According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

God's Role in Creation

What role could God have in evolution?

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Divine Action

Divine action is defined as God’s interaction with creation. Divine action figured prominently in early discussions of Darwin’s theory in the late nineteenth century. For some theologians, evolution was compatible with theism only if God acted supernaturally at discrete points in the evolutionary process.1 Other theologians saw the uninterrupted process of evolution as being fully compatible with Christian doctrine. They understood evolution to be “the silent and regular working of him who, in the fullness of time, utters his voice in Christ and the cross.”2

We still seek to understand God’s involvement in the world. BioLogos readily affirms that the Creator can act outside the created physical laws. However, we must not say that miraculous events outside the laws of nature are the only instances of God’s involvement—we believe God is actively sustaining all things (Col 1:17, Heb 1:3), even in regular, well-understood processes. For this reason, BioLogos does not require miraculous events in its account of God’s creative process, although they certainly may have occurred.


God’s Sovereignty and Creation’s Freedom

BioLogos affirms that God has endowed nature with a certain degree of freedom. This is not to say that nature has a mind of its own, but only that nature is not restricted to a machine-like, redetermined evolution. On the other hand, BioLogos also affirms that God has a plan and a purpose for creation. The Bible affirms both the freedom of nature (including human freedom) and the sovereignty of God.

BioLogos does not conceive of a God who is involved at certain times and who only observes at other times. BioLogos affirms a God who is at all times involved, yet who still allows a degree of freedom to the creation.


Providence and the Laws of Nature

If the laws of nature can explain an increasing number of natural phenomena, how is God involved? The laws of nature do not exist apart from God. They are a reflection of the activity of God. If God ceased to uphold the laws of nature, there would be no universe.

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Col 1:16, 17 NASB)

…in these last days [God] has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. (Heb 1:2, 3a NASB)
If we were somehow able to fully explain the operation of the physical universe, we would not have explained God out of the picture. Rather, we would have explained the regular and repeatable sustaining activity of God.

Theologians speak of “ordinary providence,” whereby God uses means (such as natural laws), “yet is free to work without, above, and against them, at his pleasure.”3 We can therefore distinguish between the natural and supernatural activity of God. The natural activity of God is simply that which occurs in a regular and highly repeatable fashion. Because of its regularity over eons of time, it can be studied and understood through the scientific process.

What about the supernatural activity of God? In the words of Ard Louis, “Miracles occur when God chooses to sustain the world in a manner that is different than what He normally does.” Supernatural activity is not somehow more God’s activity than natural activity. Both types fully reflect God’s character and accomplish his purposes.


Notes
  1. David N. Livingstone, Darwin’s Forgotten Defenders: The Encounter Between Evangelical Theology and Evolutionary Thought (Grand Rapids, MI: W. B. Eerdmans, 1987), 118.
  2. A. H. Strong, as quoted in Livingstone, Darwin’s Forgotten Defenders, 129.
  3. Westminster Confession of Faith, “On Providence” (V,3).

Further Reading

Websites

Articles
Books
  • Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences. Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action Series. Edited by Robert John Russell, et al. 5 vols. Vatican City State: Vatican Observatory Foundation, 1997-2002.
  • Falk, Darrel. Coming to Peace with Science: Bridging the Worlds between Faith and Biology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004.
  • Polkinghorne, John. “Creation and Creator.” In Science and Creation: The Search for Understanding, 63-82. West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton Foundation Press, 2006. First published 1988 by SPCK.
  • Polkinghorne, John. Science and Providence: God’s Interaction with the World. West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton Foundation Press, 2005. First published 1989 by SPCK.



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