Re: The more they learn, the less they believe

Paul Arveson (
Mon, 3 Aug 1998 09:32:20 -0400

George Murphy wrote:
>Dick Fischer wrote:
>> Phil Johnson wrote:
>> >>Suppose Larson and Witham had asked biologists who are members
>> of the NAS to step forward publicly at a scientific convention to affirm in
>> front of their colleagues that they agree with this statement: "A
>> supernatural
>> being we call God actively guided evolution in order to bring about the
>> existence of human beings in furtherance of a divine purpose." How many
>> would step forward?<<
>> If this is the litmus test, I too fail it. The problematic phrase for me is
>> "actively guided." Does God actively guide the changes that occur in
>> the evolution of the human DNA molecule? How do deleterious genes
>> slip through? How do genetic defects arise? Does God fall asleep at
>> the switch from time to time? Your statement implicates the Creator
>> for genetic disease. Is that your intent?
> The phrase "actively guided" is a little like "inerrant" in
>connection with
>Scripture. There is a sense in which I could affirm the latter but I'd
>rather not
>because most people who use it mean not just "without error" but "accurate
>narrative." Similarly, there is a careful sense in which I could speak of
>guiding" evolution but I'd rather not because Johnson & others want it to
>mean that some
>natural phenomena bear an unmistakeable _deus me fecit_ stamp on them.
> Shalom,
> George

This is a good thread. I appreciate your efforts to articulate a statement
of the relationship between God and nature. It's the neglected doctrine of
Providence. As you can see, to state things correctly requires a lot of
nuance and care, in order to avoid numerous pitfalls into descriptions
which either reduce God to being a part of the universe-machine, or remove
Him from it entirely. I have not yet been able to formulate a statement
that I would be comfortable in sharing, but I believe this is an important
task because it really gets to the core of our current difficulties.

Paul Arveson, Code 724, Research Physicist, Signatures Directorate
Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division
9500 MacArthur Blvd., West Bethesda, MD 20817-5700
(301) 227-3831