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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Predestination and Intelligent Design

The Free Dictionary begins its definition of predestination thus:

"The doctrine that God has foreordained all things, especially that God has elected certain souls to eternal salvation."

On April 19, 2009, the Wikipedia article on predestination says "Predestination: The Divine foreordaining of all that will happen; with regard to the salvation of some and not others. It has been particularly associated with the teachings of St. Augustine of Hippo and of John Calvin."

In Ephesians 1 and Romans 8, predestination is mentioned, in the above senses.

As I understand the doctrine, it holds that some individuals are fore-ordained to eternal salvation, and some are not. There are differences of opinion about the doctrine among theologians, which are not pertinent to this post.

I pose a question: If God is capable of planning and ordaining, in advance, that some persons will gain salvation, and some won't, wasn't God also capable of planning, and ordaining, in advance, that, say, the Big Bang would produce sub-atomic particles that He knew would spontaneously assemble themselves into atoms, then, molecules? Wasn't God also capable of making things such that natural selection, once living things appeared, would select for complex molecules, structures, and processes?

Sometimes, a belief in intelligent design seems to imply that somehow God didn't get things right in the first place.

God is able, of course, to use His own methods and timetable, but perhaps God's creative activity involved such planning and forethought that little or no further miraculous intervention would be necessary.

I am aware that suggesting such a creation, with extensive emergent properties, might involve considerable death and suffering. I refer to this web page, by Glenn R. Morton, where Morton argues, using scripture, that death and suffering might well have occurred before the Fall. David Snoke has also made such an argument, using scripture. See here and here.

Thanks for reading.


Web said...
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elbogz said...

Sometimes, a belief in intelligent design seems to imply that somehow God didn't get things right in the first placeSometimes reading the first and last chapters of the bible implies that God didn't get things right in the first place.

Gen 6:7 So the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them."

To me the tougher questions is why an intelligent designer would need to create a hell, or would ever desire to throw his creation in an eternal lake of fire. Why would an intelligent designer desire animal and human sacrifices. Why would an intelligent designer need an apocalypse to destroy it all one more time?

Most will argue, God's world was perfect, it was Adam and Eve that screwed it all up. But if God had the ability of predestination then he knew it all before he began. How could he be sorry for the consequences?

Albert Einstein made an interesting observation in this area. He said something like, If you could see in 4 dimensions (including space/time) then you would see the past, present and future in an instant.

Martin LaBar said...

Those are good questions, elbogz.

The classic Christian answer is that God gave freedom of choice, and such freedom means that there are consequences for wrong choice.

FancyHorse said...

elbogz has asked some thought-provoking questions. I have often wondered that, too - why did God give us freedom of choice, knowing that we would make wrong choices, and even choose to reject Him? I'm looking at it from a selfish, human point of view, which is the only view I have now. God loves us so much that He wants us to love Him freely, because we want to, not because we have to.

The whole predestination/election thing is baffling to me, too, in light of "Whosoever will" and "God desires no one to perish". These are answers that cannot be known in this life, I don't think, and I am content to trust Him and wait.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, FancyHorse. I think you have exactly the right attitude on this.

dsmith77 said...

I read or heard an explanation that has always given me some comfort in this even if I never fully comprehend it all. It is this:

God wants to love and be loved. God gave humans free will in the knowledge that at least some would choose to have a relationship with Him. He already created the angels, God loves them and they love him back, but they lack free will and thus cannot choose to love God like we can.

Oh, and Hell was actually created as a place to send the fallen angels. It was never meant for humans but those that reject God must go somewhere.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, dsmith77.

I don't think anyone but God comprehends it all on these questions.

I think your answers are probably right, but it is clear that they don't satisfy everyone.

Thanks again.