected, & in fact does so, preeminently in the Incarnation.  (Gregory Thaumaturgus' essay "On the Passibility of the Impassible" is of interest here.)

As to Ted's view, Inote that what he objected to was the idea that TE is TEs are "generically" process-oriented.  But of course I'll leave it to him to expound on this further if he wishes.

Shalom,
George

---- Gregory Arago <gregoryarago@yahoo.ca> wrote:
> Hi George,
>  
> Please excuse, I stand corrected. You were involved in the thread, but I mis-remembered the admission as your words. In fact they were Ted's words.
>  
> I had written: "If you would wish to contend that TEists are not predominantly 'process-oriented' I think you would have a seriously difficult challenge on your hands."
>
> Ted wrote (May 5, 2009) directly in reply: "Agreed.  Many TEs are predominantly process oriented." 
>  
> This is why I am now confused at what he is saying:
> "(...Gregory Arago describes TEs generically as "process oriented."  That terminology as a generalization is misleading at best, if made out of ignorance--an example of the kind of ignorance of modern theology on the part of ID proponents that I've talked about.  If not said out of ignorance, than it's either sloppy or at worst it's deliberate distortion.)"
>
> Is Ted accussing himself of ignorance or deliberate distortion as well, since he has already agreed with my generalisation?
>  
> As it is, George, I suspect you would support Ted's initial reaction and my contention that TE is 'process-oriented,' with the caveat that I don't mean process theology-oriented, as my response to Ted in this thread indicated. You've said that process theology is not as bad as some people think it is. I perceive you as at least friendly to process-oriented ideas, though certainly not a process theologian.
>  
> But I did make a mistake in mis-referencing Ted's words to you. And for that I'm sorry as I know you've asked me to be careful with my 'reading.' 
>  
> Regards,
> Gregory
>  
> p.s. what would have given Ted the idea that I am an 'ID proponent'?

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Received on Fri May 22 19:36:25 2009

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