Re: [asa] Does nature leads you to believe or to reject God?

From: Schwarzwald <>
Date: Sat Nov 28 2009 - 09:47:22 EST

Heya Oscar,

I don't have any advice on how to preach specifically to your adviser, but I
will share my own view about nature and God.

Personally, as an in-essence TE, I've never really been able to accept the
characterizations of nature as "red in tooth and claw" - or, as you say your
adviser put it, "cruel, irrational and senseless". I can absolutely
understand someone regarding certain natural behavior of animals as violent,
of course - predators feeding on prey, etc. But is it cruel? When a mountain
lion preys upon a deer, is the lion thinking "I sure hope to cause pain and
misery to this deer"? Is the deer thinking "This lion is terrible, he's
doing this out of sheer malice"? And if not, in what sense is it cruel, much
less senseless or irrational?

In fact, given the above, I think most of the interactions of nature are not
cruel (though they certainly can be violent or predatory), while still being
rational and sensible (In the sense that animals in particular, as well as
the evolutionary process, works according to understandable and final
causes). And I really think that some people for whom the gut reaction is
"Nature should have never unfolded in such a way!", what's going on is a mix
of projection and a failure to really think things through. Every "This is
how I would have done it if I were God!" claim I've ever heard has
immediately struck me as dreadful and wrong-headed.

Beyond that.. I think the operations of nature and evolution strongly point
towards a designing mind (and a fundamental mind) at the very least. What we
see in nature is technology at an extreme, an ongoing process of innovation,
development, recycling and accomplishment at every level - from the cellular
level of high nanotech and programming to the animal level of form and
function to the population and historical levels of niche-exploiting and
large-scale progress. Indeed, I see so much that I honestly wonder how
anyone who is convinced that nature is unforgivably cruel can so easily
become an atheist, rather than a deist or a misotheist. (And I wonder how
many atheists actually are deists or even misotheists, to be honest.)

As to how to talk about God being present in nature - it would really depend
on what grounds he has problems with nature, insofar as nature being "evil"
goes. I think finding the tremendous consonance between nature and a
designing mind is also a good route - mind you, I think this is an "ID
argument" insofar as it's arguing nature is best explained by a designer on
level after level, but not an argument of "Feature X of nature would require
a direct intervention in history". It's not a scientific argument, but then,
I don't think science proper can speak to questions of God's presence or

On Sat, Nov 28, 2009 at 2:02 AM, Oscar Gonzalez <>wrote:

> Hello Asaers.
> I ask this question in this forum for this reason: I have started this year
> my PhD studies in Ecology; and this topic appeared while I was talking with
> my advisor. He is a well known ecologist with several years of experience in
> the Neotropics. Mean while I was discussing my research proposal, which is
> in the effects of climate change on birds, we swifted to social causes of
> environmental degradation and he expressed his interest in how religious
> communities impact the environment.
> I told him how I worked with a faith-based institution in my country to get
> christians towards nature conservation and the opennes that we found in poor
> rural communities; also explained him what is the responsible stewardship of
> creation and how to interpret the bible. He defined himself as a atheist but
> not a "hard-core" hater of religion. He was raised as a baptist, his parents
> are christian; but he lossed his faith while studying nature and as he told
> me, understood how cruel, irrational and senseless the interactions of
> animals are.
> Then I felt free to share how I became a christian a year before I entered
> the University when I was 16, to study my bachelor's degree as a biologist.
> I did see Biology as the wonders of God's creation; also how I became a
> young earth creationist (It was impossible to be an evangelical christian
> and not be a creationist in the fundamentalist environmment where I lived)
> and later a Theistic evolutionist.
> The time for the interview reached an end, but he wants to talk more about
> this, I know that he has a strong spiritual need.
> I will not advocate intelligent design or something similar to convince him
> that God is present in nature, I know that ID is not science. But if he
> thinks that nature led him to reject God, what can I say? Any advice of how
> to preach to your advisor?
> Thanks,
> ------------------------------
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Received on Sat Nov 28 09:48:00 2009

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