Re: [asa] a creationist on the hiddenness of God

From: Cameron Wybrow <>
Date: Thu May 07 2009 - 18:14:06 EDT

Ted, George, Bernie, etc.:

A few quick points:

1. I don't know of any ID proponent who denies that faith is a required
"component of an adequate theology of divine action". First of all, ID
claims to be able to detect only the results of divine action, not the
divine action itself; second, no Christian ID proponent believes that the
capacity for intelligent design exhausts the nature of God. Intelligent
design can only examine the expression of the rational side of God. But no
ID proponent has said that God is wholly explicable in rational terms. No
ID proponent has said that the action of the Holy Spirit or the suffering of
the Suffering Servant or the meaning of the Crucifixion is explicable in
rational terms. ID leaves the field wide open for "an adequate theology of
divine action". It's hard to see why the inference that the complexity of a
cell requires intelligent design (even supposing it's a bad inference) poses
any obstacle to any theology of divine action that anyone here might wish to
propose. The inference "God designed this" does not in any way restrict the
speculations of theologians regarding how God actualized his design, or what
purpose the design serves in God's overall plan. The fact that both Dembski
and Behe have granted the possibility of quantum explanations shows the
flexibility of ID on this subject, and ought to set TE fears at rest.

2. Even if the New Testament had never been written, no Jew needed to be
taught that God was hidden; it's a fundamental premise of the Hebrew
Bible -- as George must know very well. So the "theology of the cross", in
teaching that God is hidden, doesn't teach anything new. It strikes me that
what it new in the crucifixion is not the hiddenness of God but the weakness
of God, the vulnerability of God, the self-surrender of God. And yes, I
think Martin Luther has brought that point out well. I think it is brought
out even more powerfully in the writings of Simone Weil, a writer whom
George might very well find congenial, on the notion of divine self-emptying
at any rate, and quite possibly on other matters.

3. George must also know that the citation of John 14:19 alone is not
sufficient to settle the question whether the Resurrection appearances are
to be understood as public or private events, and he must be aware that
Biblical scholars disagree over that question. I assume that he (and
everyone else here) also knows that many Christians do think of it a public
event. I would wager a small sum that even a few TEs think of it as a
public event. Indeed, I am not sure that Ted Davis doesn't think of it as a
public event -- but Ted can speak for himself on that.

And just to clarify, by "public event", I mean this: Someone outside of the
fledgling Christian community of Jesus's disciples and followers, say, a
Roman soldier who was present at the crucifixion, could, in principle, have
seen Jesus after the Resurrection, and said "Hey! You're supposed to be
dead! I was in the squadron that crucified you!" Whether any outsider did
in fact see Jesus, I am offering no opinion. But I would argue that most
Christians who have ever lived have supposed that the Resurrection was a
public event in that sense. And common sense is on their side. To say that
Jesus "rose from the dead" would be grossly misleading if a public event
were not meant. After all, was the raising of Lazarus not a public event?
Even if Jesus's body was a "glorified" body, it was still a body, and
therefore should still have been visible. We can of course assert that his
"glorified" body would have been invisible to unbelievers -- which I take it
that George is implying. But then our position would be no different from
Bultmann's; i.e., *for the Christian* Christ has risen, whereas no one else
observes anything unusual. Yet I know that George disagrees with Bultmann.
So the question is what sort of resurrected body George believes in, that it
can be invisible to unbelievers but visible to believers, yet still be a
"body" as the word "body" is used in either normal speech or intellectual
discourse. And I would cite this remark as yet another example of where a
TE proponent differs from conventional Christian theology -- which is fine,
as long as it is frankly acknowledged.


----- Original Message -----
From: "George Murphy" <>
To: "Dehler, Bernie" <>; <>
Sent: Thursday, May 07, 2009 4:46 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] a creationist on the hiddenness of God

>A couple of comments:
> Bernie is right - what "careful observers" see is not God's "hand" but the
> "tools" wielded by that hand. This is why I've emphasized that faith (in
> a deeper sense than just believing in invisible agents) has to be a
> component of an adequate theology of divine action.
> On Ted's discussion: People may have varying reasons for thinking that
> God's action is generally hidden. As will surprise no one, I think the
> fundamental reason for such a view is that the God we're talking about is
> the one revealed most profoundly in the event of the cross - i.e.,
> paradoxically where God is most hidden. (Some will ask, "What about the
> resurrection?" As I said in a recent post, a theology of the cross
> includes the resurrection of the crucified one. But the resurrection was
> not a public event, the kind of phenomenon open to observation by
> everyone - cf. Jn.14:19.)
> Shalom
> George
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Dehler, Bernie" <>
> To: <>
> Sent: Thursday, May 07, 2009 3:27 PM
> Subject: RE: [asa] a creationist on the hiddenness of God
>>I think the following is a fallacy:
>> "Only careful observers see His hand."
>> Scientists are painfully "careful observers." If anyone could "carefully
>> observe" it should be scientists. If God's workings are imperceptible, I
>> don't think it is because of the fault of the observer. Also- if it only
>> took a "careful observation" to see God at work, then that perception
>> could be then shown to others once it is discovered-- so where is it?
>> That's what DI ID'ers are trying to do (explain God's hand at work
>> through Intelligent Design because life as we know it is impossible to
>> happen naturally), but they don't seem to have a compelling "careful
>> observation" to peddle.
>> ...Bernie
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: [] On
>> Behalf Of Ted Davis
>> Sent: Thursday, May 07, 2009 11:27 AM
>> To:
>> Subject: [asa] a creationist on the hiddenness of God
>> Cameron Wybrow has been encouraging us to talk about a kenotic view of
>> creation and God "hiding himself", in connection with TE and ID. While
>> browsing in the college library this afternoon, I found a very curious
>> little book by Gorman Gray, a retired engineer, called "The Age of the
>> Universe: What Are the Biblical Limits?" Information is at
>> Mr Gray is an advocate of a universe with "undefined age," but a recent
>> biosphere (no more than 6000 years ago or 7500 years ago if the
>> Septuagint
>> is used). I encountered a similar view once, when a Brazilian teacher
>> told
>> me about it. Actually the famous YEC George McCready Price admitted this
>> possibility at one point. As a say, a curious little book.
>> My point in mentioning it here is that I found the opening paragraph of
>> the
>> preface to be interesting in connection with the theme of this thread. I
>> quote as follows. Remember, the author is a creationist, if not
>> technically
>> a YEC then almost a YEC but absolutely not a TE.
>> "We are compelled to believe in a God who is above His creation and who
>> can
>> intervene supernaturally whenever, wherever and however He pleases. Most
>> of
>> His interventions today are quiet. So quiet, in fact, that some might
>> consider world events merely as natural forces producing their
>> predictable
>> physics. Only careful observers see His hand. We are dealing with a God
>> who silently 'hides himself' (Isaiah 45:15)."
>> Wow.
>> My only comment: those TEs who like the QDA view (quantum divine action)
>> are motivated by a similar concern. Contrary to what is often said or
>> implied, they are not denying that God sometimes work genuine miracles
>> (that
>> would in some cases go well beyond QDA) and they are not picking a view
>> to
>> retain academic prestige. Rather, they really believe that virtually all
>> divine activity is pretty subtle, while at the same time they want to
>> uphold
>> the orthodox belief in a God who acts--who acts all the time, all over
>> the
>> place.
>> Whatever else we might say about that view, we need to keep this in mind.
>> Ted
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Received on Thu May 7 18:15:15 2009

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