Re: Natural Theology, Unguided Processes and Apologetics

Murphy (
Thu, 11 Sep 1997 20:31:21 -0400

Peter Vibert wrote:

> 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.

I suspect that these direct acts of God lie logically as far
back as the choice of what math patterns to "activate" or "embody".
That seems to me a qualitatively different thing than, e.g. a direct
creation of some biological species. I dealt with this to some extent
in a paper "The Paradox of Mediated Creation _Ex Nihilo_", PSCF _39_,
221, 1987.
> 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.

I just don't see this. God "displayed his signs in Egypt, and
his miracles in the fields of Zoan" (Ps.78:43) - & the plagues of Egypt
can be identified qualitatively with natural phenomena. (& for that
matter, Pharoah's magicians could create frogs too - but apparently
couldn't get rid of them! (Ex.8:1-15).

George L. Murphy