Re: ID and Utility (THEISTIC ACTION)

Craig Rusbult (
Sat, 27 Sep 1997 19:17:59 -0400 (EDT)

George Murphy states that
> [there is no] incoherence between scientific
>explanation & belief in divine action - IF God voluntarily limits his
>action to that describable in terms of natural processes obeying
>rational laws. But ID proponents will not allow God this type of

And neither does the Bible allow this. (in this, I'm sure George -- who
is referring here to a way that ID might be legitimate in science, not in
theology -- would agree)
Are there only "natural processes obeying rational laws" in each of the
many miracles of the Bible? If not, then why should we try to limit God's
activity *in nature* to these "natural and rational" mechanisms?

David Campbell says,
> He [Jesus] refused to do a miracle to impress unbelievers....
> Rather, miracles were an aid to belief, serving a specific purpose.

But -- taking into account everything that happens in the Bible -- there
is a wide variety of "specific purposes" and situational contexts for
This is one reason why it is difficult (impossible?) to meet the
criteria for "ID as science" suggested by the requirement for PREDICTIONS.
This requirement is described, for example, by Don Page,
>to make their viewpoint
>scientific it seems to me that they should come up with some criteria of
>simplicity of how they they would expect that God most plausibly acts (or
>acted) in creating and sustaining a universe consistent with our
>For example, if God "intervenes" in the natural law processes of evolution
>(which processes MN theists would regard as also God's activity), under what
>circumstances and in what way might He be expected to intervene? Can we
>duplicate these circumstances today and see whether He does indeed
>intervene in
>the way hypothesized?

So what might be a circumstance and way in which "He might be expected
to intervene?" I would say: If God wanted humans to have certain
qualities (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual), then -- at least if the
"Wonderful Life" theory of Gould, with diverging evolutionary scenarios, is
correct -- God could not depend on undirected evolution (as in "functional
integrity") to create these desired qualities. Therefore, God would need
to "guide" the evolution, and this could occur by any mechanism -- by
guiding the process of natural selection, by producing specific DNA
mutations (or creating new DNA), or... (fill in the blank) -- that would
produce the desired qualities for humans or for our natural environment.
No, I don't think that "fill in the blank" fulfills the requirement for
a specific prediction. :<)


When the entire ministry of Jesus is considered, He seemed very willing
to do miracles "to impress unbelievers" (in contrast to the claim above, by
David C) but was unwilling to do miracles to meet the DEMANDS (re: what,
where, when) by unbelievers. For example, in Mt 12:38-40, Jesus refused
to perform "a miraculous sign" when asked by unbelievers; instead, he
described his own resurrection (analogous to Jonah's adventure) after 3
days in the earth -- at a time of God's own choice.

I wonder what Terry Gray means, when he says that
>at the heart is God's relationship to "naturally" occuring phenomena
>and chance or contingent events.
I have a strong feeling that in my life (and in your life) God is
active in ways that we don't perceive to be "miraculous" -- yet these ways
are still effective in changing the events of our lives (with "events"
defined as what happens in our environment, plus our thoughts and
responses) -- i.e., changed so that what does happen differs from what
would have happened if there was only statistically random "matter in
motion" to decide these events.

Craig R