Re: Natural Theology, Unguided Processes and Apologetics

Peter Vibert (
Thu, 11 Sep 1997 20:12:31 -0400

I wrote:

>>As Alvin Plantinga says in the current issue of PCSF (art. from the NTSE
>> conf.), believers all agree that "there are some things that God does
>> directly".

and George Murphy replied:

> I see no reason to say this. There may be some things God does
>directly, but my own position is that we ought to try to maximize our
>understanding of God's mediated action - mediated, i.e., through things
>that are God's own creations!

Plantinga argued, against an imagined Howard Van Till, "no doubt Van Till
would also agree (on pain of infinite regress) that if God does anything in
this world indirectly, he also does something directly: presumably he
cannot cause an effect indirectly without, at some point, acting directly,
creating something directly."

My guess is that this is true.

Later Plantinga says: "Clearly we cannot sensibly insist in advance that
whatever we are confronted with is to be explained in terms of something
_else_ that God did; he must have done _some_ things directly. It would be
worth knowing, if possible, which things he _did_ do directly..."

Again, my feeling is that this is true, but Plantinga's "if possible"
points to the difficulty we have even as believers in figuring out "which
things he did do directly". I have no quarrel with George's agenda of
"maximizing our understanding of God's mediated action". That is certainly
what Reformed types see as part of the Cultural Mandate.

George also asked:

> Why do such signs have to be unmediated?

I think this is inherent in the Biblical description of signs - that they
reflect God's "unusual" and thus probably "direct" activity.


Peter J. Vibert
Pastor Guest Senior Scientist
Wading River Congregational Church Biology Department
PO Box 596, 2057 North Country Road Brookhaven National Laboratory
Wading River, New York 11792 Upton, Long Island, NY 11973

tel: (516) 929-8849 Dept. tel: (516) 344-3415
fax: (516) 929-3523 e-mail: