Characters of the Wild Web Number 9: Who is he (she?) and what direction did the shot come from? Where’s lawman Larry when you need him?
Somebody has taken a pot shot at my last post, presumably a Wild Web Winchester Wielding sniper (see above). Here’s the comment followed by my reply.
Well it could be worse, we could be dealing with Pandeism, which proposes a God that is a quite logical and scientific entity which engineered a Universe that is truly random, and lacking in any of that unacceptable tinkering....
2:12 PM, May 07, 2009
Thanks very much for an intelligent comment!
Hhmmm… whom have I got here? An atheist who doesn’t like any form of theism or a theist who is not keen on my brand of theism? Probably the latter as my commenter seems to regard Pandeism as even worse than my own theological ramblings; for Pandeism is likely to be slightly more acceptable to an atheist than my own views. Moreover, that sardonic use of “truly random” and “unacceptable tinkering”, could be a sign that I have here an ID supporter; perhaps even an evangelical ID supporter?
Why not declare yourself? I won’t bite. I have plenty of time for ID supporters, because who knows, those one-off “unacceptable tinkerings” may well pop up here and there in the history of the cosmos and supplement the more “acceptable” and epistemologically tractable “tinkerings” of “law and disorder”. Perhaps ID supporters can teach us a thing or two on this score? I know I’m playing a dangerous game here with people like lawman Larry around; he might accuse me of conspiring with those who subvert scientific law and disorder.
But I just don’t take a hard line on such matters. After all, as far as humanity is concerned all those “tinkerings”, whether law and disorder or other, in the final analysis present themselves as patterns, and that really also includes “randomness”; although I much prefer the term “disorder” to “randomness” because it emphasizes “pattern” rather than “process” or “dynamic”. "Process" and "dynamic" are terms that are more likely to get loaded with emotive and metaphysical associations to do with a preconceived primary ontology. Hence we hear expressions like “truly random” – what’s the difference between “random” and “truly random”? The difference is, of course, that the word "truly" signals a difference in an ulterior weltanschauung and beliefs about just what is the primary engine creating (and destroying) the patterns of our cosmos.
As for the nature of God and how he relates to the cosmos: Yes I’m sure like everyone else I’m pretty much groping on this matter and like the rest of humanity bound not to get it quite right. Although I do have some sympathy with the Pandeist efforts to grapple with God, with them the divine personal element largely seems to be missing as you may agree.*
I remember reading an article in an evangelical publication entitled “Heresies Ancient and Modern”. What interested me was that amongst some of the more gross heresies it listed many were actually quite subtle differences from the authors own views on the Trinitarian Godhead,derived from his particular interpretation of Scripture. I was left wondering why he could be so hard on quite subtle departures from his own opinion given the Grace of God and human epistemological difficulties.
As I have said what seems to be missing from much Pandeism is the personal element, and, I would add, that it is also missing even from some forms of evangelicalism. For if God exists and we succeed in making that “Abba Father” (Roms 8:15) connection with Him, then why all the fuss about our approximate and sometimes downright erroneous renditions of the nature of God and how He relates to the cosmos? Isn’t God Gracious? When I was young my connection with my mother was such that I might have thought of her as literally being made of sugar – clearly an erroneous idea, but it didn’t stop her from mothering me, or me using that metaphor to validly convey something about our relationship. No doubt other children would have poured scorn on the idea, especially those who were of the opinion their mothers were made of cotton wool.
We’ve just got to give people the security of allowing them to take risks and allowing them to be wrong and mistaken when working in such difficult and speculative areas. We must get away from some of these high passion and ill tempered debates that are doing a disservice to a perennially difficult subject, a subject that calls for some delicate and risky maneuvering.
I hope to shortly continue my Darwin Bicentenary series by continuing to look at William Dembski’s “active information”.
* Footnote 9/5/9
What I should have made clear is that I make a sharp distinction between Aseity (=God) and the contingent cosmos Aseity creates, sustains and destroys (effectively a distinction between necessity and possibility). I am inclined to eschew supernatural vs. natural dualisms that implicitly posit a three tier system consisting of God, the supernatural world and the natural world, with man a hybrid of the latter. This three tier system is often the de facto scheme found amongst evangelicals and it has some resemblances with preliterate religion (see http://viewsnewsandpews.blogspot.com/2009/01/why-dualism.html) However, the last thing I would want to do is to try and bully people into my own point of view by suggesting that they must be evil and malign idiots simply because they don’t follow my own opinions in this very speculative area of study. It is quite possible that the pandiests are working their way toward God (see . http://quantumnonlinearity.blogspot.com/2007_02_01_archive.html)