> I was not saying that providence is because of 'the Fall'. Simply that one
> of the theological reasons why providence and creation have been maintained
> as distinct theological/conceptual categories is the Fall. It seems that I
> can't have communicated that clearly because your later comments on MacKay
> also operate on the basis that providence, as I am understanding, it only
> began after Gen 3. What MacKay is saying about the Fall is that it had
> cataclysmic effects on the way the world is. Things are different this
> side of the Fall.
I do not see how a Fall would have altered the logical
relationship of origination & providence. Even if one grants that there
were huge changes in natural processes because of human sin (which I
will note later is problematic), God still sustained the things which
had been originated & made it possible for them to do anything.
> >Without providence,
> >creation understood purely as origination could not endure or do
> Indeed, it was a similar trap that Jonathan Edwards fell into with his
> formulation of providence. For him objects only existed in the moment to
> be created again in the next moment. Whilst his view maintained the close
> and direct involvement of God with his creation it left no real room for
> secondary causality.
I'm not as familiar with Edwards as I'd like to be. Perhaps he
didn't give enough emphasis to the cooperative aspect of providence -
Reformed theologians have generally been more wary of this than have
Lutherans like myself. (You can see the problem if you note that
"synergism" is the Greek-based form of the Latin-based "cooperation".)
> > Much more needs to be said about a Fall, but I don't think that
> >is determinative for our topic. If one makes the present processes of
> >nature too dependent on sin, one is in in danger of denying the goodness
> >of creation & effectively making the devil the creator of the present
> >world - doing for all creation what Flacius was understood to be doing
> >for human nature in the 16th century. (N.B. I am not accusing anyone
> >with heresy here, but just noting the danger of a train of argument.)
> On the other hand if one doesn't take account of the Fall and its
> consequences one has lost a biblical worldview. However, MacKay's point
> does not actually make the present processes dependent upon sin and the
> devil, but rather on the judgment of God. He is saying that it was a
> divine creative/judicial fiat which brought about a new providential order.
> That distinction places both MacKay and me well away from any risk of
> trespassing into heresy.
> Given that much more could be said about the Fall, could I ask you to say a
> little more about it. I wonder, in particular, how the Fall might be
> properly taken into account in scientific theorising about origins.
This is an important and hard question for Christians who take
original sin seriously. Not nearly enough good theological work has
been done on this (Phil Hefner's _The Human Factor is one exception),
partly because theologians have spent too much time on _whether_
evolution happened & not enough on how to understand it theologically.
So please excuse the fragmentary character of my comments.
1) The traditional western picture of the Fall as a single event
exagerates the biblical account. All of Gen.3 through 11 pictures a
decline of humanity into evil.
2) As the adjective "western" in 1 suggests, the eastern church
has always had a rather different picture. There the original humanity
is pictured as immature (Irenaeus) or at the _beginning_ of a path to
union with God (Athanasius), & the Fall was getting off track.
3) Athanasius also seems to suggest that humanity would have
been subject to biological death _even without sin_. The result of sin
is not just this death but "remaining forever in the corruption of
4) The basic meaning of the Fall is that humanity was created
with the possibility of communion with God & obedience to God, & chose
to turn from God. & the consequence of that is that all human beings
are sinners from their conception, with all the implications of that
5) The idea that massive changes in natural processes were
brought about by the Fall really has no strong biblical basis. It is
subject to the danger I noted earlier - let me call it Manicheanism for
want of a better term. It denies the basic goodness of the present
creation, something which Psalms like 96, 104 & 148 reflect.
6) Scientific investigations of the world indicate that the
basic physical interactions did not change qualitatively some time in
the past million years. The same gravitational, electroweak & strong
interactions existed millions of years ago & in the big bang.
_En passant_, all the theological arguments which some Christian
writers have tried to derive from anthropic principles collapse if a
major change in physical interactions & laws took place.
Could the Fall have so distorted the information we get that it
just looks as if they haven't changed? This is either
a) the old "apparent age" idea which makes God create a hoax,
b) Manicheanism if ascribed to Satan or other evil powers, or
c) if one tries to make the source of error the sinful huamn
mind, perilously close to the error attributed to Flacius.
George L. Murphy