Re: Johnson's assumptions

John P. McKiness (
Thu, 30 Jan 1997 07:14:10 -0600

At 09:14 AM 1/28/97 EST, Paul Arveson wrote:

>The question is whether what we observe in the fossil record could have been
>done by a sovereign God, but without 'gaps' due to some kind of non-physical
>events. That is the question. Is it possible to answer it
>this way without assuming that God doesn't exist? In other words, is it
>possible that God could have done it in some other way than by
>miraculous gap-ridden special creation?

Yes, I believe the answer to your question is that our Father could produce
the effect we observe in the fossil record, and I suspect the problem is not
with the record but with the need many have with reconciling their theology
and science. Maybe we need to look at our God and His creation in faith not
with logic and the scientific method, both of which we have developed to
understand creation around us but which are not equips to deal with
spiritual things.

Over twenty years ago while I was trying to work out this problem myself, a
number of works by various authors came together to strongly mold my
thinking, most of which I can no longer reference (most of my books and
notes are packed away) but a number of things come to mind.

First, J.B. Phillips' _Your God is to Small_, got me thinking that I was
limiting God in the way that allowed Him to create and sustain His creation
(I was a militant but ignorant YEC). One of the ways I found that I was
limiting Him was in my view of what was evil in the world. As an example
death, decay, storms, volcanic eruptions, erosion, weathering, earthquakes,
predation, etc., are often considered evil. But how could it be if God
pronounced His creation good and if these things all existed before the
Fall? (I know the classic answer to this that these "evils" are due to the
fall, but is that an acceptable answer if the world already contained soils,
tigers, and reproduction, and if God was already in "rest mode" at the time
of the Fall, I do not think so).

I found in my search that evil can only be defined in our relationship to
God. Good is obedience to Him (His creation did what He commanded it to
do), evil is disobedience (which is what Adam and Eve did and what we still
do today whenever we place ourselves and our wants above Him).

Interestingly as we all know, the fossil and geological evidence indicates
that life and death, changing environments, erosion, soil development, etc.,
existed long before the existence of mankind (even before the mammalian
radiation of the Cenozoic).

Another author pointed out (can not remember the source now) that the
ancient Hebrews viewed nature as the result of God's continuous activity.
If this is the case and if God is consistent, might not our interpreted
"natural laws" simply be human explanations of this continuous activity.

As a Lutheran (probably more of a Augustinian), I also believe that our
corrupt nature is going to influence all human activity including our logic.
This will affect our view of everything. (At this point I must stress that
God is distinct from His creation, the creation only exists because of His
activity and decree.) Therefore, I believe also that just as we cannot find
God or learn about Him via our own means (nor can we prove His existence or
His work, we can only accept -- by the aid of His Spirit -- in faith), we
can not know how He truely creates and sustains His creation unless He
reveals the truth via revelation. So far He seems only concerned in
revealing that He is Yahweh, He created all there is, He loved us and He
died in order to pay the price to get us back.
Without revelation from Him, we can only accept in faith that He did it and
it appears to me that the human concepts produced by science (including
evolution) are the best we are going to attain in this life to understand
how the system of creation works, its history and to better manage it.

Unfortunately, I believe we must live in tension, as Christians we can see
God at work in nature but He has given us the choice to also look the other way.


John P. McKiness
P.O. Box 5666
Coralville, Iowa (U.S.A.) 52241