Re: RFEP, FGC and deism (again)

Jonathan Clarke (
Thu, 15 Apr 1999 07:16:48 +1000

Greetings Robert wrote:

> Jonathan, Ted, and Howard agree that God _sustains_ creation presumably
> moment by moment. I also agree. Does not this raise the question, however,
> regarding the _means_ by which God carries out this sustaining activity? In
> some way God must interact with the material universe. I am concerned with
> the nature of that interaction, because I see no difference, in principle,
> between the nature of the interaction of God in sustaining creation with the
> nature of the interaction of in case of God's episodic intervention. Both
> are interventions. Do not all the questions that Howard raised about the
> action of God in the case of ID also apply to God's sustaining activity?

A comment and an admission. I always get uncomfortable with the term
"intervention" with respect to divine action. It seems to imply that God somehow
is alien to a situation, and is somehow interfering. It also implies that the
creation is autonomous or semi-autonomous from God. However God has every right
to act in creation, it is His after all. "Intervention" language also tends to
force us in the direction of seeing divine action as sporadic and even rare, and
then focus on those. We end up seeing God only in the spectacular, unusual, or
inexplicable. Recognising that creation is contingent upon and sustained by God
leads us to see God at work in the everyday. So that is the comment.

Now for the admission. At the moment I have no idea how God goes about sustaining
the universe. However, the Bible is very clear that He does, and that this
divine action effects every aspect of the everyday things of life. Psalm 104
describes God has sustaining plant growth and the hydrological cycle, feeding the
wild animals (even the carnivores). Job illustrates God at work in the weather,
in the cycle of day and night, the feeding of the carnivores and scavengers.
Psalm 139 describes God at work in the fashioning of the embryo. It is important
to recognize that we see no gaps in these events. God does not need to intervene
in an autonomous or semiautonomous system. Rather the universe is so radically
contingent on God that gaps are unnecessary. God's action is seen through the eye
of faith. One of the reasons perhaps why Jesus spoke about only unbelievers who
looked for signs.

God Bless