If there is a distinction between natural things and products of human craft — as I argued some time ago — and this distinction lies in the presence of an internal principle of motion in natural things and an absence of that principle in things produced by craftsmanship, then we may explore the character of God’s creation of the natural world in light of this distinction.
One thing should be immediately evident: that Christians ought to be very wary about thinking of creation in a way that makes God a craftsman and creation a product of his art.
This image has some metaphorical value even if it is not an especially Biblical metaphor, but the metaphor is limited by the fact that natural things are fundamentally different than the products of a craft and God is fundamentally different from a craftsmen.
God does not create as a craftsman does, by gathering material together and impressing a form upon it. God creates ex nihilo, from nothing.
Further, God creates natural things, things that have their own internal principle of motion. To the extent that one thinks of creation in a way that denies the intrinsic nature of things, one thinks in opposition to reality.
This argument has a practical consequence in the current debates about the origin of species. William Paley’s design argument fails to fully take into account the distinction between natural things and the products of human craft.
Paley argued that just as if we found a watch in a field we would infer that an artificer exists, so when we look at created things we should likewise infer the existence of an artificer.
Every indication of contrivance, every manifestation of design, which existed in the watch, exists in the works of nature; with the difference, on the side of nature, of being greater or more, and that in a degree which exceeds all computation.
In other words, the same sort of structure that one finds in a watch, one finds in created (i.e., natural) things. To the extent there is a difference, it is a difference of degree rather than of kind.
This is precisely the denial that things have inner natures, and therefore it is a denial of the way in which God created the natural world. Or, to put it another way, it is a denial that God’s ways are above ours. However innocent Paley’s mistake, it is one we should not commit ourselves.