Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Reflections on Creation

Given what I have read, talked about, and thought about, here are some conclusions which I have reached regarding the topic of the creation of this world. For the most part, these are things about which I have a very definite position and which I firmly believe are critical to a correct understanding of the Bible’s view of creation. This is not a comprehensive list, but it is things to which I am deeply committed as based in the truth of Scripture

1. God made everything. It seems simple but I state it anyways. Genesis may not explicitly say that God created everything from nothing, but the fact that God made heaven and earth is an indication that God made one end of things and the other, and so everything in between. Plus, Scripture clearly states that “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:3) And so, the great truth of Genesis for then is the same as for now: creation isn’t self-created or accidental. It was created with a specific purpose by a Creator who is separate from his creation.

2. Adam was as a single, actual human being who had the specific job of being the moral and physical representative of all human beings who would come. Completely apart from the fact that Genesis understands Adam as a real, historically-placed figure, the amount of New Testament theology that is built upon Adam and the role of Jesus as the Second Adam requires that Adam, like Jesus, would be a real human figure who was just like all the humans that he represents. If Jesus had to be a real human being who was the same as all the humans he represented in order to save them, so Adam had to be a real human being who was the same as all the humans he represented and doomed. I’ve heard DNA-based arguments about the number of different original humans; there are possible explanations and they’re probably not provable. On this one, I simply cannot budge: there must have been a man who God called ‘Adam’ and entrusted with being the representative of all humanity, just like the Second Adam who represented all humanity in his life, death, and resurrection.

3. Creation was different before Adam and Eve fell. While evolutionary theory holds that death and violence were always present as part of the cycle of life, somehow things changed when Adam sinned. There was a time when the earth was not “groaning in the pains of childbirth” (Rom. 8:22) and it obviously now is. What that looked like, I cannot even guess at and speculation would be silly; but it is clear that Adam’s sin (and our sin) harms creation at large, harm that will be repaired in Christ’s second coming

4. Humans were created special and different, not simply the continuation of an evolutionary trend. Why? 2 Main reasons:
1) We were made in the image of God. That truth resonates all throughout Scripture and it sets us apart from the rest of creation, making us viceregents (‘little kings’) who rule the earth under the Great Regent (King), God. We were made in the image of God, not in the perfected image of a long line of ever-developing creatures. Animals may or may not have come about through this chain, but humans absolutely did not.
2) Death is our enemy, not a natural part of us. 1 Cor. 15:26 calls death the last enemy to be defeated. The Tree of Life in the Garden, the curse of death upon humans, the death of death at the hands of Christ—all of these tell me that the greatest enemy of humans is death; and Genesis doesn’t talk about death as spiritual, but as real, physical, end of life death. The story of Genesis says, unlike any culture that has existed or will, that the true nature of humanity was not death but life—eternal life with God. Jesus, as the representative of humanity, redeemed humanity to be what they were meant to be, and he redeemed them to immortality—physical immortality in a physical resurrection. We were never meant to die, that was a function of the curse. We were meant to live forever in the presence of God. And if humans were meant to live forever, they cannot simply be the most recent link in a chain of evolution in which all previous creatures were mortal and had to live and die to continue the cycle. Humans had to be part of something different, in this case, the image of God.

5. Evolution as a system of understanding how the world works comes with serious issues which can be damaging to our faith. (See my previous post, “Everything Evolves”.) If someone is willing to spend a certain amount of time in evolutionary theory, or is willing to subscribe to any number of conclusions derived from it, they must be careful not to be caught up in some of the more dangerous elements of philosophical evolution, as some of the most foundational elements of evolutionary theory stand directly opposed to the truth about creation, the world, and God as Genesis and the rest of Scripture reveal.

6. The current ruling understanding of how the universe was made (atheistic evolution) is no more innocuous than the ruling understanding at the time Genesis was written (polytheism). Both understandings lead to the belief that humans are partially or entirely accidental and are therefore allowed to do as they please; the reigning perspective today says that humans are the pinnacle of all things, the very best that exists, and entitled to the best the world has, so long as they can get their hands on it safely. Atheistic evolution, like polytheism, is a potentially devastating cocktail of truth and lies which stands now as the most popular replacement for belief in the One True God. Those who would seek its truths must be doubly wary of its lies. This is not to say that everything there must be untrue, but that in seeking the truth in a system which replaces God, one must be very careful of the lies that are certainly present.

I stand as part of a generation that is at the cutting-edge of the sword that has to think through how the Word of God can fit with what is being discovered by modern science; how that works out will deeply affect my ministry to my peers and to those younger than me for the rest of my life. What things will ultimately work out to, I cannot say—I am no prophet. But at this early stage in the development of our understanding, it’s important for us to lay out the most basic principles, the guns that we stand by, the things that we proclaim as true regardless of what the scientific community may propose. Some of the things I have posited as solid principles may see change or development at various levels. But I am claiming at this point that these are some of the things which I think will stand, the ones where I can and at times will draw the line.

(Please feel free to comment, discuss, add, or disagree. I’ve got a thick skin. Type away if you’ve got something on your mind.)

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