God, Miracles, Creation, Evil, and Statistical Natural Laws

In Matthew Nelson Hill & Wm Curtis Holtzen (eds.), Connecting Faith and Science. Claremont Press. pp. 55-85 (2017)
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Abstract

This article argues that actual entities come first; the statistical laws of nature are their effects, not their causes. Statistical laws are mentally abstracted from their habits and are only formal, not efficient, causes. They do not make anything happen or prevent anything from happening. They evolve or change as the habits of novel creatures evolve or change. They do not control or inform us about what any individual entity is doing, only about what masses of individuals on average are doing. Thus, there is no way that traditional divine miracles could “violate” them. God has sufficient efficient-causal power to create our world ex nihilo, as in the Big Bang, and to prevent evils, which God does not do from love, justice, and moral goodness. Seven elements of a viable theodicy are outlined, the most important of which is divine justice. It would be unjust for God to prevent harms in some cases but not in all. In a universe in which God prevents all evils and thus directly controls everything, no creatures would take any responsibility for what they do. A loving and just God voluntarily and consistently limits the exercise of divine power so we can be free, responsible, and creative.

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Rem B. Edwards
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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