Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Perfect World

Sometimes there is a tendency to reduce God to some sort of mathematical equation.  I call this The Blob with Pins in It View of God.  It sees Him not as a person but as a mixture of attributes that we can deduce things from.  Nowhere is this more evident than when we are looking at the world as God created it.

Leibniz claimed (and Voltaire ridiculed the idea) that God had created the best of all possible worlds.  This asserted that God was required, by the logic of His nature, to create one specific world. Now God cannot create a world that is contrary to His nature, but the idea He is limited to one or a few choices turns God into a thing instead of a person.  Sometimes Christians can fall into this way of thinking when we speak of the course of history as glorifying God.  Now it is true that everything that happens will glorify God, but that does not mean there is some kind of equation which constrains God to do things this way because it gives Him slightly more glory. There are undoubtedly paintings Rembrandt could not have painted or music Beethoven could not have written because it would have conflicted with their characters.  But this was hardly a severe limit on their creativity.  Also, the world as we meet it is a fallen world and is not the way God created it.  And while I do believe God is in control and will ultimately use what has happened to His glory, that does not mean a real rebellion has not taken place.

What claims to be science can sometimes follow the same logic.  It is claimed the similarities among animals cannot be explained by God using a common blueprint because there must be some ideal form for each type of animal. There must be an ideal form for a flying creature rather than a land creature. But this is philosophy and dubious philosophy.  Or God could not have created marsupials because they have a inferior ability to survive compared to placentals.   But this presumes that the only value in God's sight is ability to survive. The assumption is made that God would create animals uniformly over the earth wherever they were able to live, which conflicts with their present distribution. But there is no reason to believe this is so. Also, from the Christian point of view, much has happened to the world since God created it, and to think the present condition of things reflects His will is a mistake.

The bottom line is it is a very dangerous thing to think we can know exactly how God would do things, and viewpoints that are based on this rather than on what is revealed to us in His Word are suspect. For the Christian, our philosophy must be based on our theological convictions, not the other way around.

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