Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Process Theism

It strikes me as manifestly obvious that the position of theism has been by the ever mounting critique of skepticism reduced to such a significant extent that what is now left is hardly anything more than a faint wisp of belief.

That is, essentially, the history. Of the once overwhelming, omnipotent, omniscient deity – or deities depending on the culture – so portrayed, there now exists, due to the ever expanding library of human knowledge, only the vague, vestigial conception of a deity surrendered to the last boundaries of as yet unattained human knowledge.

So, for example, restricting myself to the religion of Christianity, god was once and in fact continues to be seen by vast populations as an invisible-super-intelligence capable of, among other things, intentionally physically altering the nature of the universe on a large scale – possibly wiping up a hurricane in response to an increased acceptance of homosexuality or dissolving a tumor residing in a child’s brain, while at the same time allowing thousands more to be born with painful deformities and dying of vicious diseases – whereas now, in articulate circles, the conception has been reduced to a god limited in power and ability; as process theology says: “Not even divine power can guarantee that accidents will never happen or that tragedies will never occur.”

It appears to me that process theism is something a bit like an amalgamation of neo-Hegelian pantheism, where god resides within or is the entirety of the ever expanding and unfolding universe and reality. However, there remains no serious or definitive explanation of the nature of god outside of the claim that god is “a cosmically all-inclusive being-in-becoming” whose attributes include being “supreme in power, knowledge, and goodness,” while also embodying “other-relatedness” and “dual transcendence.” With such vague descriptions of the invisible and conscious entity-force we are to accept as god, process theism appears to have reduced the concept to a thin specter of virtual nothingness; although, to be fair, it is as coherent a definition of god as any. Furthermore, the evidence of such a god is effectively nonexistent while the logic, as Hartshorne concedes, does not prove such a god exists.

The fundamental flaw in process theology, in the final analysis, is that it strives “to frame a coherent, logical, necessary system of ideas in terms of which every element of our experience can be interpreted,” claims Whitehead. Process theology must necessarily accept that human nature is as such that it will be possible for humans to accurately and completely interpret “every element of our experience;” a position for which I can find neither an historical precedent nor any indication that the future shall prove to be different.