Your last two posts are crucial to the question of providence here, I think. Thanks a lot. Eddie’s caution about the limitations of speaking of God’s “sustaining” everything in being is that we have all seen that word drained of its historical theological content (I suppose in a quasi-scientific way), so that it simply means God keeping objects in existence as they go about their business autonomously and he is passive. What philsopher Freddy Freddoso calls “mere conservationism”.
But of course, as you say, since Patristic times the link between providence and creation has been understood to mean that, whatever God has created, including each moment and its events, he sustains and (necessarily as Creator) governs.
Your first post hints that this even applies to human evil:
But since, as Eddie rightly says, that can divert us from the matter in hand by requiring discussion of how God can govern evil if he doesn’t create it, it’s helpful to concentrate on natural creation in this context.
And in that case, the question about whether God governs molecular events requires us simply to ask, “Did God create molecules?” If so, they are governed by him towards his chosen ends for them - which is certainly no problem conceptually if God is as free of time and space as we believe: the question of scale is only a human issue.
Likewise, if we wonder whether he governed the Lisbon earthquake (either actively or permissively for some good reason, as Aleo suggests) we must ask who created tectonic plates and tectonic activity. A creator who gives them an algorithm to follow and leaves them to it is akin, at least, to the “deistic” clockmaker God. But one who is sustaining tectonics creatively from moment to moment is the providential God of theism, both transcendent and intimately immanent.
The question is not really how he does these things, because creation ex nihilo, even of events is, itself, not a scientific process. That’s why I dislike the idea of “God creating through evolution”, as if such a physical process were, in itself, creation rather than the occasion for it.
Unless we’re limiting providence to what is called “general providence”, ie what makes the universe habitable and so on, the laws of nature may be a necessary, but not sufficient, explanation for the contingent events in the world.
So (as a graphic example) if Aleo and his shrapnel are indeed a providential work of God, mysteriously keeping him alive for further service when others perished, we give thanks to God not for the laws that make such escapes possible statistically, but for God’s goodness in making it happen to him, on the assumption that God’s reasons were specific and good.
Perhaps it would be “improper” to speak of God’s “directing” the shrapnel an inch to one side (or Aleo’s head an inch to the other) - but that would be perhaps the only human kind of human analogy to express things. The fact is that “the laws of nature” don’t explain why he’s here to share with us now (“n% of people survive such shrapnel wounds” is an abstraction, not an explanation), though we may suppose the laws to have operated throughout, whereas the designing purpose of God is a good explanation.
For those interested, Thomas Aquinas argues the case pretty well that God must govern individual events if he governs the world in general - I did a piece with some selective links to his work way back here.