is meant by "creation"?
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.
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
"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.
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
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
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
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
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.
The pool table analogy
THE BETTER THE PLAYER, THE FEWER THE LIMITATIONS
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.
-- PROOF THAT POOL PLAYERS DON'T
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
-- HARD TO TELL WHEN THE GAME
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
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
- if the pockets
were empty to start with,
- if the shots
we did not see really took as long as the ones we did see, and...
- if the same
game is being played as the one we think.
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
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.
-- IT'S GOD'S GAME, EITHER WAY
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.
Where did the universe come from?
revelation: good science is good theology
what it reveals about origins
How long did creation