QUESTIONS IN GENESIS: LET THERE BE AND THE QUESTION OF DIVINE CAUSALITY

What does it mean when God says “Let there be?” This may seem relatively straightforward, but I don’t think it is. Is it a command at which the thing called into existence suddenly appears? Or is it a more gradual process of plants, stars, animals, etc. emerging. Did God create a semi-autonomous creation? The text does not give us that answer.
It actually leads me to a question I’ve been thinking about lately. What does it mean to say that God causes something to happen? When we say that God has healed somebody, or created everything, in what sense does he cause these things? Divine causation is a profound mystery. We cannot speak of it as we do natural cause and effect (which we don’t understand very well as it is). I think understanding divine causality is significant for those of us who want to explore and understand evolution in theological terms. We speak of natural processes through which evolution occurs, but what of the divine mode that creates through those processes?

I think this is where it is good to look at N.T. Wright’s worldview perspective of critiquing the epicurean worldview through which many secularists view evolution, and instead be able to speak of evolution through a Biblical worldview, where God is constantly working in this world, where God’s reality and ours overlap and interlock. I think through these lens we have the key to developing a theology through which we understand evolution from a Christian perspective.

There are many elements to explore here, and in future posts I want to look more into developing such a theology. There are many excellent thinkers working on this, and I hope to share with you their works as well as thoughts of my own. I think in the next century we have the potential to see a fully developed theology of evolution that will be embraced by all Christians, except perhaps the most diehard of opponents. Perhaps the central aspect is solving the problem (as much as we can in our finitude) of divine causality. If someone could come up with a satisfactory solution, they deserve whatever equivelant theologians have of a Nobel Prize.

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