• Process Theism and Open Theism and worship-worthiness of God

    Some theists state that god does not have the full gamut of traditional omnis, that he does not know the future of freely-made decisions since to know the counterfactuals of such decisions implies that they are deterministically defined (or some such similar reason). God, on some understandings of theism, which are used to get the theist out of certain binds (such as the Problem of Evil) leave this version of God being somewhat less than optimal.

    As the IEP entry on the Evidential Problem of Evil states:

    For example, would someone who is not wholly good and capable of evil be fit to be the object of our worship, total devotion and unconditional commitment? Similarly, why place complete trust in a God who is not all-powerful and hence not in full control of the world? (To be sure, even orthodox theists will place limits on God’s power, and such limits on divine power may go some way towards explaining the presence of evil in the world. But if God’s power, or lack thereof, is offered as the solution to the problem of evil – so that the reason why God allows evil is because he doesn’t have the power to prevent it from coming into being – then we are faced with a highly impotent God who, insofar as he is aware of the limitations in his power, may be considered reckless for proceeding with creation.)

    But to do so surely invalidates God’s godlike qualities so that God is definitely less than, well, a god should be, no? The key is that if God has no control over the future of the world through fundamental lack of knowledge, then why should we trust and worship him? Why should we have any trust or faith in prayer or any idea that God will eventualise something good for us or the world? Surely we are leaving things to blind chance?

    Essentially, these kinds of theologies present more problems than they answer. Neat for getting theists off certain hooks, not so neat for devoting one’s life to in any kind of practical sense.

    Category: God's CharacteristicsProblem of EvilTheology

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    Article by: Jonathan MS Pearce

    • Tim Martin

      “why place complete trust in a God who is not all-powerful and hence not in full control of the world?”

      I place trust in whoever is the real God whether He is in full control of the world or not. It is a bit like one group saying – Abraham Lincoln was 7 feet tall and another group saying Abraham Lincoln was 6 ft 4″ tall. Is the first group right because they have a taller Araham Lincoln? No! The real question is – what was the reality of the situation. How tall was he really? Saying my conception of God is bigger than the Open Theists – therefore I must be right – is something of the same order of confusion. What matters is – what is the nature of God in reality.

      By the way, what is more impressive? To control something absolutely like a puppet or to be wise enough to counter any move the other party makes to make sure you get the result you want in the end? Hence, I dispute the conception of God you are outlining makes for a ‘bigger God’. But again, that is irrelevant. What matters is – what is the nature of God in reality? You can only establish that from scripture….not from a ‘my God is bigger than your God’ argument.

      You are also assuming that Open Theism was created to ‘deal with the problem of evil’. Reading Open Theist literature shows that it was created because, primarily the adherents believe that it more closely matches scripture. Sure it explains the problem of evil in a better way …..but that is a result of being closer to scripture not a cause of why ‘Open Theism’ was created.

      • On the creation of Open Theism, which developed out of Process Theism, the SEP states: “Hartshorne sees process theism as providing the needed coherence (cf. Dombrowski 2005 and Viney 2007a).”

        In other words, aspects of classical theism were incoherent which necessitated its inception.

        As wiki states:

        “Open Theism is a theological movement that has developed within evangelical and post-evangelical Protestant Christianity as a response to certain ideas that are related to the synthesis ofGreek philosophy and Christian theology. In a word, open theism is the view that since the fact of human freedom means that the future is partly a realm of possibilities, and God’s sovereignty means the future is partly a realm of determined facts, God (because His knowledge is perfect) knows the possibilities as possibilities and the determined facts as determined facts. While several versions of traditional classical theism could model the future as a single linear necessity, open theism would do so as a realm of branching possibilities.[1][2] Thus, the model characterizes the future as open. For several versions of classical theism, God fully determines the future; thus, humanity does not have libertarian free will. Other versions of classical theism hold that even though humans are free (in the libertarian sense), God’s omniscience necessitates God foreknowing what free choices are made. Open theists hold that such versions of classical theism are out of sync with (1) the biblical concept of God, (2) the biblical understanding of human freedom, and/or (3) result in incoherence.”

      • You also have two sides to the ontological dilemma here.
        1) this points out that the ontological argument is indeed subjective and invalid, since great-making properties can be argued and are ill-defined and subjective
        or
        2) the open theistic (OT) God is not he greatest God conceivable

        It is not just bigger is better, but a case of perfect being theology.

        • Tim Martin

          Wikipedia definitions aren’t definitive expressions of a movement. In books by Open Theists – it is clear that they believe that they think their position is based on a clearer understanding of scripture.

          re. perfect being theology – as I said – I dispute that the classical theologians description of God is ‘more perfect’ (yes, I realise that is a strange statement). I think a God who is able to react ‘in time’ and change His emotions to reflect current realities correspond to greater perfection. Now again, none of this is relevant unless it confirms to scripture – and I believe that Open Theism does just that.

          Thanks

          Tim

        • Gary H

          The God of Open Theism is the greatest God conceivable, without entering the realm of the absurd.

          • Geoff Benson

            Or perhaps any definition of God is absurd.

            • Gary H

              So what do you replace God with? A material universe that explodes itself into existence out of nothing and then orders itself into everything that exists, including replicated life forms, and all things non-physical — logic, emotion, ideas, dreams, etc.

              If I did not want to acknowledge God I would probably call him absurd too. But Geoff, ignoring reality does not make it go away.

            • Andy_Schueler

              A material universe that explodes itself into existence out of nothing [1] and then orders itself into everything that exists, including replicated life forms, and all things non-physical — logic, emotion, ideas, dreams, etc.[2]

              1. How do you know that there once was “nothing” or that “nothing” could even possibly exist? (if you think that Big Bang cosmology entails this, you are wrong – it doesn´t entail this at all)
              2. The order that we can observe in living things has evidently nothing to do with any hypothetical “God” – you can plant a seed and watch it grow into a tree, a massive increase in order (or rather massive decrease in local entropy) without the help of any gods, angels, fairies or what have you, and there is precisely zero evidence that it was ever any different.

              If I did not want to acknowledge God I would probably call him absurd too.

              Do you realize how condescending this sounds?

            • Gary H

              The physical universe itself tells me that it could not have existed forever (the law of entropy) and it could not have made itself (conservation of energy and matter). The only other option is that something outside the universe made it, and that something is the God of the Bible. I am living because He lives. I am personal because He is a person. I yearn for relationships because the triune God is eternally relational. I recognize good (and when I do evil) because He is good. I desire to love and be loved because He is the God of Love.

            • There is loads of cutting edge science going on which you might find interesting, from loop quantum cosmology to M-theories etc.

              One such alternate theory is known as the Big Bounce Theory such that the Big Bang was simply the beginning of a period of expansion that followed a period of contraction. There are several manners[i] in which it has been suggested that this works. To me, the most intriguing theory is known as Loop Quantum Gravity[ii] (LQG) which does not necessitate an initial singularity. The field of LQG[iii] is very active and in its early stages, but it is defined by some of the most cutting edge physics taking place in the world. For example, Yongge Ma in his paper “The Cyclic Universe Driven by Loop Quantum Cosmology” in the Journal of Cosmology concludes, “It turns out that the classical big bang singularity will get replaced by a quantum bounce in all scenarios.”

              String theory (or variously superstring theory and M-theory) is another theory of gravity which attempts to be a theory of everything such that it marries the problematic pair of theories of general relativity and quantum mechanics. It claims that elementary particle such as electrons and quarks are not 0-dinensional but are 1-dimensional oscillating strings. There are also entities called branes (membranes), hence the name M-theory, and various numbers of extra-dimensions (M-theory requires 11 dimensions).

              Then there is Steinhardt and Turok’s “Endless Universe” theory, as well as Roger Penrose’s “Cycles of Time”. Indeed. Alireza Sepehri stated in his 2015 paper[iv]:

              Recently, some authors removed the big-bang singularity and predicted an infinite age of our universe. In this paper, we show that the same result can be obtained in string theory and M-theory;

              As reported earlier this year (2015)[v]:

              The universe may have existed forever, according to a new model that applies quantum correction terms to complement Einstein’s theory of general relativity. The model may also account for dark matter and dark energy, resolving multiple problems at once….

              The physicists emphasize that their quantum correction terms are not applied ad hoc in an attempt to specifically eliminate the Big
              Bang singularity. Their work is based on ideas by the theoretical physicist David Bohm, who is also known for his contributions to the philosophy of physics. Starting in the 1950s, Bohm explored replacing classical geodesics (the shortest path between two points on a curved surface) with quantum trajectories.

              In their paper, Ali and Das applied these Bohmian trajectories to an equation developed in the 1950s by physicist Amal Kumar Raychaudhuri at Presidency University in Kolkata, India. Raychaudhuri was also Das’s teacher when he was an undergraduate student of that institution in the ’90s.

              Using the quantum-corrected Raychaudhuri equation, Ali and Das derived quantum-corrected Friedmann equations, which describe the expansion and evolution of universe (including the Big Bang) within the context of general relativity. Although it’s not a true theory of quantum gravity, the model does contain elements from both quantum theory and general relativity. Ali and Das also expect their results to hold even if and when a full theory of quantum gravity is formulated….

              In a related paper, Das and another collaborator, Rajat Bhaduri of McMaster University, Canada, have lent further credence to this model.

              [i] Theories include ones proposed by Peter Lynds, the Baum–Frampton model, the Steinhardt–Turok ekpyrotic model and the Einstein-Cartan-Sciama-Kibble theory of gravity.

              [ii] Which itself can be split into the canonical loop quantum gravity as well as the newer covariant quantum gravity.

              [iii] See the Loop Qauntum Gravity section in the SEP entry on Quantum Gravity at http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/quantum-gravity/#3.2

              [iv] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S037026931500527426/11/15

              [v] Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-02-big-quantum-equation-universe.html#jCp

            • Andy_Schueler

              Wow, I really need to read up on that issue – it seems as if a lot happened since I last checked (that was back when WLC falsely claimed that the issue was scientifically settled by referring to this paper: http://arxiv.org/abs/1204.4658 )

            • I’ve just briefly looked into it again in resurrecting my book on the KCA.

            • Gary H

              I would agree that there is lots of good science out there, but I think what you call “cutting edge science,” I would call metaphysics. It is almost exclusively the realm of theoreticians.

            • Andy_Schueler

              The physical universe itself tells me that it could not have existed forever (the law of entropy)

              There is no such thing as the “law of entropy”. I´m presuming you mean the second law of thermodynamics instead – and that law, per se, has no implications whatsoever about whether the universe is past-eternal or not.
              You have a strong belief here that has no rational justification (no cosmologist claims that the question as to whether the universe is past-eternal or not is settled, but you do – this seems to be an instance of the Dunning-Kruger effect).

              and it could not have made itself (conservation of energy and matter).

              That is irrelevant because no one claims it did “make itself” from nothing (and even if they did – you couldn´t refute it by pointing to the first law of thermodynamics, because we only know that this law is valid within the universe).

              The only other option is that something outside the universe made it, and that something is the God of the Bible.

              This is a textbook example of a false dichotomy. There are plenty of hypothetical models that would allow for a past-eternal universe (at least half a dozen) – there is no empirical evidence for them, but also none that rules them out, so they are still very much live options. And even if the universe wouldn´t be past-eternal, the universe “making itself” from nothing or your God speaking it into existence still wouldn´t be the only two options.

              I am living because He lives. I am personal because He is a person. I yearn for relationships because the triune God is eternally relational. I recognize good (and when I do evil) because He is good. I desire to love and be loved because He is the God of Love.

              You don´t know any of that.

            • Gary H

              Yes, I am referring to the first two laws of thermodynamics, which in lay terms tells us that a fire cannot burn forever and a rock cannot make itself out of nothing. We can certainly posit situations in which that is not the case, but without evidence those “theories” should not be taken seriously.

            • Andy_Schueler

              Yes, I am referring to the first two laws of thermodynamics, which in lay terms tells us that a fire cannot burn forever [1] and a rock cannot make itself out of nothing. [2]

              1. So…..?

              2a. That has literally (yes, literally), nothing what-so-ever to do with the second law of thermodynamics.

              2b. You are not arguing in good faith. You keep bringing up this “make itself from nothing” Bullshit as if anyone actually argued that – you are being completely dishonest by attacking this ridiculous strawman despite knowing better.

            • Geoff Benson

              You say that the only other option is the god of the bible?

              This says a great deal about the level of confirmation bias you are subject to. If you were a Muslim you would think differently. Or lived in Ancient Greece, or in India, or in Papua New Guinea. The only reason you think as you do is because of cultural immersion.

            • Geoff Benson

              Andy_Schueler has addressed your comment, but I’ll add my few pence worth.

              1. Why replace God with anything? What’s wrong with ‘I don’t know’?

              2. You seem to be inventing your own reality, not me ignore it. If God is real then please produce the evidence.

              3. Oh, and by the way, setting out issues that you find puzzling doesn’t count as evidence.

            • Gary H

              True, and throwing out what-ifs doesn’t let you off the hook either.
              You should be able to recognize that the secular world does not have a robust explanation of origins. Consider:

              ● The origin of species begins with species already in existence
              ● The origin of genes begins with modifying existing genes
              ● The origin of stars begins with explosions of existing stars
              ● The origin of life on earth is increasingly explained as coming from preexisting alien life
              ● The origin of the universe is increasingly explained as coming from a pre-existing multiverse
              ● The origin of consciousness: no theory even exists nor can exist
              ● The origin of a scheme to encode protein sequence: non-existent

              Jeoff, my conclusions are not whimsical. I truly do want to know the truth about what I am, what I’m doing here, and where I’m going. If you want to know the answer you cannot presuppose no God, because “what if.”

            • Andy_Schueler

              1. Note that everything you say here boils down to “Gee, I have no idea how this happened, therefore I know that it was created through my God casting some magic spells” – it´s all just a big argument from ignorance. And you do not provide any actual explanation, you just give your ignorance a name: “God”.

              2. “The origin of genes begins with modifying existing genes”
              – Mostly, yes. Not always though, de novo evolution of genes from non-coding sequences is a demonstrable biological fact.

              “The origin of stars begins with explosions of existing stars”
              – Wrong:
              http://abyss.uoregon.edu/~js/ast122/lectures/lec13.html

              “The origin of life on earth is increasingly explained as coming from preexisting alien life”
              – No, that is actually an extremely unpopular view.

              You simply didn´t do your homework here.

            • Gary H

              Perhaps over a half-million google hits for extraterrestrial origin of life on earth means it is unpopular. What I meant to imply is that the more neo-darwinists attempt to explain life on earth naturalistically the harder it becomes, and the more willingly they consider

              Panspermia, which is really no answer at all.

            • Andy_Schueler

              What I meant to imply is that the more neo-darwinists attempt to explain life on earth naturalistically the harder it becomes [1], and the more willingly they consider Panspermia [2], which is really no answer at all.[3]

              1. That is completely false. A naturalistic explanation of the origin of life requires explanations for how a) a mechanism for storing and replicating heritable information, b) a semipermeable membrane and c) a mechanism to provide energy for keeping the whole system going – could spontaneously emerge under realistic prebiotic conditions and how they could form a darwinian replicator together. And there has actually been quite a lot of scientific progress on every front here – you just don´t know this if you only check creationist sources that ignore the last seventy years of research and even lie about the research from seventy+ years ago.

              2. Since #1 is false, this is also Bullshit.

              3. Indeed, it is no explanation. Just like “My God did it through magic” isn´t one.

            • Gary H

              You don’t like what I have to share, but what can you give me? I’m interested in knowing who I am, where I came from, and where I am going.

            • Andy_Schueler

              I just saw that your list:

              ● The origin of species begins with species already in existence● The origin of genes begins with modifying existing genes
              ● The origin of stars begins with explosions of existing stars
              ● The origin of life on earth is increasingly explained as coming from preexisting alien life
              ● The origin of the universe is increasingly explained as coming from a pre-existing multiverse

              is just copy-pasted creationist boilerplate that is being spammed all over the www. So you actually didn´t do any homework whatsoever and instead just unthinkingly parrot creationist nonsense.

              Do some actual research and think for yourself.

            • Gary H

              Aren’t you forgetting consciousness and encoded proteins?

    • Nirmal Mukherjee

      pl. send me the short process to avail evil power by which i can contact evil