Monthly Archives: December 2016
In the batch of articles I’ve done on “chance” over the last month or so, my main target has been the only kind of “chance” that makes much sense in an atheistic framework, and that is what I have called “Epicurean chance”. The basic concept of this is that totally undirected events can lead to order that, otherwise, would demand the designing intention of a purposeful being. Epicureanism has been a philosophically dubious claim ever since Democritus suggested it four centuries before Christ.
Visitor Richard Wright was kind enough to interact with Eddie’s most recent post, and the comments of some there, in defence of his “autonomous nature” position, in which nature is “closed” not in the “democratic liberty” sense of Howard Van Till et al., but in the sense of being finely set up at the beginning so that its laws accomplish all that God desires from nature throughout time. His idea seems a lot closer to the old deterministic (semi)-deism than some, in that his view of nature appears relatively constrained by law and initial conditions rather than spontaneity blind chance, but he has promised to come back on some of … Continue reading
This is one of the common Christmas readings in carol services: Εν αρχή ην ο Λόγος, και ο Λόγος ην προς τον Θεόν, και Θεός ην ο Λόγος. Ούτος ην εν αρχή προς τον Θεόν. πάντα δι’ αυτού εγένετο, και χωρίς αυτού εγένετο ουδέ εν ό γέγονεν. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (Jn. 1.1-3)
In this thread at BioLogos, which I think was a spin-off from a remark of Eddie’s (but it was all so long ago) I spent some posts trying to field the difference between a theistic God, who is immanent in his world, and a “deistic” God (put in scare quotes to avoid pinning this view to all aspects of historical Deism) who sets the world up to run under its own steam. I didn’t really touch on the incoherence of the post-deist Evangelical attempt to have ones cakes and eat it by “allowing” God to answer prayer but not act within nature – as if the two are separable. Along … Continue reading
One of the most visually astonishing sequences in Attenborough’s Planet Earth II was one of a bird of paradise displaying. This is a common subject in Attenborough documentaries, and a particular interest of his. The sequence in question is not, apparently, on YouTube but this, from the original Planet Earth, will do the job for us here.
Rounding off (as far as I can tell today!) this loose series of posts denying that “God uses chance” in nature, I just want to look at one minor example to leave us asking questions, rather than presupposing the common scientific answers.
Does God Sustain the Universe by Batteries or Power Cords? Or Are Both Notions Shocking Misconceptions?
Over on BioLogos, Jon was kind enough to comment on a discussion I was having with GJDS and several others about Deism, God’s involvement in evolution, etc. He wrote: Eddie’s caution about the limitations of speaking of God’s “sustaining” everything in being is that we have all seen that word drained of its historical theological content (I suppose in a quasi-scientific way), so that it simply means God keeping objects in existence as they go about their business autonomously and he is passive.
This is by way of being a thought experiment, continuing the train of recent discussions about God and randomness. It may help clarify ones thinking, perhaps. It depends for its effect on an assumption I am making about most of my readers here, and that is that they agree with the proposition, “God sometimes heals people in response to prayer.” My apologies to Deists and Cessationists – my analogy works less well if it’s taken as totally unrealistic. All statistics and decriptions of research in what follows are imaginary and wildly inaccurate, and purely for illustrative purposes. By the way, what follows rides roughshod over the careful distinction I drew … Continue reading
Looking for an illustration for the last post, I stumbled across what is evidently a slide from some lecture on origins positions. My eye was drawn to just one of the bullet points, familiar, perhaps, from recent threads on BioLogos:
Someone at BioLogos dismissed my distinction between providence and miracles, by saying that there is “nature” and there are “miracles” and nothing else and it’s simple. There’s little point in replying there because, apart from a rather dense thread made contentious by the usual suspects, if he won’t even investigate the army of theologians and philsophers I cited for the last two thousand years on the doctrine of providence (the Fathers, the Scholastics, the Reformers, Wesley and even Arminius), he surely won’t pay any attention to me. To some ECs holding the “intellectual high ground” means one needn’t engage with not only ones opponents in ID or YEC, but ones … Continue reading