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The philosophical argument begins with a move from modernist reductionism to post-modern holism. Christian philosopher and theologian Nancey Murphy draws specifically on Karl Popper, W. V. O. Quine, Imre Lakatos and Alasdair MacIntyre in support of a "historicist-holism." (Nancey Murphy, Beyond Liberalism and Fundamentalism, op. cit., exp. Chs. 3, 4, 7. She develops these arguments further in Angle-American Postmodernity: Philosophical Perspectives on Science, Religion and Ethics (Westview Press, forthcoming 1997). See also "Supervenience and the Non-Reducibility of Ethics to Biology" in Russell, et. al., Evolution and Molecular Biology, op. cit.. See also "Nonreductive Physicalism and the Soul" (forthcoming). ) Murphy views the sciences as hierarchically ordered, with new, emergent properties and processes at each level.

According to scientists such as Silvan Schweber, Arthur Peacocke and Neil A. Campbell, there is growing recognition within both physics and biology of "top-down," as well as "bottom-up," analysis. Top-down causality can be described philosophically in terms of "supervenience", in which the context at the higher level determines the relation between a higher-level property, such as moral valence, and a lower-level property, such as physical violence. But is a contextual analysis sufficient to guarantee top-down causality? In a recent book, Philip Clayton defends an even tougher form of supervenience, called "strong supervenience". Here the upper level, though emergent out of the lower, includes causal interactions that are not reducible to those of the lower level. (Philip Clayton, In Whom We Have Our Being: Theology of God and Nature in Light of Contemporary Science (Edinburgh University Press and Eerdmans, 1998).

I would add the crucial importance of drawing on quantum physics for a philosophy of indeterminism at the lower levels, without which it is hard for me to see how mental agency is physically enacted in the world. With these arguments in place, we can extend them by analogy to the concept of divine action. If natural processes are emergent and indeterministic, one can begin to think in terms of God’s special action at every level of nature, including the most elementary physical and biological levels, in such a way that God need not intervene and thereby violate these processes.

 Russell Physics Bibliography 
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