Re: [asa] Chicago Tribune on TE (and the "Evangelical Statement on Evolution")

From: Steve Martin <>
Date: Tue Jan 29 2008 - 19:44:06 EST

 In this article Van Til states that:

> "If your faith requires supernaturalism, or a God who wields overpowering
> control over nature, then yes, evolution will challenge that. The key is
> to correct your portrait of God,"

Although I disagree with how this is framed, his conclusion is actually not
that far off. Often our view of God and his action is deficient & limiting.
Why should divine action be limited to intervention? Why should we insist
that God micro-manage nature in a way that limits creation's freedom (in Van
Til's words, its functional integrity)? The old way of thinking of course
leads to a huge problem with theodicy, or as Polkinghorne's states, the
"Cosmic Tyrant" God. The trick is not to swing so far to the process
theology view, ie. declaring that God cannot intervene (is unable to act in
creation) or is obligated not to intervene since, if you intervene once, why
not intervene all the time to prevent evil? (I think this is Van Til's
current view). On this Polkinghorne states (In Science and Christian
Belief - page 80):

> One is trying to steer a path between the unrelaxing grip of a Cosmic
> Tyrant and the impotence or indifference of a Deistic Spectator. I
> believe process theology to be impaled on the impotent branch of the horn of
> the dilemma.
> > (And I'm with Ted on this: anyone who thinks Polkinghorne is anywhere
near process theology either hasn't read Pokinghorne or doesn't understand
what process theology is about).

On an Evangelical statement, David is bang-on. Any statement we
(Evangelicals) make must unambiguously state that evolution does not imply
our God is inactive. He is the God of miracles, the God who answers
prayer, and the God of the resurrection (both past, present, and future).

I'm wondering if an incarnational view will help us here.

*1. On Christ: *Jesus is fully divine and fully human - not 50% God-50%
human, not sometimes God & sometimes human, not God looking like a human,
and not a human with God like qualities but 100% God and 100% human.

*2. On Scripture: *Peter Enns uses the "incarnational analogy" in his
Incarnation and Inspiration. Again, scripture is seen as 100% divine & 100%
human. The battle for the bible (beginning in the 19th century) can be
superficially summarized as a liberal attempt to demonstrate the humanity of
the bible (at the expense of its divine source) while the Evangelical
reaction was an attempt to demonstrate its divinity (at the expense of its
human source). Enns, I believe is drawing us back to "Orthodoxy" with his
proposal back to 100% & 100%.

*3. On divine action:* So my question is, can we use a similar thinking
here? Ie. we shouldn't be choosing between "creation acting" and "Creator
acting" (I like this better than the supernatural / natural dichotomy). The
process theologians want limit the action we see to creation; many "classic
theology" evangelicals want to insist that there are discrete moments of
divine action where "creation is not acting". But do we really need to
choose? Is it more "orthodox" to have 100% & 100%?

On Jan 29, 2008 11:13 AM, Ted Davis <> wrote:

> I was sent this a few days ago by someone, and my reaction is pretty much
> the same as David's. This article does imply that there are some
> evangelical, non-process, approaches to evolution, and gives Collins as an
> example. But it does quite inaccurately imply that process is what TE
> mainly is. That's simply wrong.
> There are plenty of process thinkers in the TE camp, but also plenty who
> aren't. Starting with Polkinghorne, who's often seen wrongly as a process
> theologian despite his clear statements that he is not, accompanied by
> detailed reasons why he is not.
> And Polkinghorne, IMO, is the top science/Christianity writer on the
> present landscape.
> Ted
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Steve Martin (CSCA)
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Received on Tue Jan 29 19:45:18 2008

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