No Scientific Theory Can Place Limits on God
I can get out of my depth on philosophical topics rather quickly [Insert your own “And this is different from the other topics that you write about, how?” joke here], but I found John G. West‘s defense of the idea of “intelligent design” in his National Review Online article on the recently-passed Louisiana Science Education Act deeply unsatisfying…
If it really is a “fact” that the evolution of life was an unplanned process of chance and necessity (as Neo-Darwinism asserts), then that fact has consequences for how we view life. It does not lead necessarily to Richard Dawkins’s militant atheism, but it certainly makes less plausible the idea of a God who intentionally directs the development of life toward a specific end. In a Darwinian worldview, even God himself cannot know how evolution will turn out — which is why theistic evolutionist Kenneth Miller argues that human beings are a mere “happenstance” of evolutionary history, and that if evolution played over again it might produce thinking mollusks rather than us.West is mixing science and theology here in a way that just can’t be done.
Consider this: An omnipotent God could evolve an infinite number of universes, from big-bang to big-crush (or big fade-to-black, depending upon if He’s creating closed or open universes), an infinite number of times, all in a single instant. When the instant of multi-creation is done, maybe He picks the one He likes best and makes it permanent, or maybe he skips the whole process of making them all, and jumps right to the end He knows will be best — He is God, He can know the outcome to everything before it has begun — bringing us to where we are now. Indeed, to say that God has to plan a universe the same way we humans would plan a big project, with a set of linear, step-by-step milestones and checkpoints along the way, is to place some rather unimaginative, human limits on His power.
What we call “science” is the study of the observable and repeatable rules that God has set for the universe we live in. But the fact that the physical universe that we experience is limited by a set of natural laws and processes created by God doesn’t imply that the Maker of the laws is limited in any way at all — it just means that mortal minds can’t fully fathom the ways of an omnipotent God.