Howard J. Van Till (110661.1365@compuserve.com)
Wed, 1 Apr 1998 09:31:50 -0500

Bob Dehaan suggested that the concept of Intelligent Design and the Robust
Formational Economy Prnciple could peacefully coexist under the common
umbrella of the doctrine of Providence.

I think not, Bob. ID, as most often presented by its proponents, implies
the rejection of the RFE Principle.

Bob said: "Sustenance" and "governance" connote intelligent design to me,
the direct action of God in the universe--supporting (sustenance) and
controlling (governance) the natural order. This seems to me to imply
interventions of all kinds, including "Extra-natural Assembly" if need be."

My response: We seem to be defining our terms quite differently. I take
'sustenance' to be the divine action of sustaining the Creation, including
its formational and operational economies, in being. No 'interventions'
implied here.

I take 'governance' to be the purposeful establishing of norms/goals for
creaturely behavior. Because God is 'sovereign' (that is, something like a
king) creatures are accountable to God for their behavior. However, to
extrapolate from 'governance' to 'control' is, I believe, a serious
mistake. Perhaps this extrapolation from divine sovereignty to divine
dictatorship lies at the base of the common Christian inclination to
picture the Creator/Provider/God as One who is engaged in micromanaging the
affairs of the Creation.

But such micromanagement -- coercing creatures to act in ways different
from what they would otherwise have done, in contrast to giving creatures
the capacities to act in ways that will accomplish God's purposes -- would,
it seems to me, have two implications that I find theologically

1) micromanagement suggests to me a violation of the being originally given
to creatures. Would God violate the being of his creatures? Would not such
a violation constitute a failure to sustain the being originally given?

2) micromanagement would negate both creaturely freedom and creaturely
accounatbility. What appears to be creaturely action would in reality be
divine action in disguise.

Bob again: "I am not a theologian, and my proposal may be simplistic.
Theologians may have more insight into the relation of ID and RFEP to the
doctrine of providence."

My final comment here: Bob, with you I would welcome the contributions of
theologians and others who are competent to address theological concerns.
However, before they can comment on the relationship of ID or the RFE
Principle to the doctrine of providence they need to know what the
definition of ID actually is.

In a previous post I challenged the proponents of ID to tell us, as
candidly as possible, just what it means to be 'intelligently designed.'
Does it, for instance, include, as an essential element, 'assembled by the
form-imposing action of some extra-natural agent'? Is ID theory mostly
about 'design' or about 'extra-natural assembly'? So far, no answer.

Phil, Paul, other ID theorists, any comments here?

Howard Van Till