Thomas Boston writes:
“The production of the world could not be by chance. It was indeed the extravagant fancy of some ancient philosophers, that the original of the world was from a fortuitous concourse of atoms, which were in perpetual motion in an immense space, till at last a sufficient number of them met in such a happy conjunction as formed the universe in the beautiful order in which we now behold it. But it is amazingly strange how such a wild opinion, which can never be reconciled with reason, could ever find any entertainment in a human mind. Can any man rationally conceive, that a confused jumble of atoms, of diverse natures and forms, and some so far distant from others, should ever meet in such a fortunate manner, as to form an entire world, so vast in extent, so distinct in the order, so united in the diversities of natures, so regular in the variety of changes, and so beautiful in the whole composure? Such an extravagant fancy as this can only possess the thoughts of a disordered brain” (Thomas Boston, Works; Underlining mine–CD)
R.C. Sproul writes:
“In my classes in the seminary, I raise questions like,
‘Is God in control of every single molecule in the universe?’
When I raise that question, I say,
‘The answer to that question will not determine whether you are a Christian or a Moslem, a Calvinist or an Arminian, but it will determine whether you are a theist or an atheist.’
Sometimes the students can’t see the connection. And I say to them,
‘Don’t you realize that if there is one molecule in this universe running around loose outside the scope or the sphere of God’s divine control and authority and power, then than single maverick molecule may be the grain of sand that changes the entire course of human history, that blocks God from keeping the promises he has made to his people?’
It may be that one maverick molecule that will prevent Christ from the consummation of his kingdom. For if there is one maverick molecule, it would mean that God is not sovereign. If God is not sovereign, then God is not God. If there is any element of the universe that is outside his authority, then he no longer is God over all. In other words, sovereignty belongs to deity. Sovereignty is a natural attribute of the Creator. God owns what he makes, and he rules what he owns” (R.C. Sproul, Now, That’s a Good Question!, pp. 25-26; Underlining mine–CD).
W.G.T. Shedd writes:
“There is in the cesspools of the great capitals of Christendom a mass of human creatures who are born, who live, and who die, in moral putrefaction. Their existence is a continued career of sin and woe. Body and soul, mind and heart, are given up to earth, to sense, to corruption. They emerge for a brief season into the light of day, run their swift and fiery career of sin, and then disappear. Dante, in that wonderful Vision which embodies so much of true ethics and theology, represents the wrathful and gloomy class sinking down under the miry waters and continuing to breathe in a convulsive, suffocating manner, sending up bubbles to the surface, that mark the place where they are drawing out their lingering existence.1 Something like this, is the wretched life of a vicious population. As we look in upon the fermenting mass, the only signs of life that meet our view indicate that the life is feverish, spasmodic, and suffocating. The bubbles rising to the dark and turbid surface reveal that it is a life in death.
1 Dante: Inferno, vii. 100-180.
But this, too, is the result of sin. Take the atoms one by one that constitute this mass of pollution and misery, and you will find that each one of them is a self-moving and an unforced will. Not one of these millions of individuals has been necessitated by Almighty God, or by any of God’s arrangements, to do wrong. Each one of them is a moral agent, equally with you and me. Each one of them is self-willed and self-determined in sin” (W.G.T. Shedd, Sermons to the Natural Man; Underlining mine–CD).
God’s active hardening of Pharaoh as recounted by Paul in Romans 9 is far more powerful than a weak “necessitation.” Shedd adds the qualification of “or by any of God’s arrangements.” In relation to God and sin Shedd believes that ALL molecules are maverick. When atoms or molecules do something truly good, then they are not being maverick and — thankfully — God is in control. BUT when these little particles of ultimate self-determination start to misbehave, then Shedd’s god (with a lowercase “g”) responds by joining with these mutinous marbles “a most wise and powerful bounding.” To put it forcefully, bluntly, and briefly. Shedd’s belief is that Atom Is God (not that Shedd would explicitly attribute eternality or “holy, holy, holy” to atoms, but he is clearly attributing ultimate self-determination and self-causation to these atoms).