Over the last several weeks, loyal readers of this blog (if any remain…) will note that the focus of the majority of my posts have centered around web application coding techniques.  While part of the reason for this is that I have been improving exponentially in my coding abilities over the last several months (not hard when one is going from zero to somethng…), the major impetus for these posts is simply that I post about what I am thinking as well as that to which I am devoting my time.  Frankly, while I love theology deeply, I have not been devoting much time to it lately, partly out of necessity, partly out of lethargy.  

The last week, however, I have been on vacation and, more importantly, sick.  During this time I have had a lot of restless hours to quiet my thinking and devote mental energy to things other than web application code (even though that has still managed to creep in).  In these hours of contemplation, I have come across what I believe could be a major diffusor of objections to big bang cosmology (BBC) and evolutionary biology (EB) in re: the relationship of God's activity to the created order.

In my experience, the main objections to BBC and EB center around two poles: 1.) individuals feel that these conceptual paradigms do violence to what is perceived to be "literal" accounts of the modus operendi of divine creation as recorded in the book of Genesis and 2.) individuals understand BBC and EO to "remove" God's involvement in creation en toto.

Now the first objection can be easily dismissed.  After all, the very notion of "literality" as applied to Genesis not only takes for granted certain characteristics about the text that may or may not be applicable in the context of the worldview and purposes of the book's writers, but more broadly presumes a limited criteria of "literal-ness" that would be impossible to substantiate on the basis of the very requirements of verifiability which are assumed to classify its validity.  That is, if modern assumptions of "historicity" are imposed on the text as defining the parameters of literality, it is difficult to ascertain how the verifiability or non-verifiability of the events recorded could be determined given the lack of phenomenological access to the subject matter in question.  In this sense, a modern conception of "historicity" is conjured, not for its methodological meaningfulness, but rather as a rhetorical tool which dissolves quickly when engaged beyond the level of argumentative aesthetics.

The second objection is a little trickier to get at.  In my experience, the description of super-natural involvement in the created order is generally dealt with on two levels.  The first is that of the so-called "natural laws".  In this regard, the natural laws which are understood and observed to give order and form to the universe are believed to be divinely instituted and, for all intents and purposes, operate with an almost demi-goddish ability to function without "direct" intervention by the divine.  That is, while they are still understood to derive their meaning and existence from God, the "natural laws" are capable of persisting "as is"–immutable in their createdness.  This is an important observation for, as will be noted, it directly impacts the meaning of the 2nd tier of supernatural involvement.  Insofaras the natural laws are believed to be immutable in their createdness by God, so any deviation from these divinely created and instituted laws requires "super-natural" activity.  In another way, the natural laws–derivitvie as they are from the divine creative will–provide the parameters for the behavior of the creation; therefore, transgression of these laws requires an act of creative will beyond that originally displayed in the origination of the "natural laws."

This belief is wide-spread and can be easily discerned in typical language about the miraculous.  The miraculous is often described as "that which human understanding [read science] cannot explain" or "an event in the natural world, but out of its established order, possible only by the intervention of divine power."

The problem for the fervent rejectors of BBC and EO, then, boils down to the need to concomitantly address both levels of creative involvement by God in the creation of the universe.  After all, if only the first level needed to be accounted for, there could be no solid objection to BBC and EO for the processes of evolution could be easily attributed to the outflowing of the created natural laws of the universe as instituted by God.  However, the second level is not herein addressed, whereby God intervenes in contradiction of the natural laws instituted by God to bring about something that could not come about throught the initial creative intent of God (as manifest in the establishment of the natural laws).  Therefore, the concept of an additional, contrary creative act of God is proposed which eliminates–in the mind of the protagonist–the possibility of BBC and EO revealing the creative intent of God, for such would lack the dramatic and invasive creative act of God over and against the parameters for creation already established in God's creative act of the natural laws.

Clearly, if the consequences of such a perspective are even casually considered, severe theological problems quickly emerge.  

First and foremost is that the unity of God's creative act is quickly shattered and is shown to be entirely incongruous.  Rather than forming the parameters whereby one might define the nature and being of the universe, the natural laws so-called function on the basest of levels and are relegated to nothing more than serving as counter-points to describing the "real" creative involvement of God in the universe.  They lose their own place in the creative purposes of God and are shown to be void of ontology and useful only in conceptual contrasts to what God "really" creates through supposed violations of the same.  And if this description is too hyperbolic, it is undeniable that, at the very least, such a picture of God's creative act (and counter-act) creates a dichotomy in the creative purposes of God in that God must create parameters to be transgressed so that the entirety of the nature of the divine creative act might be fully realized in the phenomenological universe.  

But more importantly, however, such a description of the creative processes of God undermines the unity of God and creation.  For example, while it is affirmed that the universe is not an emmination of the divine being, it must also be asserted that the universe is entirely proper to the nature of God.  That is, while the universe is "other than" God, its "otherliness" is not alien to God's nature and being.  However, the description of God's creative act outlined above explicitly defies these considerations.  After all, if the universe-as-created-by-God requires invasive divine acts whereby the divine will can be brought to pass within creation, in what way is the universe "proper" to the divine nature?  Moreover, if the creator the universe has to subsequently transgress the very nature of the creation in order to bring about the divine creative purposes within creation, how can God be spoken of as creator at all?  If the universe is not alien to God, why must God assume an alien stance in interacting with it?  And more importantly, if God is creator of the universe, would not divine interaction with the creation be something entirely natural to the created order, rather than something which must be, de facto, contradictory?

The rejectors of BBC and EO, in their fervor to "preserve&
ot; the
creative purposes of God in creation, have in fact denied this very thing.  By seeking to stress the "special, supernatural" intervention of God in creation, they have decisively created a rift between God and creation, recreating the alien universe of the deists of old that can only be acted upon by the contradictory invasion of the detached divinity.  

A truly Christian creation theology, however, must come to terms with the unity of God's creative purposes and acts in creation.  While such need not sell its soul to the current fads of scientific pursuit, it is equally true that such considerations need not explicitly deny the relevancy of the same.  The unity of God's creative acts is such that it should, IMO, be equally apparent and hidden in creation.  Its reality should be marked in that the entire creation–however it is understood to be comprised–is result of God's creative purposes.  Yet its hiddeness reminds that God's creative purposes are such that how the universe is IS precisely how God intended it to be.  Our theological prejudices aside, the constitution and history of the universe is a manifestation of the outflowing of the divine creative will.  We need not look for something "other than" the-universe-as-it-is to explain how it came to be as it is.  It is because God created, and God's creative acts in the history of the universe look, strangely enough, like the history of the universe, whether or not we would wish it to look like something, more or less.