Monday, February 16, 2004

Attributes of the Designer...

In “What are your intentions?,” I argued that the more one knows about the intentions of a designer the more one can understand the actions of a designer. If the God of the Bible is the Intelligent Designer responsible for the creation of the cosmos, then the next step in our analysis would be to determine whether we can ascertain the intentions of Yahweh by virtue of His attributes. From the Bible we can gather at least the following:
that we are created in the Image of God – the Imago Dei (Genesis 1:26-27; 9:6 ). Part of what this entails is our ability to reason and think rationally. If we reflect the rationality of God it follows that God is rational in His thought and in His actions. that God is intimately involved in His actions as they pertain to His creation (Genesis 1 & 2; Job 38). The God of the Bible is not some god that kicks-off creation and then lets it run by itself. We expect to see God’s involvement. that God has a Plan He is working to (Genesis 12:1-3; 22:15-18; Acts 10:34-43; Galatians 4:4-5). This Plan transcends the boundaries between science, philosophy, and theology, encompassing the totality of our existence. Walt Russell, Associate Professor of New Testament and Literature at Biola, describes the Biblical Worldview that is derived from God’s Plan as such: 1) God has a Plan He is working out through human history, 2) first through Israel and now through the Church, 3) to bless all peoples through faith, 4) maximally glorifying God. that the culmination of God’s acts of creation was mankind (Genesis 1 & 2; Isaiah 45:18). His actions indicate that He had us in mind throughout the whole process. that events in which God acts occur at His timing, within His Plan (Matthew 24:3-14, 36-44; Ephesians 1:9-12; Galatians 4:4-5). Given that God has a Plan and a goal, and that He is not wasteful (see below), we should expect that events in the history of the cosmos occur not only when He wishes but that they occur at the most opportune time. This is tantamount to saying that God scheduled divine events to occur as soon as possible to support the ultimate goal of mankind. that God is Sovereign over the laws of physics which He established (Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1:16-17, Hebrews 11:3). This also indicates that from His point of reference there are no “supernatural” acts that He performs; they appear supernatural only from within our constrained frame of reference. that as part of His being Sovereign over nature He can perform at least two types of miracles – one involving the suspension of the laws of physics (Matthew 14:22-33) and the other involving the occurrence of a highly improbable event (1 Samuel 6:1-12). Further analysis of God’s use of miracles is that He does not perform them to simply impress mankind; they are fit for purpose – God does not waste miracles.
What can we make of this brief list of attributes with regards to God’s intentions and whether those intentions should be evidenced in the record of nature? We should expect to see that God did intend to create in an orderly, efficient, well-timed manner in step with His goal of creating mankind. We should see miraculous acts used either where specifically mentioned in the Bible or where their occurrence is expected in keeping with the goal of preparing a proper environment for mankind. These are but a few of the guidelines to use when addressing questions regarding God’s intentions. For instance, take the three questions I posed as typical of coming from the skeptic: 1) An omnipotent designer is not constrained by the laws of physics so why should purported evidence of precise timing be an indicator of divine design? We understand God to be the creator of the laws of physics in our universe. As such we understand that from His point of reference any action He takes is natural – it only becomes supernatural when viewed from our vantage point. Precise timing points towards an intended goal or culmination – an attribute of a good plan. 2) If an omnipotent designer could create in any way he desired, then virtually any evidence we find in the record of nature could be proposed as evidence for intelligent design. How is this falsifiable? This may be true for a generically defined omnipotent designer but it is not true for the God of the Bible. The Bible records His nature as being that of rationality and order. We should not expect disorder in His actions. As one is able to review a human made plan for evidence of design so one is able to review the record of nature for evidence of design. The issue is one of finding design characteristics and not one of viewing any evidence as positive evidence. For example: we should expect to see templates used which take advantage of excellent structural design principles, such as evidenced in mammalian body structures, as opposed to a hodgepodge conglomeration of plans; we should expect to see an information-rich code such as DNA to also use the rational design characteristic of template similarity, thereby revealing design, as opposed to a revelation of haphazardness, such as is posited by the Junk-DNA scenario. 3) If this omnipotent designer is so powerful then why didn’t he just zap everything into existence? God, if Omnipotent, is certainly capable of that act, but the record of the Bible and of nature indicate He chose not to act in that manner. We are given no specific reason why He chose to act in that manner. An analysis of the record of nature and that of the Bible indicates that such a display would not have been consistent with His attributes, as described above. Note that this question delves into the theological aspect of God’s actions and should be answered as such. In the final part to this series I will take a look at human designed schedules in how they model intelligent design and how they prove problematic for the evolutionary scenario.

No comments: