In my view -- as a believer and as a scientist -- is that God performed only one act of CREATION -- of space, time, matter and energy ...all that is and ever will be -- where absolutely nothing had existed before. (Ex nihilo)
And then, He FORMED all that we see or can detect -- either through direct intervention, as when He, in His own good time, formed the physical body of Man from matter He had already created (the "dust of the ground") -- or via processes and laws that he put into place as part of His (unique) act of creation. And, of course, those FORMATION (not creation) processes are still ongoing.
I am convinced that the aforementoned continuing formation proceeds essentially "on autopilot"-- controlled by the laws (PV=nRT, E=MC^2, V=IR, F=MA, etc, etc.) that He established at Creation. In fact, my scientific work depends on -- and validates -- that viewpoint.
But, personal experience has proved to me that He, on occasion, does directly intervene in the progress of His creation. There are instances where He, IMHO, "puts things back on plan" by overruling his own physical laws and making adjustments that ignore those laws. We believers call those events, "miracles"...
Those events are, indeed, rare. And, indeed -- like chaos theory's hypothetical "flap of a butterfly's wing in Amazonia" that, through cascading natural amplification triggers a hurricane -- may be mostly undetected by us.
Nonetheless, I am convinced that He monitors the progress of all of His creation in real-time and in the minutest detail -- and that He is completely in control of its continuation.
I am immeasurably blessed that, as an observational scientist, I have had a lifetime of examining and discovering the beauty, intricacy, majesty and sheer genius of His creation and its ongoing formational processes. And that He has allowed me to derive a lifetime of awe, pleasure, worship -- and sheer joy -- through those observations!!
So, please permit me to re-state your last paragraph -- in my terms:
Creation and formation are central to God's essence I believe (and ours). Formation that is continuous and under the control of His Will is going to look a lot like evolution.
(FYI, I mostly use the term, "development" where I have used "formation" here, but I stuck with "formation" for consistency with Genesis. Furthermore, unless I am strictly discussing Darwin, I typically substitute "development" for "evolution".)
To HIM be the glory!!!
1) I don't think it is necessarily true that all miracles violate the laws of nature; it may be that he simply "steps in from outside of the Universe" to manipulate things without our knowledge, and then lets nature take its course from that point. To those of us just looking at the events unfolding, it *looks* like a miracle.
An analogy. According to Newton's laws of motion, an object at rest stays at rest, unless acted upon by an outside force. You know, like the screen door which stays shut unless moved by a gust of wind or a cat climbing up it.
But if God or an angel or The Invisible ManTM tiptoed up to the door, pulled it open, and then let it shut, it would look miraculous to us -- because, even though the door was obeying the laws of physics in opening to the pull, and then slamming shut, all we would see is a door opening "by itself".
Creation ex nihilo is different, as presumably the laws are defined at the same time as the cosmos over which they hold sway.
And two other discontinuities would be The Fall and Good Friday / Easter, where the relations of matter and spirit are changed in a discontinuous fashion.
2) God also works through the hearts and minds of Men to effect his will.
While I am reluctant to put my foot into the "in-between" of a dispute between two such beloved brothers....
At first, I thought it was only a "semantic problem." I.e., the "meaningful" difference between "creation" and "formation."
But that didn't satisfy....
Then the thought occurred to me that this entire "dispute" is resolvable in terms of the concept of ex nihilo Creation, which the Holy Scriptures inerrently proclaims and attests.
From there, I wondered: What is the basis of the supposition that "'ex nihilo' creation" must be a one-time, one-off event?
There are a few folks around FR right now who are paying attention to "time problems," to problems of spatio-temporal dimensionality, of how space and time seem to go hand-in-hand in ordinary existence, and yet manifest to our individual consciousness in ways that point beyond spacetime itself.....
On that basis, I am not insisting that "ex nihilo creation" must be a one-off, one-time creation "event."
And so I'd give points to marron on this question....
Dear TXnMA, dear marron: May God ever bless you and all your dear ones!
Thank you so very much for sharing your views!!!