Why a Designer?

I don’t know how God accomplishes his providential interventions in to time and space and timing and placing, but I’m glad he does! He may not need to control every molecule, not that he couldn’t, but he accomplishes what he wants by intervening to the depth and degree necessary to get it done.

To preempt @mitchellmckain’s complaint about free will, remember God’s omnitemporality. It’s not something we can get our heads around, but how he relates to us limited to the sequential time we experience without countermanding our agency is a wonderful (and terrible) mystery. Judas was still responsible and it would have been better for him not to have been born, even though it had been ‘planned’ – a timebound word in the past tense that does not apply to God.

You are now talkiing about miracles. Miracles, by definition, are exceptions to the rule. If you wish to assign a particular event to God, fair enough. Prayers are answered, I can testify to that myself. But
If you are going to claim that every event is orchestrated by God that is another matter. He becomes a ruthless killer as well as a saviour and the choosing between the two is pure Calvinism, that is, predestination to the nth degree.

I have no problem with God intervening when asked, although I am less comfortable with Him doing it when not asked. I have performed as well as witnessed miracles (God intervention)

Our previous discussions have involved you stating that chance does not exist which puts God in charge of all minutia (and basically makes us automatons) Perhaps I have misunderstood you?

Maybe we need to establish this first before clarifying your view on the working of evolutionary deviations.


I am going to claim that ‘predestination’ is a timebound word (obviously) in the past tense that does not apply to our omnitemporal God, our God who is immanent at all times and places instantaneously and co-instantly, wonderfully interacting with us who are confined to sequential time and language as he is not, yet ‘at the same time’, not countermanding our free will.

And I’m fine with his ‘predestining’ me to have kidney cancer, if good results from it. He does that sort of thing you know – remember, he was similarly nasty :grin: to Joseph, being sold into slavery:


Did Rich Stearns ask? Definitely not. He did not want God’s intervention. Granted, others asked ‘on his behalf’ – the scare quotes are because others who were asking were not looking for Rich’s desires to be granted but for children and families to be blessed through the work of World Vision, for God’s kingdom to increase and most importantly, for God’s name to be hallowed. Whether or not you are comfortable with it is not a factor.

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Leaving personal convictions aside, among the possibilities are:

  1. God has chosen to avoid intervention after life was set in motion. Thus time does not matter.
    Of course, that belief would set afire the notions of prayer answering and current day miracles.
  2. There is no God. We see evidence of His presence all day long. But that is one option.
  3. God’s choices are not for us to know. This is the commonly used escape hatch.

I have always struggled with accepting the notion, often presented convincingly, that miraculous circumstances offer a proof of God’s interventions. The Rich Stearns case is an example. Things like that happen thousands/millions of times every single day. How can one event be offered as a proof?
A deck of 52 cards can be shuffled in 52! ways. If shuffled every second since the big bang of 13.9Bya, it would not be repeated. Thus I could offer the impossibly unlikely example of God’s intervention to create the sequence I have for a deck shuffled this minute.

And finally, assigning total control of every event seems not only unnecessary, but problematic. If He has such power and desire, how should we account for the unspeakable tragedies we see every minute of every day?

An individual’s resistance to or acceptance of factual evidence like that is a variable which is going to depend a lot on their will (their strength of their willfulness or denialism) and whether or not they’ve been given ears to hear, as Jesus might say, or if their heart has been softened, both of which are works of the Spirit. It’s not a matter of proof, but a recognizable M.O. is certainly observable, whole sets of otherwise disparate circumstances (the ones referenced are not one-off events!) except for the obvious meaning implied to the individual(s) involved.

Which leads to wrestling with theodicy. There’s a place for skeptical theism in the discussion and an acceptance of God’s inscrutability (words translated that way at least twice in the Bible) and trust in his goodness.

As I said a couple of weeks ago,

Understood. But another option to a) resistance to, b) strength of willfulness, c) denialism, d) lack of ears to hear or e) a heart that is softened is simply to accept a different and more cogent alternative conclusion to the very same evidence. It seems to me, Dale, that you are starting with the conclusion and working backwards, rather than starting with alternatives and working forward. I do not disagree with your conclusions, but only the methodology. I accept factual evidence of course. But to derive from that evidence, a conclusion that could have other explanations is troublesome.

That is the only way to look at the circumstances, namely, retrospectively, as Maggie’s and Rich Stearns’ accounts exemplify.

Again, Maggie’s and Rich Stearns’? Really? The only other explanation is just ‘luck’ (in the strict theological sense of the word :grin:) or a fluke, but not just ‘a’ fluke, but multiple ones, and to the same person, and in a short space of time.

The likelihood of Maggie’s sequence is next to impossible statistically, comparable… (as you may have seen before), comparable to winning five independent lotteries… within two days… in the same order that she bought the tickets… and hers were the single tickets sold in each. Oh, and it just happened to happen when when she was in a crisis, meeting her needs.

I think the question comes from a warped sense of things, as though getting promptly down to making humans was the whole point. It excludes the possibility that God just enjoys seeing things unfold, which is a form of beauty all its own.

Utilitarianism may be a useful (way of thinking for politicians (on occasion at least) but I don’t see it as a criterion God would employ. The Psalms give the impression that God loves seeing His creatures in action and watching them celebrate life and life in Him.

The aspect that is overlooked is that He controls every single particle, even the virtual ones, in accord with His own character, that is, faithful to the principles He selected. That’s what makes science possible and theology worthwhile. He controls the universe not like a machine, but much more like a dancer or juggler, always making beautiful patterns but also always doing so in ways that make the results elegant as opposed to (non-mathematically) chaotic.
So I can look at my right hand which just demanded that I pause typing and marvel that He is in control of everything including the nearly-debilitating bouts of arthritis and of the fingers that occasionally impose on me the requirement of me backing up and editing and of the blood pulsing through all the tiny vessels that make both of the above possible. And this is closely related to the truth of Christ as “firstborn”, the opener of the way such that everything that is takes its shape from Him and thus declares Him to us . . . if we but had eyes to see. God cannot control in ways contrary to His nature, and so the control of the precursor particles to rainstorms will follow the patterns He selected and not oscillate whimsically, they will be dependable.
So science isn’t some dry exercise of figuring out how a machine works, it’s the study of the “dance” that God is in the middle of!

On those afternoons when I could follow my older brother’s mathematical maunderings I occasionally thought I had glimpses into more than a static geometry of at least six more dimensions . . . and those just in our universe! When I thought I had the least little handle on that geometry in motion (since God is never static but is always in [some kind of] motion) I felt like I was going to explode from sheer joy.

This. My older brother never got tired of explaining mathematically why free will and predestination are not in conflict, and neither are God’s absolute control and chance. I wish I could have understood his n-dimensional geometry (geometry with an undefined number of dimensions) but I agreed with my uncle the naval officer that it made my head ache! But given how superlative a mathematician my brother was, I take his word for it that when he said something was not a contradiction then it is not a contradiction, and so when people say that God being in control makes Him a cruel killer I know that they suffer from that same lack of mathematical understanding, with the difference being that they never had anyone to make it real for them even without complete understanding.

Is the pot “comfortable” with the hands of the potter?


I see it unequivocally in Genesis 1. The form and function of reality is due to God’s providence and care. Genesis days 1-3 God sets things up then fills them 4-6. All for humans which are the climax of creation. God most certainly is a Designer.

Of course when you rig the deck and only allow evidence that is deemed “natural” you will only find such evidence. Science restricts itself to non-supernatural explanations by default. Anything supernatural is dismissed as a gap. So of course it’s not there if it’s not allowed to be there and summarily dismissed out of hand.

History is the same way. Imagine a genuine prophecy happens in the past. Very specific predictions are made that are 100% accurate.

Someone reading it today would simply assume it was not genuine and was written after the events it accurately claims to predict occurred. In other words, it’s an “ex eventu” prophecy. Or someone tampered with the text after the fact. There can be no evidence of the “supernatural” when your worldview filters it out by default.

The fact that anything bothers to exist and that there is something rather than nothing is enough to require something “super-natural.” Cakes don’t bake themselves. Not to mention there is an absurd degree of fine tuning in our universe. Our universe is so obviously designed for advanced carbon-based life, skeptics have to imagine and invent an infinite number of other universes just to circumvent it. An infinite number of other universe and they do so like that is a completely normal and reasonable position to hold to. Poor Occam must be turning in his grave.



That’s a big point where we early intelligent design types and the people who hijacked the term to try to push their narrowminded religion into U.S. public schools differed profoundly (I almost typed “profusely”, which is also appropriate): they had the notion that science can “prove” the Bible, and we insisted that science can’t even prove a Designer; they insisted that they could use the Bible to “prove” their science, and we insisted that holy writings are useful only for (1) discerning which claimant to being the Designer & Creator was most likely the real deal, and (2) working to grasp what sort of relationship He/She/It had in mind – on the assumption that the Designer wouldn’t have designed intelligence into the scheme without intending to communicate on some level.

From the rabbis I got to know at St. Louis University I sometimes had the clear impression that they were laughing silently at us poor Christians who couldn’t accept that God is IN CHARGE. On one occasion one came right out bluntly and said that since out scriptures recognize Christ as Παντοκράτωρ (pan-toh-KRA-tor), “all-ruler” or “all-mighty”, and made wonderful art to express this – e.g.

By Gun Powder Ma - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, File:Christ Pantokrator, Cathedral of Cefalù, Sicily.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

why were we so squeamish when it came to acknowledging that nothing happens without His – at the very least – permission? And especially when it came to natural calamities such as volcanoes and hurricanes and plagues, since the scripture doesn’t mince words and plainly lays out that God claims responsibility for all those when He says, “I create calamity?” . . . since if there is any calamity He did not create then we must posit another Creator.

Ah, but are there other explanations?
One of my thoroughly agnostic/atheist physics professors always challenged students to explain why the universe has order to it – and pointed out that appealing to natural laws is just avoiding the question and reframing it as why the universe has natural laws. One can posit a series of universes that goes back forever as a source of this universe, but that position does nothing to answer the question of why there is order, why there are natural laws.
Of course some students inevitably put forth “God” as the answer, to which he responded, “Fine – build me a sensor to check for the presence of God, any god”.
So the folks in our informal intelligent Design club were not unreasonable in concluding that the evidence points to a Designer, though not so much as an answer to why anything exists but why existence should be al all rational.

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We view it as humans being the climax; it may just be that He wanted management He could talk to.

My old physics professor would say, rightly so, until someone comes up with a “deity-detector”.

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I unequivocally do not. In Genesis 1, I only see the theological claim that God is the creator of all things and absolutely NOTHING about HOW God did any of it. Otherwise the Bible is just a lie and the claim of divine authorship a joke, because none of the details in Genesis 1 is correct.

Agreed. But that does not require God be the designer of everything. Besides I am only adamantly opposed to the idea of design with regards to living things (it is contrary to the very nature and meaning of being alive). I am very supportive of the idea of design with regards the laws of nature. But I am also rather doubtful of the idea of design with regards to even the nonliving things in the universe like rivers, mountains, planets and stars. Creator? Yes. But designer? No.

You know, people do this sort of thing in software (making rivers, mountains, planets and stars). And most use procedural generation rather than design. When they use design the results are quite different and difference is noticeable. Besides it is a waste of effort on complete trivialities when procedural generation is so much better in every way. Design is a numbskull way of doing it and I don’t think God is an idiot.


Humans may be the very best of what God has a achieved on the earth. But clearly creation is far bigger than the earth and claiming we are the climax of God’s creation for the entire universe is grossly overstating things. This climax stuff is not in the Bible. Very good compared to other things on the earth? Yes. More important than the angels? Likely. But climax of creation? Not only can we not possibly know any such thing but it is rather doubtful.

So the declarations of purpose are not indicative of design to you. Hmm. I guess that’s not the Bible’s fault.

Nor is it the dictionary’s – check out definition #3:

There’s some irony, too – check out the example phrase in italics.

It is useful to consider the way words like energies and dynamics are used and found in the NT and Patristic writings. The Greek word for energy is “ενέργεια” (enérgeia) which means “activity, operation” and is frequently described as “being at work”. It is also used to discuss the workings or acts of the Holy Spirit in the growth who have faith in Christ.

Thus, when doctrine addresses the creative act of God and sustaining the creation, it encompasses all activity and properties, be they inorganic, organic, biological, cosmological, etc. From this we may conclude that all conform to the will of God. Within this outlook, using terms such as design is limiting and of little use theologically.

These energies and dynamics also include the intelligibility of the universe - thus ID is subsumed within the universal doctrine of Creation.

I am of the opinion that the debates/disagreements stem more from the antagonism between ID and TE/CE groups and serve no other purpose.

In your mind, how does one segregate the two notions of 1) Deism without control of anything after the creation, and 2) shepherding human throughout their lives? Deism rejects blind faith and dogma much as an ID would, absent of course inserting personal needs into the shepherding equation.
More importantly, how could He be simply a shepherd, and still bring destruction upon all of the world in order to start anew?

Deism has absolutely NOTHING to do with a lack of control. Deism is a lack of involvement in creation – a god gets things going and just sits back and watches everything unfold according to plan – which means complete control rather than a lack of control.

definition of Deism from Oxford Languages referenced by Google

belief in the existence of a supreme being, specifically of a creator who does not intervene in the universe. The term is used chiefly of an intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries that accepted the existence of a creator on the basis of reason but rejected belief in a supernatural deity who interacts with humankind.

The work of a Shepherd includes culling the herd radically to stop the spread of a disease even if it means starting over again with only a remnant of what he had.

The Shepherd interacts with his sheep daily and this is nothing like Deism. Indeed it is the Watchmaker God which is directly connected to Deism (both logically and historically) because the whole point is that what this Deist god created is a big machine He has designed and thus it requires no interaction because it already functions exactly according to His plans.

The whole point is that God created for a relationship – to be involved in the lives of those He created… and this is only needed because He is not their designer or controller. They make their own choices of both what they do and what they are, including both a response to God and a response of God to them. Making God designer and controler would turn this all into a big lie and joke – God just playing a role in some play already written and decided by Him alone. Indeed this is just like the creationists which have God designing the world with a lot of fake evidence telling lies so it just looks like things evolved. No, the Bible is not a lie any more than science. Life really is a product of evolution and God really did have a relationship with us – the design of living things has no place in either science or the Bible.

Yeah, you would.

Have you ever tried to make a curry from scratch? it takes hours! you need to build up the taste slowly. It cannot be rushed. I guess the same applies to Creation.

The point was that evolution, as taught needs the time. If you remove the element of chance (trial and error) that time is no longer needed.

But that would be too simple an answer! You had to go all sentimental and lovey dovey over God’s relationship with the rest of His creation.

Now before you go galavanting off on your next sermon I will let you in on a little secret of Preaching.

It is not about convincing people to believe what you do. it is about giving them enough information to make a choice for themselves. Theology is not like science. It is not black and white, right and wrong. There is more often than not a variety of answers that suit the variety of understandings given to us by God. One size (theology) does not fit all. And you do not possess it.


That’s ironic. Were we talking about high horses?