Re: Ongoing creation (was: The Curse - Upon All Creation...?)

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Thu Sep 30 2004 - 15:32:51 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Loren Haarsma" <>
To: "_American Sci Affil" <>
Sent: Thursday, September 30, 2004 8:57 AM
Subject: Ongoing creation (was: The Curse - Upon All Creation...?)

> On Wed, 29 Sep 2004, Ted Davis wrote:
>> >>> "Mike Tharp" <> 09/29/04 11:07AM >>>writes:
>> ...I can't imagine there's anyone who would argue that "new
>> species can't be forming after the end of Genesis 1."
>> Ted asks:
>> How about new stars? Can there be actual star formation now, in the
>> Milky
>> Way or elsewhere?
> I've got a story about this question:
> A member of our church named Ray is a retired theologian. He's almost
> a shut-in at a retirement community, but he likes to participate in one of
> our church's book clubs, so we often meet at his place. A few weeks ago,
> we were discussing the book "Perspectives on an Evolving Creation"
> (editted by Keith Miller).
> Ray liked the book. But at the end of the discussion, he brought up
> this same point which others have mentioned: For centuries, Christian
> theology has distinguished between God's creative activity and God's
> providential activity. But evolutionary creation seems to blur that
> distinction.
> I agreed with Ray that creation/providence is a theologically useful
> distinction, and we shouldn't throw it out. However, a useful distinction
> in one context is not always useful in another -- especially when science
> gets into the mix. For example, living/non-living is a very useful
> distinction in most contexts. But how do you classify a virus?
> "So," I said, "If I tell you that new species are forming all the time
> today, that sounds like 'creation.' However, if I tell you that species
> are constantly adapting, and if two sub-populations of one species become
> reproductively isolated from each other (which can happen due to a number
> of factors, to take just one example, each sub-population specializing in
> different food sources), each sub-population will adapt to its niche, and
> after a surprisingly small number of generations, the two sub-populations
> will no longer be able to inter-breed with each other; however, each
> sub-population is better adapted to its particular ecological niche than
> the original population was --- well, that process sounds like
> 'providence.' But scientifically, I've just said the same thing."
> Ray grinned for about half a minute after that. That doesn't exactly
> settle the question, but Ray seemed happy with how we left it.

    I would prefer to put it this way: Providence is an aspect of creation.
(See, e.g., the way the 1st Article is explained in the Heidelberg
Catechism.) Origination is another aspect of creation - & the boundary
between origination & providence is fuzzy. In fact I've recommended that
what we ought to do theologically is to follow the same general approach
that science has taken in this regard. Scientifically we started by trying
to understand how things worked in our local space-time neighborhood & then
extrapolated that understanding outwards & backwards in time so that we
could start to talk about origins. Theologically we should start by trying
to understand how to speak of divine action in the here & now & then
extrapolating that to TRY to deal with origins. Maybe we'll run into
situations in which the locally derived concepts fail (as science may have
with dark energy). Maybe we won't.

    I dealt with this in more detail in an article "From the Small Catechism
to the Big Bang" that's on the asa website.

Received on Thu Sep 30 16:23:37 2004

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