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

George Murphy (
Thu, 19 Aug 1999 10:31:34 -0400

Howard J. Van Till wrote:
> 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.

OK, & you know I have no disagreement with this _as far as it goes_. But in
order to be convincing to those who may be dubious it's necessary to be more explicit.
It's not enough to deny that you're denying! Rather, the argument about RFEP needs to
be accompanied by an explicit statement that God DOES act with & through the natural
processes he has created in accord with the characters with which he has endowed them.
This would have at least 2 related consequences:
1) It would stop the questions &/or accusations about "deism" at the the start.
2) It would force into the open the assumptions of those who demand that God
not only _act_ but act in such a way as to show off - "leave his fingerprints all over
the evidence" &c.
In connection with this, I think that your older language of "functional
integrity of creation" is preferable to "fully gifted creation." While I realize that
you intend nothing of the sort, the latter phrase carries with a suggestion of deism.
"Gifted" is easily understood as meaning that God gave something to creation _in the
past_ so that it doesn't need anything more from God now. Instead, of course, God
continues to gift creation at every instant.

George L. Murphy