Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Letters to the Editor xvii the consequence argument, and my comments about quantum mechanics were misunderstood. At another time and place, I would welcome the opportunity to address Ostler's arguments more fully, but I fear that I may have already taken full advantage of the hospitality I might reasonably expect the editors and readers of this journal to extend. L. Rex Sears Salt Lake City, Utah Ostler Replies Rex Sears has provided a thoughtful response to my article "Mormonism and Determinism." Given space limitations, perhaps the best I can do here is point out areas of further discussion. For example, Sears says that he is puzzled over just what it could mean to say that a cause is adequate but not sufficient for an effect to occur. I would have thought that the meaning was quite clear—it means that the prior causes explain but do not necessitate an outcome. Quantum physics gives us actual examples of such conditions that are adequate but not sufficient to explain why an electron behaves as it does. In any given trial, an electron may be emitted, but the prior causes are not sufficient to explain why an electron lands where it does although the causes are adequate to explain the occurrence. However, Sears has pointed to a deep problem in philosophy—the problem of describing and explaining causation. Is causation simply a constant conjunction or is there something necessary in a causal connection? When is a cause sufficient? What is an adequate explanation of causation? These are deep philosophical issues that have been dealt with by philosophers such as Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, Swinburne, Mackie, and Toolie, to name only a few. I could not adequately address that issue given space constraints, so I admit that my shorthand definition for an "adequate but not sufficient cause" must be more fully fleshed out. However, since Sears took causation as a basic term in its common-use sense, I treated it the same way. It seems to me that Sears still misses the point as to why God cannot respond to prayer if causal determinism is true if God himself is within the material world as Mormonism claims. It is true that Sears does not explicitly say that God must also foresee what his own response will be to human prayers. However, Sears misses my point. I claim that such a claim is implicit in his position. If God sees all of the causes as the basis of his decisions, then he also sees that the causes necessitate a specific decision will be made by him in response to a prayer. The key is that the causes of God's decision are already there in full detail before God can "deliberate" or review the causes. God is thus stuck with a causally determined future as much as we are. It follows that God's "answer" to the prayer is the result of causes prior to God's deliberations rather than God's deliberations about it. It seems to me that Sears must either take God out of the sequence of cause and effect, which contradicts the Mormon view that God is in some sense a part of the material world, or he must deny universal causal determinism. Sears also seriously misrepresents William James by equating a discussion of "chance" in nature and human choices with "random indeterminism." They are not the same. James would reject any notion that human actions