Divine Action

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    Clayton, Philip

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    The Impossible Possibility: Divine Causes in the World of Nature

    "Physical science, it appears, leaves no place for divine action. Modern science presupposes that the universe is a closed physical system, that interactions are regular and lawlike, that all causal histories can be traced, and that anomalies will ultimately have physical explanations. But traditional assertions of God acting in the world conflict with all four of these conditions: they presuppose that the universe is open, that God acts from time to time according to his purposes, that the ultimate source and explanation of these actions is the divine will, and that no earthly account would ever suffice to explain God’s intentions...The problem of divine agency therefore stands on center court for theists today."
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    Clayton, Philip

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    Can Liberals Still Believe that God (Literally) Does Anything?

    "The notion of divine action is central to the Christian tradition. The God of the Bible is continually involved in direct actions at specific times and places within the world. The Israelite prophets attest to their role by miraculous acts; Moses wins freedom for the people of Israel through the ten plagues; and Yahweh shows his superiority to the gods of the peoples by manifesting greater power than they are able to muster. In his excellent book-length study, The God of the Prophets, William Paul Griffin demonstrates how fundamental is the image of God as an acting agent in the Hebrew scriptures. Fundamentally, God is 'a thinking, valuing being who acts in ways which affect the physical and mental well-being of others,' as well as being 'the recipient of mental and physical activities by others.'"
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    Craven, Bruce

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    Are God's Actions Hidden in Chaos?

    "Many physical systems are extremely sensitive to initial conditions, so that a small unobserved input can produce large consequences later, and moreoever can behave in a seemingly random way. Perhaps God intervenes in His creation by such small inputs, without violating the regularities that we call physical laws. The world may be less deterministic, and more open to the future, than many suppose."
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    Harris, Lyndon F.

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    Divine Action: An Interview with John Polkinghorne

    "Recently, the New York Times reported that 40 percent of American scientists believe in a personal God to whom they pray. A British scientist of similar belief is John Polkinghorne...[I]n 1979, Polkinghorne made a significant career change. Giving up a lucrative teaching appointment, he again became a student, applying himself to the study of theology. Having published numerous books and articles in the fields of science and theology, Polkinghorne has emerged as one of the world's leading thinkers attempting to correlate the conundrums of quantum physics with the mysteries of the Christian faith."
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    Jackelén, Antje

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    Divine Action

    "Is divine action the most pressing issue in religion-and-science dialogue today? I do not think so. But it certainly is an issue that lurks behind many of the topics discussed in the dialogue between faith, theology and science...[I]f we cannot in any reasonable way conceive of God’s action in the world, then all our efforts to understand evolution and creation as well as brain research and religious experience in a comprehensive way are futile. Indeed, in that sense the question of divine action sort of belongs to what we theologians usually call the Prolegomena - the things you need to deal with before you get to the real stuff."
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    Lameter, Christoph

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    Divine Action in the Context of Modern Scientific Thinking

    "...Quantum Causation is an important link to science that has been neglected by theologians due to the fear of proposing another God of the gaps. What is not seen is that these gaps are widely accepted as ontological even by scientists. Investigation of issues in Quantum Causation needs to be pushed forward and might result in a new way of integrating science and theology. It has the potentiality of overcoming the old enmity between both fields and lead to fruitful cooperation between those fields. Quantum Causation is also very useful as a tool for the building of a bridge from the popular faith in science to faith in God. It would allow us to overcome the two language or complementary language symptom that has been hampering theology for so long. It would overcome the otherworldliness by allowing the expressing of faith in terms of current ways of thinking available in science."
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    Lameter, Christoph

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    Yes, God Can

    "An investigation of the discussion published in Zygon on divine action. The characterization of quantum mechanics as deterministic, the view of the nature of measurement and of Bohm’s interpretation of quantum theory is evaluated and compared with recognized authorities on quantum mechanics. A simple theory of divine action based on quantum collapse is proposed and found to be in harmony with the concepts of quantum mechanics. The observation is made that there is a tendency to avoid the consideration of the indeterministic nature in quantum mechanics, and to actually argue for a deterministic nature of quantum mechanics despite a consensus in physics that quantum mechanics is indeterministic."
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    Lameter, Christoph

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    "Introduction" to Divine Action in the Framework of Scientific Thinking: From Quantum Theory to Divine Action

    "Divine action in the context of scientific knowledge is a proposal to establish a link between theology and science—not in the classic sense of a natural theology, which would be an argument for the existence or characteristics of God from nature—but as a theology of nature, 'a way in which the God in whom we believe on other grounds might be conceived to act in ways consistent with scientific theories.' The aim of this text is to justify belief in a God who can act in the world considering the scientific framework of quantum mechanics. Why quantum mechanics? It is the current theory used by scientists to describe the nature of the matter out of which our universe is composed. A theory of divine action compatible with contemporary physics is a fundamental requirement for a credible consideration of how God could act in the framework of our contemporary worldview."
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    Lameter, Christoph

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    Cosmology in “On the Moral Nature of the Universe” by Murphy and Ellis.

    "Divine action is one of the key elements of a Christian theology and the integration of concepts of divine action with knowledge about the basics of how matter behaves -- such as quantum mechanics -- and with what we know about the history of the universe is of key importance to the credibility of religious experience and practice today. The concept of divine action inevitably shapes our theology of God. God will only be a caring and loving God if he can 'intervene', act in the world and make a difference."
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    Peacocke, Arthur

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    Emergence, Mind, and Divine Action: The Heirarchy of the Sciences in Relation to the Human Body-Brain-Mind

    "The hierarchy of complexity (both synchronic and diachronic) observed by the sciences in the natural world will be interpreted in terms of an 'emergentist monism' which is non-reductive; which attributes an influence of the properties and states of higher levels upon their components; and which, because of such a 'causal' relation, justifies the attribution of reality to higher-level properties and states. It will be proposed that such a metaphysic also applies to the body-brain-mind-society complex of the human person and so warrants the the putative reality of reference of mental (and indeed spiritual) terms when applied to human persons -- as well as providing valuable clues to the nature of divine action."
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    Pittard, John

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    Divine Action and the Imago Dei: Coordinating Doctrine and Contemporary Science

    "In this paper, I will explore whether a theologically sound theory of divine action can be articulated that does justice to the biblical witness, respects the integrity of science and evolutionary theory, and allows for a 'thick' view of the imago Dei. In light of these criteria (which I explain and defend below), I will evaluate the three basic approaches to divine action: uniformitarian views that deny the reality of 'objectively special divine action,' interventionist views that affirm objectively special divine action as God’s action from outside the system of natural laws and processes, and non-interventionist views that affirm objectively special divine action while insisting that God only works within the system of natural laws and processes."
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    Polkinghorne, John

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    God in Relation to Nature

    "Whatever it may mean to say that God is personal, such language must surely imply that God is active, doing particular things on particular occasions and not just functioning as an unchanging effect like the law of gravity. In recent years, the intellectual conversation between science and theology has moved on from natural theology's appeal to God as the ground of order and fruitfulness, to a more central theistic concern with the God of providence. On the one hand, we have science's account of the regularity of the processes of nature. On the other hand, we have Christian theology's claim to speak of the God who acts in history. Can the two be reconciled with each other? Achieving this end may require some flexibility from both science and theology in their assessments of the understandings that they bring to the dialogue."
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    Polkinghorne, John

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    Natural science, temporality, and divine action

    "The purpose of this essay is to illustrate this process by considering metascientific and metaphysical ideas about temporality and their bearing on theological concepts of God's relation to time and on understandings of divine action. In regard to this last subject, it is God's particular action within the process of creation (what is often called special providence) that will be the focus of our attention, rather than simply the general divine sustaining of the world in its orderly being (general providence)."
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    Rüst, Peter

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    Dimensions of the Human Being and of Divine Action

    "Humans are three-dimensional, body-soul-spirit entities, but nevertheless unitary, indivisible persons. Animal behavior includes deterministic and random constituents. It may be modeled in terms of information systems, containing regulatory loops. Goal settings for these may be fixed, as in 'lower' animals, or governed by internal adaptive supervisory systems freely selecting from alternative routines, as in conscious 'higher' or 'soulish' animals. A metasupervisor in humans provides self-consciousness, free will, conscience and spiritual behavior. As with space, each further dimension includes the previous one, but cannot emerge from it or be reduced to it."
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    Smedes, Taede A.

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    A Review of Divine Action & Modern Science by Nicholas Saunders

    "Many different publications on the relationship between divine action and modern science have recently appeared. Nicholas Saunders, in his latest book titled Divine Action & Modern Science, has done an admirable job in assessing recent scholarship. Because of being densely written, it does not make for great bed-time reading. In spite of some considerable deciencies, this book provides a detailed map of the diverse landscape of the contemporary discussions concerning divine action and a scientic worldview."
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    Worthing, Mark W.

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    Divine Action and the Problem of Miracles

    "Science, by virtue of its fundamental assumptions, has no formal place for the category of miracle. For the Christian, this may initially sound problematic. But it need not be. By traditional definition (and we will come back to this) a miracle is something that cannot be explained by any known or suspected physical laws or processes. In the face of a genuine miracle the most science can do is say that we do not understand how a certain event or phe nomenon is possible. Science is not even in a position to verify a possible miracle because we can never exclude the possibility that a physiological explanation might someday be available. For this reason, the category of miracle is not scientifically meaningful. This does not, however, mean that the category of miracle is meaningless."