"And when the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, 'Every man serves the good wine first, and when men have drunk freely, then that which is poorer; you have kept the good wine until now.'"

- John 2:9-10 NASB

"Once God (or Satan) is accepted as the first cause of everything which happens in the mortal world, nothing is left to chance...logic can be happily tossed out the window."

- Stephen King



What is meant by "creation"?


For by him all things were created: things in heaven and earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

- Colossians 1:16 NASB

"The creationists have this creator who is evil, who is small-minded, who is malevolent, and who is not very bright and can't even get his science right."

- Ian Plimer

7.1 God's M.O.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1 NASB).

This opening sentence of the Bible is the first in a multitude of statements concerning God's activities. Throughout the Bible, God is said to have created, directed, or simply allowed a great many events to occur. Relative to our goal of affirming the believability of the Bible, we ask, "Is creation or divine action a reasonable explanation for those particular things and events?"

First of all, we need to know how the Bible defines creation. What things have supposedly been acts of God? What, if any, are the recognizable methods by which God is said to work? Once we have answers to these questions, we can then proceed into following chapters that compare divine action to various alternatives.

In police work, actions are often traced back to specific individuals based upon knowledge of their usual modus operandi or method of operation. Applying this same investigative technique to the Bible, we can similarly identify God's signature way(s) of working. There are two major types of precedents recorded in the Bible that allow us to identify how God is claimed to work, and what is a work of God.

7.2 Instantaneous, inexplicable works

The first precedent within the Bible are examples of God performing instantaneous and otherwise inexplicable works. The beginning of the universe is an example of this. The heavens were not described to be the result of anything but the act of a creator God. In another case, the first miracle Jesus is recorded to have performed was the changing of water into wine.

Theoretically the creation of wine could have been a rearrangement of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon atoms instead of a something-from-nothing creation. But the point is that it happened not by process (water fell on the ground which fed the vines which produced the grapes, etc.) but by instantaneous action. One moment it's water, the next it's wine.

The Bible also records Jesus multiplying five loaves of bread and two fish in such quantities as to feed over five thousand people and have twelve baskets of food left over. In this instance, note the apparent age with which those things that had just been created must have had. There is no indication that the bread had any appearance other than that of having been laboriously made. The fish correspondingly must have seemed to be of normal development. Even the wine in the previous example was at the time characterized as having had the quality of great age.

These particular examples favor the interpretation of the creation account in Genesis as being one of instantaneous production. Just as bread, fish, and wine were created in a mature state, so might the universe have been created. Consider philosophy professor Gordon Clark's intriguing defense of the instantaneous creation concept:

What then is the scientific argument against the proposition that just one minute ago the universe sprang into being, trees complete with rings, human beings with navels, and scientists with those ideas we call memories? At any rate, I cannot imagine any empirical observation that contradicts this exceedingly peculiar hypothesis... Much less can physics demonstrate the non-existence of a Supreme Intelligence who did what gravitation could not do and who directs the whole universe for his own purposes.1

7.3 Slow, methodical process

As an alternative to sudden creation, the Bible also gives examples and indications of divine action by methodical process. One example is from Genesis chapter forty-five in which Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers in his youth, becomes a ruler in Egypt many years later and is finally reunited with them. Verses four to eight pick up,

And he said, 'I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life... Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt'. [NASB, emphasis mine]

Joseph credits God as having sent him to Egypt (by consequence of his brothers' actions) and made him ruler (by events resulting in appointment by Pharaoh). God did not send Joseph by way of some Star Trek-type transporter, nor did all of this happen overnight. God shaped Joseph for his destiny through events over the course of his lifetime.

The Bible states that many events are orchestrated by God directly. Yet other events, like temptation and sin, are merely allowed by him for the sake of our edification and perseverance. In this way, "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God,..." (Romans 8:28 NASB). Even the Bible itself, 1,500 years in the making, is an example of God operating by slow process.

Authors Blackmore and Page offer this wise warning against prematurely dismissing precedents for slow-process creation:

In an increasingly secular world there is a temptation to reassert God's existence by seeking him in the miraculous. A God who intervenes through miracles is felt to be more evident, more powerful, than one who works only through the regular laws of nature. To demonstrate the reality of God we demand miraculous signs from him. Dangerously, theology slides into idolatry, as we create God in our own image to bolster our lack of faith. The issue is not whether we prefer a God of a miraculous six-day creation, but whether in fact God has operated in this way. 2

Clearly God is recorded as having acted both by instantaneous production and by slow process through intermediate events or actions. God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah directly (by fire from above), but destroyed the city of Tyre indirectly (through a conquest by Alexander the Great). There is even the possibility that indirect actions such as Alexander's conquest may themselves have been orchestrated directly or indirectly by God for the sake of some kind of master plan. This leads us to the following analogy.

7.4 The pool table analogy


A good illustration of what might be God achieving a master plan by a complex series of seemingly natural and unconnected events can be found in the game of billiards or pool. A player picks up a pool cue and strikes the cue ball. The cue ball, in turn, hits a striped ball which ricochets off the side of the table and strikes a solid-colored ball which rolls into a pocket. This is similar to creation by slow process; an end result being achieved by a series of planned events. The more masterful the player, the greater number of intervening events he or she is able to use to achieve the desired end.

Now think of the limitations of our human senses as the two-dimensional confines of a tabletop, high over which God is shooting pool in an unconfined spiritual dimension. God, unseen in standing far above our limitations, may originate causal actions that we cannot see (like striking his cue into the cue ball) that in turn achieves effects that we can see (like the motion of the cue ball and the ensuing series of collisions).

Thus tracing back any series of collisions on the surface of the table would only take us as far back as the cue ball. It would be physically impossible to detect any prior cause because no prior cause is to be found on the tabletop (our observable universe). Natural law number one of pool-table-land would simply be to say that the cue ball has the inherent propensity to strike the other balls. "The cue ball needs no prior cause because it always operates in this manner - that is its nature," we might conclude.


What if in pool-table-land God picked up a ball from one location and placed it in another? It would give the appearance of being totally uncaused; a "miracle". The ball would appear to go from point A to point Z, but without having rolled through any of the points in-between.

Woe to the poor inhabitant of pool-table-land who saw this happen because local atheists would deny even the possibility. "This," they would demand, "is because science has searched to the four corners of the tabletop and has found no player. Therefore, with no player to move the balls, balls must move only as a result of a cue ball - the first cause of all movement. And if it's in the cue ball's nature to hit the other balls anyway, then there is really no need for a player. If we no longer need a player to explain the events on the tabletop, then it was a mistake to believe that a player existed in the first place."

The reasoning is circular, but accurately illustrates the erroneous logic of deterministic I-have-no-need-of-God thinking.


Take the pool table theology one step farther. Unless the Bible elaborates, it is difficult to interpret which method of action God may have used to accomplish any given event.

Consider: are we to interpret the creation of the universe as having taken a lengthy or a brief period of time? This is like walking up to a game of pool already in progress and trying to figure out how long the game has been going on. There are balls on the table and balls in the pockets. We have been standing there long enough to see a couple balls sunk, but what about the balls that were in the pockets before we started watching?

It is tempting to multiply the time length of the shots we've witnessed by the number of balls in the pockets. This would roughly estimate how long the game has been going on -

The point is that we really have no way of being certain how long that game has been going on. The players could have been playing slowly all afternoon, or they could have just begun a game where certain balls are removed to begin with. Such is the peril in looking at the universe and then simply calculating backwards. Because the Bible establishes that God works both through slow bank shots and sudden rearrangements, it is presumptuous to exclude either method as the possible way in which God originated the cosmos. Much more will be discussed on this in the following sections.

What the Bible clearly does indicate is that God possesses and exercises the freedom to initiate what he wants, the way he wants. Therefore we should qualify questions such as "Did God create the earth" with the additional question, "Does the Bible indicate which method he employed in creating it?" For unless the Bible indicates one method or the other, observable evidence will always remain inconclusive.

Furthermore, and of great importance, belief in either interpretation of creation in no way impugns or violates God's sovereignty. Only when it comes to the origin of mankind does orthodox theology, as well as scientific findings, strongly and specifically favor the instantaneous creation of human beings. The only alternative to creation is chance, which, as the last chapter elucidated, is just a blind and hypocritical admission that all things are caused. On this point, science and the Bible could not agree more.


Whether the present state of reality is the result of visible processes, or of invisible and sudden causations, Christians maintain that these are still God's processes and God's causations. Paul Davies, professor of theoretical physics, but not a Christian to my knowledge, applies this principle as far down as the quantum level,

a universal mind could, in principle, control everything that happens by directing the behaviour of every electron, every proton, every photon, and so on. Such an organizing power would escape our attention when we observe microscopic matter because the antics of any particular particle would still appear to be completely random. It is only in the collective behaviour of vast numbers of atoms that organization would be apparent, and we should proclaim the system to be mysteriously self-organizing. Such a picture of God might well be enough to satisfy most believers. 3

If God has indeed acted through slow processes, then it is reasonable to expect to find evidence of that action; for example, writings or artifacts from that era. This argument is even more relevant when trying to discover the origin of the earth, universe, and mankind. While any Bible believer can concede the possibility of their abrupt appearances, it is not wrong to expect to find evidence of their creation by process if that is indeed what happened. But if that is not what happened, if God created Adam fully and wholly, for instance, then a total lack of evidence for process creation is what we should expect. In either case, we must simply judge by whatever evidences may be found.

Parallels between how the Bible claims these things originated and insights from the most recent scientific models are the subject of the next several chapters. What will be recognized as far more important than the amount of time creation may have taken are the plethora of amazing parallels between modern scientific discoveries and the Bible.

Ponder the idea that if the best and most current scientific beliefs and evidences for our origins are reasonably correct, and that they chronologically parallel a 3,200 year old account written by a mere shepherd who claims knowledge of those origins was given to him by God, then such parallels will be one more very compelling reason to believe that the Bible truly is from God.



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next: Where did the universe come from?

See also:

Natural revelation: good science is good theology

Natural revelation: what it reveals about origins

How long did creation take?

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Special divine creation is the antithesis of chance.

Creative actions the Bible attributes to God are surprisingly not homogenous, but generally fall into one of two styles or methods.

Here those methods are explained.

1. God's M.O.
2. Instantaneous works
3. Methodical works
4. The pool table analogy