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,
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 Gods 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.
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