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On the possibility of special divine action in a deterministic world

  • LEIGH C. VICENS (a1)

Is it possible for God both to create a deterministic world and to act specially, to realize his particular purposes within it? And if there can be such ‘particular providence’ or ‘special divine action’ (SDA) in a deterministic world, what form can it take? In this article I consider these questions, exploring a number of different models of SDA and discussing their consistency with the proposition that the world is deterministic; I also consider how the various consequences of each model accord with traditional theistic assumptions about God's action in the world. I argue that, although SDA is possible in a deterministic world, none of the models that have been offered are entirely unproblematic, but accepting any of them commits one to certain consequences that may be found objectionable; thus the potential benefits of each model of SDA must be weighed against the costs of accepting such consequences.

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WILLIAM LANE CRAIG (2009) ‘Divine eternity’, in Thomas Flint and Michael Rea (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology (New York: Oxford University Press), 145156.

MARTIN LECKEY (1999) ‘The naturalness theory of laws’, in Howard Sankey (ed.) Causation and the Laws of Nature (Boston MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers), 7782.

KIRK McDERMID (2008a) ‘Miracles: metaphysics, physics, and physicalism’, Religious Studies 44, 125147.

KIRK McDERMID (2008b) ‘A reply to Robert Larmer’, Religious Studies 44, 161164.

ALVIN PLANTINGA (2008) ‘What is “intervention”?’, Theology and Science 6, 369401.

KIRK WEGTER-MCNELLY (2006) ‘Fundamental Physics and Religion’, in Philip Clayton and Zachary Simpson (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science (New York: Oxford University Press), 156171.

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Religious Studies
  • ISSN: 0034-4125
  • EISSN: 1469-901X
  • URL: /core/journals/religious-studies
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