Why Wouldn't God be Free to Tweak a God-Ordained Process?

(Guy Coe) #21

You are always among those whom I wish to address, but no, I don’t see you as essentially disagreeing with this. Good to hear from you.
At the risk of throwing this link in at the wrong time or place, I’ll go ahead and share what forum participant Dr. Ann Gauger has to say on this topic in the midst of the fray.
This is intended as an exercise in comparing perspectives, and asking whether an awful lot of the rancor is much ado about nothing. Mutual misunderstanding should not be characterized as irreconcilable conflict, but an argument about how much versus how little.
Denis Lamoureux writes, “The history of science reveals that as scientists have probed deeper into nature, greater and more astonishing examples of beauty, complexity, and functionality have been discovered, thus declaring God’s glory.”

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #22

I always wondered why it is called 'evolutionary biology". Isn’t it just biology and to make sense of biology, you have to understand the biological process called evolution?

(Guy Coe) #23

Oddly, Lamoreaux is willing to state it does show His presence… hope that fact doesn’t get lost on BioLogos folks.

(Guy Coe) #24

“Tweaking a God-ordained process” might become one of my new descriptions for “grace.” : )

(George) #25

The phrase “tweaking a God-ordained process” is in the same category as Collins saying that sometimes God “intervenes in natural law”.

(Jon Garvey) #26


George, here’s Ann Gauger (13/6/2018) commenting on a recent quote against ID by Denis Lamoureux:

Moving on. Denis explains himself…sort of.

_ Now there is a subtle and important point that needs to be made. Scientific evidence can certainly contribute to the belief that the world is intelligently designed. The history of science reveals that as scientists have probed deeper into nature, greater and more astonishing examples of beauty, complexity, and functionality have been discovered, thus declaring God’s glory. But the facts of science do not prove that the universe and life are designed. To be more accurate, scientific evidence contributes to a powerful argument for the reality of intelligent design. Everyone is deeply affected by the nonverbal revelation in the creation, including antireligious individuals._

Pause… I’m simultaneously astonished and amused.

That paragraph is an ID statement. The only hesitation appears to be this statement: “But the facts of science do not prove that the universe and life are designed.” Really? Is that what this argument is all about? Are we talking about evidence versus proof? Then there is no argument. Science can’t prove anything. It’s always conditional. We provide evidence and arguments for design. We don’t even take the step toward identifying the designer, which Denis so freely does. Then why does he not recognize that these are the words of an intelligent design advocate?

That was Ann. I have to say, I’ve never read any suggestion by any ID author that science can prove God. But here’s a popular EC author cherfully admitting that science provides evidence for a power ful argument to design. Now that I have read in ID writings.

(Guy Coe) #27

Glad you noticed, and just as surprised as you to hear Lamoreaux making ID arguments, while knocking down a straw man. Do you suppose these two organizations could peacefully co-exist? Cheers!

(Jon Garvey) #28

There seems to be a vested interest in maintaining straw men. Otherwise, why not? Joshua has found surprising common ground on all sides.

(George) #29


Well I’ll be! Is this Dr. G positioning herself for a jump? She is the biggest “mosaic” I’ve yet to encounter:

  1. She’s Old Earth.
  2. Accepts Speciation but rejects BioLogos on Evolution.
  3. Is pro- I.D., but says Science can’t prove it. < What the heck is this?
  4. Opposes the @swamidass Model, but accepts that but thinks there could have been a 1-pair
    human bottleneck more than 300,000 years ago (or even 700,000 years ago).

@jongarvey, you’ve been working in this field much longer than I have. Do you understand Dr. Gauger at all?

(Jon Garvey) #30

I think I understand Ann (though she can contradict me). It’s Denis Lamoureux I have difficulty understanding, as his views appear hugely inconsistent to me, and also seriously lacking understanding of his adversaries not only in this instance, but in his dismissive treatment of historical-Adam proponents on BioLogos years ago.

  1. She’s Old Earth.
    That’s always been true of the majority of leading ID people - Behe, Dembski, Mayer, Axe, Sternberg, Luskin - in fact only Paul Nelson comes to mind as an exception amongst the pioneers. The same may not be true of US theologians supporting it, as the theological section of the Big Tome on TE was notably YEC - an inexplicable editorial decision to me, since it might alienate the many OEC IDists.
  2. Accepts Speciation but rejects BioLogos on Evolution.

In 8 years I’ve not been able to pin down clearly what BioLogos defines as its position on evolution - it rejects Darwinianism, but says (sometimes, eg Collins, Haarsma) that natural laws operating by random mutation and natural selection and requiring no supernatural intervention after the Big Bang are sufficient - which sounds just like Darwinism.

My guess is that she’s not persuaded that BioLogos defines evolution as Joshua does, ie simply change over time and common descent. She may also have noticed how often orthodox doctrines like original sin and biblical infallibility are denied there! As I read her, she’s OK with common descent overall, but is interested in testing just how good its evidence base is, particularly as regards man. And in her case, the latter may well be because of the Catholic position on the creation of the human soul by God directly - nothing fringe there, if you’re a Catholic, anyway…
3. Is pro- I.D., but says Science can’t prove it. < What the heck is this?
As I said above, I have yet to read any ID person (above the rank of random UD commenter), who has said that intelligent design can be proved. It’s just an oft-repeated straw-man, especially when the gossip gets going at BioLogos. Meyer, for example - a Cambridge PhD is philosophy of science, stresses that his methodology is inference to the best explanation, the same methodology Darwin used in Origin of Species - he spends chapters explaining it, and its limitations - and that if a better explanation comes along, ID gets replaced. Paul Nelson’s PoS PhD was on scientific epistemology, so he’s under no illusions either.
4. Opposes the @swamidass Model, but accepts that but thinks there could have been a 1-pair human bottleneck more than 300,000 years ago (or even 700,000 years ago).
That, from her comments, is based on her thinking on what constitutes “human” - anthropologically she’s a lumper, and takes human as, essentially, the genus Homo. And believing consequently that, since they are human, all these types bear God’s image, and since she is not yet being persuaded that the humans of Gen 1 and 2 aren’t both Adam and Eve (which is, after all, the traditional view), she’s looking for that human pair at the start of Homo, or thereabouts. It’s logical, though I don’t share her choices partly (perhaps) because I’m not wedded to Catholic criteria, but also because I’m looking to put the whole of Gen 1-11 into history, and not simply isolate “the first man.”

I don’t think it impossible that she would “jump” to Joshua’s position, if it seemed compatible with Catholic doctrine (work for some Catholic theologian there), but not to EC - evolution, understood Joshua’s way, is already the position of many IDists (take Eddie, for example), provided that God is held actually to do something coherent in its execution, ie design. And, as some of my articles and some discussion here has shown, there’s often little to separate progressive creation from theistic evolution, except the definition of the latter that insists on “natural causes” throughout.

(George) #31


I don’t believe @Agauger agrees with Joshua’s or BioLogos’ description of Evolution…

(George) #32


Sigh… what am I reading here, Jon? Instead of jumping to conclusions, I’ll ask first.

  • How many sentences is this?

  • "I don’t think it impossible that she would “jump” to Joshua’s position, if it seemed compatible with Catholic doctrine (work for some Catholic theologian there), but not to EC…"
    Okay… I can work with double-negatives… But what is different between Joshua’s version of Evolution and EC’s? And is BioLogos’ version really EC (as you word it?).

That should do it for now…

(Guy Coe) #33

This is all nicely clarified and the claws are all pulled out if one simply reads the first two chapters as sequential, paying attention to the literary features which indicate that that’s what the reader ought to do.

(Jon Garvey) #34


George, I said somewhere else that it’s not easy to pin down a single version of Evolutionary Creation. But to cite BL’s founder, Francis Collins, his book states that once God set up the laws at the Big Bang, evolution could proceed by them “without further supernatural intervention.” I guess “tweaks” are that.

That’s an additional qualification to the broad definition Josh insists on as the scientific one, change over time with common descent. And if Ann disagrees with Collins unwillingness to admit supernatural guidance of evolution, she might well consider it not for her, even if others there have a different view. Her choice.

(Jon Garvey) #35

For you, me and George that’s true. But we all also bring a degree of tradition to our reading - not a bad thing as a rule - and for some that means a red line.

(Guy Coe) #36

What “tradition” do you have in mind that I’m surrendering my critical thinking to? I disagree completely with Francis Colinn’s assessment of the lack of need for God to act, and even to continue upholding, the “laws of nature,” as if they are completely incapable of variance. Quantum uncertainty puts the lie to that.

(George) #37



I have to wonder if Collins is nervous about letting go of his earlier position.

But in a way, this policy question HAS been answered by the BioLogos mission statements!
They have long addressed being open to miraculous activity… and the relevant statement WISELY refuses to state just how much miraculous operation there might be.

Some people (and some denominations) want LOTS of miraculous operation in their world view, and others don’t feel the need for it. We just have to always allow for the Virgin Birth, resurrection of the dead that occurs in the New Testament (real time, so to speak).

There will always be a few people who think that SOME so-called miracles are just mysterious operations of natural law. But don’t we all agree here that there will ALWAYS be a need to allow SOME (or even MOST) Christians to have some non-lawful natural activity?

(George) #38


Over at BioLogos, we have a very disciplined theologian who occasionally posts about the difference between a person saying God could do something vs. God ever WANTING to do it.

@Jonathan_Burke is here on this list too.

And he has some pretty good postings talking about God’s nature being to only WANT to operate in such a way that he CAN (by His Divine Nature) act. So… none of this making boulders so big he can’t lift them and such.

A good discussion example might be the asteroid that wiped out the Dinosaurs.
A strict interpretation along these lines would say that God did not “poof” the asteroid into existence… because his nature is not such that he would want to.

Instead of “poofing” that asteroid, God (in his existence outside of time) conceives of the creation of the universe, plus he conceives of the asteroid, constructs it, uses it, and then brings us all to the End of Days… all in a single simultaneous moment from His point of view. For us, being IN time… it takes billions of years for all of this to unfold.

But, in any case, instead of “poofing” the asteroid into existence around Jupiter, and throwing it at the Earth, God’s arranged all of this from the moment of creation! And somewhere deep in the cosmos, some natural event dislodged the rock… and started it moving… and moving at exactly the right speed and angle to hit the Earth in exactly the right spot.

After all of this discussion … if God ONLY did things this way, there would not be anything that someone could call a “suspension of natural law” … because God would only be working with the natural laws (at a very high level of course) that contributed to the destiny and fulfillment of his Universal plan.

But there are lots of Christians who find this less than inspiring (even though sometimes I find this approach tremendously inspiring!).

(Guy Coe) #39

While I’m uninclined to see God as anything other than continuously active, neither am I inclined to be the “poof” supporter, generally, at least not of physical “macro-objects.”
That said, the instantiation of ordered information out of the quantum uncertainty fog, on our end, is pretty much like God expressing an active thought on His.
While it seems clear that, on some purposeful occasions, God “turns water into wine” I do not, thereby, view every tragedy in nature as an “act of God.”
There is a great need for predictable order in nature, and God has granted us the ability to anticipate such events, and to protect ourselves against them to some degree.
Perhaps it’s best to clarify one really important thing.
We tend to think of prolonged, pain-free physical life on this earth as an ultimate good. But, that can also be a tragedy, if life does not lead us into the arms of God, and we callously disregard the sufferings of others. A life of ease, without an awakened sense of compassion for others, is, in fact, a tragedy. It doesn’t prepare us to be grateful for the next life, or even for this one.
And the greatest tragedy of all is to go through this life completely “divorced” from God.
So, while the “problem” of God allowing pain and suffering is vexing, it is also a blessing in diguise in a moral universe.
God does not fail to act, so much as we fail to act in ways His compassion would indicate, sacrificially and significantly.
I am constantly amazed at the plethora of “little miracle” stories that arise on the heels of tragedies.
I can only imagine Francis Collins himself recognizes this, and is thankful for the active compassion of God towards him, as he seeks to serve others with his God-given talents and gifts.
It’s an exercise in futlility to try to place metaphysical limits on what God is “allowed” to do. We can only speak of anticipated likelihoods.
“Natural law” is a description of the way things usually work, not a legal handbook which can be used against God. Natural laws do not “exist,” statically; they operate and are upheld by a merciful God of order. They are an expression of His steadfast character.

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #40

This is not what science says. Beauty is a human thought or emotion. Science is neutral on God’s glory and existence. Science evidence does not contribute to an argument for the reality of intelligent design.