Process Models of Divine Action
For a summary of relevant aspects of
process thought see process metaphysicsand process theology and the problem of evil.
It is not difficult to see that process
schemes can accommodate divine activity in particular situations, since divine
persuasion or lure is present in every interaction between entities. The
causal joint is built into the metaphysics.
Close consideration, however, shows that
process thought is in a similar position to that of the neo-Thomists - both
introduce a type of influence which is at a remove at once both from our
ordinary experience and from the
Neo-Thomists posit a divine influence which a) knows the results of its
actions already through the atemporal omniscience of Gods action and b)
executes its purpose by being the particular primary cause behind secondary
causes, and yet allegedly c) still
allows creatures their freedom. (see neo-Thomist views of divine action).
Process thinkers posit a sort of
sentience which allows all entities, however inanimate, to be aware of the
divine will and to respond to it (or not).
Indeed Settle considers a process
metaphysic to be the natural result for a search for an appropriate account of
convinced for other reasons of the rightness of either of these positions will
accept the version of divine providence that the account offers - but neither
account offers any purchase on discussing a model of God in relation to the
physical world as science describes it.
Where neo-Thomism and process thought
differ so sharply is in terms of theodicy. The great problem with an account of
providence in terms of primary and secondary agency is that the most evil of
persons becomes a secondary agent of God.
theology and the problem of evil for the merits of process theodicy, and
for the question: is the process God God enough to be the ground of hope?
The neo-Thomist God, then, is so much God -
omniscient, omnipotent - as to pose great problems for theodicy;
The process God cannot be held to account
for evils from which the divine fellow-sufferer has laboured to dissuade the
entities concerned. But is this an adequate account of God?
Between these poles come the accounts of
providence, general and/or particular, undertaken by a self-limiting God to
whom the future remains not wholly known, that we have discussed in the rest of
a classification of theories of divine action.
link | Feedback | Contributed by: Dr.
Source: God, Humanity and the
Cosmos (T&T Clark, 1999)