Posted by: joeystarke | April 13, 2009

God’s Role in Creation

I have been working on these posts for a while.  More contemplating than writing, to be honest.  My biggest hold up is that they all seem to be unresolved, only bringing up more questions than they answer.  So I thought I would finally take advantage of that fact, and use my blogs to answer one or two questions that the previous one brought up.

In my discussion on Genesis v. Science, I proposed that a good reevaluation or correction in the text would be to add “by evolution” after the word “created.”  This lead me to ask:

What is God’s role in creation?

It seems like a rather simple question.  I mean, what’s wrong with just saying that God uses evolution as a tool for creation?  However, I think it can get a little more complicated.  One big problem I see right off is that we don’t observe God in this process.  Yes, I know God is supernatural, so we cannot make natural observations of the Divine.  I do think, though, that you could see by-products, the results of God reacting with the natural world.  As it stands now, though, science- particularly evolution- does not need any Divine push.  It is self-sustaining in the natural world.  Furthermore, the science of evolution teaches that while it is not always a non-random process, it is observed to be a non-purposeful process.  In addition, evolution is a rather nasty process.  It is rampant with death and suffering, whereby the strong survive and the weak are eliminated from the earth.  This does not reflect the action of an all-loving God.

Evolution as a tool used actively and purposely by God seems to be out for the moment.  The next step is to try and determine if God created the process of evolution and just let it lose.  The understanding here is like that of the Enlightenment thinkers, where God created the laws of the universe then stepped back to watch them unfold.  However, this is again contrary to the concept of an all-loving God.  If we believe that God is active in our world, intimate and moved by our situations, then this concept cannot possibly be correct.

Another option that I proposed during my individual presentation was taking a second look at the word Yahweh.  In Hebrew, the word is a verb.  God is a God of action, of being.  By this viewpoint, God could be seen AS the laws of nature themselves.  God IS E=mc2.  God IS the numerous equations that describe evolution.  But there is a problem with this, too.  If God is the laws, then God is responsible for the suffering of evolution and countless natural disasters.

God the Creator is a huge problem.  There are no good conditions in which the God of our understanding and experience could be labeled as the creator God.  This may be a good spot to insert the Trinity.  We become so wrapped up in the idea of a creator God that we forget about God’s interaction with the Earth and humanity through the person of Jesus.  There are many interpretations of why Jesus came into world.  I want to focus on how it was done.  We know that Jesus did not just come out of the sky from another realm.  Mary had to become pregnant, carry him for nine months, and then he was born like any other child.  He did not begin his ministry immediately after his birth.  He had to grow up, learn to speak, and come to know himself like any other person.  Finally, Jesus did not overcome death by speaking words or invoking special powers.  He first had to die, just like all humans die.  What we can take from all of this is that God is not in the business of defying nature.  God works through nature, and even appears to be subject to the laws of nature when interacting with our world (Although I do not want to say that the laws of nature rule over God.  A better concept right now would be to think of a Congressperson who makes a law, and as a citizen is still required to obey the law).

I do not think that we will ever be able to satisfactorily explain all of the suffering in our world that occurs through natural processes.  What we can observe is that some of the processes that result suffering also contribute to life.  Yes, evolution causes the extinction of animals; but at the same time it lead to the creation of our species.  A natural disaster like a hurricane can have devastating effects, but the same forces can at other times provide life-giving water to parched lands.  What I am seeing here is that whether God created or is the laws of nature intended for good, they have the potential to be used for harm.  Essentially, nature has a kind of “free will.”  God can create the laws, but once they are created they can only be guided, not controlled.  I will admit that this is a hard concept to propose, since it may be foolish to think that nature as a mind and therefore a will or purpose.

With this proposal comes a few of the same questions we traditionally ask about our own free will.  How does the world follow God’s will, if God has relinquished control and nature follows its own “will”?  Essentially, God cannot intervene, so how do we account for miracles?  Why does God not intervene, when doing so might reduce suffering?

Right now, I don’t know where to go from here; so I will leave you with this:

“Where were you when I founded the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.  Who determined its size; do you know?  Who stretched out the measuring line for it?  Into what were its pedestals sunk, and who laid the cornerstone, While the morning stars sang in chorus and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
Job 38: 4-7


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