Re: Natural Theology, Unguided Processes and Apologetics

Peter Vibert (
Fri, 12 Sep 1997 10:26:42 -0400

I agree with Terry, and Eduardo, and George, that we must _not_ fall into
deism, and that Plantinga's chain of causation may lead there (and, as
George says, logically lie so far back as to not truly impinge on the
matters we are discussing). Concurrence may indeed be a word we need to use
more often to make clear what we mean by God's "usual" activity in relation
to his creation.

But I am still trying to find a handle to describe his "unusual"
activities. I suggested "signs" as a biblical term that gets close to the
idea, with the advantage that they explicitly call for faith before they
can be interpreted. George is of course right that some signs are mediated
through what we can identify as natural phenomena, but I would estimate
(without doing an exhaustive search) that the general form of a sign is
that it is _not_ identifiable as a natural phenomenon, but implies a
"direct" act of God.

I acknowledge how slippery human language is in these matters; we are hard
put to describe God's actions in relation to his creation because, as Terry
emphasizes, human activities are qualitatively different from God's.

Terry also said:
>On a slightly different note--I agree with George Murphy that the pointers
>to God found in creation are not pointers to some deity in general, but to
>the Christian God who has revealed himself in Christ in his Incarnation,
>Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension.

I agree completely that in examining pointers and signs in the created
order, or making statements that "God did it", must explicitly acknowledge
what we already know about God from biblical revelation. So our
understanding of Creation has to be informed by our Christology - not a new
thought, but another way of emphasizing that what we are about is 'faith
seeking understanding'. Whether ID can be classed as "idolatry" for not
being explicit about 'which god' it points to (as Terry suggests) is food
for thought.

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: