@GBrooks9's View On God's Engagement

(George) #1

@swamidass

I’ve always considered the question of proving God’s guidance as a two sided coin.

On one side, the science side, the coin is blank. Is God there? Who knows. Maybe his image
is in invisible ink. Maybe his image is microscopic… very difficult to see, but theoretically still
detectable.

On the other side of the coin is the “proof” that I use when discussing God-Guided evolution with
fellow Christians: this side is Theology.

Theology tells me (and I confess, I’m just one person)… that God has only two basic approaches when engaging in the Universe:

Theoretically speaking, he can he can organize all of creation down to the photon, at the very instant of Creation, and run it all down to every iota, wrapping natural lawful activity around each and every person with Free Will. With omniscience, God knows what the free decisions will be, and prepares “tangles” of natural law to “receive” the free will choice/action … and continue the unwinding of the Universe all the way to the End of Days.

OR

God can entangle the whole universe with lawful natural processes, leaving gaps or spaces for freewill
AND
leaving gaps and spaces for his miraculous activity.

So the question I want to ask you @swamidass is, why would any devoted Christian think God doesn’t plan it all? There is a stance that can be adopted that doesn’t interfere with Freewill. There is a stance that doesn’t interfere with God’s miraculous activities.

But why would someone say: “and then there’s all this other natural lawful activity that God doesn’t even pay attention to”.

What kind of sense is that?

Cancer and Evolution
(S. Joshua Swamidass) #2

I am not such a Christian. I’m not sure that view is compatible with the Christian faith.

This article is not an argument against God’s action. It is merely what we are seeing in cancer biology. Evolutionary theory is useful here.

Mainly the universities cluster, but there is a massive amount of change happening here. I’m on the universities committee to figure this out (joys of tenure =/). It may be a very different landscape in 10 years.

#3

And what percentage of the use is being hijacked by CS students for Bitcoin mining? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

(George) #4

@swamidass

I want to make sure that you and I are discussing the same topic and in the same way.

  1. Are you saying that Calvinists were devoted to an incompatible theology?

  2. For those who are not Calvinists (in other words, they believe humans are free to decide their devotion), God can still fill in all the gaps between Free Will events with two kinds of engagement:

a) with natural lawful events and
b) with miraculous events.

Are you saying that even this tripartite approach (Human Freewill + Natural Law + Miracles) would also not be compatible with Christianity?

What is it that you think Item (2) is missing?

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #5

I’m saying that I’m not sure a fully deist position, where God never intervenes in creation is compatible with Christianity. That is not the Calvinist position. The tripartite approach you put forward is not deism. And I am not arguing that God never intervened. Rather, I’m saying that many of the arguments that He did intervene are bad arguments.

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(George) #6

@swamidass

I see that you already have another posting… but let me comment on this one first:

  1. Using the term “intervene” is not particularly helpful. I have frequently used the term “engaged”. I continue to recommend it as a superior word choice for our kinds of discussions.

  2. I am not describing a Deist position. The Deist position, ironically, is perhaps more like some of your friends, @swamidass. Deism is a watchmaker analogy… where the rules are set up, and the universe starts running, and the watchmaker God can do something else… take a nap… watch TV… but not tend to his sheep.

  3. What is not a Deist theology is:
    a. God communicates with his flock in Real Time. He can’t make a recording and have a button play the message when King David checks in with prayer #334.

b. God must also bridge the holes in the chain of natural law that are created by miracles. In a way this is subsumed in item (a) above, if you are willing to see God’s responses to prayers as a subset of all miraculous activity.

c. Some think Free Will also creates holes in the chain of natural lawful events. This question is answered at the neurological level … and it might be so. But I haven’t thought it all the way through yet. If it is… it is. Either way, God is already up and running with (a) and (b), so © gets thrown in there too if necessary.

d. And finally, there is sustaining natural law itself. Job and a few other places describe the necessity of God to keep all these natural machineries running. When God stops thinking about it … the Universe disappears.

So - - @swamidass - - now that I’ve separated myself from the “grip” of the DEISM moniker, is there anything else that might cause a problem?

Oooops… my apologies… you state above that my approach is not Deism. Good. Maybe my discussion above will help others.

But now you add a sentence I don’t understand!:

If God “engages” - - rather than intervenes - - it is to insert miracles in the middle of his natural laws. This is logically inevitable and inevitable.

So what “bad arguments” are left to consider?

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #7

I’m confused what your point is. I never said you took a deist point of view. Seemed like you took a reasonable position from the first post. What are you trying to convince me of?

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(George) #8

@swamidass

I’m trying to find out what “bad argument” do you think my assertions are bumping into?

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #9

I’m talking about the scientific arguments, not the theological arguments. I was not criticizing you. Just answering your question.

(George) #10

@swamidass

Well, I’m certainly not making a scientific argument here… I’m saying that theologically, I find it very difficult to defend the idea that God “just ignores” giant chunks of operation of natural law … because he’s busy doing something else.

I am saying, theologically, with a transcendant being who is outside of time and space, he is creating every detail from Creation to End of Days, all at once, happening simultaneously from his viewpoint…

and while he engages a giant chain of natural lawful events … he is allowing for his knowledge of free will decisions… and his own employment of supernatural actions!

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #11

I think you have a perfectly reasonable position. No argument from me.

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(Retired Professor & Minister.) #12

I’ve not been following this thread carefully—but I was wondering which scientists or theologians make such a claim that God “just ignores” and is busy doing something else? I’ve not come upon that position before.

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(George) #13

@AllenWitmerMiller

This is a theological (not a scientific) assertion:

Isn’t there a liberal theologian who wrote a book relatively recently about God “limiting his knowledge” so he can’t be blamed for bad things that happen?

And I’m also responding to the general idea that we sometimes here that God is “waiting for Evolution to produce a creation” that God can work with…

God isn’t waiting for anything. Which means, by deduction, that God is in charge of the mutations as well.

@swamidass, are you okay with God being in charge of the mutations too?

Ultimately, this is no more unreasonable than an Old Earther who proposes God makes each new species (as revealed by fossils) as a special creation… rather than evolving them through speciation!

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(Retired Professor & Minister.) #14

Wow. I guess I’ve really been out of it since retirement. The “‘waiting for evolution to produce a creation’ that God can work with” absolutely amazes me.

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(George) #15

I should point out that @jongarvey has even created a Sci Fi scenario along these lines … does God design all of human evolution … to get exactly what he wants?

My answer? Of course he does.

(George) #16

@AllenWitmerMiller

This idea erupted immediately when an atheist asked me how God would install a mutation?

I said, well, there are lots of ways, but designing creation so a cosmic ray hit a specific part of the DNA would certainly be one way.

Then I started getting hit with protests about God aiming a ray gun at hominid genitals … in order to get the next mutation…

(Retired Professor & Minister.) #17

As a Molinist, I have a similar reaction.

(I can’t help but wonder what percentage of Christians who are comfortable with evolutionary creationism are Molinist—and even got there through a Molinist route.)

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(Retired Professor & Minister.) #18

Weird. Considering the ubiquitous nature of cosmic radiation etc., expecting a silly “ray gun” is downright face-palm inducing.

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(George) #19

Frankly, I haven’t done any research on Molinism… @swamidass has mentioned it a few times.

What is the key aspect of Molinism that is at play here?

What is Molinism?
(George) #20

They were being figurative … to accentuate the oddness of my proposition.

But apparently, at BioLogos, I was the first one to actually specify a way for God to “guide” evolution:

“poof” a mutation by miraculously creating a cosmic hit on DNA… or

using natural law to design a chain of events that would send a cosmic ray…

(or any of the other energies known to corrupt DNA replication).