Getting to Know God Meditations: 35. God who is Creator
Gen 14:19 “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.
Isa 40:28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
Holding Back: I realize in this series I have been holding back on this particular topic because to deal with it properly means we have to not only look within Scripture but also stray outside to the worlds of science and philosophy and I felt we should do other groundwork first that we have done in the former part of the series. But it is not only that, for I am aware that in the atheistic materialistic world of science, the ‘big names’ scorn the thought of God and Him having ‘created’ this world, and so anything we say here stands in opposition to these people – or does it?
The Biblical Testimony: Well, let’s start off with the testimony of the Bible. It is strange that the first person in the Bible to declare this truth is an unknown Priest-King called Melchizedek (Gen 14:18) which is then picked up by Abraham (v.22) and is clearly believed by a number of other people in both Old and New Testaments. Of course the first two chapters of Genesis lay down the first challenges to us, being two records of God’s activity, Genesis 1 laying down the order of things coming into being (which evolutionists would not disagree with) and Genesis 2 giving a different slant on how man – and woman – came into being. Now it is fairly clear that these two accounts are not meant to be scientific accounts because they don’t have that sort of detail, they are more generalizations with focus, if I may put it like that.
The Conflict of Creation: There are at least two conflicts we need to consider. The first is about ‘the beginning’. On a point of awareness, please note that actually Gen 1:1 does NOT start right back at the beginning; it starts with a formless earth, which science suggests is a long way down the line from ‘the beginning’. Current scientific thinking (and it could be different in twenty years’ time) has come around to thinking that indeed there was a beginning before which nothing existed. It didn’t used to, it used to believe that everything had always existed. Let me explain. The idea of the ‘Big Bang’ as a starting point first came in 1931 from a Belgian priest and astronomer, Georges Lemaitre – the universe expanded to its present state from an infinitely small, hot and dense particle. In the 1960s, scientists discovered ‘cosmic microwave background radiation’ – the leftover energy signals of the Big Bang. In 2003 a mathematician and two physicists were able to prove that any universe which has, on average, been expanding throughout its history cannot be infinite in the past but must have a past space-time boundary, i.e. a beginning.
Now philosophically this is jumping out of one frying pan into another. If the concept of a world that had always existed wasn’t bad enough, the thought of the world not existing and coming from absolutely nothing is even more mind-bending, because the one thing our intellects tell us is that it is impossible for ’something’ to come from absolutely nothing. Take away ‘energy’ and take away even an infinitely small particle so you have ‘nothing’ and there is no rational explanation that ‘something’ could come into being to then cause a ‘big bang’! Unless there is what philosophers call the Uncaused First Cause – God! This (He), they say, must transcend space and time, since it created space and time. Therefore it must be immaterial and non-physical. Finally it must be unimaginably powerful, since it created all matter and energy. Now are we beginning to see something of the wonder of the God we have been talking about throughout this series? The Bible doesn’t tell us how God created the world beyond the fact that He did, and because He is so powerful, when He says a word, it happens! Oh my goodness, Genesis 1 is completely in line with modern scientific philosophy!
The Conflict of Humanity: In “A History of the World,” the writer/TV presenter, Andrew Marr, is remarkably honest: “There are almost no historical arguments as complex and heated as those about modern man’s origins. The reason is straightforward: scientific advances in the study of human DNA and in the dating of bone fragments and other material keep challenging, and sometimes overturning, earlier theories.” Renowned theologian Alister McGrath writes, “It is certainly true that the natural sciences aim to offer the best possible explanation of the world, and that they have had considerable successes in doing so. But there are limits to this. The scientist regularly has to propose certain ideas that certainly fit in with experimental evidence, but that cannot be proved, and are thus taken on trust.
May I suggest that Adam and Eve are certainly two historical characters who appear in a long, long line of human beings but they are mentioned, and their activities are mentioned (the Fall) in the Biblical record. Why? Because the primary purpose of the Old Testament is to reveal a family line through which God would reveal Himself to the rest of the world, that eventually became Israel. The goal was to show God’s unique dealings with a group of people in history. The genealogy lines go back to Adam and follows a specific strand of his family tree, flowing through Abraham, through David and so on, simply showing a specific people who had dealings with God for a specific purpose. Hebrew writers, we are told, were not like modern historians and only included what names became obvious to simply show the direction of a family tree. From such Biblical genealogies, it is not possible, therefore, to work out time periods.
Mesopotamia, the obvious site of ‘Eden’, from the geographical descriptions given, is still frequently referred to as ‘the cradle of civilization’. Coincidence? The question of whether Adam and Eve were the first two human beings as we know them today or whether they were some way down the human chain, will not be resolved this side of heaven. However, read the accounts more carefully and different interpretations can be given that allow time periods or different ways this all worked out, ways that are quite reasonable and yet different from our traditional approaches. Consider chapter 2, in verse 7 we have ‘a man’ indicating a beginning but in verse 8 we find “in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed,” but ‘the man’ could mean simply ‘the mankind’, or even one branch or one individual from wider mankind.
Purpose: We must not lose sight of the overall purpose of Genesis, as we suggested above, to first of all show God’s involvement in bringing the world into being and then taking a particular strand of humanity to the fore to become a specific group (family, then nation) who related to Him. Ancient Hebrew writing does not seek to dot all the I’s and cross all the t’s but to lay down a general picture of the plans and purpose of God that was there overseeing it all. Evolution? No problem if it is God-directed evolution instead of the full-of-holes-random evolution. Your only problem is whether your starting place (and it does tend to be this with most people) is God or ‘nothing’. Nothing makes no sense and refuses any sense of meaning and purpose in life except what we conjure it up to be, while the existence of the God we have been describing makes sense of it all and, strangely, everything conversely points back to the existence of God.
Eve? One last ‘anomaly’ to satisfy the critics, that of Eve. Coming out of Adam’s side? Refocus: we said neither chapters 1 nor 2 of Genesis seek to be scientific accounts and therefore (and remember what we said in Study No.5 about what is called ‘the doctrine of divine accommodation’ which can be expressed as ‘God’s communications with humans are always limited to their current capacity to comprehend’) it is not going against the grain to suggest that in the same way that prophets used picture language and Jesus used parables, the description of male and female origins is a mystery that only makes sense when you say, ‘God made us different’; how is irrelevant. It is interesting to note in passing that one of the areas of evolution that people steer clear of, is that of how gender came to be. Think about the male and female physical makeup that is seen across the spectrum of us and animals and try to reason how it could possibly have come about in evolutionary stages and you realize you are on a nonsense search. No one has come up with a credible solution. So let’s not be too hard on parable / personification or whatever other linguistic device God used to convey, “I made them different.”
And So? One final thought. I find it fascinating watching people argue in this area. There are those who argue because they don’t want God to be the answer to all the questions and there are those who argue because they do want Him to be so. We have to ask, what is it in us that makes us want to disprove His existence and involvement in all these things? The only answer is the Bible’s answer, Sin – that propensity towards self-centred godlessness. We argue to a place of meaninglessness because “I want to rule my life”, not because we really want the truth. As someone once said, ‘the truth is out there’, but actually it is in here in the Bible. Some of it needs interpreting and that’s where we’ve often got in a twist, but most of it is simple and straight forward and the message is the same: God is, He is here for us, He loves and which is why He made us. Yes He IS the Creator of all things. Hallelujah!