Re: It's the Bible or evolution

From: George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com>
Date: Mon Sep 26 2005 - 18:04:18 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Cornelius Hunter" <ghunter2099@sbcglobal.net>
To: <kbmill@ksu.edu>; <asa@calvin.edu>
Sent: Monday, September 26, 2005 4:25 PM
Subject: Re: It's the Bible or evolution

> Keith:
>
> Of course you are not the only one who finds that evolution provides
> helpful guidance in addressing natural evil. This is pretty common and
> obviously this concern predates Darwin and was one of the theological
> concerns that motivated theories in the historical sciences that break the
> link between God and creation. That is, it seems that creation does not
> reflect divine will so divine action must not be responsible, or not be
> efficacious. Natural history must be the result of naturalistic phenomena
> (and hence, no detectability of God's design).

It's important to realize precisely what Cornelius means by divine action
being "efficacious." In order for it to be that God must not only be
active, must not only be the primary cause without which no secondary cause
can do anything, but must at each event accomplish exactly what God wills
for all the creatures who are involved. This means not only that God must
will for Katrina to hit New Orleans head-on, and must not only will cancer
cells to multiply, but must will (e.g.) for Oswald to desire the death of
Kennedy, carry out his plan and actually kill him. God is an efficacious
cause not only of natural but of moral eveil - i.e., sin.
I realize that some Christians take such a position & it can't be logically
refuted but it's important to be clear about what's being said.

& it's no use trying to insist that God really doesn't will sinful actions
even though in the above sense he does with formulas like "God concurs in
producing the effect, not the defect" (Quenstedt). If you're going to
insist on this concept of efficacious divine action then you just have to
tough it out and say, "Yes, God wills sin."

But we're not faced with the dichotomy: Either God's will isn't
accomplished or God wills evil. If a fundamental aspect of God's will is
that creatures be genuine agents and have some relative autonomy, so that
God will limit his action in cooperating with them to what is in accord with
their natural properties, then that will is accomplished even though God's
action is not "efficacious" in the sense Cornelius wants and even though the
result of each individual creaturely action may not be what God desires.

It's fruitless to try to "do theodicy" for each individual occurrence in the
world and it's fruitless to try to do it apart from christology. The
ultimate fulfillment of God's will and "justification" of God must be both
christological and (almost by definition) eschatological.

>
> This is all well and good, but I do not see how one could make the case
> that Christians ought to view this as orthodox thinking. Scripture does
> not give us a picture of creation not representing divine will. Quite the
> opposite. In several places we are explicitly told creation does represent
> divine will. Take the latter chapters of Job, for instance. God takes
> credit for all manner of designs. He explains to Job, for example, that
> the ostrich does not care for her young very well because ...? Because God
> allowed for naturalistic processes to create the ostrich, and they didn't
> do a very good job? No, because God did not endow her with wisdom.
>
> Clearly there is a conflict between evolution and orthodoxy, so I don't
> think that the conflict view is "simply false." A way to avoid this would
> be to remake the theory of evolution such that it is considered to be
> merely God's deterministic creation tool, but of course this is not
> evolution as we know it.

Bob Russell has argued that quantum uncertainty provides a way for God to
direct the evolutionary process at the molecular level in a way that can't
be detected by scientific means. Of course if "evolution as we know it"
means "evolution as believed by scientists who aren't Christians" then that
won't work but there's no reason why we should let them dictate on this
matter.

>The point is not whether common descent or evolution, *per se* can be
>viewed as orthodox. Of course they can when the additional evolutionary
>thinking is not attached. But this is not what is meant by these terms.
>Common descent and evolution are used to refer to the idea that there is a
>break in the link between God and creation, such that designs in creation
>do not represent divine will. How can this be orthodox?

You use the words "orthodox" and "unorthodox" quite a lot without explaining
what you means by them.
What standard of orthodoxy are you appealing to? & please don't just say
"the Bible" because your above example shows that you read more into the
Bible than it in fact says. How do we know from Job that God didn't give
the ostrich its bad parenting skills through a "naturalistic" process.
(Like most ID proponents you regularly use "naturalistic" with no
distinction between the methodological & metaphysical variety.)

Shalom
George
http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
Received on Mon Sep 26 18:06:06 2005

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