Deism

The natural world appears commendably mechanical in its mathematical precision by God’s intentional and purposeful design.  A natural world filled with the insecurity of constant miracles divinely produced to keep it functioning properly is not conducive to a biblical-quality journey of faith, or even conducive to a worldly journey of self-direction lived in unbelief totally apart from God.

Orderliness and intelligibility in the natural world are an inbuilt part of the expert craftsmanship of God that provides the consistent stability to be able to understand and put into practice something of God’s own character and personality traits, intelligible to Spirit-led people of faith through life lesson-plans “down-loaded” by God within biblical-quality walks of faith.

The lesson-plans of God require a stable natural environment for undistracted, learned experiences focusing on the issues at hand.  Trial-and-error, trial-run iterations and adjustments of an imprecise natural world, through intermittent divine miracles bordering on the edge of just-in-time remedies, would indeed prove the existence of God to skeptics, but reveal Him to be the author of a natural order having confusion, ambiguity, insecurity, and chaos.

Instability in the natural world, defining God as a maintenance handyman forever engaged in the fixer-up mode of re-adjusting His imprecise universe, would be a discordant contrast to an ordered and intelligible journey of faith designed by God to instill stable confidence, self-worth, and validation into the people of faith developed through divinely crafted life events.

The purpose behind the reality of the appearance of near-perfect craftsmanship in the natural world is just the opposite of the conclusions of atheistic naturalism of an absentee or non-existent clockmaker.  An orderly and intelligible natural world that runs self-sufficiently with the precision of a well-made clock creates the optimum environment for a God-composed journey of faith to functionally operate, but equally necessary for radical skeptical unbelief to functionally operate as well.

Too much “miracle” in either our natural world or our spiritual-moral world would contaminate the orderliness and intelligibility of a journey of faith.  Too much answered prayer in the form of miraculous solutions to every problem…like our high school math teacher doing our algebra homework problems for us…would limit our participation in the lessons contained in each individual scenario in a walk of faith, divinely crafted for our instructive benefit.

If God solved every problem through miracles, we could never learn anything ourselves through first-hand experience.  Scientific investigation…one aspect of human discovery…could not occur in a miracle environment because miracles are unique, one-time events not amenable to experimental study and thus not reducible to repetitive natural laws.  The irony here is that the combination of orderliness and intelligibility…hallmarks of the scientific method…argue for the existence of an ultra-precise, supernatural, Intelligent Designer God.

If God solved every problem through miracles, reality would be reduced to everyone becoming idle spectators, with clapping hands applauding God in the “see God go” mindset of the small business, autocratic owner insisting upon doing everything themselves and never delegating responsibilities or placing confidence in others.

This is a reason why the information-rich, sophisticated, biblical journey of faith is so remarkable in terms of leadership and management theory, and thus parallels the major discoveries in science like the Cambrian Explosion in the fossil record, the Big Bang, and DNA in living cells.  Biblical journeys of faith are complete and ready to adventure through, yet they contain the very modern and highly sophisticated element of delegation through a joint-venture walk of faith framework, with God acting as knowledgeable guide rather than know-it-all and do-it-all autocrat…through the amazing environment of an orderly and intelligible world.

There must be a divinely crafted balance between the supernatural and the natural for a biblical-quality adventure of faith to operate correctly.  This is one reason why there is no initial human collaboration in our God-composed journey of faith life-scripts.  We could not possibly have the wisdom and the foresight to produce the right mix of divine and human.  Only God has the divine perspective to get journey of faith life-scripts complete, correct, and properly balanced from the first moment we step into them.

An uncertain natural world needing supernatural corrections constantly would not allow enough stable security to mount high-quality, proactively envisioned, long-term expeditions of faith.

For example, there would be too much uncertainty if the rotational speed of the earth fluctuated daily causing the sun to rise and set at widely differing times.  If the strength of gravity changed radically from its current value to near-zero then back to full-strength on an hourly basis, our dexterity in performing everyday tasks like washing the dishes or driving to work would be a central, all-consuming challenge.  Life would be chaotic in a world where wind speeds exceeded 100 miles per hour once or twice a month as the norm.  If it typically snowed once during summer, or if large hailstones were the norm instead of rainfall, or if we had two weeks straight of totally dark skies that shut down all travel or work, once or twice a year, these occurrences would dominate our attention and our lives.

Imagine life on our earth where every 100 square-foot patch of ground raised or lowered several inches constantly, creating a teeter-tooter effect making it difficult to stand or walk safely…much less construct stable building structures, railroads, highways, or play sports like golf or baseball.  These unstable conditions in the natural world would dominate human existence and would be the chief, central issues in our reality.

God is both First Cause and Continuing Cause in every aspect of physical reality and moral reasoning, whether or not we can visually see, measure, and quantify His presence.  The brilliant arrangement of the complex and ordered information that is found in every aspect of the non-living and living world, plus the beneficial moral transformation that occurs in the lives of new Christian converts, is the signature autograph of the one, true, living God.

Deism has never been the reality for people accepting the New Testament and personally experiencing the words of Jesus that He will be with us always, even to the end of the world.  A person cannot personally know the intimacy of God’s participation in a biblical-quality journey of faith and at the same time countenance the philosophy of deism.

God active in the lives of believers is central to Christianity, is central to the biblical record, and is central to contemporary Christian experience.  By definition God’s interaction and personal relationship with us is supernatural.  Immanuel (Isa. 7:14)…meaning “God with us” in the person of Jesus Christ…is as supernatural and as personal as it gets, and is far removed from the notion of deism.

The narrative stories of faith in the Bible portray this theme all along, from Abraham through Paul.  Relationships with God are by definition supernatural, in addition to the more spectacular things like Moses parting the Red Sea or Jesus multiplying a few fish and loaves of bread to feed thousands of people gathered on a hillside.

Yet portions of the changing philosophical outlook even among some “believers” at the end of the Scientific Revolution (1300-1700) sadly degenerated into “deism” (the idea that God created the natural world but is not an active participant in its day-to-day operations), as if scientifically discovering a smooth-running, machine-like creation is now somehow revelatory evidence that God might be far-removed and hands-off in both the operation of the natural world and the affairs of mankind.  But an intelligently designed functional system, on autopilot, is still evidence for an intelligently designed functional system…designed that way for a greater purpose.

From a Christian viewpoint encompassing the cross of Christ, integral and active in the biblical adventures of faith, God was never merely the absentee Divine Clockmaker.  But even if God did design the natural world in such a precise way to function independently and what might  outwardly appear to be deterministic in its perfection, this would have nothing to do with His active participation in the lives and affairs of mankind other than to provide a consistently stable environment.

If God as maintenance handyman appears to be absent because the machinery of the universe is designed so well it runs smoothly for its current 14-billion year history, without the need for a scheduled service tune-up and oil change, this does not logically have to extrapolate to an absent, non-participant Manufacturer God inaccessible to our lives.

The concept of deism, that a precise clockmaker means an absent clockmaker, is a faulty inference of men who did not and do not have the starting perspective of a personal relationship with the living God of the Bible, and who were and presently are ignorant of the divinely unique, novel qualities of the way of the cross of Christ inherent within God-composed journey of faith life-scripts.

Author: Barton Jahn

I work in building construction as a field superintendent and project manager. I have four books published by McGraw-Hill on housing construction (1995-98) under Bart Jahn, and have six Christian books self-published through Create Space KDP. I have a bachelor of science degree in construction management from California State University Long Beach. I grew up in Southern California, was an avid surfer, and am fortunate enough to have always lived within one mile of the ocean. I discovered writing at the age of 30, and it is now one of my favorite activities. I am currently working on two more books on building construction.

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