Re: [asa] EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Wed Jan 23 2008 - 10:55:14 EST

"Theism" can merely mean belief in one or more deities, or it can more
specifically mean belief in a transcendent deity. The term is often used

In Christian theism, God is separate from creation (transcendent). That
which is created is by definition not God.

I wouldn't define Deism merely as God winding up creation and then letting
it run without "divine intervention." Deism, I'd suggest, involves a God
who is transcendent but not immanent. Not only does the Deistic God not
"intervene" in creation; he/it also is detached from creation once it gets
going. In Deism, the creation does not depend on God's sustaining power or

In contrast, in Christian theism, God is transcendent but also immanent.
His immanence means that creation is continually sustained by God's
power, will and love. This immanence does not mean that God's essence is *
bound* to the creation, as in pantheism, panentheism, or animism. But note
also that while this means God *can *intervene miraculously in creation, it
does not mean that God *must *do so. Unlike in Deism, for Christian theism,
the absence of the miraculous does not imply the absence of God's sustaining
power and will. This is why, for example, Christians view the conception
and birth of a baby as a "gift from God" -- why the Psalmist can describe
this anthromorphically as the developing baby being "knit together" by God
-- even though that process doesn't involve any apparent "direct
intervention" by God.

It's incorrect, then, to equate every Christian version of "theistic
evolution" or "evolutionary creationism" with Deism. It's entirely
compatible with the Christian understanding of God's immanence to suggest
that God doesn't ordinarily "intervene" in natural processes, so long as we
understand that those natural processes remain contingent on God's
sustaining power and will.

On Jan 23, 2008 10:32 AM, Jon Tandy <> wrote:

> Upon further reflection and a little more reading, I believe the view I
> expressed below is actually better described by (at least one variation of)
> the theological term "panentheism". Deism would hold instead that God is
> separate from the creation, and in fact remains separate from it after
> "spinning it up" in the first place, letting it operate without divine
> intervention. Pantheism (at least a form of it) would be the better
> description of the view that "the universe is God".
> And finally theism -- someone help me out here. Does strict theism, or
> theism in some of the major Christian traditions, require God to be separate
> from and transcendent of creation, as opposed to panentheism? It seems from
> ( that theism is a
> very broad category that can include such diverse ideas such as polytheism,
> pantheism, panentheism, dystheism, etc.
> If theism can be so broadly defined, is this one reason so much difference
> and robust discussion exists around the concept of "theistic evolution"
> (aside from any scientific arguments)?
> Jon Tandy
> -----Original Message-----
> *From:* [] *On
> Behalf Of *Jon Tandy
> *Sent:* Wednesday, January 23, 2008 8:12 AM
> *To:*
> *Subject:* Re: [asa] EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed
> As to your discussion of deism, I'm not sure where that came from. I
> certainly don't argue for deism. If anything, I'm leaning toward the idea
> that regardless of the "apparent" natural history of the universe, God is in
> all and through all things, and "by him all things consist" (Col 1:17).
> This is not to say that "nature is God" (which, as I understand it, is
> deistic). Rather, God not only makes his appearance within nature to openly
> perform what we would call miracles, but He is actively involved in all of
> creation, accomplishing His ultimate purposes in it from Day 1. Thus, we
> can say that God "sends the rain", even though we can also describe
> humidity, warm and cold fronts, and the condensation of water as the source
> of rain in a temporal sense. In the end, it is an incarnational model --
> God joined actively with nature, accomplishing His will through it, not just
> sitting on a throne in heaven and coming by once in a while for a visit.
> This is perhaps the ultimate in theism, not deism at all, because it doesn't
> deny God's active involvement, but embraces it through and through
> (including the miraculous).

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Received on Wed Jan 23 10:56:36 2008

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