Re: Faith, Evolution, and Tax Dollars?

From: Don Winterstein <dfwinterstein@msn.com>
Date: Wed Apr 07 2004 - 04:09:41 EDT

Ted Davis wrote:

"I like the general line of thinking, in which God is not said to
"intervene" in nature b/c nature is *always* at *all times* under God's
control; and therefore God doesn't "intervene" in God's regular activity.
This has been stressed by many ASA-type authors in addition to Howard, such
as Dick Bube, Donald MacKay, and Charles A. Coulson. Boyle can also be read
in places to mean this. THus, I'm content to think of evolution (a
"natural" process) in this way, as God's means of creating living things."

Just to cast a dissenting vote here, this kind of thinking makes God too immanent for my taste. If God were so immanent, why would it take maybe 2.5 GY to go from single cells to multicellular life forms, and why would the rest of the evolutionary sequence be utterly convoluted and often apparently aimless? To me the whole messy story of organic evolution witnesses of a world that is in some sense truly independent of God.

Independence is key theology: In the large scheme of things God was not creating a child, who would be dependent on him, but a lover, who by the nature of her role must arrive on the scene in some sense independently of him. The apparent haphazardness of her emergence from the primal ooze testifies of her independence.

God is "allowed" to intervene (where "intervention" is, by Howard's def., "to enter into a chain of events or processes already under way so as to change the outcome") from time to time in her creation, but only if he can do so without showing his hand. That's actually not difficult for him. When the time is ripe for actual courtship (e.g., crucifixion and resurrection of Christ), he's then obliged to show his hand.

If there were no disasters or genetic defects, etc., and everyone died in sleep at exactly age 97, we'd know God's priority for people was for them to live to a ripe old age. We'd also conclude that the world did not operate in any sense independently of God. But that's not the world; the real world is independent of God, it has disasters and genetic defects even though God interacts with it and intervenes in it: Intervenes as a lover, as one who must keep his distance until invited.

Don

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Ted Davis<mailto:TDavis@messiah.edu>
  To: asa@calvin.edu<mailto:asa@calvin.edu> ; kbmill@ksu.edu<mailto:kbmill@ksu.edu>
  Sent: Monday, April 05, 2004 1:05 PM
  Subject: RE: Faith, Evolution, and Tax Dollars?

  And, to give further clarity to my comments...

  I like the general line of thinking, in which God is not said to
  "intervene" in nature b/c nature is *always* at *all times* under God's
  control; and therefore God doesn't "intervene" in God's regular activity.
  This has been stressed by many ASA-type authors in addition to Howard, such
  as Dick Bube, Donald MacKay, and Charles A. Coulson. Boyle can also be read
  in places to mean this. THus, I'm content to think of evolution (a
  "natural" process) in this way, as God's means of creating living things.

  However, the kind of voluntaristic theology out of which this type of view
  has grown historically--the theology that emphasizes God's constant, ongoing
  governance of the world and which views the "laws" of nature as human
  descriptions of God's faithful regular actions--is also the kind of theology
  that emphasizes God's right to act differently in some situations. This is
  the old distinction between God's ordinary and extraordinary activity. All
  of it is divine activity; most of it can be described in terms of natural
  laws.

  From this perspective (mine), God does not "intervene," God simply "acts."
  However, some of God's acts may not conform to "natural law," that is, they
  are special acts that do not fit the ordinary patterns. These might well
  cause us as human observers to conclude that God has "intervened" in nature,
  though the language does have the difficulty of suggesting (wrongly) that
  God is absent from the world at other times. The point is, that God is not
  bound always to act in the same ways. God does what God does, whether or
  not it fits in our humanly created boxes.

  ted
Received on Wed Apr 7 04:10:44 2004

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