How God is in control without controlling us

April 23, 2013

Over at Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed blog, Scot’s science blogger reviews a recent book called Nature’s Witness: How Evolution Can Inspire Faith by Daniel Harrell. He finds Harrell’s analogy about the relationship between God’s sovereignty and human freedom (and the freedom of natural processes) quite helpful, as do I. It helps answer how it’s possible that God is in control while at the same time not controlling us:

What if God is like a grand-master chess player playing with an eight-year-old novice? The game has its rules and regularities (created by God), such that whatever move the eight-year-old makes, the grand master already knows its outcome. There’s no doubt who will win in the end. Likewise, with human freedom and evolutionary processes (the eight-year-old novices in this analogy), God knows what will happen in any scenario with any moves that are made. He can make any of them work for his victory. (p. 80)

I also like this joke. Nature must exist in order for natural processes to run their course:

A scientist tells God that he’s figured out how to create life from the dust of the ground, just like God did in the beginning. Consequently, the scientist says, he’s shown that God is no longer a plausible hypothesis for the origin of life. Impressed, the Lord tells the scientist to do it again; he’d like to watch. So the scientist picks up a handful of dirt. But the Lord stops him right there.

“Uh-uh” God says. “Get your own dirt.”

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