Monday, March 9, 2009

Redeemed 09

God's Existance...

If God exists, why doesn’t He make His existence something provable and undeniable?

God may have designed the universe so that the motive for faith must be as much moral, relational and spiritual as it is logical. Consider what the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews writes:
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead. By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:1-6 NIV, italics added).

In fact, the intrinsic nature of faith, hope, and love are such that they shouldn’t and can’t be reduced to mere logic. If God designed the universe so that His presence could be “proven” in the scientific, mathematical sense, faith wouldn’t have to be a decision of the heart. It would be mere acquiescence of the mind, motivated by necessity and fear but not by love. If faith, hope, and love were reduced to a logical decision, freedom would vanish. Who would dare stand against God if logic always seemed completely on the side of faith? If God’s existence and ultimate control were undeniable, people would obey out of fear and would struggle to conceal their resentment.

Rather than being a loving, heavenly Father who allows prodigals to make mistakes, repent, and come home to experience His love, He would be viewed as such an ominous authority that creatures would never dare become prodigals, who by returning to faith could discover freedom, individuality, calling, and love. Self-awareness would be overwhelmed by the obviousness of God’s presence. Creatures would be so engulfed by His power and glory that they couldn’t even begin to discover themselves. Love as we know it could never exist in such a world.

1. “I believe that we Christians are warranted in seeing every potentially viable life form (or every viable variant of DNA) as something thoughtfully conceived in the mind of the Creator. As did Basil and Augustine, I believe that we may rightfully speak of God calling into being at the beginning, from nothing, all material substance and all creaturely forms (whether inanimate structures or animate life forms). And, still standing with Basil and Augustine, I believe that we may rightfully presume that the array of structures and life forms now present was not yet present at the beginning, but became actualized in the course of time as the created substances, employing the capacities thoughtfully given to them by God at the beginning, functioned in a gapless creational economy to bring about what the Creator called for and intended from the outset.

“In the context of this traditional Christian vision of God’s creative work . . . , we might now wish to employ the vocabulary of twentieth-century science and speak about the full array of functionally viable forms of DNA (and the creatures thereby represented) as constituting a ‘possibility space’ of potential life forms—this possibility space itself, along with all connective pathways, being an integral component of the world brought into being at the beginning. Furthermore, in the language of this theistic paradigm of evolutionary creation, we would speak of DNA being enabled by the Creator to employ random genetic variation as a means to explore and discover (in contrast to create) viable pathways and novel life forms so that the Creator’s intentions for the formative history of the Creation might be actualized in the course of time.

“See, then, what this evolutionary creation paradigm accomplishes: Do material processes have to create? No, the possibility space of viable and historically achievable life forms is an integral aspect of the world that God created at the beginning. Material systems need only employ their God-given functional capacities to discover some of the possibilities thoughtfully prepared for them. But, one might ask, how can such ‘mindless’ material processes function to bring about what appears to be the product of ‘intelligent design’? The point is that they are not really mindless at all. Rather, every one of these processes and every connective pathway in the possibility space of viable creatures is itself a mindfully designed provision from a Creator possessing unfathomable intelligence.

“It seems to me that this theistic paradigm provides precisely what the naturalistic (broad) paradigm—the blind watchmaker hypothesis—could not. It provides the answer to the question, How is it possible that such a remarkable array of life forms is not only viable but historically realizable within the economy of the world at hand? Could anything less than the infinite creativity and faithful providence of God suffice?”(Howard Van Til, First Things, July/August 1993)

31st March 2009, 7.00pm @ Multi-Purpose Hall, UCSI University South Wing; Kuala Lumpur