Is God Found in the Creation?

First off, this is not meant as a debate over the existence of God, or about justifications people have for their belief or disbelief. Rather, this is more about hearing from Christians about their views on God’s relation to the universe (i.e. the creation).

In an article over at Evolution News & Science Today, Michael Egnor writes:

I found this to be a bit odd. I grew up in the church, so I learned all of the Sunday school Bible stories that are usually taught in such a setting. From my memory, there are many examples of God physically inhabiting the creation, or at least that’s the way it seems to me. For example, we have a disembodied hand writing something on a wall that only Danial can read. Moses is said to have spoken to God face to face. We are told that God resided or appeared in the Holy of Holies within the Tabernacle. We also have Jesus who has some relation with God, but I also recognize that this is a pretty complicated theological issue that has played a part in at least one schism within Christianity.

Suffice it to say, if you read the Bible you get the impression that God has been observed in the creation using physical senses. This is something that comes up often when we talk about the boundaries of what science can or can’t do, so I thought it might be helpful to get some clarification on peoples’ views where this topic is concerned.


Taking that in the other direction, are there not a great many physical things that can’t be sensed by sense organs? So how would being able or unable to be sensed make God any more or less God?


Good question. That could take us down the rabbit hole of how our senses relate to the universe in general. How many degrees of separation are there between the processes happening in the universe and the neurons in our brains where we construct our internal view of the world? Do we sense light, or are we simply sensing chemical changes in our photoreceptors?

It’s a fun rabbit hole to go down, but perhaps not a productive one. A colloquial meaning of “senses” probably works fine for this thread. We mean sense God in the same way you would sense the wind, or sense the existence of another person. To be a bit more on topic, the same way in which Thomas sensed the wounds on Jesus’ side and hands.

Although there are quite a few portions of the Bible describing God’s direct and tangible interaction with physical reality, especially the incarnation of Jesus, I suppose I would classify these events as miraculous exceptions. Without those miracles, I would tend to agree with Egnor, as I generally consider God as transcendent to His creation and existing in a non-physical realm.


I agree. I’m referring to such things as protons, carbon atoms, and other small objects invisible to all our senses. Add microscopes and the category shrinks a bit, but not all that much.

Not a statement one would hope to find very often.

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Yes, I find myself in uncharted territory here! :rofl:

It seems that Egnor is saying God can not be sensed, ever. If God could be sensed even once then God is no longer God. The part that confused me is that Egnor’s description did not seem consistent with the Christian theology I was taught.

Perhaps a better way to put it is that God chooses not to reside in the physical realm except for special circumstances.

That’s my perception, for what it’s worth.

I generally try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but I found Egnor’s post troubling on a couple different levels.

  1. At the very core of the Gospels is God entering into our world. Matthew 1:23 "and they will call him Immanuel (which means “God with us”) John 1:14 “The Word [Jesus, God] became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”.
  2. Egnor later says “God did endow us with an organ by which we may know Him. He endowed us with reason.” I really don’t get this one. He’s really suggesting that the sensus divinitatis = reason? Why would we need special revelation (the Bible) if that were the case? Why would we need faith?

I feel like Egnor’s post doesn’t resonate with me at all. I get the idea that God is transcendent and a wholly different being than us, and that God is not part of nature, but it sounds as if he’s saying that God doesn’t interact with nature, ever. As @cwhenderson said, that seems to rule out miracles.

So, oddly to me, yet again I feel like some of our atheist participants seem to have a better grasp of Christian doctrines and the biblical texts than some believers.

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I would agree with @cwhenderson in saying that Egnor here is not referring to special instances (which people sometimes call theophanies) of God’s presence such as Moses and the burning bush, a hand writing on the wall, or the most perfect instance, Jesus Christ, the Word who became flesh. That being said, although we do affirm that God is transcendent over creation, we also affirm that he is immanent: God continually sustains all things in existence (Heb. 1:1-3, Col. 1:15-20), God is providentially involved in all things (e.g. Romans 8:28) and you can’t hide from God by going to some physical place. That doesn’t mean that we can sense God with our physical sense, but I actually can agree with Egnor that reason, properly used, should be able to “sense” God. In other words, I believe in natural theology: it is possible to deduce the existence and some attributes of God using only reason (though just to be clear, not science alone - that could be one area where my views and Egnor’s as an ID advocate differ).

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This is a great question. Thomas Aquinas answered it roughly as follows: we can deduce the existence and nature of God from natural theology using only reason and common experience, but we cannot know everything about God. For example, the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the plan of salvation can only be known through special revelation, namely the Bible and Jesus himself as the perfect revelation of God.

To me, this answer explains well how many cultures and religions have a notion of the One God - Islam and Judaism, for example, believe in a Creator God who is all-powerful, all-good, and One - just like Christianity, even as they disagree on other fundamental doctrines. In a way, these religions recognize fundamental truths that lead to God - such as that the universe is contingent and needs a Creator.

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That might make an interesting thread.

That’s what I was curious about. Of course, not all christians are going to agree on every theological point, but Egnor’s statements seemed strange to me. Thanks for voicing your opinion!