God at the pool table

Consider divine action in the origin of the world to be like the strokes of a cue stick in a game of billiards. Label the balls into three groups using the words “heavens,” “earth,” and “living organisms,” and let the 8-ball represent humans. The young earth creationist depicts the Creator making single shot after single shot with no miscue until all the balls are off the table. No doubt, that is remarkable. A progressive creationist sees the opening stroke that breaks the balls as the Big Bang. All of the balls labeled “heavens” and “earth” are sunk by this initial shot. Then God sinks those that signify living organisms and humans individually. That is even more impressive.

Evolutionary creationists claim that the God-of-the-individual-shots (or “gaps”) fails to reveal fully the power and foresight of the Creator. According to their view of origins, the breaking stroke is so finely tuned that not only are all the balls sunk, but they drop in order, beginning with those labeled “heavens,” then “earth,” followed by “living organisms,” and finally the 8-ball, the most important ball in billiards, representing humans. And to complete the analogy, the Lord pulls this last ball out of the pocket and holds it in His hands to depict His personal involvement with men and women. Is not such a God infinitely more talented than that of the anti-evolutionists? Is His eternal power and divine nature not best illustrated in the last example?

from Evolutionary Creation, by Denis O. Lamoureux (pp. 94-95)

Tagged with:
Recent Posts:
  • Hi Steve,
    Back on the net after being off for a while … this quote from Lamoureux dovetails well with your last post. Question: How does Lamoureux deal with the charge of Deism wrt to an EC view of divine action? Does he address it? For example, I do like the above analogy but one could argue that God is involved in the original action (the shot / creation) and the last action (pulling up the ball / the final new creation? ) but not really in between. I know this is just one analogy, & I myself may not have a great answer, but I’m wondering how Lamoureux handles this.

  • Hi Steve,
    Back on the net after being off for a while … this quote from Lamoureux dovetails well with your last post. Question: How does Lamoureux deal with the charge of Deism wrt to an EC view of divine action? Does he address it? For example, I do like the above analogy but one could argue that God is involved in the original action (the shot / creation) and the last action (pulling up the ball / the final new creation? ) but not really in between. I know this is just one analogy, & I myself may not have a great answer, but I’m wondering how Lamoureux handles this.

  • Good question, Steve, and welcome back! I’m not sure where Lamoureux is going to go with this (I’m just on page 95 myself), but if you’re interested in all, here’s my own take.

    First of all, it helps to bear in mind that it wouldn’t invalidate the analogy for it to work for deism as well. I would also say that as far as the mechanics go, creation was not accomplished in a way really different from that posited by Deism. It is His interaction with humanity that distinguishes the Christian God from the deist’s deity in terms of how creation is accomplished; it is ongoing purpose and intention for the universe that distinguishes the two as far as why creation is accomplished.

    Thoughts?

  • Good question, Steve, and welcome back! I’m not sure where Lamoureux is going to go with this (I’m just on page 95 myself), but if you’re interested in all, here’s my own take.

    First of all, it helps to bear in mind that it wouldn’t invalidate the analogy for it to work for deism as well. I would also say that as far as the mechanics go, creation was not accomplished in a way really different from that posited by Deism. It is His interaction with humanity that distinguishes the Christian God from the deist’s deity in terms of how creation is accomplished; it is ongoing purpose and intention for the universe that distinguishes the two as far as why creation is accomplished.

    Thoughts?

  • Hi Stephen,
    For myself, I think it is more than just the interaction with humanity that distinguishes the deist deity from the Christian God. I don’t think God “hit the cue ball” and then went off to take care of other business for some 13 billion years until the rise of humanity (~100K ago?). At a minimum, the Christian God is constantly involved sustaining his creation. And no, I’m not sure I can really explain how this works succinctly or clearly.

  • Hi Stephen,
    For myself, I think it is more than just the interaction with humanity that distinguishes the deist deity from the Christian God. I don’t think God “hit the cue ball” and then went off to take care of other business for some 13 billion years until the rise of humanity (~100K ago?). At a minimum, the Christian God is constantly involved sustaining his creation. And no, I’m not sure I can really explain how this works succinctly or clearly.

  • I would tend to say that you are right that God has always been at work sustaining the universe, but I believe that He does so by His desire and intent (His word), by willing that it remain, rather than actively managing each subatomic particle miraculously. We’re just talking about the manufacture and maintenance of the natural world. The “interference” (if I may call it that reverently) did not need to begin until we came along.

    As far as God just kicking back in His La-Z-Boy for eons waiting for us, I’m not at all of the mind that God and time need play by the same rules that we do.

  • I would tend to say that you are right that God has always been at work sustaining the universe, but I believe that He does so by His desire and intent (His word), by willing that it remain, rather than actively managing each subatomic particle miraculously. We’re just talking about the manufacture and maintenance of the natural world. The “interference” (if I may call it that reverently) did not need to begin until we came along.

    As far as God just kicking back in His La-Z-Boy for eons waiting for us, I’m not at all of the mind that God and time need play by the same rules that we do.

  • Doug Moody

    Steve,
    Largely agree with your analogy, but I would like to add a character to it.
    The YE crowd would have us think that before the “big bang” which they deny, but before it all just started, that God and the devil had it out with each other, and that after God broke the rack, He invited Satan up to the table and asked him to take his shot. So, Satan began sinking ball after ball, until the 8-ball (which was his winning shot, Adam and Eve) and then challenged God to double or nothing.
    God took him up on it, and the devil played a good game, until Jesus came along – winning it all. So now, Satan is walking around grousing about his loss and trying desperately to sour everyone else on God, and telling people that God didn’t play fair. So, the YE folks believe (eschatologically speaking) that God is going to play the game “one more time” and this time, when He wins, will throw Satan out of the pool hall.
    Not a perfect analogy, but I think it hits a chord with non-preterists because it makes God out to playing a game in which the outcome is sometimes in doubt when the devil takes his turn.

  • Doug Moody

    Steve,
    Largely agree with your analogy, but I would like to add a character to it.
    The YE crowd would have us think that before the “big bang” which they deny, but before it all just started, that God and the devil had it out with each other, and that after God broke the rack, He invited Satan up to the table and asked him to take his shot. So, Satan began sinking ball after ball, until the 8-ball (which was his winning shot, Adam and Eve) and then challenged God to double or nothing.
    God took him up on it, and the devil played a good game, until Jesus came along – winning it all. So now, Satan is walking around grousing about his loss and trying desperately to sour everyone else on God, and telling people that God didn’t play fair. So, the YE folks believe (eschatologically speaking) that God is going to play the game “one more time” and this time, when He wins, will throw Satan out of the pool hall.
    Not a perfect analogy, but I think it hits a chord with non-preterists because it makes God out to playing a game in which the outcome is sometimes in doubt when the devil takes his turn.