History and Goals (for TE)

Thu, 25 Jun 1998 16:45:54 -0700

Keith B Miller wrote:
> My present understanding, though not at all firmly established in my mind,
> is that the intimacy or immediacy of God's action through chains of
> cause-and-effect in nature is not different from His "miraculous" action.
> In fact, I suspect the distinction is only one of our perception.
> At the same time, I find the idea of God endowing creation with genuine
> freedom (though not autonomy) to be attractive. Such a conception gives
> all of creation the same "free will" that we experience, and gives His
> action in both human history and creative history a certain consistency.
> At this point I do not have a clear idea of how to integrate these
> perspectives - if such is possible.
> God's present action seems to be "invisible" to scientific demonstration.
> Lastly, I think it is important to not visualize God's action in creation
> as though He were Himself a physical entity.
>Why must there be an apparent reserved place for God's action within our scientific
>description? How can we even possibly conceive of how spirit interacts
>with the physical? We don't even have a clue as to how our own spiritual
>nature relates to our bodies - or to how our minds and wills relate to our
>Any responses?

I would like to take a stab at this.

You have neatly summarized my own position on this matter. This is why
I have problems "drawing lines" one way or the other. Especially in

Let me elaborate. I will begin with a few bits of scripture.

"For You created my innermost being; You knit me together in my
mother's womb....My frame was not hid from You when I was made in the
secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes
saw my
unformed body...." Psalm 139:13, 15-16

"As you do not know...how the body is formed in a mother's
womb, so you
can not understand the work of God." Ecclesiastes 11:5

"...Your redeemer, who formed you in the womb...." Isaiah

"...He who formed me in the womb...." Isaiah 49:5

"Before I formed you in the womb...." Jeremiah 1:5

I do not wish to get into anthropomorphisms here. The point I wish to
make is that, unlike the Genesis one through eleven, which are in the
past, are not directly observable (from a scientific point of view),
are unrepeatable, women still get pregnant, and this can be studied

Embryos become fetuses which become infants. We can observe these
things. In fact, Eccesiastes 11:5 notwithstanding, we know an
incredible amount about how a human being is formed. While we still
have much to learn, most of us studied meiosis, and mitosis, and
embryology in our basic biology classes during our undergrad days.
Lennart Nilsson has documented this incredible process in his books,
photos, and films.

Now, as listed above, we have a set of passages from the bible telling
us that God IS intimately involved in the development of new human
beings. Yet I defy anybody to take out an embryology textbook, and
start pointing out that God did such and such at such and such a time.

Is this what you were getting at?

I am not sure how this would apply to our attempts to link events in
Genesis with the observations of science. I am thinking along these
lines. I am most familiar with the field of Paleoanthropology. In
1996 a group of scientists from Australia found
what was apparently very early rock art at a site called Jinmium in
Australia. They dated this site at 116-176 kyr. Based on this date
they made some rather controversial statements regarding early man and
the use of boats to cross large bodies of water. These same scientists,
in a report in the May 28 issue of Nature, have revised their original
date forward to 10 kyr. This is a significant revision, especially with
regards to the issue of early man building boats.

There is one group of scientists who claim that Neandertal man was not
capable of speech in the sense modern men use it. There is another
group which diputes this evidence.
One group argues for an African origin of all anatomically modern
humans. Another group argues for a multiregional origin of humans. The
fossil and archeological evidence that has been gathered by
anthropologists is open to interpretation in a variety of ways. If we
base our harmony of science and the bible on a particular scientific
model, and then that model is upset by a revision of the evidence, where
does that leave our harmonization?

What do you think? Have I misapplied the conclusions I drew from the
embryology analogy to the broader Genesis situation?

Blaine D. McArthur