Re: The state of suburban theology

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <>
Date: Sat Jun 12 2004 - 22:49:33 EDT

On Sat, 12 Jun 2004 09:22:05 -0400 "Howard J. Van Till"
<> writes:
> <snip>
> What I was actually hoping to get from you was a sample of your
> scholarship
> and your knowledge of deism's concept of the relationship of God to
> world
> and its concept(s) of divine action in the world (minus all of your
> judgmental commentary on the Enlightenment) .
> Specifically, I am interested to know how deism is connected to the
> mechanistic concept of the universe. For example, was the universe
> conceived
> by deists to be such a self-sufficient machine that God -- if "God"
> is a
> Being distinct from the universe and wishes to act in the universe
> -- must
> interrupt or irruptively break into the stream of natural processes
> in order
> to do so?
> To focus even more, what is the relationship between today's
> supernatural
> interventionism (say, as embodied in YEC and ID viewpoints, and as
> preached
> from many suburban pulpits today) and deism?
> Howard
My perhaps oversimplified view of Deism is that God is the creator of a
world so "mechanically" perfect that it operates without any
intervention, a sort of super-watch notion. It is strictly deterministic,
which fits with Laplace's intelligence predicting or reading back every
state of the universe. God is currently absent from all events. However,
the deity will eventually morally judge all things on the "last day." So
there is a motivation to act ethically. Because of this latter, I guess
that there must have been a notion of separation of the physical
(mechanistic) from the mental (free), somewhat like Descartes view. But I
haven't read deeply enough to confirm this. But free action under strict
determinism seems to me to produce problems.

The only connection between Deism and some contemporary Christian views
lies in the notion that nature is strictly deterministic in a simplistic
sense. In other words, nothing can change without intervention from
without. But such intervention is the antithesis of what Deism claims.
Deism could agree with a recent creation, but not over six days. The
interventionism of ID would be anathema. However, comparisons are
difficult because Deism was an 18th century development, a century before
the development of evolutionary notions.
Received on Sat Jun 12 23:21:05 2004

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