Re: Answer to Eugenie Scott's views

David Campbell (
Mon, 23 Mar 1998 11:42:49 -0400

Dear Will,
You wrote
"I appreciate this theological point, made so many different times, and
especially by liberal theological formerly mainstream churches (such as my
old Presbyterian church). The problem is that this kind of God seemed to me
then so intellectually contrived, so distant, that it wasn't worth much to
me. It is so easy to say, "God is everywhere and works through the laws of
nature." What I cannot see, is why such a God would be of any real use to
anyone. I am extremely curious--do you on this ASA list think this kind of
God is comforting to you?"

I'm not sure that you are understanding what I am saying. The kind of God
I am trying to describe does work though the laws of nature and is
everywhere. However, He is not merely looking in on how the laws of nature
are acting from time to time, but rather the laws are how He normally runs
the universe. He is free to not work through them, but is equally involved
whether a rock, when I drop it, falls towards the earth or floats in the
air. The god of liberal theology does seem weak, distant, and not much
use. A God Who is sovereign over the universe and determines all that
happens in it is useful to know. These aspects of God are more
awe-inspiring, if not terrifying, than comforting, except in the context of
His being the God Who also loves us.

"I try to be both open-minded and critical. Of course I would try to
experiment on things supposedly created by God. Taking my chances at the
Pearly Gate are fine with me, since I think I will be dead, dead, dead
before that."

Trying to experiment on God, not on creation, is where the problem lies.
Jesus told Thomas to touch and see that He was physically present, complete
with scars, but He refused to grant the taunting demands for a miracle from
Satan or the crowd at the crucifixion.

""There may also be an element of "free will" involved. God does not force
people to believe in Him, and a fully documented miracle may be more
forceful than He wants."

I don't believe free will exists."

Free will is not a topic of agreement within Christianity or the rest
of the world and can easily get off topic for science and Christianity
lists, but I think I can tie my view into how God acts in nature. As might
be expected of someone citing the Westminister Confession, I don't think
free will plays a significant role in our lives, either, hence the
quotation marks. Rather, those who are not saved do not encounter
something that forces them to believe. Even seeing miracles did not have
much of an effect on many people, such as the grumblers among the
Israelites following Moses, the Israelites of Elijah and Elisha's time who
continued to serve Baal, and the crowds who followed Jesus in hope of
miraculous free food rather than because of any interest in Who He was.
Likewise, many early opponents of Christianity admitted that Jesus had
worked miracles but rejected the significance attributed to them by
A God Who has predetermined all that happens is not the most appealing
God, for there is much that has happened and will happen that is not good,
yet the alternative is a God Who is not fully sovereign and Who does not
fit as well with many Biblical descriptions. Such a God does act in
nature, either according to the patterns we call natural laws or otherwise.

David Campbell