Step 1: Trim away the idea of purpose within nature. Add in the idea of purpose for nature.
One of the compulsions of the ID movement is to find divine purpose within
nature. To find a design manifesting purpose within nature--such as a leap in
complexity---appears to ID eyes as finding Gods mind at work within a natural
structure. Unfortunately, as we said earlier, ID examples of divine design show
something less than admirable intelligence, and seem even to lack redemptive
Yet, the book of nature is revelatory of God. St. Paul says that the power
of God as creator is manifest in the creation, though somewhat difficult to see
clearly. To perceive the way nature is currently designed does not give us
reason to think we understand the mind of God.
It is our conjecture that Gods overall purpose for the creation is not
discernable within the creation. Yes, complex design can be found. Yes, the
parts of the eye are coordinated for the purpose of seeing. Yet, Gods purpose
for the history of evolution is not discernable within biological structures or
This means an inner telosor purpose or design does not stand up
and advertise itself. So, we, Ted and Marty, will not attempt to locate purpose
or direction or even value within nature. Instead, as Christians, we
affirm a divine purpose for nature.
We plan to look for this divine purpose where it belongs, namely, in God. The
purpose for the long history of nature over deep time is not a built in design
or direction. Rather we prophetically
contend that it will be retroactively imparted by God in the eschatological new
creation. Now, what do we mean by this?
Lets start with an analogy. What is the purpose of a breadboard, a common
wooden cutting board found in most every kitchen? It provides a base for
slicing bread with a serrated knife. Now, the breadboard
came from a tree. When we look at a tree, the goal of slicing bread is
not immediately visible. The tree does not look designed for bread slicing.
This particular purpose comes from the logger who fells the tree, the lumber
yard which turns part of the tree into a board, and the carpenter who shapes it
for kitchen use. Finally, its the cook who wants to serve a tasty meal that
retroactively imparts purpose to the tree as the origin of the breadboard. By
analogy, we believe God similarly imparts purpose to the long development of
life forms within the creation. What God makes of the creation will determine
its purpose, what it has been designed for. To discern just what that purpose
is, we must turn to special revelation.
There is more to say here. We dont find such a purpose at the beginning.
Rather, we find it at the end, looking backwards. Purpose comes from what is
final looking backward, not from a potentiality lying in wait at the beginning.
In fact, the Greek word for end, telos, means end both as final state and as purpose or goal.
God has a telos for nature, even if we cant see it
within nature. It is the future act of redemption that determines what previous
creation will have meant, and this can be discerned only eschatologically.
It is omega that determines alpha.
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| Contributed by: Martinez Hewlett and Ted Peters