Re: More than Three views?

Allan Harvey (aharvey@boulder.nist.gov)
Thu, 25 Feb 1999 08:36:57 -0700

Howard Van Till commented on my proposed scale for Christian views about
creation:

>1) Theology requires "gaps"
> Theology requires young Earth
>
>2) Theology requires "gaps"
> Preference for young Earth
>
>3) Theology requires "gaps"
> Preference for old Earth
>
>4) "Gaps" or "no gaps" both theologically OK
> Preference for "gaps"
>
>5) "Gaps" or "no gaps" both theologically OK
> Preference for "no gaps"
>
>6) Theology requires "no gaps"
>
>
>Allan provided this definition for _his_ use of the term "gap."
>
>>In the following, I use "gap" as shorthand for a (preferably detectable)
>>direct action of God in natural history that is outside God's "normal"
>>means of nature.
>
>It should be noted, however, that this is a substantially different
definition
>for 'gap' than I employed in my chapter. (Nothing wrong with that; it just
>needs clarificaton.) I focused attention on the question of whether or not
>there are _gaps_ (because of _missing formational capabilities_) in the
>creation's formational economy. These are the sort of gaps that would make
>episodes of 'special creation' or 'extranatural assembly' _essential_
>components in the creation's formational history.
>
>The absence of gaps in the creation's formational economy would not,
however,
>rule out the _possibility_ of God's direct action. Yes, such acts might be
>_unnecessary_, but not _forbidden_. It would be God's choice--and thereby an
>expression of the character of God's being and the character of God's
>relationship to the creation.

OK, that is a useful clarification. Howard is fairly strongly committed
to God not having left any "gaps" in what he endowed creation with from
the beginning, but open to the possibility that he might have done some
things in natural history directly in spite of that (as an extra
expression of his character rather than as a necessity). Under the
definition of "gap" I was using, I think that would move Howard closer to
5.0 on my scale. I want to think a little more about which definition,
if either, works best for differentiating among Christian positions.

>As I see it, Allan's 'no gaps' category would rule out miracles. Is that
what
>you meant to do, Allan? I suspect not.

No, I didn't mean the "no gaps" position would rule out miracles, but I
did mean to define it so that it would rule out non-natural actions by
God *in the carrying out of his creation*. So specific interventions in
individual human situations like water to wine or dividing loaves and
fishes would not be ruled out, but something like direct creation of
Cambrian phyla would be. It has been an issue of discussion in the past
why God might be "interventionist" in salvation history and interactions
with people, but not in natural history, with the usual explanation
involving the lack of free will on the part of nature.

>Finally, with _my_ meaning of 'gaps,' Allan would be correct to place me at
>about 5.5 on his scale.
>
>Cordially,
>
>Howard Van Till
>
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Dr. Allan H. Harvey | aharvey@boulder.nist.gov |
| Physical and Chemical Properties Division | "Don't blame the |
| National Institute of Standards & Technology | government for what I |
| 325 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80303 | say, or vice versa." |
-------------------------------------------------------------------------