Re: Guilt by association

From: Don Winterstein (
Date: Thu May 29 2003 - 04:30:57 EDT

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    > Don Winterstein wrote:

    "I'm firmly in the Fiddler camp. I believe God wants to give the world as
    much freedom as possible to develop in the ways it prefers, but the world
    has always been recalcitrant and, left to itself, will always go in
    directions that, if not modified, will thwart God's goals. In other words,
    "sin" is built into the world, it's in the nature of the world; sin didn't
    originate with humans. (Neither did death.) So God from time to time needs
    to step in to make course corrections. The Bible tells us that God has
    operated within recorded history by intervening from time to time.
    Plausibly it is how he has operated for the last 13.7 billion years or so."

    To which Keith Miller responded:

    > This view seems to imply that "natural evil" has its source in the
    > action of some free being acting in opposition to God from the
    > beginning of God's creative process -- in other words, attributing it
    >to some ancient angelic fall.
    > While the argument for an angelic fall is not inconsistent with the
    > Bible, finding direct scriptural support is difficult at best.
    > Attributing animal suffering and death to the actions of such fallen
    > powers is more difficult still. In fact, it runs into many of the same
    > theological problems as the tracing of natural evil to the consequences
    > of human disobedience. A satanic corruption and distortion of God's
    > creative activity is very difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile
    > with the goodness of creation proclaimed in scripture.
    > What does the repeated pronouncement of "And God saw that it was good"
    > over creation mean, if that same creation also bore the corrupting
    > imprint of rebellious spiritual powers? Such a creation could not
    > fully represent God's good and perfect will" so how could it be
    > declared good, in fact "very good"? In what way could that distorted
    > creation give praise and glory to God?
    > A serious theological problem is also raised by effectively attributing
    > all manifestations of death and pain in the natural world to the forces
    > of evil. Satan would be given a power over creation that Scripture
    > places exclusively in God's providential hands. All natural processes
    > and events are undergirded by the creative and sustaining power of God.
    > Rain or drought, plague or harvest, storm and earthquake are all part
    > of God's providential action (see Amos 4:6 ff). More than this, God is
    > understood as intimately and actively involved in the continual cycle
    > of death and new life we observe in the natural world (Psalm 104:27-30).
    > If God is thus involved in the death as well as the life of his
    > creatures, how can this death at the same time be attributed to the
    > spiritual forces of evil? Scripture does not seek to distance God from
    > the ongoing death and pain present in the creation, and neither should
    > we.

    Yes, I believe in the reality of devils, and it's quite possible they're responsible for at least some of the "sin" in the pre-human world. But I wasn't thinking specifically of evil spirits when I made the post printed above. That post in fact encapsulates world history for me (but is in stark contrast to views of prominent contributors to this list such as Howard Van Till and George Murphy). Integrating my knowledge of geology/paleontology, my knowledge of the Bible and my personal knowledge of God gives me that encapsulation as the most satisfying synthesis. That's all it is.

    We know that billions of deaths, rampant diseases and uncountable natural catastrophes and calamities marred Earth before humans ever came on the scene. Did anything much change on a cosmic scale when some Adam committed his first sin? Don't think so. All the kinds of things about nature that humans consider bad were going on long before that first sin.

    Furthermore, my entire experience militates against the idea that the slime and violent jumble of early life forms could ever have brought me into existence without some kind of supernatural guidance. At the same time I strongly believe that God wants his creatures that he loves to have come into existence as independently of himself as possible. Putting the two concepts together, you come up with the idea that God gives the world relatively free run of things but finds it necessary to make course corrections from time to time.

    As for "God saw that it was good," well, sure, it was, considering all the effort he'd put in on it. But it was never good in the way the YECs believe it was.

    As for "Scripture does not .distance God from the ongoing death and pain present in the creation," well, I don't either. As the rest of my original post pointed out, calamity, death and pain are simply a part of the cosmic game we're in, rules set by God. While God monitors all things intimately, he intervenes to cause course corrections only when the direction in which things are going threatens the fulfillment of his goals.

    These interventions of whatever kind at whatever scale are what I call miracles. The Bible says miracles happened in human historical times. Given our knowledge of pre-human world history, it doesn't take a lot of imagination to think they might have been going on ever since the Big Bang. I see no reason whatever to think that God would suddenly start intervening in the world only after humans came on the scene.



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