God-watching, everywhere you look
August 7, 2008 in religion, reviews | Tags: atheism, religion, Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
As promised, I’ve posted my full review of The God Delusion.
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August 7, 2008 at 7:34 pm
Have you ever looked into process theology? See, for example, Omnipotence and Other Theological Fallacies, by Charles Hartshorne.
August 7, 2008 at 8:16 pm
I hadn’t heard of it before, no. My cursory investigation suggests that it supposes a personal God, but not an omnipotent one. This suggests a Life Force image of God; one that directly influences the world, but subtly. It is also, I think, panentheistic.
I object to panentheism and Life Force because they imply a personal God entity. Such an entity, even if beyond the universe, should still interact with the universe in detectable ways (detectable at least in principle if not in current practice). Without a suggestion of how such an entity could be detected, I don’t see it as rational. It is suspecting unicorns at the sound of hoofbeats.
Pantheism (or perhaps “Einsteinian religion” ) points to the universe itself as God and that we are all a piece of it, like parts of a body. No super-natural, super-universal effects exist because that which God (the Universe) does is necessarily “natural” even if we do not yet understand it. Science and reason are our tools, and will lead us ever closer to that understanding.
I see a strong bridge between my belief and Process Theology in the idea that God grows. I think that our sum experience and understanding are God’s understanding. We evolve and grow so that God better understands Itself. But this is not a certain truth for me. If it is not true, I say it is still a useful metaphor and leads to healthy actions and we should act as though it were true (see Re:ligion).
Have I understood Process Theology in my ten minutes of researching it? I may have been too superficial, so I welcome your thoughts. Thanks for the pointer.
August 9, 2008 at 11:31 am
As in any theological concept, I suspect, process theology is not just one thing. Most process theologians I’ve come across are Christians, but getting to Christianity from process theology requires a certain leap. You may have already seen this post and its links, which explains some things. Hartshorne’s book referenced above is well worth reading, I think. It’s pretty easy to disentangle Christianity from the concepts, and the ideas of process theology are quite interesting, at least to me.
I don’t think the notion of a personal God is a necessary part of process theology. I can imagine that God created the universe as a kind of giant computer and is ignorant of the result—the fastest way to get to the result is just to let the thing run. As it runs, God’s understanding increases, but without any involvement with the individual components of the universe.
Ed Fredkin took this notion pretty far—see this summary and the links in the foreword. I have the referenced Atlantic Monthly article, BTW, and would be happy to mail you a copy if you like.
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