A Call to Theology of Nature

I think what we do as scientists is infused with evidence of God, the intricacies, fine-tuning, orchestrated interdependent networks and processes whether intracellular or in ecologies or symbiotic relationships, everywhere we look as scientists. Every time a cause and effect explanation fails to account for teleology.

Did you read my blog on Reveling in Revelation? If you did, do you fall closer to my perspective or Jeff Hardin’s? If you see no difference between the two, I don’t know how to clarify the difference further for you. Maybe others could help and provide a different interpretation of my position to clarify it more for you.

I’m not intending to mischaracterize you. I am attempting to pick apart a fine distinction between two views.

Looking for a place to insert this reply since my other comments were moved/split to a new thread. NT Wright’s perspective that the whole creation is a demonstration of the love of God is spot on. It is how we know from nature/creation that God exists, is powerful, and aspects of his character. To claim that he is primarily hidden denies this abundant revelation that God has intentionally infused in creation… because it is at the heart of his purpose for it all.

I am not willing to concede to as much of a paradox as @Guy_Coe Coe implies in nature’s revelation of God. Nor am I willing to throw my hands up and say God is usually hidden @swamidass and we must ask why. I contend that he is not hidden and our roles as scientists and theologians as natural theologians must tackle this head on.

Wisdom is not the same as knowledge of God. The latter is a requirement for the former but the two should not be conflated. To say God is usually hidden raises the question Josh raises, why? But to say he is in effect usually hidden (because of the failure to see or look or acknowledge or proclaim it) does not mean that nature/creation fails to constantly and consistently show God’s existence, power and character. I think this is where we as Christian scientists need to embrace a role as natural theologians… whether we are OEC or EC (or even YEC or none of the above). It is what @Eddie and @jongarvey are getting at in their critique of many in the BioLogos camp who are claiming mystery without working out the nitty gritty details of how Bios and Logos fit together and not just lay side by side.

This quest for integration is exactly how I find myself at RTB. And I’m not saying we’ve got it all right or that one can’t be an EC and pursue integration. But if it’s not at a fundamental level of teleology and revelation that God infuses into all of creation and in the secondary causal events that we study in science, I don’t know where it is and I don’t know how anyone can call a perspective that denies God’s action in revelation in the created order “Christian” or biblical.

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The “hiddeness” of God is linked, Biblically, with the refusal to acknowledge Him and thereby revere Him. Nature, according to Paul, is an entirely clear witness even by itself. So, I don’t think I’m advocating for anything less than what you present, and are contending for, @AJRoberts. Perhaps a difference here to take into account is Josh’s daily experience at a “secular” university, where he usually encounters such unbelief? Cheers!

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And the next post in the Hump series here. It reviews the “cleared building site” for a theology of nature by summarising the last 4 posts, and lays out the three general classes of causation in the universe to be examined (God acting regularly through “laws of nature”, sentient agents acting within the world, and contingent divine action.)

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Here’s my last post of the week on this subject: A health warning on theology of nature: Theology can seriously affect your science.

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OK - a series of three posts starting here on the tricky question of the centrality of language to a prospective new theology of nature.

It leaves the heavy lifting of of application to any new way of doing science to the scientists themselves - but all that shows is that our current science is one limited way at looking at certain aspects of nature. It could be that science doesn’t have to change, but only its claims about itself.

On the positive side, consider that old problem of the academic divide between “science” and “humanities.” To a large degree that revolves around the specialised language of science, which seems to scientists to make the humanities nebulous and subjective. But if the language of God is - well - language, then nature itself dissolves the difference between the the arts and the sciences - and even points to human thought as an integral part of nature, rather than the Cartesian idea of the human mind as radically separate from physical reality.

It gets a bit simpler for hereon in, I think.

I quote from your article:

"One of the more stupid, though understandable, rhetorical questions that skeptics ask about design in nature in particular, but also about divine action in nature in general, is “What mechanism does God use?”

It’s stupid because it presupposes a mechanical view of reality, and God is not a mechanism (and neither is design, even in human terms). "

This is one of the reasons I always try to use “way” or “method”. I used to use the term “tool” more.

But ultimately, no amount of naturalism will convince most Christians to abandon the miraculous!

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And the next in the series here.

Back on to the relatively well-trodden ground of three modes of divine action. Note (as the article points out) that “lawlike change” (“natural”, if you must) is a fourth mode of divine action, not the antithesis to it.

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And a detailed look at the possibility of “miracle” in nature. It’s an inappropriate way to think of divine action in creation - but paradoxically has to be taken into account in a theology of nature because it’s a part of the new creation that has been irrupting into the world over the whole of salvation history.

@jongarvey

Seems a little complex!

I think you can segregate everything into LAWFUL vs. MIRACULOUS!

And I think that’s misleading, for reasons both that I’ve explained in previous posts, and that I will explain as the series proceeds. But one consideration is that the Church has considered it appropriate to distiguish categories of divine action for 2000 years, and I take their wisdom over yours!

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How come hardly anyone stops to consider that the law-likeness in an Anthropic Universe is, itself, a miracle???!!!

@Guy_Coe

First, I think some people do.

But secondly, if eveeything is a miracle, then you have just ruined the word miracle as a qualifier… and you STILL need a word to make the remaining distinction

Thus proving my point of the limitations of “miracle” as a word for divine action. Indeed, the consistency of a universe as big as ours is a wonder. Given that what it means is, in effect, that all those laws are directed towards particular ends, it’s a re-expression of one of Thomas Aquinas’s five proofs of God.

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“Miracle” works adjectivally and as a noun. It is not thereby ruined; I have not thus labeled everything a miracle; I’ve just pointed out the astounding unlikelihood of chance alone explaining things.

@jongarvey

I really want to agree with you on your typologies.

But once we have a box labeled Miracles… it is almost impossible to persuasively apply criteria to whatever is in the box. Any devoted Christian could say: no, that’s not what I see in there.

However… in the non-miraculous category… I can see a valid need to arrange the different lawful categories to help people arrange nature into helpful groupings.

Next episode - all you ever wanted to know about special providence in nature.

Universal providence is not only taught in Scripture, but arises logically from the lImitations of creatures and the love of Christ for all he has made.

@jongarvey

I don’t understand this sentence.

Nature’s regularity is not a miracle (thouygh to be fair Guy was only speaking colloquially). But neither are creation, creatio continua, divine conservation, or special providence miracles - saying they are spoils “miracles” as a qualifier for those actions of God that are properly so termed.

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