Law, Chance and Divine Action
Law: Most accounts of divine agency within the
Christian tradition are not content with God of the gaps, or with alternative
strategies such as God banished or with a God whose
action is only before the development of creation. Rather they regard God as
actively sustaining the order of the physical universe, in some way or other
maintaining the regularity of the cosmos. This is an important aspect of divine
action, sometimes overlooked. So for example a theologian of physics such as
John Polkinghorne would no longer regard the solar system as in need of
occasional reformation, as Newton did (see An
Introduction to Divine action: Isaac Newtons God), because physics no
longer sees the problem he found with the stability of planetary orbits. Polkinghorne
wants to assert:
a) that God
continues to sustain the laws which govern the equations by which the planets
b) that God uses the
interplay of law and chance to generate novel possibilities within the
Those scientist-theologians who wish to
defend a theistic account are quite prepared to acknowledge the existence of
chance, indeed to see it as a positive ingredient in an unfolding creation.
Polkinghorne says: The rôle of chance can be seen as a signal of the Creators
allowing his creation to make itself.D.J.Bartholomew in his major study God
and Chance wrote that chance offers the potential Creator many advantages
which it is difficult to envisage being obtained in any other way.
Click on different understandings of chance
to understand the significance of this concept.
link | Feedback | Contributed by: Dr.
Source: God, Humanity and the
Cosmos (T&T Clark, 1999)