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God's Will And His Putative Perfection

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Posted by Paul R. Martin on January 31, 2002 18:03:29 UTC

Hi Harv,

***You sound like you are quoting a process theologian directly out of one of their books.***

Interesting. I didn't know any of those ideas were written in books. I'm glad to hear that some theologians are thinking along those lines.

***I don't buy into this notion only because in my view the universe conforms to God's will. Anything that doesn't conform is merely an anomaly that will eventually be corrected.***

Those seem to be contradictory positions. If the universe conformed to God's will, then there would be nothing which didn't, thus no anomolies. The fact that non-conformance exists at all, whether or not it is eventually "corrected", implies that God's will must not be perfect or all-powerful.

***That is, something can be wrong but ultimately it is allowed because it is currently within the boundary conditions of God's will. In your view I get the idea that stuff happens which is certainly outside God's boundary conditions but God is limited in preventing it. This would be far outside my view.***

Our views don't seem that far apart to me. It seems to me that we both acknowledge that the universe unfolds in a way that is, at least temporarily, outside the boundary of God's will. The only difference in our views must be the reasons for that.

In my view, it is because it is beyond God's control. Either due to insufficient control or an imperfect prediction of the outcome, or a combination of both. All of these are limitations.

In your view, you say "it is allowed because it is currently within the boundary conditions of God's will". That says that God's will does not extend down to the level of detail inside that boundary. It's like he doesn't care what happens inside the boundary as long as things work out in the bigger picture. It would seem to me that such indifference would represent either malevolence or something less than omniscience. Either of these, I would think, would severely tarnish his reputation for perfection.

***My only rough spot with this idea is that God is already working at the quantum level in your view. It seems to me that our knowledge actually increases the more detail we know.***

To try to help you over this rough spot, indulge me in one more anthropomorphic analogy. Since I claim that God is a learning, experimenting, growing, and developing entity, we can compare the development of the universe with the human development of, say, airplanes.

Airplanes were not developed by first having someone like Leonardo work out all the details, draw up the plans, manufacture and assemble all the parts of a 747 from those plans, and then fly the plane for the first time.

Instead, different approaches were tried with varying degrees of success and failure. There was a mix of theoretical development and experimentation with real machines. Success could probably not have been achieved without the contributions of both the scientists and the tinkerers.

The fossil record of the evolution of life shows exactly that same pattern. And I imagine that the information concerning how to construct and operate a successful organism evolved from two analogous sources.

At the "tinkerer" level, we had the behavior of organic molecules over the eons strictly following the laws of physics (Alex gives all the credit to this process, as you well know).

But, concurrently, analogous to the "scientist" or "engineering" level, God responded to the unexpected successes and failures by tweaking certain quantum behavior in the process. This was the only open avenue because breaking the laws of physics would have destroyed the whole thing.

So I think you are right: Both our knowledge of how to build airplanes, and God's knowledge of how to create and sustain life, actually increased with the more detail that we knew. In both cases, those details came from the results of a trial-and-error process.

Warm regards,


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