Re: The Church of Darwin (WSJ 16 Aug 1999)

Howard J. Van Till (
Thu, 19 Aug 1999 10:12:13 -0400

Thanks, Bill Hamilton, for your response to my post regarding the "Robust
Formational Economy Principle." I was particularly interested in your
representing the concern of episodic creationists that my proposal might
appear dangerously close to deism.

You put it: "However, putting on my former creationist hat, I
suspect a good many creationists will say that Howard's view makes God seem
very impersonal: we only know Him indirectly through admiring His
creation. That's not what Howard is saying, of course, but I'm sure the
deism label will be pinned even to this."

Yes, nearly every time I present the RFEP or the "Fully Gifted Creation
Perspective" someone (usually an episodic creationist) expresses the fear
that this is just deism in disguise. However, as you note, Bill, it is
nothing of the sort.

I am not at all denying that God can and does act in and interact with the
Creation. My question is, "What is the character of the Creation to which
God has given being, the Creation in which God acts and with which God
interacts?" There is absolutely nothing in my proposal that would exclude
God's acting in any way that is consistent with God's being and God's will.
While the RFEP would suggest that a certain category of "form-imposing
interventions" has been made unnecessary by God's choice to "fully gift"
the Creation with a robust formational economy, it does NOT stand as any
prohibition of God's freedom or ability to act as God would choose to act.

So, then, why the commonly expressed concern (fear?) that eliminating the
need for occasional episodes of "form-imposing intervention" in the
formational history of the Creation would transform God into the impersonal
and distant God of deism? What leads episodic creationists to extrapolate
my proposal into something very different from what I actually state? Why
would a God who is sufficiently creative to conceptualize a Creation with a
robust formational economy and sufficiently generous to give the Creation
such fullness of being withdraw his personal presence from his creatures
and choose not to interact with them? I ask this question seriously, so
that I might better understand the very people that I wish to reach.

Howard J. Van Till