My study of Scripture in recent weeks has focused on trying to understand
how God works in the creation as God in Christ "sustains all things by
his powerful word" (Heb 1:3). In this context, the contributions by many
to the intertwined threads on the Subjects of skepticism, the nature of
nature, and metaphors have been enlightening and thought-provoking. Let
me pull together a few strands which seem closely connected:
George Murphy wrote (09 Oct):
"What I think needs more emphasis, however, is the claim of the New
Testament ... that God's purpose for the universe is focussed in the
Incarnation. All other designs of God ultimately serve to bring that about."
Gene Godbold wrote (forwarded by Glenn Morton, 09 Oct):
"I don't think God "plans ahead" either. Metaphors like that lead us to
deistic conceptions of the universe."
Comment: It seems to me that this metaphor can be understood very well
in the context of theism. It does not require a deistic view of God and
the universe. Several Scriptures speak of God's plans and/or purposes
for the universe. God chose his purpose(s) for the people he would
create and for the universe where they would live, and acts (at least in
part) in his creation to fulfill these plans and purposes. Glenn Morton
gave an example:
Glenn Morton responded to Gene (09 Oct):
"I would probably have to disagree about the planning ahead which is
obviously from our temporal perspective. Jesus was "slain from the
foundation of the world" Rev 13:8. ... If Christ was slain from the
foundation of the universe, then God knew at the big bang that Christ was
coming and was going to die. I can express that in no other way than to
say that God planned ahead."
Gene Godbold replied to Morton (10 Oct):
"God didn't "plan" ahead. He just "does" everything! While we perceive
the flow of time as linear, one time is the same as another to God who is
above all. ... All of time is created by Him "all at once" as it were.
It just doesn't seem like that to us who are living the story in time."
Comment: This assumption about God's relation to time may be valid. But
in our effort to understand God's work, it is still useful for us to
speak in terms of God's working in his creation to fulfil his plans.
David Campbell wrote (10 Oct):
"Judging from Jesus' ministry, the most fundamental law of the universe
is that God's plan be fulfilled- "It had to happen that the Scriptures
may be fulfilled" is a frequent statement. Much of the day-to-day part
of this plan occurs according to patterms that we think of as natural
laws, but even those aspects which seem anomalous are in accord with
God's nature and ultimate plan."
George Murphy wrote (12 Oct):
"God's [Word] reveals to us who God is and what God's will is for us,
things which we cannot discover scientifically. ... God is revealed ...
in revelation centering on the cross."
George Murphy also wrote (quoted by Burgy):
"But if I ask God "Why did you create a universe embodying
(approximately) Einstein's equations instead of some other system, the
answer will be "Because I chose to."
John Burgeson replied (16 Oct):
"Presumably our creator had some reason to build our universe the way he
did; I would think he will be delighted to share that reasoning with us!"
I believe that God has already given us a key part of the answer to
George's question in Isa 45:18 (NIV):
"For this is what the Lord says--
he who created the heavens, he is God;
he who fashioned and made the earth,
he founded it;
he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited--
"I am the Lord, and there is no other."
I understand this magnificent verse to mean that God chose the physical
constants and natural laws of the universe so that the universe that
would evolve under his control would produce a planet earth suitable for
habitation by humans and other creatures. God prepared this home for
humans to be the natural stage on which he would work out his eternal
plan for our salvation, centered in the Incarnation of his Son and the
divine work of redemption of his people.
Hugh Ross and others have spelled out in detail the exquisite fine tuning
of the physical constants of the universe which is required in order to
bring into being a habitable earth. Anyone who recognizes the
significance of these discoveries of science should find ample reason to
acknowledge the glory of the transcendent Creator, and to worship him.
Donald E. DeGraaf, Prof. Emeritus of Physics, U. of Michigan-Flint
(home) 1008 Fremont St., Flint, MI 48504
(voice) 810-239-8281 (email) firstname.lastname@example.org