Fwd: Re: skepticism/the nature of nature

Glenn Morton (GRMorton@gnn.com)
Wed, 09 Oct 1996 19:36:45

Gene asked me to forward this to the listserve and I am delighted to do it.
Here is Gene's excellent critique.-glenn

According to Glenn Morton:
> ...We seem to want God to design and create like
> a magician pulling the rabbit out of the hat--something spectacular which
> violates the laws of the universe which God himself set up. Paley's watch,
> found in nature, would certainly appear to violate the laws of the universe,
> which part of the reason why the "feeling" of design is so strong in that
> case. We seem to not want to have a God who works like an engineer and plans
> ahead. (Is this desire for a magician akin to Herod's desire to see
> Jesus walk across the water?)
> But what needs to be pointed out is that design of a more inclusive, grand
> scale could be accomplished by using the Laws God originally set up to rule
> the universe. If those rules included the ability for life to arise, it is
>as much a case of design as is the creation via the magician; it is just
> less amusing for us.

This is rather hard to express, so please have patience with me...

When we talk about the laws of the universe we are talking about divine
realties that we understand only imperfectly and in a way that comes down
to saying: "Things just work like that." The attraction that two objects
with mass have for each other we call gravity and it just "works like
that" We don't really understand them, they just are. I imagine, perhaps
vainly, that once we are in the presence of God in Heaven we will be able
to intuit all the laws of the universe (not that I'm saying we'll be all
that interested in doing so at such a time!) from His character. The
physical expressions of the universe that we call laws will be seen as
necessary elements of Who God Is. In fact, we may find that what we call
laws and thought immutable were really just temporary regularities that
resulted from the Divine story that God is always telling. As George
Murphy wrote (I think) all the laws of God may be focused on the
Incarnation of our Lord. In this view, the Resurrection, far from being
an aberration of the "laws of nature", was the Divinely Natural
fulfillment or culmination of them.

I don't think God "plans ahead" either. Metaphors like that lead to
deistic conceptions of the universe. Isn't God just as present at the
beginning of the universe as he is at the end and every moment in between?
Doesn't the verse about Him being the Alpha and the Omega mean at least
that? He makes...He is never in a position in which He could have "made"
as if something has some reality or existence apart from Him.

Mr. Morton's post also implies that the "laws of the universe" are some
sort of algorithm that God set up to run on the cosmic computer with the
goal of "life" or "design" or whatever. I'm not sure that this metaphor
is how we should be thinking of Him either...like He were detached from
creation or as if it something that goes on without His continual
involvement. I
think God as a painter might be better than God as a programmer, tho' even
that is inadequate since God is really "painting" each object in the
painting continually and the canvas is God, too...

In summary, what we think are God's laws might not be and so "violations"
of them (such as the parting of the Red Sea for example, or the
Resurrection or feeding of 5000) aren't really violations of any sort.
The reality of the "laws" of God are deeper than we think and all rooted
in Himself...just because they look inconsistent to our understanding
doesn't mean that the rules got broken somehow.

This little rant has been building for a while and Mr. Morton's post just
served as the trigger...I hope he doesn't take this as some personal
indictment of him! I use the same phraseology as he did in this post

Probably confused but trying,

Gene D. Godbold, Ph.D.                     Lab:  804 924-5167
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