The Work of God

Work of God

God’s Master Plan

In this post we will be looking at the work of God, what he has done in creation as well as what he is currently doing. I believe it is safe to assume that God has a purpose for his creation. A purpose that guides all that he has done, is doing, and will do. If that is indeed the case, then the better we can understand his purpose, the better we can understand how he is working it out.

Some understand that the purpose of creation, and humanity in particular, is to bring glory to God. While it is true that the creation does, and humanity should, bring glory to God, that is not the same as saying that the purpose of creation was for his glory. And it would seem to imply that for some reason God needs us to glorify him. I do not believe though that God has any need that we can meet, including bringing glory to him.

Other people see God as creating because he needed an expression for his love. But I believe this also implies a need on the part of God that is unwarranted. Ultimately, I believe that God created because he chose to, not because of any need on his part. So why did he choose to create?

I do not believe that the Bible contains a fully developed purpose statement from God, it does at least shed some light on the subject. The opening of Paul’s letter the the Ephesian church gives us one of the biggest clues.

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will — to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment — to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession — to the praise of his glory. – Ephesians 1:4-14

Notice in this passage the reference to us being chosen before creation as well as the consequences of that choosing. At least a part of God’s plan in creation, and the part that most directly concerns us, is to create children and to develop them as his own. We should be careful not to equate our adoptions as sons with Jesus status as Son; it is different. But God has created us to be holy and blameless, to be partakers of his grace, to be his children. Knowing our place in God’s plan will be helpful as we turn to God’s activity in this world, starting with creation and continuing on with its maintenance. A redeemed humanity is central to God’s purpose, and thus his working in the world.

Creation

The Extent of Creation

The Bible declares that God created the universe from nothing rather than recycling preexisting materials. Hebrews 11:3 says that “by faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” This verse affirms that the universe was created by God ex nihilo, or out of nothing. Everything, from the smallest subatomic particle to the largest galactic supercluster, was produced by God, from nothing. Other passages, like Colossians 1:16-17, give further definition to the scope of creation; “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Not only was the material universe created by God, but much of the spiritual realm was also created by him; excluding himself of course. That spiritual realm is largely a mystery to humanity, but does include all of the angels, whether they are serving God, or serving Satan, who himself was created by God. It seems that all that is, apart from the triune God, is a product of God’s creative work.

Creation and Science

The Bible has an account, actually two of them, of creation that, if taken literally, is at odds with current scientific theories. How we view the apparent conflict between the biblical account and the scientific account is based, at least in part, on our understanding of inerrancy. For the strict inerrantist, the Bible is right and science is wrong, at least when it comes into conflict with the Scriptures. A more limited view of inerrancy will seek to reconcile the differences between the two. And one who does not hold to inerrancy at all will generally reject the Bible when it is at odds with science.

While the Bible would seem to indicate that the earth is only a few thousand years old, the geological record seems to claim that it is around 4.5 billion years old; the gap between these two estimates is enormous. The record of life on earth and of civilization also argue for an earth that is much more than ten thousand years old. What follows is a brief description of some of the attempts that have been made to reconcile the two accounts. 

The Gap Theory

The gap theory is based on a specific reading of the first two verses of Genesis. In verse one God creates the heavens and the earth, while in verse two the earth was formless and empty. Proponents of this theory argue that when God creates it should be perfect, but verse two seems to imply something less than perfect. Something must have happened between these two verses to mar the perfection of creation. The remainder of the first chapter of Genesis then goes on to describe, not the original creation, but a re-creation of the earth. What caused the chaos described in verse two? Some would speculate it was Satan’s fall from heaven to earth. In this theory the re-creation of the earth, and the life on it now, is fairly recent in time. All of the evidence that points to an old earth is based on the original creation and development.

The Flood Theory

This theory argue for a relatively young earth, but one that was devastated by the global flood described in Genesis 6-8. This flood and the devastating storms that accompany it are responsible for the geological evidence that many interpret to indicate a very old earth. This theory is one that is used in support of a relatively young earth.

The Ideal Time Theory

This is another theory that argues for a relatively young earth. In this theory, sometimes known as the apparent age view, it is argued that when Adam was created, he was created with an apparent age; he was not a newborn, but rather a grown man. In the same way the trees created on the third day were full grown trees having tree rings that would indicate an age of multiple years. From this is drawn the conclusion that all of creation was produced with an apparent age of billions of years, although in reality it was much younger. This includes light created in transit from distant stars and other evidence of an old earth.

The Day-Age Theory

This theory is based on the Hebrew word yom that is translated as day in the first chapter of Genesis. A 24 hour period of time is the most common rendering of this word.  But yom is also used to refer to other periods of time, including a long epoch. The day-age theory uses this longer period of time to argue that creation took, not six days, but six long periods of time. The Genesis account describes, not how long creation took, but the general ages of creation history.

The Pictorial-Day Theory

In this theory, also called the literary-framework view, the six days of creation are not referring to physical time, but rather to logical groupings. It sees in the six days of creation two logical groupings. Days 1-3 are building the domains of the heavens, the waters, the sky, and the earth. Days 4-6 then populate these domains, lights into the heavens, creatures into the waters and air, and creatures onto the land. Rather than being a physical description of creation, the first chapter of Genesis is a poetic description of creation.

While there are multiple supporters for each of these theories, as well as other theories, I find that the pictorial-day theory is the most satisfying, mostly because it eliminates the challenges posed by the strict ordering of events in the other theories such as light before the sun and stars, and trees before the sun or fish.

Development within Creation

Was creation complete after the initial creation period or has creation been an ongoing process. In particular, how did we end up with the great variety of life that is now present on earth, as well as what we find in the fossil record. There are four distinct views on how life came to be as it currently is.

Direct Creation

In this view God created all of the species of life present today, as well as throughout history, during a brief period of creation. While there has likely been some minor diversification within species since then, there have been no new species produced. This is the predominant view of those who hold to a creation event in the past few thousand years.

Naturalistic Evolution

This view is the opposite of direct creation. Naturalistic evolution believes that all existing life today originated from a common ancestor and, over great periods of time, has evolved into the wide variety of life present today. Naturalistic evolution holds that all of the changes in body structure have occurred via the naturalistic process of evolution without any intervention from a  creator. This is the dominant view in the secular world, but is also common among Christians.

Theistic Evolution

This view is similar to naturalistic evolution in believing that life evolved from a common ancestor. But it differs in seeing the hand of the creator involved in the production. Just how extensive that involvement is will vary; but in all cases God is guiding the natural process of evolution, using it to shape his creation to his intended destination.

Progressive Creationism

This view, like the previous one, is a more moderate view than either of the initial two extremes. In progressive creationism God does directly create all of the existing species of life, but it does it gradually. While the direct creation view sees all species created in a brief span of time, progressive creationism sees them coming into existence over a very long span of time. Minor diversification within species may occur, but they do not evolve into new species.

Direct creationism accounts very well for the biblical record, but is at odds with the findings of science. Naturalistic evolution, on the other hand, accounts well for the findings of science, but is at odds with the biblical account. Both theistic evolution and progressive creationism are compatible with the biblical account as well as the scientific account. Progressive creationism accounts best for events like the Cambrian explosion while theistic evolution accounts best for the similarity in body plans and DNA across life. Theistic evolution seems like the best view to me, but progressive creationism also has a lot to offer. They both offer a good compromise between God’s revelation in the Bible and his revelation in the creation.

Implications of Creation

There are several implications of the doctrine of creation. If the universe, this planet, and the life on it are simply a fortuitous accident, then none of it really has much value. On the other hand, if it is all the purposeful act of an intentional creator, then it has value, both to the creator and to the creation.

A naturalistic explanation for our existence can give no explanation for why we are able to observe the creation and understand it. But a universe created by a God who wants us to be able to discover him in his creation would be orderly and discoverable; just how we see things to be.

And, finally, if creation was a fluke, what purpose could there possibly be in my existence. I am on the scene for a brief period of time and then gone, and nothing I can do or say will have any lasting impact. But if God created me for a purpose, then I have a reason for being, and who I am and what I do matters.

Providence

The doctrine of creation deals with God’s bringing into existence all that is. Providence, on the other hand, is the continuing action of God to maintain creation and guide it to his intended purpose. Providence takes two forms; preservation and governance.

Preservation

One of the ways that God’s providence works is in maintaining the creation. In Colossians 1:17, Paul says that “in [Christ] all things hold together.” Also in Hebrews 1:3 we are told that Christ is “sustaining all things by his powerful word.” Christ is the sustaining power of the universe. You might see that the elementary forces of nature, gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces, are God’s sustaining power in the universe. Where he to remove them the universe would simply cease.

Governance

While preservation is primarily a passive activity, governance is the active side of providence. In governance we see God actually directing the affairs of individuals and nations; willing, directing, and causing. There are at least four areas where we can see Scripture making reference to God’s governance.

Natural Processes

One aspect of God’s governance concerns the natural processes that provide for life on earth. Acts 14:17 reflects this when Paul says “He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” God does this for all life on earth, not just his own people. We understand the physical processes that produce rain and that grow crops, yet it is God who is responsible for those processes; they are not just an accident. While I do not believe that God purposefully sends every rain shower, I do believe that he maintains the processes responsible for them.  And I do believe that at times he withholds the rain and at times causes it. James 5:17-18 reflects on Elijah’s experience with the rain as he attempted to lead the nation of Israel back to the worship of God.

At a National Level

In Acts 17:26 Paul says that “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.” Here God is actively involved in the rise and fall of nations and people groups and in the limits of their influence. God is pictured here as the great orchestrator of history.

On a Personal Level

In 1 Corinthians 4:7 Paul says “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” I am the way that I am, not because of anything I did, or that my parents did. Instead, I am uniquely crafted by God.

My Choices

And, finally, in Proverbs 16:33 we are told that “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” The implication from this passage is that even the decisions that I believe I make are actually from God. I may think that I have free will and the ability to make choices, but that would seem to be an illusion.

Governance: General or Specific

God, in his governance, does affect the course of this life. But how involved is he in it. Some will argue that he is mostly concerned with the big picture, marching creation along toward his intended purpose. Others will argue that God’s governance extends down to the small details; that nothing is too small for him to be involved in and directing.

General Governance

Those who hold to general governance believe that God has created a humanity that truly has free will and can make decisions that are contrary to God’s will. In particular, humans can choose to serve God, or to rebel against him. We also have free choice concerning our spouses, jobs, how we spend our money, and what we do with our time.

Repeatedly in the Scripture we find passages that call on us to believe or have faith in God (Acts 16:31; Rom. 10:9-10). We are also called to share the gospel of Christ (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8), to live holy lives (1 Peter 1:15-16), and to love one another (Matt. 22:39; John 13:34-35). Would there be any need for these instructions if God was in control of all of the details of our lives? Would we not do these things regardless?

Those who hold to general governance will also argue that specific governance, making God responsible for all that we do, also makes him responsible for the evil that we do. If I do not have the ability to make free choices, and am programmed to carry out the actions of God, then he is responsible for everything that I do, including my sin.

Specific Governance

In contrast to general governance is specific governance, the belief that God is involved in all the details of my life, including all of the decisions that I make. We choose God because he first chose us, and we cannot not choose him. In this view free will is really only an illusion. 

Ephesians 1:11 offers support for this view saying, “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” God has a plan for us and is making sure that everything conforms to that plan. While there is no explicit indication of a detailed plan in this passage, it is clear that God’s plan will not be thwarted; things will happen the way that he wants them to.

Psalm 139:16 is more explicit concerning God’s involvement in day to day life: “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” The easiest way to read this passage implies that my life was planned before I was ever born; I have no opportunity to vary from that plan.

Hard and Soft Determinism

There are two variations of specific governance, also known as determinism. In hard determinism there is no such thing as human free will; any appearance of free will is merely an illusion. Everything that happens to me and every decision I make was predetermined by God. The hard determinist will even generally take the logical step of acknowledging that God must also be responsible for sin and evil in the world.

Soft determinism, on the other hand, while holding to the sovereignty of God, does not see that as being incompatible with human free will. In this view the sovereign God works in our lives in such a way that we freely make the decisions that he wants us to make. This is frequently called compatibilist free will, or free will that is compatible with God’s sovereignty.

Reconciling Sovereignty and Free Will

The Scripture is clear that God is sovereign, but it also seems to indicate that humans have at least some limited form of free will. On the surface at least, it would seem that God’s control over nature and humanity would conflict with human free will. There are a number of ways that people have reconciled the two.

Incompatible

In this view either God is not actually sovereign, at least concerning human free will, or free will is just an illusion. This ideal of illusionary free will is one than many non-believers hold to as well. Hard determinism is advocated by many who see the universe operating according to strict laws from which there is no freedom. to the unbeliever, or seeming ability to make free choices is simply something programmed into us by genetics and environment. To the believer with this view, it is God who is directing all of my decisions. The decisions I make are the ones he wants me to make.

Self-limited Sovereignty

God is sovereign, but that does not mean that he always exercises that sovereignty. God could voluntarily choose to limit his sovereignty to allow humans to exercise real free will. That would not detract from God’s sovereignty, but would allow us a certain amount of autonomy, up to the limits God chooses to allow. This view, at least in my opinion, best explains the scriptural descriptions of God’s sovereignty and human free will. This view is also a higher view of sovereignty, since God is able to accomplish his purpose even when taking into account other autonomous free will agents.

Created Compatibility

In this view God is sovereign and has created a world where people freely choose to do what he wants them to. Given the choice between prime rib and liver, I will always choose prime rib. I have the option to choose either one, but I will never choose liver. Environmental and genetic factors have made me so that I always choose against liver. But how many of those factors were manipulated by God to ensure that I dislike liver and thus freely choose any alternative?

Miracles

Another aspect of God’s activity in the world concerns miracles. Miracles are generally considered as something that God does; something that either cannot, or would not, happen apart from his direct action. If there is a creator who is interested in moving his creation toward some specific end, then the existence of miracles should be expected. And real miracles would be conclusive proof for the existence of a purposeful creator. But just what is a miracle?

Manifestations of little known laws: There are some would believe that miracles are actually natural occurrences, the working of natural laws that we are currently unaware of. Some day we will likely discover these laws and be able to harness them ourselves.

Breaking the laws of nature: Others see that miracles are violations of the natural laws. When a miracle occurs, God suspends the laws that would prevent the miracle long enough to perform the miracle, and then reinstates the laws. If God is not transcendent to the natural laws that control the universe, then miracles would not be possible.

A countering supernatural force: Gravity is a force of nature that I cannot break. But I do, in a limited sense, counter the force of gravity when I pick something up. In the same way God supernaturally counters natural laws when he performs a miracle. The laws are not broken, just overridden. This explanation seems the best to me.

What about Evil?

A challenge we often face when talking about God’s interaction with the creation concerns evil. Why does evil exist today? If, as we believe, God is all-powerful and all-knowing, and if he is good, then how does evil manage to exist? Surely an all-powerful and all-knowing God should be able to figure out and implement a creation where evil was not possible. And if he was good, surely he would want to do this. So, the argument goes, either God is not all-powerful, or not all-knowing, or not good. Or, evil does not really exist; it is just an illusion. Evil seems to be pretty real though, impacting everyone on this planet as well as the planet itself. So how can we understand the relationship between God and evil?

Natural Evil

We can roughly break up the topic of evil into two categories. The first of these is natural evil; evil whose cause is not derived from humanity. Earthquakes, storms and disease are examples of natural evil. This form of evil seems to be inherent in nature, the way the earth works. It would seem like God could have easily created a world where the earth was stable, the weather always sunny and disease was non-existent, but clearly he did not. Or at least that is not the conditions that currently exist. Much of what we identify as natural evil is easy to explain as necessary or to be expected if the earth is very old, but more challenging for a young earth that was created as it currently is.

An Old Earth Perspective

If, as science suggests, the earth is a few billion years old and developed by natural processes, then plate tectonics is actually important to life on earth. Without the movement and collision of plates creating mountains, erosion would long ago have reduced the earth to a watery world. Plate tectonics is also responsible for burying many of the heavier elements that, in excess, are harmful to life. These elements are buried within the depths of the earth where they cause us no harm.

Storms are also a natural part of the world we live in. Storms are essential for circulating layers in the ocean, mixing colder deep water with warmer upper layers. This mixing of nutrients is essential for the health of our oceans. Storms also, along with plate tectonics, shape the surface of the earth. Without the weathering that comes from erosion the surface of the earth would just be rock.

Many of the diseases we face are the result of other living creatures that prey on us, including bacteria and viruses. We live in harmony with most of these microscopic creatures, but there are some who have evolved in such a way that they prey on us, causing us harm. Other diseases are the result of our bodies not functioning properly or because of poor habits on our part.

A New Earth Perspective

If the earth is on the order of 6-10,000 years old and created as is, then there is no need for plate tectonics, weathering storms, nor time for the evolution of harmful bacteria and viruses. Instead, these are generally thought of as being a consequence of the fall. Because of Adam’s sin in the garden the whole creation was upended. And every ill is our world today can be traced back to this seminal event.

Romans 8:19-22 is the passage that is most commonly used to support this belief. “For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” The thought here is that the creation is subjected to its bondage to decay because of the fall, and that at Christ’s return both redeemed humanity and the creation are restored to their original state.

But in either case, natural evil is not really evil in the sense that we typically use the word, with evil having a moral quality. Instead it is simply the result of the way our planet currently functions. While it causes harm to people, there is no malicious or even conscious intent to cause evil.

Moral Evil

A second aspect of evil is that which is human generated. There is untold suffering caused by either human carelessness or poor decision making. The Bible has many terms that are used for moral evil with sin being the primary one. It seems there has been sin and evil in the world as long as there have been humans; we just seem naturally inclined to sin. But could not God have created a humanity that did not sin, where evil was not possible? And if he could, why didn’t he?

Solutions to the Problem of Evil

There have been many solutions developed over the years to try and address the problem of evil in a world created by an omnipotent, omniscient, and good God.

Dualism

Dualism takes the approach that God is not omnipotent. There is another powerful being contending with God who is responsible for evil. This being is frequently thought of as Satan, or someone like him. The problem with this approach, besides arguing against God’s omnipotence, is that the Bible claims Satan is a created being; he is not an equal with God. While Satan is our adversary, he is subject to God’s authority and can do nothing that God does not allow.

A Result of the Fall

Some will argue that the creation was without evil until man’s fall in the Garden of Eden. Because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve, sin entered into the world with a sinful nature being passed down to all of their descendants. Genesis 3:17-19 describes God’s judgement against the first couple because of their disobedience while Romans 8:19-22 includes the rest of the creation in unrest because of their sin. This approach lays the blame for moral evil at the feet of humanity, unlike dualism that blames Satan.

God is Responsible

While some blame Satan for evil, and others blame humanity, there are those who place the responsibility for evil at God’s feet. Many of those who stress the sovereignty of God conclude that nothing happens in the creation apart from God’s directing hand. So, if evil exists, it is because God wants it to and causes it to happen. This is the position of some who hold to an extreme view of specific providential governance.

God Allows Evil

A fourth position is that God allows evil to occur for some purpose of his own. Humanity is responsible for evil, but God allows it to occur.

  • Some see that God allows evil because if free will is to be real there must be the possibility of making poor choices that produce evil. If God is truly interested in producing a people who can freely choose to love and worship him, then he has to accept that there will be those who will chose not to, choosing instead to live self-centered lives that produce sin. Why God would want to give us free will may be related to the purpose he has created us for, a purpose that we do not yet see clearly.
  • An alternative idea is that God is actually using the evil in this world to accomplish some purpose. Sometimes it might be easy to see some good resulting from evil, but more often it is challenging for us to find the good. However, we do not know the mind and purpose of God and how he might work. At least in the case of believers it appears like the troubles that come our way are used to purify our faith (1 Peter 1:3-9) and we can then endure through it. But in other cases, like child molestation, it is hard to see how any good comes to the innocent child.

Conclusion

Does God cause evil? I find it difficult to accept that God is the cause of evil. James 1:13-14 says that God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone. Instead our temptations come from within.

Does God allow evil? It seems clear that evil exists in the world today. It would also seem that God could have created a world where evil was not possible. If this is the case then it would also seem that God must allow the evil that exists in our world today.

Could God prevent evil from occurring? I do accept that he could prevent evil if he chose to. If so, then why doesn’t he? In part, I believe that he is not overly concerned about our happiness in this life. He is working to produce people that will be in relationship with him for eternity. This life is preparing us for that, and if learning to make correct choices and being purified by evil help to accomplish that purpose, then evil is accepted.

  <– The Nature of God    Home    Humanity –>  

Credo: Creation and Providence

Related Posts:

What I Believe . . . Creation and Providence

I believe that God is the creator of all that has come into existence and that he, and he alone, created it from nothing rather than simply reusing existing materials (Heb. 11:3). In particular, I believe that he is my creator. The logical consequence of this is that he is worthy of my devotion and my service (Rom. 12:1).

I believe that God has a purpose in his creation, a purpose that was determined prior to the creation itself, and a purpose that humanity has not and cannot frustrate. I do not believe that God’s purpose is limited to or even primarily concerned with this creation. Instead, this creation is only a step toward his ultimate purpose, a purpose that extends on into eternity and is focused on the church (Eph. 1:4-14).

I believe that science has much to tell us about how God formed and populated the universe and the earth that we inhabit. From the moment of creation, some 14 billion years ago, up to the present time, scientists have been able to discover much of how the universe as we see it today came to be. The more I discover of how this universe works, from the macro level of galaxies to the micro level of the cell, the more in awe I am of him as the creator (Ps. 19:1). This universe, at all levels truly is wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14). It is worth pointing out that my faith is in God, my creator, and not in science; a finite human attempt to understand the work of the infinite God.

I believe that God continues to be active in the preservation of his creation. He is both the reason that the universe exists as well as the ongoing cause for its continuing existence. Unlike the god of deism or Hinduism, God is transcendent to his creation, and yet involved in its operation, holding it together (Col. 1:17) and sustaining it (Heb. 1:3).

I believe that God is actively working to accomplish his purpose in creation. I do believe God chooses some for salvation and others for destruction; and that he chooses based on our enduring faith (Col. 1:22-23; Heb. 11:6). I do not believe that God has planned out every detail of my life, but do believe he uses what happens to develop me into the man I was created to be, preparing me for my eternal future (Rom. 8:28; 1 Pet. 1:3-9).

I do believe that in some way the omniscient God has granted us free will, the ability to make real choices, whether good or bad. I believe that God knows my future, not because he foresees a future that he planned out in detail or can predict. Rather because he is omnipresent in time; my past, present, and future are all now to him. Because of that I am able to make free choices in time, while he sees and acts on them from outside of time.

I do believe that real moral evil exists in our world today. I do not believe that God is the source of evil, but that he does allow evil in order to grant us free will. Because we have the ability to make real choices, including those that are contrary to God’s will, we have the potential  to make choices that cause harm to ourselves and to others. My own heart is the source of evil (Mark 7:14).

 

 

Without Excuse – Romans 1:18-20

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

Romans 1:18-20 NIV

The more I study the cosmos the more in awe I am of the Creator.  I cannot peer into a single living cell and not be impressed with its complexity, and then give glory to its Creator.  Standing atop a mountain and surveying the grandeur around me invariably causes my spirit to soar in thankfulness to the one who is responsible for it.

I do understand that all of this has taken form over millions and billions of years.  And I do understand, at least to some extent, the natural laws that are responsible for that shaping.  But that only deepens my awe and appreciation for the one who was able to produce those laws and processes that have served him in bringing the universe, this planet, and the life on it to where it is today.

I have tried hard to imagine all of this coming to be apart from a creator; but have failed miserably.  It all screams ‘creator’ to me.  And, according to Paul, the creation delivers that same message to all people.  In the passage above Paul claims that God’s power and divine nature are clearly seen in the creation itself.  And history seems to verify that.  Few cultures in the known history of humanity have failed to look into the heavens, or to the world around them, and failed to see someone(s) being responsible for it all.

At least until relatively recent times that is.  Now, more and more people have come to be able to imagine all of this coming to be apart from a creator; that it just a fortuitous happenstance.  And the signature of the creator in his creation is ignored or ridiculed as something seen only by the weak or fools.  But Paul gives us a different reason; that it is because they have chosen to suppress the truth that is so clearly made known by the creator, because of their own condition.

I don’t believe that most atheists are any more wicked than many who claim the name of Christ.  But admitting there is a creator makes one answerable to that creator.  The easiest way to not be answerable to him is to deny his existence.  If there is no creator, then I am ultimately not answerable to anyone.

But someday we all will stand before our creator to give answer to him.  And responding to him with “I never heard of you” will not be acceptable.  The creator has clearly revealed himself to humanity, and so we are without excuse when we come before him.

I Believe In a Creator

I believe that the universe we live in was created: that there is a creator.  While I cannot prove that to anyone, it does make more sense to me than any alternative I have heard of, and I suspect that I have heard of most of them, especially those put forward from the scientific community.

As far as I know that is little opposition any more to the idea that the universe we live in began at some point in the past.  All of the evidence points to a time where our universe did not exist.  Although that is not entirely accurate, since time, as we know it, is bound to the universe.  So if there is no universe, there is no time, meaning there was not a time before the universe.  None-the-less, I will use that expression because it is difficult to talk about possible causes of the universe without talking about time before the universe.

While there are certainly some exceptions, most people do accept that the universe is real, and that it, as well as ourselves, are not just illusions.  If the universe is real, and it had a starting point, then it seems reasonable to believe that it was caused; that it did not just come into existence all on its own, although there are some who do hold to that.  In addition, that part of the universe that we can observe gives every appearance of being one that Goldilocks would like, “just right for life”.

Most of the discussion I see concerning the creation, the beginning of the universe, concerns the question ‘how’.  What caused it and how did it unfold.  And while I find the discussion interesting and thought provoking, the one I am more curious about is the more philosophical one of ‘why’.  Just why did a Goldilocks universe come into existence.

An Intelligent Creator

Probably the most popular explanation for creation of a universe seemly designed for life, is that there was an intelligent creator who somehow brought the universe into existence.  Within this umbrella you will find a wide variety of folks, from those who accept the Big Bang and following cosmic evolution as well as Darwinian evolution, to those who believe that the creator made things just like they are now, or at least pretty close.

There are two primary arguments raised concerning an intelligent creator.  The first is where that creator came from.  If everything that exists requires a cause, then what is the cause of the creator.  Advocates of a creator can respond with “He just is”, but that is not really very satisfying.

The other objection is that there is no scientific evidence that points to an intelligent creator.  And while that is true, it is also an objection to every other explanation for creation.  It is likely that, regardless the trigger for creation, it is outside the ability of science to observe.  And while it is true that a universe seemingly designed for life can point towards an intelligent purposeful creator, there are other explanations offered for this oddity.

For me at least, the biggest advantage of an intelligent creator for the universe is that it can offer a more satisfying explanation for the ‘why’ question.  Although it may be hard to provide a definitive answer for the why of creation, based on the creation itself; that there is a creator tells me that there was likely a purpose in creation.  And that in turn tells me that there is likely a purpose for my own life, beyond what I chose to assign to it.

A Multiverse

An alternative to having a creator is what is commonly called a multiverse.  There are any number of variations to this idea, but basically it advocates that the universe we are in is actually only a small part of a larger physical reality.  And contained within the multiverse, are a multitude of island universes, ours being one of them.  And generally the thought is that each of this multitude of universes end up with different operating parameters.  Some are too hard, some too soft, and some just right for life.  In this scenario, our universe was not designed for life, but rather just won the lottery.  And there are a potential infinite number of other universes that exist, but are barren.

While this alternative does provide an answer for why our universe is just right for life, the two objections raised for a creator apply just as much to all of the variety of solutions under this umbrella.  There is no answer to where the multiverse came from.  And there is no scientific evidence to support a multiverse.

In addition, this alternative offers no attempt at an answer to ‘why’.  The existence of the universe has no purpose, nor do I have any purpose beyond what I, or some other person, assign to myself.  For me, this is the greatest weakness of any explanation for creation apart from a creator; we have no real reason for being.

Self Created

I have just finished reading Cosmic Jackpot by Paul Davies and have encountered what is to me a new and novel approach to creation.  I just barely followed this scenario, mostly because it requires a better understanding of quantum mechanics than I have, but it really comes down to a quirk of the quantum world that seems to indicate our looking at something in the quantum world has an impact on its prior activity; so watching it changes its past.  And from that is built the theory that intelligent life today, in observing the universe, is actually responsible for its creation.

Now I must admit that this whole thing seems crazy to me, but I do respect the one who was suggesting it as a possibility.  And it is dealing with an area that I am mostly ignorant of, although know that it does have some particular characteristics, so I am trying to keep an open mind about it, not dismissing it just because I don’t understand it.  But given that, I am pretty skeptical about it.

The positive thing about this proposal is that it allows the universe to be self created, after a fashion, and thus dealing with the need for something outside the universe to create it, along with the question of where that creator came from.  And it also has the benefit of explaining why the universe is just right for life, since it was life that created it.

What it fails to do however is provide an answer to the ‘why’ question.  Someone smarter than me may have an answer to that, but the whole circular nature of this proposal is too confusing to me to be able to provide a satisfactory answer to that.

Occam’s Razor

In logic and in science, Occam’s Razor is often used to judge between competing hypothesis.  It simply states that given two hypothesis that provide equal explanation, the one that makes the fewest assumptions is generally the preferred hypothesis, although that is no guarantee that it is the correct one.

Above are three competing hypothesis for how the universe came to be.  The third, a self created universe, is too complex for me to be able to evaluate its assumptions and so I am going to ignore it.  But the other two are pretty common and easy to understand.

One of these assumes an intelligent creator.  The other assumes a multiverse.  Additionally, it assumes that that multiverse has spawned an infinite number of universes.  And it assumes that each of these infinite universes have a unique set of operating parameters, with one of them, ours, being just right for life.  While I have no doubt that advocates of the multiverse will spin this differently, from my perspective at least, Occam’s Razor would seem to favor a creator over a multiverse scenario.

Conclusion

As expressed at the beginning, I do believe that the universe had an intelligent creator, one who created the universe for a specific purpose.  While I cannot answer all the questions that are asked about the origin of that creator, it does explain to me why the universe is habitable for life.  And, more importantly, it allows me to believe that my life has a bigger purpose than just what I chose to give to myself.  And since believing in a creator or a multiverse are both an act of faith, I choose to believe in the one that gives purpose to my life.  And, more significantly for me, some of my life’s experiences are easier to explain given a creator who has an interest in me.

From my perspective, the real allure in an eternal, universe spawning, multiverse is that it provides an alternative to a creator, an alternative that allows us to assign whatever purpose to our lives that we want.  And with no externally provided purpose, there is no accountability to the purpose giver.

Before concluding this, let me acknowledge that this discussion has only been dealing with the existence of an intelligent creator for the universe, and not with the deity(s) proclaimed by any specific religion.  This is really only a first step that does nothing beyond expressing why I believe there is a creator rather than the alternative.

Creation and the Big Bang

The Big Bang is a fairly well established scientific theory that describes the beginning of the universe.  According to this theory, some 13.8 billion years ago, our universe began to exist, initially as an extremely dense and hot point.  That ‘singularity’, began to rapidly expand and cool, eventually forming simple atomic elements which gravity clumped into stars and galaxies, ultimately producing the universe we see around us today.  The link above provides a decent description, while this one offers a much simpler overview.

While the Big Bang does have pretty strong scientific support, how compatible is it with the Genesis accounts, and what response should I make to it as a Christian?  Those are questions I struggled with for some time, and I know that many still do.

The Days of Creation

In the Genesis account we see creation divided up into 6 ‘days’, followed by a 7th day where God rests.  How long are these days of creation.  The word used there could mean either a 24 hour day, or a longer period of time.  That the days are numbered, and included the formula “evening and morning” with the first 6 days would indicate the author likely indicated 24 hour days.  However, the 7th day does not mention a start or stop, and Hebrews 4:1-11 can be taken to demonstrate that we are still in the 7th day.  This is sometimes used as proof that the first 6 days should probably be considered as longer periods of time.

Which is right.  Does Genesis have creation occurring in 144 hours?  Or in 6 long periods of time?  There is no way for me to know for sure, but I suspect that the vast majority of people who read this account up until recent times took it to mean 6, 24 hour days.  And there was really no reason for them to believe anything else.  And I also suspect that that was the intent of the original author of the account.

A Literal or Figurative Account

Is the creation account in the first chapter of Genesis a literal account, or is it figurative?  I have heard this debated many times, usually with considerable passion.  One one hand you have those who believe that this account is historically and scientifically accurate; that it all happened exactly the way the account lays it out.  At the other extreme are those who dismiss this account as nothing more than an ancient myth that the Hebrews borrowed and modified.  And in between are any number of different positions that people have taken.

Because of the symmetry of the passage, with the first three days creating the realms of light, water, atmosphere and dry land, and the second set of days populating those realms with the appropriate items whether they be stars, fish, birds or land animals; I have a tendency to view the passage as a non-literal account that is more concerned with ease of memory and magnifying God rather than giving a scientific accounting of creation.

Regardless the original intent, it does appear though that most people, at least during the Christian era, have likely accepted it as being a literal accounting of events.

Are Things As They Appear?

Can I believe what my eyes tell me?  Sometimes, but not always.  My eyes tell me that the sun and moon both are sources of light; but the moon actually is only a reflector of light, not a source.  But when we combine all of our senses, the instrumentation we are able to build, and our intelligence, we are able to know that the moon itself produces no light.  But can we really know that is true, and that we are not being deceived?

While that question may not seem like it has anything to do with creation, for me it was pretty significant.  What do I do with reports from scientists that light from some of the stars I can see overhead has been in transit for millions, and sometimes billions, of years?  If I were to believe that we are truly capable of knowing the creation as it really is, then it would seem like I would need to accept that light has been traveling from some of the more distant stars for billions of years.  Only if I held that we could not truly understand our universe could I explain away the apparent very old age of the universe.  Either that or God has created the light already in transit, only making it appear to have been traveling for millions or billions of years.  But that is really just another version of the argument that we cannot really know our universe as it actually is.

Because I ultimately chose to accept that we could understand and know the creation that God had put us into, I was forced to accept that the universe was roughly 13.8 billion years old, and that the planet we live on was roughly 4.5 billions years old.  I have looked at the considerable amount of evidence supporting those ages and have been able to draw no other reasonable conclusion.

Reconciling the Two

A literal reading of the creation account in the first chapter of Genesis most easily supports a relatively young earth that was created as is.  The Big Bang argues for a very old earth, and even older universe, that took its present shape over billions of years.  I have read many attempts to reconcile the two, and have explored some of them for myself.  But none of those attempts have really satisfied me.  In the end I am left with the belief that the universe is knowable, and that what it says about its origins is best described by the Big Bang Theory.  As for the Genesis account, I still love this account, and the way it glorifies the God of creation.  But I am unable to picture it as an literally accurate accounting of the details of creation.

Inspiration of the Scriptures

One of the arguments some Christians make in rejecting the Big Bang in favor of a literal interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis is that the Genesis account, like all of the Bible, is inspired by God, and thus could not be wrong.  But take a closer look at the passage that teaches the Bible is inspired by God.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17 HCSB

Yes, scripture is inspired, or God-breathed.  But notice its purpose.  To fully equip me for every good work, to be a mature believer.  It is not intended to teach me biology, geology, physics, or cosmology.  I believe the Genesis account can be useful to me as a believer, so long as I do not get hung up on its scientific failings.  Just like the account of Jesus temptations in the wilderness in Matthew 4 is useful to me without getting hung up over its claim that all the kingdoms of the earth can be seen from the top of any mountain, no matter how high; unless one assumes that the earth is flat.

Don’t try and make the scripture something that its not.  Allow God to speak to you through it, and equip you in his service.  Don’t feel threatened when modern science contradicts some of the ancient science found in the scriptures.  Don’t forget that God also chooses to reveal himself in his creation as well.

The Big Bang Revisited

The Big Bang Theory affirms that our universe had a beginning.  How and why it occurred are a mystery to science.  Why the operating parameters of the universe are the way they are, making life possible on earth, are often thought of as a happy coincidence.  But it is neither mystery or coincidence to me.  In the beginning, God!  And God said … and it was so!  The Big Bang is really not all that incompatible with Genesis, or the rest of the scriptures.

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. – Hebrews 11:3 NIV

How Big Is God?

One of my favorite web sites is The Scale of the Universe. This is an interactive site that helps to give a perspective on just how big things are in the universe.  I find it interesting to scroll through the site, comparing the size of different objects.

I would suspect that most people have no idea how big the universe is, or how small its individual components might be.  And even looking at the numbers it is still hard to fathom; it is so big, and so small, that the numbers are almost meaningless.  Just how big is the universe?  It is bigger than we can observe, but the observable universe is estimated at 9.3 * 1028 meters (93,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 meters) or 93 billion light years across.  In other words, it’s pretty big.

At the other end of the scale is the theorized ‘string’ of string theory.  These are estimated to be 1 * 10-35 meters in length, or 0.00000000001 yoctometers long.  Just for comparison purposes, a few other objects are listed below.

  • Electron – 5 * 10-15 meters
  • Transistor Gate – 2.5 * 10-8 meters
  • E. Coli bacteria – 2 * 10-6 meters
  • Ant – 4 * 10-3 meters
  • Human – 1.7 meters
  • Large Hadron Collider – 8.6 * 103 meters
  • Earth – 1.27 * 107 meters
  • Sun – 1.4 * 109 meters
  • Oort Cloud (outer limits of our solar system) – 2 * 1016 meters
  • Milky Way – 9.3 * 1026 meters

But what does this have to do with how big God is?  If God exists (and I believe he does), and he created the universe (which I also believe), then it might be interesting to compare his creation with that of the next most capable known ‘creator’ in the universe, us.  Collectively, we have been able to to produce something as big as 8.6 * 103 meters in length, and as small as 2.5 * 10-8 meters.  

In contrast, God has produced something that is 1025 times bigger and 10-27 times smaller.  So, by one measure at least, God is about 1026 times bigger, stronger, smarter and all around more capable than we are.  That is 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times bigger. Is God really so much bigger than I am; for all practical purposes, infinitely bigger?  

Even though the numbers given in the previous paragraph are nothing but conjecture, I do accept that one who is able to create the universe we live in, a universe whose size and complexity are beyond my comprehension, is infinitely more capable than I am.  And that he is just as much beyond my comprehension as is his creation, of which I am a tiny part.

I can study his creation and come to some limited understanding of it.  And I can invest time in knowing God, and come to some limited understanding of him.  But I can never really get more than a glimmer of who he is; my limited and finite mind is not capable of comprehending the infinite creator.And so I marvel at the unfolding creation, and bow before its creator.  I stand amazed at the complexity, the enormity and the power of all that he has made.  I acknowledge that God is beyond my understanding or judgement.  I thank him for who he is, what he has done, and what he has in store for me.  And I join with the heavens in offering up praise to him.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

Psalm 19:1-4

 

And God Said

In the beginning – God,
and nothing else!
And God said,
“Let there be!”
And a universe began to unfold.

And the universe was hot,
and without form.
And it unrolled and cooled,
and began to take shape.

Atoms were formed,
and gravity began its work.
Stars began to burn,
and galaxies came into being.

Planets formed around stars,
and they cooled and became stable.
And God said,
“Let there be life!”
And life began to unfold in all its wonder.

And on earth – Man,
and all was good.
And man said,
“I am god!”
And God was forgotten.

But God did not forget,
or lose sight of his purpose.
And God said,
“Whosoever believes!”
And all who did became his.

And the universe cooled,
and it came to an end.
But all who had believed,
continued with Him.

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God – Psalm 19:1-4

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world. 

          Psalm 19:1-4 NIV

As I prepare for an extended trip out into the creation, this passage seems most appropriate.  For me there is no better place to encounter my creator than out in his creation.  A creation that proclaims his glory in everything I see.  The sun, moon and stars, the mountains and valleys, the rivers and streams, the trees and the meadows, the flowers, the animals, and even the bugs.  I travel through it all in amazement.

While I am thankful for science and its unveiling of how the creation works, I am even more thankful for the creator who made it in the first place.  And that in a creation as vast as this universe, he knows me and cares for me.  I feel sorry for those who are unable, or unwilling, to see beyond the creation itself; who have to settle for worship of that creation instead of the one who made it all.

Father, Lord, thank you for the opportunity to spend the next month alone with you in your creation, free from the distractions and concerns of everyday life.  As I walk the trail through your garden, help me to walk with you, to know your presence every step of the way and to rejoice in it.  Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me (Psalm 51:10).

The Bible and Science

The B I B L E, yes that’s the book for me.
I stand alone on the word of God.
The B I B L E.

I grew up singing that song and for pretty much all of my life that I can remember the Bible has been at the top of my reading list, providing guidance and instruction.  But just what is this book that many Christians hold so dear and what role should it play in our lives?  You have likely heard many terms used in relation to the Bible, like inspiredinerrant, infallible, authoritative, …  I must confess that I am never too sure just what a person means when they use those words in relation to the Bible, and I disagree with some of what I do understand the terms to mean.

The Bible has this to say about itself:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV

This is, as far as I know, the primary passage used in support of inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible.  This passage does indeed affirm the inspiration of the scriptures, although it is uncertain just how that occurs.  But I fail to see that it really says anything about inerrancy.  What it tells me is that the Bible is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness to thoroughly equip me for doing what God wants of me.  It is God’s instruction for me on how to live a holy life in his service.  I do believe that in matters of faith and service to God that the Bible is trustworthy, authoritative and inerrant.  But I see no reason to make that claim for other arena’s.

Science is, according to Wikipedia:

Science (from Latin: scientia meaning “knowledge”) is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. … In modern use, science is “often treated as synonymous with ‘natural and physical science’, and thus restricted to those branches of study that relate to the phenomena of the material universe and their laws, sometimes with implied exclusion of pure mathematics. This is now the dominant sense in ordinary use.

In simpler terms science is the study of the world around us, trying to understand the nature of the universe and all it contains and how and why it works the way it does.  I find it unfortunate that to many people, both believers and non-believers, the Bible and science are thought to be at odds with one another.

I believe that the reason for this is that too many believers attempt to make the Bible be something that it is not; an inspired science and/or history text.  For example, how old is the earth?  The Bible doesn’t actually say, but the implication from Genesis is that the earth is not really all that old, in the range of 6-10 thousand years.  However, modern science claims that the earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old; certainly quite a contrast to 6-10 thousand years.  As a believer, how do I choose which to believe?

Those who hold to Biblical inerrancy would say that the Genesis account must be historically and scientifically accurate because it is the inspired word of a God who cannot lie.  And I hesitate to challenge that statement because I would then come across as one who claims that God lies, which I will never do.  But, does belief in a young earth better equip me for serving God than belief in an old earth?  I would argue that it does not, and that in some ways it actually hinders it.  Part of my service to God is in sharing the good news with a world that is in need of it.  But how can I effectively do that when I deny the overwhelming scientific evidence in support of the age of the earth and hold to a contrary belief that has no scientific support.  St. Augustine wrote:

 “It not infrequently happens that something about the earth, about the sky, about other elements of this world, about the motion and rotation or even the magnitude and distances of the stars, about definite eclipses of the sun and moon, about the passage of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, of fruits, of stones, and of other such things, may be known with the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is not a Christian. It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are… In view of this and in keeping it in mind constantly while dealing with the book of Genesis, I have, insofar as I was able, explained in detail and set forth for consideration the meanings of obscure passages, taking care not to affirm rashly some one meaning to the prejudice of another and perhaps better explanation.” The Literal Interpretation of Genesis (De Genesi ad Litteram) 1:19–20, Chapter 19

I do believe his words are instructive to us when dealing with the debate between the Bible and scientific findings.  We make ourselves a laughing stock to the world around us when we hold so strongly to something that is so obviously at odds with what we can see around us concerning the creation.  Let us hold tightly to the Bible in matters of faith and service to God, and less loosely in matters that are not central to our faith.  Really, what difference does it make how God created the heavens and the earth and the life that populates this planet?

We often apply the following verse only to unbelievers:

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. – Romans 1:20 NIV

But does it not have application to believers as well?  Should I not be able to look at the creation and see what God has created without twisting it to fit an ancient cosmology?  And is that not what science does; look at the creation and try to make sense of it?  In my mind science is a tool that can help me to better understand God’s working, the revelation of himself in the natural world.  I follow the Bible in matters of faith and service to God; but in understanding the world around me I am willing to learn from those who have invested their lives in revealing the mysteries of creation.

Origins

We live in a big complex universe.  Where did it come from?  How did I come to be? What are our origins? These are questions I have frequently asked myself and I suspect I am not alone in doing so.  The response you have for these questions will have a big impact on how you view the world around you and how you respond to much of what happens to you.

To give an authoritative and comprehensive answer is beyond me, but I would like to share a few thoughts.  There are, at least to my mind, three general answers that can be given, each with a lot of variation.  The first approach is one taken by many believers in my circle and includes:

  • God created the universe, this earth, and life on it exactly (or nearly) as is.
  • The belief that God continues to be actively involved with everything that happens on earth, from the blooming of a flower or birth of a child to earthquakes, storms and wars.
  • God has a specific plan for my life and that there is a specific right choice for me in every decision that I face.
  • Science is treated with suspicion, especially when it is at odds with beliefs about origins.

A second common view, and one that is becoming more popular all the time, is that of the atheist:

  • The universe either has always been, or it just happened without any causal action.  There is no place for a creator.
  • There is no thought for anything after this life.
  • This life is, to a large extent, what we make of it and our only purpose is what we assign to ourselves.
  • Science, in some ways, takes the place of God; not that science creates anything, but science, and the technology it inspires, provides us with all the answers worth knowing and will be the savior of mankind.

And finally there is the view of other believers, including myself, who hold that:

  • God created the universe, including the laws that regulate and have shaped it, over a very long time, into what it is today.
  • Much, or most, of what happens in the universe, and with life on earth, happens according to the physical laws that were put into effect at the creation; meaning that there is no need for God to be directly involved with making flowers bloom or forming an unborn child.
  • For the most part, while God has a purpose for people, he does not have a specific plan for the execution of their life.  Oftentimes there can be multiple responses I can make to decisions that are equally good.
  • That study of the created world, science, will help us to better know him and know his creation.  This includes the assumption that the creation is knowable and that what it reveals is accurate, i.e. the universe will not lie about its age or its history.

Over the last decade I have slowly moved from view 1 to view 3 with two major impacts.  The first, and more troubling, is that it is sometimes hard to reconcile with a more “fundamentalist” view of the scriptures; and I will be addressing this in a later blog post.  The more rewarding consequence is that my beliefs no longer seem to be at odds with what I see and experience around me, making God’s revelation of himself in the created world much more revealing.  God certainly seems much bigger to me now than he did a decade ago, although at the same time I have had to relearn much of what I thought I knew. I am firmly convinced that in the beginning, God!  And that God produced what is seen from what is unseen.    And while I have no doubt that God could have created this universe, our planet and life in any fashion he chose, I no longer accept that it was all done in the span of 6 days some 6 thousand years ago.  The creation itself bears witness to its creator and tells a much different story, a story of an incredibly old universe that has changed over the eons and of life today that bears no resemblance to life in the distant past.

I know that some will label me a liberal, or even a heretic, because of this, but I have to be true to where I believe God has led me over the years.  There is much about origins that I do not yet understand, but I am at peace with where I am in that journey and continue to grow in my understanding.  And I would encourage each of you to explore and be open to the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

image_print