Hey, at least we’re talking metaphysics here, which is the right area to look at!
My separation of “final causation” (aims, purposes, designs) from “efficient causation” (means and processes) doesn’t, as far as I can see, clash with Richard’s view, even if my personal outworking of that and his are not the same.
If God has in mind a purpose - be that the arrival of mankind or chamelions, the salvific death of Christ, or the KT event - and creates a Universe in which that purpose is fulfilled, then the fulfilment is ultimately the result of divine action, and the means he has created are, in effect, mere details in terms of theology.
Now, those details may be important and worthy of study in their own right, such as the relationships between regular causes we study as science, but they should not be seen (in terms of final causation/teleology) as being independent of God. In classical theology, the limiting case of this is free human action, which has its own agendas and causes, and yet is seen to be subordinate to God’s final purpose and will (as in classic cases like the death of Christ in Acts 4.27-28, or the placing of Joseph in Egypt in Genesis).
The real divergence of view comes if God’s final causation and efficient causation are completely divorced from each other, for example by suggesting that “Nature” is given true independence by God, in the sense that it may or may not achieve God’s purposes, or that it would be “coercive” for God to build such purposes into the way things are. If God does not achieve his (final) purposes, then it’s a different kind of universe from the first.
There are actually only two possible kinds of such independent causes: choice and chance. The first would operate where “Nature” is personified as “free”, as well as in a radically autonomous view of human choice. One has then to deal both with the question of powers independent of God, and where the “free will” of this Nature actually resides, if it even makes sense.
The second, chance, would operate where ontological randomness is admitted as a true cause, ie where God creates processes not subject to his final causation, or in other words processes which cause themselves for no reason. Here there is a logical impasse to believing in God’s governance, for the whole point of positing such randomness is that it is a power beyond God’s control.
Agree, for the reasons above - except that even in Deism, “running on its own” implied running to a pre-conceived plan (God’s final causation), like an automaton. Shift that into the computer age, and make that “running on its own” a complex algorithm involving decision nodes and the rest, and it doesn’t alter the case to speak of: if God plans the ends, and creates means sufficient to meet them, then they are “running under God”, not “on their own”.