God - Natural or Supernatural?

(Bill) #7

True that, George. But I made up my mind a few years ago that I was going to pursue truth, no matter where it comes from nor no matter where it leads, rather than try to be popular.

(Albert Leo) #8

Isn’t this speculation a little bit misleading? In the first place, why would it be necessary to eliminate dinosaurs for humans to evolve? After all, scientists believe that warm-blooded birds evolved from dinosaurs, and some, like the African Green parrot evolved a ‘voice box’ that can articulate sounds quite well. If that bird just had something thoughtful to say, we might think it was human. Dolphins and elephants are capable of communication (probably at a higher level than we know) and they experience human-like emotions such as empathy. The creature whose brain reached the point it could be programmed into Mind need not have been a hairless primate that first developed a sense of Self, that desired to know: ‘What am I?’ ; “How did I get here?”; “Who created me?”

Personally, I don’t think God micromanages events in his universe–even some that could cause extinction to forms of life that has pleased him. I do hope that humankind, who are striving to become _imago De_i, are an exception!
Al Leo

(George Brooks) #9


You have doubts about this? The largest mammal that ever emerged during the age of dinosaurs was about the size of a badger.

Giraffes, elephants, relatively “generalized” primates like gorillas or lemurs, only became prevalent in the relative SAFETY of a dinosaur-free world.

If you doubt this, just think about this:

Reptiles emerged in the Carboniferous period…about 310 million years ago. And these creatures grew to be huge … huge plant eaters … huge meat eaters… until the planet-killing asteroid arrived 66 million years ago.

That’s 244 million years of time. The first mammals, small ones, emerged 225 million years ago (85 million years after the arrival of reptiles). And they stayed relatively small right up until the dinosaurs were obliterated - - - 160 million years of existence… and they just don’t seem to be getting any bigger.

But once the dinosaurs are gone, mammals started to get bigger, occupying food chain niches that had been filled by the large dinosaurs. The first large mammals, the Pantolambda, appeared just 3 million years after the dinosaurs vanished!

It’s really just a common sense conclusion … the asteroid arrived on earth … and made it possible for un-horned, un-clawed, slow-running primates to evolve without becoming snacks for the giant dinosaur meat-eaters!

(Christy Hemphill) #10

I thought you swore off discussing badgers forever.

(George Brooks) #11


Gosh … I think I was just being Ironic…

I LOVVVE badgers !

(Christy Hemphill) #12

So, you are officially recanting your renunciation, huh?

(George Brooks) #13

I’m a little fickle it would seem…

(Albert Leo) #14

You missed the point I was trying to make. Reptiles were evolving ‘towards’ warm blooded types. Instead of the tiny arms of T.Rex, they might have evolved arms that could manipulate things and brains that made them conscious and self-aware. In other words, the ‘humans’ that could be seen as imago deo could have been reptiles, if the Chicxulub event had not occurred.
Al aleo


Birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs, and many birds today are highly intelligent.

Why the tiny arms on T. rex? btw, over time, the arms of its ancestors grew smaller as its jaws grew more massive and heavy, so the animal could remain balanced on 2 legs. It used its massive teeth to crush the bones of its victims.

(Jamie) #16

I’ve heard atheists Rail against Christians who claim God help them find their keys. But here’s the thing. God and nature are not separate. God upholds the natural order. If you remove God, there is nothing left. No universe. No people. God sustains the universe as well as creates it.

So if I get a parking spot at Walmart, or I find my keys, or I improbably survived a horrible disease, I should give thanks to God. Because not only do I owe God my very existence in the first place, but everything that happens to me at everything that will happen to me is Part of God’s plan. Nothing catches God by surprise. No one survives disease if God did not want them to survive. No one loses their arm if God does not allow it to happen. Many times it seems that the things that happen to us are not something that a loving God would allow to happen, but God has an eternal perspective. The suffering that we endure in this life can point us to something better. And through faith we can have joy In the worst of circumstances because we are citizens of heaven and nothing that happens to our bodies can harm our soul.

If you try to define God in terms of the physical, you put God in a box. And if you try to test God With science, you will fail. Do you think you can trap God? Do you think that God cannot work a miracle without science being able to detect it? God created the rules, everything we perceive comes from God. You trust your senses, but you shouldn’t. The Bible says do not put the Lord your God to the test.

For the record I believe in free will. God has full control over everything, but we have free will. Because God can see the future, God knows what we will choose before we choose it and can therefore plan accordingly. If I could see into the future, I would always guess the outcome of a coin toss correctly, despite having no control over the outcome itself. By giving us free will God allows us to choose heads or tails for ourselves, but no matter what we choose we cannot escape God’s plan.

(Albert Leo) #17

Jamie, if, before he created me, God knew I was going to sin so badly that he would have to cast me into hellfire, why on earth did he create me in the first place? Is there a simple way to reconcile this belief with the belief that God is Love? Simple enough that even I can understand it?
Al Leo

(George Brooks) #18


Romans 9 has just such an explanation… but nobody seems to be willing to accept it:

Romans 9:13-23

[God does not treat all humans the same.]
As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God?

God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

[God exercises his mercy as he chooses, to display his glory.]
So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that
I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

[Re-statement that God does not treat all humans the same.]
Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

[The objection regarding God’s dominion.]
Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

[Humanity has no standing to complain about God’s behavior.]
Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed
say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

[There is a purpose even for those things that are made for unclean purposes.]
Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make
one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

[God patiently endures all these injustices.]
What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured
with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the
vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory…"

(Albert Leo) #19

@gbrooks9 Since exposure to the Bible in my Catholic education was through passages subjected to exegesis, I am not familiar with Romans 9:13-23. How do we know that Paul is referring to God when he uses “I” and “he”? I think the odds are good that Isaac preferred Esau to Jacob and Rebecca’s preference was just the opposite. But where was it written that God hated Esau? Surely Paul did not make this up out of thin air.
Al Leo

(George Brooks) #20

If Paul says “as it is written” - - I presume that he saw it written somewhere, but it seems to have been in some scroll lacking in the same gravitas as the Biblical texts … In any case, he uses the example of Pharaoh … which certainly IS written in the Bible.

(Christy Hemphill) #21

Malachi 1:2-3.

But in this prophetic passage, Esau and Jacob probably symbolize ethnic groups, with Esau being Edom, who was one of Israel’s enemies.

In Deuteronomy 23:7, hating an Edomite is forbidden, go figure. :neutral_face:

(Christy Hemphill) #22

But in the very same book, “God does not show favoritism” (Rom 2:11)

Or, Acts 10:34-36: “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism”

Deuteronomy 10:17 “He is the great God…who shows no partiality.”

Isn’t proof-texting a fun game?

(Albert Leo) #23

Thanks, Christy, for pointing out the Malachi passage. Your interpretation that Esau may symbolize the Edomite society makes some sense in that God is then actually showing a preference for one society over another; not one individual over another. As a believer in the Noosphere, I see this as the Israelite society corresponding to a (noo)gene cluster favoring group survival over the Edomite (noo)gene cluster. Of course, in the sense of the Noosphere, we mean cultural survival–not necessarily biological survival. Also in this sense, the Bible has been the most effective (noo)gene cluster of all, closely followed by the Koran.

Useful biological genes can mutate in such a way as to cause cancer. Noogenic gene clusters (the Bible and Koran) can be mutated to cause social cancers (Spanish Inquisition, ISIL, Al-Quida). Would that we could find a Noogenic Caspace-9 that would result in Jihad apoptosis.
Al Leo

(Jon Garvey) #24

Is the aim to understand what Paul means in Romans 9? Or is it to remove the sense of scandal that he says it at all?

Because whatever your interpretation, it has to take account of the fact that Paul anticipated in v19 that some readers would object, “Then why does God still blame us? For who can resist his will?” He doesn’t answer that they’ve misunderstood his words - he says they haven’t understood God.

Paul’s quotation of Malachi, in the context of the birth narrative of Esau and Jacob, suggests that he considered Malachi to be referring the choice between Easu and Jacob back to their individual origins, not the particulars of the later tribes.

But the concept of selection in the “love/hate” idiom is clear, because Paul knew full well that God blessed Esau not only with riches, but as the founder of his people: the question of “God’s purpose in election” refers only to the promise of the Covenant.

And in his example, Paul is actually pointing out the general pattern of God’s unmerited choice in the origins of Israel as his chosen people: Abraham was called, but Lot was not. Isaac was the child of the promise, and Ishmael was not (and neither were the children of Abraham’s later wife Keturah). Then the most graphic example comes of the younger twin chosen rather than the older twin regardless of merit actual or foreseen (who’s going to suggest that Jacob was a moral example?), which takes the story up to the point when Jacob is renamed Israel, and all his children - even those of his servants - are heirs to the promise… except that Paul has already said that not all the natural descendants of Israel are children of the promise “not by works (or by race, v24), but by him who calls”.

It’s that whole account that has his critics shouting “Foul!”: and Paul’s response is in v14, expanded in vv20-21. Which is why, perhaps, people tend to respond that old Paul got things wrong a bit there, because, after all, we know God, and Scripture, better than he did… or maybe the Old Testament got it wrong too, and Abraham was actually talent spotted by God as the most faithful person in the world, Ishmael was an atheist, Esau was too busy on his see-saw to follow God, etc…

But if Paul did get it wrong, it was a quite deliberate choice, and it’s incumbent on his critics not only to say why Scripture is fallible, but exactly what is wrong with Paul’s argument, other than our confidence in our own spiritual prejudices.

But context is everything - a text without a context is a pretext for a proof-text… and we don’t want to do proof texting, do we?

(Jon Garvey) #25

Oh yes - in case one should think Paul forgets that he said God shows no favourites back in ch2, he hasn’t.
(1) “Prosopolepsia” means regarding the outward appearance rather than the inward reality: that’s orthogonal to the question of not choosing by works at all in ch9.
(2) Paul’s explanation in Rom 9.20 is not about mere choice of existing people, but his sovereignty as creator in forming them for “noble or common use”.

A king might see a sharp wit, or a pretty face in his court and make that person a favourite, disregarding their merits. But when God chose Abraham, or Isaac, or Jacob, he didn’t simply compare them with Lot, or Ishmael, or Esau either on their merits or because he liked their face - he created them to be what he chose them to be. And that’s why God speaks of creating Israel for his glory in Isaiah 43.7, not of noticing them as a particularly deserving people group and then privileging them unfairly. Paul had, no doubt, studied Isaiah.

(Albert Leo) #26

Jon, my aim in reading any part of the Bible, OT or NT, is to see if someone in the past, who is wiser than I, can lead me on the path to pleasing God–lead me more surely than I would be able to do on my own. Some of Paul’s writings I can clearly understand and they seem to accomplish this. But if some, like Romans 9, need such thorough exegesis ‘to remove the sense of scandal’ they are worse than useless. Christy’s explanation that the name of the individual who founds a new society is often applied then to the society itself: Jacob --> Israel; Esau --> Edomites fits the mental picture I had already formed in expanding Teilhard’s proposal of the Noosphere. In my view, it seems more acceptable that God should favor one society over another, because it is more likely to lead its members to his purpose. If he favors one individual over another, that would seem unjust, if that individual was trying his/her best in the situation he/she was born into.
Al Leo