Re: Johnson's assumptions

Paul Arveson (
Thu, 30 Jan 97 10:42:30 EST

In my post of 29 Jan., in which I listed several EVEN IFs, I left the
argument unbalanced and may have slipped into fideism (the notion that
faith in God is an arbitrary belief with no relation to evidence)
or neo-orthodoxy of some sort. I regret that and I want to try to
correct myself, since so far no one has flamed me about it.

I said:
> The point is that God doesn't need any kind of mechanical causes or
> explanations to work in history. God is simply -- by both transcendence
> and immanence -- sovereign over natural and human history and its outcomes.
> This is by virtue of God's eternal decree and providence. This is a
> 'mystery' of the faith -- John 3:8.

Such statements leave open the possibile interpretation that belief in God comes
upon a person out of the blue, with no connection with reality -- an
absurd conclusion that has nothing to do with evidence or reason.

That this is not the case regarding the Biblical God is made clear in
Romans 1. So I'll restate my conclusions in a more balanced way,
attempting to avoid the minefield:

1. God's existence and sovereignty are not constrained in any way by
the universe. God is free to do whatever he pleases in His creation,
whether or not he 'leaves tracks'. (This avoids naturalism and determinism.)

2. We humans are, however, constrained by the manifest evidence of creation
all around us -- to believe in God is the most reasonable conclusion.
In fact, we are sufficiently constrained that to reject this conclusion
results in our condemnation. The evidence, in other words, is sufficient
to allow the basic belief in God's existence to be justified. (This
avoids fideism.)

3. On the other hand, the evidence seen is not so detailed that we
can find salvation or many other things about God and the things taught
in the Bible. Nor is it sufficient to build a science on. (This avoids
rationalism and reconstructionism.)

4. We study the details of nature primarily expecting to find out more
about nature, not God. The concept of God provided via the general
revelation is a pre-scientific, or non-scientific belief that is
available to anyone, at any time. It is a valid conclusion, but not
one in which detailed science has a necessary role to play. (This
avoids creationism and 'origin science'.)

Paul Arveson, Research Physicist
Code 724, Signatures Directorate, NSWC
9500 MacArthur Blvd., Bethesda, MD 20817-5700
(301) 227-3831 (W) (301) 227-4511 (FAX) (301) 816-9459 (H)