Re: agreeing about a mere creation?

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Mon Aug 22 2005 - 12:25:39 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ted Davis" <>
To: <>; <>; <>
Sent: Monday, August 22, 2005 8:44 AM
Subject: Re: agreeing about a mere creation?

>>>> Peter Cook <> 8/20/2005 7:57:45 PM >>>asks a good
> question:
> In my
> technical work, I have written many lines of code, and executed many
> designs
> of circuits in use today, and I suppose one can say that when those lines
> of
> code are executed or those circuits operate, I am involved - but this is
> almost explicitly in a Deistic sense: the code or circuits are doing what
> they were intended to do, but I am not "there" and if I were to die
> tomorrow, the code and circuits would continue to function without me. I
> do
> not think this is generally what we have in mind when we speak of God
> being
> involved in His creation, or the creation being upheld by Him. What do we
> mean? Is such a statement just a Christian type of political correctness?
> Ted replies:
> Dick Bube, who edited the ASA journal for many years and taught a course
> on
> religion and science at Stanford, wrote a lovely book called "The Human
> Quest" (1971) that has influenced my thinking on several aspects of
> science
> and faith. At the end of each chapter, he placed several provocative
> questions for discussion, in the event that the book were used in (say) a
> Sunday school class. Generally speaking, this set of questions is simply
> the best I can remember seeing anywhere. The first chapter includes the
> following discussion question:
> If before reading this chapter you had been asked the question, "What
> would
> happen to us and the world if God were to 'turn himself off'," what would
> you have answered? What do you answer now? .... <snip>
> My answer, formed partly over the many years I've been pondering it, is
> the
> same as Bube's: "If God were to 'turn himself off,' everything would
> *cease
> to exist!* Without God there are no laws, no world, no us; to attempt to
> distinguish between physical and spiritual in this case is impossible.
> Not
> only do we rely upon God as the Creator at the beginning, as the Source of
> order and purpose in the world, as the personal Father who gives meaning
> to
> love and depth to personal relationships; we rely upon God constantly for
> our very existence."
> When I ask students to write briefly an answer to this same question, I
> typically get three types of responses:
> (1) MAJORITY response: The world would start to decay, and chaos would
> soon
> result.
> (2) MINORITY response: The physical world would probably continue to
> function, but Satan would have free reign and the moral order would very
> quickly fall apart.
> (3) SMALL MINORITY response: See Bube's answer above.
> Students find this a very helpful exercise.
> Robert Boyle, so famous for promoting the "clockwork" metaphor for God's
> relation to the world, also at the same time upheld Bube's
> position--although this is not generally known, there are many places in
> his
> writings where he expressly endorses it. There is no contradiction
> between
> those two views, IMO, at least not if they are taken together as part of a
> larger picture. For Boyle, the clockwork universe was such a helpful
> picture/metaphor, b/c it stressed two highly important aspects of God's
> relationship to the world. (1) The world functioned with great
> regularity,
> making it possiblel for us created minds to understand it and then to use
> our knowledge to advance "the empire of man over the creatures," as Boyle
> put it in strongly Baconian language; that is, to improve the miserable
> human condition, esp in medicine (one of the main motivations Boyle had to
> become a chemist was to improve medicine). (2) A clockwork *REQUIRES* a
> master craftsman--a "Demiurgos" as both Plato and the book of Hebrews
> (11:10) speak of God. Thus, the universe cannot be thought of as an
> autonomous entity, not even within the mechanistic practice of laboratory
> science. One might fairly say that Boyle was an advocate of "intelligent
> design."

The idea expressed in Bube's answer is the part of the traditional doctrine
of providence called "preservation" - i.e., God keeps creatures in
existence. God also cooperate with the actions of creatures (concurrence -
though I think cooperation the better term) & directs them to the ends God
intends (governance). The traditional approach was to subsume cooperation
under either preservation or governance. The 1st option especially suggests
an essentially static view of creation - God maintains the existence of
creatures with unchanging substances & then moves them around. With the
dynamic picture of the world that gives a much more accurate portrayal of
what modern science has found - & also, I would say, is a lot more
biblical - the priorities should perhaps be reversed: God preserves
creatures precisely by cooperating with their actions.

Received on Mon Aug 22 15:05:39 2005

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