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Friday, September 29, 2006

Does anything ever happen by chance? Nancey Murphy

A long time ago now, Julana commented on one of my posts, asking if anything ever really happened by chance. That is a deeply profound question. One reason it is so profound is because it can be re-phrased as "How does God act? Does He control everything?"

Nancey Murphy has answered the last part of the previous question, as follows:

To say that each sub-atomic event is solely an act of God would be a version of occasionalism, with all the attendant theological difficulties mentioned above: it exacerbates the problem of evil; it also comes close to pantheism, and conflicts with what I take to be an important aspect of the doctrine of creation -- that what God creates has a measure of independent existence relative to God, notwithstanding the fact that God keeps all things in existence. To put the point another way, if God were completely in control of each event, there would be no-thing for God to keep in existence. To create something, even so lowly a thing as an electron, is to grant it some measure of independence and a nature of its own, including inherent powers to do some things rather than others. "Divine Action in the Natural Order: Buridan's Ass and Schrödinger's Cat," pp. 325 - 357 in Chaos and Complexity: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action, edited by Robert John Russell, Nancey Murphy and Arthur R. Peacocke. Vatican City State: Vatican Observatory Publications, 1997. Quote is from pp. 340-41. (The hyphen in "nothing" was in the original, as was the emphasis on that word.)

Wow! Electrons with independence?

Thanks, Julana. To see my last post on this subject, go here.

Thanks, readers. I expect to post more on Murphy's view of these matters later.

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