Divine Action in Natural Process:

Is natural process guided by God?
Divine Guiding in a process of Creation,
in Evolutionary Creation or Progressive Creation

by Craig Rusbult, Ph.D.

This page contains a main body and an Appendix The main body is Part 1 of a page with three parts  —  Divine Action (natural & miraculous) in History,  Can we be scientifically certain?  Can we be theologically certain?  —  that compares Evolutionary Creation & Progressive Creation and urges an appropriate humility (not too little, not too much) when science and theology are carefully considered.

      1. Divine Action (natural and miraculous) in History

      Theistic Action — What does God do?
      When we look at origins, our worldviews (our theories about reality, our views of the world that we use for living in the world) play an important role.  In a worldview that is theistic (not deistic), God's theistic action has two aspects: foundational and active.
      foundational theistic action:  God designed and created the universe using initial theistic action, and "keeps it going" through sustaining theistic action.
      active theistic action changes "what would have happened without the active theistic action" into what actually happens.  With natural-appearing "guiding" theistic action everything appears normal and natural because God's guidance blends smoothly with the usual workings of nature.  In miraculous-appearing theistic action an event differs from our expectations for how things usually happen.

      theism and deism:  In my web-pages, the actions of a divine God — if they occur as believed in a theistic worldview — are called divine action and also (with the same meaning) theistic action because active theistic actions distinguish theistic beliefs from deistic beliefs;  theists believe that God is "active" by doing things that influence history;  deists believe that God is "passive" after His creation of the world, doing nothing to affect the formative history of nature, or the human history of individuals or societies;  theists propose all types of divine action, but deists propose only initial divine action.

      Does "natural" mean "without God"?
In our everyday experience, natural events are just "the way things happen," and God doesn't seem necessary.  Does this common assumption mean that God actually is not involved?
      A normal-appearing "natural event" can be interpreted theistically (as being produced by God), atheistically (happening without God), or in other ways: deistic, pantheistic, animistic,... or agnostic.
      For a Judeo-Christian theist, natural does not mean "without God" because we believe that God initially designed nature, then created nature and now constantly sustains nature, and can guide nature (in a natural-appearing way that blends smoothly with the normal operation of nature) so one natural result occurs instead of another natural result.  Whether natural process is guided or unguided, the result is natural, but the cause is supernatural.
      There are epistemological limitations on what we can know.  Even though some natural-appearing events appear random to us (with random meaning we cannot predict the results), these events could be guided by God.  We cannot use observations to distinguish between natural events that are guided and unguided due to lack of a “control history” since there is no way for us to compare one history (without guiding) and another history (with guiding).
      Later [in Parts 2 & 3 of the full-length page], we'll return to the idea that “natural events occur without God” because this is one of two "either-or" false dichotomies.

      Natural-Appearing Guidance in Everyday Life
      In conventional Judeo-Christian theology, God is constantly aware of what is happening, and He is caring for us.  We believe that God can change our situations and our thoughts and actions, and that He responds to prayer.  Usually, all of this happens in a way that appears normal and natural, yet God is actively involved.  We tend to ignore what God is doing when His actions are not obvious, but this is not a good way to view life.  Instead, in our worldview — in our "view of the world" that we use for living in the world — each of us should acknowledge the natural-appearing guidance of God.  We should pray for these actions, and praise God for them.  This thankful awareness is an important part of the "living by faith" character that is highly valued by God, with a trust in God serving as the foundation for all thoughts and actions in daily living.

      naturalism and NATURALISM
      Confusion is caused by the common use of "naturalism" with two meanings:  in a narrow meaning, naturalism is a claim — which is compatible with Christian theism — that "only natural process" occurred for a particular event, sequence of events, or historical period of time;  in a broad meaning, NATURALISM (or naturism) is a claim — which is not compatible with Christian theism — that "only nature exists."
      Thus, there are two major differences between methodological naturalism and atheistic philosophical naturism, although it can be useful to ask "what are the relationships between them?" and "is there a tendency for either to cause the other?"   { more about naturalism and NATURALISM }

      Views of Creation
      What theistic action was used in creation?  God may have decided to create everything by natural process (perhaps partially or totally guided), or create everything by miracles, or create some things by natural process and others by miracles.  The links-page for VIEWS OF CREATION describes "three basic creation theories, plus variations, that are compatible with a basic Judeo-Christian doctrine of theistic creation." 
      • One view is a young-earth creation in which "everything in the universe was miraculously created in a 144-hour period less than 10,000 years ago;  later, most of the earth's geology and fossil record were formed in a global flood."
      In this page we'll look at views of those who think there is abundant evidence that the earth and universe are billions of years old:
      • In one old-earth view, progressive creation, "at various times during a long history of nature (spanning billions of years) God used miraculous-appearing action to create.   There are two main types of progressive creation:  one proposes independent miraculous-appearing creations ‘from scratch’ so a new species would not necessarily have any relationships with previously existing species;  another proposes creations by miraculous-appearing modifications of genetic material (by changing, adding, or deleting) for some members (or all members) of an existing species.  Each of these theories proposes a history with natural-appearing evolutionary creation plus miraculous-appearing creations (independent or by modification) that occur progressively through time."   { Compared with independent progressive creations, I think progressive creations by modification have strong scientific support and (when we examine biblical miracles) also theological support, as explained in the appendix [of the full-length page]. }
      • In another old-earth view, evolutionary creation (also called theistic evolution), natural evolution was God's method of creation, with the universe designed so physical structures (galaxies, stars, planets) and complex biological organisms (bacteria, fish, dinosaurs, humans) would naturally evolve.   /   This view is described by Howard Van Till, who thinks "the creation was gifted from the outset with functional integrity — a wholeness of being that eliminated the need for gap-bridging interventions to compensate for formational capabilities that the Creator may have initially withheld from it" so it is "accurately described by the Robust Formational Economy Principle — an affirmation that the creation was fully equipped by God with all of the resources, potentialities, and formational capabilities that would be needed for the creaturely system to actualize every type of physical structure and every form of living organism that has appeared in the course of time."

The rest of this section, before the appendix, looks at theistic guidance in theistic evolution.

      Could unguided evolution achieve God's goals for humans?
To be theologically satisfactory, a process of evolutionary creation would have to be functionally sufficient (to produce complex physical and biological structures) and also theologically sufficient (to achieve the goals of God).  We should ask:  1) How precisely defined were the goals for creation?  Did God want to create exactly what occurred in nature's history, or would something slightly different, or very different, have been satisfactory?   2) How reproducible is unguided evolutionary history?  If the history of natural evolution was allowed to "run freely with unguided natural process" a hundred times, would the outcomes be divergent (with widely varying results) or convergent (with similar results)?
      Even if evolutionary history was more convergent than most scientists think, some guidance seems necessary to achieve the goals of God, unless these goals — which only God knows (we can just make biblically educated speculations) — were extremely flexible.  This guidance, which would produce a desired natural result, would be especially useful in creating humans with the characteristics (physical, mental, emotional, ethical, spiritual) and environment (planetary, ecological,...) desired by God.   { A guiding of natural process can also be proposed for progressive creation, since it combines "natural-appearing evolutionary creation plus miraculous-appearing creations." }

      What is theistic about theistic evolution?
      In what ways does theistic evolution (with God actively involved in evolutionary creation) differ from deistic evolution (with God setting nature in motion and then just "letting it run")?  What kinds of theistic action (TA) did God use during creation?  Were the creative actions of God restricted to foundational TA (with initial-TA determining the characteristics of nature, and sustaining-TA letting nature continue) that allows history, or did God's actions also include active TA (either guiding-TA or miraculous-TA) that makes a difference in history?  Evolutionary creationists think miraculous-appearing TA was not needed, and was not used, but what types and amounts of active guidance do they propose?

      Divine Guidance of Natural Process (in evolutionary creation)
The following ideas about natural process and theology are from an excellent multi-author book, Perspectives on an Evolving Creation.
      The book's editor, Keith Miller, says: "The Bible describes a God who is sovereign over all natural events, even those we attribute to chance such as the casting of lots or tomorrow's weather.  This perspective has been placed into a modern scientific context by some theologians who see God's action exercised through determining the indeterminacies of natural processes.  God is thus seen as affecting events both at the quantum level and at the level of large chaotic systems.  Regardless of how one understands the manner in which God exercises sovereignty over natural process, chance events certainly pose no theological barrier to God's action in and through the evolutionary process."   And in other chapters:
      Terry Gray, who "comes from a fairly conservative Calvinistic theological perspective," says, "I believe that Scripture teaches that God is absolutely sovereign over all his creation.  Whatever comes to pass was ordained by him. ...  Thus all of the events envisioned by an evolutionist are under God's oversight (as are all events).  This includes random events such as mutations, chance encounters of particular genomes, recombination events, mating events in populations, which sperm actually fertilizes a given egg, and so forth.  From a human perspective these are all random events.  From God's perspective, exactly what he ordained to occur occurs. ...  God is as much in control of the outcome of the process as he is if he had zapped things into existence without any process.  Obviously, this is not the random, undirected evolution of atheistic naturalists."
      Loren Haarsma: "The Bible proclaims that God is equally sovereign over all events, ordinary or extraordinary, natural or supernatural. ...  If something happens “naturally,” God is still in charge. ...  It is incorrect to say that natural laws “govern.”  God governs. ...  God can supersede the ordinary functioning of natural laws [that he designed and created] any time he chooses, but most of the time God chooses to work in consistent ways through those natural laws. ...  The Bible teaches that God can precisely select the outcome of events that appear random to us.  It is also possible that God gives his creation some freedom, through random processes, to explore the wide range of potentials he has given it.  Either way, randomness within natural processes is not the absence of God.  Rather, it is another vehicle for God's creativity and governance."   { Later, there is more from Haarsma and Russell about divine control of quanta and chaos. }
      Robert John Russell "starts with theistic evolution and attempts to press the case for divine action further.  Along with creation and general providence (or continuous creation), can we also think of God as acting with specific intentions in particular events? ...  God does not act by violating or suspending the stream of natural processes or the laws of nature but by acting within them. ...  Indeed these laws and processes are open to God's action because God made them that way. ...  Quantum processes, created by God, provide the ontological openness for God's action. ...  The laws that science discovers, at least at [the quantum] level, would suggest that nature at that level is open: there are what could be called “natural gaps” in the causal regularities of nature that are simply part of the way nature is constituted. ...  We can view nature theologically as genuinely open to objective special providence. ...  Not only is God's action here to be understood in terms of general providence, God's providing evolution as a whole with an overall goal and purpose, but it is also understood in terms of special providence, God's special action having specific and objective consequences for evolution.  These consequences would not otherwise have occurred within God's general providence alone, and they can be recognized as due to God's action only through faith.

      Theistic Interpretation of Naturalistic Theories
      Theologically, theistic evolution is a theory of divine creation.
      Scientifically, theistic evolution agrees with conventional neo-Darwinian evolution, which ignores the possibility of divine guidance.
      The main difference between theistic evolution and atheistic evolution is their nonscientific interpretation of scientific theories.  A nonscientific atheistic interpretation claims that the process of biological evolution was not designed by God, not guided by God, and used matter not created by God.  {an example: the "unsupervised evolution" of a prominent educational organization, NABT, in 1997}   But a nonscientific theistic interpretation can disagree with these atheistic claims by proposing that an evolutionary process was designed by God, guided by God, and used matter created by God.  Terry Gray says, about his theistic view of evolution, "obviously this is not the random, undirected evolution of atheistic naturalists."


      Distinctions between Different-Appearing Modes of Divine Action
      [As explained earlier], theists believe that natural process involves a supernatural God.  Therefore, I will describe two types of events as "natural-appearing and miraculous-appearing" or simply "natural and miraculous" but I won't describe these events as "natural and supernatural" because this would imply that only miracles (not also natural events) involve the supernatural.  The word appearing is important because it humbly acknowledges that when we classify an event as being natural or miraculous, this inference is based on how the event appears to us, on what we observe-and-infer.  But our thinking about natural events and miracles is also influenced by our worldviews.
      The quotations above and below are from Sections 5A and 6A of my FAQ about Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design.  6A describes four possible types of intelligent design — divine design of nature (1), undetectable natural-appearing guidance by a supernatural agent (2), detectable design-directed action by a natural agent (3a) or supernatural agent (3b) — and then asks a question:
      Can we detect design by using the methods of science?  This question requires four answers, one for each type of design:  I think our current answers are NO for 1 (as explained in Section 5B [in the faq]), and NO for 2 (by definition, natural-appearing guidance is undetectable, but...*), YES for 3a (e.g. we can infer that a house was designed-and-produced by natural agents, but...*) and (as explained in Section 7B [in the faq]) MAYBE for 3b.
      But these are in-principle answers that don't always work in-practice.  Why?  Based on "what we can know" I'm classifying events as being either undetectable or detectable;  but in reality this distinction can be fuzzy, with detectability varying along a continuum.   For example:  * when we look at collections of events, "undetectable guidance" might be detectable (e.g. in 20 straight wins at a roulette wheel, even though each spin is natural-appearing);  * in some situations (e.g. a skillful criminal or stage magician) "detectable direction" might be undetectable.  The variability of detectability is examined in my page about four intelligent designs which also defines random (it means only that "we cannot know," not that "God cannot know or cannot control") and describes truly random undirected natural selection (i.e. not directed by a natural agent, and also not supernaturally guided) that can cause directional changes in a population.
      An undirected natural process is not detectably directed by a natural agent or supernatural agent, but it might be undetectably guided by a supernatural agent.
      God of the gaps
      Quoting from Section 5F of my FAQ:

      When current naturalistic theories (about some aspect of formative history) seem implausible, is this science gap caused only by the inadequacy of current scientific knowledge, or does it indicate a nature gap (a break in the natural chain of cause-and-effect) that was bridged by miraculous-appearing divine action?
      Sometimes a claim for a nature-gap is ridiculed by calling it a "God of the gaps" theory.  This is confusing because God of the gaps can have many meanings.  It might be... [any of the many possible meanings; because this ambiguity often causes confusion, I propose that "we should eliminate this term, which has many meanings, and replace it with a series of terms where each term has a precise-and-clear meaning."]. .....[snip - the middle part of the section is omitted here].....
      Christians should not demand an either-or choice between natural and miraculous, because God is able to work both ways;  in the Bible, during salvation history the actions of God are usually natural and occasionally miraculous.  Affirming either mode of divine action — in salvation history (where the Bible very clearly states that God used both modes) or in formative history (where the Bible is less clear) — does not require rejecting the other mode:
      • Christians who propose nature-gaps should not imply, or allow an implication, that "if it isn't a miracle then God didn't do it," that saying "it happened naturally" means "it happened without God" so anything accomplished by God using natural process should count against God in our worldview-thinking about divine action, because these implications are not theologically acceptable.
      • Christians who reject nature-gaps should not imply, or allow an implication, that if someone claims God can (or did or does) work through miracles, in formative history or salvation history, they are denying God's activities in natural-appearing situations;  this implication is incorrect because we should acknowledge that God can work in both ways, by natural process and by miracles.
      Both of these either-or dichotomies are useful for atheists in a clever "heads we win, tails you lose" argument — if there are no nature gaps then it all happens without God, but it's wrong to claim a nature gap — that uses the either-or claims made by some opponents and proponents of a totally natural evolutionary creation, respectively.  Christians should respond by rejecting both arguments, heads and tails.
      Instead of an either-or choice, we believe that God is able to work in more than one way in either formative history or salvation history, so we have our own "heads or tails" argument:  when something happens by natural process, it happens due to God's clever design of nature, and the natural process might be divinely guided;  but if occasionally there is a divine bridging of a nature-gap, this happens because God is powerful, is able (and is willing) to do miracles.  Both methods of creation would give us reasons to praise God.
      Theodicy — Why does evil exist, if God is good and powerful?
      Human responses to this question, in a "defense of God's goodness and omnipotence in view of the existence of evil," is theodicy. (definition is from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)
Quoting from Section 5F of my FAQ:
  Any non-deistic claim for active divine action that "makes a difference" — whether the action is natural-appearing or miraculous-appearing, in formative history or salvation history, as perceived in evolutionary creation or other views of creation [including progressive creation] — leads to important theological questions:  Can God (or does God) control everything? (i.e., do any unguided events occur?)   If God is active in nature (or if he could act but does not), is He therefore responsible for animal deaths and harmful evolved organisms (deadly viruses,...) and "bad designs" and various tragic events (genetic defects, hurricanes,...) that occur in the history of nature and in everyday life?
  These are difficult questions, but one part of a satisfactory answer is the incarnation of Jesus, when God lived among us, shared our joys and sorrows, and (on the cross) suffered the consequences of moral and natural evil.  But death on the cross was followed by life in victorious resurrection, providing assurance from God that in the long run we can "know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him." (Romans 8:28)
For more about theodicy, including quotations from Terry Gray, Robert John Russell, and George Murphy, visit Evolutionary Creation & Progressive Creation and search for "theodicy".


      Divine Guidance of Natural Process — Part 2

      Here is a summary, from earlier, of Loren Haarsma describing divine guidance:
      "God is equally sovereign over all events, ordinary or extraordinary. ...  The Bible teaches that God can precisely select the outcome of events that appear random to us. ...  It is also possible that God gives his creation some freedom, through random processes, to explore the wide range of potentials he has given it.  Either way, randomness within natural processes is not the absence of God.  Rather, it is another vehicle for God's creativity and governance."  
      Here is more from Haarsma:
      "Some people use the word “chance” as an alternative explanation to God.  When they say that something happened by “chance,” they believe that it had no purpose, no significance of any kind, nothing guiding it, nothing that cares about the final results. ...  Some scientists do use the word “chance” this way in their popular writings,... [but] they are adding philosophical overtones that go way beyond the scientific meaning.  When scientists use the concept of chance scientifically, they mean simply this:  They could not completely predict the final state of a system based on their knowledge of the earlier states.  In a scientific theory, the term “chance” is not a statement about causation (or lack of causation); rather, it is a statement about predictability."  /  This scientific meaning "is entirely compatible with a biblical picture of God's governance.  Many Bible passages describe God working through apparently random events. ...  God could select the outcome of scientifically unpredictable events in order to achieve particular outcomes.  God could do this subtly, interacting with creation in ways that are significant but that we could not detect scientifically.  God could also do this dramatically upon occasion, choosing an outcome that is scientifically possible but extremely improbable, something that might even appear miraculous to us.  Another way God might use random processes is to give the created world a bit of freedom.  Through the laws of nature, God has given the material creation a range of possibilities to explore, and he gives his creation the freedom to explore that range."

      Earlier [in the full-length page], Peter Rüst says: "Both theological and scientific indications point to a continuous, active, but usually hidden involvement of the Creator in all that happens. ...  The spontaneous occurrence of a specific combination of mutations required for the emergence of a certain enyzme activity may, in context, be transastronomically improbable.  Even so, we can never prove it impossible, as the tails of the Gaussian probability distribution extend to infinity. Yet God may have chosen to actively decree it to occur. ...  Selecting specific events means feeding information into the system."
      More from Rüst: "The demonstration of stochastic [probabilistic] distributions characterizing chance events cannot eliminate the possibility of a precise providential predetermination by the Creator, should he choose to do so.  In any case, science has no way of finding out what causes individual elementary events.  The claim that there is “nothing but chance” behind mutations is non-scientific.  It is a matter of personal belief.  Such a use of the concept of chance masquerading as science is an abuse of the popular respect for science. (1992)"  /  God could either "determine the outcome of each elementary event individually, or manage them collectively, e.g. by specifying Gaussian normality, mean and standard deviation, or higher level principles, not caring about individual events as such.  Or he might imperceptibly guide chaotic dynamic systems by means of a few disturbances.  Chance is not an alternative to God's action: it may be the usual way his creative activity “manifests” itself to us. (1992)"
      And later, in 2005: "For each adaptive mutation successfully fixed, there are, in principle, two possibilities.  In the first case — the only one accessible to science — the mutation is truly random (God's providence at the quantum level), the probability of selection is extremely low, the time to fixation extremely long, succesful fixation very improbable, and the increase of information is due entirely to selection by the environment.  In the other case, the particular mutation is determined by God's selective choice (quantum event guided by God), selection and fixation occur according to God's predetermined schedule (maybe through other quided quantum events), success is certain, and God's guidance is the source of the information increase.  In both casess, scientists rightly see such events as random.  In principle, the first case is repeatable and could be shown to be randomly dispersed.  The second case is unique, and so its repeatability cannot be investigated.  On the other hand, both cases are the outcome of God's design, either providential or creative."   {more about divine guidance from Peter Rüst}

      From my page about divine action: "God might influence natural process by converting one natural-appearing result (that would have occurred without theistic guidance) into another normal-appearing result (that actually occurs).  One possible mechanism for natural-appearing divine guidance is for God to convert potentialities into actualities:  from the multitude of quantum possibilities that might occur, God chooses to make one of these actually occur.  In this way, God could influence (or determine) natural events by controlling some (or all) uncertainty at the quantum level, which could be done in a way such that events appear normal and statistically random during this theistically guided natural process.  This theistic action is active, not just foundational, and it could be amplified through a natural-appearing guidance of chaotic systems, to control (partially or totally) their outcomes.  Since quantum interactions occur constantly, not just during “observations” by humans, God could control — but may or may not actually control — everything that occurs. (1998)"  {more about quantum mechanics}

      As explained earlier [in the full-length page], "whether natural process is guided or unguided, the result is natural, but the cause is supernatural."  Due to this ambiguity, when describing events I usually contrast natural-appearing with miraculous-appearing, rather than natural with supernatural, in an effort to increase precision in thinking and communicating.

      Earlier, John Robert Russell says: "Nature at that [quantum] level is open: there are what could be called “natural gaps” in the causal regularities of nature that are simply part of the way nature is constituted. ...  These [natural] laws and processes are open to God's action because God made them that way. ...  We can view nature theologically as genuinely open to objective special providence... with God's special action having specific and objective consequences for evolution.  These consequences would not otherwise have occurred within God's general providence alone, and they can be recognized as due to God's action only through faith."
      More from Russell: "Quantum processes give rise to the ordinary world of our experience, and they also allow for individual quantum processes to trigger irreversible and significant effects in that world.  In doing so they offer us a clue as to how things in general come to be as they are [general divine action], as well as how things in particular happen [special divine action] within the general environment. ...  God created a world open to God's actions. ...   Indeterminism... occurs throughout the universe wherever elementary particles [irreversibly interact with] objects ranging from complex molecules and interstellar dust to those of the ordinary macroscopic world.  To me this suggests a God who acts throughout innumerable occasions in the universe. ...  Quantum mechanics allows us to think of special divine action as the “providential determination of otherwise undetermined events.”  Moreover, though pervasive in its effects on the world's structure, God's action will remain hidden within that structure. ...  God acts in particular ways in the context of the genome, though this action may have indirect consequences at the level of the phenotype and its eventual and occasional expression in populations by natural selection, which we may also identify as acts of divine objective special providence."
      He also explains that time-and-causality is different for us and for God because "God does not foresee our future from our present or foreknow our future by calculating the outcome from our present.  Instead, God as eternal sees and knows the future in its own present time and determinate state.  God's knowledge of what is for us the indeterminate future is God's eternal knowledge of an event in what is its own present, determinate state.  Thus, theologically, God can have knowledge of the future consequences of God's actions in the present."
      And he describes another level of appreciation for divine action: "Regardless of the issue of quantum mechanics, God is already present and acting ubiquitously in nature in and through all the laws of nature and as the source of nature and the laws of nature."

      I.O.U. - In the near future, maybe by the end of October 2010, there will be quotations from Graeme Finlay (who proposes a minimal amount of guidance by God) plus my critical commentary.*  Before then you can read what he says — about Genome Data and the Christian Worldview, Creation and Evolution (Agency and Process), Creation and Random Process, Divine Purpose and Creaturely Freedom, and Creaturely Freedom in History — in Human Evolution: How Random Process Fulfils Divine Purpose.
      * To describe Finlay's paper I say — as editor of a links-page about HUMAN EVOLUTION - SCIENCE & THEOLOGY, GENETICS & GENESIS — that "In the past decade, scientific knowledge about the genomes of humans and other mammals has increased, and Graeme Finlay explains how ‘shared genetic markers establish the fact that we and other creatures share common ancestry.’  This genetic evidence is consistent with several theological views about Divine Guidance of Natural Process [there is a link to this page], and Finlay argues for one of these views."  Specifically, the genetic evidence is also consistent with a proposal of progressive creations by miraculous-appearing modifications of genetic material.

      What do I mean by "progressive creations by miraculous-appearing modifications of genetic material"?  Based on observable evidence, would it be possible to empirically distinguish between natural-appearing evolutionary changes and miraculous-appearing modifications?  Maybe.  It depends on the data.
      Imagine that we have detailed data — such as complete lab reports for physiology, structure, genome-DNA,... — for all organisms during a period of evolutionary change.  In this situation, the data might let us distinguish between normal-appearing natural evolution and miraculous-appearing macromutational genetic modifications.  But in reality the historical data is far less informative, so it might be difficult to distinguish between these theories.

      Here are some ideas — actually they're my paraphrased constructions, which are incomplete approximations of the original ideas — that I've heard about and want to share:  Richard Bube emphasizes that God is on constant interface with everything in his creation, allowing God to intimately interact with and sovereignly govern his entire creation.  John Polkinghorne draws analogy between human action (we're familiar with this in concrete ways) and divine action (usually we simply believe this based on faith);  from personal experience, we know that we can decide to "do something" and make it happen;  by faith, we believe that God can also do this.  In a similar analogy, David Oakley compares God's actions with our actions when we write on a piece of paper, when there is communication between our brain (developing ideas about what to write) and our fingers (writing these ideas onto paper), when small-scale processes (in our brain, nerves, and muscles) are translated into the large-scale action of writing;  similarly, the ideas of God are actualized through small-scale actions by God (at the levels of quanta or chaos) that become, in ways we cannot understand or even imagine, large-scale results we can observe.
      But these ideas, along with other ideas in this page, should be viewed with caution, recognizing the limitations of human speculations with appropriate humility, because "now we see but a poor reflection." (Paul, 1 Corinthians 13:12)

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