Posts tagged ‘Creation’

May 23, 2012

A More Powerful Creation

I have decided that I don’t believe in a young earth.  By this I mean that I do not understand the bible, and in particular the early chapters of Genesis, teaches that the earth was created a few thousand years ago.   I don’t believe that the 7 days in Genesis 1 are twenty four hour periods.  Nor do I believe that they are long periods of time. This is known as the “day-age theory”, which struggles when you have plants appearing on day 3, before the sun appears on day 4!  I simply believe that the creation story is a Holy Spirit inspired story written to teach Israel (and us) important truth about God.

I’ve reached that conclusion after many years of thinking, reading and reflecting.  I think that the author of Genesis is simply not trying to give us a narrative of what happened at creation – they are trying to teach theological truth to the nation of Israel.  Theological truth, as opposed to scientific truth.

So last night I read Genesis 1 again with these conclusions in mind.  I was blown away.  In the past I had read it and wondered how it all fits together, how I am meant to understand it, how it works with what science tells us about our universe.  Those questions were so prominent in my mind that I was losing sight of what the passage tells us about God.  I was focussing on what it tells us about the world, and how it integrates with what we now know about the world.

But when you read it focussing on the theology that it is teaching all of a sudden the focus is on what the focus was always meant to be on – the truth about creation.  What struck me afresh is that God is the creator, there is one God, he made his creation free of sin, He is the one behind all the magnificent variety that we see around us, he put mankind at the pinnacle of his creation, man is the culmination of his creative genius and is above the rest of creation, man is meant to have dominion over the earth, and he rested when he finished.

These are the truths that I believe the author wants us to see.  To communicate those things is, I believe, is why Genesis 1 was written.  When we stop reading it to see how we can win arguments with angry atheists like Richard Dawkins then we are freed to dwell on the truth about God that is revealed to us.

Far from being less powerful if you abandon belief in a young earth, Genesis 1 is more powerful when you place it’s theology where it should be – front and centre.

Perhaps you can believe in a young earth and still focus on the theology of Genesis 1 without being caught up in the creation/evolution debate.  I have found that difficult.  The evolution question hangs over it like a dark cloud.  When you realise that the writer is not fussed about those issues then the cloud lifts and you are free to be impacted by what we learn about our creative God.

A final thought – just because I have decided that I don’t believe in young earth creationism that does not mean that I therefore believe in evolution.  The problems with evolution that Philip E Johnson identifies in “Darwin on Trial” are severe in my mind.  I just think that the author of Genesis is not trying to write something that modern scientists can interact with.  It’s just not that sort of a document.

Thoughts, comments and heated debate welcome!

John

April 22, 2012

The God who is Obvious

For centuries Christians and other religious people have come up with arguments about the existence of God.  When I was in bible college I had to try and grasp the “ontological argument” and other such head spinning ideas.  I don’t doubt that scholars have some profound things to say on this subject, but the bible regards all of those arguments as redundant. The bible simply says,

But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.  They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them.  For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky.  Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature.  So they have no excuse for not knowing God. (Romans 1:18-20, NLT)

Did you see the second sentence there?  God has made his existence obvious.  These are remarkable claims.  Paul here says that God’s existence need not be proved – it is obvious.  End of story.  Now Paul was a highly accomplished scholar.  If you asked him for reasoned philosophical ideas about the existence of God he could have come up with some good things.  But he doesn’t see the need.  He simply says that God is obvious, and he is obvious because of the world that he has created.

You might think that Paul did not have the benefit of modern science – what did Paul know of relativity, the Big Bang, evolution, the Hubble telescope, etc.  It was obvious to Paul that God exists but it does not look so obvious this side of Einstein, Darwin and Stephen Hawking.

Yet it is still obvious.  Let’s assume that everything that modern science says is true.  (Granted how far science has come in the last 100 years who knows where our understanding will be 100 years from now, but leave that aside.)  Why was there a Big Bang?  That is a question that science cannot answer.  All that science can do is say what has happened since the Big Bang, what laws this universe seems to abide by.  It cannot explain how the universe came into being.  That issue remains out of science’s grasp.  There remains one obvious explanation – a creator.

For Paul God’s obviousness extends to at least two aspects of his character – his “eternal power and divine nature”.   He doesn’t give us detail about those two things but the implication is clear from the surrounding sentences.  I think that he is saying that God’s perfection is obvious, and by it our imperfection is obvious as well.

What’s more, for Paul God’s obviousness has consequences.  He says that it leaves all of those who have seen his obviousness “without excuse”.  He goes on, in the following chapters, to explain that the problem of sin has reached to everyone.  There is not a person alive who has avoided it until God sent his Son.  The death of Jesus a  opens a way to conquer the sin problem, and for those that receive his forgiveness there is freedom.

Sounds like a good solution to me.

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