Why Wouldn't God be Free to Tweak a God-Ordained Process?

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #41

You don’t want to have another Theodicy debate?

(Guy Coe) #42

God’s compassion doesn’t need “defending,” so, no thanks.

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #43

It is like defending apathy, impotence, or absence. Real compassion is from person to person.

(George) #44


I like that imagery… in fact, I like that imagery so much, I thought I should go find you a “simulation” of what God looks like. Perhaps you have already encountered this… I was endless fascinated by it!

The image the video defaults to (I hope) is a sky-blue tangle of energies (or something):


(Guy Coe) #45

God is a Person, Patrick. That’s how you became one, too. You were “created in God’s image.”
Thanks, @gbrooks9 ! Enjoyable.

(Jon Garvey) #46

You mean like breaking the speed limit??:grin:

More seriously, my impression is that here, there is probably a consensus that at least some of biology exceeds the powers of laws of nature. But then, that’s to a large extent why this is Peaceful Science, rather than anything else.

I was going to leave it at that, but will go on a bit: my experience is that a common position is to grant (from Evangelical theology) that God could act beyond the laws. But there’s often an unspoken caveat that he likely didn’t, based, I think, on those mechanistic arguments about having to adjust his own watch when he could have designed it better, etc. And sometimes (predominantly a few years ago at BioLogos) that it would interfere with nature’s freedom for God to “interfere” with it.

So I would distinguish those who say that a Theistic God (especially the God of the Bible) is, axiomatically, likely to be personally involved in evolution, from those who say (using a double negative!) that it’s not impossible that God may have tweaked things at one or two key points like the origin of life, or the origin of mind.

(Jon Garvey) #47

No dig at you, Guy - simply a general observation that we bring prior commitments to the table - in my case including theological convictions. I assume that Ann, as a Catholic, does the same - in fact, she’s said as much.

Interesting to wonder what tradition prompted Collins’ sentence (which, AFAIK, he hasn’t retracted). It seems to me he’s prioritising that Enlightenment belief in the sufficiency of physical laws - as you rightly say, demolished by quantum theory. But biologists don’t usually do quantum theory, do they?

Early Christian scientists like Boyle and Newton explored lawful activities as science, but accepted providential acts outside that. The change to “inviolable laws” came from the ascendancy of Deism - the God of Reason does not dirty his hands with matter, but creates a perfect machine.

But how does that get grafted on to Evangelical theology? Can’t answer for Collins, but in Polkinghorne’s case, and others, it’s by translating the prior assumption that the laws are inviolable (as part of received science) into an ethical demand on God - it wouldn’t be loving to act in evolution.

(Jon Garvey) #48

To be fair to Lamoureux (agreeing with Gauger in this) I don’t think he’s claiming that the conclusions of scientists that the world reflects God’s glory are science, but philosophical or theological reflection upon it (to use Josh’s ideas). But I do feel his thinking is woolly enough, perhaps, to be unaware where the boundaries are said to lie - a serious oversight when your opponent is ID, and you’re criticizing what it includes in science.

For myself, my position rests on recognising the false distinction between “science” as an abstract and neutral “thing”, and “human thought and emotion.” The distinction is more than fuzzy, not only because all scientists are actually human beings, and therefore all science is a human artifact, but also because science simply is human thought (about nature), and (as I’ve discussed elsewhere) “beauty” too is an integral component of science, summed up in Paul Dirac’s notable quote: “It is more important to have beauty in one’s equation than to have them fit experiment”.

One may disagree with Dirac, but one can’t deny that he was a scientist - and a theologically particulary hardheaded one - and that he was claiming to make a statement about science.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #49

2 posts were split to a new topic: God is Square Root of -1

(Guy Coe) #50

Wouldn’t you agree that simply randomly throwing a monkey wrench into the everyday processes described here would almost invariably result in loss of function, but that doing so strategically and intelligently has the potential to create whole new functions?

(George) #51


I would definitely agree with that statement.

“God’s Guidance” - - God’s explicit, precise and detailed Guidance - - seems unavoidable, based on how God is described in the Bible.

Having God wait around until a “workable result” is derived from randomized processes doesn’t
sound like the divine being presented to us in the Bible.

(Jon Garvey) #52

George, the important word in your sentence is “randomized” - if God alone is in the beginning, in order for there to be a random process, he would have to create one purposefully (ie “randomize” it, just as you say).

That makes the creative process something like this:

  1. Purposefully design a randomized process.
  2. Let it work purposelessly for a long time, in the hope that…
  3. It produces randomly what you always purposed should happen, only by accident rather than design.
    (Optional #4 is that you Purposefully design your purposeless process so that it purposefully fulfils your designed purposes purposelessly. Damned clever, these Chinese…)

Not only does that not resemble the God of the Bible, but it does resemble the God of the mental hospital.

(Guy Coe) #53

Glad you are both in agreement! : )

(system) #54

(George) #55


Im surprised that this thread was missed by me for so long.

I should point out that my position is that nothing is random to God (but may appear so to human intellect).

And that to assert human free will would virtually always require God’s engagement in His universe in both naturally lawful and supernaturally non-lawful ways.

The term “tweaking” is frequently used as part of this process with the unfortunate implication that God is changing his mind about something.

But these so-called tweaks are not about a changing mind - - but about making real time adjustments in response to humans making free will choices.

Which compels us to accept 2 general conclusions:

A] God, per Molinism, can anticipate every future decision of humans, but that doesnt mean there will always be a natural/lawful way for God to keep his plan on target (regardless of human free decsisions). The analogy for this would be found in golf where some putts on the green are simply not possible “holes-in-one” because of the finite options available to the golfer.
Example: Aim the putt a millimeter to the left, and the ball will enter a slope that speeds the ball away from the hole. Aim the putt a millimeter to the right, and the ball must be moving no faster than “X feet per second”, or it will pass too far to the right; but unfortunately for the golfer, there is a dip in the path that requires the ball’s speed to be faster than “X feet per second” to get out of the dip to the other side. AKA: it’s an impossible shot.

B] A person might imagine God performing poof-style miracles for the sheer creativity of the process(“poof” as in puffs of smoke… denoting miraculous events!).

But at the very least, such operations are necessary if only to re-set the original lawful/natural circumstances to conform to God’s master plan - - which was temporarily deformed by the free will behavior of one or more human choice. Naturally, this isn’t a relevant concern until there are living things engaged in free will choices!

(Guy Coe) #56

It is as if some want to deny of God the very quality they prize in their sacrosanct view of every “randomly evolved” organism --adaptability. Can’t outsmart an adaptable God.

(Jon Garvey) #57

I pretty much agree with the sentiment here, George (my vocabulary would be different).

God’s flawless anticipation can do without Molinism, of course, but that’s detail.

I’d just add that, as well as “needing” to make mid-course corrections, as it were, and as well as delighting to be original, we should factor in that - as we learn from Christ on earth - God wants to interact with his creatures, non-human as well as human, in accordance with their capacities. They work in “real time”, and he condescends to do so too, even though eternal.

I can’t see why that kind of thinking isn’t obvious to anyone accepting Christianity - but maybe as Gut comments it’s an absurd desire to keep the fiction of “true randomness” intact, but as you rightly say, “nothing is random to God.”


Why isn’t mutation, selection, neutral drift, speciation, and the other mechanisms within the theory of evolution a set of valid explanations?

(Guy Coe) #59

I honestly think that’s part and parcel of people wanting to make God either entirely predictable, or somehow deficient. Anything but a truly original and creative Person (or Tri-Unity of Persons). It is good that people reject the deficient views of God, but tragic when they’re unwilling to explore the One revealed in Scripture.
I’ll try to live up to being “Gut,” @jongarvey !

(Guy Coe) #60

It doesn’t explain how those processes arose, it just notes their concerted effect. To quote Alice, things just get “curiouser and curiouser.”