Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. – Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Process Theology, Miracles, and the Virgin Birth


The Immaculate Conception by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo,
1767–1769, in the Museo del Prado, Spain


Process Theology, Miracles,
and the Virgin Birth

by R.E. Slater


The Immaculate Conception of Mary

The Catholic phrase of immaculate conception refers to the Virgin Mary as without sin and thus able to reproduce the birth of Jesus without male insemination. Protestants differ with the Catholic sentiment and state that Mary was no different than any other human born of sin since Adam and Eve's transgressions onwards. Myself, I am learning to re-envision humanity in the image of God yet marred by sin. Meaning, that humanity holds and reveals the Godhead as much as it must deal with the fallenness of it's image of God. Regardless of percentages, whether more good than bad, or more bad than good, it doesn't matter. What matters is that humanity (as well as creation itself) needed a God who would come incarnate into this world to atone for our fallenness to thereby redeem creation unto its fullest potential in beauty, joy, strival for good, thrival for healing all we touch, and generally help God to rebirth humanity and creation towards fullness fraught with struggle, hardship, fallenness, and evil.

Secondly, the Catholic statement of immaculation is an expression of an older idea that thought of all things of matter and flesh as being evil, or touched by evil. It is a sentiment found in Zoroastrianism which had bled down in Judaism and Christianity believing in a primal "urge" and "demi-urge" disspelling downwards and downwards into the human condition. By and by it came to mean that all things which are of the flesh is evil. Though found within certain parts of the church, many churches state this is not true. That God created all things as good and holy and not as evil. Process Theology further consolidates this idea by stating that rather than thinking in terms of gradations of sin and evil we simply think of humanity and creation as good but inflicted in varying degrees by sin and evil (cf. Original Sin).

Wikipedia - "The Immaculate Conception is a dogma of the Catholic Church which states that Mary, mother of Jesus has been free of original sin from the moment of her conception. It proved controversial in the Middle Ages, but was revived in the 19th century and was adopted as Church dogma when Pope Pius IX promulgated Ineffabilis Deus in 1854. This followed Ubi primum, an 1849 encyclical wherein Pius had asked the bishops for their opinions on the matter, resulting in overwhelming support from the Church's hierarchy.

"Protestants rejected Ineffabilis Deus as an exercise in papal power and the doctrine itself as without foundation in Scripture. Eastern Orthodoxy, although it reveres Mary in its liturgy, called on the Roman church to return to the faith of early centuries.

"The iconography of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception shows her standing, with arms outstretched or hands clasped in prayer, and her feast day is 8 December."

 

Bisexuality is Rare but not Uncommon in Nature

Allow me please to skip ahead to the virgin birth itself. How it is completely likely to be generative from the human body without imposition of sin upon the flesh (as the Church tends to think of the human condition, whether Catholic or Protestant) or with the need for an ex cathedra enactment of a miracle per se as we normally (but incorrectly) think of miracles. I will try to explain both ideas through a biological examination of things we find in nature which are rare, but not uncommon, using biological terms. Please bear with me.

Bisexuality is Found in Nature

The adage "bisexuality isn't natural" cannot be used anymore by the church. Clearly it is not true in the blobby green algae world of nature. Bisexuality is a natural but distinctly different form of sexuality from sexuality (male-female) or asexual-only reproduction.

This third type of reproductive system is known as hermaphroditic reproductivity which changes between male or female sexual expressions thus insuring the future survival of the species without regard to environmental conditions:

"Mixed mating systems such as trioecy may represent intermediate states of evolutionary transitions between dioecious (with male and female) and monoecious (with only hermaphrodites) mating systems in diploid organisms...." - Nature (below)

--- 

Trioecy (or subdioecy) is an extremely rare reproductive system characterized by the coexistence of males, females, and hermaphrodites. It has been found in both plants and animals. Trioecy is sometimes referred to as a mixed mating system alongside androdieocy and gyndioecy. Trioecy has been estimated to occur in about 3.6% of flowering plants, although most reports of trioecy are misinterpretions of gynodioecy. - Wikipedia

Reframing Miracles and the Virgin Birth

So the quips of God not making an "Adam and Steve" pretty much falls on deaf ears in the algae kingdom where bisexuality does exist as a rarity. And as an aside, let me suggest how miracles work in a process-filled creation:

A number of years ago I had given as a tentative explanation for the virgin birth of Christ the observation that there may have been one rare example of trioecy in the human species in Jesus' mother Mary. When saying this I reframed the idea of miracles not as external alien forces placed upon the natural creative order but as internal "natural" forces from within nature / creation. - re slater

 

Firstly,... later I discovered this would be well within keeping when applying by rigorous usage the rules of process theology to a process-based creative order. It keeps within the rules of not stepping outside of nature to perform something "miraculously" through nature by God by using nature itself to perform that enhanced, fully natural, miracle.

Secondly, ... nor does it create exterior conditions foreign to the natural systems we live in by a God who works well within the parameters of nature itself. That is, God has imbued nature with the ability to be creative and novel through its own natural forces.

Thirdly, "miracles" as defined by process theology must therefore be wholly congruent within the natural system itself. It cannot come from the "ether" nor fabricated from a different kind of spacetime external to our own spacetime referential.

Fourthly, miracles cannot be "ex cathedra" or enigmatic to the creative system itself, but conformable (or dutiful) from the system from which it was birthed.

Hence, the natural system God has spoken into being (in the sense of "creatio with existing chaotic material" can, and will, allow for these kinds of "miraculous" differentials without being interventionist in its origins or subsequent derivative results. 

R.E. Slater
July 13, 2021

Relevancy22 References re Virgin Birth


Saturday, January 28, 2012


Creatio Continua Articles
[Note: In older articles I use to say incorrectly creatio ex continua which is the wrong usage for what I was trying to say. When reading these articles please replace in your mind any-and-all of these older phrases with the corrected phrase creatio continua (without the ex). It would also help me if you notated in the comments section those typos so I may go back and correct them. Thanks.   :/  - re slater]
Monday, February 2, 2015


Tuesday, May 18, 2021

A Nice Outline Between Alternatives from an Outside Source:


[ADDENDUM]

Creatio ex nihilo is an idea found in certain faiths which means that the Creator God created the world, "from nothing". Scientifically something cannot come from nothing, and insofar as this is true, than the opposite of "creation from nothing" is "creation from something" (creatio continua). This means that the natural worlds of the universe (or multiverses) are very old but were at one time "breathed" upon God disturbing its entropically equilibrium state into formative and pronounced chaotic systems (that is, out of equilibrium with its former static (timeless) self) with the ability to create new and novel substance from its chaotic nature.

In this way the Creator God is the first Process to all subsequent (or subtending) future processes. It also means that God's image or essence in some fashion is uniquely embedded in all future processes while also remaining distinctly different in a process relational arrangement. Which also means that God doesn't know the future so much as God is the future because of His intimacy with creation in its ordering and teleology. More of this can be read about at Relevancy22 along with the virgin birth of Christ.
"The term creatio continua refers to God's continuing creative activity throughout the history of the universe. In a sense, most theologians accept creatio continua, since creation is the dependence of the whole of space-time on God. But more traditional views hold that because God is timeless and immutable, there is only one divine creative act, which originates the whole of space-time from first to last. Those who speak of creatio continua think of creation taking place in many successive acts, partly in response to events in time. Thus, at any particular time God's creation has not been completed, and the future is partly open, in some theological views, even for God." - Encyclopedia.com

R.E. Slater
July 13, 2021


* * * * * * * * * *


NATURE

Scientists Discover The First Known Algae
Species With Three Distinct Sexes

by Jacinta Bowler
July 13, 2021

Although we might think of ourselves as far removed from blobby green algae, we're not really that different.

An algae explosion a few hundred million years ago is thought to have been what allowed all human and animal life to evolve, and all told there's only about one and a half billion years between us in terms of evolution.

Plus, according to a Japanese team of researchers, algae could actually help us to understand how different sex systems - like male and female - evolved in the first place.

Researchers from the University of Tokyo and a number of other Japanese universities have discovered that a type of green algae called Pleodorina starrii has three distinct sexes – 'male', 'female', and a third sex that the team have called 'bisexual'. This is the first time any species of algae has been discovered with three sexes.

"It seems very uncommon to find a species with three sexes, but in natural conditions, I think it may not be so rare," said one of the researchers, University of Tokyo biologist Hisayoshi Nozaki.

Algae isn't a very specific scientific classification. It's an informal term for a huge collection of different eukaryotic creatures that use photosynthesis to get energy. They're not plants, as they lack many plant features; they're not bacteria (despite cyanobacteria sometimes being called blue-green algae); and they're not fungi.

Everything from many-celled giant kelp species, all the way down to cute single-celled dinoflagellates can be classed as algae.

Because algae are such a big, diverse group, there's lots of variation in the way that they get it on, but generally algae are able to reproduce asexually (by cloning themselves) or sexually (with a partner), depending on the life cycle stage they're in. This can be either haploid (with a single set of chromosomes), or diploid (with two sets).

There's also hermaphroditic algae that can change depending on the gene expression of the organism. Having three sexes, including hermaphrodites, is called 'trioecy'.

But the volvocine green algae P. starrii is different from this again. The bisexual form of this haploid algae has both male and female reproductive cells. The team describe it as a "new haploid mating system" completely unique to algae. 

P. starrii form either 32 or 64 same-sex celled vegetative colonies and have small mobile (male) and large immobile (female) sex cells similar to humans. The male sex cells are sent out in the world in sperm packets to find a female colony to attach to.

Bisexual P. starrii have both, can form either male or female colonies, and therefore can mate with either a male, a female, or another bisexual.


Above: Sexually induced male colony of algae (left). Female colony with male sperm
packet (center). Female colony with dissociated male gametes (right). | Kohei Takahashi


The researchers are particularly excited because other closely related algae have different sex systems, meaning the discovery might be able to tell us more about how these sexual changes evolve.

"Mixed mating systems such as trioecy may represent intermediate states of evolutionary transitions between dioecious (with male and female) and monoecious (with only hermaphrodites) mating systems in diploid organisms," the team write in their new paper.

"However, haploid mating systems with three sex phenotypes within a single biological species have not been previously reported."

For 30 years, Nozaki had been collecting algae samples from the Sagami River outside of Tokyo. Samples that were taken from lakes along that river in 2007 and 2013 were used by the team for the new finding.

The team separated the algal colonies and induced them to reproduce sexually by depriving them of nutrients, discovering that the bisexual algae had a 'bisexual factor' gene that was separate to previously discovered male and female specific genes.

The bisexual cells had the male gene as well, but can produce either male or female offspring.

"Co-existence of three sex phenotypes in a single biological species may not be an unusual phenomenon in wild populations," the researchers conclude.

"The continued field-collection studies may reveal further existence of three sex phenotypes in other volvocine species."

The research has been published in Evolution.



Intersections of the diagram represent mating systems with that combination of sexes. (a) Trioecy (green) is unstable and tends to collapse to a two-sex mating system. (b) In nematodes it has been proposed that trioecy (green) can be used as a temporary mating system in the transition between dioecy (red) and androdioecy (blue). | BioRxIV


Meiosis in A. rhodensis produces unexpected gametes in males and hermaphrodites. The gametes formed, as well as a relatively high frequency of nondisjuction, probably contribute A. freiburgensis sex ratio data that are highly divergent from what would be expected. | BioRxIV


Cooperation and Competition as Drivers of Evolutionary Transition