Re: [asa] Prophet of Science (Part One)

From: David Clounch <>
Date: Thu Jun 04 2009 - 13:12:55 EDT


I saw that. Glad to see you are writing these pieces. I haven't had time to
read the article in depth. I did point out your picture to my son, who
now has 1 credit left to get his BS in Physics, and is wondering what to do
after graduation. I told him "become a professor of history of science,
like Ted, of course!", see....there *is* life after getting a degree in
physics. :) He is talking EE grad school or officer candidate school,
but has also developed an interest in international relations.

PSCF is a good reason to be an ASA member. I don't understand why anyone
not be a member unless they simply cannot sign the statement of faith.


On Thu, Jun 4, 2009 at 11:54 AM, Ted Davis <> wrote:

> I'm glad that Fred Heeren wants to talk about my essay on A H Compton, in
> the latest issue of PSCF. ASA members will have their copies by now.
> Non-members unfortunately cannot access it for another 12 months, but
> individuals may subscribe for one year at $40. Since my essay will be
> printed in 3 parts, ending in December, non-members could have the whole
> essay by subscribing for one year and asking for the subscription to start
> with the June 2009 issue (table of contents at
> The essays by John
> Brooke and the essay review by Davis Young are among the many other reasons
> why this issue will be interesting to many.
> In any event, I thought I'd start a separate thread for this, and lead by
> responding to Fred's questions, here:
> FH: I wanted to draw attention to how helpful Compton's views appear to be
> on the subject (at least to me).
> TD: Fred means the topic of mind/brain and dualism. Fred continues:
> FH: Ted mentions how Compton "felt 'compelled to give up both materialism
> and dualism,' turning instead to personal idealism, 'the doctrine that mind
> is the fundamental reality, and that the objective world is a mere product
> of the activity of the Supreme Mind or Spirit, God'."
> This is just part 1 of Ted's three parts, so I'm anxious to see if Compton
> develops this further. In part 1, Ted also states, "Just as we cannot
> conceive 'of a thought or volition which exists apart from mental activity,'
> so 'we may think of the physical world as being both produced and maintained
> by God's mental action.' ... 'the difficulties confronting us on the
> dualistic system with regard to evolution now disappear, for since the
> development of the world is continually subject to the will of God, the
> introduction of life and consciousness are no longer mysterious'."
> And regarding immortality: "If 'we think of it as the final product of the
> evolution of Godıs world,' and keeping in mind that 'the existence of
> everything depends only upon God's continued care,' then immortality seems
> 'more than probable'."
> I like the way this line of thinking begins to provide a framework for
> understanding God's continuous, creative and sustaining role through our
> world's formative history. Nature itself seems to raise problems with
> strict dualism, while also raising problems (through quantum mechanics, for
> one) for strict materialism. I like the way Compton expresses his third
> way.
> I'm wondering, though, if the term "personal idealism" is the right term
> for it. Doesn't that term normally suggest that there is no absolute,
> single mind behind the world? More important, does anyone else find
> Compton's views (about the world as a mere product of the Supreme Mind) as
> helpful as I do in the dualism/materialism debate?
> TD: Fred, I will be saying more about AHC's views on mind/brain, esp with
> regard to immortality, in future parts, and I won't show my hand in advance.
> I also like that he was looking for a third way, and your reference to QM
> is prescient in this instance: in part two, I will discuss how Compton used
> QM to defend human freedom, though interestingly he did not apply it also to
> God -- it wasn't until the 1950s that people did that, as far as I know.
> And I also like his view of what is often called "continuous creation." On
> this point, at that time (ca. 1910), Compton was an orthodox Christian and
> his theology of creation was "state of the art" for that period--really, he
> was reflecting the ideas of others, he wasn't creating those ideas himself.
> As for "personal idealism," that is the term Compton used, and I am not an
> authority on the term itself. Jon Roberts (Boston Univ) is an authority on
> it, and he suggested the specific names I give on the top of p. 80 if you
> want to flesh out more fully what this view entailed. Its basically the
> idea that individual persons are more real than "material" objects. My
> understanding is that the term has sometimes meant that there is no single
> mind behind the world, but Compton certainly thought there was such a mind
> behind the world, so I don't know how to answer that question accurately on
> his behalf.
> Fred, you are an excellent science writer. I appreciate you being an ASA
> member, I'm glad you asked me about this essay, and I'm esp glad that you
> are finding some of Compton's ideas personally useful. There will be some
> things in part two (September) that you may also find useful, at least
> interesting, esp his ideas on what he himself called the "intelligent
> design" of the universe. Non-members who want to know more about that --
> and there could be quite a bit of interest in Compton's views on
> "intelligent design" among many who are not members -- are invited to become
> subscribers to find out. There wont' be an electronic version until some
> time in 2010.
> Ted
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Jesus showed us God can be both transcendant *and*  physical.   Deistic
Christians want to say God cannot be physical because God is 100%
supernatural.  I don't believe this.
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Received on Thu Jun 4 13:13:12 2009

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