Category Archives: Philosophy

Metaphysics, creatio continua, etc, again

I’ve just come across an interesting new version of the metaphysical position on divine action called occasionalism, that has been termed “Divine Compositionalism” by its proposers, philosopher Walter J Schultz and biologist Lisanne Winslow, both of Northeastern University. It seems to me to have a number of strengths. For background, check out my 2014 piece on the three main metaphysical contenders in Christianity for understanding divine action. In the end, exactly how God acts is beyond our ken, but how we conceive things makes a great deal of difference to how we understand the world.

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Why robot?

Deistic and semi-deistic accounts of God’s creation of the natural world still appear to have much appeal for “sciency” types nowadays, and especially for Evolutionary Creationists. Even in “moderate” minds, which judge God capable of determining, or at least foreseeing, the outcomes of evolution in particular and world events in general, there appears the need to retain an unbroken lawlike chain of material causes. In other words, science must be able to give a more or less complete account of God’s works, at least in the “natural creation”. For God to “interfere” with that chain must be considered at best rare, but in reality a rather distasteful concept altogether.

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Spot the difference

I’ve been interested to see discussions from time to time about what it is that causes the Intelligent Design pioneer Michael Behe to be excluded from the “broad church” of theistic evolution by those within the “Guild”. It’s not just that he happens to be in a different denomination, but that he attracts regular opprobium, even scorn, for his ideas, and particularly for irreducible complexity.

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C S Lewis on current theistic evolution controversies

The excellent Preston Garrison, apart from alerting me to the review of a new book on Babylonian science that led me to a whole series of posts on the ANE and Hebrew pictures of the world, recommended an old and little-read book by C S Lewis. Studies in Words, published in 1960 just three years before his death, is a philology text for students, so not the most obviously relevant book for thinking about either “biblical science” or modern science. But it actually has some useful light to cast on both.

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The world before the world

Preston Garrison recently sent me (courtesy of Ted Davis) an interesting review (limited access – sorry) for a forthcoming academic tome on Babylonian science, knowing I’d be interested both because of my musings on what science is, and what it isn’t, and also because it has implications for interpreting the early chapters of Genesis. I’m tempted to buy it when it comes out, despite the price and having to learn cuneiform(!), but meanwhile some thoughts.

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The nerve of some people

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

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Three different ways to skin a cat

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.

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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.

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More on the “God uses chance” fallacy

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

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Yet more on randomness and divine purpose

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:

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