Explaining divine action in an evolutionary creation model (or any model for that matter) is notoriously difficult. Many analogies and explanations have been attempted; none are entirely successful. All of them are limited since there is no parallel to the transcendent God and thus no parallel to divine action. If pushed too far, many analogies lead to a view of God that is either deistic, panentheistic, or pantheistic. Some explanations portray God as little more than a powerful demiurge, an almost natural deity that is more similar to Zeus than Yahweh. That being said, I think Polkinghorne’s comparison of divine action to roles in a theatrical production is helpful:
This is good as far as it goes (and really Polkinghorne should have assigned the role of director to the Creator as well). It implies (correctly) that the Creator has planned the universe’s entire historical narrative for a purpose, and that every creature (from atoms to Adams) receives its part from him. The Creator provides guidance to the actors, but does not micromanage every action, posture, breath, and facial expression. Within the play, creatures are given genuine freedom to act within the limitations of the parts they are given.
[The Christian] Creator is as far as possible from any idea of a demiurge. The latter is a cause among causes, an agent among the many agencies at work in the world, even if he possesses power and intelligence greatly superior to the other actors on the cosmic stage. The Creator God, on the other hand, is the author and producer of the whole play.
From Science and Creation, page 68
However, to complete the analogy, one must also acknowledge that God is more than just the author, producer, and director, but is also an actor. He is the God who revealed himself to the patriarchs, spoke to the ancient Hebrews through the prophets, launched the Church at Pentecost, and leads us today by his Holy Spirit.
And then there is Jesus Christ, the character scripted to endure ultimate unfairness, ultimate suffering, ultimate death, ultimate judgment, and damnation. For this central character, God chose to play the part himself.
Other Polkinghorne Quotes in this Series: [Introduction] [Previous]