Science and the Sacred

Science and the Sacred


Creator and Father

image-question18-large.jpgWhen describing God’s role in creation, many use language and images that present God as a master designer, fashioning the universe by his hands. Certainly, when looking at the almost machine-like complexity of life, the idea of God as a master craftsman seems fitting. What better way to describe God’s role in creation than an “intelligent designer”?

However, in their book Questions of Truth, John Polkinghorne and Nicholas Beale argue that viewing God as merely a designer is a poor representation of the process of creation, a process in which the creations themselves play an important role:


“God is never spoken of as a ‘designer’ in the Bible; he is the Creator and Father, and a father does not ‘design’ his children. Even a great creative writer does not exactly ‘design’ his or her characters, and in any performance, whether of a play or a piece of music, the individual decisions and actions of the performer are vital elements in addition to the intentions of the playwright or composer. By endowing us with free will and giving us the capacity to love, God calls us to be in a limited but very important sense co-creators.”
from Questions of Truth, p. 57

Share
|





Advertisement
Comments read comments(11)
post a comment
Greg Greene

posted August 20, 2009 at 10:54 am


This is a great point. It paints a picture of an even more glorious – and far riskier – work of creation by a loving and trusting God. Thanks for posting this thought!



report abuse
 

Albert the Abstainer

posted August 20, 2009 at 10:54 am


The problem with “God as creator”, or “God as designer”, from a theological perspective comes down to what are the characteristics of God?
If the traditional set of “omniscient”, “omnipresent”, and “omnipotent” are held as the essential characteristics, what inferences can be validly drawn. (For purposes of argument I am assuming that the majority of monotheistic religions in general, and Christianity in particular hold these as essential.)
I will restrict my criticism to the characteristic “omnipresence” or being all-present. To be all-present requires that there is no point in space-time where God is not present. Hence, God occupies, but is not limited to the space-time envelope of our universe. Past and future are hence meaningless distinctions when speaking about an omnipresent God, since God is intrinsically all present. Time is not something which binds God to a particular present, and hence for God what we define as future and past are necessarily a concurrent present. That being so, God cannot think, as thinking is a process which spans time, involving change from one state to another. That which cannot think, cannot design. Implicit to omnipresence is God as unchanging in itself, (i.e. God cannot change as that subordinates the omnipresence of God to time, negating omnipresence.)
Further, the subordination of any form or system to God, creates an explicit dependency between the form and God.
Two very interesting ramifications occur. One is that God does not have free will. Free will requires thinking, and thinking is necessarily a process of change of state of the thinker. Secondarily, any form which is dependent upon God, (which is to say all forms), must of necessity be bound to God, and hence not in any way free.
In conclusion, if God is omnipresent, free will cannot exist; and if God is not omnipresent, God is subordinate to time, and hence limited.



report abuse
 

Arthur

posted August 20, 2009 at 10:52 pm


You seem to be confused about what Omnipresent means, Albert the abstainer.
Omnipresent means God is present – everywhere in the present. Nothing happens that escapes His knowing about it (i.e. omniscience), because He is omnipresent. As each present moment becomes past for us, so it does for God too.
God also knows the future from before he laid the foundations of the Cosmos, so says the Bible. This does not mean He knows every word or act each of his will say or do, but He does know us and He has planned our future to achieve His purposes.
For at the time God created the Cosmos, God also created the Kingdom. Before He created the Cosmos, says the Bible, Jesus died for us whom God had pre-ordained to salvation which leads the pre-ordained to their entering the Kingdom. For as Jesus said, I know my sheep and my sheep know me.
There are Historical events that God has planned to take place in History, and He does know the outcome thereof, and it will be as He planned and will achieve His will for each of us. The purpose of life on earth is that the ordained go through a melting pot that removes the impurities from our inner selves which thereby enlightens us transforms our inner being so that we end up doing the good that God created us to do, whereupon we will enter the Kingdom, which BTW, is not part of our known universe.
One example of God’s decisive involvement in history was the hardening of Pharoah’s heart during the enactment of the 10 plagues, otherwise Pharoah would have given up and let God’s people go prior to the tenth plague, which symbolized God’s ultimate plan to save the pre-ordained by the shed blood of His Son Jesus. God also hardened hearts at least two other times in scripture so as to direct History in the right direction for His plan of salvation.
Now here is something about time: Time is a function of space with all of its’ particles. There is no such thing as an infinite time into the past, for if there was, it would be impossible to arrive at the present moment. God Himself lives in an eternal present that has no beginning nor any end. As He says, I Am that I Am, and He is the first cause of all things that have come into existence.



report abuse
 

Albert the Abstainer

posted August 20, 2009 at 11:37 pm


Arthur said:
Omnipresent means God is present – everywhere in the present. Nothing happens that escapes His knowing about it (i.e. omniscience), because He is omnipresent. As each present moment becomes past for us, so it does for God too.
The problem with that is twofold: First relativity comes into play causing time dilation and hence present states which are different based upon the time light takes to travel. (This is why when looking into the deep universe through Hubble we are actually looking at events billions of years old.) Hence, a present moment becoming past is affected by distance, (also speed of the objects, and gravity.) If God is omnipresent, then God experiences a present that is an integral of all present states.)
The second problem is that by subordinating God’s omnipresence to an integral of all past events, God is limited from being present with respect to what we perceive as future events. This seems an arbitrary limit, and subordinating God’s omnipresence to the properties of space-time seems odd to say the least. It implies that God is “contained” within space-time. I doubt that is your contention, so feel free to clarify or modify your position as you see fit.
(Please note: I will likely be away from the Internet for a week, and by then this topic will be pretty state-dated. So, you get the last word.)



report abuse
 

Arthur

posted August 21, 2009 at 12:28 am


Einstein Called it relativity based upon human observers literal ‘point of view versus what may be their point of view elsewhere in the universe. God, being omnipresent, observes instantaneously the entire light beam from its source of origin (if the source still exists) through its arrival to earth’s observatories per your billions of years later. If the star became a supernova 500 million years ago, God already has seen that when it occurres, and we will not know it for another billion plus years. You are confusing our present with God’s omnipresence throughout the universe. He is bserving all current events happening throughout the universe, knows all events that have already occurred, and through his understanding, of His creation, knows what physical events will be occuring in the future, even events that earthlings will never observe in those parts of the universe whose light will never arrive at Earth.
As for the future, as I just wrote above, God has an excellent knowledge of the future of the universe since He created it and understands it. And He knows that those He ordained will be transformed into beings who actually will do the good that God created us to do, and we will enter the ‘Kingdom’ he has prepared for us. And even our physicists realize that our planet will be burned up by the expansive death of our sun, which was predicted in the New Testament two thousand years ago.



report abuse
 

Arthur

posted August 21, 2009 at 1:07 am


I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with John Polkinghorne at a lecture at Princeton. He is very intelligent and a sincere Christian and an active apologist for the Christian faith. He offers good arguments for believing in God. I did disagree with his belief in evolution from initial primitive progenote to humans, particularly because such a concept vilates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics which requires molecules to continually move from improbable arrangements to ever increasing probable arrangements, and life requires extremely very highly improbable molecular arrangements. For instance, even for a short protein of 100 amino acids, out of every 10^65 possible arrangements of left handed proteinous amino acids, only 1 would be capable of being functional, and you still need a mechanism for folding this 1 out of 10^65 amino acid chain to evolve and there seperately for folding the first protein, and the cell to protect it, and the absence of numerous chemicals that can destroy it, etc. etc.
I think it is his belief in evolution that lends him to write the poor analogy that treats creating and designing as if they were two seperate meanings. Who created the cotton ginny, the 1st automobiles, the personal computers, the crossbow, and the printing press. Were they not those people who first designed them.
Futhermore, Genesis makes clear all plants and things that breath were made according to their kind, type. This was clearly by design. And each type of creature was designed to fill the earth and adapt to may different ecological niches, thus we observe large radiations of off spring in accord with the static Mendellian Genetics, and not at all in accord with Darwin’s adoption of the elastic ancient theory called Pangenesis as his explanation for variation. Darwin was wrong.
Finally, Got designed the body planes (Bauplanes) with the ability for great variation within the limits of each designed kind of creature, but we humans are not our bodies. We are spirits who dwell in these physical bodies that God gave us while we are on Earth. Our bodies decompose to dust, but we live on.



report abuse
 

Elijah A. "NatureBoy" Alexander, Jr.

posted August 21, 2009 at 10:15 am


I find no need for a god. The god concept prevents objectivity by attaching cans and cannots which takes away our objective analysis. Based on the teachings of it, it carries with it an eternal torment for being inquisitive, a deterrent from inquiring. By nor recognizing god in any form I am liberated to inquire objectively.
Without a god there is no need for creation, existence always was and always will be. The only reason I see complexity is because our focus is on our own taking that which had life and reforming it into something unable to reproduce. with everything in existence being able to reproduce they need no creating.
Another part of the complexity is we put more emphasis on writings, such as the Bible, about existence rather than to look at existence itself. Those writings are a primitive explanation of events to be found on earth, in both science and man’s story (history). I find few facts therein but metaphors and primitive language explaining existence and man’s role in it.
Therefore, the very concept of god is the maintainer of our inability to comprehend existence, giving this god the place of “inspiring” only one set of writing adds to it. By saying “Existence” {that which is without beginning or ending} is motion operating in cyclic form for elf entertainment we are able to rationalize everything.



report abuse
 

Arthur

posted August 22, 2009 at 8:53 pm


Ummm. Elijah, I am not sure how to break this to you. Scientifically speaking, it is impossible for what you say to be true, that “existence always was and always will be”. Time can not have an infinite past. If time had an infinite past, then we could never have arrived at the present moment.
As science has revealed to us, our Universe came into existence. Whatever comes into existence must have a cause. God simply exists in an eternal present. And Genesis is His book of first causes. The very word means ‘beginnings’.



report abuse
 

kevin donovan-white III

posted August 23, 2009 at 7:06 am


There’s no way for a any rational man/woman to actually believe we just exploded into existence by some “BIG BANG”. Even if it were so, wouldn’t you think cosmically “someone” had to light the fuse? Man, for a lifetime has embarked on a quest to scientifically give an explanation as to how we came to be who we are, by quoting Darwin’s theory or any other like-minded individual to attempt to quench man’s hunger to obtain knowlege to answer the age-old question of “where we came? and who did we get here?” You cannot believe we just existed out of nothing and will return to nothing. For everything has a source. And for this commentator,my souce is God.



report abuse
 

Alan Stillman

posted August 25, 2009 at 11:07 am


in my cosmology, the Goddess gave birth to the Universe. as her child, she directs it and guides it, nurtures it and teaches it. but as her child sometimes the Universe acts out in ways that can’t be predicted.



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted October 6, 2009 at 1:15 pm


If you want to know the real story read the 3 books of “Conversations with God”. Then you will truly know.



report abuse
 



Previous Posts

We're Moving
Science & the Sacred is moving to our new home on The BioLogos Foundation's Web site. Be sure to visit and bookmark our new location to stay up to date with the latest blogs from Karl Giberson, Darrel Falk, Pete Enns, and our various guests in the science-religion dialogue. We're inaugurating ou

posted 8:00:00am Dec. 11, 2009 | read full post »

Shiny Scales, Silvery Skins, and Evolution
  Source: Physorg.comIridescence -- a key component of certain makeup, paints, coatings of mirrors and lenses -- is also an important feature in the natural world. Both fish and spiders make use of periodic photonic systems, which scatter or reflect the light that passes against their scales or

posted 8:00:00am Dec. 09, 2009 | read full post »

A Stellar Advent Calendar
Looking for a unique way to mark the days of the Advent season? The Web site Boston.com offers an Advent calendar composed of images from the Hubble Telescope, both old and new. Each day, from now until the celebration of the Nativity of Christ, the calendar will offer a beautiful image from the hea

posted 8:00:00am Dec. 09, 2009 | read full post »

Belief, Guidance, and Evolution
Recently BioLogos' Karl Giberson was interviewed by Marcio Campos for the Brazilian newspaper Gazeta do Povo's Tubo De Ensaio (i.e. "Test tube") section. What follows is a translated transcript of that interview, which we will be posting in three installments. Here is the first. Campos: Starting o

posted 8:00:00am Dec. 08, 2009 | read full post »

Let's Come at this From a Different Angle
Every Friday, "Science and the Sacred" features an essay from a guest voice in the science and religion dialogue. This week's guest entry was written by Peter Enns. Enns is an evangelical Christian scholar and author of several books and commentaries, including the popular Inspiration and Incarnatio

posted 8:00:00am Dec. 04, 2009 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.