We will cover the first half of Chapter 2 of “The Groaning of Creation”.
Please answer one of the following questions:
- In Section 2.2 “Creationism and Intelligent Design”, discuss how the intelligent design model exacerbates the problem of evolutionary theodicy. What problems do you see occurring with a God who constantly tinkers or intervenes to add complexity into the natural order? Does this imply that God is distant and remote? What does it say about God in that he doesn’t constantly interfere with the evolutionary process?
- In Section 2.3 “God Not the Creator, or Not Benevolent?”, Southgate brings up Isaiah 45:7 which states, “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.” (NIV) What do you make of this verse and Martin Luther’s statement that “God is not to be justified in the face of evil, for God is in fact responsible, making use of it through the opus alienum Dei [God’s alien work (of destruction)].” Are violence and destruction a part of God’s nature and therefore evolutionary creation is just a reflection of him revealing this aspect of himself? If so, then how can believers still claim that he is a loving and gracious God who is deserving of worship? Is God violent in that we are “to regard God as the ground of being, whose nature is glimpsable in the beauty but also in the violence of the cosmos”? Share your thoughts.
- Summarize what the God of process theology is like according to A.N. Whitehead’s philosophy as mentioned in Section 2.4 “The God of Process Theology”. Explain what the term “dipolarity” means and how that applies to God. How does this God relate with suffering? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Do you buy into this model? Why or why not?
- In Section 2.4 “The God of Process Theology”, what do you make of Hans Jonas’s model of God? Is it too extreme? Do you agree with Southgate’s assessment of this model of God? Or is there some kernel of truth to Jonas’s view of God which stems from his own personal experiences?
- What are Teilhard de Chardin’s main thoughts about God and his relation with evolution and with us as discussed in Section 2.5? What are some criticisms to his theology? Describe his thoughts about the “telos”. Is this view plausible and compatible with orthodox biblical teachings, or is it too radical to accept? Explain your thoughts.
- In Teilhard’s book The Phenomenon of Man (1946), he writes about “A particular type of cosmos in which evil appears necessarily and as abundantly as you like in the course of evolution- not by accident… but through the very structure of the system.” Furthermore, he writes, “[It is] a universe which labours, which sins, and which suffers.” Do you agree with him that evil occurs not in an accidental manner but that it is very much a part of the overall system? Do you think God created the universe with evil being a necessary component in its existence? Or did evil arise even to the surprise of God? Is evil a foreign entity or an unintended consequence of creation? If so, then what does this say about God? How would this affect your worship of him?