Re: agreeing about a mere creation?

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Mon Aug 22 2005 - 08:44:49 EDT

>>> Peter Cook <> 8/20/2005 7:57:45 PM >>>asks a good

 In my
technical work, I have written many lines of code, and executed many
of circuits in use today, and I suppose one can say that when those lines
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
not think this is generally what we have in mind when we speak of God
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

(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

Received on Mon Aug 22 15:05:47 2005

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