Philosophia Christi 19 (1):83-101 (2017)

Authors
Jeffrey Koperski
Saginaw Valley State University
Abstract
One of the main arguments against interventionist views of special divine action is that God would not violate his own laws. But if intervention entails the breaking of natural law, what precisely is being broken? While the nature of the laws of nature has been widely explored by philosophers of science, important distinctions are often ignored in the science and religion literature. In this paper, I consider the three main approaches to laws: Humean anti-realism, supervenience on more fundamental aspects of metaphysics, and nomological realism. The first denies that there is any metaphysical reality behind laws or causation. The second holds that laws supervene on capacities, dispositions, or counterfactuals. The third takes laws to be irreducible aspects of reality. The mechanics of special divine action and worries about intervention vary depending on which view of law one holds. In the end, I argue that early modern natural philosophers, who first introduced law-language for nature, largely had it right. Laws are not created entities or powers that act as intermediaries between God and nature; they are best understood as expressions of God’s will for nature. The outstanding question is whether such a view inevitably lands in occasionalism.
Keywords divine action  laws of nature
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DOI 10.5840/pc20171916
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