Throughout my life I’ve experienced a wide range of beliefs: from Evangelical to agnostic, then to atheist, then a period of dabbling in Eastern religions, to Pentecostal, then to Presbyterian/Calvinist, and now, well, to where I am today let’s just say.
Once you think you have grasped a firm understanding of God, you come across something that catches you off-guard and makes you re-evaluate everything you’ve believed in. As St. Augustine once said, “God is not what you imagine or what you think you understand. If you understand, you have failed.“
Over the recent years, as I have delved a bit more into the scientific underpinnings of God and theology, as well as my ruminations of the Bible, I’ve adopted more of a “non-interventionist” viewpoint of God.
After experiencing a family tragedy several years ago, I began to re-evaluate my views on how God acts and relates to the world. Before, I was really under the impression and even comforted by the fact that everything was under God’s sovereign control. And by control, I meant that God was directly and actively in control of everything that goes on in a person’s life- that God had a set “master plan” for everyone’s life (derived from every evangelical Christian’s favorite comfort verse Jeremiah 29:11, which is also one of the the most misinterpreted verses as well) – from first breath to last.
But after experiencing the death of a loved one (and the way in which she had died), I began to re-assess what God’s sovereignty and power really meant. In the past I had thought that free will was an illusion (that God causes you to believe and act according to his will), but while reading upon quantum mechanics, I came to the conclusion that free will is a solid reality in the fabric of universe. Yes, it took me a while come to accept that almost intuitive, self-evident reality. (Though I found out that the reality of free will is a lot more complex and nuanced when you read about cognitive neuroscience.)
However, whenever I came across sermons or talks about God like the one below from John Piper, I became more and more uncomfortable while listening to them.
If you’re comforted by and wholeheartedly share his views above, then more power to you. I remember a time when I believed every single word Rev. Piper says above, but such words ring shallow to me now.
Instead of taking the easy route and disbelieving God altogether, I re-calibrated my understanding of God and how he relates with his creation, especially in relation to how randomness and chance plays into divine action and the world in which we experience and live in.
The summaries I present under the the “Divine Action” section of the “Science and Theology” menu above are from a book titled How God Acts: Creation, Redemption, and Special Divine Action (Theology and the Sciences) by Denis Edwards. As I summarize some chapters while progressing through the book, I’ll share my thoughts here and there in a grey shaded box.
One essay focuses on Why did God create the Universe? The Role of Evolutionary Emergence and God’s Actions and the other, Noninterventionist Divine Action; How Does God Relate to His Creatures? .
One of the main and central topics discussed is trying to understand if God intervenes in creation or does he let things be as they are with little or no direct involvement.
Of course, I take every understanding presented here and moving forward to be provisional, but I present these thoughts here which I believe make best to me in terms of understanding God and the world we live in at this point in my journey. Does Denis’ view as presented in his book, along with my views, air-tight and without error? Of course not – no theology is perfect, and no one point will ever encapsulate all of God.
It is just my response to God’s invitation of “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD.” (Isaiah 1:18)